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ACHR Index: PR/IND/05/07
30 May 2007

Armed groups are responsible for more violations,  
Police firing endemic

ACHR's India Human Rights Report 2007 released

New Delhi: Asian Centre for Human Rights in its “India Human Rights Report 2007” (www.achrweb.org) stated that during 2006, the armed opposition groups were responsible for more violations while the police were responsible for widespread, indiscriminate and disproportionate use of fire-arms.

“Among the armed opposition groups, the Naxalites stood out as the worst violators of international humanitarian laws and the chilling massacres perpetrated by the Naxalites such as the Darbhaguda massacre of 28 February 2006, Monikonta massacre of April 2006, Errabore massacre of 17 July 2006 and Halewada massacre in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra on 16 May 2006 – clearly stood out as the worst cases of the violations of the right to life.” - stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director of Asian Centre for Human Rights.

The police were responsible for killings of civilians in indiscriminate use of fire-arms. The killings of civilians which were hitherto common in insurgency affected areas were reported from across the country. The major incidents of killings of civilians in fire-arms in 2006 were killing of 14 civilians in Kalinganagar of Orissa on 2 January 2006, eight civilians at Kakopathar and Makum in Tinsukia district of Assam on 10 February 2006 and killing of four civilians at Seelampur in Delhi on 20 September 2006.

There were rampant reports of custodial killings. In the first three months of assuming office by the V.S. Achuthanandan-led governmentin Kerala on 18 May 2006, about 14 persons reportedly died in police custody across the State. On October 2006, the State government of Kerala instituted a commission of inquiry headed by Justice R Rajendra Babu but the opposition parties were not consulted.

The conditions of the women and children remained deplorable and they were subjected to violence both by the security forces and the armed opposition groups.

The Scheduled Tribes and Scheduled Castes continued to face atrocities.  However, the conviction rate for crimes against the tribals remained extremely low. According to the latest available figures, the conviction rate for crimes against Scheduled Tribes was 28 per cent while corresponding overall conviction rate under Indian Penal Code was 40.1 per cent and under Special Local Laws was 88.9 per cent.

"The government authorities failed to take appropriate actions against human rights violations by the security forces. In the case of extra-judicial killing of Ajit Mahanta of Kakopathar under Tinsukia district of Assam, a military court in July 2006 found two soldiers - Nishant Sharma and Sudip Gurung - guilty of killing Ajit Mahanta. “But the sentence was too lenient and was not commensurate with the crime of violation of the right to life. While Nishant Sharma was suspended from his service for one year, Sudip Gurung was merely sentenced to two months' rigorous military imprisonment” – stated Mr Suhas Chakma, Director ACHR.

Human rights defenders continued face atrocities from the security forces and the armed opposition groups. In 2006, Habel Koloi, Chairman of Borok Peoples Human Rights Organization of Tripura and Umakanta Meitei, General Secretary of Threatened Inidgenous Peoples Society faced incarceration under the National Security Laws before being released by the courts. On the other hand, 78-year-old Rev. Dr Tongkhojang Lunkim, Chairman of Kuki Movement for Human Rights was abducted by the Kuki Liberation Army (KLA) and Mr Elvis Chorkey, President of Mizoram Bru Displaced Persons Forum was abducted by Bru Liberation Front of Mizoram.

“Unless the government of India ensures accountability for human rights violations by the security forces, common citizenry is unlikely to see any distinction between the armed opposition groups and the security forces. This poses more serious threat to human rights and democracy.” – stated Mr Chakma.


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