SOS Appeal by Dalit
S.O.S – e – Clarion Of Dalit – Weekly Newspaper On Web
Working For The Rights & Survival Of The Oppressed
Editor: NAGARAJ.M.R… VOL.4 issue. 1…… 06/01/2010
“There is a higher court than the court of justice and that is the court of conscience It supercedes all other courts. ”
– Mahatma Gandhi
Editorial : SOS – APPEAL TO H.E.HONOURABLE PRESIDENT OF INDIA & HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE OF INDIA
– Vested Interests , Criminals silencing a journalist
Even after 62 years of india’s independence , the plight of commonman has worsened. Corrupt public servants , corrupt judges , corrupt police , etc are proving to be parasites leading 5-star lifestyles at taxpayer’s expense. They in their greed for money , bribe are aiding & abetting terrorists , separatists , naxalites, underworld mafia , etc covertly & overtly , backstabbing our motherland. These corrupt public servants are more cruel than Jalianwallah Bagh butcher General Dyer of british army. If Mahatma Gandhi was alive today , he would have been disgusted with the present way of democratic government , functioning of public servants & would have died heart broken. If our freedom martyrs like sri.Bhagath Singh or Sri. Madan Lal Dingra or Sri.Subhash Chandra Bose would have been alive , they would have given a befitting reply to this corrupt police , corrupt judges , public servants.
Whenever , a commonman raises his voice for justice , he is silenced in various ways by the criminal nexus. The said criminal nexus has previously tried to silence me in many ways including attempts to murder , closure of newspaper , etc , now the same criminal nexus is at it again. They are trying to silence me , to close my newspaper , to foist false cases against me , all for asking the following QUESTIONS , which public servants are afraid to answer. Even if they succeed in silencing me , TRUTH NEVER DIES, THE COMPLICITY OF HIGHEST CONSTITUTIONAL FUNCTIONARIES IN COVERING-UP , HIDING CRIMES IS FOR ALL THERE TO SEE. If Anything untoward happens to me or my family members , both of you H.E.Honourable President of India & Honourable chief Justice of India will be responsible , accountable for that. If police or other law enforcing agencies , ask me- the complainant , to come over to police station repeatedly for inquiry ( as they did previously) instead of asking the accused high & mighty persons , to come over to police station at least once , the police , the court & the government is liable to pay me damages .
In India corruption has spread it’s tentacles far & wide. Corrupt few among judiciary are selling judicial orders , police are fixing innocents letting off the rich criminals , manipulating evidences , people’s representatives are taking money even for asking questions in parliament , for releasing money under MPLAD scheme , etc. many of the public servants are selling their official duties for some consideration. These greedy corrupt public servants are worse than street side prostitutes who sell off their own body for a living. However the corrupt public servants who take hefty pay & perks from the government sell off their official duties , their ethics , honesty , in their greed for more money.There are even worse corrupt parasites , police who even take commission from these hapless street side prostitutes.
Take two recent examples , in mysore a little kid of a villager was not properly attended to for nearly 15 days by any doctor in government K.R.Hospital , just for the reason that villager was unable to pay bribe. Finally the kid died in the hospital. Even in ESIC Hospital , mysore although the services are paid by employees by monthly contribution , services are dismal . almost every official in ESIC Mysore demand bribe for consultation , medical test , issue of medicines , bill reimbursement , etc.
Now , take another example how the flyover collapsed in delhi or 15 storey building collapsed in Bangalore. Still mystery shrouds , cover up is taking place with respect to this building collapse. Is it not due to the failure of town planning authorities like BDA , BBMP, etc ? there is complete mystery regarding the casualties of this building collapse , what labour commissioner is doing ? even in mysore , at Infosys construction project site many casualties have taken place , but not properly recoreded by authorities , why ?
Now , the hard fact is that if one has money he can do anything & get away . at this juncture , disillusioned with the corrupt government system , the educated unemployed or victimized youths become a fertile ground for raising of anti social movements like naxalism , mafia or separatist movements , religious fundamentalists , etc. this has already happened in India.
This is an open appeal to your excellency & the honest few in public service , to check this growth & to take India towards Mahatma’s swaraj. The public servants mentioned in the following articles are shielding corrupt criminals , by refusing to answer questions , will you make them cough up TRUTH IN FULL ? e-voice has appealed to authorites offering services in apprehending tax thieves & other criminals , but public servants are not interested to utilize our services lest their criminal pals are get caught ? ARE YOU READY TO CATCH TAX THIEVES & OTHER CRIMINALS BY TAKING OUR SERVICES ?
Bihar type mob justice cases will become more frequent leading to
anarchy , rise of naxalism , terrorism & underworld in india. The
cause for all this CORRUPT PUBLIC SERVANTS in India. When common
people don’t get justice by police , by courts of law , rich mighty
criminals get away from punishment & people’s representatives in
parliament / state legislatures legalizes the crimes of their rich
friends , criminals , anti nationals , the justice becomes a mirage to
common man , democracy a farce.
