The CPDR views with concern the intrusion of the Indian army in the field of civilian affairs at the invitation of the Government of Maharashtra.
A stampede that occurred at the foot over bridge (FOB) connecting Parel on Mumbai’s Central Railway line and Elphinstone Road Station on the Western Railway line on September 29, 2017 killing 23 people and injuring hundreds of others created an outrage amongst the commuters and concerned citizens.
It was criminal negligence and abdication of duties that led to overcrowding, possible short circuit and apprehension of the foot over bridge collapsing, which collectively caused the stampede. The Central and State Governments, rattled by the outrage and stood exposed of the neglect in fixing the decaying Railway infrastructure.
The embarrassment was exacerbated in the face of the government's grand plans of setting up a bullet train corridor between Ahmadabad and Mumbai. The bullet train project is being set up with the help of Japanese financial and technical aid. The project is estimated at Rs 1,10,000 crore. This same amount was the Modi government's first Budget was fixed as a five year expenditure of a similar amount for network expansion in the entire country. Or a similar amount could be set aside for strengthening safety of the railways over five years.
The government, with a view to save face with the commuters and concerned citizens, and on realizing that there are three more such bridges in an unsafe condition requiring immediate attention of the has thought it fit to invite the Army to address the issue on a war footing.
The invitation by the government and its acceptance by the Indian Army is symptomatic of the deep crisis facing civil society and an admission of failure of civil administration to address the woes of the people. It forebodes a situation of civil administration slowly slipping into the hands of the armed forces. The Indian Army is thus getting drawn into civilian roles and willingly falling prey to the machinations of the ruling class,
The alarming situation is further compounded by a pro active over reach by the judiciary slowly taking over civil administration through PIL’s, to the ultimate detriment of the gains of democratic movement and people whose woes it has been invited to address.
CPDR calls upon the people of India to be ever vigilant and prepare to rise to meet the challenges ahead to keep the republic's socialist, secular and democratic flag flying high!
Dr Anand Teltumde
Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, Maharashtra
Junaid Khan, Pehlu Khan, Akhlaq, Yakub Sheikh, Najeeb Ahmed- these are not just some Muslim names; these are names of the victims of hate crimes, in the newest emerging- The Lynch Republic.
The vanguard of the right wing which is hell bent on enforcing Hindutva as a political agenda, is invoking the base and primeval instincts of common people by arousing a 'fear of the unknown, of the other'. There is a striking similarity in the slurs hurled at Junaid-the 16 year old boy who was killed by a mob of 15 men on a train to Mathura, just a few days before the auspicious occasion of Id and Yakub Sheikh, the Mumbai based Toyota employee who was killed just few days after Bakri-id on the 28th September. In both the cases the remarks hurled at them were, “Tune kya gosht khaya?(What meat did you eat?) It is not even necessary to state here that neither of these incidents were about the “gosht “as the contractors of religion would have us believe. India is the largest exporter of cattle meat and most of the export houses are owned not by Muslims but Hindus! The real issue therefore is not cattle but Hindutva.
As things stand today, the present regime has completed more than three years of being in power. However the much promised 'Ache Din' remain as elusive as ever. On the contrary, the government has only unleashed a reign of terror, with unprecedented escalation of atrocities on Dalits, Adivasis, farmers, peasants, working masses, religious minorities, and people of oppressed nationalities. With historically undemocratic moves like demonetisation the fissures in the government policies and structural issues have become evident. It is here that the rhetoric of cow protection is being used as a double edged sword: one to distract people from the issues of growing structural inequality and the other to polarize people for electoral gains.
In this state of undeclared emergency under Modi’s rule, such measures are being used to rally together the majority in mobs, to keep the oppressed castes and minority communities in check. Not only do incidents like the attack on Junaid go unpunished, but people are even scared to testify them. The perpetrators in these lynch mobs go scot free and if even arrested, are immediately released on bail. The perpetrators of a heinous crime that devoured a life of a young person are already out on bail. Ordinary people have assumed the role of ‘gau-rakshaks’ and are indulging in these incidents. Cow is made more valuable than human lives. The obsessive Hindutva politics is leading to a veritable economic calamity on the already distressed rural India. With open support of the government in such episodes, people are unleashing their cathartic rage on Muslims and Dalits. The number of Muslims killed so far, were lynched just because they were Muslims: in appearance, name or wore a skull cap, beard etc. The rhetoric of hate against Pakistan is being used to charge them as Pakistanis. This has become a normalized practice against Muslims. This phenomenon has to be understood as an evolving genocide against Muslims in India.
