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INDIA: BSF bludgeoned a boy, then shot him

May 28, 2012

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME

Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-089-2012

28 May 2012
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INDIA: BSF bludgeoned a boy, then shot him

ISSUES: Torture; inhuman and degrading treatment; caste-based discrimination; impunity; violence; child rights; right to health; right to life
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Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from MASUM concerning the torture and attempted murder of Sanjit Mondal on 15 April 2011 in yet another case of Border Security Forces (BSF) brutality in West Bengal, India. Torture, extrajudicial killings, religious or caste-based discrimination and a culture of impunity are features of everyday life for Indian people living near the country's borders. Such acts violate a human being's inherent and fundamental right to life, liberty and security of person. Such acts are oppressive, patently unjust and contemptible. We urge you to write in to appeal to the relevant authorities to take actions against the BSF personnel responsible for these crimes against humanity. In so doing, we express a hope that, despite the threatening fault lines along the face of India's law enforcement and judiciary, India may yet future undertake serious social and institutional reforms that will remove the vestiges of lawlessness in the land and bring her people a lasting peace.

CASE NARRATIVE:

AHRC-UAC-089-2012-01.pngSanjit Mondal lives with his parents and two brothers. His father, Mr Krishna Chandra Mondal, is a reputed school teacher at the nearby Mahadebpur Sishu Siksha Kendra and owns a small piece of land which Sanjit and his brother help till when not engaged in their regular studies. This piece of land is situated at the Indo-Bangladesh border; this exposes them and fellow villagers to frequent BSF atrocities. An inquiry undertaken by MASUM reveals the following facts:

On 15 April 2011, Sanjit had been watering the field for kharif cultivation in preparation for sowing jute. Six uniformed BSF jawans from the Harudanga Mini Camp suddenly set upon him and began beating him with the butts of their rifles. All six had been carrying firearms at the time of the incident. Sanjit fell to the ground due to the force of the sudden attack and bashing. The BSF personnel turned to kicking his chest with boot-clad feet.

When Sanjit's family heard about the savage beating Sanjit was enduring at the hands of the BSF personnel, his uncle, Mr Bisnupada Mondal, Mr Bikash Mondal (son of Mr Binay Mondal), Mr Madhu Mondal and other residents of Char Durgapur Village, Harudanga Post Office, rushed to the spot and found Sanjit writhing in pain as the BSF jawans continued their vicious attack. The witnesses protested the abuse and requested that the BSF personnel leave off the beating, upon which the personnel hurled humiliating verbal abuse at them. The BSF personnel then made as if to leave the victim and moved a few yards off, but then turned and fired upon Sanjit. Family members and eyewitnesses believe this was intended to kill Sanjit.

The pellets pierced different parts of Sanjit's body and his head, causing him to fall unconscious. The BSF jawans then left, believing they had managed to kill him. The victim was them brought to Godhanpara Block Primary Hospital and Domkal Sub-Divisional Hospital, where the doctors initially refused treatment when they heard about the involvement of the BSF in the boy's injuries. The family desperately sought the help of a local medical practitioner who was not properly qualified, but he failed to remove the pellets from Sanjit's body. Later, the doctors at Domkal Sub-Divisional Hospital managed to remove two of the pellets, but the rest remained in Sanjit's body and he became very ill.

Fellow villagers came together to provide some financial help to the family for Sanjit's treatment and he was sent to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital in June 2011 for the removal of pellets from his body. The doctors there recommended a major surgery which the family was unable to afford, so the surgery was eventually not arranged for.

The two siblings of Sanjit had been severely tortured by BSF personnel previously on 24 September 2009, also while they were at the field. After that incident, Sanjit's father had made a complaint to Raninagar Police Station, where Case No. 615/09 was registered but no further action taken to investigate the violence. Such apathy by the police to their plight frightened Sanjit and his family to the point of being reluctant to make another complaint to the police against the BSF. Instead, the family made a complaint to the police outpost at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital on 2 June 2011. No inquiry was made into the matter.

