Friday, 25 February 2011

CRPF personnel tortured and ill-treated by his superiors in Assam

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) issued a report concerning the case a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel, who alleges that he has been tortured and subjected to other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by his superior officers. The victim is a wireless operator with 147 battalion of CRPF. But the higher officials allegedly often have sent him in risky operations without arms even at times when he is ill. He has been kept in confinement in inhuman conditions and has also been assaulted and beaten up brutally. Stick has been entered into his anus. The case has been sent to the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC), but no independent investigation has been initiated into his allegations.

According to the report of the BHRPC, Mr. Surindar Singh Chouhan, S/o late Anand Bahadur Singh Chouhan, aged about 39 years, has been working with 147 battalion since 1 September, 2008. He was posted at the head quarters (HQ) of the battalion at Kashipur, Silchar, Assam. However, he was also sent in operations with many companies of the battalion including C company at Gharmura, D company at Karimganj, E company at Hailakandi and F company at Fulertal etc.

Surider alleged that some of his superiors became spiteful towards him when he wanted to study MBA, for which he duly fulfilled all requirements. On 4 October 2010 Surindar took admission to MBA course under the Sikkim Manipal University with due permission from the commander Mr. TK Hati and drew a bank draft of Rs. 12500/- in the name of the university to pay his fees. On 5 October he requested for permission to meet the commandant at the head quarters for necessary talks in connection with his admission, study and duty. But his request was denied. When he insisted that his meeting with the commander is very important, the officer got furious and sent him to the head quarter imputing some false allegations on him. He was then sent to the DC OPS Mr. Nabeen Chandra by Sub-Inspector Mr. TN Tripati and Mr. Roy forcibly and very rudely while they also continued to hurl verbal abuses at him. At 19:00 hours same day he was presented before the commandant. The commander also behaved very roughly and threatened him that he would snatch his job and would put him into jail. He was kept in confinement without any written order and subjected to ill-treatment for three days.

On 7 October he requested to be informed of his faults for which he was given punishment. Nobody cared to answer. On 8 October he was suspended from his duties. From 8 to 11 October he was confined to the guardroom with his hands cuffed. Surinder alleged that he was severely tortured both mentally and physically while he was kept there. CRPF constables at the behest of superiors would tell him that this was his last moment and he is going to die while they pointed gun on his head. They did it innumerable times.

When he was with F company he fell ill and was sent to the head quarters by the Officer-in-Command Mr. Anwar Hussain for treatment on 13 October, 2010. But on the same day Mr. K. P. Singh, the Radio Grid Supervisor ordered him to shift to D company at Karimganj. He told the supervisor about his health condition, but no heed was given. On 13 October, 2010 he reported at D company at Karimganj despite inconvenience due to his physical condition.

Surinder alleged that on 21 October 7/8 soldiers including Rajender Singh, Rakesh Kumar, Brojesh Kumar, Sukhbinder Singh, Narendra Singh, Upendra Singh, Prem Chand Kahar came to him and started beating him with sticks and chains without rhymes or reasons. Surinder claimed that the constables tried to make him angry and to provoke him into attacking them. However, he did not fall into the trap. Then they tried to compel him to assault the quarter guard Mr. Jaibuddin Khan. But he did not do that. These tricks were applied by the OC with an intention to find a ground for filing a criminal case against Surinder.

Surider further stated that on 23 October 2010 the OC of D company Mr. TN Tripati ordered him to go in an operation and search duty without arms at Ratabari area, which was reportedly a disturbed area. When Surinder urged the OC to give him arms for his safeguard, he was denied.

Surindar claimed that according to the rules his duties should be assigned by the ASI/ RO Mr. Monoj Singh in place of the OC. So, he objected to such irregular assignment of duties by the OC in violations of rules. However, he was compelled to obey. Surinder further stated that the official record was manipulated and it is shown in the duty register that he was engaged by the ASI/RO Mr. Monoj Singh at signal centre. It register shows that he was on duty there since 07:00 hours to 13:00 hours on 23 October 2010 and again since 19:00 hours on 23 October 2010 to 07:00 hours on 24 October 2010. But in reality he was forcibly sent to the risky operation and search duty. Surinder also stated that he was aware that anybody could be shifted to any duty during emergency and he claimed that there was no such emergency. Moreover, there were many other eligible personnel for the duty. Surinder claimed that the OC sent him in the operation only to harass him by putting his life and limbs at risk. He performed his duties with the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Karimganj district in a search operation looking for some suspects for approximately 24 hours at Ratabari area without food, water etc. While returning from the operation one of his colleagues felt very sick and he carried his LMG.