The most alarming thing is the silence of the bystanders, the public, which amounts to tacit approval. While the media should take up this issue in a more significant way, a section of the electronic media is just about justifying it. The formal political opposition being meek, perhaps by choice, it becomes peoples’ responsibility to say emphatic NO to these crimes.
The Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights is appalled by this growing phenomenon and strongly condemns the role of the state in dealing with it. Lynching gives the state an opportunity to stand by and watch as vigilantism grows and people take law into their own hands. The near impunity shown towards the perpetrators encourages mob violence, a dangerous phenomenon. It perpetuates the belief that formal processes and the state machinery are useless and vigilantism is the only alternative. CPDR appeals to all the progressive sections of society to not only condemn these acts of lynching, but to also act strongly for the safety and security of citizens belonging to the minority and vulnerable communities. We must come forward to protect the tenets of democracy, egalitarianism, secularism and free speech.
Dr Anand TeltumbdeGeneral Secretary, CPDR, Maharashtra
Last week, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has issued an anti-constitutional gazette notification-- Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Regulation of Livestock Markets) Rules, 2017 --banning cattle slaughter and introduced severe restrictions on the sale of cattle to prevent their killing. The order applicable to the whole of India, except the State of Jammu and Kashmir, says that no one can bring cattle to an animal market unless he or she has furnished a written declaration that the cattle will not be sold for the purpose of slaughter. It defined cattle as all bovine animals including bulls, bullocks, cows, buffalos, steers, heifers and also camels. It also mandates that after sale, the animal market committee will take an “undertaking” that the animals are for agricultural purposes and not for slaughter. Effectively, it makes it impossible for the farmers to sell off their unproductive cattle and for the beef eaters to get their favourite meat.
It is intriguing that the Ministry that made a mockery of its core job by issuing environmental clearances to all kinds of projects favouring capitalists and directly jeopardizing the lives of millions of poor and marginalized people has taken upon itself the role of Go Rakshak, being performed by the street goons under the protection of its government.
Apart from being a calamitous move to the economics of already distressed farmers, this fascist order will deprive millions of Beef eating Indians, who are predominantly Dalits, Adivasis, religious minorities of their popular meat in violation of their Right to Life among many others enshrined in the Constitution.
It is heartening in this depressing situation in the country; students have come forward to protest against this ban by observing Beef Fests in their campuses. On 27 may the students belonging to Students Federation of India (SFI) staged such fests in many campuses in Kerala. On Sunday (28 may), the students of prestigious IIT Madras had one such Beef Fest by eating bread and beef curry in protest against this order. More than 80 students supported the cause by participating in this fest. Many more campuses will follow suit. We commend these students and stand in solidarity with them in stressing their civil rights and Constitutional values.
Today, in Madras IIT, the right-wing students have brutally thrashed one Ph D scholar in the Department of Aerospace, R Sooraj, associated with the Ambedkar Periyar Study Circle, for participating in the Beef fest. As seen from his photograph, his eye is severely bruised and he is taken to Sankara Nethralaya, Nungambakkam. We condemn this ghastly attack and wish Sooraj fast recovery.
The protesting students have filed a complaint to the Dean as well to the police.
1. Police should immediately arrest of the ABVP students for murderous attack
2. IIT administration should take severe action against them according to their rules
3. IIT should provide all medical assistance to R Sooraj
4. The Government should withdraw the order forthwith
5. The Government should institute a independent commission of experts to examine its controversial policy of Beef Ban
Dr Anand Teltumbde
General Secretary, CPDR, Maharashtra
CPDR expresses its deep concern over the brutality with which students’ expressions of dissent are being suppressed across the country. On 27 May, the UP police used brute force against students who were holding a protest at the gate of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU) against the violent attacks on the Dalits of Saharanpur. This protest was organised by Bhagat Singh Chhatra Morcha, a students’ organisation in BHU, and members of Students for Change of IIT BHU on the occasion of the visit of UP’s chief minister Yogi Adityanath to BHU. Students raised slogans of "Yogi Go Back" expressing their anger against the chief minister whose administration is responsible for the continuing caste atrocities in Saharanpur.