Just consider following examples , PMO official leaks out nuclear
secrets to enemy countries endangering the security of India , a
government official gives driving license , ration card , voter
identity card to a Pakistani terrorist , a police official issues gun
license to anti national Terrorist , a police official applies 3rd
degree torture to a poor innocent to cover up rich criminal , a police
official murders a poor innocent in lock-up , fake encounter to cover
up rich criminal , a judge issues bail , other judicial orders for a
price to anti national , a police officer destroys evidence , delays
investigation to aid rich criminal , etc , all these public servants
are least bothered about either the well being / security of our
motherland India or our countrymen . they are concerned only about
the kick backs they get . even higher officials , courts are not
taking any action against such corrupt anti national officials , why ?
In these circumstances , the aggrieved mass of people to protect the
security of our motherland India ,to uphold law , to protect
themselves , in exercise of their CONSTITUTIONALLY ENSHRINED
FUNDAMENTAL DUTIES ( ie to uphold constitution of India , to protect
the unity , integrity of the country , to protect the rights of fellow
country men ) eliminate , kill such CORRUPT ANTI NATIONAL PUBLIC
SERVANTS when all the avenues for seeking justice have failed , is it
not justified in the interest of country ?
Do remember that hard liners among our independence struggle like shri
. subash Chandra bose , shri. Bhagath singh & others have contributed
to our independence struggle immensely. However their actions at that
point of time as per then prevailing laws of britishers were termed as
illegal , although it did good to our motherland & our countrymen.
However in democracy this should not happen as this violence leads to
anarchy , more violence. this anarchy can be controlled only by the
corrupt public servants , whose making it is . they must mend their
corrupt practices , must strictly work for the welfare of our
motherland , the courts must punish the corrupt public servants
severely. Then alone bapuji’s true swaraj can be built.
The sad fact is that instead of mending their ways , the corrupt
public servants have increased their personal security & taking more
and more kick backs. God only must protect them from dog’s death at
the hands of mass of people.
We at e-Voice for Justice believes in equitable justice ,
peace & non violence and hereby only analyzing the causes for bihar
type mob violences , rise of naxalism , terrorism , under world in
India. Our analysis is a social pointer to the things to come in near
future , in India , ways to protect democracy in India.
In the democratic india , whenever a citizen suffers from injustice ,
violation of constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights / human
rights he can appeal to the higher Authorities for justice , then to
the next higher authority in the hierarchy . if it fails he can
approach the police , courts of justice. Finally he can appeal to the
first citizen of the country & supreme court of india . Now ,
corruption is more prevalent in police & judiciary. To my numerous
appeals for justice , e-voice’s appeals for justice concerning public good
, the public servants have failed to perform , the police have taken
biased action & finally H.E.PRESIDENT OF INDIA , HONOURABLE CHIEF
JUSTICE OF INDIA are mum. They have failed to perform their
constitutional duties. All the doors of justice are closed for me.
e-voice has brought to the notice of government cases of
rights violations , crimes , tax evasions by public servants &
corporate bodies , it also offerred it’s services in apprehending
corporate criminals stealing crores of tax money. there was no
response . the police & authorities are keen , over zealous in
apprehending & prosecuting a pick-pcketer stealing Rs.10 , where as it
cover-ups the crimes of corporate criminals stealing lakhs , crores of
tax money. the government even rewards such corporate criminals with
tax exemptions , subsidies , etc. Is it equitable justice ? true
democracy of mahatma’s vision ? This type of corrupt administration in
india since independence has made the lives of commoners miserable and
is the main driving force for the rise of NAXALISM , TERRORISM /
SEPARATIST MOVEMENTS & UNDER WORLD.
However violence is not the solution, violence breeds more violence &
mahatma’s democracy true
swaraj cann’t be set up on the basis of violence. When all the doors
of justice are closed for a commonman ( sufferer of gross
injustices ) without financial might or contacts , he has the
following options :
1. to take law into his own hands & settle scores. But it is illegal
although naturally justified .
2. to suffer more & more injustices reconciling to the fact , ground
reality that democracy in india is fake only a facade.
3. To committ suicide to runaway from all injustices. But that is
illegal & cowardice.
4. To spread awareness among public about corruption in police ,
judiciary , public service & to kindle the light of crusade in them
within legal democratic frame work although presently sufferring from
gross injustices. All in the hope that tommorrow will be bright &
sunny , with the dawn of mahatma gandhi’s swaraj , as clearly told by poet Ravindranath Tagore and bow our heads to our great motherland India.
Your excellency , kindly tell me – tell the common people which way to take . JAI HIND . VANDE MATARAM.
