HR defenders should not be harasshed: ArunaOct 22, 2011 | Pratirodh Bureau
In a letter to the Prime Minister, Aruna Roy asks the Prime Minister to intervene in the day to day harassment of human rights defenders by the security agencies.
Aruna Roy has written this letter to the Prime Minister on the police raid on PUCL General Secretary, Kavita Srivastava\\\’s house.
A statement of protest endorsed by over 100 eminent people protesting the arbitrary and illegal police raid was also send.
In her letter, Aruna told that this issue has gone beyond Kavita Srivastava, to include Dr. Binayak Sen and many other lesser known but equally committed activists and defenders of human and civil rights.
Human rights workers play an important role in upholding Constitutional principles and preserving the democratic fabric of our society. It is important that they are encouraged and allowed to work in a free and fair manner.
The letter written by Aruna Roy is as following-
The Honourable Prime Minister,
Dr Manmohan Singh
New Delhi 20th October 2011
Dear Dr Manmohan Singhji,
We write to you to express deep concern about the mistreatment and intimidation by the Police of a prominent human rights activist who has been playing a very important role in protecting Constitutional Principles in our Country. In the early hours of October 3, 2011 the house and office of Jaipur based Kavita Srivastava, General Secretary of the PUCL were surrounded and raided by about 100 policemen, some of whom were dressed in swat team gear ostensibly to “nab” a dreaded Maoist woman who the police claimed was hiding in her house, . As a matter of fact, no one was found in her house or office. Kavita was not present, and her elderly father, sister, and maid were intimidated by the combined teams of the Chattisgarh and Rajasthan police who searched the house in the manner that a raid would be conducted on dreaded armed groups.
I have personally known Kavita for over 30 years. Most of the Rajasthan Administration and Police know her as well. The Central Intelligence agencies (who are said to have provided intelligence inputs) must also know that Kavita Srivastava has played a vital and difficult role in standing up for the human rights of ordinary people – whether they are trampled upon by the State, or by non- state actors. (I enclose a statement personally endorsed by more than 100 prominent Indians condemning the police raid on her house and office.) Particular officers or government authorities might consider her an irritant, because she raises uncomfortable questions.
However, senior authorities must understand that she, like other respected, prominent, human rights activists must be valued for the work they do, and be treated with respect. To act as they did, is an indication of not just high handedness, but also very poor strategy in understanding the vital role human rights activists play in situations of entrenched conflict in our country.
It is the nature of the work of human rights activists that they will highlight the breach of law and Constitution, and give a hearing to citizens in distress. Soni Sori, the woman who the Chattisgarh police was hunting for, and who has now been sent to a Kolkatta hospital for treatment by the Court after she suffered head and back injuries while in police custody, is one such woman. (I attach the cover story from Tehelka for details of the Soni Sori case). Where would a tribal school teacher on the run from the murky manipulations of various vested interests in conflict ridden Chattisgarh go for a hearing except to the Supreme Court, to the media, and to human rights activists? Where would countless others go, if their ability to reach these breathing points is cut off? Finally, what would happen to the Indian State if human rights activists themselves are branded as extremists, and not allowed to function?
This has become a pattern of behavior of intelligence and security agencies. When police forces join them in their arbitrary behavior, and even those who work for the protection of the Constitution are deliberately targeted by State Agencies, any hope for resolution and reconciliation can only be a distant dream.
We write to urge you to have this matter examined at a senior level. We need to ensure that there is open and regular communication between the Home Ministry, the police, and human rights activists whether or not there is agreement about the facts of particular situations. We need to ensure that institutions like the media, and human rights activists are given the space to reach out, meet, and bring to the notice of the country, the plight and aspirations of people in conflict zones. We need to respect the independence of these institutions in our polity, acknowledge the vital role they play, and give due respect at least to those whose motivations and actions will always be non-violent and humane. We do not have to do this as a favour to them, but as a part of the wisdom of democratic governance and nation building.
In the case of Kavita, just the impact of this “raid” on the local media, the middle class locality where she lives, and on the atmosphere of security and insecurity is obvious. Perhaps it was in the interest of some individuals and some States to build such a negative image. But the damage this kind of action does and will continue to do to our interests as a democratic nation is incalculable.
