Alert Bangladesh: Prominent defenders receive two-year prison sentences
Urgent Interventions

Acts of harassment and intimidation against Ms. Shila Bewa

IND 003 / 0219 / OBS 013



February 8, 2019

The Observatory for the Protection ofHuman Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture(OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situationin India.

Brief descriptionof the information:

The Observatory has been informed by Banglar Manabadhikar SurakshaMancha (MASUM)[1]about acts of harassment and intimidation by personnel of the Border Security Force (BSF) against Ms. ShilaBewa, a member of MASUM, inToltoli village, in Ghospara Gram Panchayat, Murshidabad district, West BengalState, close to the border with Bangladesh.

According to the information received, at around noon on January 25,2019, Ms. Shila Bewa was verballyharassed and intimidated by Mr. Tejbir, anofficer of the BSF 43rd Battalion posted at the Farajipara Border Outpost (BOP) while putting up postersas part of a campaign protesting against violations committed by the BSF[2],around the river bank areas of Toltoli village. Mr. Tejbir also confiscated allposters that were in her bags and tore several posters that had already beenpasted on walls.

At 3.30pm on the same day, when Ms. Bewa went to the Jalangi police station,Murshidabad district, to file a complaint, the officer-in-charge initiallyrefused to register her complaint and blamed her for getting herselfinto trouble, before finally accepting to take her complaint. When she returnedthe next day to the police station to get a receipt for her complaint, theOfficer-in-Charge verbally harassed her, telling her that she “can’t doanything against the BSF. We will not take any step against the BSF” and that “KirityRoy of MASUM cannot do anything against the police and the BSF”.

Moreover,on January 27, 2019, Mr. Tejbir interrupted a street corner meeting convened byvillagers at Raipara, in Ghospara Gram Panchayat, to protest against the BSF’sattacks on freedom of expression of the people living along the border, whichspecifically denounced Ms. Shila Bewa’s recent harassment. While the gatheredvillagers asked Mr. Tejbir about his involvement in the removal of posters, hetook photographs of Mr. Kirity Roy, MASUM Secretary, who was addressing thecrowd at the time. As the gathering was getting restless, the BSF personnelleft. However, later, at around 7.30 pm, 15 police and BSF personnel from theJalangi police station and Farajipara BSF Camp, including Mr. Tejbir, came backto where the meeting had taken place, forcing one villager to remove one of theposters denouncing BSF violations and threatening villagers that any type ofprotest against the police and the BSF would not be tolerated.

The Observatory condemns the above-mentioned acts of harassment and intimidationagainst Ms. Shila Bewa, which seem to be only aimed at punishing her fordenouncing grave human rights violations allegedly involving members of theBSF, and recalls that several other members of MASUM have been facing reprisalsin the past for their human rights activities[3].

The Observatory calls upon the Indian authorities to put an end to allacts of harassment, intimidation, and criminalization of all MASUM members, aswell as of all human rights defenders in India.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in India, urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical integrity andpsychological well-being of all the members of MASUM as well as of allhuman rights defenders in India;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judiciallevel - against all the members of MASUM, as well asagainst all human rights defenders in India, and ensure that they are ableto carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear ofreprisals in all circumstances;

iii. Conform to the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human RightsDefenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9,1998, in particular with Articles 1 and 12.2;

iv. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamentalfreedoms in accordance with international human rights standards andinternational instruments ratified by India.


· Mr. Shri Narendra DamodardasModi, Prime Minister of India, Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857. E-mail: /

· Mr. Raj Nath Singh, UnionMinister of Home Affairs of India, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979. Email:

· Mr. Rajiv Gauba, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs of India, Email:

· Justice Dipak Misra, Chief Justice of India,Supreme Court, of India, Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email:

· Justice Shri H.L. Dattu, Chairperson of the NationalHuman Rights Commission of India, Fax +91 11 2465 1329. Email:

· Mr. Khaleel Ahmad, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, NationalHuman Rights Commission of India, Email:

· Ms. Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister,Government of West Bengal, India, Fax: +91-3322143528

· H.E. Mr. Rajiv Kumar Chander, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of India to theUnited Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email:

· H.E. Mr. Manjeev Singh Puri,Embassy of India to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg in Brussels,Belgium, Fax: +32 2 6489638 / +32 2 6451869

Please also write to thediplomatic mission or embassy of India located in your country.


Geneva-Paris, February 8, 2019

Kindly inform us of any action undertakenquoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for theProtection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 bythe World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of thisprogramme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rightsdefenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.

[1] MASUM worksfor the protection of human rights in the eastern Indian state of West Bengaland is especially engaged in documenting cases of torture, enforceddisappearances and extra-judicial killings. MASUM is a member of OMCTSOS-Torture Network.

[2] The posterscalled for the BSF to leave the villages, to stop obstructing the cultivationof the land by villagers, and to stop committing torture, trafficking,murder, and enforced disappearances, as well as for the BSF to be punished fortorture and corruption.

[3] SeeObservatory Urgent Appeals, IND 002 / 0815 / OBS 066, issued on August 14,2015; IND 002 / 0714 / OBS 067, issued on July 30, 2014; IND 004 / 1114 /OBS 091.1, issued on December 24, 2014; IND 004 / 1114 / OBS 091.3, issued onJanuary 8, 2016; IND 004 / 0816 / OBS 073, issued on August 11, 2016; ​IND 002 / 0617 / OBS 069, issued on June 26, 2017; ​IND 002 / 0617 / OBS 069.1, issued on November 10,2017; IND 002 / 0219 /OBS 012, issued on February 8, 2019.

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