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Polic Terror: Trafail Slum, Gulbarga

Police terror in the Tarfail slum, Gulbarga
Uncovering institutionalized caste prejudices and biases

A report by PUCL Karnataka

View/Download the complete report HERE [.PDF format]

Background Note and Need for the Report

On 8th April 2010, the People’s Union for Civil Liberties – Karnataka (PUCL-K) received a representation from Shri. Allama Prabhu Nimbaragi, Convenor of the Zilla Kolageri Nivasigala Okkuta, Gulbarga and a respected young social activist.

The representation drew the attention PUCL-K to an incident that is said of have occurred on 29th March 2010, where, allegedly, the police lathi charged residents of Tarfail slum located near the Gulbarga Railway Station. The representation also stated that several innocent persons, including women, children and old persons were harassed and traumatized by the police.

Further, it was stated that male members of almost all the houses had been arrested on false and frivolous charges. Given the grave allegations made against the police and alleged human rights violations and atrocities, it was necessary that the PUCL-K conduct a detailed fact-finding into the incident.

Accordingly, a fact finding team was constituted comprising of the following members:

  1. Prof. Y J Rajendra, Vice-president, People’s Union for Civil Liberties – Karnataka
  2. Dr. Ramdas Rao, Secretary, People’s Union for Civil Liberties – Karnataka
  3. Dr. Chandrakant Yatanoor, Professor of Political Science, Gulbarga University,
  4. Raghupathy S, Advocate
  5. Maitreyi Krishnan, Advocate, Alternative Law Forum

The Report of the fact finding team is available here

|Press Release| Government intereference in SHRC and Backward Classes Commission

Friday, 30 April 2010

Press statement

Condemning the state government and BJP’s interference in the independent functioning of State Human Rights Commission and Backward Classes Commission

The large number of incidences of abuse & exploitation of children, women, dalits, disabled, minorities, farmers & other vulnerable sections are increasing. The dislocation & displacement of these sections in the name of development are aggravated the situation bad to worse. The law & order is out of gear, the authorities responsible for protecting people are exploiting causing severe damage to lives, livelihood and rights of common people specially, the weaker and vulnerable sections. The Commissions constituted under constitution of India to protect people’s rights and livelihoods are under the attack of state government. The recent incidences of highhandedness & undemocratic decisions of state government by curtailing the powers of such constitutional authorities is a setback & dangerous.

The PUCL-K condemns the recent efforts of the BJP administration to silence and intimidate independent statutory authorities in the state. The PUCL-K is disturbed by the way the BJP administration has sought to interfere with the functioning of both the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission as well as the Backward Classes Commission.

The reported remarks of the BJP’s spokesperson that Justice S R Nayak was fighting for his own rights rather than fighting for human rights is a calculated attempt to humiliate a former Chief Justice and the present Chairman of the Karnataka State Human Rights Commission.

One can only understand by these remarks that the BJP administration is upset with the independent stands taken by Justice Nayak which has embarrassed the government.

One in particular would like to draw the attention to the series of Orders issued by Justice Nayak which has repeatedly chastised the State Government for its turning a blind eye to moral policing in Dakshina Kannada. Justice Nayak has repeatedly warned the state that ‘Unless the State authorities, particularly the law enforcing authorities of the State nip these ugly heads of moral policing in the bud, there is likelihood of these forces engulfing the entire coastal belt and the State resulting in communal upsurge’

Justice Nayak has also been very active on a range of human rights issues right from slum dwellers rights to the rights of construction workers to the rights of sex workers. He has proved to be an able defender of human rights and a great ally of human rights struggles in Karnataka. As such targeting Justice Nayak is nothing but an attempt by the Government to immunize itself from any criticism of its abysmal human rights record.

With regard to backward Classes Commission, the issue of a circular by the Karnataka government to clip the powers of the Backward Classes Commission is another attempt by the State Government to denigrate and degrade independent statutory authorities.

The Karnataka Backward Classes Commission under its Chairperson, C.S. Dwaraknath has been functioning effectively to fulfil its mandate under Section 9 of the Karnataka State Commission for   Backward Classes Act, to examine requests for inclusion of any class of citizens as a Backward Class in the lists.

