Filed under: Uncategorized
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Filed under: Human Rights, Press Releases, Uncategorized
Dated: August 5, 2016
Press Statement of People’s Union for Civil Liberties – Bangalore Chapter
Violence in Kashmir
Since the killing of Hizbul Mujahideen Commander Burhan Wani on 8 July 8 2016 by Indian armed forces, the Kashmir Valley has entered another and heightened phase of a war-like conflict. The people of Kashmir who wanted to grieve the loss of someone they held in high regard were barred from doing so by the Indian state, which mobilised its forces in the Valley and rushed reinforcements from India. In the ensuing days the response of the Indian state has stoked a major escalation of many decades long struggle for self-determination in Kashmir.
Indian authorities and the forces they have unleashed in Kashmir have persisted in quashing resistance mounted by unarmed civilians there who have been hurling stones and raising slogans, seeing them as fronts of terrorist organisations, passing them off as youth who have been waylaid by Islamist and Pakistani propaganda. The Kashmiri people’s unarmed struggle is being met with by bullets and pellets both of which have proven to be lethal.
The Indian State which in 1990 extended to Kashmir the infamous Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act – originally meant to subjugate the peoples of Assam and Manipur and smother their thwarted aspirations for self-determination – of 1958 has lain siege to Kashmir by creating roadblocks that have even prevented the injured from reaching hospitals, launching inhuman attacks on health infrastructure and ambulances. Casualties including deaths have resulted from such dastardly action. Communication links are being sundered, with mobile internet and SMS being targeted first and then shutting down all phone services except that of state-owned BSNL. In eight days, 42 (need to UPDATE in final version) civilians have been killed and thousands injured by the dangerous pellet guns which launch up to 400-500 small ball bearings at a time.
Over the past few days, the Indian media has been reducing its reporting on Kashmir. On 16th July, the offices of several newspapers in Kashmir, such as Greater Kashmir, Kashmir Times, Rising Kashmir, Kashmir Reader and Kashmir Observer were attacked and copies of the newspaper seized. Not only is the volatile situation being reported most inadequately and partially with selective and biased approaches, but there is also an excessive focus on the Islamic nature of the conflict. This has led to polarisation at different levels:
Within the Valley between Kashmiri Muslims and Kashmiri Pandits and in India through the projection of the Kashmir issue as one that is entirely Islamic and therefore in opposition to the increasingly Hindu India that has emerged.
Unfortunately, what the Indian media is wilfully myopic about is how the situation and issues on the ground in Kashmir – as they depict them – have moved from one of self-determination to a struggle of one community’s claim over a region versus another’s. In fact, if there has been increased Islamic radicalisation in the Valley, then it has also been so as a response to the onslaught of Hindu right-wing forces in the region. This has been done sometimes with tacit support of the State as in the recent attempts of the RSS to spread Ekal Vidyalayas in the Valley, presence of Hindu temples in army cantonments and others. Or by consciously facilitating the ingress of large numbers of Hindus into Kashmir by promoting State-sponsored Yatras such as the Amarnath Yatra, Buddha Amarnath Yatra and the pilgrimage to Kauser Nag. The most recent cases of such under-the-radar initiatives are the pilgrimage to Abhinav Gupta’s cave and the Maha Kumbh, Saidipora at Ganderbal.
In other words, the Kashmiri Pandit issue is also part of the Hindutva supremacist machinery’s larger project to lay claim to the lands of Kashmir, while trying to wipe out its people at the same time. Even in the current situation, it has been reported that some Kashmiri Pandit families have left their villages and moved to Jammu fearing that they would be attacked. However, there have been no reports of actual attacks or even of attempts being made to harm Kashmiri Pandits. On the contrary, there have been many reports in even the Indian media of how yatris to Amarnath have been saved after they met with serious accidents by Kashmiris who defied the curfew.
