States Round Up Issue-01 July to September 2010 Index Page
Full version of the report

Maharashtra



I. Highlight: Development projects increase displacement

During July-September 2010, Maharastra ruled by the Indian National Congress and the Nationalist Congress Party coalition witnessed intensified conflicts between indiscriminate industrialisation and project affected people and environmental groups.

In the second week of July 2010, the villagers of Madban under Taluka Rajapur in Ratnagiri district refused to accept enhanced compensation package announced by State Power Minister Ajit Pawar in the Legislative Council. They claimed that their land was forcibly acquired for the Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project (JNPP) to be set up by the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited. In April 2010, Shashikant Keshav Joshi, a resident of Karel, one of the affected villages, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the Bombay High Court, alleging that his land was acquired forcibly, the site of the project was earthquake-prone and it also posed threat to security. [1]

The Konkan Bachao Samiti (KBS) claimed that several questions on the proposed JNPP remained unanswered. The KBS also claimed that the JNPP even did not receive regulatory approval from the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB). [2]

Similarly, seven villages with a total population of around 15,000 faces compulsory relocation once the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) clears the construction of the  Navi Mumbai airport. The Navi Mumbai International Airport Project Affected People, an organization of the affected villagers, alleged that the City Industrial Development Corporation, Mumbai which is developing the airport, failed to keep its earlier promises for remuneration based on current market rate of the land; regularization of the houses that were built outside the village boundary; and settlement of the pending cases of those families who have not yet been given 12.5 per cent of the cultivable land. [3]

After sustained protests, in September 2010, the state government decided to return 583 hectares of horticulture land that had been notified for a special economic zone by Bharat Forge in Khed-Shirur near Pune. The state government took this decision allegedly after the Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s remark that land acquisition must be done in a manner that does not cause loss of large tracts of productive agricultural land. She also called for a humane approach while acquiring land. [4]

On 1 July 2010, the Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court stayed the clearance given by the MoEF to the Lower Penganga irrigation project. The High Court issued notices to MoEF, and other respondents and asked them to file replies within two weeks. A PIL filed by Lower Penganga Dharan Virodhi Sangharsh Samiti alleged that MoEF had issued a notification on 27 January 1994 to get its clearance before embarking on land acquisition for the Lower Penganga project. The Forest Advisory Committee rejected the proposal on 30 April 2002 on the ground that out of the 19,000 hectares of land required for the project; at least 1,089 hectares of forest would be destroyed. The project would also required felling of two lakh trees and displacement of 35,388 people from 7,102 families. Again on 26 July 2004 the Forest Advisory Committee rejected the proposal. However, on 28 April 2006, the government issued notification for a public hearing to be conducted on 6 May 2006. On 17 May 2007, the review committee of the MoEF granted approval to the proposal and on 19 June 2007, the Forest Advisory Committee also gave the green signal to the project. On 7 January 2009 the MoEF approved to start acquiring land for the project. [5]

II. Violations of civil and political rights

During July-September 2010, the ACHR documented couple of cases of human rights violations by the security forces.

On 18 July 2010, police allegedly baton charged the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) workers near Basar village in Nanded district. The TDP workers tried to gain entry into Dharmabad city from Andhra Pradesh to be with their leader and former Chief Minister, Chandrababu Naidu. [6]

On 28 July 2010, Mohammed Javed Shaikh, accused in the rape and murder of a minor in Kurla, Mumbai alleged that the police at Nehru Nagar station tortured him in order to extract a confession. Shaikh alleged that police did not allow him to sleep and was flogged with a belt on his palms and soles during the first six days of detention since 1 July 2010. The police also allegedly tried to scare him by firing three bullets in the air when he refused to confess. [7]

On 13 August 2010, some 15 personnel of the Central Industrial Security Forces (CISF), posted at Malet Bunder near the Mumbai Port Trust, allegedly abducted six Mumbai police constables, held them captive and beaten up after an argument over violation of traffic rules by the CISF personnel. The constables had registered a case of attempt to murder against the 15 CISF officials, including an assistant commandant. [8]

In early September 2010, Rishi Dange, a fashion designer from Kalyan, Mumbai alleged that officials of the Vikhroli police station demanded a bribe of Rs 18,000 to register a case of rash driving against a state transport bus driver. When he refused to pay, police booked him in false cases of assault and attempting to deter a government servant from performing his duty. [9]

