The Observatory has been informed by Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) of the abduction of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar, a District Human Rights Monitor for MASUM in Murshidabad district (West Bengal, India). He is a renowned human rights defender who has investigated cases on human rights violations perpetrated by the police and Border Security Forces (BSF) personnel, and who has been instrumental in denouncing several other human rights violations in Murshidabad district.
According to the information received, on September 22, 2015 at 10.27 am, Mr. Sarkar was abducted in Sekhpara (West Bengal, India) by five to seven police officers from the Islampur police station who were not wearing their uniform. At the time of the incident, Mr. Sarkar was talking with victims of torture and their family members when, all of a sudden, the police officers arrived in a car and started beating and insulting him after which they lifted him, placed him inside the vehicle and took him away.
On September 23, 2015, at 1.38 pm, Mr. Sarkar was taken before the Additional District and Sessions Judge (2nd Court) in Baharampur-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 the arrest he was slapped, kicked and pounced on the chest as well as verbally abused. He was not permitted to have his medicine and he was not given food at night.
Furthermore he was obliged to walk barefoot and was brought before the Court in this condition. At 6.15 pm on the same day, a petition for bail was rejected and Mr. Sarkar was then transferred to the prison Baharampur Central Correctional Home. The next hearing is scheduled for October 7, 2015.
According to the same information, the police has been trying to silence Mr. Sarkar´s voice and that of MASUMs since they got involved in a criminal case lodged against the police personnel for the alleged killing of Mr. Rajib Molla at Raninagar police station.
MASUM has filed several complaints 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 (HRDs) at the NHRC called MASUM and informed them that they had taken up the case and sought report from the related police and civil administration, but up to this date no documents have been shared with MASUM and no appropriate action has been taken. The last complaint was made on September 2, 2015 regarding previous incidents, just before his arrest. On September 22, 2015, MASUM made a brief complaint with a request for urgent steps from the NHRC and contacted the Focal Point of NHRC on HRDs, but, at the time of publication of this urgent appeal, no actions have been taken to check the allegations of police abuse upon Mr. Sarkar.
The Observatory recalls that it is not the first time Mr. Sarkar is being intimidated, judicially harassed and ill-treated at the hands of the police (see background information).
The Observatory is deeply concerned for the allegations of ill-treatment and for the fact that Mr. Sarkar was not brought in front of a court within 24 hours from his arrest as required under the Constitution of India. The Observatory is also worried by the reports of a lack of due diligence displayed by the Indian National Human Rights Commission to follow up this case.
The Observatory condemns the arbitrary arrest of Mr. Sarkar, as well as the charges against him, which seem to be aimed at punishing him for his legitimate and peaceful human rights activities, and calls on the Indian authorities to put an end to the ongoing and persistent attempts to criminalise members of MASUM in contravention of its international engagements regarding the protection of human rights defenders.
Background information :
Actions requested :
Please write to the authorities in India, urging them to :
i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar as well as of all human rights defenders in India ;
ii. Release Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar immediately and unconditionally, since his detention is arbitrary as it only seems to be aimed at sanctioning his human rights activities ;
iii. Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial and transparent investigation into the abovementioned events in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before an independent tribunal, and sanction them as provided by the law ;
iv. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar 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 ;
v. 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 :
Article 1, which states that “everyone has the right, individually and in association with others, to promote and to strive for the protection and realisation of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the national and international levels” ; and
Article 12.2, which provides that “"the State shall take all necessary measures to ensure the protection by the competent authorities of everyone, individually and in association with others, against any violence, threats, retaliation, de facto or de jure adverse discrimination, pressure or any other arbitrary action as a consequence of his or her legitimate exercise of the rights referred to in the present Declaration” ; and
vi. 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. Shri Nanredra Damodardas Modi, Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister’s Office, Room number 152, South Block, New Delhi, 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, 104-107 North Block, New Delhi 110 001 India, Fax : +91 11 2309 2979
· Justice Rajendra Mal Lodha, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court, Tilak Marg, New Delhi -1, India. Fax : +91 11 233 83792, Email : email@example.com
· Justice K. G. Balakrishnan, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Manav Adhikar Bhawan Block-C, GPO Complex, INA, New Delhi - 110023, 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, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, India. Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
· Miss Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister, Chief Minister of West Bengal, 325, Sarat Chatterjee Rd, Shibpur, Howrah, West Bengal 711102, Telephone : +91 33 2214-5555, 2214-3101
Fax : +91 33 2214-3528 E-mail : email@example.com
· H.E. Mr. Dilip Sinha, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations (Geneva), Rue du Valais 9, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Fax : +41 22 906 86 96, Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
· Embassy of India in Brussels, 217 Chaussée de Vleurgat, 1050 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, September 30, 2015
Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.
The Observatory, a 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.
To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line :
E-mail : Appeals@fidh-omct.org
· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80
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