India: Renewed acts of police harassment and intimidation against Mr. Sanjit Mondal

10/11/2017
Urgent Appeal

New information
​IND 002 / 0617 / OBS 069.1

Harassment
India
November 10, 2017

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

New information:

The Observatory has been informed by Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM) [1] about renewed acts of police harassment and intimidation against Mr. Sanjit Mondal, MASUM District Human Rights Monitor in Murshidabad district, West Bengal State.

According to the information received, on November 8, 2017, at around 9am, Mr. Sanjit Mondal accompanied a youth from Malipara village to see a medical practitioner, in order to record evidence of torture to which the youth had been subjected in custody at Raninagar police station. A medical certificate documenting the nature of the injuries sustained was required to register a complaint against the police personnel for torture.

At around 2pm on the same day, Mr. Sanjit Mondal saw a police officer named Mr. Dipak Mondal, from Raninagar police station, loitering around his family’s shop. Upon seeing Mr. Sanjit Mondal, the police officer walked a few metres away. When Mr. Sanjit Mondal went to meet him, Mr. Dipak Mondal left immediately. A few minutes later, a large number of police personnel from Raninagar police station drove past Mr. Sanjit Mondal’s shop in a white police vehicle. They parked their vehicle one kilometre away, and walked back near to Mr. Sanjit Mondal’s shop. During this time, Mr. Sanjit Mondal escaped from his shop due to fear of being arrested. Upon arrival outside Mr. Sanjit Mondal’s shop, the police personnel from Raninagar police station gathered at a tea stall in front of the shop, from which they monitored it for more than three hours.

Witnesses present at the tea stall subsequently reported having heard Mr. Dipak Mondal saying that “Sanjit must be taken into custody tonight as he is trying to make [a] complaint against police personnel and the Officer in Charge [wants] his arrest”. Witnesses also reported having heard Mr. Dipak Mondal expressing his concern that “Sanjit could flee to Kolkata to evade his capture”. The comments related to Mr. Sanjit Mondal’s assistance to the youth from Malipara village earlier that day.

On November 9, 2017, Mr. Dipak Mondal monitored Mr. Sanjit Mondal’s shop for the entire day. At around 2pm, a white police vehicle passed by his shop.

At the time of publication of this Urgent Appeal, Mr. Sanjit Mondal remained in hiding for fear of being arrested.

The Observatory condemns the police harassment and intimidation of Mr. Sanjit Mondal, which seems to be only aimed at punishing him for documenting and denouncing allegations of human rights violations committed by police forces. The Observatory fears that Mr. Sanjit Mondal may be arrested at any time on fabricated charges.

The Observatory recalls that several members of MASUM and Mr. Sanjit Mondal in particular (see background information) have already faced reprisals in the past for documenting and denouncing grave human rights violations allegedly involving members of the police forces and BSF [2].

The Observatory calls upon the Indian authorities to put an end to all acts of harassment, intimidation, and criminalization of Mr. Sanjit Mondal and all MASUM members, as well as of all human rights defenders in India.

Background information:

On June 15, 2017, around midnight, police personnel from Raninagar police station arrived at Mr. Sanjit Mondal’s house, where he lived with his parents, elder brother, spouse, and children. They surrounded his home with two police cars and two motorcycles. The police entered the bedroom of Mr. Sanjit Mondal and his brother, where the latter was sleeping, and asked for Mr. Sanjit Mondal. However, Mr. Sanjit Mondal had managed to escape the house before their arrival. At no point did the police explain the reason for their intrusion nor provide an arrest warrant [3].

Actions requested:

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

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Sanjit Mondal, all MASUM members, and all human rights defenders in India;

ii. Put an end to any kind of harassment - including at the judicial level - against Mr. Sanjit Mondal and all the members of MASUM, as well as against all human rights defenders in India, and ensure that they are able to carry out their legitimate activities without any hindrance and fear of reprisals;

iii. 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;

iv. 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 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, November 10, 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 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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