India: Arbitrary detention of Mr. Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan

17/05/2018
Urgent Appeal

IND 004 / 0518 / OBS 065
Arbitrary detention /
Judicial harassment
India
May 17, 2018

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH, requests your urgent intervention in the following situation in India.

Brief description of the information:

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources about the arbitrary detention of Mr. Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan, a Dalit human rights defender in Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh State [1].

According to the information received, Mr. Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan has been detained since his arrest on June 8, 2017, following protests during which Dalit and Thakur communities clashed in Saharanpur in May 2017 [2]. However, Mr. Azad was not present during the protests. He was arrested along with 40 other prominent activists and leaders of “Bhim Army”, a Dalit human rights organisation, all of whom were subsequently granted bail.

23 charges were filed against him, including charges of “rioting”, “armed with deadly weapons”, “unlawful assembly”, “attempt to murder”, “assaulting public servants”, “trespassing”, and “breach of peace” in relation to the above-mentioned clashes.

On November 2, 2017, the Allahabad High Court granted bail to Mr. Azad in all the cases against him, as the police could not provide evidence of his specific role in the incidents of violence or of possessing weapons of any kind.

However, within hours of the High Court order, on November 3, 2017, the Uttar Pradesh Government placed Mr. Azad under administrative detention under the National Security Act (NSA), until February 2018. The NSA allows the Government to hold a person without bail for up to a year.

On January 27, 2018, Mr. Azad’s detention under the NSA was extended until May 2, 2018. On that day, a non-judicial ‘advisory board’ established under the NSA put him in jail for another six months i.e. until November 2, 2018.

At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Mr. Azad remained detained at Saharanpur jail, Uttar Pradesh State.

The Observatory strongly condemns the arbitrary detention of Mr.Chandrashekhar Azad under the NSA, which seems aimed at impinging on hislegitimate activities to protect Dalit rights. It further condemns what appears to be a deliberate misuse of the NSA to curb Mr. Azad’s human rights activities.

The Observatory urges the Indian authorities to release Mr. Azad immediately and unconditionally and to put an end to all forms of harassment against him, including at the judicial level.

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities in India, urging them to:

i. Guarantee, in all circumstances, the physical and psychological integrity of Mr.Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan and all human rights defenders in India;

ii. Ensure the immediate and unconditional release of Mr. Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan, since his detention is arbitrary and it is merely aimed at punishing him for his human rights activities;

iii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan and all human rights defenders in India, and ensure in all circumstances that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

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, in particular with Articles, 12.1 and 12.2;

v. Ensure in all circumstances respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with international human rights standards and international instruments ratified by India.

Please also write to the National Human Rights Commission of India, urging it to:

vi. Exercise its powers under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, and immediately intervene in this case of Mr. Chandrashekhar Azad Ravan through an independent investigation from its Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders;

vii. Ensure that laws like the NSA are not misused against human rights defenders to curtail their legitimate peaceful human rights work.

Addresses:

· Mr. Shri Narendra Damodardas Modi, Prime Minister of India, Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857. E-mail: pmosb@pmo.nic.in / manmo@sansad.in
· Mr. Raj Nath Singh, Union Minister of Home Affairs of India, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979. Email: dirfcra-mha@gov.in
· Mr. Rajiv Gauba, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs of India, Email: hshso@nic.in
· Justice Dipak Misra, Chief Justice of India, Supreme Court, of India, Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: supremecourt@nic.in
· Justice Shri H.L. Dattu, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Fax +91 11 2465 1329. Email: chairnhrc@nic.in
· Mr. Srinivasa Kammath, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, National Human Rights Commission of India, Email: hrd-nhrc@nic.in
· H.E. Mr. Rajiv Kumar Chander, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland. Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email: mission.india@ties.itu.int
· H.E. Mr. Manjeev Singh Puri, Embassy of India to the European Union, Belgium and Luxembourg in Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 2 6489638 / +32 2 6451869

Please also write to the diplomatic mission or embassy of India located in your country.

***
Geneva-Paris, May 17, 2018

Kindly inform us of any action undertaken quoting the code of this appeal in your reply.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) was created in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are both members of ProtectDefenders.eu, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
• E-mail: Appeals@fidh-omct.org
• Tel and fax OMCT + 41 (0) 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29
• Tel and fax FIDH: + 33 (0) 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

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