India: Murder of Mr. Lafiqul Islam Ahmed

24/08/2017
Urgent Appeal

IND 003 / 0817 / OBS 090
Murder
India
August 24, 2017

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, a partnership of FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT), 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 murder of Mr. Lafiqul Islam Ahmed, President of All Bodoland Minority Students’ Union (ABMSU) [1] and a well-known minority student rights defender in Assam State. Mr. Ahmed was in particular critical of anti-Muslim policies, including evictions and harassment, and campaigned against issues such as corruption, child marriage, polygamy, and cow smuggling.

According to the information received, on August 1, 2017, at around 4:30 pm, Mr. Ahmed was fatally shot by two unidentified gunmen on a motorcycle at a tiles shop located in the Titaguri market in Kokrajhar District, Assam State. The assailants were wearing helmets and fled after the shooting. A shop attendant was also wounded by two bullets.

Mr. Ahmed had planned to lead a march scheduled to be held the next day to protest against the discrimination faced by Muslim residents through the so-called “D-Voters” system in place in Assam State, under which voters who failed to prove their citizenship had their citizenship rights and entitlements restricted. Over 10,000 people were expected to attend this protest and gather in front of the Deputy Commissioner’s office in the adjoining Chirang District in the Bodoland Territorial Area District (BTAD).

After Mr. Ahmed’s killing, the Assam police formed a Special Task Force to investigate his assassination. On August 1, 2017, two persons were arrested in connection to the case. The Assam State Chief Minister, Mr. Sarbananda Sonowal, has assured that Assam Government would request the Central Bureau of Investigation, a federal agency, to lead the investigation. However, at the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, there had not been any further development in the investigation.

Mr. Ahmed had been the target of previous threats. In 2015, he was attacked by an unidentified group of people and physically assaulted. The Assam Government provided a personal security officer (PSO) for his protection. On the day of Mr. Ahmed murder, the PSO was on leave.

The Observatory condemns in the strongest terms the murder of Mr. Ahmed and urges Indian authorities to adopt effective measures to ensure the protection of human rights defenders in the country.

The Observatory also calls for an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into Mr. Ahmed’s murder and for those responsible to be held to account.

Actions requested:

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

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

ii. Carry out an immediate, thorough, impartial, and transparent investigation into the murder of Mr. Lafiqul Islam Ahmed 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 any harassment against 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;

vi. 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 its Articles 1 and 12.2;

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

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 Mehrishi, Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Email: hshso@nic.in
· Justice Jagdish Singh Kehar, 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
· Embassy of India 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.

***
Paris-Geneva, August 24, 2017

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 FIDH and the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT). The objective of this programme is to prevent or remedy situations of repression against human rights defenders. FIDH and OMCT 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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