To be sure, Kashmir has long been home to Kashmiri Muslims as well Pandits and they have shared public spaces. Kashmiri Pandits have maintained their identity as Kashmiris, rather than as Hindus. The exodus of Kashmiri Pandits in the 1990s has to be studied and articulated more objectively than is being done in popular media right now. For example while there might have been episodes of violence against Kashmiri Pandits, it is also true that investigations into some of the reports of attacks of them have not been able to prove the role of Kashmiris or separatists. For instance, in the Nadimarg massacre of 2003, when 24 Kashmiri Pandits were killed, it is believed that the renegades (fringe groups of the armed forces) were the ones who carried out the killings. The Indian state has played to the saffron gallery even on this issue.
Even in the current interregnum, Kashmiri Muslims have been welcoming the return of Kashmiri Pandits. However, even here, the attitude of the State to politicise this issue by trying to settle them in separate colonies on the lines of similar attempts by Israeli authorities in Gaza and Jerusalem is objectionable and reeks of keeping the communities separated. The Indian state has also effectively victimised Kashmiri Pandits who chose not to leave the valley by reserving government jobs and college or university seats for only those Kashmiri Pandits who left the valley.
A response to these developments has of course been the rise of Islamisation and Islamic fundamentalism in the Valley with active support from Pakistan. India and Pakistan have played their religious games to communalise what was once a struggle for self-determination and independence.
India’s armed forces started occupying territories in Kashmir as far back as in 1947, but there has been a steady rise in their numbers and saturation presence was gained in 1990s thanks to the dastardly extension of the AFSPA, originally meant to subjugate the peoples to the northeast of India, to Kashmir in 1990. Needless to say, the boots on the ground, armoury and the impunity afforded by AFSPA led to breaking much of the backs of Kashmiri resistance against Indian occupation. Although the heightened phase of the conflict started to subside from the early part of the last decade, the Indian State has continued to post large numbers of its armed forces in Kashmir. These forces have used intimidation, threat, murder and rape as tools to terrorise the Kashmiris. Such stationing of the Indian armed forces in Kashmir on so large a scale is unjustified and is a clear manifestation of occupation. If the Indian state claims that it has not occupied Kashmir and is only there to protect the citizens of the valley then that is unvarnished nationalist propaganda. The resistance that has erupted time and again, violations of the Indian armed forces and excesses meted out to the Kashmiris are all manifestation of this highly disturbing trend.
Now, the AFSPA, as has already been stated above, is itself entirely abusive of human rights not only in the northeast of the subcontinent where it was meant to have been used for a short period of time while quelling peoples asserting their right to self-determination but is entirely criminal in the way it is being implemented in Kashmir over the aspirations and wishes of the people in the valley. The Justice B.P. Jeevan Reddy Committee report, the Justice Santosh Hegde Commission which enquired into the way AFSPA was being enforced on the people of Manipur – neither report published by the Indian authorities in both the Congress and BJP-led dispensations to their continuing shame – as well as the Justice J.S. Verma Committee Report formed following the infamous December 16, 2012 gangrape in New Delhi and consisting of former Supreme Court Chief Justice Verma, former Delhi High Court judge, Just Leila Seth and former Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramaniam.
As is becoming abundantly clear over the past several days, the attitude of the Indian state is quite clearly to quash dissent in Kashmir by terming it terrorism. In fact, any dissent in not only Kashmir but even in many parts of India is seen by Indian authorities as acts of and/or supportive of terrorism. There is absolutely no free speech in Kashmir as the complete gagging of the media there has shown – an eloquent manifestation of occupation, by a cowardly colonial dispensation, pure and simple.
Finally, it is worth recalling that a Kashmiri Afzal Guru, was killed by the Indian state in secret in Tihar Jail on 9 February 2013 – his alleged complicity in the attack on the Indian parliament of 2001 never established and his death ordered by the Supreme Court of India in order to satiate the “conscience of the society” and Kashmiri freedom-fighter Muqbool Butt was nearly three decades earlier killed in Tihar jail on 11 February 1984.
And now, Burhan Wani and many such other instances exist as examples of this striking down of dissent.