Surinder further alleged that on 27 October once again some constables assaulted him. They beat up him so furiously that he fell down on the floor. But they did not stop. They beat him on his face, chest, stomach and other sensitive parts of his body including the privates. They entered broken stick into his anus. Surinder stated that some of the constables namely Upendra Singh, Prem Chand Kahar and Dilip Kumar did not want to inflict such brutal torture on him. But they were compelled by threats of similar treatment by Mr. Hati.

Surinder then somehow managed to escape from the clutch of his tormentors as he alleged. He filed a complaint against the alleged perpetrators at the Court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate at Silchar. He also received treatment at the Silchar Medical College and Hospital.  He tried to keep himself out of the reach of his battalion. However, they filed a missing case at the Silchar Sadar police station.

At this point in time on 4 November Surinder sent a communication to the BHRPC giving details of his situation. BHRPC filed a complaint at the National Human Rights Commission of India on 22 November. The NHRC registered a case and passed an order on 7 December transmitting the complaint to the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, for appropriate actions. The NHRC also asked the Home Ministry on 15 December to submit an action taken report within four weeks. But the BHRPC did not receive any information even after seven weeks.

Meanwhile Surinder has been nabbed by the police at Guwahati and sent back to the head quarters of his battalion at Kashipur, Cachar. He has informed BHRPC through a friend that he is being kept under the sky in a poorly made makeshift tent which is unable to protect him from the cold. Every now and then he was being beaten up and subjected to other inhuman treatment. According to the information, food and other necessities were also not being properly provided.

On 11 February the victim was released and granted leave. He went home that day. BHRPC received information that the Home Ministry also reportedly asked for a report from the CRPF at the direction of the NHRC. But the inquiry is being conducted by a DIG of CRPF. It is suspected that the inquiry by another officer of the force against his colleagues would not be objective. On the other hand, the CRPF also initiated a departmental inquiry against him.  A thorough, prompt and independent inquiry in the case is a must.

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Assam police harassed and threatened a rape victim

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

A 20 year-old-woman by her father-in-law in Cachar district in the North East Indian state of Assam. The victim was raped because she belongs to a poor family and was unable to provide the dowry during the time of her marriage. A complaint was then lodged to the local police station but to-date no action has been taken. Instead, the victim was threatened by the investigating officer to withdraw the complaint.

On December 2009, Mrs. Sonia (name changed) aged about twenty years was married to Mr. Pabitra Das. Sonia's husband Pabitra does not have any proper source of income for their livelihood. He sells low quality ornaments in remote villages. Sonia's father-in-law, Mr. Haricharan Das is a widower and works as a teacher in a government school.

Sonia belongs to a poor family and her father Mr. Dondodhar Das could not provide sufficient dowry during the time of her marriage. Sonia alleged that after four/five months after her marriage, her husband's family demanded Rs. 50,000/= and a bicycle as dowry. When Sonia expressed her father's inability to provide the demanded dowry, the entire family of her husband gradually started subjecting Sonia to mental and physical harassment. This was perpetrated mainly by Sonia's father-in-law.

Sonia's husband, and his unemployed younger brother Mr. Jayanta Das, used to leave home early in the morning everyday in search of work and return around 10pm. Sonia alleged that her father-in-law Haricharan beat her one day in his son's absence and forced Sonia to have sex with him. This incident left Sonia traumatised. Sonia was at her wit's end and could not tell anyone out of shame, disgust and fear. She has since been compelled to have sex with her father-in-law on several occasions.

The conditions became unbearable for Sonia that finally she told everything to her husband. Pabitra, instead of trusting his wife, hurled verbal abuse at her and accused Sonia of trying to malign his father and his relatives with the intension of breaking up the family. Sonia could no longer endure the agony and anguish and returned to her maternal home on July 2010. Sonia told her father and mother about the demand of dowry, ill-treatment and cruelty towards her but did not tell them of rape and molestation by her father-in-law.

