Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Documents: India Blocked Kashmir Trials of Troops

Documents: India Blocked Kashmir Trials of Troops
By AIJAZ HUSSAIN Associated Press
SRINAGAR, India February 28, 2012 (AP)

India has rejected every request over two decades to prosecute Indian soldiers in civilian court in Kashmir for alleged rights abuses including murder and rape, according to documents given Tuesday to the Associated Press.
The revelation is likely to spark an outcry by Kashmiri activists who for years have accused Indian troops of abusing wide-ranging powers to search, seize and even shoot suspects. Those powers were given in 1990 when India faced a violent insurgency in the Himalayan territory that has since waned significantly.
Under the draconian Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Kashmir needs federal approval for prosecuting paramilitary or army soldiers in civilian courts.
Kashmir has sough permission in 50 such cases in the last two decades, but India has refused every one, the territory's Home Ministry said in a response this week to a Right to Information request filed by The Coalition of Civil Society, a local rights group.
The Kashmiri government would not say what other options it could or would follow in seeking justice. "We're taking legal recourse," Home Department Secretary B.R. Sharma said Tuesday, without specifying what that might be.
The rights group said the information vindicated what Kashmiri activists have been arguing for years.
"It implies there is 100 percent legal impunity for Indian troops operating in Jammu and Kashmir," said Khurram Parvez of the Coalition.
Kashmir's Chief Minister Omar Abdullah proposed eliminating the special powers last year, but was rebuffed by the federal government after the army objected.
India has long relied on military might to retain control over Kashmir and has fought two territorial wars with Pakistan, which also claims the mountain region as its own.
Indian troops faced a bloody, separatist insurgency in the early 1990s. The uprising and subsequent Indian crackdown killed 68,000 people, but the conflict has largely subsided with public opposition to Indian rule now expressed in street protests.
Nevertheless, the region remains heavily militarized, with hundreds of thousands of Indian troops stationed and maintaining checkpoints throughout Indian-controlled territory. Pakistan and China also control portions of the region.
Human rights workers have accused Indian troops of illegally detaining, torturing and killing rebel suspects, sometimes even staging gunbattles as pretexts to kill.
The Indian army says it has punished 59 soldiers in 25 proven abuse cases, out of 995 complaints it has received, according to its website. It gives no dates for or details about the complaints, and does not say what the punishments entailed.

Monday, 27 February 2012

Human Right Record of India

Manipur & its search for elusive justice

by Meenakshi Ganguly
Published in: The Asian Age
January 20, 2012
Manipuris will soon stand in line to vote for a new state government. As with voters elsewhere, during the campaign they will be promised jobs, development and new infrastructure. The one promise on which successive governments have failed to deliver, however, is one of bringing justice to the people of the state.
Manipur has remained under the stranglehold of abusive armed groups and inept politicians. In each election, the armed groups — and there are many, with a range of political demands, though they are mostly extortion gangs — have called for a boycott of the polls. Those who participate, candidates and voters alike, risk violent attacks.
Things are so bad that earlier this month, all newspapers in Manipur published a blank editorial, in response to threats from armed groups that insist that the newspapers publish their statements. Newspapers face a double whammy: some militants have also demanded that they not publish statements of rival groups.
In the hope that an elected government will finally do its job, that of providing security and upholding fundamental rights, Manipuris have ignored the threats and turned out to vote. Yet, the government has failed to ensure even the most basic rights of life and liberty. Armed groups aside, Manipuris remain at risk of arbitrary arrests, torture and extrajudicial killings by the government’s own security forces.
The state government and local administration have also failed to address grievances that feed public discontent and support for militant groups. All of these problems are made worse, though, by Manipur’s climate of impunity. The Central government, while claiming to be committed to protecting human rights, has largely ignored serious violations by its security forces, at best attributing abuses to a few “bad apples”. But even in cases involving “bad apples”, the government rarely investigates, let alone prosecutes those responsible. Manipuris want impunity to end. Not only has it shattered any existing faith in the justice system, many feel it has emboldened the security forces to commit further abuses. Impunity, fostered both by a lack of political will and by laws shielding the abusers, has led to an atmosphere in which security forces are effectively above the law.
The lack of accountability has become deeply rooted because of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), the 1958 emergency law under which the armed forces are deployed in internal conflicts and enjoy broad powers to arrest, search and shoot to kill. The law is widely despised among the population because it provides soldiers who commit atrocities effective immunity from prosecution.
When the Central government isn’t ignoring Manipur, it tries to sweep Manipur’s problems under the carpet. In December, the police in Delhi went so far as to refuse permission for a solidarity protest to support a decade-long hunger fast by Irom Sharmila, who has demanded the repeal of the AFSPA ever since soldiers gunned down 10 civilians in Manipur on November 2, 2000. She is nasally force-fed in judicial custody.
The AFSPA has led to abuses and serious hardships in other parts of the country. In Jammu and Kashmir, the repeal of the law has become a crucial election issue. Chief minister Omar Abdullah has spoken out against it.
But in Manipur, where the law has been in force much longer, political leaders have found neither voice nor wisdom. Irom Sharmila may have become known for her courage and her peaceful endeavour in India and beyond, but in Manipur’s capital, Imphal, the government has ignored her appeal. Instead, Manipuris remain hostage to an Army that claims it cannot operate without the powers and immunity provided by the AFSPA.
Hardly anyone in Manipur disputes that armed groups pose a serious security risk. Last year, two militant groups successfully imposed a three-month economic blockade on the surface supply of goods, crippling the economy and pushing prices out of control. Manipuris want law enforcement, but without human rights abuses or a blank cheque for the security services. The Army’s several decades of deployment in Manipur have not only resulted in widespread abuses but polarised the situation. The Army is damaging its reputation in India and abroad by insisting on protecting perpetrators of human rights abuses.
In 2004, following widespread anger over the custodial killing of a suspect, Manorama Devi, by the Assam Rifles, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh arrived in Imphal with a promise to review the AFSPA. The review committee — and several other experts since then — recommended repeal of the law. The Army opposes repeal. Now halfway through his second term, Dr Singh has been unable to prevail over his divided Cabinet to deliver on the promise.
Manipur erupts into national news only when the rage brings Manipuris out onto the streets. The Central government takes notice when the Assembly building is burnt down, elderly women strip and invite the Army to rape them as they have raped others, prices become ridiculously high due to weeks of blockade or when mothers and schoolchildren engage in weeks of demonstrations. It should not take such drama for the government to wake up to the problems in this corner of the Northeast.
The Meenakshi Ganguly is the South Asia director at Human Rights Watch 