This is not just a letter about Kavita Srivastava, but includes the prominent case of Dr Binayak Sen and many others less known but equally committed activists and defenders of human and civil rights.
This letter is to urge the Government to look at its policies in relation to human rights workers and institutions, as failure to do so may indeed damage the relationship between the people and the State further. We write to urge your intervention, because it is obvious that this kind of message of statesmanship can only come from the highest levels.
1. Home Minister GOI
2. CM Rajasthan
3. MOS Home GOI
4. Chief Secretary Rajasthan
Statement condemning the police raid on Kavita Srivastava, General Secretary Rajasthan, & National Secretary PUCL
We condemn the police raid on PUCL national secretary Kavita Srivastava, National Secretary PUCL in an attempt to silence protest against the violations of civil liberties and human rights by the State. Ms Srivastava\\\’s Jaipur home was raided jointly by large numbers of the Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan police forces and backed by the intelligence agencies on the assumption that an alleged Maoist absconder from Chhattisgarh, was given shelter in her parental home. This was a violation of private space of her family and it was hastily conducted without due process which is a violation of legal rights. We also condemn the slander against the PUCL spread by Chhattisgarh and Rajasthan police and the central intelligence agencies.
No naxalite or any other offender was found at Ms Srivastava\\\’s house but the police and intelligence agencies continue a smear campaign against her through planted innuendoes in the media about her sheltering proclaimed offenders. The real purpose of the raid seems to be to shock, awe and intimidate her and her family. We condemn this attempt to criminalize legitimate Human Rights work. Human Rights Defenders are committed to provide access to justice and create space for unimpeded hearing to any aggrieved person complaining about the violation of their rights, either by the State and/or powerful non State players. Such raids on prominent Human Rights Defenders seek further to delegitimize democratic activities and to repress public support.
We urge the State to protect Constitutional, fundamental and other basic rights of association and free expression and demand that the legal space given to Human Rights Defenders be respected.
The increasing nature of the State to discredit Human Rights Defenders is also condemned.
1. Abey George
2. Achyut Das
3. Aheli and Saurabh – Delhi, JOSH
4. Althea Williams – Amnesty
5. Amar Habibullah
6. Amit Bhaduri, Professor, JNU
7. Amita Baviskar
8. Amitabh Behar, Wada Na Todo
9. Amitabha Pande, IAS
11.Amrita Chhachhi – Lecturer at ISS, Hague
12.Anand Patwardhan – Film maker, Mumbai
13.Angela Rangad, Co-convener, NCPRI, Shillong
14.Anil Bordia – Doosra Darshak
16.Anita Katyal –
17.Anjali Bhardwaj, Satark Nagrik Sangathan, Delhi
18.Anumeha Yadav – Journalist,
19.Anup Kumar – Assitant Professor, Cleveland State University
20.Anupama Jha – India chapter of Transparency International,
21.Aparajay – Research scholar, MIDS, Chennai
22.Arudra Burra – UCLA School of Law
24.Arun Gupta – BPNI
25.Aruna Rodrigues, Enviroment Activist
26.Aruna Roy, MKSS and NCPRI
28.Arundhati Dhuru, Asha Parivar and NAPM, UP
29.Ashim Jain, Activist
30.Ashish Kothari –
31.Ashish Ranjan – JJSS, Bihar
32.Ashok Bharti – Chairman, NACDOR
33.B.Rama Krishna Raju
34.Bela Bhatia, Human Rights Activist
35.Bhanwar Meghwanshi, MKSS, Rajasthan
36.Bhaskar Prabhu – Convenor, Mahiti Adhikar Manch, Maharashtra RTI Council
37.Biraj Patnaik – Adviser to Supreme Court Commissioners on Right to Food
39.Celia Umi – Karnataka, NAPM
40.Charul, Activist, Gujarat
41.Deep Joshi – NAC member, Chattisgarh
42.Devvrat – Advocate, New Delhi
43.Dinesh Mohan – IIT, New Delhi
45.Dr. Sandeep Pandey – Asha Parivar – NAPM
46.Dr. Sudhir Varma
47.Dunu Roy – Hazards Centre, New Delhi
49.Farah Naqvi – NAC member, Activist, New Delhi
50.Fausto Aarya De Santis
51.Fr. Dominic Emmanuel –
52.Harsh Mander, Member, NAC and CES
53.Himanshu Kumar, Activist, Chhattisgarh
55.I C Srivastava
57.Jagdeep Chhokar, Founder Member, ADR
58.Jai Krishna – On behalf of Greenpeace.