Police Reforms: Too Important to Neglect, Too Urgent to Delay
CHRI’s police reforms programme aims to realise increased demand for and achievement of police accountability and reform throughout the Commonwealth.
The police reforms programme targets policy makers, police organisations, activists at the grassroots, civil society groups, the media and the general public to further its aims for reform and the implementation of democratic policing. It seeks to do this through a combination of advocacy, education, research and networking.
CHRI published a report on police accountability in the Commonwealth for the 2005 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting. This report explores the issues around policing in the Commonwealth, sets out a democratic policing framework, considers the critical limbs of accountability that must be in place in a democratic police organisation and puts forward a roadmap for reform. Electronic copies of the report are available here, or you can request a hardcopy here.
What is police reform and why do we need it?
In too many countries, governments are failing in their primary duty to provide the public with an honest, efficient, effective police service that ensures the rule of law and a environment of safety and security. Today, membership to the Commonwealth is premised on countries practicing democracy – and democratic governance requires democratic policing. The only legitimate policing is policing that helps create an environment free from fear and conducive to the realisation of people’s human rights.
The existing police systems in many Commonwealth states are a legacy of colonial rule that have been shaped by post-colonial histories. The consequences of poor policing include brutality and torture, extra-judicial executions, a lack of due process, impunity, corruption, bias and discrimination and public fear, anger and resentment.
The Commonwealth has some inspiring examples of governments and police organisations working towards reform. Some police organisations have undergone varying degrees of modernisation and transformation. Impetus for reform has generally arisen out of public concern over rising crime or from incidents of police abuse or failure, accompanied by a willingness to learn and address changing contexts.
What is democratic policing?
CHRI believes that democratic nations need democratic policing, which gives practical meaning to the Commonwealth’s promise of democracy and good governance and is applicable to any context – rich or poor, large or small, diverse or homogenous.
Critical to the success of democratic policing is the principle that the police should be held accountable: not just by government, but by a wider network of agencies and organisations, working on behalf of the interests of the people, within a human rights framework.
Democratic policing is both a process and an outcome. The democratic values of the Commonwealth lay down a sound foundation for the development of democratic policing.
A democratic police organisation is one that is
• accountable to the law and not a law unto itself
• is accountable to democratic government structures and the community
• is transparent in its activities
• gives top operational priority to protecting the safety and rights of individuals and private groups
• protects human rights
• provides society with professional services
• is representative of the community it serves
How to get information ?
Use the navigation buttons at the top of each page to find out more information on CHRI’s policing work in India, or internationally (in East Africa, West Africa, the Pacific, South Asia and the Caribbean).
If you are looking for information on compliance with the Supreme Court directives in India, click here. Information on the Model Police Act is available here.
If you are interested in CHRI’s conference and workshop programme, click on the Workshops button. This will take you to information about upcoming CHRI workshops, other upcoming workshops related to policing, as well as to reports on each of CHRI’s past workshops. To find out about other upcoming activities or events, watch the side bar on the right.
All CHRI publications are available electronically, under the Resources and Publications button. If you would like to request a hardcopy of one of CHRI’s publications, click here.
For the latest policing developments and news, press the News Updates button. If you want to access information on international, Commonwealth and regional standards, or copies of police legislation for particular jurisdictions, click on the Laws and Standards button.
CHRI’s 2007 report to the Commonwealth Heads of Government, Stamping Out Rights, examines the impact of anti-terrorism laws on policing. For more information on CHRI’s work on anti-terrorism and policing, click here. Click here to read Stamping Out Rights and here to contact a member of the team.
To read about a Commonwealth Expert Group on Policing click here.
If you have any questions or feedback, or would like to get in touch with a member of CHRI’s police team, click here.
RIGHT TO INFORMATION
The Constitution of India does not explicitly grant a right to information. However, the Supreme Court of India (the country’s highest court) has held in several cases that the right to information is implicit in the constitutionally enshrined rights to freedom of speech and expression (Article 19 (1)(a) and right to life and liberty (Article 21).
The first Supreme Court ruling on the right to information dates back to 1975. However, no attempt was made by either the Central or the State Governments to implement a simple and effective access to information regime until after the launching of campaigns for freedom of information by civil society. (Notably, effective right to information legislation is important even where a constitutional right exists because it ensures that people do not have to go to court every time they want to exercise the right, and puts in place simple, clear and regular procedures which can be easily utilised by all.)
The first and most well-known right to information movement in India was the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), which began its right to information work in Rajasthan during the early 1990s. MKSS’s struggle for access to village accounts and transparency in administration is widely credited with having sparked off the right to information movement across India.
From the mid-1990s, a national campaign for the enactment of a central law on right to information gained momentum. After much struggle, the Central Government enacted the Indian Freedom of Information Act in 2002. The Act represents an important step towards actualising the Right to Information, but has been criticised for not going far enough. More problematically, the Act is yet to come into force, since the rules to implement the Act are yet to be formulated by the Central Government.