The State government continued to provide impunity to the security forces for gross human rights violations. On 26 August 2010, the Bombay High Court allowed four weeks time to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to conclude its investigations in the alleged custodial death of Altak Kadir Sheikh at Ghatkopar police station in 2009. The CBI which was supposed to file the chargesheet in the case by 31 August 2010 had requested for an extension on the ground that an expert opinion was being sought from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), New Delhi about the exact cause of death of the victim. [10] The court was hearing a petition filed by Mehrunisa Sheikh, mother of the victim seeking action against policemen who were responsible for allegedly killing her son. [11]

Proceedings also continued in a division bench of the Bombay High Court in a petition by Aasiya Begum asking for permission to prosecute 10 more policemen allegedly guilty of causing the death of her son, Sayed Khwaja Yunus in January 2003. On 8 September 2010, a division bench of Justice A M Khanvilkar and Justice U D Salvi was to hear the final arguments.The state Criminal Investigation Department had sought the prosecution of 14 police officers for their alleged role in Yunus’ custodial death. But, the government had sanctioned the initiation of legal proceedings against only four of these 14 officers. The state government accepted that Yunus died in police custody but refused to prosecute the 10 other policemen. This prompted Aasiya Begum to file a petition before the Bombay High Court. [12]

On 19 July 2010, the Bombay High Court was informed that of the seven policemen absconding since their involvement was revealed in the Ramnarayan Gupta fake encounter case, three have been suspended and suspension orders would be issued to four others in case of their failure to appear before the Special Investigation Team. The Division Bench of Justice B H Marlapalle and Justice Anoop Mohta were hearing a petition, filed by Gupta’s brother advocate Ramprasad. [13]

III. Abuses by the AOGs

ACHR documented the following cases of abuses by the AOGs in Maharashtra during July-September 2010.

On 20 July 2010, a group of 20 to 25 armed Naxalites allegedly killed a middle aged farmer, Sitaram Mahagoo Dugga (45 years), in Dholdongri village in Purada in Gadchiroli district accusing him of being a police informer. The Maoists reportedly dragged the victim identified as out of his home and killed with sharp weapons. [14]

On 16 August 2010, the Maoists killed a 65-year-old villager identified as Janglu Mahadev Pada in Malanda village of Gadchiroli district accusing him of being a police informer. The rebels attacked him with sharp weapons at his residence when he was asleep. [15]

On 24 September 2010, the Maoists allegedly killed a 22-year-old woman identified as Karuna alias Bakka Durgam in Pentikaka village in interior Gadchiroli district. The victim who was herself a Maoist but given up arms was dragged out of her house, beaten up and later gunned down. [16]

IV. Violations of the rights of the Dalits

The Dalits constitute 10.2 per cent of the total population of Maharashtra, as per the 2001 Census. [17]

Official data showed a steady increase in number of atrocities against the Dalits in the state: from 689 in 2004 to 844 in 2005, 1,001 in 2006 and 1,173 in 2008. [18] In fact from 2005 to March 2010, a total of 6,803 crimes have been committed against the SCs/ STs which is roughly over a thousand crimes each year. [19]

The cases of rape of Dalit women in Maharashtra have been on the rise. According to official data, 2007 is the only exception when a lesser number of 75 rape cases of Dalit women were recorded. Otherwise, the cases have steadily increased from 83 in 2005 to 103 in 2009. During January to March 2010, 39 rape cases of SC/ST women have been recorded. [20]

On 22 July 2010, Maharashtra Home Minsiter RR Patil informed the Legislative Council that it proposed to set up special courts to deal with atrocities against SCs and STs and the proposal has been sent to the law and judiciary department for approval. [21] But no special court has been established so far. [22] This is despite the fact that as of March 2010, there were a total of 5,411 cases pending under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 and the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955. [23]

