IND 004 / 1114 / OBS 091.4
Physical attacks / Threats /
March 31, 2016
The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a joint programme of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, has received new information and requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in India.
According to the information received, at midnight on March 23, 2016, Mr. Rafikul Islam and his accomplices used sharp weapons and firearms to attack the house of Mr. Abdul Majid Seikh, Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar’s brother, in the village of Bardhanpur Choyapara, Raninagar, Murshidabad. The attack occurred while everyone in the house was asleep. During the attack, the perpetrators shouted threats against Mr. Ripon Seikh, Mr. Masudul Hossain and Mr. Sahidul Islam, Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar’s nephews. The group also loudly insulted the women inside the house. Although the Raninagar police station was phoned and informed of the attack that night, they did not intervene.
The next morning at 6 am, as Mr. Ripon Seikh, Mr. Abdul Majid Seikh’s son, exited his house, Mr. Rafikul Islam and his group attacked him with daggers, pistols and bombs. Mr. Ripon Seikh was hit in the back with a dagger and fell down bleeding. At that moment, Mr. Kabil Seikh and Mr. Habil Seikh, two cousins of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar, tried to help Mr. Ripon Seikh and were both attacked and severely injured. The attackers then fled and eyewitnesses of the incident brought the injured to Godhanpara Block Primary Centre, who were transferred to the Baharampur New General Hospital due to their serious condition. On March 25, 2016, Mr. Ripon Seikh was released from the hospital but he is still under medical treatment. As of issuing this Urgent Appeal, Messrs. Kabil Seikh and Habil Seikh remained at Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital in critical condition.
On March 24, 2016, Mr. Ripon Seikh’s grandmother registered a complaint with the Raninagar police station, but a copy of the First Information Report (FIR) was only provided to the family on March 25, 2016 evening after several requests were made. Raninagar police registered one case based on this complaint against Mr. Piarul Islam, Mr. Nijarul Islam, Mr. Rafikul Islam, Mr. Panjatan Sk, Ms. Hema Bibi, Ms. Adora Bibi and Mr. Hamida Bibi. As of issuing this Urgent Appeal, the Raninagar police had still not arrested any of the accused persons, and Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar’s family remains concerned for their safety.
Moreover, on March 24, 2016, the Raninagar police registered another criminal case based on a complaint lodged by Ms. Hema Bibi (Mr. Rafikul Islam’s wife and one of the accused persons in above-mentioned attack) against Messrs. Abdul Majid Seikh, Ripon Seikh, Sahidul Islam, Masidul Seikh, Alamgir Kabir, Babu Seikh and Makil Islam, who are all close relatives of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar. On March 30, 2016, they all surrendered in court of the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate, Lalbagh, and were released on bail.
The Observatory expresses its deep concern following the above-mentioned attacks and acts of harassment against Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar’s relatives, which seem to be retaliation for his work as District Human Rights Monitor for MASUM in Murshidabad district. In particular, it is noteworthy that one of the assailants, Mr. Amzad Hossian, is the son of Mr. Nasiruddin Sarkar, who is the Pradhan of Malibari I Gram Panchayet, against whom MASUM has made complaints for misappropriation of public money.
The Observatory recalls that this is not the first time that Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar’s relatives have been targeted as retaliation for his human rights work.
The Observatory also recalls that Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar faces recurrent acts of intimidation and judicial harassment by the police, which seem to be aimed at punishing him for his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities (see background information).
Accordingly, the Observatory calls on the Indian authorities to carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned attacks against Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar’s relatives, and to guarantee in all circumstances their physical and psychological integrity.
On November 21, 2014, law enforcement agents from the Raninagar police station arrested Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar at his place of residence and transferred him to the ACJM Court, Lalbagh. Mr. Sarkar was reportedly arrested pursuant to an arrest warrant for a pending criminal case under the Passport Act.
On May 20, 2014, Mr. Sarkar had 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 his arrest six months later, Mr. Sarkar did not receive any information about the status of said criminal case, neither did he receive any summons from the police nor the court.
Mr. Sarkar was reportedly assaulted, abused and mistreated by the police during his arrest as well as in custody. On November 22, 2014, Mr. Sarkar was admitted to Lalbagh Sub-Divisional Hospital and subsequently referred to Berhampore New General Hospital on November 27, 2014, for medical treatment following the injuries suffered in custody. On November 28, 2014, he was taken to Kolkata for advanced medical treatment. On November 29, 2014, he underwent psychiatric counselling; the medical report stated that he had several injuries such as a suspected fractured rib, as well as post-traumatic stress, a tear on a ligament on his left leg, a feeling of humiliation, intense anxiety, fear and a feeling of sadness and helplessness. He suffered from insomnia and his doctors expressed their concern that the attack could have long-term effects on his psychological health. Mr. Sarkar went to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital for further treatment on December 3, 2014.
On November 23, 2014, Mr. Sarkar’s son filed a complaint to the local Police Superintendent Murshidabad urging the police to carry out an investigation into the beatings his father had been subjected to while in police custody. However, to this date, no information could be obtained regarding any enquiry or investigation following the complaint.