Sonia's father Dondodhar thought it was a normal wear and tear of conjugal life or at most a little ill-treatment for dowry. Dondodhar insisted that his daughter reconcile with her husband and their family so that she could start a new life, forgetting the past incidents. Dondodhar along with other village elders went to Haricharan's house to discuss all matters other than the sexual harassment of his daughter Sonia. Sonia was then told by her father to stay with her husband and their family after the discussion.

It is reported that on September 2010 Haricharan with his whole family moved to Dhoomkar village from Salimabad. The place was new for Sonia and she did not know anyone. At this juncture, Haricharan once again started sexually assaulting his daughter-in-law. When Sonia could no longer bear to keep quiet and suffer in silence she told her husband on 29 November 2010. Pabitra became furious as he was already convinced of his father's innocence and started beating Sonia. Sonia's father-in-law and brother-in-law, Jayanta, joined him in assaulting Sonia.

Sonia alleged that the three men were trying to kill her and later that night at around 10 pm managed to escape the house. The father and sons tried to follow Sonia but could not trace her in the darkness. Mr. Somorendra Deb, resident of Dhoomkar and other passers-by including Ms. Ratna Das, President of Korkori Gaon Panchayat and Mr. Narat Lal Das, Vice-president of Korkori Gaon Panchayat found Sonia, gave her shelter, and informed the local police.

It is reported that on 30 November 2010 Sonia lodged a complaint to the Kalain police outpost but it was not registered in the police station. Therefore, Sonia filed two other complaints in the Court of Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Silchar on 6 December 2010. The CJM clubbed both the complaints together and directed the Katigorah Police Station (PS) to register a First Information Report (FIR) and investigate the case.

Thereafter, an FIR was registered at Katigorah PS as Case no. 666/10 under Sections 376 (punishment for rape) and 498A (husband or relative of husband of a woman subjecting her to cruelty) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC) against Sonia's husband Pabitra, brother-in-law Jayanta and Haricharan, father-in-law. Mr. Prabhat Saikia, a Sub-Inspector of Police and In-Charge of Kalain police outpost was made the Investigating Officer (IO) of the case.

However, the police did not take any actions to investigate the case based on the FIR. Instead, the IO met the victim, Sonia, and pressured her to withdraw the complaint and to settle the matter amicably. Sonia alleged that the IO threatened to render her family beggars and homeless if she continued to pursue the case in courts or any other legal forums.

On 30 December 2010, Sonia wrote a written complaint to the district Superintendent of Police (SP) about the misconduct of the IO and requested the SP to intervene in investigating her case. There has been no response or action from the SP as yet on Sonia's complaint.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

Rights body demands release of Binayak Sen

Special Correspondent, The Sentinel

SILCHAR, Feb 2: Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) has demanded immediate release of Dr Binayak Sen, an eminent physician, health worker and human rights defender who was convicted on December 24 last along with two others and incarcerated, being sentenced to imprisonment for life. Dr Sen was charged with sedition under 120 B of the Indian Penal Code of 1860. He was also charged with working for Maoists under various criminal acts. The Committee in a letter addressed to the Prime Minister of India with copies to the Chief Justice and other authorities has described the arrest and imprisonment of Binayak Sen as a travesty of all canons of justice and fair trial.

The Committee in its letter quotes reports to show that the trial was unfair and failed to meet the standard of criminal jurisprudence and human rights norms. It further points out that the guilt of Sen has not been proved beyond reasonable doubt, an essential requirement for conviction. BHRPC believes that he has been targeted for his peaceful and legitimate human rights works and criticism of the government policy that contravenes international human rights norms. He has been made an example by the state as a warning to other human rights defenders not to expose human rights violation.

Dr Sen, the letter further adds to say, giving up career opportunities dedicated his life in providing health care to the poorest people in the remotest villages of Chattisgarh. He founded a hospital and trained women to provide basic health care. He was the president of Chattisgarh unit of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). The fault of Dr Sen lay in documenting various cases of gross human rights violation by the security forces. His incarceration, BHRPC believes, is to strangulate the voice of protest and sanity.