Human Right Record of India

India: Repeal Armed Forces Special Powers Act
Prime Minister Should Overrule Army’s Objections
October 19, 2011
There is broad recognition in India that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act should be repealed because it has led to so many abuses. Prime Minister Singh should overrule the army and keep his promise to abolish this abusive law.
Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch
(New York) – Prime Minister Manmohan Singh of India should override the objections of the army and keep his 2004 promise to repeal the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), Human Rights Watch said today. The Indian defense establishment has opposed even minor amendments to the law, despite the findings of independent bodies in India and abroad that the law has resulted in numerous serious human rights violations over many years, Human Rights Watch said.
India’s Home Ministry has proposed amendments, but the army insists that it needs the law to operate in what it calls “disturbed areas.” News reports suggest that the army is blocking an effort to present the amendments for a vote during the upcoming winter session of parliament. Home Minister P. Chidambaram has reportedly tried but failed to persuade the army to support the amendments.
“There is broad recognition in India that the Armed Forces Special Powers Act should be repealed because it has led to so many abuses,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Prime Minister Singh should overrule the army and keep his promise to abolish this abusive law.”
The AFSPA grants the armed forces the power to shoot to kill in law enforcement situations, to arrest without warrant, and to detain people without time limits. As a result, the armed forces routinely engage in torture and other ill-treatment during interrogation in army barracks. The law forbids prosecution of soldiers without approval from the central government, which is rarely granted.

The law violates India’s obligations under international human rights law, including the rights to life, to be protected from arbitrary arrest, and to be free from torture and other ill-treatment, Human Rights Watch said
. The provisions protecting soldiers from prosecution deny victims of abuses the right to a remedy because it forbids prosecution of soldiers without approval from the central government, which is rarely granted.
The AFSPA was enacted on August 18, 1958, as an emergency measure to allow the deployment of the army to counter a separatist movement in the northeastern Naga Hills. However, it has remained in force in several northeast states for five decades and in Jammu and Kashmir since 1990. Repeal of the AFSPA has become a core demand of residents and activists in the areas in which it is in operation.
Following the 2004 death in military custody of Manorama Devi, a Manipuri woman suspected of being a militant, violent protests broke out in Manipur. Singh set up a judicial inquiry to examine the law and promised to abide by its conclusions. The committee, led by Justice Jeevan Reddy, found that while the security situation required continued deployment of the army, the AFSPA should be repealed and replaced by a more “humane” law.
In April 2007, a working group on Jammu and Kashmir appointed by the prime minister also recommended revoking the act. The Supreme Court, while upholding the constitutional right to enact such laws, has issued guidelines to prevent human rights violations, but these are routinely ignored.
International bodies have repeatedly recommended the repeal of the AFSPA. These include the United Nations Human Rights Committee and UN member states during India’s Universal Periodic Review at the Human Rights Council in 2008.
“India is a democracy in which the armed forces are supposed to be subject to civilian control,” Adams said. “While the government should take into account the army’s viewpoint, it should not let the military have a de facto veto over a law that has led to the killing and torture of so many people.”
The government has a responsibility to ensure the protection of citizens from abuses by separatist militants and armed groups, Human Rights Watch said. However, the AFSPA has proven to be ineffective and has instead encouraged abuses by all sides.

