India: Attack against Mr. Dudhram

17/02/2012
Urgent Appeal

The Observatory has been informed by reliable sources of the attack against Mr. Dudhram, a 65-years old activist of the right to information as well as former Sarpanch (headman) of Somalsar village, Nokha city, Bikaner district, State of Rajasthan.

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

Description of the situation:

According to the information received, on February 2, 2012, Mr. Dudhram was severely beaten allegedly by supporters of the current Sarpanch of Somalsar village. As a result of the attack, he suffered nine fractures and injuries in one kidney. As of February 17, 2012, Mr. Dudhram was still in the Intensive Care Unit of S.K. Soni hospital, in Jaipur. Subsequently, the police registered a first information report (FIR) based on Mr. Dudhram’s statements recorded at the hospital, and 16 persons were accused in this case filed under Sections 307 & 323 of the Indian Penal Code. The main accused is Shri. Bhagwana Ram Jat, who is the son of the current Saurpanch.

This attack occurred after Mr. Dudhram lodged a complaint with the State government’s Anti-Corruption Bureau (ACB) exposing irregularities in the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGA)[1] in Nokha[2].

The Observatory expresses its deep concern about the assault on Mr. Dudhram, which seems to merely aim at sanctioning their human rights activities, in particular his work of monitoring and denouncing cases of corruption related to the implementation of MGNREGA, and recalls that this is not the first time that an activist involved in seeking information and denouncing irregularities in the implementation of MGNREGA is attacked and threatened[3]

Actions requested:

The Observatory urges the authorities of India to:

i. Guarantee in all circumstances the physical and psychological integrity of Mr. Dudhram as well as all human rights defenders in India;

ii. Order an immediate, thorough, effective, transparent and impartial investigation into the aggression, the result of which must be made public, in order to identify all those responsible, bring them before a civil competent and impartial tribunal and apply to them the penal sanctions provided by the law;

iii. Put an end to acts of harassment against Mr. Dudhram as well as against all Indian human rights defenders;

iv. Conform to the provisions of the United Nations Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 9, 1998, especially:

- its 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”;

- its Article 6(a), which provides that “everyone has the right, individually and in associations with others, to know, seek, obtain, receive and hold information about all human rights and fundamental freedoms”;

- and its Article 12.2, which states 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”.

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.

Addresses:

· Shri Manmohan Singh, Prime Minister of India, Prime Minister’s Office, Room number 152, South Block, New Delhi, India. Fax: + 91 11 2301 6857 Email: manmohan@sansad.nic.in; pmosb@pmo.nic.in

· Dr. P. Chidambaram, Union Minister of Home Affairs, Ministry of Home Affairs, 104-107 North Block, New Delhi 110 001 India. Fax: +91 11 2309 2979. Email: hm@nic.in; pchidambi@yahoo.co.in

· Justice Kapadia, Chief Justice of India and RK. Raghavan, Chairman of the Special Investigation Team, Supreme Court, Tilak Marg, New Delhi -1, India. Fax: +91 11 233 83792, Email: supremecourt@nic.in

· Justice K. G. Balkrishnan, Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of India, Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg, New Delhi 110 001, India. Tel: +91 11 230 74448, Fax: +91 11 2334 0016, Email: covdnhrc@nic.in ; ionhrc@nic.in ; chairnhrc@nic.in

· Mr. Satyendra Mishra, Chief Information Commissioner, Central Information Commission, 306, 2nd Floor, August Kranti Bhavan, Bhikaji Cama Place, New Delhi-110 066 India. Email: s.mishra@nic.in

· Mr.Ashok Gehlot, Chief Minister of Jaipur, Chief Minister’s Secretariat, Jaipur, 302005, Rajasthan, India. Phone: + 91 141 222 7656, Fax + 91 141 2227687, Email: cmraj@rajasthan.gov.in ; cmrajasthan@nic.in

· Justice Shri Jagat Singh, Acting Chairperson, Rajasthan State Human Rights Commission, SSO Building, Secretariate, Jaipur, Rajasthan. Fax: + 91 2227738, Email: rshrc@raj.nic.in

· Director General of Police, PHQ, Jaipur, Rajasthan. Tel: + 91 141 2606657 / 2574849, Fax: + 91 141 2607926. Email: dgp-rj@nic.in

· Gopinathan, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Permanent Representative to the United Nations (Geneva), Rue du Valais 9, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland. Tel: +41 22 906 86 86, Fax: +41 22 906 86 96, Email: mission.india@ties.itu.int

· Embassy of India in Brussels, 217 Chaussée de Vleurgat, 1050 Brussels, Belgium, Fax: +32 (0)2 6489638 or +32 (0)2 6451869

Please also write to the diplomatic representations of India in your respective countries.

***
Geneva-Paris, February 17, 2012

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

The Observatory, an 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 OMCT + 41 22 809 49 39 / + 41 22 809 49 29

· Tel and fax FIDH + 33 1 43 55 25 18 / +33 1 43 55 18 80

[1] MGNREGA enacts an Indian job guarantee scheme which provides a legal guarantee for 100 days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any rural household willing to carry-out public work-related unskilled manual work at a minimum wage which varies according to the State. This act was introduced with the aim of improving the purchasing power of the rural people, primarily semi or un-skilled work to people living in rural India.

[2] Mr. Dudhram reported that six roads were constructed at a cost of Rs. 12 Crore in 2010 in Nokha. He said that in spite of this work not being completed in 2011, work was sanctioned again under MGNREGA for clearing sand from the roads. Concretely, Mr. Dudhram complained about the allocation of Rs 4 crore for clearing sand, because allegedly, no such work was actually carried out, but around Rs.4 crore was paid for it. Similarly, the government engineer and people from the area had complained that no work had been done concerning the project of clearing sand from the roads even when a significant amount was paid for it. Subsequently, a team from Jaipur came for inspection. It needs to be noted that Mr. Dudhram was instrumental in the happening of the probe.

[3] For more information, see Observatory Annual Report 2011 as well as Urgent Appeal IND 005 / 0611 / OBS 095, issued on June 27, 2011.

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