In particular, the PUCL-K would like to commend the Chairman for holding a unique meeting with members of the transgender community to examine the possibility of their inclusion as backward classes. His intervention in protecting the rights of kadugollas when their huts burnt by upper caste in Kurumayyana Gudlu,Gubbi taluk; and special package recommended to safe guard their interest is still pending with government. Similarly, the way he responded to uphold the rights of Alemari community, the rehabilitation of a small invisible dakleru community, series of measures initiated by him and the members of the Backward Classes Commission within the constitutional mandate created hopes in small communities in backward classes.

Such being the sterling contributions towards building an inclusive and democratic Karnataka, the comments and actions by the Government against these two authorities are indeed a step backward.

Therefore the PUCL urge that if the Goverment is serious in its intention to abide by the Constitutional mandate of ensuring justice social, economic and political, then it must forthwith

  1. Apologize to Justice Nayak for the intemperate remarks made against him by both BJP party spokesperson as well as senior government functionaries
  2. Withdraw the circular which in effect destroys the statutory independence of the   Backward Classes Commission.

We request you to publish this press statement in your newspaper to draw the attention of the public & government so as to protect democratic and constitutional spirit and uphold human rights of common people.

Thanking you

  • Arul Selva,  Secretary  PUCL – Karnataka
  • Y J Rajendra, Vice President   PUCL – Karnataka

Dated: Friday, 30 April 2010

Bajrang Dal attack on students in Mangalore

January 31, 2010 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Communal Violence, Minorities, Report 

Another case of Moral Policing

Fact finding report on Bajrang Dal attack on students of Vivekananda Pre-University College, Mangalore on 15th November 2009
Prepared by : PUCL, Dakshina Kannada

[Read Full Text]

Asghar Ali Engineer on Communal Riots

|Report| Eviction of Dalits from Tannirbhavi in Mangalore

PUCL Dakshin Kannada

A Fact Finding Report on the proposed eviction of Dalits and others from Tannirbhavi, Mangalore, in Karnataka.

“Dalits At Tannirbavi Being Evicted” was the headline of a news item that appeared in ‘The Hindu’ of 14th June, 2009. We were shocked to read that the Karnataka Industrial Area Development Board (KIADB) was initiating steps to evict residents from a plot which KIADB has reportedly sold to a certain industrialist. We decided to visit the site in order to ascertain the facts in the background of serious allegations against KIADB, which is accused of earning exorbitant profits through land dealings, though the avowed purpose of its creation is to develop plots and provide them to small industries on a no loss-no profit basis. A fact-finding team was set-up with the following members:

  • P.B.D’Sa – President, PUCL Mangalore
  • Prof. Pattabhirama Somayaji – Academician and Social Activist
  • Suresh Bhat B. – Member, PUCL, Mangalore
  • C.N.Shetty – Industrialist, Thinker, Social Activist
  • Damodar Jathanna – President, Janapara Vedike, Udipi
  • Rasool Barkur – Secretary, Janapara Vedike, Udipi
  • Shekhar Shetty – Vice President, Janapara Vedike, Udipi

View the full Report

Police firing during VHP Chief’s birthday celebrations [September 2001]

This report appeared in PUCL Bulletin of March 2002
[Read Full Report]

Police firing during VHP Chief’s birthday celebrations

A report by South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring and People’s Union For Civil Liberties Karnataka

Fact-finding Report on the incidences of rioting and police firing which followed VHP Chief Ashok Singhal’s 75th Birthday Celebration, in Hubli, Karnataka. On September 16th 2001, Times of India reported VHP Chief Ashok Singhal’s Birthday celebrations, which turned violent killing one in the firing of Hubli Police. It was the beginning of a series of riots and violence that shook Hubli, in the following days. It was reported that there were many incidences of communal riots as well as assaults on policemen while discharging duties.

