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)about acts of harassment and intimidation by personnel of the Border Security Force (BSF) against severalmembers of MASUM in the village of Hatkhola inChapra, Nadia district, West Bengal State, close to the border withBangladesh.
According to the information received, on February 2, 2019, Chaprapolice registered a criminal case against Mr. KirityRoy, MASUM Secretary, MASUMmembers Mr. Ramen Moitra, Mr. Subhrangshu Bhaduri and Mr. SujoySingh Roy, and the driver of a car hired by MASUM, Mr. Ganesh Sarkar, under Sections 186(“obstructing public servant in discharge of public functions”), 323(“punishment for voluntarily causing hurt”), 345 (“wrongful confinement ofperson for whose liberation writ has been issued”), 506 (“punishment forcriminal intimidation”) and 509 (“word, gesture or act intended to insult themodesty of a woman”) of the Indian Penal Code. The case was filed after thedefenders had taken part in a meeting earlier that day with more than 150villagers who reported acts of torture allegedly committed on a daily basis bymembers of the ‘A’ Company of the 81st Battalion of the BSF, which is posted atthe Mahakhola Border Outpost (BOP) under the jurisdiction of the Chapra policestation in Nadia district.
Ataround 2.15 pm, shortly after the meeting had ended,MASUM members noticed approximately 100 villagers waiting beside theroad for the border gates to be opened at 3pm by the BSF so that they couldreturn home. Mr. Royapproached BSF Head Constable Mr. Jay Bhagwan, who was guarding gate number 10of the Mahakhola BOP, and asked him to openthe gate. The latter refused and asked Mr. Roy to show his identity card.Another BSF officer, Mr. Sanjay, also refused to open the gate, and both mensubsequently tried to confiscate the mobile phones of the MASUM members presentat the scene.
Aftera short period of time, the Commander of the ‘A’Company, Mr. S N Sharma, arrived and started pushing and shoving the people whohad gathered there. He told MASUM members that they had come to the village “tocreate disorder”, before he and another BSF Company Commander, Mr. RajveerSingh, started taking video footage of the scene. Company Commander Mr. S NSharma then called the Chapra police station of Nadia district and complainedto the Officer-in-Charge that human rights activists were trying to instigatevillagers to commit violence and unrest. Mr. Rajveer Singh subsequently wrotedown the names of the four MASUM members who were present, took photographs oftheir identity cards, and told them that they should have asked for permissionto come to the village.
Around3pm, MASUM members were allowed to leave, after Mr. S N Sharma told them thatif they were to come back again without their permission, they would “face direconsequences”. At around 4.30pm, police officers from the Chapra police stationcame and collected information from villagers.
Twohours later, Messrs. Kirity Roy,Ramen Moitra, Subhrangshu Bhaduri, Sujoy Singh Royand Ganesh Sarkar were informed that Chaprapolice had registered a criminal case against them after BSF Commander Mr. S.NSharma lodged a written complaint to the Chapra police station.
OnFebruary 3, 2019, Mr. Roy filed a written complaint with the Officer-in-Chargeof Chapra police station to denounce the BSF’s behaviour.
The Observatory condemns the above-mentioned acts of harassment and intimidationagainst MASUM members, which seem to be only aimed at punishing them fordocumenting and denouncing grave human rights violations allegedly involvingmembers of the police forces and BSF, and recalls that several members of MASUMhave already faced reprisals in the past because of their human rightsactivities.
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.
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. Raj Nath Singh, UnionMinister of Home Affairs of India, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979. Email: email@example.com
· Mr. Rajiv Gauba, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs of India, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Justice Dipak Misra, Chief Justice of India,Supreme Court, of India, Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: email@example.com
· Justice Shri H.L. Dattu, Chairperson of the NationalHuman Rights Commission of India, Fax +91 11 2465 1329. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Mr. Khaleel Ahmad, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, NationalHuman Rights Commission of India, Email: email@example.com
· 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
· H.E. Mr. Manjeev Singh Puri, Embassyof 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 ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented byinternational civil society.
 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.
 The villagers live within the Indian territorybut on the other side of the border fence with Bangladesh.
 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 003 / 0219 /OBS 013, issued on February 8, 2019.
- Urgent Interventions
Renewed threats and harassment against relatives of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar
- Urgent Interventions
Harassment and intimidation by the police against Mr. Kirity Roy and other members of MASUM
- Urgent Interventions
Police harassment and intimidation against Mr. Sanjit Mondal, MASUM District Human Rights Monitor
- Urgent Interventions
Renewed acts of police harassment and intimidation against Mr. Sanjit Mondal