The letter recalling the sacrifices and contributions of Dr Sen praised his greater role in upholding the constitutional mandates and offering legal advise and intervention and constructive criticism of wrong state policies.

The Committee maintains that the UNO, the Indian Parliament and the National Human Rights Commission have all been to support and protect human rights defenders. But sadly enough, human rights defenders like Dr Binayak Sen has been persecuted and prosecuted. It pleads for upholding the rule of law, fundamental constitutional rights and human rights. It also notes with pain how various acts and legislative measures are being misused against human right defenders. If a person like Sen remains incarcerated, it will be a blot on the democratic and constitutional tradition of India. It is therefore urged that Dr Sen be released immediately and his appeal disposed of honourably. The letter was signed by Neharul Ahmed Mazumdar, general secretary of Barak Human Rights Protection Committee.

Courtesy The Sentinel dated 3 February, 2011 and be viewed at

Wednesday, 2 February 2011

Labourer buried alive at an illegal stone mine in Assam

Waliullah Ahmed Laskar

On 10 December 2010, Shankar Das, a 33-year-old day-labourer died while working at a stone quarry at Boleshwar Bit of Kalain Forest Range of Karimganj Forest Division in the North East Indian sate of Assam. He died reportedly due to the fall of a chunk of earth on him from the ground above while he was working at a mine. He was pulling out stones from about 15 feet deep mine with other labourers. It is learnt that he miner was allowed to mine stones only at one and a half feet depth. He was cremated soon after his death. No compensations have been provided to his family. No investigation instituted to find out any negligence on the part of his employers and to fix criminal culpability, if any. The matter is hushed up completely.

Shankar Das from village Mahadebpur part IV of Khelma Gaon Panchayat, under Katigorah Police Station in the district Cachar of Assam, was the only earning member of his family. His family was comprised of 60-year-old father Churamani Das, his wife Somarani Das and their sons Jiten Das aged 5, Lob Das and Kush Das aged 2 years, the twins.

According to Somarani Das, the widow of the deceased, her husband used to get up very early in the morning at 3;30 am everyday, and before 6 am he would start for the work place on foot, which is almost 15 kilometers from their house. He would return home after 8 pm. She stated that he worked hard and earned approximately Rs 200/- daily. She added that on 10 December, 2010 Shankar started for work place at 6 am.

Co-workers and neighbours of the deceased Gopal Chandra Das, Jawharlal Das and others, the chunk of earth bruised the left side of Shankar’s head, blood gushed out through his nose and some white thick liquid came out through his ears. His forehead was also badly injured. He was rushed to the nearby Community Health Centre where he was declared death. The persons accompanied Shankar to the CHC were Pradip Das, Bidhu Das and Pranab Das. When contacted, the officer-in-charge of the CHC Mr. Taffazzul Hussain Choudhury stated that he did not keep any record of the death as he was asked not to do so by influential persons.

According to his co-workers, the deceased was hired by, and worked under, Mr. Subodh Ghosh, an influential local stone mafia.

Somarani Das stated that she was informed of the incident at around 10 am and had been told that her husband was injured badly. She was awestruck and did not know what to do. She further stated at 10 pm the dead body was brought home and cremated in no time as per the religious rites. According to her, many unknown persons were insisting for funeral at the earliest.

62-year-old father of the deceased Churamani Das told the same things. He added that he was not in a position to take decision against the mob gathered and he had no knowledge about post mortem or such legal procedures. He even could not mark who were insisting on a hurried funeral. When asked he told that no administrative authorities or forest officers visited their house.

Mr. Himangshu Acharjee, the Officer-in-Charge of Gumrah Police Investigation Centre under Kalain Police Station, said that no complaint filed at the PIC relating to the incident, so he can do nothing about it. However, the information about the incident was given to him by a local journalist working with Dainik Prantojyoti, a local daily over the phone at at 3:30pm on 10 December. Most of the local newspapers also carried the story next day.

It is apparent that soon after the incident the local stone mafia got alert and did every thing to hush up the case. The nexus among stone mafia, forest officials and local police worked it perfectly.