Guwahati: This week, the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC) filed a complaint and appealed for urgent action to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) after the assault and intimidation of two human rights defenders in the Karimganj district of Assam. The human rights defenders, a man and a woman, were allegedly attacked by a government official and his accomplices.
Information received by BHRPC alleged that anti-corruption and labour rights activists Mr Shyamraj Rajbhor and his wife Ms Aradhana Rajbhor, were badly beaten up by Mr P K Roy, Block Development Officer (BDO), Ramkrishna Nagar Block and his accomplices.
The alleged attack took place in the Karimganj district of Assam on 2 December, 2015. Mr Shyamraj Rajbhor and his wife Ms Aradhana Rajbhor, a human rights activist in her own right, both received serious injuries in the assault. The attack was so severe that they were treated as in-patients for seven days in the Santosh Kumar Roy Civil Hospital. At the time of receiving this report, the activists were still in the hospital recuperating.
The activists were investigating alleged corruption relating to allocation of a house under Indira Awas Yojana (IAY), a central government flagship programme that provides housing for India’s rural poor.
The purpose of the attack was likely to intimidate the activists and members of their Mojuri Sramik Union (MSU) organisation into silence over the corruption.
Activists used The Right to Information Act, 2005 to access relevant documents that showed central government funds went to a person not eligible for IAY benefits, thus depriving beneficiaries who were eligible.
Complaints about this matter were initially ignored by the Block Development Officer for a long time, but the activists persisted. The complaints were again ignored. But when the activists persisted and pursued further, the Block Development Officer tricked them into visiting the house of one Mr Ravi Malakar. It was at this house that Mr. and Ms. Block Development Officer were attacked and severely beaten up.
Local police and district authorities have taken no action, even though complaints were filed with both. Mr. and Ms. Rajbhor and members of the MSU now expect more attacks, because the police and other authorities either condone the coercive actions or are complicit.
The BHRPC’s official complaint urges the NHRC:
- to ensure registration of a case against the attacker
- arrest of the attackers
- a prompt and objective investigation
- payment of compensation to the victims
- arrangement of proper security for members of MSU and other human rights defenders in the area
Expecting that the local police and other local officials may continue to take no action, reports of the case were also sent to the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, requesting appropriate action. In addition, other national and international organisations that monitor the security of human rights defenders have also been informed about this case. The organizations include the Human Rights Defenders Alert – India, Asian Human Rights Commission, International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Amnesty International.
See the complete BHRPC report.