Annual Report: India 2013

May 23, 2013

Annual Report: India 2013

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  • In November, 268 Dalit houses in Natham Colony, Tamil Nadu, were looted and damaged by caste Hindus enraged by the suicide of a man whose daughter had married a Dalit.

Excessive use of force

On several occasions, police used unnecessary or excessive force to quell protests, and authorities failed to conduct prompt, impartial and effective inquiries into most incidents.

  • In March and April, at least 10 people were injured when police used excessive force to evict slum-dwellers from Nonadonga area, Kolkata, in a bid to acquire land for urban infrastructure projects.
  • In September, one protester was killed by police and more than 60 others were injured when police cleared a demonstration against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant in Tamil Nadu.
  • In November, one person was killed and five others were injured by police during protests over the amount of compensation for land in Loba village, West Bengal, acquired for a private coal mine.

Sedition laws

Protests grew against archaic sedition laws used to imprison peaceful demonstrators.

  • Over 50 peaceful protesters against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, including Dr Udayakumar and Pushparayan, were charged with sedition and “waging war against the state”.
  • In August, social activists Seema Azad and Vishwa Vijay, were released on bail by the Allahabad High Court while appealing against their conviction on sedition charges for collaborating with armed Maoists.

Human rights defenders

People defending the rights of marginalized communities continued to be targeted by state and non-state actors – as highlighted by the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders in February.

  • In July, environmental activist Ramesh Agrawal, who had sought to expose environmental and Adivasi rights violations linked to mining projects, was shot and injured in Raigarh district, Chhattisgarh.
  • In September, the Supreme Court rejected the bail petition of prisoner of conscience and Adivasi leader Kartam Joga, jailed since September 2010.
  • In September, the Supreme Court agreed to consider the medical report of Adivasi schoolteacher Soni Sori, after she complained of torture, including sexual violence, by the Chhattisgarh police while she was in their custody in October 2011.
  • In October, Adivasi rights activist Dayamani Barla was imprisoned for two months for a 2008 incident, amid allegations that she was being targeted by Jharkhand authorities for protesting against the forced eviction of farmers at Nagri.

Freedom of expression

The authorities used overbroad and imprecise laws to arrest at least seven people for posting online comments criticizing the government.

  • In April, Kolkata police arrested academic Ambikesh Mahapatra for posting a cartoon criticizing West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.
  • In September, Mumbai police arrested Aseem Trivedi for publishing a series of cartoons parodying India's national symbols as part of an anti-corruption protest.
  • In October, Puducherry police arrested Ravi Srinivasan for tweeting about allegations of corruption involving the Union Finance Minister's son.
  • In November, Mumbai police arrested two women, Shaheen Dhada and Renu Srinivasan, for posting Facebook comments questioning a public protest called for by supporters of a recently deceased senior political figure.

Amnesty International visits/reports

  • Human rights defenders in India need effective protection: Amnesty International's written statement to the 19th session of the UN Human Rights Council (ASA 20/005/2012)
  • India: Vedanta's perspective uncovered – policies cannot mask practices in Orissa (ASA 20/029/2012)
  • Amnesty International urges India to promptly ratify the Convention against Torture and invite the Special Rapporteur on torture to visit India (ASA 20/034/2012)
  • India: Still a “lawless law” – detentions under the Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (ASA 20/035/2012)