While the campaign for national legislation was going on, in the meantime some significant breakthroughs were achieved at the State-level. Tamil Nadu was the first State to enact a right to information law, in 1997, followed by Goa in the same year. To date, seven other States have passed legislation – Rajasthan (2000), Karnataka (2000), Delhi (2001), Maharashtra (2002), Assam (2002), Madhya Pradesh (2003) and Jammu and Kashmir (2003). Campaign efforts in other States have also had some success – Uttar Pradesh framed an executive code on access to information in 2000 and draft bills have now been prepared by the Governments of Kerala and Orissa.
As one of the leading campaigners for the right to information, CHRI has sought to generate awareness on this issue, support civil society campaigns and provide input into the law making process, drawing on our knowledge of international best practice. CHRI’s advocacy has included the making of policy submissions, articles in the media and training and workshops. CHRI has also published several booklets, fliers, brochures and posters.
Checking, Correcting and Preventing Human Rights Violations through
Community Involvement in Prisons
Places of incarceration are largely impermeable to the outside world. Inaccessibility and lack of accountability, coupled with the indifference of the public towards prisoners have led to gross violation of their rights and the current condition of Indian prisons.
The philosophy underlying the 1894 Prisons Act has since been superseded by minimum standards generally accepted as best practice both with in India and by international agreement, reflecting wide consensus on standards applicable in the context of correctional administration. At another level, even the prescribed standards are disregarded and an overlay of common practice now serves as rule rather than the statute. Prisons in India also find themselves at the bottom of the budgetary priorities of most governments, having scarcely any resources at their disposal and subject to a seemingly entrenched apathy toward prisoners and prison administration.
The CHRI prison programme works to remedy this, undertaking studies and advocacy projects to address prison conditions, reform prison management, and foster an attitude of cooperation in place of the prevailing indifference and discrimination characteristic of the criminal justice system.
The organization works through prison visits to inform its advocacy – monitoring, recording and reporting on prison conditions and practices followed on the ground to inform constructive dialogue with government officials, members of the judiciary and civil society to keep reform on the agenda, and working closely with other groups and academic institutions to draw on their specialist knowledge.
CHRI initially worked towards re-invigorating the institution of prison visitors as an external and independent oversight mechanism, assessing their performance, identifying problems and conducting capacity building programmes. The programme has since expanded to focus on conditions of detention, accountability mechanisms and wider government policy.
INDIA: Law-enforcement agencies made accountable to the rule of law is an urgent need
The Indian media often report with contempt the killing and maiming of the citizens by non-state actors. The limited debate in the country upon the issue is centred on the illegitimacy of violence used by the terrorists, insurgents and armed resistance movements, and is highly polarised. Except for the effort of a few publications like the Tehelka, the deliberations so far have missed a crucial aspect, the issue of disproportionate use of violence by the state upon its own citizens.
The significance of this subject is on the logic that the state is the custodian of the law and is principally responsible for governing by the rule of law. It implies that the state must ensure equality before the law and must not allow the arbitrary abuse of authority and power by its agencies. Further, it casts a legal obligation upon the state that it can resort to force only through legitimate and controlled procedures, that too in extraordinary circumstances where the lives of its citizens are under immediate threat.
The constitutional framework in the country that guarantees rule of law to its citizens thus restricts the state from unleashing disproportionate violence upon its citizens. Unfortunately, the Indian state is engaged in systematically negating this legal premise for the past several years.
A cursory glance at the statistics produced by the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC), brings this fact to the fore. From April 2001 to March 2009, the NHRC has recorded 1184 deaths in police custody; which is murder committed by the police, without any sanction or approval of a court of law. Further analysis of this data brings out even more startling facts.
Most of these murders have taken place in relatively calm and problem-free states in the country, with Maharashtra state having the dubious distinction of topping the list with 192 murders. The other states ranked high in the list are Uttar Pradesh (128), Gujarat (113), Andhra Pradesh (85) and West Bengal (83). All these states are within the peaceful and prosperous parts of the country, with no insurgent activities.
It becomes apparent what would be the state of affairs in states like the Jammu and Kashmir, and in the seven states forming the Northeastern territory of the country where armed insurgent activities have been going on for the past 60 years. Deaths in police custody and extra judicial executions in fake encounters are rampant in these states, and the perpetrators of the crime go unpunished. For instance, in a recent statement, the Director General of Police in Manipur state, Mr. Y Joykumar Singh, said that in the past eleven months his officers have murdered more than 260 persons. Of course, the officer added that all those who are killed are terrorists, murdered in armed encounters.
