Annual Report: India 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: India 2010

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  • In May, Binayak Sen, a medical doctor working for the economic, social and cultural rights of Adivasis and contract labourers, and a critic of the Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh, was released on bail after spending two years in prison. He continued to face charges of aiding Maoists.
  • On 17 September, police officers shot dead six villagers and burnt their houses in Gachanpalli, Dantewada district, Chhattisgarh.
  • On 1 October, nine villagers, including four members of one family, were killed by police officers in Gompad in Dantewada district.
  • In December, Kopa Kunjam, a member of Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, a non-governmental development organization working for the resettlement of Adivasi communities displaced by the conflict in Chhattisgarh, was arrested on politically motivated murder charges. The authorities had demolished the ashram premises in May.

The conflict spread to Lalgarh in West Bengal. Around 8,000 Adivasis remained internally displaced there, some of them in makeshift camps.

  • In September, the West Bengal authorities arrested 23 Adivasi women at Lalgarh and charged them with being Maoists, but later released 14 of the min exchange for a police official taken hostage by Maoist militants.
  • In October, Maoist militants kidnapped and killed an intelligence official and dumped his mutilated body on a highway in the neighbouring state of Jharkhand.

Unlawful killings

Unlawful killings continued to be reported from several north-eastern states, especially Manipur and Assam, where security forces and armed separatist organizations have waged low-intensity conflicts for decades. Despite ongoing protests in the north-east and Kashmir, the authorities refused to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958. The UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions stated that the Act facilitated extrajudicial executions by allowing security forces to shoot to kill in circumstances where they were not necessarily at imminent risk.

  • In March, Anil Mazumdar, editor of Aji daily newspaper, was shot dead by gunmen at Guwahati in Assam after he advocated peace talks between the banned United Liberation Front of Assam and the state authorities.
  • In May, Satish Loitongbam and Pebam Gunendro Singh, both from Imphal, were detained by suspected Assam Rifles personnel stationed in Manipur. Gunendro Singh was released after three days. Satish Loitongbam was taken to an unknown location and shot dead.
  • In July, Manipur police commandos shot dead Sanjit Chungkham and a pregnant woman, Rabina Devi, at Khwairamband Bazaar in Imphal. Video recordings of the event showed that Sanjit Chungkham was shot after he had been arrested.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

In August/September, Manipur authorities responded to protests by arresting more than 10 human rights defenders after raiding their offices. Among them was Jiten Yumnam, who remained in jail under preventive detention at year's end. About 90 other people were reported to be held in preventive detention in Manipur state.

Corporate accountability

Marginalized communities across the country bore the brunt of government failures to protect them from corporate abuses.

Bhopal

Twenty-five years after the Bhopal gas leak tragedy of 1984 – one of the world's worst industrial disasters – local communities continued to suffer its effects and maintained their campaign for justice. State action continued to be inadequate and compensation insufficient, the plant site remained contaminated and the authorities repeatedly failed to deliver on promises to the survivors and their families.

Forced evictions

Marginalized communities, including landless farmers and Adivasis in several states, were threatened with forced evictions to accommodate industrial and other business projects. In some cases, Adivasis were threatened with eviction from lands defined as exclusively theirs by the Indian Constitution. Mandatory public hearings did not provide sufficient information on business or development projects, and government and business officials often excluded affected communities from decision-making processes.