The protesting students were dragged into the police van and kicked and hit badly. Even the female students were beaten by male police. They were verbally abused and called “prostitutes” by the police. A police officer also threatened them that petrol will be poured into their private parts to teach them a lesson. The students were also given encounter threats. Six students have been charged with IPC section 151 (knowingly joining or continuing in assembly of five or more persons likely to cause a disturbance of the public peace after the assembly has been commanded to disperse). It is clear that the complaint has been lodged to intimidate students given that the protest by students was peaceful and an exercise of their fundamental right to protest. The students have also submitted a petition to lodge complaint against police sub-inspector Mahesh Mishra who was at the forefront in abusing students physically and verbally.
The violent action against Banaras students has once again exposed the growing fascist power of the brahmanical forces that seek to crush democratic dissent of the marginalised communities and students with an iron hand. CPDR staunchly condemns the brutal attack on students of Banaras and demands
1. Strict action be taken against the police officers responsible for the assault and abuse of power.
2. Withdraw false cases on students
General Secretary, CPDR, Maharashtra
In a bizarre development the Army officer Major Nitin Leetul Gogoi of 53 Rashtriya Rifles, who tied a Kashmiri man to the bonnet of his jeep and took him around to deter stone pelting at his troops and election staff has been awarded the Army chief’s Commendation Card for sustained efforts in counter-insurgency operations.
A video, shot on 9 April during the violence-marred Srinagar by-polls, showed a man, later identified as Farooq Ahmad Dar, tied to the bonnet of an army jeep with a placard in Budgam of Jammu and Kashmir. The video went viral on social media and created uproar. An FIR was registered by the Jammu and Kashmir police against the security forces. On 15 April, the Army constituted a court of inquiry in the incident. It is amazing that the Army Chief did not deem it fit to wait for Army’s own court to give a verdict and honoured this man for the act that is grossly violative of not only Indian Constitution but several International conventions.
The argument that the Gogoi’s actions were in response to the activities of the stone-pelters and in self-defensive is unacceptable. Gogoi represented the Indian State that has greater accountability as a monopoly over violence and as the guarantor of fundamental freedoms.
The use of human shields violates the fundamental rights of life and liberty guaranteed by the Indian constitution to every citizen. The state is duty bound to protect these rights. In awarding rather than prosecuting Major Gogoi, the Army has not only abdicated its constitutional and legal responsibility, but also become party to such violations.
The use of human shields also violates several international conventions to which India is a signatory. The rule set forth in the Third Geneva Convention (with respect to prisoners of war), the Fourth Geneva Convention (with respect to protected civilians) and Additional Protocol I (with respect to civilians in general) prohibit use of human shield. Under the Statute of the International Criminal Court, “utilizing the presence of a civilian or other protected person to render certain points, areas or military forces immune from military operations” constitutes a war crime.
Even the extraordinary powers guaranteed to the security forces under AFSPA in conflict areas do not allow the security forces to commit such acts.
Such absolute impunity to the security forces in the climate of jingoist nationalism bodes ill to the claim of India as a democracy. It rather exposes the increasingly totalitarian face of the state that considers its agents are above the law. The award directly promotes criminal activity of the army and security forces in the name of counter-insurgency.
· Immediate withdrawal of the commendation accorded to Major Gogoi
· Try Major Gogoi for the criminal offence
· The removal of the Army Chief from his post for an unconstitutional act
· Withdra AFSPA as the source for such criminality
Dr Anand Teltumbde
General Secretary, CPDR, Maharashtra
CPDR expresses shock and concern over the conviction of Prof G N Saibaba (Delhi University), Prashant Rahi (Journalist from Uttarakhand), Hem Mishra (Cultural Activist, Student, Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi), Mahesh Tirke, Pandu Narote and Vijay Tirke (tribal youth from Gadchiroli) by Suryakant Shinde, Sessions Judge at Gadchiroli District Court under Sections 13,18,20,38 and 39 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Section 120-B of the Indian Penal Code. The manner in which the Judge has ignored salient facts of the case and mutilated the existing law in pronouncing the extreme sentence of life imprisonment to the first five persons and 10 years rigorous imprisonment to the sixth is highly deplorable to say the least. The judgment is vindictive and oversteps the boundaries of judicial propriety. The judgement also panders to the vagaries of the current dispensation at the centre.