It is a fact that these statistics is a gross underestimation of the actual numbers since only very few cases reach the NHRC and/or judiciary. The reason behind this is that often the victims’ families, being from the most underprivileged backgrounds, have no means or the courage to approach the courts. The complete absence of a witness protection programme or even a law to that effect, coupled with court delays often makes complaining against the law enforcement agency a suicidal act in the country.
Further, in states like Manipur, the security forces have unlimited and unaccounted power to carryout their operations under the statutory protection of the draconian law, The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958. This law allows even a non-commissioned officer to shoot to kill based on mere suspicion in order to “maintain public order”.
The euphemism, “to maintain public order” is widely misused by the security forces for unleashing unbridled terror where they operate, thus supporting a trigger-happy culture of governance. The July 23 killing of Mr. Chongkham Sanjit and Ms. Rabina Devi in Manipur, exposes the degree of lawlessness resorted to by the security forces in these areas. For further information please see: AHRC-UAC-098-2009
Placed in this context, the recent developments in the country have been highly disturbing. Despite all the evidences pointing to the worthlessness of the idea in delivering peace to the disturbed areas by use of force, the state is increasing its pitch for declaring war on its own people. Even more unsettling is the fact that the union home minister himself leads the campaign.
An example of this is the home ministry’s argument for a cohesive, clinical and all out operation against the Maoists named as Operation Green Hunt. What is missing in the aggressive rhetoric for a war on Maoists is the question about the people living in the area — poor, hapless tribal — marginalised to the peripheries of the Indian state for long. Caught between two warring parties armed to the teeth, the tribal pay the heaviest price in this battle.
Yet, they are nowhere cited in the public discourse. The only occasion they appeared to be included in the discussion was when the government decided to withdraw more than 100000 cases against the tribal ‘to win their hearts and minds’. Cases that were slapped on them for ‘stealing’ firewood, honey and other minor forest produce and a constant source of their exploitation by the police and the forest department were withdrawn.
The government did not care to answer why these cases were charged against them in the first place! After all, they have been living in these forests for centuries and the forest belonged to them. Why did it take an armed rebellion to force the state to think about their plight, and why the government could not act on its own for this long are two important questions that are yet to be answered.
Similar is the case with the people of Nagaland, Manipur, Assam, the Jammu and Kashmir and other states hit by insurgent activities in the country. The people residing in these states are compelled to resort to war like efforts just to ensure survival. Day after day, they are forced to walk through an alarmingly reducing narrow corridor of neutral space, maintaining equal distance from the sate and the non-state actors. In addition, the state does not help its case for garnering their support by the amount of terror it unleashes. After all, the state is the legal guardian of all its citizens, for it is the state who had solemnly promised and which had been bestowed the authority under the constitution to protect and preserve the inalienable human rights of its citizens.
For this reason alone, extrajudicial executions committed by the police and other state agencies deserve not only the strongest condemnation but also concentrated action against them. The deaths in police custody, committed with impunity provided by the uniform and authority, instigates not only public anger and protest but also hatred towards the state. The insurgents, whichever colour they belong to, tap this hatred for mobilising people into an armed rebellion against the state.
For this reason, declaring a war on its own people is a humongous error of judgment on the part of the state. What the state needs to do is reengaging those who are up against it, addressing all their concerns. The state also needs to go for a systematic and systemic overhaul of the system and correcting the flaws within the administration at the earliest. For this, it is elementary to conduct a revision of state policies ensuring public participation.
Further, guaranteeing equality before the law and ensuring punishment to the perpetrators of violence including those enjoying political power is required. The country needs to put an immediate end to murder in police custody and fake encounters. Those who are responsible for committing these acts must be prosecuted, with no exception to incidents that have happened in the past. The government needs to put people in command of their life, their habitat and resources and stop the state-sponsored corporate plunder of natural resources. The future, otherwise, does not seem that bright.
The Supreme Court of India has repeatedly warned the government that ‘custodial torture, violence and killing’ as ‘a naked violence of human dignity’ and a ‘calculated assault’ upon the people and their fundamental rights. The judgments delivered in the D.K. Basu and the Bhajan Kaur cases categorically declare that it is the state’s duty to ensure that persons live, behave, and are treated like human beings. The state must neither condone nor tolerate deprivation, oppression and violation of the right to life and liberty.
Yet, custodial killings in India have assumed alarming proportions, that it has adversely affected the belief of the citizens in the rule of law and the administration of justice in the country. Arbitrary misuse of authority with statutory impunity has also demoralised the security agencies in the country. If the functionaries of the state become lawbreakers, it results in a situation where might means right, leading to lawlessness and anarchy.
The Supreme Court has also directed the government that it must undertake innovative measures to deal with terrorism and has said that ‘state terrorism would only provide legitimacy to terrorism which is against the rule of law’. The state must thus ensure that its agents deployed for combating terrorism acts within the bounds of law and do not become law unto themselves.
