• Himachal Pradesh

    1. Overview
    2.  Human rights violations by the security forces 1
    3. Violations of the rights of the Dalits 2
    4. Violence against women. 2
    5. Violations of the prisoners' rights 2
    6. Status of the internally displaced persons 3 

    1. Overview:

    Ruled by the Indian National Congress, Himachal Pradesh remained virtually peaceful and witnessed no major crisis. However, the law enforcement personnel were responsible for human rights violations.

    2.  Human rights violations by the security forces

    According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) of the Government of India, 210 complaints were received against the policemen in the state during 2005. Of these only 3 cases were registered, while 195 cases were declared false or unsubstantiated. 18 departmental inquiries, two magisterial inquiries and one judicial inquiry were instituted, while 5 police personnel were sent up for trials and one policeman was convicted during 2005.[1]

    Even the religious leaders were not spared of police highhandedness. On 25 June 2005, two police constables, Rajesh and Rakesh reportedly beaten up a seer identified as Swami Maheshwaranand with a belt at Sadar police station for mistaking him as a gang leader of pickpockets. The Swami sustained injuries on the face including in one eye after being whipped by the belt by the policemen.[2]

    Torture in custody was common. On 28 August 2005, a magisterial probe was ordered into the allegations made by an accused in a sex-racket, Amit Sood that he was allegedly beaten up in the police custody by the Station House Officer (SHO) Mr R P Jamwal of Dharamshala. The SHO was placed under suspension.[3]

    Even children were not spared. On 2 March 2005, Khub Ram (13), a class VII student and resident of Panyali in Mandi district, was taken to the Rewalsar police post on the charges of stealing a mobile phone where he was beaten up with belt and hanged from a fan by the policemen. Later the father of the victim was called and forced to deposit Rs. 5,000. The boy could not appear for his examination as a result of the torture.[4]

    3. Violations of the rights of the Dalits

    The condition of the Dalits remained deplorable in Himachal Pradesh with National Crime Records Bureau recording 55 incidents of crime being committed against the Scheduled Castes during 2005.[5] On 13 November 2005, Lekh Raj, General Secretary of the Kangra district Bahujan Samaj Party and district General Secretary of the Himachal Ambedkar Kalyan Samiti, was illegally confined by the police when he had visited the police station to inquire about the custody of two Dalit brothers of Sinnooh village.[6]

    4. Violence against women

    Himachal Pradesh witnessed several incidents of crime against women. According to NCRB, 793 incidents of crime against women were reported during 2005. Of these, 141 were rape incidents, 102 incidents were of kidnapping/abduction and two incidents of dowry deaths.[7]

    Social malpractices showed a rise in 2005. Following the introduction of the ‘only two child' norm in 2000 for contesting panchayat (Local Bodies) elections, which disqualified a candidate having more than two children from constesting panchayat elections, the number of abortions increased. In many cases, the third child was delivered surreptitiously. In April 2005, the State Assembly repealed the provision of two child norm for those contesting Panachayat elections.[8]

    In addition, the female-male ratio in the 0-6 age-group was 897 females per 1000 males which revealed a high incidence of female foeticide.[9]

    5. Violations of the prisoners' rights

    According to the NHRC, there were 1,005 prisoners in the jails of Himachal Pradesh against the sanctioned capacity of 833 prisoners, thereby resulting in 20.65% overcrowding as of 31 December 2004. The undertrial prisoners (478) constituted 47.5% of the total prisoners.[10]

    The condition of prisons was deplorable due to rampant corruption and denial of basic facilities. A convict identified as Sataya Prakash of the district jail at Dharamsala started an indefinite fast on 6 January 2005 demanding a CBI inquiry into the alleged human rights violations and drug trafficking by the jail staff. Sataya Prakash alleged that prisoners were denied food, clothing and medical facilities. He further alleged that the jail staff were involved in drug trafficking and 60 per cent of the prisoners in the jail had become drug addicts. The jail had the capacity of 104 prisoners, while usually the figure touches 150.[11]

    6. Status of the internally displaced persons

    The conditions of people displaced by development projects did not improve. The Kol Dam Hydro Electric Project on river Sutlej reportedly displaced about 1,085 families from Kasol village in Bilaspur district. Out of the 1,085 displaced families of the 800 MW Kol Project, only one person from Kasol village was employed with the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC). The IDPs had been demanding land for cultivation and employment of at least one member from each displaced family with the NTPC.[12]

    [1]. 2005-Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau

    [2]. Police beats up ‘pickpocket' seer, The Tribune, 28 June 2005

    [3]. Probe ordered into alleged atrocities, The Tribune, 29 August 2005

    [4]. Court summons cops for torturing boy, The Tribune, 7 May 2005

    [5]. 2005-Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau

    [6]. Dalits up in arms against police, The Tribune, 18 November 2005

    [7]. 2005-Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau

    [8]. Himachal Pradesh shows the way, The Hindu, 4 May 2005

    [9]. Ibid

    [10]. NHRC's prison population statistics

    [11]. Lifer on indefinite fast; alleges human rights violations, The Tribune, 24 January 2005 

    [12]. Kol Dam oustees seek jobs, land, The Tribune, 28 February 2005

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