Asian Centre for Human Rights

Dedicated to promotion and protection of human rights in Asia



I. Overview

Ruled by Samajwadi Party, Uttar Pradesh recorded highest number of custodial deaths in India in 2004. According to the National Human Rights Commission, during 2003-2004 it recorded 217 custodial deaths - 18 in police custody and 199 in judicial custody. [1]

While the Uttar Pradesh State Human Rights Commission received 1265 complaints in 2002-03, the number swelled to 2052 in 2003-04. Most of these complaints were against police personnel. [2] The police personnel continued to be responsible for arbitrary arrest, detention, torture, rape and custodial death and violence against the Dalits.

Uttar Pradesh also reportedly topped the list of harassment cases against women in India in 2003. Out of 5,160 complaints of atrocities and harassment against women received by the National Commission for Women in 2003, as many as 2,580 cases were reported from the state. [3] The women were subjected to rape, domestic violence, honour killings and dowry deaths.

The Dalit women were extremely vulnerable. They are tonsured, stripped, paraded naked and raped. The Dalits also faced physical violence including killing at the hands of the upper castes. They are also deprived of the lands allotted to them. On 28 July 2004, Mansaram, a Dalit farmer, committed suicide in Ramnagar Tehsil in Barabanki district after the Uttar Pradesh Sahkari Gram Vikas Bank arbitrarily auctioned off his tractor and land for a paltry sum without following procedures. [4]

Land grabbing from the Dalits has been widely reported. Yet, on 26 July 2004, the State cabinet decided to introduce amendments in the UP Zamindari Abolition and Land Reforms Act 1950 to lift the ban on sale of land owned by Dalit farmers. As per the existing Act, any Dalit owning 3.125 acres or less land is not allowed to sell the same to non-dalits. Lifting the ban on sale of land owned by dalit farmers would pave the way for malpractices. Atrocities and violence by the upper castes to force the Dalits to sell their lands would also intensify. [5]

Adivasis in Sonebhadra district and Dalit families in Gorakhpur district have been facing severe starvation. In Raup village in Sonebhadra district, there were reports of death of many tribal children due to hunger in 2003. Many tribal families survived by eating roots and leaves of plants. In September 2004, the Supreme Court reportedly issued notice to the state government to take steps to guarantee the right to food of the affected persons.

Though 19 policemen were killed in a landmine blast by suspected Naxalites on 20 November 2004 at Naugrah of Chandauli district, according to state Revenue Minister Ambika Chowdhary only seven incidents of violence by Naxalites were reported in 2004 as against 27 incidents in 2002. The state government has been spending Rs 13.2 crore annually on the Central paramilitary forces deployed in Chanduli, Mirzapur and Sonebhadra districts. [6]

[1] . Custodial deaths: UP leads offenders’ pack, The Times of India, 26 August 2004

[2] . Rights Violations On The Rise In Up, Deccan Herald, 13 August 2004

[3] . UP tops list of harassmwent cases against women, The Kashmir Times, 8 January 2004

[4] . Dalit UP farmer commits suicide, The Indian Express, 30 July 2004

[5] . UP dalit MLAs against change in act, The Asian Age, 13 August 2004

[6] . UP keen on special force to fight Naxals, The Pioneer, 25 September 2004