The provision for immunity for soldiers who commit abuses is of particular concern, Human Rights Watch said. While the army insists that it has internal mechanisms to punish those who commit crimes, there is no public information about whether and how soldiers or officers are disciplined or prosecuted. Victims’ families are seldom informed about court martial proceedings or other disciplinary measures and thus believe that perpetrators are left unpunished.
“The army supports the Armed Forces Special Powers Act because of the immunity it provides soldiers who commit serious abuses,” Adams said. “It should realize that such abuses fuel public anger, permitting militant groups to flourish and putting soldiers at greater risk

Human Right Record of India

India: Prosecute Security Forces for Torture
Recent Abuse Cases Reinforce Need to Enact Prevention of Torture Bill
January 31, 2012: "Trigger Happy"
Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch

(New York) – The Indian government should prosecute members of the security forces for recent high-profile cases of torture, to send a message that such practices will no longer be tolerated, Human Rights Watch said today.

Border Security Force (BSF) soldiers, long implicated in torture and extrajudicial killings near the border with Bangladesh, were captured in a video posted on YouTube brutally beating a Bangladeshi national caught smuggling cattle in West Bengal state. And the Indian government has awarded a medal to a police superintendant alleged to have ordered the torture and sexual assault of a female schoolteacher in Chhattisgarh state, instead of investigating him.
“These horrific images of torture on video show what rights groups have long documented: that India’s Border Security Force is out of control,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The Indian government is well aware of killings and torture at the border, but has never prosecuted the troops responsible. This video provides a clear test case of whether the security forces are above the law in India.”
In December 2010, Human Rights Watch, together with Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha (MASUM), a Kolkatta-based nongovernmental organization that posted the video, and Dhaka-based Odhikar, published “‘Trigger Happy’: Excessive Use of Force by Indian Troops at the Bangladesh Border.” This report documented numerous cases of indiscriminate use of force, arbitrary detention, torture, and killings by the BSF, and highlighted the failure of the Indian government to conduct adequate investigations or prosecute troops responsible for abuses. It showed that the BSF routinely abuses both Bangladeshi and Indian nationals residing in the border area. After the report’s release, the Indian government ordered an end to the use of lethal force except in cases of self-defense. While the number of killings decreased, allegations of killings and torture have continued.

The video, reportedly filmed by a BSF soldier, shows members of the BSF’s 105th Battalion stripping a man, a Bangladeshi national later identified as Habibur Rahman, tying him up and beating him, while laughing and engaging in verbal abuse. BSF personnel apparently caught Rahman when he was engaged in smuggling cattle from India into Bangladesh. Instead of handing him over to the police as required by Indian law, they illegally detained and tortured him and then left him to make his way back home.
After MASUM released the video to local news channels, the BSF suspended eight soldiers – Sandip Kumar, Dhananjay Roy, Sunil Kumar Yadav, Suresh Chandra, Anand Kumar, Victor, Amarjyoti, and VirendraTiwari – and ordered an inquiry. However, despite clear evidence of abuse, to date no criminal charges have been filed against any soldiers.
“Whenever offenses attributed to the BSF occur, its leadership insists that there will be an internal inquiry and action taken,” said Ganguly. “But secret proceedings and suspensions or transfers won’t end the abuses. Torture is a serious crime that should be prosecuted in the courts.”
Many people routinely move back and forth across the Indian-Bangladeshi border to visit relatives, buy supplies, and look for jobs. Some engage in criminal activities, such as smuggling. The BSF is charged with intercepting illegal activities, especially narcotics smuggling, human trafficking for sex work, and transporting fake currency and explosives. It is also charged with protecting against violent attacks by militant groups.

The failure of the Indian government to prosecute authorities responsible for torture extends to all of the security forces, Human Rights Watch said. In another recent disturbing incident, Soni Sori, a schoolteacher in Chhattisgarh state, alleged that she was tortured and sexually assaulted by Chhattisgarh state police while in custody in October 2011. After her arrest as a suspected Maoist supporter, a criminal court in Chhattisgarh state handed her over to police custody for interrogation despite her pleas that she feared for her safety and life. Sori alleges that Ankit Garg, then-superintendent of police for Dantewada district, ordered the torture and sexual assault. The Indian Supreme Court ordered Sori’s transfer to the Kolkata medical college hospital for an independent medical examination. In November 2011, the examination report corroborated Sori’s allegations of physical abuse.
To date, the Indian authorities have not initiated any inquiry or criminal action against the police officers implicated. Instead of investigating the case, on Republic Day, January 26, 2012, the president of India, Pratibha Patil, presented Ankit Garg with a police medal for gallantry. The medal drew widespread condemnation.
The Indian government announced, in March 2011, a rape compensation package for all sexual assault victims, but even basic follow-up reproductive and sexual health services have yet to be made available to survivors like Soni Sori. One of her lawyers told Human Rights Watch that Sori, who is detained in Raipur central jail in Chhattisgarh, has not received any follow-up reproductive and sexual health care. Her hemoglobin count has dropped considerably and she has complained of reproductive health problems but her lawyer is concerned that she will not receive adequate medical care without obstruction by the Chhattisgarh police. During her stay at the Raipur medical college hospital for medical examination and treatment in October, the Chhattisgarh police forced the doctors to remove her intravenous drip, refusing to let her stay in the hospital.
“Soni Sori’s case epitomizes the callousness with which victims of torture are treated in India,” Ganguly said. “The Indian government shamefully presents a trophy to someone implicated in torture, while doctors cannot even treat a torture survivor without police obstruction.”
Human Rights Watch called upon the Indian government to ratify the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and to enact the Prevention of Torture bill, which is currently awaiting cabinet approval before it is voted on by the Rajya Sabha, the upper house of parliament. The law should override all provisions of Indian law that allow government officials immunity from prosecution for human rights violations. It should also ensure that adequate time is given for victims to be able to file complaints, and that all forms of inhuman and degrading treatment are brought under the purview of the law.

