Asian Centre for Human Rights

Dedicated to promotion and protection of human rights in Asia



I. Overview

Ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Madhya Pradesh witnessed serious human rights violations against the Dalits, indigenous peoples and religious minorities (please refer to the thematic chapter on attacks on religious minorities).

The Madhya Pradesh Police were responsible for arbitrary arrest, detention and torture, arbitrary, summary and unlawful deprivation of the right to life. The police enjoyed virtual impunity. In November 2004, the Supreme Court upheld the conviction of a police officer responsible for custodial death of a convict, Shambhu Tyagi in June 1984. [1] However, most custodial deaths went unpunished like the death of Hamid Khan on 15 June 1995, Govind Prasad of 1997, Pancham Kachhi of 1998 and Kesar Singh of 2001. [2]

In February 2004, Justice R D Shukla, former Chairman of the Madhya Pradesh State Human Rights Commission stated that the state government had been non-cooperative. [3] Violence against women including rape, molestation, dowry harassment and dowry deaths, was widespread. Even mediaeval form of atrocity against women namely Sati has been reported to be alive in the rural parts of the state.

The Dalit and indigenous women were vulnerable, especially of rape by the upper caste and the law enforcement personnel. On the night of 8 July 2004, three women of a Dalit family were allegedly gang raped by about thirty men belonging to upper caste at Bhamtola village under Kahniwara police station in Seoni district in retaliation for elopement of a Dalit boy with an upper caste girl. [4] The residents remained mute spectators to the ghastly act. [5]

The Dalits are subject to humiliation, torture, rape, social boycott, and systematic discrimination and execution. When landless Dalits get patta (ownership deed) from the government, the upper castes chase them away and grab their lands under the noses of the authorities.

Adivasis, indigenous peoples face serious human rights violations and continued to be displaced and evicted from their traditional habitations. There have been reports of serious violations of the rights of the scheduled tribes by both the state and the non-state actors. On 4 July 2004, forest officials and police reportedly attacked the Korku tribals in Bhandarpani area in Betul district, destroyed their properties, and forcibly evicted them. Many were taken to undisclosed locations forcing one Bakat Singh Korku, whose wife and six children went missing after the raid to file a habeas corpus in the Jabalpur Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court. [6]

The state government failed to implement the directions of the Supreme Court and the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal Award stating that land should be made available to the oustees at least a year in advance before submergence. Following the increase of the height of Indira Sagar Dam height to 245 meters, 34,882 families residing in 120 villages in Khandwa district were displaced and thousands were not rehabilitated. [7] At least 10,000 families have been under threats of submergence and displacement without any resettlement due to increase in the Sardar Sarovar dam height to 110 metres without rehabilitating the already displaced persons. [8]

Prison conditions remained deplorable. There have been reports of deaths of several prisoners due to lack of medical facilities and negligence of the administration. Sexual abuses in the prisons have also been reported. [9]

Religious minorities faced persecutions at the hands of the fundamentalist Hindu groups.

[1] . Custody death cloud on cops, The Telegraph, 18 November 2004

[2] . State Pulse Madhya Pradesh: Custodial death: A blot on police, The Central Chronicle, 3 September 2004

[3] . Justice Shukla irked over rights violations, The Central Chronicle, 29 February 2004

[4] . 30 Yadavs rape three Dalits, The Statesman, 11 July 2004       

[5] . Probe ordered into gang-rape, The Deccan Chronicle, 12 July 2004

[6] . Tribals uprooted in MP, The Tribune, 10 July 2004

[7] .97 villages evacuated in Harsud following dam work, The Kashmir Times, 7 July 2004

[8] .

[9] . Sexual abuse rampant in MP prisons, The Pioneer, 13 September 2004