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INDIA: Assam police assaulted mother and daughter during mid-night at home

February 1, 2011

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-019-2011

 

1 February 2011
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INDIA: Assam police assaulted mother and daughter during mid-night at home

ISSUES: Assault; Threats; Witness protection; Police inaction and negligence
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the Barak Human Rights Protection Committee (BHRPC), Assam concerning the case of assault of a 24 year-old-girl and her mother by the police in Cachar district, Assam. This incident occurred at midnight when the police were searching for a fugitive, Mr. Hussain Ahmed Laskar. Police then threatened the victims when a written complaint was filed with the local police station. Insofar, the local police have taken no actions on the victim's complaint.

CASE NARRATIVE:

At midnight on 15 December 2010, a team of police officers knocked on the door of Ms. Hasina Begum Laskar's house while they were sleeping. Hasina, aged about 24 years, lives with her 60-year-old mother, Mrs. Alfatun Nessa Laskar. Her father has passed away and the family lives at Barjatrapur Village under the jurisdiction of Borkhola Police Station in Cachar district of Assam.

Hasina asked the persons to identify themselves and the reason for the visit. The officers told her that they were from the police and wanted to enquire about a fugitive name Mr. Hussain Ahmed Laskar. Hasina replied that she did not know the person. The police officers then demanded that Hasina open the door and when she refused they entered the house forcefully after breaking open the door.

It is reported that Sub-Inspector Mr. Ibrahim Khalilullah Kabir of Borkhola Police Station in Cachar district of Assam state led the police officers. Ibrahim is also the Officer-in-Charge of Bhangarpar Police Out-Post of Borkhola Police Station. Hasina alleges that the police officer was accompanied by his fellow constables and not any woman police officer, as is required by the law.

Officer, Ibrahim, asked Hasina a few questions about the fugitive Hussain before suddenly grabbing Hasina's hand. Hasina claims that the officer pulled her closer as if he had intentions to sexually harass her. Hasina resisted the officer's advances and that resulted in a scuffle. Hasina then started screaming for help. Upon hearing Hasina, her mother woke up. When the mother came into the room where Hasina and the officer were struggling she tried to stand in between the officer and her daughter, in order to protect her daughter and free her from the officer. The officers infuriated by the resistance of the two women, started assaulting them. Hasina's mother vomited at the time, after suffering injuries from the assault and undoubtedly from shock due to fear. Then she fainted and fell to the ground.

It is reported that Hasina's neighbours started gathering near the house after hearing the cries of Hasina and her mother. The police left the house after seeing the people. Hasina's neighbours dialed an emergency helpline number 108 (free medical services provided by the government) and explained the incidents briefly. An ambulance came and picked-up Hasina's mother and took her to the Silchar Medical College Hospital. Hasina's mother was later discharged from the hospital but is still under medication.

On 18 December 2010, Hasina lodged a written complaint with the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Borkhola Police Station, Cachar district, Assam. However, following this, Hasina alleged that an unknown person called her mobile and threatened that if she proceeded against the police officer, she would suffer grave consequences. Again on the following day, the day Hasina lodged a complaint to the SP, she received another called from unknown person at 11.03am on her mobile and the same threat was repeated. Hasina received both incoming call on her mobile from the same number +91 9859628761. To-date, the SP has taken no action on Hasina's complaint.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write letters to the authorities mentioned below, in particular to the Home Minister of Assam, expressing your concern in the case. The statements of the victims and witnesses must be recorded without any delay. The AHRC is writing separate letter of concern to the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women calling for an intervention in the case.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Assault of a 24 years old girl and her mother must be investigated

Name of victim: Ms. Hasina Begum Laskar, resident of Village Barjatrapur under the jurisdiction of Borkhola Police Station in Cachar district of Assam state
Names of alleged perpetrators: Mr. Ibrahim Khalilullah Kabir, Sub-Inspector of Borkhola Police Station and his fellow constables

Date of incident: 15 December 2010
Place of incident: Barjatrapur Village, Cachar district, Assam state

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the assault of a 24-year-old girl and her mother. I am informed that on 15 December 2010, at midnight, a team of police officers knocked on the door of Ms. Hasina Begum Laskar's house while they were sleeping. Hasina lives with her 60-year-old mother, Mrs. Alfatun Nessa Laskar. Her father has passed away and the family lives at Barjatrapur Village under the jurisdiction of Borkhola Police Station in Cachar district of Assam.