There were gaping holes in the prosecution case which was well established by the defense team of lawyers appearing for the accused. After the arrest of Hem Mishra and two of the tribal youth from Ballarshah police station, Chandrapur district, they were kept in illegal detention for two days, brutally tortured and arrest shown two days later in Gadchiroli district. In a pre-planned move, the police landed up at Prof Saibaba’s official quarters on Delhi University campus and illegally took away his computer and some books and papers without search warrant and taking panchnamas of the seizeures. Saibaba was arrested a year later on the road while coming home from work in his car as though he was a fugitive and slapped fictitious charges. Much later the prosecution, in its chargesheet, cooked up many incriminating documents and claimed that they were collected from his hard disk. The entire case is based on this ‘dreaded evidence’ collected from his house.
Saibaba never hid his opposition to the government’s repressive policies against forcible land acquisitions taking place throughout the country, against Operation Green Hunt, an actual war on people launched by the Union government and the state governments in and around Bastar against all those who resisted the sell-out of resources in Central India to MNCs and their associates. The campaign against Green Hunt forced the government on the backfoot into publicly denying it as a pure media creation. With the creation of state sponsored militias under Salwa Judum, the plunder of the state’s rich natural resources and of its people continued unabated. In the petition before the Supreme Court challenging salwa judum as an extra-judicial law unto itself, the government’s affidavit shows the government’s animosity towards urban intellectuals like Prof Saibaba: “The ideologues and supporters of the CPI (Maoist) in cities and towns have undertaken a concerted and systematic propaganda against the state to project it in a poor light...it is these ideologues who have kept the Maoist movement alive and are in many ways more dangerous than the cadres of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army.” This is the real start of the saga of torture of Dr Saibaba. While this happened during the UPA government, after 2014, the NDA government, accusing the Congress of not doing enough against the Maoists, naturally intensified the attack.
CPDR strongly condemns this unlawful and vindictive judgment of the Gadchiroli Sessions Court and its utter lack of consideration for a 90% disabled person in denying any concessions for his needs system towards the people who are critical of the government. It reiterates its demand to repeal the UAPA and all such draconian laws which have been the weapons in the hands of the government to decimate dissent against it. It also demands that given his critical medical condition, Dr Saibaba should be immediately released from prison and all his democratic rights should be fully protected till the entire legal process is completed.
Dr Anand Teltumbde
General Secretary, CPDR, Maharashtra
For a further critique of the judgement see
The Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) strongly condemns the life sentences to 13 workers and other convictions meted out to the struggling Maruti Suzuki workers on 17th March. As the Chairman of the company Mr R C Bhargava termed it to be a class war, this judgement visibly places judiciary on the side of the capitalist class with the aim to crush the Trade Union movement. The life sentence, the highest punishment, is awarded to workers who had no involvement in the unfortunate death of the pro-worker manager Mr Avanish Kumar Dev, who helped them in registering their Union. If one peruse the details of the case, there is nothing to prove the charge against the workers and the judgement therefore becomes totally biased.
Since 2011 the workers of Maruti Suzuki have been trying hard to form a Trade Union to take up the issues of contract system and other demands. They managed to register the union with great difficulty. The conflict on 18 July 2012 started with a supervisor abusing a Dalit worker Jiyalal, who was later made into ‘prime accused’ and eventually figures among the 13 workers who have been sentenced for life. The details of the incident have since been in public domain, which proves that it was management conspiracy to finish off the Union that demanded abolition of Contract Worker System. This demand was potentially threatening not only to the Maruti suzuki’s bottom line but also to the entire so called sun rise sector, the illicit product of neoliberalism.