On September 22, 2015 at 10.27 a.m., Mr. Sarkar was abducted in Sekhpara (Murshidabad, West Bengal) by five to seven police officers from the Islampur police station who were not wearing uniforms. At the time of the incident, Mr. Sarkar was talking with victims of torture and their family members when the police officers arrived in a car and started beating and insulting him. The officers then placed him inside the vehicle and took him away.
On September 23, 2015, at 1.38 p.m., Mr. Sarkar was taken before the Additional District and Sessions Judge (2nd Court) in Berhampore-Murshidabad and a criminal case was opened against him under Sections 376, 511, 323, 506 and 400 of the Indian Criminal Code and under Sections 8 and 12 of the Act for Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act. During his detention he was slapped, kicked and pounded on the chest as well as verbally abused. He was not given access to his medication and was denied food at night. He was then obliged to walk barefoot and was brought before the Court in this condition. At 6.15 p.m. on the same day, a petition for bail was rejected and Mr. Sarkar was then transferred to the prison Berhampore Central Correctional Home. A Criminal Revision at Calcutta High Court (CRR No. 404/2016) was filed to quash the criminal proceeding against Mr. Sarkar at Islampur police station.
Two other cases against Mr. Sarkar, namely the “Raninagar police station case No. 364/2013” (under section 12 of Passport Act read with section 109 of Indian Penal Code) and the “Domkal police station case No. 1243/2014” (under section 308 of the Indian Penal Code), are also ongoing. A Criminal Revision at Calcutta High Court (CRR No. 2671/2015) was filed to quash the criminal case pending against Mr. Sarkar at Raninagar police station.
MASUM has filed several complaints regarding the harassment of its members and has been regularly sharing information with the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC). Regarding previous incidents with Mr. Sarkar and other MASUM members, the Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders at the NHRC called MASUM and informed them that they had taken up the case and sought a report from the relevant police and civil administration, but up to this date no documents have been shared with MASUM and no appropriate action has reportedly been taken.
On September 22, 2015, immediately following Mr. Sarkar’s abduction, MASUM filed a brief complaint with a request for urgent measures from the NHRC and contacted the Focal Point of the NHRC on Human Rights Defenders. However, as of issuing this Urgent Appeal, no actions had reportedly been taken over the allegations of police abuse upon Mr. Sarkar.
On November 27, 2015, Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar was granted bail in relation to the first criminal case, but was not released on that day as the other case was still pending against him.
It is only on December 8, 2015 that Mr. Sarkar was finally released on bail pursuant to the second case, since the de facto complainant filed an affidavit stating that she did not bring any allegation of rape against Mr. Sarkar and she had no knowledge of the related criminal case against him.
Please write to the authorities in India, urging them to:
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar, his relatives as well as of all members of MASUM and all human rights defenders in India;
ii. Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the above-mentioned attacks against Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar’s relatives, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law;
iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar, his relatives and all members of MASUM as well as against all human rights defenders in India so that they are able to carry out their work without hindrances;
iv. 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 its Articles 1 and 12.2;
v. 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.
· Mr. Nanredra Damodardas Modi, Prime Minister of India. Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857. E-mail: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org
· Mr. Raj Nath Singh, Union Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs of India. Fax: +91 11 2309 2979
· Mr. Justice T.S. Thakur, Chief Justice of India. Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: email@example.com
· Mr. Justice H.L. Dattu, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India. Fax +91 11 2465 1329. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com
· Mr. A. K. Parashar, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, National Human Rights Commission, India. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Miss Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of West Bengal. Fax: +91 33 2214-3528. E-mail: email@example.com
· H.E. Mr. Ajit Kumar, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
· Embassy of India in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 6489638 / +32 2 6451869
Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of India in your respective country.
Geneva-Paris, March 31, 2016
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, an OMCT and FIDH venture, is dedicated to the protection of human rights defenders and aims to offer them concrete support in their time of need.
 Mr. Rafikul Islam’s accomplices include his brothers Mr. Mejarul Seikh and Mr. Panjaton Seikh; his wife, Ms. Hema Bibi; Mr. Piarul Islam; Mr. Nasiruddin Seikh; Mr. Santu Seikh; Mr. Nur Islam; and Mr. Amzad Hossian, who is the son of Mr. Nasiruddin Sarkar, the Pradhan of Malibari I Gram Panchayet. All are believed to also be engaged in different illegal activities such as extortion, theft, violence against women, and smuggling. Despite official complaints lodged by local residents regarding these illegal activities, the local police have undertaken no action against these individuals for these crimes. Mr. Rafikul Islam is a local leader of the Indian National Congress Party and his wife, Ms. Hema Bibi, is a member of Malibari l Gram Panchayet (local self government) as a candidate of the Indian National Congress Party.
 The case is registered as “Raninagar police station case no. 123/2016” under sections 323 (hurt) / 341(wrongful restraint) / 326 (causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons) / 506 (criminal intimidation) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code,
 The case is registered as “Raninagar police station case no. 125/2016” under sections 448 (criminal trespass) / 323 (hurt) / 325 (causing hurt by dangerous weapons) / 427 (causing mischief) / 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
 See Observatory Urgent Appeal IND 001 / 0514 / OBS 041, issued on May 15, 2014.
 This Court is a designated Special Court for the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act) and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act (POCSO Act).
 For more information on the cases, see Observatory Urgent Appeal IND 004 / 1114 / OBS 091.3, issued on January 8, 2016.
 No charge sheet was filed against him in relation to that case.