“The BSF, the police, and other members of the security forces operate with impunity throughout India,” said Ganguly. “When will the government in Delhi wake up and act to end torture and other human rights abuses?”

Human Right Record of India

India: Disappointing Year for Human Rights
Failure to Address Impunity, Police Reform, Torture, Women’s Rights
January 24, 2012
 (New York) – The Indian government during 2011 failed to hold rights violators accountable or to carry out effective policies to protect vulnerable communities, Human Rights Watch said today in its World Report 2012.

The government took no action to repeal the widely discredited Armed Forces Special Powers Act, disregarding the recommendations of political leaders and advisers, Human Rights Watch said. The government also ignored the urgent need for police reform despite widespread complaints of torture and unlawful killings as well as deplorable working conditions for police personnel.

“The Indian government took few steps to prosecute abusive soldiers, undertake needed police reforms, or bring an end to torture,” said
Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Internationally, India missed opportunities to be a leader at the United Nations Security Council and Human Rights Council in protecting the rights of vulnerable people abroad.”
In its World Report 2012, Human Rights Watch assessed progress on human rights during the past year in more than 90 countries, including popular uprisings in the Arab world that few would have imagined. Given the violent forces resisting the “Arab Spring,” the international community has an important role to play in assisting the birth of rights-respecting democracies in the region, Human Rights Watch said in the report.
In India, violence in Jammu and Kashmir state dropped significantly during 2011. The state human rights commission’s investigation of 38 sites in north Kashmir and the discovery of 2,730 unmarked graves was a good first step for providing justice to the victims, Human Rights Watch said. While the government maintains that most of the bodies are those of unidentified Pakistani militants, many Kashmiris believe that victims of fake “encounter killings” or enforced disappearances may also have been buried in those graves. Although the government has promised a thorough inquiry, a credible investigation is impossible without the cooperation of the army and federal paramilitary forces, which hide behind the immunity provisions of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act and other laws.
The government belatedly addressed the epidemic of killings on the Indo-Bangladesh border by the Border Security Force (BSF). Although the government ordered restraint and provided rubber bullets to reduce casualties, there were continued reports of torture leading to deaths and other abuses by BSF soldiers. No BSF soldiers have been prosecuted for the unlawful killings of over 900 Indians and Bangladeshis over the past decade.
“Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s call for ‘zero tolerance’ of abuses by the armed forces has been undercut by the near zero progress in holding the abusers responsible,” Adams said. “The government should no longer allow the army to hide behind claims about troop morale or operational needs as an excuse for impunity.”

Residents of areas facing a Maoist insurgency, which in 2011 was active in nearly 80 districts across 11 Indian states, complained of being squeezed between state security forces and Maoist rebels. Security agencies carried out numerous arbitrary arrests and were accused of many instances of torture. The Maoists frequently demanded shelter and information from villagers, who were then punished by security forces for collaborating with the rebels.
Activists working in these areas are at risk from both the Maoists and government forces. Maoists have tortured and killed activists and others they suspected of being government informers, and police in several instances have charged activists with conspiracy and sedition for supporting the Maoist ideology. The Maoists recruit children into their forces and attack schools, often putting students at risk. The government has not fully carried out court directives to end deployment of security forces in schools in areas threatened by the Maoists.

