Mumbai, June 26: The different communities living in India should join hands together to counter the state terrorism in order to bring dignity of life to each and every individual.
The unholy alliance between the politicians in power, police and the media should be exposed with the concerted efforts of one and all whether one is affected or not directly or indirectly. Media has played a major role to project naxalites as anti-nationals and Muslims as terrorists. The Muslims are being targeted in fake encounter killings in the name of terrorism while earlier Dalits and other have-nots were shot down in the name of naxalites.
The above thoughts were expressed in more or less in unison by different speakers at the National seminar on fake ‘Encounter Killings’ organized by National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations, (NCHRO), here today in association with the Amnesty International India on the Anti-Torture Day at Marathi Patrakar Sangh Hall. Prior to the seminar an inter-action session was held in the morning at the same venue.
The speakers stressed the need to develop a database of encounter killings in order to follow the cases to their ultimate conclusions of bringing the accused to be booked under the law. This would give some solace to the relatives of the encounter killings, they added.
Prof. Shams-ul-Islam of Delhi University asked Muslims to come out of their mind-sets and to unite with Dalits and others to fight out the state terrorism being unleashed on them. Keeping aloof and remaining confined in their ghettos will make the situation much difficult for them in the times to come.
Dr. John Dayal, general secretary of All India Christian Council, said:” We must have a national register of custodial deaths, fake encounters and military encounters.
Dr. Arshi Khan of Aligarh Muslim University while speaking at the seminar outlined four types of police encounters which he called fake or counterfeit encounter. They are “open encounter, “cluster encounter”, “police encounter” and “proxy encounter”.
Dr Arshi said police encounter began in early 70s. Previously it was area specific but now it is spreading all over India. Over 10,000 people are missing in Kashmir, while 2500 missing in Punjab.
He said that psychological operations are also going on in India to widen and divide between Hindus and Muslims. He named six police encounters specialist only in Bombay. He expressed fear that state level parties are now in alliance state party leadership.
Dr. Arshi sad that growing dominance of anti-Muslim political parties in power is posing threat to Muslims to be victims of police encounter. He said that all fake encounters should be investigated and the accused be punished.
The delegates and the relatives of victims of fake encounter killings took part in the seminar and inter-active session. The relatives made terrible narrations of their woes giving graphic details of how their dear ones were eliminated by those who are supposed to protect their lives in a welfare test. The sessions were presided over by E. M. Abdurahman, general secretary Popular Front of India. Advocate K.P. Muhammed Shareef, general convener NCHRO, delivered the welcome address. Dr. John Dayal inaugurated the seminar. Justice Hosbet Suresh, retired judge of Bombay High Court, delivered concluding marks. Prof. Nagari Babbaya (Bangalore), Prof. Shams-ul-Islam (New Delhi), Ms Gouri Lankesh (Bangalore), Adv. Yousuf Hatim Muchala (Mumbai), Adv. Suresh Kumar, Lateef (Andhra Pradesh), Pattabi Somayaji, B.V Sitaram, Arshi Khan (Aligarh), Taeedul Islam (West Bengal), Subramanian G, Adv. Sunder Raj, G. Sugumaran (Puducherry) and M.A. Khalid (Mumbai) and this Bhopal-based journalist spoke during the two sessions.
Earlier, in the morning in the inter-action session of the Human Rights activists Justice Hosbet Suresh said the extra-judicial killings will put an end to the law abiding society. Criminalization and extra-judicial power given to the police forces is the main reason for the fake encounter killings. In the existing system police can book anybody and kill them at any time in fake encounters in the name of extremism and terrorism. This is a violation of rights and right to live, he added.
Relatives of encounter victims Gopinatha Pillai (father of Pranesh Kumar alias Javed who had converted to Islam was killed in Ahmedabad), Mrs. Sajida (wife of Pranesh Kumar alias Javed), Muthu Lakshmi (widow of Veerappan, the alleged sandalwood smuggler who was gunned down by STF, Tamilnadu), Philomina (mother of Sudheer killed by Mangalore police) Noori (widow of Abdul Rauf who was killed by Bangalore police) shared their woeful experiences with the Human Rights activists).