[Read Full Report]

|Report| Police Atrocities and Human Rights Violations at Katipalla [2002]

PUCL Bulletin, January 2002

Karnataka: Mangalore PUCL

Police Atrocities and Human Rights Violations at Katipalla

By P.B. D’Sa

Thursday 23rd 2001 morning about 100 men in uniform stormed the Katipalla town with Lathis, Tear Gas cells and guns to the utter shock of the unsuspecting citizens of this locality .The Police personnel beat up every person they could lay their hands upon irrespective of their age, sex or social standing. The Police forcibly entered at least a hundred houses and indulged in indiscriminate rampage. In some houses they forcibly broke open the doors and damaged household articles. They dragged out every male person found in the houses or in streets and brutally assaulted them before thrusting them into waiting Police vehicles. They used extremely foul language against the members of the families and in many cases misbehaved with the women folk.

Obviously there was no provocation whatsoever from the inhabitants of the area for this high handed and inhuman attitude of the police personnel. In fact one local bus driver who belongs to the Muslim Community had been assassinated two days prior to this incident by an armed gang of hooligans at a place close to this locality. But people of this locality where members of the Muslim Community who occupy a predominant position were sane enough not to give any communal color to the incident and were with full sense of responsibility waiting for the judicial machinery to take its own course on the case. Although a bundh was observed on 22nd August the local Muslim community had absolutely no role to play in this bandh because the bundh was in fact called by Bus Workers Association, Mangalore.

Thus, having proven that they are law-abiding citizens and having refused to be provoked even after the brutal murder of a member of their community they naturally never expected the police forces to be hostile against them. One may recall areas were up in flames due to communal riots. People of this particular area in the 2nd block, Katipalla had successfully ensured that their area remained peaceful. Hence a wholesale and indiscriminate attack against them was the last thing they expected from the police.

On 23rd August morning when the situation in the locality was perfectly normal at around 9 a.m. people were busy shopping. In fact these shops had remained closed the previous day. Many people had come there accompanying their children studying in one of three schools situated in the proximity. As the school hours were yet to commence there were many school children all around. It was in this backdrop that Mr. H.R.S. Shetty, Circle Inspector of Police arrived in a jeep along with another vehicle and accompanied by about a dozen uniformed men. His first target was one Abdul Salam, a young businessman and social activist. Mr. Shetty approached him using extremely foul language and dragged him all the way to the Police van and brutally assaulted him with his cane before dumping him into the van. Shocked at this brutal sight the people around came together and some of them sat down on the road protesting Mr. Shetty’s highhandedness and demanded the release of Abdul Salam. This response of the people was totally spontaneous and was provoked by the fact that Mr. Abdul Salam who was known to them as a law-abiding citizen and was not guilty of any crime, was being treated in this cruel manner. Taken aback by this spontaneous response of the local citizens Mr. Shetty agreed to free Mr. Abdul Salam from his illegal custody. On being released Mr. Abdul Salam came out of the van and requested the crowd to disperse peacefully. At this stage a few stones landed on the sitting crowd and on some police personnel obviously thrown by school going children who were witnessing the bizarre happenings. Having seen this Mr. Salam rushed to prevent the boys from this mischief. It was at this moment that the superintendent of Police Mr. Seemanth Kumar Singh came menacingly to the scene along with a few police vehicles and a couple of dozen uniformed personnel. Without even bothering to spend, even a moment to assess the situation, he straightaway ordered lathi charge against the crowd, which had already started dispersing. Police personnel started chasing and assaulting people indiscriminately. Even while people were trying to run away from the wrath of the police, the men in uniform fired tear gas shells in all directions and the beatings continued. After a long spree of indiscriminate beating the police first entered the shops and started dragging people out and dumping them into police vans. Even old people were not spared. Later the police started forcibly entering the houses in the locality. At places where people were too scared and shocked to open the doors the police broke open the doors and ransacked the houses.

Following are only a few among many extremely foul remarks passed by the police personnel targeting the Muslim community during the process of their uncalled-for house to house raids.

You Muslims deserve to be dispatched to Pakistan. You have no place in India. Right now we need only men. We will come in the night to pick your women. You Muslims have been spoiled by eating too much of cow meat. You Bearys (alluding to the Muslim community in the District) are anti nationals.

This entirely inhuman operation ended up in the arrest of 69 persons of the locality. Incidentally not a single person there arrested has any previous criminal record and even during the time of arrest obviously there was no charge existing against them. It was only at the later stage that the police attempted to concoct an entire story of their own and framed false charges against the arrested in order to justify their false charges against the arrested in order to justify their own atrocities and inhuman acts.