There can be no democratic process with the presence of large numbers of Indian armed forces in Kashmir. Therefore, de-militarisation needs to be immediately initiated. Our specific demands are:
1. Demilitarise the Kashmir Valley, withdraw AFPSA and Public Securities Act and a host of other draconian Acts enacted in Kashmir like Enemy Agents Act, Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, National Security Act and others. The perpetrators of the armed forces for the massive violence and human rights violations they have committed should be tried in impartial civil courts.
2. Kashmir has been in the throes of an exceedingly long standing state of a war of occupation. For the past several decades, curfews have been imposed by the Indian state disrupting normal life. Movement in the Valley is restricted with Kashmiris being randomly stopped, frisked and are made to display their identity cards. News and media bans – print, electronic and social media, bans on peaceful protests and demonstrations are some the ways extreme control and stifling of free speech are a norm. Structures of impunity in the form of armed forces bunkers and mobile vans and occupation of several structures and public spaces by the armed forces are visible all over Valley. Right of Association has also been taken away from Kashmiris – example, forming of students union has been banned in Kashmir University Campus life in Kashmir is also under constant surveillance where student unions, especially the Kashmir University Students Unions has been banned. The University also has its own IB cell which keep a track of students’ activities on social media and rights to hold different opinions is denied. Means of communication like mobile, internet and telephone, a central part of life today, especially with gagging of mainstream media, have been taken away at the mere possibility of resistance by the people of Kashmir.
In the light of this situation, where any form of civilian life and been coloured with hues of green, it is necessary that it be instated.. A road map to civilian life needs to be put in place, allowing for the people of Kashmir to reclaim their spaces which had been earlier taken over by too many organs of the Indian state, especially in the form of the occupying armed forces. This would amount to an important element of withdrawal of the Indian state from the Valley.
3. Justice is not just in terms of trying perpetrators of offences of rape or encounter, but also enforced disappearance, which should be declared an offence. India should sign UN’s International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance.
Mass Graves should be investigated as done by forensics groups such as the Argentinian Forensic groups. This would be another way of acknowledging to Kashmiris the gruesomeness meted out to them.
4. The Indian state has continuously undermined the right of self-determination in Kashmir since the late 1940s. The voices of the common Kashmiri people have been drowned out thanks to the – from the Kashmiri peoples’ perspective – the ugly charade of an inter-state dispute between India and Pakistan with little regard to the aspirations of the Kashmiri people. The universal will of the Kashmiri people has to be heard and acted upon. India needs to initiate a process for a referendum.
Filed under: Human Rights, Press Releases, Report, Urban Poverty
Read the COMPLETE PRELIMINARY REPORT HERE
On the two days of April 18th and 19th, 2016, workers of the garment industry, predominantly women, took to the streets in a sudden unplanned demonstration to protest the new ordinance on the Employment Provident Fund by the Central Government. The angst among garment workers was triggered by a newspaper article in Vijaya Karnataka – a Kannada daily – on April 16th, 2016. The resulting demonstration was a landmark event, as it led the Central Government to withdraw the ordinance, thus benefiting lakhs of salaried workers across the country.
On May 1st, 2016, the Chief Minister of Karnataka, Mr. Siddaramaiah, congratulated the garment workers for creating “a successful workers’ movement”, which was “historic” and was able to cause the Central government to roll back the “ill-conceived amendments to the EPF Scheme” .
While this protest has been lauded across the country as a victory for workers’ rights, specifically for the distinctive role played by women workers, the response of the state law enforcement machinery has been of utmost repression and violence, with an attempt to systematically create an atmosphere of abject fear, by targeting workers due to their vulnerable class character. The State Government and its machinery, which on the one hand praised the struggle and on the other lathi-charged them, needs to recognize that the garment factory workers resorted to the demonstration as the Central Government’s move to restrict access to their EPF funds was the last straw on their already burdened backs.
This report is an inquiry into the human rights violations by the police against citizens, including workers of the garment industry’s surrounding factories in Bangalore as well as bystanders, during the spontaneous demonstrations which took place on April 18th and 19th, 2016.
This preliminary report about the April 2016 events and the resulting police brutality has been prepared in order for SHRC, State Government, and Police Complaint Authority to take cognizance of and initiate immediate action against the serious violations of human rights that took place and still continue. This report has been put together with names of workers not being mentioned, as the workers are scared of being targeted by their factory managements and the police. They have agreed to speak to the fact-finding team on the condition of anonymity.
