Annual Report: India 2011

May 28, 2011

Annual Report: India 2011

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Cases against some of those responsible for the 2002 attacks against Muslim minorities in Gujarat, in which about 2,000 people were killed, made little progress. Proceedings were marred by the authorities' openly hostile attitude towards witnesses, the investigating agencies' refusal to examine crucial evidence including official telephone records, and the destruction of evidence linking key political leaders to the violence.

  • In December, Teesta Setalvad of the Centre for Justice and Peace and a team of lawyers defending victims' rights were harassed by Gujarat police who charged them with concocting evidence.

Jammu and Kashmir

Impunity for past violations in Kashmir, including the disappearance of thousands of people since 1989 during the armed conflict in Kashmir, continued. Official inquiries into some of the violations made slow or little progress.

  • Between June and September, the police and security forces fired at protesters during pro-Independence protests demanding accountability for past violations in the Kashmir valley. More than 100 people, mostly youths, were killed and 800 others, including media workers, were injured. An inquiry, instituted by the state authorities, covered 17 of the 100 deaths, despite demands by Amnesty International and other organizations for an independent, impartial and thorough investigation into all the deaths. The inquiry made little progress.

The authorities made widespread use of administrative detentions, detaining 322 people between January and September. Following the protests, on the basis of recommendations by a government-appointed team of interlocutors who visited the valley, the authorities released two separatist leaders, Shabir Shah and Mohammad Nayeem Khan.

  • Fourteen-year-old Mushtaq Ahmad Sheikh was charged with taking part in violent protests and detained in Srinigar in April. He was later transferred to jails in Udhampur and Jammu where he remained.

Extrajudicial executions

Recent data disclosed by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on people killed in clashes with the police between 1993 and 2008, showed that of the 2,560 deaths reported, 1,224 occurred in "faked encounters" implying they were extrajudicial executions. By the end of the year, the NHRC had awarded compensation to the relatives of 16 victims. Convictions of those responsible for extrajudicial executions were exceptionally rare and proceedings in such cases remained slow.

  • In January, the Supreme Court ordered a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the 2005 killings, allegedly by the Gujarat police, of Sohrabuddin, his wife Kausar Bi and accomplice Tulsiram Prajapati, after finding the state police investigation shoddy.
  • In November, the Gujarat government constituted a new special police team to investigate the killings of Ishrat Jahan and three others at the hands of the Gujarat police in 2004.

Arbitrary arrests and detentions

More than 100 people were detained without charge, for periods ranging from one week to a month in connection with bomb attacks in several states, including Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Reports of torture and other ill-treatment of suspects led to protests by both Muslim and Hindu organizations. Security legislation, tightened after the November 2008 attacks in Mumbai, was used to detain suspects. Despite ongoing protests, the authorities refused to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act 1958, which grants security forces in specified areas or states the power to shoot to kill in circumstances where they are not necessarily at imminent risk.

Death penalty

In December, India voted against a UN General Assembly resolution calling for a worldwide moratorium on executions. At least 105 people, including Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving Pakistani man accused of involvement in the 2008 Mumbai attacks, were sentenced to death. However, for the sixth successive year, no executions took place and the death sentences of 13 people were commuted to life imprisonment. Amendments to the law extended the death penalty to hijackers. Under new legislation, 16 states published death row figures, but at least five others refused to do so.