I am informed that Hasina woke up hearing the knocking at the door asked the persons to identify and for why they are at their home. The officers told her that they were from the police and wanted to enquire about a fugitive name Mr. Hussain Ahmed Laskar. Hasina replied that she did not know the person. The police officers then demanded that Hasina open the door and when she refused they entered the house forcefully after breaking open the door.

It is reported that Sub-Inspector Mr. Ibrahim Khalilullah Kabir of Borkhola Police Station in Cachar district of Assam state led the police officers. Ibrahim is also the Officer-in-Charge of Bhangarpar Police Out-Post of Borkhola Police Station. Hasina alleges that the police officer was accompanied by his fellow constables and not any woman police officer, as is required by the law.

I am informed that officer, Ibrahim, asked Hasina a few questions about the fugitive Hussain before suddenly grabbing Hasina's hand. Hasina claims that the officer pulled her closer as if he had intentions to sexually harass her. Hasina resisted the officer's advances and that resulted in a scuffle. Hasina then started screaming for help. Upon hearing Hasina, her mother woke up. When the mother came into the room where Hasina and the officer were struggling she tried to stand in between the officer and her daughter, in order to protect her daughter and free her from the officer. The officers infuriated by the resistance of the two women, started assaulting them. Hasina's mother vomited at the time, after suffering injuries from the assault and undoubtedly from shock due to fear. Then she fainted and fell to the ground.

It is reported that Hasina's neighbours started gathering near the house after hearing the cry from Hasina and her mother. The police left the house after seeing the people. Hasina's neighbours dialed an emergency helpline number 108 (free medical services provided by the government) and explained the incidents briefly. An ambulance came and picked-up Hasina's mother and took her to the Silchar Medical College Hospital. Hasina's mother was later discharged from the hospital but is still under medication.

On 18 December 2010, Hasina lodged a written complaint with the Superintendent of Police (SP) of Borkhola Police Station, Cachar district, Assam. However, following this, Hasina alleged that an unknown person called her mobile and threatened that if she proceeded against the police officer, she would suffer grave consequences. Again on the following day, the day Hasina lodged a complaint to the SP, she received another called from unknown person at 11.03am on her mobile and the same threat was repeated. Hasina received both incoming call on her mobile from the same number +91 9859628761. To-date, the SP has taken no action on Hasina's complaint.

I ask for your immediate intervention in order to ensure that an investigation is carried out into this incident.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Justice S. Barman Roy
Chairperson
Assam Human Rights Commission
STATFED H.O. Building, GMC Road
Bhangagarh, Guwahati
Pin – 781005, Assam
INDIA
Fax: +91 361 2529450, 2527076
Email: hrca@sancharnet.in

2. Mr. P.K. Bhuyan, APS
District Superintendent of Police
Borkhola Police Station
Cachar district, Assam
INDIA

3. Mrs. Krishna Tirath
Minister of State
Ministry of Women and Child Development
Shastri Bhavan, Jeevandeep Building
New Delhi
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 23074052, 23074053, 23074054

4. Mr. Tarun Gogoi
Chief Minister of Assam
Assam Secretariat, Dispur
Guwahati-6, Assam
INDIA
Fax: +91 361 2262069

5. Chief Secretary
Assam Secretariat, Dispur
Guwahati-6, Assam
INDIA
Fax: +91 361 2260900
Email: psccy_it@assam.nic.in

6. Director General of Police
Assam, Ulubari
Guwahati-7, Assam
INDIA


Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrc.asia)

Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID :
AHRC-UAC-019-2011
Countries :
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Extended Introduction: Urgent Appeals, theory and practice

A need for dialogue

Many people across Asia are frustrated by the widespread lack of respect for human rights in their countries.  Some may be unhappy about the limitations on the freedom of expression or restrictions on privacy, while some are affected by police brutality and military killings.  Many others are frustrated with the absence of rights on labour issues, the environment, gender and the like. 

