Thursday, November 24, 2011

Firing probe in Assam rights panel court

Guwahati, Nov. 21: The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has forwarded a complaint pertaining to the death of four farmers in police firing at Besimari in Darrang district, to the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) for early disposal.

Four farmers lost their lives while around 20 others, including policemen, were injured when security forces opened fire on agitating jute cultivators on October 10.

The agitating farmers blocked National Highway 52 demanding government intervention in regulating jute prices.

An official source said the complaint which was filed at the NHRC by the convener of People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, Lenin Raghuvanshi, last month, had been recently transferred to the Assam Human Rights Commission for appropriate action.

“The grievances raised in the petition relate to matters which are subject to the State and hence the complaint was transferred to state human rights commission under Section 13 (6) of the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, as amended by the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2006 for disposal in accordance with the provisions of the act,” the source said.

The people’s vigilance committee is a Varanasi-based NGO, which is working for the protection of human rights of marginalised people.

Speaking to The Telegraph over phone from New Delhi, Raghuvanshi said they had sought an inquiry by an independent agency into the circumstances in which the police opened fire on the agitating farmers.

They also demanded that the victims of police action be compensated adequately as prima facie their rights have been violated.

In the petition, the NGO had accused the authorities of a “high-handed attitude” towards the farmers.

“According to NHRC guidelines, if death is caused by police firing, then there is a provision for filing an FIR against policemen,” Raghuvanshi said.

Soon after the incident, the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), a peasants’ body, had termed the killing of four farmers in police firing “cold-blooded murder”.

RTI activist and KMSS general secretary Akhil Gogoi had stated that the police firing on unarmed farmers was a reflection of the anti-peasant stand of the Tarun Gogoi government.

According to the source, the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has registered the complaint and would seek a reply from Assam police.

“Since former Chief Justice of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, Aftab Hussain Saikia, who is appointed the AHRC chairman is yet to assume office, the notice has not been issued to the police yet. As soon as he assumes charge, the notice seeking reply from Assam police will be issued,” the source said.