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The Bengaluru (Bangalore) mass molestation incident on New Year

Saturday, 07 January 2017 00:00 Written by

The Bengaluru (Bangalore) mass molestation incident on New Year has shocked and shamed the entire nation. While strong reactions have been coming in from all quarters, demanding strict action against the culprits, many women have also been coming in open to talk about their own encounter with such horrifying incidents.

Bengaluru Police detain 4 suspects in Kammanahalli molestation case

While the shameful incident of mass molestation at MG Road and Brigade Road was already creating the headlines, another CCTV video popped up that showed a man groping and assaulting a woman at a residential area in Kammanahalli, Bangalore on the same night.

Vigilante cow protection groups must be brought to justice

Wednesday, 27 July 2016 00:00 Written by

Vigilante cow protection groups must be brought to justice

1 July 2016, 01:21PM

Vigilante cow protection groups must be brought to justiceTwo men who were forced to eat cow dung by a cow protection group in Haryana.

State governments must investigate and bring to trial members of ‘cow protection’ groups who intimidate, harass or attack people in the name of upholding the law, Amnesty International India said today.

On 10 June, members of a local ‘gau rakshak’ (cow protection) group near Faridabad, Haryana, forced two men, who they suspected were beef transporters, to eat a concoction containing cow dung and cow urine. A video of the incident was circulated on social media, which also appears to show that the men had been beaten. The state police have arrested the two men, but have not taken any action against the members of the cow protection group. The killing of cows is banned in Haryana and many other Indian states.

Haryana’s Education Minister appeared to defend the violence, saying, “Youths are coming forward for cow protection like this. The law has brought a big change in the mindset of people and has swelled the reverence for the sacred animal.” The head of the cow protection group told Amnesty International India, “We made them eat the concoction to purify them and then handed them over to the police. We are helping the state to punish these people.”

“Cow vigilante groups appear to be increasing their violent attacks against suspected cattle traders,” said Abhirr V P, Campaigner at Amnesty International India.

“It is the duty of the state - and not vigilante groups - to enforce the law. The silence, and at times encouragement, of public officials only emboldens these groups.”

In September 2015, Mohammed Akhlaq, a 50-year-old Muslim man in Dadri, Uttar Pradesh was lynched by a mob, allegedly after rumours that his family had eaten beef. In October 2015, a 20-year-old man in Himachal Pradesh was killed by villagers for allegedly transporting beef. In March 2016, the bodies of two cattle traders were found hanging from a tree in Jhabbar, Jharkhand.

“Many of those targeted by cow vigilante groups are Muslim men. State governments must condemn these incidents, and prosecute self-appointed vigilantes who take the law into their hands. Anti-cow killing laws must not be used to justify attacks on members of religious minority groups. These are criminal acts and they should be treated accordingly.” said Abhirr V P.

Stop Treating Critics As Criminals

Wednesday, 27 July 2016 00:00 Written by

Stop Treating Critics As Criminals

Government Should Repeal or Amend All Laws Threatening Free Speech

 

  1. Indian authorities routinely use vaguely worded, overly broad laws as political tools to silence and harass critics, Human Rights Watch said in a new report released today. The government should repeal or amend laws that are used to criminalize peaceful expression.
A demonstrator waves the Indian national flag during a protest on February 18, 2016, in New Delhi, India, demanding the release of Kanhaiya Kumar, a student union leader accused of sedition. In 2016 there has been a spike in the number of sedition cases f

A demonstrator waves the Indian national flag during a protest on February 18, 2016, in New Delhi, India, demanding the release of Kanhaiya Kumar, a student union leader accused of sedition. In 2016 there has been a spike in the number of sedition cases filed nationwide.
 

India’s Constitution protects the right to freedom of speech and expression, but recent and colonial-era laws, such as sedition and criminal defamation, not only remain on the books but are frequently used in an attempt to clampdown on critics. 