The new national committee of NCHRO also formed on the occasion which is as follows:
President: Justice Hosbet Suresh (Mumbai), Vice Presidents: Dr. John Dayal & Dr Shams-ul-Islam (both New Delhi), Prof. Babayya (Bangalore), Dr. Abraham Mathai (Mumbai); Secretary General: Adv. K.P. Mohammed Shareef (Kerala); Secretary: Ms Gouri Lankesh (Bangalore), G. Subramanian (Chennai), Dr. Abdul Salam (Kerala)
Treasurer: Justice (Retd.) Co Chenna Basappa, (Mangalore).
Executive Committee members : Prof. Ramesh (Karnataka), Pervez Bari (Bhopal), E.M. Abdurahman (Kerala), Dr. Mehboob Shariff (Karnataka), Adv Suresh (Andhra Pradesh), Lateef Mohammed Khan (Hyderabad), Abdul Hafiz Gandhi & Prof. Arshi Khan (both Aligarh), Pattabirama Somayaji (Karnataka), K.M. Shareef (Karnataka), Adv. Sunder Rajan P. (Tamilnadu), A.M.M. Shafi (Karnataka) and Adv. Sultan, (Tamilnadu)
Meanwhile, at the end of day-long deliberations resolutions with 11-point demands were passed which are as follows:
The encounter killings are part of a deliberate and conscious state administrative practice for which the Indian government must bear the responsibility. The successive political groups in power sanctified this de-facto policy of extra-judicial killings by members of the police forces, the Armed Forces and para-military security personnel in Jammu & Kashmir, Assam, Manipur and Tripura and by the State armed police in Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Gujarat in the name of eliminating naxalites, terrorists or criminals.
The State has armed itself with Draconian laws such as Armed Forces Special Powers Act, Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, and derivative state legislations which are irrational, unjust and against the principles of natural justice. These laws justify preventive detention and encourage to extract confessions by any method.
The United Nations Basic Principles emphasize that the use of force and firearms by law enforcement officials should be in consonance with respect for Human Rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.” Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, (ICCPR), provides that “every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life.” Extra-judicial killings clearly contravene the right to life.
India ratified ICCPR in 1979 and signed the convention against Torture since 1997, but has betrayed it commitment to take effective measures to ensure that extra-judicial killings do not occur. It is yet to follow that up and ratify the convention. The rapid increase in the number of such killings flies in the face of the Right to Life as enshrined in Article 21 of the Indian Constitution. Antiquated laws are yet to be reformed and brought in line with international practices. There is no real investigation of extra-judicial killings. It is not surprising that the guilty in the police and security forces remain unpunished.
The hopes that Civil society had in the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), have been belied because of serious flaws in the Statutes. The NHRC and other National Commissions have not been able to call the guilty to account for violence against Religious Minorities, Women, Dalits and Tribals.
This National Convention on Encounter Killings organized by the NCHRO in association with Amnesty International of India on this 26th day of June 2007, the International Anti-torture day, notes gross violations of Human rights, specially of torture and extra-judicial deaths in many countries. The Convention condemns the assault on human dignity in the US military prison in Guantanamo Bay in the Cuban island, the military prisons in Iraq, and the situation in countries of South Asia demands.
The convention demanded of the Government of India and State Governments, the following:
1. Urgent and effective measures to stop fake encounters, disappearances, custodial violence, custodial death and extra-judicial killings by police, special squads and security forces;
2. Reform the criminal justice system and the Indian Penal code, beginning the process by repealing all special legislation that enable a culture of torture and culture of impunity;
3. Prevent cruel, inhuman or degrading punishments by authorities;
4. Stop discrimination and violence against women, indigenous peoples, Dalits and minorities and ensure genuine safe guards;
5. Strengthen the statutes of the NHRC, State Human Rights and Minorities Commission and other statutory bodies;
6. Protect and rehabilitate the victims and survivors of encounter killings and other police atrocities, and give them affirmative compensation;
7. Ratify UN convention against torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment or punishment (convention against torture) by making amending statutes;
8. Establish a National Register of the Missing, and of Victims of torture, custodial deaths and encounter killings under the supervision of the NHRC;
9. Establish public grievance redressal mechanisms on the pattern of Lokayukta and Ombudsman to take cognizance of excesses committed by police and armed personnel, and to enforce Command Responsibility;
10. Maintain the sanctity of the ultimate power of Clemency now being exercised by the President of India and by State Governors from judicial and political aggression and encroachments and Immediate release of Dr. Binayak Sen (National Vice Chairman PUCL, Chhattisgarh).