India: Harassment and intimidation by the police against Mr. Kirity Roy and other members of MASUM

Press release

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of acts of harassment and intimidation by the police against Mr. Kirity Roy, human rights defender and founder and Secretary of the human rights organisation Benglar Manabadhikar Surakksha Mancha (MASUM)[1], and against Mrs. Tilak Barman and Messrs. Ajijul Haq,Bisweswar Barman and Ajimuddin Sarkar[2] , also members of the organisation.

IND 004 / 0816 / OBS 073
August 11, 2016

Description of the Situation:

According to the information received, on August 5, 2016, police officials from Mekhligunj Police station in Cooch Behar district of West Bengal attempted to intimidate Mr. Kirity Roy while he was visiting enclave dwellers of Mekhligunj rehabilitation and settlement Camps, along with his other colleagues of MASUM.

While they were talking to some of the camp dwellers, the Assistant Sub Inspector from Mekhligunj Police Station, Mr. Subrata, approached the members MASUM and inquired in an intimidating way about the purpose of their presence and meetings. Minutes after, the members of MASUM left the camp and drove towards the town of Siliguri. On their way, they noticed that a police vehicle with flashing lights was following them. The members of MASUM then contacted the residents of the camp they had just left, who informed them that police officers were present at the camp, asking about Mr. Kirity Roy, his movements and next destination, and that they were planning to arrest him on his way to Siliguri.

These events occurred in a context of attempts to criminalize and intimidate rights defenders working on the issue of enclave dwellers. On July 27, 2016, Mr. Kachua Barman[3], leader of an enclave dwellers community that collaborates closely with MASUM, received a summons to appear before the Sub Divisional Executive Magistrate-Dinahata’s Court on August 8, 2016 to face charges under Section 107 of the Criminal Procedure Code for committing “breach of peace”[4].

The Observatory strongly condemns the harassment and threats against Mr. Roy and would like to underline that this is not an isolated incidentsince several members of MASUM have already faced reprisals[5] in the past for documenting and denouncing grave human rights violations allegedly involving members of the police forces and the Border Security Forces (BSF), and that Mr. Roy has suffered judicial harassment since 2008 (see background information).

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the ongoing harassment against Mr. Roy and the recurring attacks perpetrated by the police against MASUM staff members, including judicial harassment, arbitrary detention, ill-treatment and threats. The Observatory more generally calls upon the Indian authorities to put an end to all attempts to intimidate and criminalize members of MASUM and to guarantee the security, physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Kirity Roy and MASUM staff, as well as that of all human rights defenders in India.

Background information:

On April 7, 2010, the Anti-Terrorist Cell of Kolkata arrested Mr. Kirity Roy under sections 120B (“punishment of criminal conspiracy”), 170 (“impersonating a public servant”) and 229 (“impersonation of a juror or assessor”) of the Indian Penal Code[6]. Those charges were initiated following a People’s Tribunal on Torture (PPT), a public hearing that was conducted by MASUM in Moulali, Kolkata, and during which 1,200 victims of torture and their families were present and 82 victims provided testimonies. This case against Mr. Roy is still pending in the Supreme Court of India.

In 2014, the police issued a warrant of arrest against Mr. Kirity Roy as co-accused in relation to a criminal case filed against Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar[7].

Actions requested:

Please write to the authorities of India asking them to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Kirity Roy and all the members of MASUM, as well as of all human rights defenders in India;

ii. Put an end to all acts of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Kirity Roy and all the 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;

iii. Conform in any circumstances 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 Article 1 and 12.2;

iv. 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, Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857. E-mail: /
· Mr. Raj Nath Singh, Union Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, Fax: +91 11 2309 2979. Email:
· Mr. Justice T.S. Thakur, Chief Justiceof India, Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email:
· Mr. Justice Shri H.L. Dattu,Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Fax +91 11 2465 1329. Email:;
· Mr. Srinivasa Kammath, Focal Point on Human Rights Defenders, National Human Rights Commission, Email:
· Mr. Keshari Nath Tripathi, Governor of West Bengal, Kolkata, Fax +91 33 2200 2444. Email :;
· H.E. Mr. Ajit Kumar, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of India to the United Nations in Geneva, Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email:
· Embassy of India in Brussels, Fax: +32 2 6489638 / +32 2 6451869

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


Geneva-Paris, August 11, 2016

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, the European Union Human Rights Defenders Mechanism implemented by international civil society.

To contact the Observatory, call the emergency line:
· E-mail: Appeals[at]
· 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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[1] MASUMis working for the protection of human rights in the eastern Indian state of West Bengal and is especially engaged documenting cases of torture, enforced disappearances and extra-judicial killings. MASUM is member of OMCT SOS-Torture Network.
[2] Mr. Ajimuddin Sakar is a human rights defender and District Human Rights Monitor (DHRM) for MASUM in Murshidabad district. In September 2015 he was abducted, arbitrary detained, and ill-treated. He was then released on bail and has been suffering judicial harassment and threats ever since. Additionally, several attacks against his relatives have been perpetrated over the last months. For more information, see Observatory Urgent Appeal IND 004 / 114 / OBS 091.5 issued on April 27, 2016.
[3] Mr. Kachua Barman resided in the Dinhata Krishna Farm Temporary Settlement Camp.
[4] For allegedly having put posters to protest against the conditions of enclave dwellers in the camp he resides.
[5] See Observatory Urgent Appeals, IND 002 / 0815 / OBS 066, issued on August 14, 2015; IND 002 / 0714 / OBS 067, issued on July 30, 2014; IND 004 / 1114 / OBS 091.1, issued on December 24, 2014; IND 004 / 1114 / OBS 091.3, issued on January 8, 2016.
[6] SeeObservatory Urgent Appeal IND 007 / 0608 / OBS 097.3, issued on April 7, 2010.
[7] SeeObservatory Urgent Appeal IND 004 / 1114 / OBS 091, issued on November 26, 2014.

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