Right from the beginning the collusion between the government, including the Police, administration and labour departments and the management was in open. Thousands of workers were continually hounded after 18 July 2012 in a most repressive manner. The entire Gurgaon and Manesar area was turned into police camp. The entire case was used to set an example before all industrial workers in the country. The Prosecution’s arguments demanding death sentence to workers makes it explicit that the case did not have anything to do with the 18 July incident. It spoke of the need of restoring ‘confidence’ of capital, and the Prime Minister’s initiative of inviting global investors for ‘Make in India’.
Apart from the 13 workers sentenced for life, 4 were awarded five years in jail and 14 were sentenced to Rs 2500 fine, having undergone imprisonment. Of the 117 workers who were acquitted had suffered 5 years of imprisonment. This is in addition to the 2500 workers, who were earlier illegally terminated. The management who had brought in the hired bouncers to deal with the workers, and caused the scuffle goes unscathed. This blatant pro-management pattern in judicial pronouncement is unfortunately seen even earlier. The managements that hire goondas to kill workers (as in the NECO company in the Nagpur MIDC) or Trade Union leaders like Shankar Guha Niyogi, get away with their crime but the workers who fight for their survival are ruthlessly crushed.
Today with the rising unemployment coupled with rampant contractization resorted to by managements, the workers are being deprived of their legitimate wages and other benefits. In the prevailing industrial environment characterized by the terror of the combine of fascist state and global capital, the struggle as waged by the Maruti Suzuki’s workers should be saluted as exceptional. If such struggles are allowed to be crushed by such unjust judgement, it will mean total impunity to managements to decimate workers’ rights.
CPDR stands in solidarity with the Maruti Suzuki workers in their struggle for justice.
Dr Anand Teltumbde
General Secretary, CPDR
Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) Maharashtra strongly condemns the arrest of Advocate Murugan, Secretary Centre for Protection of Civil Liberties (CPCL), on 8th January 2017 by the Tamilnadu Q branch police. Advocate Murugan was arrested for allegedly “instigating” two women Maoists who were arrested in Karur five months back into propagating Naxal ideology. The two women were his clients and Advocate Murugan, who had been practicing law for over ten years and ran an NGO named Kudivurimai Pathukappu Naduvam, which has been providing legal aid to the downtrodden. Advocate Murugan was known to be defending alleged Maoists amongst others. He had been providing legal assistance to the three suspected Naxals arrested allegedly for trying to begin an arms training camp in Murugamalai in June 2007. He was also appearing on behalf of five other Naxals, who were held after a gun battle in Varusanadu hills in December 2007.According to a report in Indian Express, the reason for his arrest was to prevent him from appearing in Murugamalai case as the case was nearing completion in the Periyakulam sub-court and was due for hearing the next week where the expected outcome was in favour of the accused.
The police had gone to his house in the early morning at 4 o’clock with the search warrant from Karur District Magistrate. And the Q branch police arrested him under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), Sections 18(a), 18(b), 20 and 38 & IPC 120(b) and seized all the case documents, files, preparations for final arguments for some cases, some books and medicines.
The arrest of Advocate Murugan is not only an assault on his fundamental right to fearlessly practice his profession but also the fundamental right of all arrestees to get legal representation and fair trial. The process of justice requires that an advocate is able to fearlessly uphold the interest of his client by all fair and honourable means without regard to any unpleasant consequences to himself or any other as stated in the Advocates Act as well as the Rules framed by the Bar Council of India. To this end, the rules also state that an advocate should not by any means, directly or indirectly, disclose the communications made by his client to him and according to the Indian Evidence Act, all communications between the client and the lawyer are privileged and are not subject to disclosure. He shall also not disclose the advice given by him in the proceedings if it does not violate section 126 of the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
Advocate Murugan, has only been discharging his duty as under the provisions of the Advocates Act and he is entitled to practice of his profession as guaranteed under 19(g) of the Constitution of India.