“India’s abusive laws are the hallmark of a repressive society, not a vibrant democracy,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “Putting critics in prison or even forcing them to defend themselves in lengthy and expensive court proceedings undermines the government’s efforts to present India as a modern country in the Internet age committed to free speech and the rule of law.”

The Indian authorities routinely use vaguely worded, overly broad laws as political tools to silence and harass critics.

The 108-page report, “Stifling Dissent: The Criminalization of Peaceful Expression in India,” details how criminal laws are used to limit and chill free speech in India. It documents ways overbroad or vague laws are used to stifle political dissent, harass journalists, restrict activities by nongovernmental organizations, arbitrarily block Internet sites or take down content, and target marginalized communities, particularly Dalits, and religious minorities.

Stifling Dissent

The Criminalization of Peaceful Expression in India

 
The report is based on an in-depth analysis of various provisions of the Indian Penal Code, including laws on sedition, criminal defamation, hate speech, and hurting religious sentiment, as well as the Official Secrets Act, Information Technology Act, and Contempt of Courts Act. It is based on interviews with defendants and targets, civil society activists, journalists, and lawyers. It includes public statements by the government, court documents, and media accounts of criminal proceedings against those involved in peaceful speech activities or peaceful assembly.

One of the most abused laws is the sedition law, which has been used by successive governments to arrest and silence critics. Section 124A of the Indian Penal Code prohibits any words, spoken or written, or any signs or visible representation that can cause “hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection,” toward the government. While India’s Supreme Court has imposed limits on the use of the sedition law, making incitement to violence a necessary element, police continue to file sedition charges even in cases where this requirement is clearly not met.

Most recently, the abuse of the sedition law became subject of national debate afterKanhaiya Kumar, a student union leader at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi, was arrested for sedition on February 12, 2016. The government acted on complaints by members of the student wing of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party, who accused Kumar of making anti-national speeches during a meeting organized on campus. India’s minister for home affairs warned that those who shouted anti-India slogans and challenged India’s sovereignty and integrity during these meetings “will not be tolerated and spared.” Two more students were arrested for sedition in the same case, while three others were booked. The court granted a six-month interim bail after the police’s admission that they had no evidence of anti-national sloganeering by Kumar, and certainly no evidence of incitement to violence. The government, however, failed to admit that the arrests were wrong.

In October 2015, authorities in Tamil Nadu state arrested folk singer S. Kovan under the sedition law for two songs that criticized the state government for allegedly profiting from state-run liquor shops at the expense of the poor.

In a controversial and disappointing verdict, in May 2016, India’s Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of criminal defamation law saying, “A person’s right to freedom of speech has to be balanced with the other person’s right to reputation.” However, the court did not explain how it concluded that the law does not violate international human rights norms, which call for abolishment of criminal defamation, or offer a clear or compelling rationale as to why civil remedies are insufficient for defamation in a democracy with a functioning legal system.

The frequent use of criminal defamation charges by the Tamil Nadu state government, led by Chief Minister Jayalalithaa, against journalists, media outlets, and rival politicians shows how laws can be used to silence critics of the government. The Tamil Nadu government reportedly filed nearly 200 cases of criminal defamation between 2011 and 2016. For instance, the Tamil-language magazines Ananda Vikatan and Junior Vikatan, both published by the Vikatan group, face charges in 34 criminal defamation cases, including for a series of articles assessing the performance of each cabinet minister.

Criminal defamation laws should be abolished because they can lead to very harsh consequences, including imprisonment, Human Rights Watch said, a view endorsed by the United Nations Human Rights Committee and various special rapporteurs on human rights.

Indian laws

“Sedition and criminal defamation laws are routinely used to shield the powerful from criticism, and send a message that dissent carries a high price,” Ganguly said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi has frequently said he and his government are committed to upholding the right to freedom of speech. “Our democracy will not sustain if we can’t guarantee freedom of speech and expression,” he said in June 2014. Yet the Modi government has not only failed to address laws which are frequently used to crush these rights, but has used them, as did previous governments, to treat criticism as a crime. His government argued in the Supreme Court for retention of criminal defamation law, saying without offering a compelling explanation that monetary compensation through civil lawsuits is not a sufficient remedy for damage to a person’s reputation.

Successive Indian governments have failed to protect freedom of expression despite repeated reminders by the courts that it is the state’s responsibility to maintain law and order and that threats to public order cannot be grounds to curtail speech.

While some prosecutions involving sedition, criminal defamation, and other laws documented in the report were dismissed or abandoned in the end, many people who have engaged in nothing more than peaceful speech have been arrested, held in pretrial detention, and subjected to expensive criminal trials. Fear of such actions, combined with uncertainty as to how the statutes will be applied, leads to a chilling environment and self-censorship.

The Indian government should review all these laws, and repeal or amend them to bring them into line with international law and India’s treaty commitments, Human Rights Watch said. Many countries in the region also have anachronistic British colonial laws on the books, and India should lead reform efforts.

“India’s courts have largely been protective of freedom of expression but as long as you have bad laws on the books, free speech will remain under threat,” said Ganguly. “It is an enormous irony that India projects itself worldwide as a government embracing technology and innovation, yet is relying on century-old laws to clamp down on critics. India has an opportunity and the responsibility to launch reforms immediately, which could set a positive example to other countries in the region similarly bogged down by antiquated laws.”

Recommendations for India:

  • Develop a clear plan and timetable for the repeal or amendment of laws that criminalize peaceful expression;
  • Drop all pending charges and investigations against those who are facing prosecution for the exercise of their right to freedom of expression and assembly; and
  • Train the police to ensure inappropriate cases are not filed with courts. Train judges on peaceful expression standards so that they dismiss cases that infringe on protected speech.

Human rights group hearing: US Congressmen slam Modi govt for ‘violence’ against minorities

Friday, 10 June 2016 00:00 Written by

Around the time Prime Minister Narendra Modi finished his meeting with US President Barack Obama at the Oval Office Tuesday,

 

a short distance away, at 1334 Longworth House Office Building, the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission held a hearing, in which at least three US Congressmen and a group of human rights activists criticised the Modi government for the current situation of human rights in India.

The hearing, which began 3 pm Tuesday and lasted about an hour-and-a-half, saw the Congressmen speak about “intimidation, discrimination, harassment and violence” experienced by Muslims and Christians in India.

US Congressman Trent Franks, a Republican who has visited India, flagged the riots in Uttar Pradesh, violence in Odisha and the 2002 Gujarat riots and said that because of the “current climate of impunity in India, many victims may never get justice”.

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Centre trying to topple all Cong ruled states: Sonia

Thursday, 31 March 2016 00:00 Written by

Biswanath Chariali (Assam), Mar 30 (PTI) In a blistering attack on the Modi government, Sonia Gandhi today accused it of trying to topple all Congress-ruled state governments by resorting to "undemocratic and unconstitutional" tactics.

"In Arunachal (Pradesh) and Uttarakhand, they (BJP) did everything to topple the elected governments. They are trying to do it in all states ruled by Congress," the Congress President said at an election rally here.

"If it was possible, they would have done the same in Assam and topple the government here too. They are anti-people and anti-Assam," Gandhi said while attacking the NDA government at the Centre of "functioning in an undemocratic and unconstitutional manner".

The Congress leader said the BJP government, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, did not believe in the Constitution and the democratic set up of the country installed by Mahatma Gandhi, B R Ambedkar and Jawaharlal Nehru.

Launch of the campaign ‘Main Tulsi Teri Aangan ki’ at Manav Rachna International University

Friday, 26 February 2016 00:00 Written by

Launch of the campaign ‘Main Tulsi Teri Aangan ki’ at Manav Rachna International University as part of the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ initiative ...

Under the aegis of the Women Empowerment series ‘Swayamsiddha: Celebrating being a Woman’ being observed at Manav Rachna International University, the All India Council for Human Rights, Liberties and Social Justice launched the campaign ‘Main Tulsi Teri Aangan ki’ under the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ initiative of the Haryana Government. The poster for the campaign was launched at the national level in Manav Rachna International University. Women’s empowerment was foremost on everyone’s mind at the Manav Rachna campus, as everyone gathered together to rally for the cause of women and do their bit for the sensitization programme.

It may be recalled, as part of its continued efforts in creating awareness on gender sensitization among the youth, Faculty of Management Studies (FMS), Manav Rachna International University (MRIU), in association with Sindhu Srijan, (an NGO working on Women and Youth Empowerment) has been celebrating month long festivities under ‘Swayam Siddha: Celebrating Being A Woman’ which has been witness to various activities and events centered on themes relating to women from 12th February 2016 onwards. The programme will culminate on 8th March, which is celebrated the world over as International Women’s Day.

The current event also featured a Dance competition in which Manav Rachna students enthusiastically participated. The programme under the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ initiative was graced by Ms Anne June and Dr Anthony Raju, Advocate and Chairman, All India Council of Human Rights, Liberties and Social Justice; Dr N.C. Wadhwa, Vice Chancellor, MRIU; Dr Chavi Bhargava Sharma, Dean, FMS, MRIU, among others.

While launching the poster, Ms June said, “The ‘Main Tulsi Teri Aangan ki’ programme being undertaken under the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ project will lead to 40 lakh posters being strategically launched at different parts of the country so that people realize the importance of the girl child. While narrating about the project, Ms June said, “Tulsi is a symbol of India’s culture and pride. Just as we need to nurture and take care of the tulsi plant since it is symbolically lucky to have one in the courtyard, similarly the girl child too is precious and needs to be nurtured with love and care.”

Addressing the gathering, Dr Prashant Bhalla, President, Manav Rachna Educational Institutions, said, “With the All India Council of Human Rights, Liberties and Social Justice undertaking projects at the national level, we are proud to join them in their endeavor and pledge full support and co-operation towards that end. Such programs will be instrumental in changing age old perceptions about gender inequality among students”.

Dr. (Mrs.) Balwinder Shukla - Vice Chancellor , Amity University launched poster

Thursday, 25 February 2016 00:00 Written by

Dr. (Mrs.) Balwinder Shukla - Vice Chancellor , Amity University launched poster of All India Council of Human Rights, Liberties and Social Justice of Nationwide Campaign ‘Main Tulsi Teri Aangan ki’ at University Campus , Noida as part of the ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padhao’ initiative on 20th Feb'2015

"Female foeticide is a matter of deep shame and a cause of great concern. Lets work together to remove this menace from society” , Ms June Ann Said. The Chief Mentor of this Projects.

Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao (Hindi: बेटी बचाओ, बेटी पढ़ाओ, Save girl child, educate girl child) is a Government of India scheme that aims to generate awareness and improving the efficiency of welfare services meant for women.

The Poster was launched in gathering of more than 25000 young students with Arman Malik ( Playback singer)

The main objectives of this projects is People of India to pledge to create an atmosphere for equality for the girl child and to end gender-based discrimination in the country and To bring a change in people mindset towards girl child on or after her birth. Preventing determination of sex, female foeticide, ensuring safety of girls, their best possible care and providing quality education , said Dr Anthony Raju , advocate and Global Chairman of All India Council of Human Rights, Liberties and Socail Justice.

AICHLS sent Fact Findings Team at Hyderabad University

Friday, 22 January 2016 00:00 Written by

Dr. Anthony Raju has deputed National Legal Council's team of advocates under Advocate G M Rao , Advocate Hyderabad High Court for fact findings , He will submit his report to the AICHLS Chief today to visit the University of Hyderabad and meet the students and family members of Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula who committed suicide.

I also condemn the incident , it is growing incident because of our negative politics. I also demand all the political parties to restrain from this issue to make dirty propaganda and request all the parties to not to divide the nation at the name of Dalit or Non Dalit. Political parties should not play their dirty  political card on this suicide otherwise it would be a disaster for India. said. Dr Raju , Global Chairman - All India Council of Human Rights , Liberties and Social Justice.

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