UNHCR rapporteur calls for repeal of AFSPA in India


The much-criticized Armed Forces Special Powers Act known as the A-F-S-P-A used by India in Kashmir and troubled northeastern states has once again come under fire — this time by the UN.

The body has asked for an immediate repeal of the controversial law throughout the troubled zones.

Rashida Manjoo, the Special UN Rapporteur says the act, which has been blamed for arbitrary executions in Kashmir and seven northeastern Indian states, gives sweeping powers to troops to arrest, search and even shoot people with impunity from local laws. She believes the act violates international laws.

India introduced AFSPA in 1958 to put down separatist movements in the country’s northeast which extended to most parts of Indian-administered Kashmir soon after the outbreak of armed insurgency against New Delhi’s rule in 1989.

Hafiza is one of the many thousands of victims hit hard by the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. Her 15-year-old son was taken away by government forces in Kashmir and his whereabouts remain unknown to date.

Manjoo was in India to assess the situation of violence against women. The UN expert’s visit to India comes at a time when violence against women has increased exponentially in India’s capital as well as other cities.

According to the national crime records in India, rape cases more than doubled between 1990 and 2008. Statistics show 228,650 of the 256,329 victims of violent crimes recorded in the country last year were women. The conviction rate for rape cases in India is 26%. Investigations also reveal every 20 minutes one rape happens in the country. Despite the increase in sexual violence, the number of convictions is falling.

Human rights defenders have repeatedly requested the Indian government to revoke the Armed Forces Special Powers Act. But the administration still seems least interested in responding to the calls and this has created an atmosphere of impunity and lack of accountability for the crimes security forces have perpetrated… Shahana Butt, Press TV, New Delhi, India

 

#India – When a rape is not a rape #sexualviolence #Vaw #AFSPA


Freny Manecksha | February 16, 2013, Times Crest

 

In 2004 an iconic image, hailed as a feminist statement, depicted a dozen Manipuri women who had stripped in front of the headquarters of Assam Rifles, holding banners saying “Indian army rape us.” But as Chitra Ahanthem, editor of Imphal Free Press explains, “These women actually belong to a very patriarchal society. What drove them to such extreme forms of protest? They told me it was an expression of the impotent rage they felt at the way security troops could commit sexual crimes with such impunity.”

The protest occurred after the body of 34-year-old Manorama Thingjam was found near Imphal on July 11, 2004. Manorama was earlier picked up from her home by 17 Assam Rifles on suspicion of being a militant. “The protesting women told me no woman could remain unmoved after seeing what the troops had done to Manorama. Her body bore appalling wounds _ scratch marks, deep gashes on her thighs and her genitals peppered with gunshot wounds,” says Ahanthem.

More than eight years later Manorama and women of Manipur are still denied justice. The army, in 2011, stalled the Manipur government’s probe and call for action by challenging the Guwahati High court decision in the Supreme Court through a Special Leave Petition saying no sanction had been given to the Manipur government to carry out a probe. Manipur comes under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and Sections 6 provides that the state government cannot prosecute law enforcement agencies without sanctions from the federal Home Ministry.

Such high-profile cases of impunity and “the belief that AFSPA because of its overarching powers to security troops virtually provides legal sanction to rape and sexual assault” led the People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) to make suggestions to the Verma Commission to bring security troops under the criminal justice system. The commission did so but the recent ordinance on sexual violence is totally silent on this issue. (Ironically in 1997, a bench headed by Justice Verma had upheld the constitutionality of AFSPA).

PUDR observes how powers of search and seizure under AFSPA work as “permissions to enter households and harass, protest and rape women with impunity.”

A most heinous example of such a “permission” is the Kunan-Poshpura mass rapes of 1991 in Kashmir. Men were made to assemble in the fields at night whilst some 23 women of the village, aged between 13-80 years, said they were raped by troops of the Fourth Rajputana Rifles between the night of February 23-24. No police investigations were carried out. A Press Council of India committee headed by B G Verghese, claimed the complaints were fabricated. But in October 2011, the State Human Rights Commission, (SHRC) acknowledging the sexual assaults asked the state to start a fresh probe.