“While the government agrees that the Maoist movement is rooted in failed government policies and speaks of winning hearts and minds, it allows the security forces to commit abuses with impunity,” Adams said. “At the same time, the Maoists claim to speak for the marginalized yet punish anyone who might disagree with their violent methods.”
The government adopted long overdue measures to compensate rape victims and revised its medico-legal protocols to exclude the humiliating “finger” test to investigate rape cases, Human Rights Watch said. Yet the government did little to address the widespread problems of “honor killings,” dowry deaths, and sexual violence. A further decline in India’s sex ratio because of sex selective abortion  and other abuses against girls and women points to the economic and social disparities that lead families to prefer sons over daughters, and the government’s need to expand educational and economic opportunities for women. The failure to extend maternal health care programs to all mothers below age 19 or with more than two live births also reflected poorly on the government’s commitment to protect women.
The Medical Council of India took an important step in 2011 by recognizing palliative care as a medical specialty. But more than half of government-supported regional cancer centers still do not offer palliative care or pain management, even though more than 70 percent of their patients need it. The result has been severe, unnecessary suffering for tens of thousands of patients. Internationally, although India served on both the UN Security Council and Human Rights Council, it let opportunities pass to support independent, international investigations into conflict-related abuses in Sri Lanka and Burma. Instead of using these memberships to show leadership to protect human rights abroad, India remained silent on even the gravest abuses. While expressing concern about the increased violence in Syria, for example, New Delhi failed to support policies that would ease the suffering of the Syrian people.
“India is now watched closely for signs of responsible global leadership,” Adams said. “Its silence on human rights violations by abusive regimes because of its reluctance to interfere in the so-called ‘internal affairs’ of other countries sits uncomfortably alongside its international human rights commitments and its self image as a rights-respecting nation

Human Right Record of India

Kashmir graves: Human Rights Watch calls for inquiry

25 August 2011 Last updated at 07:12 GMT  

Human Rights Watch has urged India to hold an independent inquiry into the unmarked graves found in Indian-administered Kashmir.

Earlier, the state human right commission said it had evidence that 2,156 bodies had been buried in 40 graves over the last 20 years.

The commission is the first government body to confirm what others have previously alleged.
Its report is yet to be submitted but it has been widely leaked in the media.
The commission's investigation focused on four northern, mountainous districts and involved scrutinising police, mosque and graveyard records, interviewing police and local people and cross-referencing information.

"For years, Kashmiris have been lamenting their lost loved ones, their pleas ignored or dismissed as the government and army claimed that they had gone to Pakistan to become militants," Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch, said.
"But these graves suggest the possibility of mass murder. The authorities should immediately investigate each and every death."

Independent human rights groups have long insisted that thousands of people have mysteriously disappeared over the last two decades and never been accounted for.

Some have accused India's security forces of abducting local people, killing them and covering up the crime by describing the dead as unknown militants when they are given for burial.
The authorities deny such accusations.

The security forces say the unidentified dead are militants who may have originally come from outside India.

They also say that many of the missing people have crossed into Pakistan-administered Kashmir to engage in militancy.

Human Right Watch Report India 2012

World Report 2012: India
Events of 2011
India, the world’s most populous democracy, continues to have a vibrant media, an active civil society, a respected judiciary, and significant human rights problems.
Custodial killings, police abuses including torture, and failure to implement policies to protect vulnerable communities marred India’s record in 2011 as in the past. Impunity for abuses committed by security forces also continued, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir, the northeast, and areas facing Maoist insurgency. New state controls over foreign funding of NGOs led to restrictions on legitimate efforts to protect human rights. However, killings by the Border Security Force at the Indo-Bangladesh border decreased dramatically.
Social unrest and protests deepened in resource-rich areas of central and eastern India, where rapid economic growth has been accompanied by rapidly growing inequality. Mining and infrastructure projects threaten widespread displacement of forest-dwelling tribal communities. The government has yet to enact comprehensive laws to protect, compensate, and resettle displaced people, although a new land acquisition law has been drafted.
Although at this writing deaths from terror attacks had decreased significantly from earlier years, there were serial bomb explosions in Mumbai on July 13, 2011. On September 7, 2011, a bomb explosion outside the Delhi High Court killed 15 people. The perpetrators remain unidentified. Progress was made in restraining the police from religious profiling of Muslims after bombings.
Despite repeated claims of progress by the government, there was no significant improvement in access to health care and education.
An anti-corruption movement erupted into public view in August and brought the government to a standstill, with widespread street protests and sit-ins demanding legal reform and prosecutions. Activists working with two prominent efforts to address poverty and accountability—India’s rural employment guarantee scheme and right to information laws—came under increasing attack, facing threats, beatings, and even death.


India has yet to repeal laws or change policies that allow de jure and de facto impunity for human rights violations, and has failed to prosecute even known perpetrators of serious abuses.
The Indian defense establishment resisted attempts to repeal or revise the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), a law that provides soldiers in “disturbed” areas widespread police powers. In September Home Minister P. Chidambaram said that there was an ongoing effort “to build a consensus within the government” to address the problems with AFSPA, but no action has been taken. Various government-appointed commissions have long called for repeal.