India cannot afford to kill anymore of its citizens without plummeting into a state of anarchy. The prophetic vision of the court has proved to be true. It is now the duty of the state to undo its wrongs and prevent the ensuing anarchy.
It is time for the government to put an immediate end to the use of arbitrary means in dealing with dissent to safeguard the life and liberty of the citizens. The government cannot reject its constitutional and sacred duty to the citizens by becoming the unlawful arbiter and the executioner of humanity.
INDIA: Media must wakeup to the violence committed by the state
The existence of independent and strong media is a prerequisite for the working of a free and just society that governs itself by the rule of law. The role of media in establishing such a society is to act as the eyes and ears of the people, forming the collective conscience of the nation. After all what else does a democracy mean than letting its citizens make decisions that affect their lives? Independent media help the citizens in making informed choices by bringing news and perspectives to them. In short, free and impartial media is an important component to a democratic framework like its justice institutions.
The relative success of the democratic experiment in India in comparison to its neighbors owes considerable debt to its media. The robust resistance of the media to the declaration of emergency, one of the darkest hours in Indian democracy, is an example. It was the media that had the courage, augmented with exemplary resistance put up by all political and social forces, that openly opposed the dictatorial declaration of the emergency by the then prime minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi.
The Indian media did not spare even Jawaharlal Nehru, the first and perhaps the most loved prime minister of the country, when few of his cabinet colleagues were accused of corruption. It was the media that had courage to expose the gruesome events during the Gujarat state-led pogrom of innocent Muslims in that State. Bringing out the fascist nature of the rightwing Hindutva groups leading the carnage was perhaps the singular achievement of the media, leading to the erosion of support for the politics of hatred in India.
Viewed in this context, the recent developments in the Indian media are worrying to say the least. This is in spite of the contributions the media have made in exposing corruption, for instance, the shady arms deal during the National Democratic Alliance regime by the Tehelka, the petrol pump allotment scam during the same period by the Indian Express and the telecom allocation scam by the current United Progressive Alliance regime.
Similarly unambiguous is the media’s role in fighting against communalism, by continuously reacting against the witch hunt of the minorities by some political groups. Equally substantial is the role the media played in publishing the criminal and financial backgrounds of many candidates, who contested and eventually lost, in the recently held parliament elections. While the media has definitely held its ground and stood true to its prestigious past, on many current issues it has been regularly faltering.
Unfortunately, the media do not appear to be caring for its own record when it comes to the reporting of acts of terror committed by the state, while it comes down heavily on those committed by non-state actors. The media, both electronic and print versions, have been instrumental in enlightening the citizenry about the use of dastardly and mindless violence committed by non-state actors upon innocent civilian populations.
The argument put forward by the media to condemn the violence is plain and simple, that there are no issues in a democracy which cannot be sorted out by deliberations and peaceful means of protest, and that dissent can always be dealt with politically and democratically and violence, not sanctioned by the law, is intolerable in a democratic set up.
The media however appear to be swallowing its logic by failing to give equal seriousness against state-sponsored violence. Extrajudicial executions, torturing of suspects, murder of prisoners and under trials, and disappearances are quite rampant in India. These characters of a failing state require equal treatment or probably more attention than that is given to violence committed by non-state actors. Yet, the media do not give enough time and space to discuss these issues.
India has witnessed more than 1184 deaths in police custody according to the data published by the National Human Rights Commission. The data is concerning cases reported to the Commission between April 2001 and March 2009. Of these, 601 custodial deaths have taken place in Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, all peaceful states with no insurgency or other armed militia operating within. Yet, this news appeared in an almost invisible corner in the print media as a single column news in the inside pages. The electronic media ignored the news all together.
Similar is the case of fake encounters. Instead of condemning it and demanding prosecutions the media have actually been instrumental in the glorifying the killers in uniform. ‘Encounter specialist and super cop’ are media inventions in their attempt in showering accolades upon murderer police officers for ‘successful’ encounters. Some of these media heroes are now in jail or killed. For instance, the former Assistant Commissioner of Delhi Police, Mr. Rajbir Singh, was killed by a friend allegedly over disputes regarding his illegal investments, Mr. Daya Nayak of Maharashtra police, is in jail facing corruption charges and for his alleged nexus with the underworld. Mr. D.G. Banjara, Deputy Inspector General of Gujarat Police is in jail for his proven role in fake encounters. Even after the exposure of the real faces of these murderers in uniform, the media have singularly failed to get its act together barring a few exceptions.
After all, just how many times can one find such brazen acts of lawlessness like a live recording of the murder of two civilians by the police as it happened in Manipur? Just how many times the police, paramilitary forces and the army will let the media impartially cover their operations exposing their utter disregard for the rule of law as well as the constitution?