The onslaught on lawyers by the state has been increasing in recent times. The persist threats issued by the police-backed vigilante groups to the lawyers of Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JagLag), who were forced to vacate their office and recent attempts to falsely implicate its Advocate Shalini Gera in a criminal case is a case in point. Earlier Advocate Khurram Parvez, democratic rights activist of Kashmir and a member of Indian Association of Peoples’ Lawyers (IAPL) was arrested under Public Safety Act. Seven members of a Fact Finding Team constituted by Telangana Democratic Front (TDF) to inquire into encounter killings in Dantewada Chhattisgarh, which included a lawyer were arrested on 25th December and charged under the notorious Chattisgarh Special Public Safety Act for allegedly possessing banned currency notes and Maoist literature. They are still in prison with their bail being rejected by the lower court. The situation is very grim. There is an increasingly growing intolerance of the state against the resistance to neoliberal polices of the governments. The governments have been arresting and implicating false cases on Human Rights activists, lawyers, democrats and journalists preventing them from observing ground reality by force.
Dr Anand Teltumbde
Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR) Maharashtra
We are stunned by the temerity of the state to arrest well known civil rights activists while on the way to Bastar for fact finding into the recent encounter killings. While they were detained by Telangana Police they were handed over to Chhattisgarh to be charged under the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA). In its characteristic style the Chhattisgarh Police has already slapped CSPSA clauses 8 (1), 8 (2), and 8 (3) on them, essentially alleging that the activists were members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) and had assisted the banned organisation financially. The Sukma Court, where they were produced on 25December has rejected their bail.
The fact finding was organized by the Telangana Democratic Forum (TDF), the umbrella association of 307 rights-based democratic groups. The seven activists who were arrested are (1) BallaRavindranath, advocate and general secretary of the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP), (2) Chikkudu Prabhaker, convenor, TDF; (3)Durga Prasad, independent journalist; (4) Duddu Prabhaker, Kula Nirmulana Porata Samiti (Committee for caste annihilation), (5) Ramanala Laxmaiyya, an activist in an adivasi organisation Tuddum Debba, (6) Rajendra Prasad and (7) Nazeer, a student member of TelenganaVidyarthi Vedike, a student association. All are noted activists in Telangana.
There is a pattern in the behaviour of the Chhattisgarh Police. Early this year two women lawyer activists Shalini Gera and Isha Khandelawalwere forced out of Jagdalpur. They along with two other lawyers Parijata Bharadwaj and Rupesh Kumar had come to Jagdalpur, the district headquarters of Bastar,relocating themselves from Delhi to form Jagdalpur legal Aid Group, popularly known as JagLag in 2013. In February Soni Sori, local tribal teacher turned activist and AAP candidate in the last Lok Sabha elections was asked to vacate her house. Soni Sori and her nephew Linga Kodopi have been facing persistent harassment from Police. Before that Malini Subramanium, a freelance journalist and former head of the International Committee of Red Cross in Chhattisgarh, left Bastar on Friday due to alleged harassment by local police.
Recently, Delhi University professor Nandini Sundar, whose PIL against human right violations led the Supreme Court to ban the state-sponsored Salwa Judum vigilante movement in Chhattisgarh; Archana Prasad, Professor in Jawaharlal Nehru University and Left activists Vineet Tiwari and Sanjay Parate were outrageously charged with the murder of a Bastar resident.It was clearly an instance of police vindictiveness which even drew the attention of the National Human Rights Commission, which demanded an explanation from the state. This all has been happening with direct/indirect backing of the controversial Bastar IG, SRP Kalluri who is in turn backed by the state government.
It is utterly deplorable that the Chhattisgarh Police have arrested the entire team of civil rights activistscrossing all limits of the civility. They had earlier harassed Dr Binayak Sen, and earned heaps of ignominy from all over the world but then he was alone. This time it is a member of seven noted activists in civil rights movement that went on a fact finding into series of encounters that took place in the state. It is an apt case for the Supreme take a suomotu notice and reprimand the state government for harassing innocent people with false cases under the draconian acts like CSPA.
