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India
17.05.18
Urgent Interventions

Arbitrary detention of Dalit rights defender Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan in Uttar Pradesh

IND 004 / 0518 / OBS 065

Arbitrary detention /

Judicial harassment

India

May 17, 2018

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 byreliable sources about the arbitrary detention ofMr. Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan, aDalit human rights defender in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh State[1].

Accordingto the information received, Mr. Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan has been detained since his arrest on June 8, 2017, following protests during which Dalitand Thakur communities clashed in Saharanpur inMay 2017[2].However, Mr. Azad was not present duringthe protests. He was arrested along with 40 other prominent activistsand leaders of “Bhim Army”, a Dalit human rights organisation, all of whom were subsequently granted bail.

23 charges were filed against him, including chargesof “rioting”, “armed with deadly weapons”, “unlawfulassembly”, “attempt to murder”, “assaulting public servants”, “trespassing”,and “breach of peace” in relation to theabove-mentioned clashes.

OnNovember 2, 2017, the Allahabad High Court granted bail to Mr. Azad in all thecases against him, as the police could not provide evidence of his specificrole in the incidents of violence or of possessing weapons of any kind.

However,within hours of the High Court order, on November 3, 2017, the Uttar PradeshGovernment placed Mr. Azad under administrative detention under the NationalSecurity Act (NSA), until February 2018.The NSA allows the Government to hold a person without bail for up to ayear.

OnJanuary 27, 2018, Mr. Azad’s detention under the NSA was extended until May 2, 2018.On that day, a non-judicial ‘advisory board' established under the NSA put himin jail for another six months i.e. until November 2, 2018.

Atthe time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Mr. Azad remained detained atSaharanpur jail, Uttar Pradesh State.

The Observatory strongly condemns thearbitrary detention of Mr. Chandrashekhar Azad under the NSA, which seems aimed atimpinging on his legitimate activities to protectDalit rights. It further condemns what appears to be a deliberate misuse of theNSA to curb Mr. Azad’s human rights activities.

The Observatory urges the Indian authorities to release Mr. Azad immediatelyand unconditionally and to put an end to all forms of harassment against him,including at the judicial level.

Actions requested:

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

i.Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical andpsychological integrity of Mr. ChandrashekharAzad Ravan andall human rights defenders in India;

ii. Ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Mr.Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan, since his detention is arbitrary and it is merelyaimed at punishing him for his human rights activities;

iii.Put an end to all acts of harassment - including atthe judicial level - against Mr. Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan and all human rights defenders in India, and ensure in allcircumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activitieswithout any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iv. Conform with 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, 12.1 and 12.2;

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

Please also write to the National Human Rights Commission of India,urging it to:

vi. Exercise its powers under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993,and immediately intervene in this case of Mr. ChandrashekharAzad Ravan through an independent investigation from its Focal Point on HumanRights Defenders;

vii.Ensure that laws like the NSA are not misused against human rights defenders tocurtail their legitimate peaceful human rights work.

Addresses:

· Mr. Shri Narendra DamodardasModi, Prime Minister of India, Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857. E-mail: pmosb@pmo.nic.in / manmo@sansad.in

· Mr. Raj Nath Singh, UnionMinister of Home Affairs of India, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979. Email: dirfcra-mha@gov.in

· Mr. Rajiv Gauba, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs of India, Email: hshso@nic.in

· Justice Dipak Misra, Chief Justice of India,Supreme Court, of India, Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: supremecourt@nic.in

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

· Mr. Srinivasa Kammath, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, NationalHuman Rights Commission of India, Email: hrd-nhrc@nic.in

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

· 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, May 17, 2018

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.

[1] Mr. Azad Ravan is theco-founder of the ‘Bhim Army’, an organisation of Dalit volunteers challengingcaste oppression. The organisation intervenes in instances of caste oppressionand runs free schools for Dalit youth in western Uttar Pradesh State. In recentyears, the Bhim Army has intervened in instances of caste atrocities andchallenged the caste hierarchy.

[2] During the clashes, twoDalit men were killed and many houses belonging to Dalits were torched. Thedistrict administration through the local media had deliberately falselyaccused the Bhim Army of being ‘Naxalites’, ‘terrorists’.

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