Any act of terror, violence, and extrajudicial executions is a crime against humanity. The question who did it is irrelevant. No law or ideology can legitimise the killings of innocent civilians, unfortunately caught between the state and its opponents. Murder or other forms of violence by the non-state actors based on whatever justifications – religion, ethnicity or ideology – should be unambiguously condemned. So should be the case with extrajudicial and illegal killings and other forms of violence committed by the state.
For one fact, unlike the non-state actors, the state warrants even sterner criticism for torture, killings and disappearances of its citizens as it is the state’s duty to protect, promote and fulfil constitutional guarantees. The state deserves a far stricter scrutiny as it derives the legitimacy to use force by being the custodian of the law, guaranteeing to use it only for the protection of the citizens and not for killing them.
The studied silence maintained by the media, in this context, is unfortunate. A single murder, unsanctioned by the law, committed by state agents should let the press hit the panic button. 1184, is an exception. Yet the country’s media chose to observe blissful silence. This prevents the possibility of exposing the countless unreported ones, which the media could have exposed.
The Asian Human Rights Commission expects that this silence is not from complicity, and that the Indian media will wake up to its legacy of standing by the people and the truth that they have the right to know.
INDIA: True democracy requires popular participation
The AHRC is publishing its 2009 annual human rights report on India. A pre-publication version of the report can be downloaded at: http://material.ahrchk.net/hrreport/2009/AHRC-SPR-003-2009-India-HRReport2009.pdf
In the first week of November this year, the Director General of Police, Mr. Y. Joykumar Singh, of Manipur state publically admitted that 260 persons had been killed so far by the state agencies in that state this year. The officer added that, according to the government, the deceased are terrorists, and that the security agencies killed them in armed encounters. Joykumar’s statement reflects the general sentiment of the government of India and that of the state governments in dealing with dissent.
In the past 12 months, the government has intensified its engagement with the separatist and extremist forces operating in the country. Unfortunately, the tone of engagement is that of violence. The commonly used tactic is to let the state agents engage in murder with impunity, popularly known in the country as encounter killing, a euphemism for extrajudicial executions. The apparent logic is that violence will be dealt with violence.
The alarming number of lives lost in the anti-Naxalite operations in states like Orissa, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh so far, stands proof to the systematic execution of this logic. On the contrary, the continuance of extreme leftist operations in these states and the unabated disruptive activities by non-state actors in states like Manipur proves that this logic is wrong.
The state’s engagement in violence has come with a cost. The police and paramilitary units are engaged in open, arbitrary and brutal use of force throughout the country with impunity. The police firing in Narayanpatana in Orissa and the July 23 killing in Imphal Manipur are just two examples. In spite of widespread condemnation of the two incidents, the officers involved are not punished. There have been no investigations into these incidents.
The use of extreme violence by the state has pushed the people further away from the government. In fact, there were several isolated as well as nationwide protests against the use of violence by the state in the country in this year.
As early as 14 December 1993, the National Human Rights Commission of India (NHRC) instructed the Chief Secretaries of the states to ensure that every case of custodial death and rape is reported to it within twenty-four hours of occurrence, failing which an adverse inference would be drawn by the Commission. On 10 August 1995, the Commission requested the Chief Ministers to ensure that post-mortem examinations of deaths in custody be videographed. On 27 March 1997, Chief Ministers were again requested to adopt a Model Autopsy Form, prepared by the Commission, and to use for this purpose.
None of these instructions are followed by the state agencies. Neither has the NHRC taken any steps to ensure the compliance of its directives. As of today, the NHRC has deteriorated to a namesake entity in the country, fated to function for the past two years without a Chairperson or adequate resources.
The recent conduct of the NHRC like the condoning of extrajudicial executions, torture and starvation deaths and rejecting complaints after accepting government reports, has become a reason for concern. It raises suspicion about the impartiality of the Commission as a national human rights body. The performance of the NHRC has deteriorated to such degree that it appears that the Commission is developing its expertise in summarily dismissing complaints, an action that negates the Commission’s statutory mandate.
The state agencies on the other hand are exploiting this expanded space of impunity available to them. For instance, the use of torture is endemic in the country. The government’s response to torture is a mere Bill. The Bill if enacted as a law is destined to fail. The ulterior intention of the government to continue providing impunity to its agents is clear from the Bill. For instance, the proposed definition of torture in the Bill does not meet the standards as prescribed in Article 1 (1) of the International Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
Equally disturbing is the fate of the Dalit community in the country. Brutal forms of caste based discrimination are practiced in India. Of particular concern is the laxity with which the government has dealt with the practice of manual scavenging so far, facilitating its unabated continuity. This is despite series of legislations enacted over a period spanning 62 years prescribing statutory prohibition to the practice. Even the administration in the national capital has failed to deal with the problem.
Caste based discrimination is also one of the important impediment in realising the right to food in India. Today, the government of India does not have any reliable data concerning the number of poor persons in the country. Over the years, the government has resorted to shameless gerrymandering of the statistical data to prove that conditions of the poor in India are improving.