Jammu and Kashmir

Thousands of Kashmiris have allegedly been forcibly disappeared during two decades of conflict in the region, their whereabouts unknown. A police investigation in 2011 by the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission (SHRC) found 2,730 bodies dumped into unmarked graves at 38 sites in north Kashmir. At least 574 were identified as the bodies of local Kashmiris. The government had previously said that the graves held unidentified militants, most of them Pakistanis whose bodies had been handed over to village authorities for burial. Many Kashmiris believe that some graves contain the bodies of victims of enforced disappearances.
The government of Jammu and Kashmir has promised an investigation, but the identification and prosecution of perpetrators will require the cooperation of army and federal paramilitary forces. These forces in the past, have resisted fair investigations and prosecutions, claiming immunity under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and section 197 of the Criminal Procedure Code.

Maoist Insurgency

Maoist insurgents, also known as Naxalites, operate in 10 states and claim to fight for the rights of the marginalized tribal, Dalit, and landless communities. Governance has often been weak in regions where the Maoists have found popular support, with economic-development-related corruption and illegal mining severely limiting the revenue available for public services and infrastructure in many of the areas. With government oversight and regulation of the mining sector often wholly ineffective, irresponsible mine operators also pollute vital water supplies, destroy farmland, wreck roads and other public infrastructure, and create other serious health and environmental hazards.
Maoist forces continue to engage in killings and extortion, and target government schools and hospitals for attacks and bombings. At this writing the Naxalites had killed nearly 250 civilians as well as over 100 members of the security forces in 2011. Government officials assert that security forces killed more than 180 Naxalites between January and November 2011, though local activists allege that some of these were civilians.
Despite court rulings, the government has yet to properly implement a directive preventing security forces from using schools during counterinsurgency operations. Human rights activists seeking accountability for abuses such as arbitrary arrests, torture and other ill-treatment, and killings have come under threat from both Naxalite forces and security agencies.
In a welcome decision, the Indian Supreme Court ruled unconstitutional the use of Special Police Officers—inadequately trained militias—by the Chhattisgarh government in operations against the Maoists. SPOs have been implicated in many abuses.

Killings by the Border Security Forces at the Bangladesh Border

After a human rights report found that Border Security Force (BSF) personnel operating at the Bangladesh border had indiscriminately shot and killed over 900 Indians and Bangladeshis in the last 10 years, the government in March 2011 ordered restraint and issued BSF personnel rubber bullets. Killings dropped dramatically after the change in policy, but still continue. In their effort to contain illegal activities including the smuggling of cattle and narcotics, some BSF soldiers have continued to harass and beat border residents. No BSF soldier has been prosecuted for any of the killings or other abuses.

Right to Information Law

Citizens and activists have increasingly been using the Right to Information Act (RTI), passed in 2005, to expose official corruption and promote transparency and accountability. In a sad testament to the rampant corruption that exists in India, at least 12 RTI activists have been killed and several others assaulted over the past two years, according to the Asian Centre for Human Rights.

Bombings and Other Attacks

Three bomb explosions in Mumbai on July 13, 2011, killed 29 people and injured 130. On September 7, 2011, a bomb explosion outside the Delhi High Court claimed 15 lives and injured 50. Security and intelligence agencies did not conduct mass arrests of suspects based on little evidence, which in the past resulted in the torture of suspects for information and confessions. However, the failure of the authorities to identify alleged perpetrators led to widespread criticism of the agencies and calls for police reform and training.

Death Penalty

Capital punishment remains on the statute books. Although India has not carried out an execution since 2004, many death sentence appeals have been allowed to languish, some for decades. In 2011 the president rejected clemency petitions in five cases, including on behalf of three persons convicted for assassinating Rajiv Gandhi, the former prime minister.

Women’s Rights

2011 census data revealed a further decline in India’s female/male sex ratio, pointing to the failure of laws aimed at reducing sex-selective abortions. A series of “honor” killings and rapes rocked the country in 2011 but there has been no effective action to prevent and effectively prosecute such violence. The government has yet to improve health services for survivors of sexual assault but has taken steps to provide compensation for rape survivors. At this writing the government was revising its medico-legal protocols for evidence collection from rape survivors, excluding the degrading and inhuman “finger” test that classifies many rape survivors as “habituated to sexual intercourse,” causing humiliation to victims and at times affecting the outcome of criminal trials. Despite considerable progress on maternal health, vast disparities remain and a spate of maternal deaths continues to be reported from Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan states.

Palliative Care

Hundreds of thousands of persons with incurable diseases suffer unnecessarily from severe pain because the Indian government has failed to ensure access to safe, effective, and inexpensive pain drugs. In an important step forward, the Medical Council of India recognized palliative care as a medical specialty. But more than half of government-supported regional cancer centers still do not offer palliative care or pain management, even though more than 70 percent of their patients need it, resulting in severe but unnecessary suffering for tens of thousands.


International Role

As a member of the United Nations Security Council and the Human Rights Council (HRC), India in 2011 had an opportunity to align its foreign policy with the ideals it claims to stand for, but officials remained reluctant to voice concerns over even egregious human rights violations in countries such as Sri Lanka, Burma, Syria, and Sudan.