This fact-finding team comprises members of People’s Union of Civil Liberties – Karnataka (PUCL-K), Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression-Karnataka (WSS), and other independent researchers.
Read the COMPLETE PRELIMINARY REPORT HERE
Filed under: Human Rights, Report
Click HERE to read the full report
For the last couple of years, newspaper reports have appeared about a large
number of children from the North-Eastern states of Meghalaya and
Manipur being transported to the southern states of Andhra Pradesh, Tamil
Nadu and Karnataka. It is revealed that this migration of children is the
initiative of Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its associates. This
operation is carried out at the behest of RSS by a number of individuals and
organisations that contact parents belonging to tribal and backward caste
communities in the North-East states who are eager to give their children a
good education. Once the children are brought here, they are often enrolled
in schools and hostels run by individuals and organisations having
allegiance to RSS. With a view to finding out more about the work that RSS
is doing with these children from the North-East, or in other words, the
schools that they run, the kind of education they impart and the impact that
this educational initiative continues to have on these North-Eastern children
in Karnataka, two organisations in Karnataka, PUCL and KKSV decided to
conduct a fact-finding investigation.
Click HERE to read the full report
Filed under: Human Rights
Praful’s death on 23 June 2015 was met with widely felt shock in South Asia and elsewhere as his courageous journalism, environmental activism and anti-nuclear as well as anti-communal activism and had won him vast numbers of admirers across the subcontinent and the globe. His latest book, The Phoenix Moment, investigates whether the Left’s core agenda of progressive or socialist transformation can yet be reinvented and restored to relevance – either with its own agency or through other forces, formations and initiatives.
Alternative Law Forum, Environment Support Group, Karnataka Komu Souharda Vedike, New Socialist Alternative, People’s Solidarity Concerns, People’s Union for Civil Liberties and others were associated with the event.
Panelists speaking on this day are:
• Lawrence Surendra, Social Scientist
• Saumya Uma, Asst. Professor, National Law School of India University, and Assistant Director, Centre for the Study of Social Exclusion and Inclusive Policy
• Suvrat Raju, Physicist, International Centre for Theoretical Sciences of the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research
• G.N. Nagaraj, Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader
• Cynthia Stephen, Independent writer and researcher will chair the session.
Watch the full recording @
HUMAN RIGHTS DAY | Challenges Facing the Left ~ Remembering Praful Bidwai | 10 December 2015
Filed under: Human Rights, Report, Uncategorized
A fact finding report into the arrest of Muslim Youth in Bangalore.
Published in 2013.
Full report available for download @ : http://puclkarnataka.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/Terrorism-and-Muslim-Youth.pdf
Filed under: Human Rights, Uncategorized
35th JP Memorial Lecture by Gopalkrishna Gandhi, March 23 2015
For a full transcript Click Here
Filed under: Human Rights, Press Releases, Uncategorized
People’s Union for Civil Liberties strongly condemns the custodial death of Mubarak Pasha under mysterious circumstances in Central Prison in Bangalore, as reported in the media on 1 Sept 2014. The shameful incident reflects poorly on the entire police and security force of Bangalore – the appointed custodians for citizens’ safety with responsibility to ensure constitutionally mandated right to life and liberty of all.
PUCL demands an immediate and rigorous inquiry into the incident following the guidelines provided by National Human Rights Commission.
Filed under: Press Releases
PUCL Karnataka is shocked and strongly opposes the recent amendment to the Draconian Goondas Act passed by the Karnataka Assembly, which impinges on civil liberties and undermines constitutionally mandated guarantees of fundamental rights and freedom of expression for all citizens.
The State has egregiously grabbed wide and arbitrary powers, increasing enormously the scope of potential abuse, by the enormous expansion and clubbing of varied offences under The Karnataka Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Drug-offenders, Gamblers, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders, Slum-grabbers and Video or Audio Pirates, Acid attackers, Depradator of Environment, Digital Offenders, Money Launderers and Sexual Predators (Amendment) Bill, 2014.