Experts like Mr. Dilip D’Souza argue that systematic data corruption has adversely affected the possibility of the poor in receiving government assistance. At the same time observations made by experts like Professor Utsa Patnaik that the per-capita food availability in India as of today is worse than the 1943 Bengal famine is ignored by the government.
Dishonesty of the government is one of the reasons for the continuity of starvation and malnutrition in India. It is most evident in cases of starvation deaths. It is the practice of the government to deny that deaths have occurred from starvation or malnutrition. Even worse is the reaction of the national bodies like the NHRC that accepts such denial as evidence and dismisses complaints from victims instead of helping them.
Yet, these are issues that a democracy can resolve. The solution however depends upon peoples’ participation. While the civil society can play a vital role in organising the people, it is the responsibility of the government to guarantee that the peoples’ voices are reflected in government’s actions.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) calls upon the government of India to find means and occasions to encourage the people to engage in constructive dialogues with the state. December 10, the International Human Rights Day could be one such occasion.
HUMAN RIGHTS IN ASIA: BAD POLICING
Statement by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay
The concept of non-discrimination lies at the heart of human rights.
For this reason, it has been designated the official theme of this Human Rights Day, which occurs every year on the anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. And for this and many other reasons it should be an unofficial theme every day, every year, for everyone.
Twenty-six of the Universal Declaration’s 30 Articles begin with the words “Everyone…” or “No one…” Everyone should enjoy all human rights. No one should be excluded. All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. Non-discrimination must prevail.
Today, we have a whole range of rights-based international treaties imbued throughout with the concept of non-discrimination. These include, for example, Conventions on the rights of the child, rights of people with disabilities, rights of refugees and of migrant workers; Conventions dedicated to the elimination of racial discrimination and discrimination against women; as well as treaties dealing with labour, health and religion. These legally binding standards are complemented by important UN declarations detailing minority rights and the rights of indigenous peoples.
These international laws and standards are supported by thousands of national and regional laws and institutions. Quite a few countries now have truly universal education, and a smaller number have universal public health systems. Taken together all of this marks an extraordinary celebration of humankind’s ability and aspiration to create a world of equal opportunity and equal treatment under the law. And many millions of people have benefited as a result.
People of all sorts have something to offer. When we embrace diversity, we bring extra richness and depth to our societies.
Yet discrimination is still rampant.
Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours and produce half of the world’s food, yet earn only 10 percent of the world’s income and own less than one percent of the world’s property. Despite significant improvements over the past century, women and girls are still discriminated against to some degree in all societies and to a great degree in many. Every day countless numbers of women are sexually or physically abused, and the vast majority of their abusers go unpunished and future abuse is undeterred.
Minorities in all regions of the world continue to face serious threats, discrimination and racism, and are frequently excluded from fully taking part in the economic, political, social and cultural life available to the majorities in the countries or societies where they live.
Similar problems face the estimated 370 million indigenous people who make up five percent of the world’s population, but 15 percent of its poorest people. They are often marginalized, deprived of many fundamental rights – including land and property – and lack access to basic services.
Racial and ethnic discrimination are also to be found all across the planet, and remain one of the most dangerous forms of discrimination. Left unchecked, or actively fanned, they can all too easily lead to hatred, violence, and – in the worst cases – push on up the scale to full-blown conflict, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Discrimination based on religion or belief can be equally destructive. In certain countries, members of certain groups are restricted in how they can exercise their religion or belief and deprived of their fundamental rights. In extreme cases such conditions may lead to sectarian violence, killing and conflict. Stereotyping can lead to stigmatization and isolationism.
Refugees and migrants are widely discriminated against, including in rich countries where men, women and children who have committed no crime are often held in detention for prolonged periods. They are frequently discriminated against by landlords, employers and state-run authorities, and stereotyped and vilified by some political parties, media organizations and members of the public.
Many other groups face discrimination to a greater or lesser degree. Some of them are easily definable such as persons with disabilities, stateless people, gays and lesbians, members of particular castes and the elderly. Others may span several different groups and find themselves discriminated against on several different levels as a result.
Those who are not discriminated against often find it hard to comprehend the suffering and humiliation that discrimination imposes on their fellow individual human beings. Nor do they always understand the deeply corrosive effect it has on society at large.
Discrimination feeds mistrust, resentment, violence, crime and insecurity and makes no economic sense, since it reduces productivity. It has no beneficial aspects for society whatsoever. Yet we continue to practice it – virtually all of us – often as a casual reflex, without even realizing what we are doing.
I would therefore like to encourage people everywhere – politicians, officials, businesses leaders, civil society, national human rights institutions, the media, religious leaders, teachers, students, and each and every individual – to honour Human Rights Day 2009 by embracing diversity and resolving to take concrete and lasting actions to help put an end to discrimination.
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