Despite concerns over the safety of its nationals in Libya, India did support UN Security Council resolution 1970 on Libya calling for protection of the Libyan people. India later abstained on resolution 1973, which authorized military force to protect civilians. During its rotating presidency at the Security Council, India was able to secure a consensus among sharply divided member states on Syria, leading to the first Council statement condemning the violence. India did not support the HRC resolution creating an international commission of inquiry on Syria in August, or the Syria text that called for a draft resolution that demanded an end to the violence and cooperation with the UN inquiry proposed by France and the United Kingdom at the Security Council in October.
While India claims it has privately pressed the Sri Lankan and Burmese governments on accountability for conflict-related abuses, it has not supported an independent international investigation into abuses in either country.

Key International Actors

Indian domestic human rights issues, terming such efforts interference in its internal affairs. The United States and European Union privately urge India to improve its human rights record, but say little in public. In July 2011, however, the European Parliament adopted a resolution concerning India’s retention of the death penalty.
India’s policy in the subcontinent continues to be heavily influenced by strategic and economic concerns about China’s growing influence in countries like Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.  

Human Right watch Report on India 2011

World Report 2011: India
Events of 2010
India, the world's most populous democracy, has a vibrant media, active civil society, a respected judiciary, and significant human rights problems.
The government's agenda in 2010 was dominated by continuing insurgency and armed conflict in several regions, including Jammu and Kashmir, Maoist-afflicted areas in central India, and Manipur and other parts of the volatile northeast. Impunity for abuses committed by security forces in the context of these conflicts remains a pressing concern.
Authorities made little progress in reforming the police; improving healthcare, education, and food security for millions still struggling for subsistence; ending discrimination against Dalits ("untouchables"), tribal groups, and religious minorities; and protecting the rights of women and children.
In many parts of the country, communities protested forcible acquisition of land by state governments for infrastructure and mining projects. These projects frequently go ahead without proper safeguards to protect the rights of those at risk of displacement.
Legislators and officials proposed new laws to prevent torture, ensure food security, and prosecute those responsible for sexual violence, but have yet to repeal laws providing effective immunity from prosecution to government officials, including soldiers and police, responsible for human rights violations.

Accountability for Security Force Abuses

The security forces have at times used excessive force in suppressing violent street protests in Indian-administered Kashmir; the clashes resulting in more than 100 deaths and thousands of injuries to both civilians and security forces. Deaths and injuries to protesters, many of them children, prompted anger and renewed protests, deepening a cycle of tit-for-tat violence. In September the government sought to calm tempers by announcing dialogue, releasing arrested protesters, and providing financial compensation for deaths.
Maoist insurgents (Naxalites), operating in seven states, killed more than 100 police and paramilitary personnel in 2010, prompting a massive government security response. Civilians were often caught up in the fighting.
In Manipur, conflicting separatist demands by rival groups led to repeated unrest, with the security forces continuing to operate under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). Separatist groups and security forces committed serious abuses against civilians; no members of the security forces were held accountable.
Activists in all of the conflict areas and in major cities demanded repeal of the AFSPA and a larger commitment by officials to holding security forces accountable for abuse, but repeal efforts were stymied by opposition from the army and extreme nationalist political parties.

Bombings and Other Attacks

Prosecutors made some progress in 2010 in pursuing justice for a series of bombings targeting civilians that killed 152 persons in 2008, responsibility for which was claimed by an Islamist militant group called Indian Mujahedin (IM). Police have charged more than 70 alleged IM members or associates from nine states in the 2008 attacks and continue to seek the arrest of more than three dozen fugitives. The IM is also suspected in a February 2010 attack in Pune city that claimed 17 lives and has apparently claimed responsibility for a September attack that injured two foreign tourists in New Delhi.
There were repeated allegations of unlawful detention, torture, and other ill-treatment by police to secure confessions in response to such attacks. In several cases, the police themselves appear to have drafted the confessions. The suspects suffered further abuses while in jail awaiting trial and even in court.
On an encouraging note, the trial of Ajmal Kasab, the sole surviving Pakistani gunman in the November 2008 Mumbai attack that claimed 166 lives, was conducted in a professional manner and was not the summary proceeding that critics had feared.
Police in 2010 reported that extremist Hindu groups may have been responsible for bombing attacks in Ajmer and Hyderabad, prompting the Home Minister to warn against these previously ignored militant groups.

