Annual Report: India 2010

Report
May 28, 2010

Annual Report: India 2010

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In Kashmir, police and paramilitary forces killed one man and injured 150 people during a protest in June. Demonstrators were demanding an independent investigation into allegations of paramilitary forces' involvement in the sexual assault and murder of two women at Shopian, amidst reports of attempts to suppress evidence of sexual assault. An inquiry by the Central Bureau of Investigation concluded that no sexual assault took place and that the women had drowned, prompting calls for an independent investigation.

Discrimination

Dalits

Members of Dalit communities in several states continued to face attacks, social boycotts and discrimination in accessing health, education and legal services. Special laws enacted to prosecute the perpetrators of such violence and discrimination remained ineffective.

  • In August, four Dalits died of starvation in Nalanda and Jehanabad districts after members of the dominant landholding castes denied them access to food and other essential commodities.
  • During the April/May general elections, Dalit communities in several states, especially Bihar, Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh, faced intimidation and violence. On 23 April, 74 houses belonging to Dalit communities in Madhubani district, Bihar, were torched, leaving 300 people homeless.

Minority groups

In Karnataka, Hindu nationalist groups attacked several places of worship belonging to minority communities and targeted urban women and interreligious couples.

  • On 25 January, activists from the Hindu nationalist group Sri Rama Sene attacked 10 people at a pub in Mangalore.

Workers' rights

Legislation guaranteeing rural people living in poverty a right to work for at least 100 days per year made headway in some states, but its implementation continued to rely on vigilant local communities. Human rights defenders involved in monitoring implementation faced violence and harassment.

  • On 10 February, Madhya Pradesh police arrested Shamim Modi on false charges after her organization, the Adivasi Labour Union, led a peaceful protest demanding the enforcement of laws guaranteeing labour and land rights. She spent 21 days in prison before being released. In July, the state police and forest department raided her office and arbitrarily detained 11 Adivasis. Shamim Modi, who had received threats to her life, sustained injuries during an attack in Mumbai by alleged mercenaries hired by forest contractors.

Rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people

In a historic decision in July, the Delhi High Court rejected section 377 of the Indian Penal Code in cases of consensual sexual acts. Section 377, which criminalizes homosexuality and was introduced under British colonial rule, was deemed discriminatory and "against constitutional morality". A formal repeal of the law remained pending.

Death penalty

No executions were known to have taken place during the year, but courts sentenced at least 50 people to death.

Amnesty International visits/reports

Amnesty International delegates visited India in February/March and August/September

India: Dodging responsibility – Corporations, governments and the Bhopal disaster (28 May 2009)
India: Open Letter to authorities to withdraw the clearance granted to Vedanta-Orissa Mining Corporation for bauxite mining project which could threaten Dongria Kondh indigenous communities at Niyamgiri (15 May 2009)
India: Authorities should avoid excessive use of force in West Bengal (19 June 2009)
India: Revoke preventive detention of human rights defender in Manipur (14 October 2009)