Dr. Anand TeltumbdeGeneral secretary
Extra judicial murders by the state agencies of political opponents began with the Naxalbari movement in the 1960s with a standard statement that the victim was in fact the perpetrator who was generally fleeing arrest or custody and in order to do so had attacked the police/ state agency by opening fire and the police had merely retaliated and killed in self defense. Needless to state in all the cases, the ‘victim’ officers remained untouched or at the most met with minor injuries while the deadly perpetrators lay dead. All this was carried on in independent India where the failure to meet the constitutional promises of equality, liberty and social justice gave rise to the Maoist movement where poor peasants and workers rose to fight for a just society.
Encounters continued unchecked in all forms and by all agencies either by enjoying protection officially through laws such as the Armed Forces Special Powers Act or unofficially by the state granting itself immunity and impunity from the rule of the ordinary law. It was in 1997 when after the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) which took up the matters legally for over two decades, finally succeeded in getting the Andhra Pradesh High Court first held that an FIR ought to be registered in all such cases of “encounters” or rather fake encounters and the police would have to prove self defense in the trial before a judge. The Supreme Court stayed the judgment in the appeal filed by the state and has not passed its judgment despite the hearing having been completed over two years ago.
In 1997 too, after the Shiv Sena–BJP government came into power in Maharashtra, the police carried out extra judicial murders of accused in cases instead of trying them legally in the name of encounters with similar stories of dreaded criminals attacking police party trying to arrest them with deadly weapons which invariably included AK47s. Needless to state none of the policemen suffered any casualties while all those holding the AK47s perished. That this was a conspiracy on the part of the state to kill those whom it saw as its opponents was revealed by the statement of the government that the encounter policy would continue.
The Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights took a stand against this blatant violation of the civil liberties of the people and a shameless abandonment of the rule of its law and filed a writ petition in the Bombay High Court where it challenged the impunity of the state actors and asked for them to be tried in the court like any other person who may or not have exercised the right to self defense. During the course of the hearing, the documents furnished which included the post mortem reports revealed that all these encounters were in fact cold blooded murders as most of the victims had been shot at close range and many had entry wounds at the back of their bodies and all bullet injuries were above the waist on parts of the body that would lead to instant death. The matter when it reached the Supreme Court led to the passing of the judgment in 2014 by Justice Lodha gave elaborate directions on the manner in which in the inquiry into the killing ought to take place.
However encounter killings have continued unabated and the historic impunity has also continued unchecked.
In July 2016, the Supreme Court in hearing a case relating to encounter killings in Manipur carried out under the legal umbrella of AFSPA finally held that “from the point of view of a citizen, living under the shadow of a gun that can be wielded with impunity…is equally unsettling and demoralizing, particularly in a constitutional democracy like ours.”
Barely two months later, the state has carried out multiple killings in two fake encounters. In the first one in Malkangiri on October 24th, about 39 alleged Maoists, were allegedly killed in an encounter but eye witness accounts revealed that the victims were mostly Adivasi women and men who were brutally tortured and killed in joint operations by the police of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. Eyewitnesses were also killed in order to leave no evidence. Barely a week later, on 31st October 2016, eight undertrials lodged in Bhopal Central Prison were shot dead while allegedly escaping from the prison. The undertrials were erstwhile members of SIMI. The story of the police inthis case has holes ranging from the manner of escape (through bed sheets to scale 30 feet prison wall having security personnel and security cameras), the new clothes, the lack of weapons in the scene of offence, photographs of the under trials with arms raised in attitudes of surrender, of policemen shooting at the fallen men, contradictory statements from authorities to bullet injuries primarily above the waist.
The complete and brazen impunity of the state and its utter refusal to hold its actors accountable to the people and to the laws of the land are signs of a fascist state. The state first creates a bogey of threat and uses this to create consent for the assumption of extraordinary powers to crush and kill any opponent to facilitate the land grab and illegal accumulation by corporates. This undermines democracy and is geared towards crushing dissent against the anti people policies of the state. CPDR holds that these brutal murders are carried out to eliminate political opponents and to create terror in the minds of the people and amounts to state terror.
CPDR condemns both the encounters and the brazen encounter policy of the state. We demand that this policy be immediately stopped and all the police/ armed personnel involved in them be dealt with in accordance with the law. We also demand that compensation be given to the families of all the victims. We also demand that the state stop the policy of targeting and eliminating Muslims, Adivasis and Dalits in the name of national security and in blatant disregard of the law.