Other Accountability Issues

Impunity for abusive policing remains a pressing concern in India, with continuing allegations in 2010 of police brutality, extrajudicial killings, and torture. While some policemen were prosecuted for human rights abuses, legal hurdles to prosecution remained in place and long-promised police reforms remained in draft form or unimplemented. Alleged perpetrators use political influence, corruption, and intimidation to obstruct investigations, delay proceedings, discourage plaintiffs, and ultimately escape prosecution.
The long backlog and slow progress of cases in India's courts also discourages potential complainants. Victims' family members and human rights lawyers needed several years, for example, to force an investigation into allegations that the Gujarat police summarily executed four persons in 2004. Only after the Supreme Court ordered the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate the summary execution of an alleged terrorist in 2005 were a state minister and several senior Gujarat police officials arrested.
The government has yet to prosecute those responsible for the mass killings of Sikhs that followed the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Delivery of justice for mass violence against Muslims in Mumbai in 1992-93 and in Gujarat in 2002 has been slow.
In a positive development, a legislator from the ultra-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party was convicted in June 2010 for his role in violence against Christians in Orissa in 2008 that left at least 40 people dead and thousands displaced when a Hindu mob attacked Christians. In August, 16 others were sentenced to three years in prison for their role in the violence.

Women's Rights

While many serious issues remain, Indian officials took some positive steps on women's rights in 2010. In March long-awaited legislation reserving seats for women in parliament was passed by the upper house and awaits lower house approval. In April authorities introduced nationwide guidelines for maternal death investigations and introduced a separate mechanism to track pregnancies and their outcomes.
"Honor" killings of women and girls continued in 2010, mostly in the northern states of Haryana, Punjab, and Uttar Pradesh. Khap panchayats (unofficial village councils) issued edicts condemning couples for marrying outside their caste or religion and censured marriages within a gotra (kinship group) as incestuous even though there was no biological connection. To enforce these decrees, family members threatened couples, filed false cases of abduction, and killed spouses to protect the family's "honor." Some local politicians and officials were sympathetic to the councils' edicts, implicitly supporting the violence.
India still lacks comprehensive legislation on sexual violence and child sexual abuse, but authorities in 2010 began to consider reforms to the existing sexual violence law. Among a host of other problems, rape survivors continue to suffer from use of an unscientific and degrading "finger test" in many hospitals to determine whether they are "habituated" to sexual intercourse; the findings of the test can be used in rape cases and other criminal proceedings.

Children's Rights

In Jammu and Kashmir, several children were among those killed or injured during anti-government demonstrations. Children detained for alleged participation in the violent protests were held in jail with adults, in violation of juvenile justice laws.
Although the government issued a directive preventing security forces from occupying and using schools as long-term outposts during anti-Maoist operations in states such as Chhattisgarh, Bihar, and Jharkhand, it failed to effectively implement the measure, resulting in continued disruptions in education. Maoist insurgents continued to bomb government schools and to recruit children into armed combat. The government failed to effectively implement policies that provide for free and compulsory primary education.

Access to Pain Relief

Hundreds of thousands of persons with advanced cancer suffer unnecessarily from severe pain because the Indian government has failed to ensure access to safe, effective, and inexpensive pain drugs. More than half of government-supported regional cancer centers do not offer palliative care or pain management, even though more than 70 percent of their patients need it. Numerous patients told Human Rights Watch that their suffering from cancer and other conditions was so severe that they would rather die than live with the pain. The government also failed to integrate palliative care into HIV treatment programs.

Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity

Building on a 2009 decision of the Delhi High Court, government officials promised to drop section 377-a provision too often abused to treat consensual homosexual conduct between adults as a crime-in proposed amendments to the Penal Code.

India's Foreign Policy

Despite its considerable influence, India continues to miss opportunities to raise concerns about even egregious human rights violations in other countries or to assert leadership on human rights at the United Nations. In several cases, it has actively opposed international efforts to pressure human rights violators.
India played an important role in Afghanistan, providing aid for humanitarian and infrastructure projects. In July the Foreign Minister called on all parties to abjure violence, end links to terrorism, and accept the "democratic and pluralistic values of the Afghan Constitution, including women's rights."
After the conclusion of a Sri Lankan military campaign to defeat the Tamil Tigers in 2009, India provided humanitarian assistance for the rehabilitation of displaced persons and called for political reconciliation. India, however, has continued to be weak on accountability for atrocities committed during the conflict by both Sri Lankan and Tamil Tiger forces.
In July India hosted a state visit by Burma's authoritarian leader, General Than Shwe. India failed to demand greater protection for human rights by the military junta, support an international commission of inquiry into war crimes in Burma, or condemn the deeply flawed processes and rules for Burma's national election held on November 7, 2010.
Relations with Pakistan remained tense, particularly when new evidence showed that Pakistani military intelligence officials may have been involved in supporting the Lashkar-e-Taiba attack in Mumbai in November 2008.

Key International Actors

India's policy in the subcontinent is heavily influenced by its strategic and economic concerns about China's growing influence in countries like Burma, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
Relations between India and China suffered setbacks in 2010. China disapproves of India's continued support to Tibetan refugees and its hosting of the Tibetan government in exile. However, both China and India agreed to resolve differences through continued dialogue.
India continued to build strong ties with the United States and Europe, built on increasing trade and business opportunities. Both the US and EU insisted they privately pressed India to address a range of domestic rights concerns and to become more of a champion of human rights issues internationally. But there was no evidence such efforts resulted in changes in Indian policy or practice