Consequently, Maharashtra has one of the lowest rates of conviction in caste atrocity cases in India. In 2007 the conviction rate in cases of offences against the Scheduled Castes (SCs) was only 2.9 in comparison to 50.7% in Uttar Pradesh, 47.3% in Rajasthan, 39.9% in Madhya Pradesh and 17.1% in Bihar. In 2005, 2006, and 2007, the conviction rate in Maharashtra decreased from 6.3 to 4.6 and to 2.9 respectively. [24] On 22 July 2010, Maharashtra Home Minsiter RR Patil stated in the Legislative Council that delay in registering complaints and investigations, non-cooperation of witnesses and failure to verify caste certificates are some of the main reasons for low conviction rate. [25]

On 14 July 2010, the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court commuted the death sentences of six people accused in the massacre of a Dalit family in Khairlanji in 2006 and gave them life imprisonment of 25 years each. The High Court also held that the brutal crime against Bhaiyyalal Bhootmange’s family was one of revenge and not of a caste attack. [26]

V. Violations of the rights of women 

ACHR documented a number of cases of violence against women. Women faced violence both inside and outside of their home. Often, security forces were responsible for violence, especially sexual assault.

On 14 August 2010, five persons allegedly abducted a 22-year-old girl from Sitabuldi area in Nagpur and took her to an isolated place near Maharaj Bagh where she was gang-raped. [27]

On 15 August 2010, a Mumbai police constable allegedly molested 35-year-old Sunita Wakhare, one of the six women volunteers of the Maharashtra Niradhar Devdasi Mahila Sanghatna, who had started a half-naked march outside CST in Mumbai. [28]

On the night of 11 September 2010, three sailors of the Indian Navy allegedly molested some girls who were returning home after watching movie at Regal Theatre in Mumbai. The accused identified as Animesh Thakur, Bhagat Singh, and Gangadhar Kushawa, who were posted at Colaba, started passing vulgar comments at the girls as they emerged out of the cinema hall and then followed them up to the nearby ATM. However, the girls were rescued by the policemen who were patrolling in the area. When the policemen tried to intervene, the accused assaulted them too. The police charged them with outraging the modesty of a woman and assaulting a public servant in the course of performing duty. The Navy took custody of the sailors from the police and started investigation. [29]

In the evening of 26 September 2010, police arrested Lt Col Tejinder Singh, retired army officer on charges of molesting a minor girl. The accused, who runs a training institute in Kondhva area in Pune allegedly molested the class IX girl student when she attended tuition during the day. [30]

VI. Violations of the rights of the Child

The state government of Maharashtra failed to implement the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000. [31]Maharashtra has 35 districts. [32] But the state government has so far established only 30 Juvenile Justice Boards in the State as per the records of the Ministry of Child and Women Development as of 10 March 2010. [33]

Further Inspection Committees as provided under Section 35 of the JJ Act do not function. [34] In July and August 2010, five children identified as Sameer (14 years), Pawan (15 years), Divya (12 years), Ramu (10 years), and Deepak (9 years) died due to starvation and malnutrition at Satkarm Balgrah, a government recognized orphanage for the mentally challenged at Kadwas village in Thane district. According to District Child Welfare Committee, these children were not given any medical treatment when they fell ill and their condition deteriorated over time. There were 18 inmates between the ages of five and 15 who were brought from various juvenile homes across Thane district. A surprise visit by CWC team found that the inmates were living in abysmal conditions. Another five children between 5 to 12 years were found to be critically ill and severely malnourished. Instead of providing them medical facilities, the Satkarm Balgrah officials kept them in isolation in a dark room, where they ate, slept and even defecated. [35]

An on-the-spot visit by Mumbai Mirror found that “the kids had not been bathed in days and were dressed in shabby and inadequate clothes. As soon as our team entered the stinking room, they surrounded us and clamoured for food. They said they hadn’t eaten in some time.” [36]

On 23 August 2010, 18 mentally challenged inmates were rescued from Satkarm Balgrah orphanage by Child Welfare Committee (CWC) members. The Women and Child Development Department of Maharashtra Government initiated an inquiry into the death of five mentally challenged inmates. [37]

The Bombay High Court took suo-motu cognigance of media reports about the plight of mentally-challenged children in Satkarm Balgriha and on 16 September 2010 the High Court directed the government to set up advisory boards, child protection units, inspection committees at the city, state and district levels. Under the rules framed within the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 these bodies are meant to monitor functioning of orphanages, destitute homes and children’s home. [38]The Bombay High Court also directed the state government to implement the provisions of the JJ Act within
two months. [39]