The army which resists all attempts to lift AFSPA, says it has its own justice delivery systems and there is a strong and vigilant court martial process. But as legal activist Vrinda Grover observes, “Whilst they do deliver some sentences it is not commensurate with justice. Also there is no transparency since one has no access to court martial proceedings and no information is shared either with the public or even the victims.” In several cases Right to Information applications are refused under exemptions.

Increasingly, rights activists are now arguing that it is not merely draconian legislation but militarisation and the guise of a security-centric approach that creates “institutional impunity at political, judicial and moral levels.”  A report Alleged Perpetrators: Stories of Impunity in Jammu & Kashmir by the International People’s Tribunal for human Rights and Justice in Indian Administered Kashmir and Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons states that in the “name of countering militant violence the Indian state authorises armed forces to carry out operations with or without adherence to law. Significantly in a majority of cases crimes are not noted or investigated at all.”

A team member explains that in Jammu and Kashmir the very act of filing an FIR against the forces becomes a huge struggle.

One of the victims of Kunan-Poshpora  in her testimony to another report to the Independent People’s Tribunal on Human Rights Violations in Kashmir speaks of the daunting challenge in  filing FIRS because of fear and reprisal by concerned troops. She adds that although an FIR was lodged (RI/1387/83) at Trehgam police station on March 2, 1991 nothing came of it.

Alleged Perpetrators documents the lengthy and almost futile efforts of a particular case of torture and sexual assault in Sipan, Anantnag district. In response to an RTI query the Jammu & Kashmir government in 2009 said sanction for prosecution had been sought from the ministry of defence in 2006 but was still awaited. The ministry of defence claimed sanction had not been received. What is also significant is that it took 12 years for the J&K police to investigate and process the case for prosecution.

An even more alarming feature is that the culture of impunity has permeated to the police who do not come under AFSPA.  One notable case in Alleged Perpetrators pertains to rape and torture of  a 16-year-old girl from Zachaldara,Kupwara district. She says she was picked up from school and taken to a police station for interrogation. Lady constables tortured her and later DSP Altaf Ahmad Khan kicked her in the abdomen and then raped her. So horrific were the injuries that she was in hospital for 50 days. Her ruptured uterus was removed. Although she filed an application no FIR was registered. She then approached the SHRC who have recommended an inquiry three years after receiving the complaint. No investigations appear to have taken place.  Meanwhile the police officer has been promoted and awarded the President’s Police award for gallantry.

Significantly this trend of rewarding policemen who have charges of sexual violence against them have echoes in Chhatisgarh, where there is militarisation but no AFSPA. SRP Kalluri who was awarded a gallantry medal this January has been named by Ledhabai, the wife of a slain Maoist, as an accused for custodial rape and gangrape in a case filed in the Chhatisgarh High Court.

Last year there was outrage over adivasi school teacher Soni Sori’s letter to her lawyer stating that she was sexually assaulted and tortured by police officer Ankit Garg whilst in jail. Garg was given a gallantry award despite the complaints and Sori emerged as a global rallying figure for her vehement stand against atrocities perpetrated on adivasi women.  Sori who has been jailed by Dantewada police on various counts won a crucial victory this week as she was acquitted for being a key accused in an incident of opening firing and burning Essar vehicles.

Commenting on this trend of rewarding tainted police officers Vrinda Grover says that by such rewards the state is assuring them that they will be safeguarded. It is telling women, she says, that their bodies are fodder for interests of national security.

PRESS RELEASE-Appeal from Civil `Society of Poonch to Govt of #India and #Pakistan



*APPEAL * *FROM THE CIVIL SOCIETY OF POONCH TO THE GOVT. OF INDIA AND PAKISTAN*

Peace process means different things for the people living
in different parts of Jammu and Kashmir. For the people residing alongside
103km long LOC in Poonch region, ceasefire of 26 November 2003 had brought
peace,securityand created conducive atmosphere fordevelopment in border
areas. This was important as this region and   the people and their
socio-economic needs had remained neglectedfor 58 years,due to continues
firing and shelling across the LOC. These conditions had subjected people
to limitless pain and sorrow, Death and injuries and filled their life with
miseries and tension before ceasefire. *