Yet the expression of this frustration tends to stay firmly in the private sphere.  People complain among friends and family and within their social circles, but often on a low profile basis. This kind of public discourse is not usually an effective measure of the situation in a country because it is so hard to monitor. 

Though the media may cover the issues in a broad manner they rarely broadcast the private fears and anxieties of the average person.  And along with censorship – a common blight in Asia – there is also often a conscious attempt in the media to reflect a positive or at least sober mood at home, where expressions of domestic malcontent are discouraged as unfashionably unpatriotic. Talking about issues like torture is rarely encouraged in the public realm.

There may also be unwritten, possibly unconscious social taboos that stop the public reflection of private grievances.  Where authoritarian control is tight, sophisticated strategies are put into play by equally sophisticated media practices to keep complaints out of the public space, sometimes very subtly.  In other places an inner consensus is influenced by the privileged section of a society, which can control social expression of those less fortunate.  Moral and ethical qualms can also be an obstacle.

In this way, causes for complaint go unaddressed, un-discussed and unresolved and oppression in its many forms, self perpetuates.  For any action to arise out of private frustration, people need ways to get these issues into the public sphere.

Changing society

In the past bridging this gap was a formidable task; it relied on channels of public expression that required money and were therefore controlled by investors.  Printing presses were expensive, which blocked the gate to expression to anyone without money.  Except in times of revolution the media in Asia has tended to serve the well-off and sideline or misrepresent the poor.

Still, thanks to the IT revolution it is now possible to communicate with large audiences at little cost.  In this situation there is a real avenue for taking issues from private to public, regardless of the class or caste of the individual.

Practical action

The AHRC Urgent Appeals system was created to give a voice to those affected by human rights violations, and by doing so, to create a network of support and open avenues for action.  If X’s freedom of expression is denied, if Y is tortured by someone in power or if Z finds his or her labour rights abused, the incident can be swiftly and effectively broadcast and dealt with. The resulting solidarity can lead to action, resolution and change. And as more people understand their rights and follow suit, as the human rights consciousness grows, change happens faster. The Internet has become one of the human rights community’s most powerful tools.   

At the core of the Urgent Appeals Program is the recording of human rights violations at a grass roots level with objectivity, sympathy and competence. Our information is firstly gathered on the ground, close to the victim of the violation, and is then broadcast by a team of advocates, who can apply decades of experience in the field and a working knowledge of the international human rights arena. The flow of information – due to domestic restrictions – often goes from the source and out to the international community via our program, which then builds a pressure for action that steadily makes its way back to the source through his or her own government.   However these cases in bulk create a narrative – and this is most important aspect of our program. As noted by Sri Lankan human rights lawyer and director of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Basil Fernando:

"The urgent appeal introduces narrative as the driving force for social change. This idea was well expressed in the film Amistad, regarding the issue of slavery. The old man in the film, former president and lawyer, states that to resolve this historical problem it is very essential to know the narrative of the people. It was on this basis that a court case is conducted later. The AHRC establishes the narrative of human rights violations through the urgent appeals. If the narrative is right, the organisation will be doing all right."

Patterns start to emerge as violations are documented across the continent, allowing us to take a more authoritative, systemic response, and to pinpoint the systems within each country that are breaking down. This way we are able to discover and explain why and how violations take place, and how they can most effectively be addressed. On this path, larger audiences have opened up to us and become involved: international NGOs and think tanks, national human rights commissions and United Nations bodies.  The program and its coordinators have become a well-used tool for the international media and for human rights education programs. All this helps pave the way for radical reforms to improve, protect and to promote human rights in the region.