Out of the 69 persons arrested on 23rd August 2001,42 were released on the same day late in the night. The rest 27 were released on 29th August 2001. Most of those who were released on 23rd night have complained that they have been subjected to severe physical assault and torture by the police at Panambur Police Station. They were ridiculed, humiliated and thus were tortured mentally too by the police. The personnel used extremely offending words against their faith, religion and religious practices. Most of these persons showed obvious marks of Police beating on the different parts of their bodies. Those 27 persons who were released on 30th August 2001 had to go to the hospital for treatment. Eight of them had been admitted in the hospital for the treatment of wound and fractured wrist, this was because of the frequent assault by the Police.

The most surprising aspect of the whole dirty episode is that the police resorted to such inhuman treatment without any provocation. In fact it was only after unleashing their terror against the civilian that the police engaged themselves in covering up false evidences to protect themselves. For instance, after beating up almost all the inhabitants of the second block and after having created an atmosphere of terror in the area the Police went to a nearby house and forced the women in the house to hand over the key of the car which was parked well inside the compound of the house. The Police brought this car to the middle of the second block junction and after parking it there, they brought empty soda bottles from the nearby shops and piled them up in the vehicle along with the piled up bottles. People of the locality who were witness to this drama have reasons to doubt that this might be a conspiracy by the Police to create false evidence against the unsuspecting masses.

In the late night of August 23rd 2001, the Police took those 27 accused to the residence of the JMFC II Court Magistrate all the accused had told them that they had been brutally beaten up by the Police by dragging at their houses and he was convinced then. But unfortunately in his report the Magistrate has written otherwise. He had given the police clean chit saying the accused had got the injury in the incident itself; this was really shocking.

|Report| Bababudangiri and communal situation in Chikamagalur town [January 2000]

[From the Archives – Januray 2000] [Read the full Report]

Bababudangiri and communal situation in Chikamagalur town

a PUCL-Karnataka Report

A joint fact-finding team commissioned by the People’s Union for Civil Liberties – Karnataka (PUCL), which included members from Citizens For Democracy – Karnataka, and South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (SICHREM), comprising Sriyuths V. Lakshminarayana, Raja Rain Hedge, Muzaffer Assadi, N. Divakar, Mathews Philip, Manohar Hosea, Dominic Joseph, Munichowdappa, Nandeesh, Shankar, Ramdas Rao, and Hasan Mansur visited Bababudangiri and Chikamagalur on the 21st and 22nd of January 2000. The team met police officials, government officials, Shah Khadri of the Dargah and common people of the town.

[Read the full Report]

The Killing Fields: Communalism in Karnataka

THE KILLING FIELDS: Communalism in Karnataka

The Constitution of India (1950) guarantees both the freedom of speech and expression (Article 19 (1) (a) and the right to freedom of religion and religious worship (Article 25). Each of these fundamental rights are expressly made subject to public order; Article 19 (2) and Article 25 (1) i.e. they are subject to laws imposing reasonable restrictions on exercise of each of these rights to prevent violence and disorder.

Article 21 of the Constitution of India guarantees the right to life and liberty. Article of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) holds that every human being has the inherent right to life, protected by law and inviolable by arbitrary deprivation; Article 7 forbids torture or inhuman treatment; under Article 4, these Covenanted freedoms are non-derogable even ‘in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation’.

In India, these are the human rights under siege, the right to life and the right to faith. This holds good even in the case of Karnataka, the only State in the South that witnessed communal riots recently. Ganesh festivities always set the tone for the communal temperature to rise in this state as in Maharashtra. August ’90 had seen tension in almost all the districts in the wake of these festivities. These needed a fuse to burst into riots and this was provided by the Shilanya programme of Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).

It began in Ramanagaram in September, the pretext, a dispute between two individuals over a chit fund draw that lead to stabbing. Autorickshaws were burnt and since they belonged to one whose caste was the same as the local police officer, the latter lead the police force into the poorest locality of the town where the poor of the minority lived and assisted anti-social elements to set fire to homes. A few dalits who lived there fled leaving their homes to be damaged. This town is famous for its Silk filatures and owned mostly by some members of the minority. The workers are dalits, poor and exploited. A bid was made to set the dalits against the Muslims. The police played not a small role in setting one against the other. The prosperity of the owners of the Silk filatures is resented, hence the bid to destroy the economic base of this class. The loss is estimated to run into lakhs of rupees apart from loss of a few lives.