*However  in November  2003, For the first time after 58 years, the people
of border areas got relief from war like situation. When the LOC CBMs were
introduced in 2005, and the cross LOC bus service started. It provided
opportunities for the divided families to meet their relatives after
decades. In 2008 tradersfrom both side of the LOC were able to
establishtrade relations. Thus an atmosphere of peace and hope was created
during the past ten years and the people residing alongside the LOC started
the journey of progress and prosperity.*

*                However in last few days this peaceful atmosphere has been
disturbed due to unfortunate incidents of firing and brutalkillings across
the LOC at various places in Poonch and Uri areas. These incidents have
shaken the confidence of the people. There is a lot of tension and panic
among the public.We the people of border areas who have enjoyed the fruit
of peace and the LOC CBMs following  the ceasefire on the LOC donot want
the escalation of the situation and lives being disturbed as a result
ofmore killings.*

*The members of civil society of Poonch would like to make a humble appeal
to Governments of India and Pakistan to take immediate steps towards the
restoration of peace on the LOC and implement in letter and spirit the
ceasefire agreement of November 26, 2003.

We urge that all efforts be made to defuse the tension on the LOC and restore trade venture and weekly bus
servicefrom Poonch –Rawalakote routeso that  we the people of border areas
can live in our houses and localities near the LOCwith a sense of  peace
and security in conducive atmosphere. This, we believe is in the utmost
interest of the people residing on both the sides of LOC.*

*Name of the signatories*

*1.       **Iftikhar Ahmed Bazmi                            Secretary BAR Association Poonch*

*2.       **Inder Raj Sharma                                     President BaparmandaPoonchl*

*3.       **S. Karishan Singh                                     Gen.Secretary Cross LOC Trader`s Association Poonch*

*4.       **S. Harbajan Singh                                    President,Journalist Association Poonch*

*5.       **MohdFarooq                                             Imam,Jamia Masjid Poonch*

*6.       **K.K.Kapoor                                                                Peace,Activist*

*7.       **Molvi Abdul Razaq                                  SarpanchPanchayat HariBudha*

*8.       **S. Divinder Singh                                     OwnerKhidmat Centre*

*9.       **Prof. MussarafHussain Shah               Chairman, SyedHabibullah Memorial Society *

*10.   **Muzaffar Ahmed                                     President,Public Peace & Development Foundation  *

*11.   **K.D. Maini President Heritage Centre Poonch*

*12.   **ZakiHaider
President Anjuman-e-Jaffria*

* *

 

#Rape by man in uniform (BSF), abandoned, No action taken neither by BSF nor by police #Vaw


28 December 2012

 

To

The Chairman

National Human Rights Commission

Faridkot House

Copernicus Marg

New Delhi

 

Respected Sir

 

This is a sordid tale of a woman, who lost her family, livelihood and neighbourhood due to the river erosion of Padma and her woes further compounded with while her husband a person attached with Border Security Force left her without even informing her. The men attached with Border Security Force, used his position, made false promises of marriage and subjugate the destitute woman and had sex without providing her any financial and other supports in guise of marriage. 

 

Ms. Sundari Bibi, (actual name withheld) daughter of Mr. Aftab Ali Mondal, aged about 30 years of village- Parashpur, Post Office- D/ Parashpur, Police Station- Jalangi under Murshidabad district, started living at Sushil Colony, Char Parashpur with many others who lost their agrarian land and dwellings by the erosion. The entire village; Parashpur is now extinct from the map due to the river erosion of year 2005. From 2006 onward her father started living at the said place with his daughters and minor sons. The woman got crippled when her both palms were severely burnt while cooking.  Her minor brothers became adults by the time gone and left the family, her sisters got married and she developed animosity with her parents and became abandoned. In 2007, she moved towards the banks of river Padma adjoining to Sushil Colony and erected a hutment for her living. She started to fend herself by selling a small quantity of rice which she uses to buy from local market.