Extraordinary laws, like this one, are extra-constitutional in nature and intended for use only under exceptional circumstances – which pose grave and imminent threat to public safety and order. The current amendment brings extraordinary measures into the realm of ordinary public life.
With the provision of preventive detention, there is little incentive within this Act for rigorous investigation, improved forensics and better policing leading to a conviction, and a much larger scope for indiscriminate or wrong indictments.
In serious and heinous issues of sexual violence this legislation has completely disregarded recommendations of the Verma Committee, laid down after consultations with the civil society groups, instead allowing suspected offenders charged with probable future crimes to be punished – a priori.
Academic studies have shown that the Goonda Act is susceptible to a strong class bias and criminalises habitual offenders; the practice of picking up rowdy sheeters and habitual offenders goes against the constitutional guarantee of a free and fair trial, apart from being contrary to the very notion of a rehabilitative criminal justice system. Versions of the Goonda Act in other states have been successfully challenged in courts.
The amendments introduce vague terms like ‘sexual predator’ and ‘environmental depredator’ that allow for arbitrary use of the law. Inclusion of the IT and Copyrights infringements, which pose little or no imminent public threat, are further examples of the legislative over reach of this act. These “offenders” can now be criminalised and punished on mere suspicion of possible future innocuous offences with detention up to a year even prior to being presented before a magistrate, placing a large section of the public, especially the younger internet and Facebook generation, in direct threat of indictment and incarceration.
Filed under: Reports From Other Organizations!
A Citizens’ Fact-finding Report on the Lockout and Subsequent Events at Stump, Schuele, and Somappa Springs Private Limited, Hosur Road, Bangalore, 2014
Read / Download the full report here
Stumpp, Schuele and Somappa Springs Private Limited (hereinafter
SSSPL) is, arguably, the leading manufacturer of springs for cars,
two-wheelers and commercial vehicles, for clients like Maruthi
Udyog, Tata, Hyundai, TVS, Toyota, Bajaj etc. However, over the
past two months, it has been in the news for some of its labour
practices, which have also caught the attention of civil society
organisations. The workers of this factory were at its gates claiming
that the management had declared a lockout at its Hosur Road
factory for its contract workers on 1st March 2014, and, five days
later, for its permanent workers, and that all these workers were
suddenly rendered jobless, and their families face an insecure and
bleak future on the street.
After declaring a lockout on their workers who were Union
members, the management illegally brought in more than 100
workers from other states (Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Tripura,
Jharkhand, Odisha, and Bihar) and from the northern districts of
Karnataka to resume production. This was discovered in a surprise
inspection by a team of officials from the Revenue Department
following a directive of Karnataka State Human Rights Commission,
which had received a complaint in this regard. The team of officials
found that the new temporary employees were working in
‘inhuman conditions’, sleeping on empty cartons on the rooftop;
they were not allowed to go outside the factory and were treated
like bonded labourers.
On 7th April, the state government passed orders prohibiting the
lockout declared by the management of permanent and contract
workers, hence requiring the management to lift the lockout with
immediate effect. On the 9th of April, the management lifted the
lockout, but only for the permanent workers. On the 11th of April,
the permanent workers resumed work on the guarantee that the
contract workers would also allowed to go back to work.
However, till date, the contract workers have not been allowed
inside. The management, instead, has taken the stand that only
contract workers of its choice would be allowed to resume work
while those who were active as union leaders would not be given
back their jobs. Even this is subject to two conditions. First, the
existing union would have to agree to only represent the
permanent workers and make the necessary changes in its
constitution. Second, there should be no outside leadership of
the union, and all the office bearers should be permanent workers.
We have also been informed that the permanent workers who
have resumed work are being subject to harassment tactics by
the management in order to break the union.
With a view to finding out more about the lockout incident, a
group of concerned citizens, comprising civil society activists,
including members of human rights organizations, formed a team
and decided to undertake a fact-finding investigation into the
circumstances that led to the lockout, the players involved in the
incident, as well as the impact of the lockout on the factory’s
Read / Download the full report here