60.Jayanti Banerjee – Ekatra
61.Jayati Ghosh, Professor, JNU
62.Jean Dreze, Professor, Allahabad University
63.Joe Athialy – BIC trust, New Delhi
64.Justice. A.P.Shah, Former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court
66.Kamal Tank, RTI Manch, Rajasthan
67.Kamayani Blai Mahabal – Human Rights activist, Mumbai
68.Kamayani Swami – Jan Jagaran Shakti Sangathan, Bihar
69.Kavita Krishnan – CPI(ML) Liberation
70.Kavitha Kuruganti (for ASHA) –
74.Leela Sampson – Kalakshetra, Chennai
75.Madhu Kishwar, Manushi and CSDS, New Delhi
76.Madhuresh Kumar, NAPM
77.Maja Daruwala – Delhi, Director, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
78.Manoj Mitta, Senior Editor, Times of India
80.Maya Unnithan – Sussex, Reader in Anthropology, University of Sussex UK
81.Medha Patkar, NBA – NAPM
82.Mira Shiva – Initiative for Health & Equity in Society
83.Monisha Behal – Guwahati, Chairperson, North East Network
84.Mrinal Pande, Senior Journalist, Delhi
87.Nandita Sengupta, Journalist
89.Nikhil Dey, MKSS and NCPRI
90.Niranjan Pant, Director General, CAG
92.Olga Tellis – Mumbai
93.Padmini Swaminathan – TISS, Mumbai
94.Pandya Harinesh – MAGP
95.Panini Anand, Journalist, Delhi
98.Prahlad Shekhawat – Director, Alternative Development and Research Center, Jaipur
99.Prahlad Shekhawat, Director, Alternative Development and Research Center, Jaipur
100. Prashant Bhushan
101. Preeti Sampat, Activist, New Delhi
102. Premila Nazareth
103. Premila Nazareth, Activist
104. Prof Mohan Gopal in individual capacity
105. Puneeta Roy – Tehelka Foundation, Delhi
106. Rajni Bakshi – Author, Economist
107. Rama Krishna Raju – Hyderabad, NAPM- AP
108. Ranjit Paswan – JJSS, Bihar
109. Rukmini Shrinivasan, Times of India, New Delhi
110. S. Subramanian
111. Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD
112. Shalini Krishan
113. Sharada Jain
114. Shiraz Bulsara Prabhu
115. Shoma Chaudhury – Managing editor, Tehelka
116. Sowmya Kidambi, SSAAT, Andhra Pradesh
117. Subhash Lomte – National Campaign Committee for Rural Workers
118. Suchi Pande, Phd Student, IDS Sussex
119. Suhas Kolhekar
120. Sukumar Muralidharan, Journalist, Delhi
121. Suparna Sharma
122. SWRC signatures – Tilonia, Rajasthan
123. Tarun Bhartiya – NCPRI, Shillong
124. Ulka Mahajan -Sarvahara Jan Andolan
125. Ulka Mahajan, Sarvahara Jan Andolan
126. Vandana Shiva – Navdanya, Environmental activist
127. Vasanth Kannabiran
128. Venkitesh Ramakrishnan
129. Vidya Subrahmaniam, Deputy Editor, The Hindu
130. Vinay, Activist, Gujarat
131. Vinod Raina –
132. Vipul Mudgal – Delhi, Inclusive Media for Change, CSDS,
133. Vishaish Uppal
134. Vrinda Grover, Advocate, Delhi
135. Yamini Aiyar – Delhi, Accountability Initiative
136. Yogendra Yadav – Delhi, Senior Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies