Sunday, March 27, 2011

People’s Tribunal hears tales of SHRC apathy in the face of rights violations

Lucknow, Mar 26: An Independent People’s Tribunal was organized today to look into the functioning of State Human Rights Commission with regard to addressing human rights issues brought to their notice by a number of victims from across the state. Over 40 victims, hailing from different parts of Uttar Pradesh, deposed before a jury comprising eminent persons like former Vice Chancellor of Lucknow University Roop Rekha Verma, former police officer S K Darapuri, human rights activsit Shruti Nagvanshi, Prof Pradeep Kumar from Ruhelkhand University and human rights activist Ram Kumar. ,

The tribunal was organized by Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) in collaboration with PVCHR, DAG, Jagriti Sewa Sansthan, Prawas Society, Mahila Mandal, Shahari Garib Sangharsh Morcha, Doaba Vikas Sangharsh Samiti, Mahila Adhikar Manch, UP Gramin aur Khetidhar Majdoor Sangthan and Youth for Democracy (Chaundauli)

Senior advocate and UP Director of HRLN, M r KK Roy, introducing the tribunal, said that the SHRC was established in UP only after a prolonged struggle by the civil society organizations. He lamented the fact that despite SHRC’s presence in UP, the state was topping the list of human rights violations which related to torture by police, witch-hunting of minorities, violations of rights of daliats, tribal, women, children and those displaced by developmental projects.

HRLN Executive Director Harsh Dobhal explained the objective of such a tribunal at a time when India was projecting its image abroad as the largest democracy committed to protection of human rights. He said such tribunals would be conducted in 18 states and at national level and a comprehensive report on the functioning of these commissions would either expose them to public scrutiny or create a pressure on these institutions and government to discharge their duties effectively.

Lenin Raghuvashi of PVCHR said that SHRC rarely replied to complaints compared to NHRC still responded in many cases. He alleged that SHRC UP had become a non-functional body which remained a showpiece on the paper.

Victim after victim, narrated horror tales of torture and other violations to the jury which was intermittently seeking clarification from the victims.

The tragic testimonies of 18 year old Veera from Banda, a tale of abduction and rape, was particularly poignant. “I was abducted by people known to me and was gangraped at gunpoint at different palces for 8 days. My father kept going to police stations but no FIR was filed. My father also filed a compaing to SHRC but no action was taken. On 8th day when my father got the information that I was kept at a place, again went to police and pleaded for my release from the custody of my tormentors. When my father refused to leave the police station despite being chased out, the Circle Officer finally intervened and got me released from them. A chargesheet has since been filed but not at the intervention of SHRC.”

In yet another moving tale of gross violation of rights, Pyari Devi from Chandauli said that she was the owner of a 3.3 dcml of agriculture land and she had also made a hut on the land. “the goons of Chandauli MLA Sharda Prasad set her place ablaze and forcibly grabbed her land. I made the complaint to the SHRC and also approached various authorities but no response has been given till date. I am living in a near starvation situation under constant threat by the musclemen of the MLA.” She has no means of livelihood as the only source was a small piece of land which has been illegally usurped by a powerful politician.