 

In the mid 2008, a BSF personal from adjacent Farazipara BSF- BOP Camp of 90th Battalion; Mr. Shamsuddin Barlaskar; son of Late Moinuddin Barlaskar; Identity Card No. 95145059, Rank– C.T (at that time), Identity Serial No. 202008 (Issuing Date- 15.1.98) has started visiting her during days and nights. The said BSF personal made proposals for sexual favours. While she refused those proposals, he made consecutive promises for marriage and the hapless woman was convinced of that and a physical relationship between them had grown from that time. The neighbourhood asked the couples to get marry and pressure from Sundari forced the culprit; Shamsuddin to marry her. On that time, he has to leave the Farazipara BSF camp for more than two months and later transferred to Madhugari BSF camp. From Madhugari camp he often visited the hapless woman and the neighbourhood of Sundari forced the BSF personal to marry her. After being married, Shamsuddin used to come to her house and started living as a married couple. Shamsuddin made several false promises that he would take her to his native place but never. Their marriage got solemnised and registered according to the Muslim Marriage Act, on 5.11.2009 at Domkal; Murshidabad.  But Shamsuddin never provided any money to the hapless woman for her living and forced her to penury. The woman with her challenged situation still living alone. In 2010, she came to know that, Shamsuddin has been transferred at Roshanbagh Head Quarter of 90 Battalion of BSF. Later our investigation revealed that he has been transferred from Roshanbagh to Jammu and Kashmir but details are not available with us.

 

On 5.11.2009 the hapless victim tried to lodge a complaint against Shamsuddin at Jalangi Police Station; Murshidabad but the police of that police station refused to accept her complaint.  On 19.4.2010, she made a similar complaint before the Sub Divisional Officer; Domkal, District- Murshidabad and on 22.4.2010, the SDO sent a notice to the Block Development Officer; Jalngi, District- Murshidabad to cause an enquiry with the Assistant Camp Commandant of concerned BOP of BSF and for submitting an action taken report to him.

 

But till date no appropriate actions have been taken by the authorities. In the meantime, the victim woman has undergone physical and psychological treatments at medical camps organised by us. Our psychological counsellor opined that she is under severe distress and anxiety. The woman is living under utter destitution because her name has not been included under any governmental schemes; BPL, Annapurna or Antodaya. She has not made further persuasion of her case because till recent, she obsessed with a faintest hope for a better conjugal relations which became shattered now.

 

In this given context I demand for:-

 

  • A specific case of committing rape by giving false promises must be initiated against the said BSF personal
  • Alimony and maintenance for throughout the period must be provided to the victim woman from the involved BSF personnel
  • The protection and safety of the woman must be guaranteed
  • The role of erring police personnel of Jalangi police station; who refused to register the complaint of the victim, must be investigated and appropriate actions should be taken

 

 

Sincerely Yours

 

 

(Kirity Roy)

 

 

Kirity Roy
Secretary
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
(MASUM)
&
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
40A, Barabagan Lane (4th Floor)
Balaji Place
Shibtala
Srirampur
Hooghly
PIN- 712203
Tele-Fax – +91-33-26220843
Phone- +91-33-26220844 / 0845
e. mail : kirityroy@gmail.com
Web: www.masum.org.in

 

 

Free Waqar Now


 

Dear all

We had started an  e-petition  addressed to Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to take up the case of this Kashmiri student, Waqar  and many like him lamguishing in priosn, at ipetition website, but our petition was pulled off with following message today

“Hello, Unfortunately, our legal department has encountered some legal issues regarding your petition (http://www.ipetitions.com/ petition/release-waqar-ahmad/). We are forced to remove your petition from our site, otherwise we are subject to legal proceedings. The petition will be disabled for at least 48 hours prior to removal, but you will have access to its database during that period. We apologize once again. Thank you for your understanding. -Alex iPetitions Support-iPetitions Support”

the important points to note in this case are

Important Points:

– The Indian State has booked Waqar under draconian Public Safety Act (PSA) that allows the state to jail anyone for two years without trail. Waqar is not a dreaded criminal but only any other college student who asks for his rights.

– The authorities in Indian-Held Kashmir have shifted Waqar to Kothbhawal Jail, more than 300 km from his home in Srinagar. When a person is detained under preventive law, he cannot be logdged more than 300 kms away from his place of residence, thereby flouting a law pronouced by Supreme Court of India.

– The Indian State has deprived Waqar of his education and is on verge of denting his bright career. It is important to mention that he has managed to get a high score despite being in Jail securing ‘A’ grade in the Final Year exam papers he has appeared in inside Jail.

We have started our petition again at teh change.org website , pl sign and share widely

Sign the pettion here

Faking Democracy- Free waqar now

 

 

 

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