The state also faced problem of child labour. In a series of raids that started on the night of 19 July 2010 till the morning of 20 July 2010 at Goregaon, Vakola and Kurar, more than 28 children employed at hotels and sugarcane centres were rescued by police along with Balprafulta, an NGO working for children. In Goregaon alone, 22 boys, all aged below 18 were rescued from a restaurant and sugarcane centre. Of the 22 boys, 12 were below the age of 15. They were sent to Mankhurd children’s home. All other rescued children have been rehabilitated. [40]

Endnotes:
1. Jaitapur nuclear project: villagers turn down compensation, The Hindu, 25 July 2010
2. ‘Jaitapur nuclear plant needs thorough regulatory scrutiny’, The Hindu, 30 August 2010
3. Airport rests on environmental concerns, The Hindu, 19 July 2010
4. MAHARASHTRA RETURNS LAND TO FARMERS, The Hindustan Times, 14 September 2010
5. Environmental clearance to Penganga project stayed, The Times of India, 2 July 2010
6. Police lathi charge TDP workers at Andhra-Maharashtra border, Dnaindia.com, 18 July 2010
7. Kurla rape case: Accused Javed Shaikh alleges police torture, Dnaindia.com, 29 July 2010
8. Constables thrashed by CISF men in Mumbai, dnaindia.com, 14 August 2010
9. Man refuses to pay bribe in Mumbai, booked for ‘assaulting’ driver, dnaindia.com, 4 September 2010
10. Custodial death: CBI gets more time to conclude probe, The Indian Express, 27 August 2010
11. Ibid
12. 7 years after Yunus’ death, HC to hear final arguments - The Times of India, 7 September 2010
13. Three cops in encounter case suspended, HC told, The Free Press Journal, 20 July 2010
14. Naxalites kill middle aged tribal in Gadchiroli, dnaindia.com, 20 July 2010
15. Naxals kill elderly person in Gadchiroli, Dnaindia.com, 16 August 2010
16. Naxals kill surrendered woman Naxalite in Gadchiroli, dnaindia.com, 25 September 2010
17. Available at http://censusindia.gov.in/Tables_Published/SCST/dh_sc_maha.pdf
18. Entire village to be fined for Dalit atrocities: Maharashtra govt, The Indian Express, 5 August 2009
19. Maharashtra’s record in conviction rate in caste atrocity cases dismal, The Hindu, 20 June 2010
20. Ibid
21. Maharashtra to set up special courts for speedy trial of atrocity cases, Daily News and Analysis, 22 July 2010
22. Special court for Dalits in Maharashtra yet to come up, Daily News and Analysis, 11 September 2010
23. Maharashtra’s record in conviction rate in caste atrocity cases dismal, The Hindu, 20 June 2010
24. Ibid
25. Maharashtra to set up special courts for speedy trial of atrocity cases, Daily News and Analysis, 22 July 2010
26. Death for 6 commuted to life by HC, The Indian Express, 15 July 2010
27. 22-year old girl gangraped in Nagpur, Dnaindia.com, 15 August 2010
28. Constable misbehaved with me, says Devdasi, Dnaindia.com, 20 August 2010
29. Sailors who ‘molested girls and fought with policemen’ arrested, Navy orders probe, The Indian Express, 15 September 2010
30. Retired army officer arrested for molesting minor, Daily News and Analysis, 27 September 2010
31. The text of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 is available at http://wcd.nic.in/childprot/jjact2000.pdf
32. Available at http://maharashtra.gov.in/english/Districts%20List.php
33. Available at http://wcd.nic.in/projsanc/jjimpstatus-100310.pdf
34. The text of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 is available at http://wcd.nic.in/childprot/jjact2000.pdf
35. Orphanage hell, Mumbai Mirror, 23 August 2010, Mumbai Mirror, 23 August 2010
36. Ibid
37. Maharashtra to Probe Deaths at Orphanage, Outlook (online), 24 August 2010
38. Set up inspection committees, child protection units for pvt orphanages: HC, The Indian Express, 18 September 2010
39. Court gives state 2 months to implement juvenile Act, The Times of India, 17 September 2010
40. 28 child labourers rescued, The Hindustan Times, 21 July 2010
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