The riots in Channapatna broke out over the issue of teasing of a girl. Relations of the girl demanded that the culprit be handed over to them for instant justice which the police justly refused. Eighty houses and shops were set ablaze, fifteen out of seventeen died of burns. Nearby the village of N.M.K Doddi had its 39 houses burnt to ashes but fortunately their inmates were sheltered in nearby villages by members of the other community. Even to this day members of the minority dare not stir out of town to buy or sell things in the villages around.

Kolar and Tumkur witnessed violence too, outcome of processions carrying Ram Jyothis. The former town was fairly free but villages around fed on wild rumours spread by young men on motorcycles who worked in BHEL, were badly affected.

Hosadurga in Chitradurga district had its first taste of violence when a procession of Ram Jyothi insisted on going into a sensitive area and grew violent forcing the police to open fire. Davanagere was set for the storm to burst with Ganesh and Shilanya festivities. Prophet’s birthday was celebrated with great pomp and all communities participated in the procession. Though there was an understanding that all would be present to make the Ram Jyothi procession a success, this procession turned away from the route agreed upon and violently tried to barge into a sensitive area. Police opened fire killing eight and all agree that this use of force was in excess of what the situation demanded. Following this, petty shops of the poor were set on fire. The police retaliated by arresting mostly innocent people who had no role in the riots and foisted cases on them. Tarabala Jagatguru of Sirigere Brihanmath with the co-operation of all communities staged a peace march through the town which restored a sense of security in the minorities in particular.

Ram Jyothi processions had their toll in Coorg where workers of Congress (I) joined hands with the B.J.P. according to Sri Subbaiah, M.L.C. (Congress (I)) and trees two hundred years old, worth lakhs of rupees were cut down according to Dr. Pias, a well-known social activist. Mulbalgal in Kolar district saw shops burnt, goods worth lakhs lost and trees cut down which run to three crores or rupees. Among the badly affected towns were Hubli where 48-hour curfew was imposed, Kunigal and Chamarajnagar. Other towns that could be named were Shimoga, Kanakapura, Nagamangala. The most alarming feature were the disaffected villages where members of minorities were isolated and helpless. There are reports of migration into towns from villages because of the feeling of insecurity.

Members of Congress (I) and Janata Dal freely participated in Ram Jyothi processions displaying as much zeal as the VHP. When the leaders of Communist parties were interviewed, they confessed that their workers were communal for want of political education. Fed of economism, these workers were innocent of Marxist ideology. Leaders of Raitha Sangha claimed that they were combating communalism by educating their followers about the democratic process and this was borne out by the role they played in villages where they had their bases.

The VHP and its mentors, B.J.P. and R.S.S. have asserted dogmatically that matters of faith are above the Constitution and the rule of law, thus placing themselves outside the pale of law. They need to be treated as outlaws by the people and the State.

Human rights activists have a long haul ahead of them. Those who have faith in democracy and human values must educate the people that religion is being used cynically and unscrupulously for political gains and it is distracting the people from social and economic priorities. The juggernaut of fascism which has usurped the right to speak for the majority mows down the minorities like Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, dalits, tribals and the liberals in the majority community will not be spared either as it happened in Hitler’s Germany.

Those with faith in the democratic process and egalitarianism have to stem this fascist onslaught. This ardent appeal is to confront this genocidal frenzy by rallying round all forces of democracy to preserve this pluralism we are justly proud of. Human fraternity is indivisible and let us strive with all our might to keep it so. Human rights groups should ‘keep alight the hope of a new day dawning’, with the ‘recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and unalterable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world’.

|Report| 1992: Communal Situation in Belgaum, Dharwad and Hubli

[From the Archives] [Read full text of the report]

A Study of the Communal Situation in Belgaum, Dharwad and Hubli by
CFD-K/PUCL-K Team related to the aftermath of violence of December 1992

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