Annual Report: India 2011

Report
May 28, 2011

Annual Report: India 2011

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Head of state: Pratibha Patil
Head of government: Manmohan Singh
Death penalty: retentionist
Population: 1,214.5 million
Life expectancy: 64.4 years
Under-5 mortality (m/f): 77/86 per 1,000
Adult literacy: 62.8 per cent

 

Ongoing clashes between armed Maoists and state security forces escalated in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal. More than 350 people were killed in bomb attacks in those states and in ethnically motivated attacks in Assam and other states. Protests by Adivasis (Indigenous communities) and other marginalized communities against moves to acquire their lands and natural resources without proper consultation or consent resulted in the suspension of key corporate-led projects. Human rights defenders in these cases were attacked by state or private agents, with politically motivated charges, including sedition, being brought against some. More than 100 people, mostly youth protesters, were killed in the Kashmir valley during protests between June and September. Torture and other ill-treatment, extrajudicial executions, deaths in custody and administrative detentions remained rife. Institutional mechanisms meant to protect human rights and human rights defenders remained weak and judicial processes failed to ensure justice for many victims of past violations and abuses. At least 105 people were sentenced to death but, for the sixth successive year, no executions took place.

Background

India's rapid economic growth was limited to key urban and suburban areas; large parts of rural India continued to experience grinding poverty, aggravated by an agricultural crisis and declining food availability for those living in poverty. According to official estimates, about 30 to 50 per cent of the population were living in poverty. Of these, people living in rural areas were guaranteed at least 100 days of work per year, but the authorities continued to pay them below the national minimum wage.

US President Barack Obama's November visit to India underscored the country's growing international and regional status. However, India routinely put economic and strategic interests above human rights considerations. The Indian authorities did not speak out against gross human rights violations committed by the authorities in neighbouring Myanmar, and remained silent on demands for the Sri Lankan government to be held accountable for human rights violations committed at the end of that country's war in 2009.

Relations between India and Pakistan remained fragile following Pakistan's ongoing failure to adequately address the November 2008 Mumbai attacks. Relations were also undermined by a rise in pro-independence protests in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Violence between security forces, militia and Maoists

In Chhattisgarh, clashes escalated between armed Maoists and state forces supported by the Salwa Judum militia, widely believed to be state-sponsored. In November, during a hearing at the Supreme Court on petitions filed against impunity, the state authorities claimed that this militia was no longer active. However, human rights organizations said it had been reconstituted as a local "peace force".

Similar clashes and bomb attacks took place in Adivasi areas of Jharkhand and West Bengal. Both sides routinely targeted civilians, mainly Adivasis, who reported killings and abductions. Around 30,000 Adivasis continued to be internally displaced in Chhattisgarh alone, of whom 10,000 lived in camps and 20,000 were dispersed in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh and Orissa.