ASSOCIATION FOR PROTECTION OF DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS (APDR) 18 Madan Boral Lane, Kolkata 700 012
Phone 033/22376459 email : firstname.lastname@example.org
Ref No. /2009 16 July 2009
Hon’ble Mr. Gopal Krishna Gandhi
Subject : Reports of gross Human Rights Violations in current operations jointly undertaken by the combined forces of the central and state governments in Lalgarh and adjoining areas, West Bengal
Normal life is continuing to be affected in about 22 Police Station areas of West Bengal in the Lalgarh operations jointly undertaken by the combined forces of the central and state for about a month. In a situation, when the area has been sealed off and no persons are allowed to enter the area except a few media persons, reports of gross human rights violations continue to be trickling in in media. Grave concerns have been expressed by the civil society, rights activists and political parties about what is happening actually there. From the media reports, statements of state government officials and other sources it has been learnt that :
- A few thousand villagers were forced to leave their homes in the face of armed operation by combined forces.
- Almost all educational institutions are closed to make room for the accommodation of the huge forces and students agitating peacefully for their classes to be held were lathicharged.
- The meagre health services facilities available in the area were suspended as the health centres were occupied by the combined forces.
- People, including women and children are being brutally assaulted, household articles are ransacked and destroyed during search operations.
- Daily necessities has become non available.
- Rights activists and concerned citizen trying to have access to the area obeying notified restrictions are being stopped 50/60 Kms away from the area where prohibitory orders were enforced.
- At least twelve people were reportedly killed in the area, where the combined forces are operating during the continuance of their operations.
- There is no clear data about the people arrested.
- 10. People arrested are almost invariably being charged with various sections under Chapter VI of the IPC relating to sedition, conspiracy against state etc. and for which the required statutory permission of the Governor is being made available indiscriminately.
The state government was holding negotiations with the “Peoples’ Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA)” to end the seven month old agitations going on there. The last round of talks were held on 12 June, which decided to continue the dialogue and the next round of talks was scheduled to be held on 14 July. Without waiting for the dialogues and without announcing that the path of negotiation to solve the problem is being abandoned, the government initiated the campaign by the combined forces.
The Government enforced ban on political organisations including CPI(Maoist). We do not consider banning a political organisation as an legitimate mechanism to combat any political ideology. Past experiences in this country and elsewhere clearly establish it as counterproductive. As a Human rights organisation, we have no opinion about the validity of ideology of such banned political organisations, but we do hold that according to our constitution and Universal declaration of Human Rights every person has the right to hold his political belief and organise themselves.
In these circumstances, we demand :
- Dialogue to end the impasse involving all sides connected with the problem should be started forthwith.
- To facilitate such dialogue, the operations of the combined forces be immediately suspended and the combined forces be withdrawn. This will facilitate resumption of educational and other normal activities in the area.
- Civil Society members and NGOs be allowed to visit the area to assess the nature of Human Rights violations and as a measure of confidence-building process in line with the UN “Declaration on the Rights of Human Rights Defenders” to which the Government of India is a signatory. It may further be mentioned that while seeking re-election to the UN Human Rights Council in 2007, India voluntarlly pledged and commited to “continue to encourage efforts by civil society seeking to protect and promote human rights.”
In this connection, we also demand :
- D. The practice of giving blanket permission for slapping sections relating to sedition , conspiracy against state etc (sections of Chapter VI of the IPC) be stopped forthwith. As such permissions are given on behalf of the Governor, we urge upon you to review all such permissions given in the preceding years and stop misuse of the authority on behalf of the Governor.
- In line with the Supreme Court directives and NHRC recommendations a ban should be imposed on using school buildings and health centres for establishing police camp/accommodating different types of forces. In exigencies, tents and other temporary structures should be for accommodating extra forces.
- Provisions of various international conventions and standards, that are applicable to the situation created by the campaign of combined forces and principles of minimum application of forces by law enforcing agencies should be strictly adhered.
While we urge upon you to consider this memorandum and apply your constitutional authority for fulfillment of the demands, we also request you to give an appointment according to your convenience, when an APDR team will meet you and explain our viewpoint.
We hope that considering the exigency of the situation, you will please take urgent steps and inform us accordingly. Thanking you,