India
26.11.14
Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary arrest, judicial harassment and ill treatment against Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar and imminent risk of detention of Mr. Kirity Roy, members of MASUM

IND 004 / 1114 / OBS 091Arbitrary arrest /Judicial harassment / TortureIndiaNovember 26, 2014
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH), requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in India.

Description of the situation:

The Observatory has been informed by Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) about the arbitrary arrest and judicial harassment of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar, District Human Rights Monitor of MASUM in Murshidabad district (West Bengal, India). Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar is a renowned human rights defender who has investigated cases on human rights violations perpetrated by the police and Border Security Forces (BSF) personnel, and who has been instrumental on unearthing several other human rights violations in Murshidabad district. In the recent past, Mr. Sarkar has suffered other acts of harassment and threats were directed at him by the police while they carried out acts of ill-treatment against his nephew[1].

According to the information received, on November 21, 2014, law enforcement agents from the Raninagar Police Station arrested Mr. Sarkar at his place of residence and subsequently transferred him to the ACJM Court, Lalbagh, on November 22. Mr. Sarkar was reportedly arrested pursuant to an arrest warrant for a previous pending criminal case under the Passport Act.

Case No. 364/2013, dated June 5, 2013, was brought against Mr. Sarkar by Mr. Char Mourasi, B.O.P. ‘C’ Company of 130 Battalion of the BSF under section 12 of the Passport Act of 1967 (GR 1738/2013). On May 20, 2014, Mr. Sarkar filed an application before the ACJM Court, Lalbagh, expressing his concern that he had been falsely implicated in an unknown criminal case by the police and the BSF, and requesting more details about such case. However, until the arrest Mr. Sarkar had not received any information about the status of the said criminal case, neither has he received any summons from the police or the court.

According to the same information, Mr. Rana Mohanta, Mr. Sarkar’s defense counsel, reported that his client was assaulted, abused and misltreated by the police at the time of his arrest as well as in custody. Upon hearing his testimony the Court ordered that Mr. Sarkar be released on bail and that he undergo a medical examination under supervision of the Inspector of the General Record Office (GRO) of the ACJM Court, Lalbagh. The Medical Officer of Lalbagh Sub Divisional hospital examined Mr. Sarkar and advised that he be admitted to hospital, suspecting that his ribs were fractured due to having been kicked and punched while in police custody. As of issuing this Urgent Appeal, Mr. Sarkar’s doctor had referred him to the Ajimuddin District Hospital, as his condition had deteriorated and was not manageable at the Lalbagh Sub Divisional Hospital. This came as Mr Sarkar, who is suffering suspected fractures to his ribs and backbone, had to wait for more than. 24 hours after the incident before he got an X-Ray examination, and received a visit from doctors.

Mr. Sarkar does not hold a passport and according to the information received, he has never crossed India's borders into any other country. However, the police seem to have fabricated this criminal case against him not only to harass him but also to send a warning to the local population that advocating for human rights would be sanctioned by the police.

According to the same information, the police have issued a warrant of arrest as an absconded accused against Mr. Kirity Roy, Secretary of MASUM, regarding the same criminal case. Mr. Kirity Roy could therefore be arrested shorty.

The Observatory is greatly concerned by the arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of Mr. Sarkar, as well as by the imminent risk of arrest against Mr. Roy, which seem merely aimed at sanctioning Mr. Sarkar’s and MASUM’s human rights activities in the Murshidabad district and calls for an independent and impartial investigation as well as for the involvement of the investigation wing of the National Human Rights Commission.

The Observatory calls for Mr. Sarkar's immediate and unconditional release, and is further concerned for his physical and psychological integrity, in particular in light of the injuries he sustained as well as the inadequate health care he has received.

Actions requested:

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

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar as well as of all human rights defenders in India;

ii. Release Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar immediately and unconditionally, since his detention is arbitrary as it only seems to be aimed at sanctioning his human rights activities

iii. Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the abovementioned events in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;

iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar and Mr. Kirity Roy as well as against all human rights defenders in India so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrances;

v. Conform with the provisions of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on December 9, 1998, especially:

- Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels”; and
- Article 12.2, which provides that “"the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration”; and

vi. More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international and regional human rights instruments ratified by India.

Addresses:

· Mr. Shri Nanredra Damodardas Modi, Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister’s Office, Room number 152, South Block, New Delhi, India. Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857. E-mail: pmosb@pmo.nic.in / manmo@sansad.in
· Mr. Raj Nath Singh, Union Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 104-107 North Block, New Delhi 110 001 India, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979
· Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court, Tilak Marg, New Delhi -1, India. Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: supremecourt@nic.in
· Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Manav Adhikar Bhawan Block-C, GPO Complex, INA, New Delhi - 110023, India. Fax +91 11 2465 1329. Email: covdnhrc@nic.in; ionhrc@nic.in
· Mr. A. K. Parashar, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, National Human Rights Commission, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, India. Email: hrd-nhrc@nic.in
· Miss Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister, Chief Minister of West Bengal, 325, Sarat Chatterjee Rd, Shibpur, Howrah, West Bengal 711102, Telephone: +91 33 2214-5555, 2214-3101
Fax: +91 33 2214-3528 E-mail: cm@wb.gov.in
· H.E. Mr. Dilip Sinha, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations (Geneva), Rue du Valais 9, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email: mission.india@ties.itu.int
· Embassy of India in Brussels, 217 Chaussée de Vleurgat, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 6489638 / +32 2 6451869

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of India in your respective country.

[1] See Observatory’s Urgent Appeal IND 001 / 0514 / OBS 041 from May 15, 2014.
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