The father of the three child victims somehow plucked up enough courage to submit a written complaint to the Superintendent of Police, Murshidabad on 4 April 2012, almost a year after the incident. The BSF had surprisingly not yet made a complaint against Sanjit, a devious method so commonly observed in their method of pre-emptively covering up their criminal acts of violence against their victims. Sanjit was treated at MASUM's monthly medical camp, VIC-TREE, a project run by the assistance of the United Nations Voluntary fund for Torture Victims (UNVFVT), where his statement was recorded. This verbal account can be accessed here: (unfortunately, no English subtitles are yet available).
Still no investigation has been conducted to this day, and there is reason to believe the perpetrators of this crime against Sanjit are still free and in the same position of power to terrorise and injure others, as well as to conduct retaliatory attacks against Sanjit, his family and eyewitnesses for bringing the matter up with the police.

The BSF violated specific rules laid out in the 1973 Criminal Procedure Code and constitutional rights of the individual to life and liberty. The six BSF personnel who had lynched and attempted to murder Sanjit demonstrated a blatant disregard for the law and for human lives. The six BSF personnel acted with complete impunity and unconscionable violence, exploiting the privilege of authority and firearms. What was so frightening was the banality and thoughtlessness of such abuse, both of that privilege and of the person.

AHRC-UAC-089-2012-02.pngThe BSF personnel failed to report the incident to the police who had legal jurisdiction over the area. The BSF also did not subsequently make any complaint with the police against Sanjit, which is atypical of the BSF in cases of extrajudicial killings by their personnel. As such, it is unclear if there were grounds at all for the attack by the BSF on a defenceless and hopelessly outnumbered minor.

The fact that the BSF had recently issued a statement claiming increased self-restraint on the use of lethal weapons (lethal INSAS AK47 rifles are standard issue) and attempts to minimise the loss of human lives flies in the face of what has happened to Sanjit. In the press release, it was also clear that the BSF Director General had been referring to smugglers crossing the Indo-Bangladesh border, who have committed "cognizable crimes" and were criminals "we want to apprehend". Sanjit's only crime had only been watering his father's field alone.

Sanjit is fortunate to escape with his life. In a far less fortunate encounter with BSF jawans, 21-year-old Mr Babu Seikh (refer AHRC-UAC-088-2012), also from Murshidabad district in West Bengal, lost his life, murdered by BSF who claim to "have no desire to kill anybody". Babu left behind a teenage widow and eight-month-old daughter.

While the populace and other NGOs such as MASUM had welcomed such statements by the BSF, the apparent deception, or at least the failure to implement to use of non-lethal weapons, creates a sense of bitterness and disillusionment amongst the people the Force is designed to protect, and serves to erode the BSF's legitimacy. The "rogue" character of these paramilitary forces further reflects badly on the central government that continues to endorse, fund, and, at least theoretically, lead it. For such a well-established force to perpetrate such acts of cruelty is disgraceful. Such acts truly lower the morale of other individuals within the force who try hard to fulfil their proper duties in order to protect the very people their comrades are hurting.

The above case highlights several systemic failures in the administration of Murshidabad in West Bengal:

1. The lack of transparency and accountability in the operation of the BSF, which breeds impunity and disregard for the law;
2. The hypocrisy with which the BSF approach the people by first promising to exercise restraint and then being responsible for the nefarious and senseless attack on Sanjit and attempt on his life;
3. The lack of enforcement and/or poor communication by India's central government of basic protocol amongst paramilitary forces such as the BSF;
4. The lamentable lack of complete responsiveness on the part of the police and the medical fraternity to aggrieved locals either due to cowardice, collusion with the BSF and/or an execrable apathy to the plight of the victim and his family

International efforts such as VIC-TREE (by MASUM) and UN VFTV can only accomplish so much. These efforts are palliative, not preventative, in nature. Without state intervention or international pressure, the people of Murshidabad, particularly the most vulnerable – women, children, the elderly, widowed, illiterate, the poor and religious minorities – face, for the foreseeable future, continued abuse of their freedoms and physical person and no likelihood for justice to be served to those acting with complete impunity.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

The Border Security Act, 1968 and its Rules 1969, was intended to regulate the conduct of the BSF. Section 41 (f) of the Act mandates that a BSF officer who commits any offence against the property or person of any inhabitant of, or resident in, the country in which he is serving to be punished with seven years of imprisonment. The Indian Penal Code of 1860 also provides punishment for voluntarily causing hurt or injuries to a person. Section 326 of the Code prescribes punishment by way of imprisonment for a term of ten years to a person who voluntarily causes hurt by dangerous weapons or means. In addition, Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees protection of life and personal liberty of every citizen. There is, however, an obvious lack of discipline and commitment to duty, as well as a culture of violence and impunity, within the BSF. This case once again illustrates how the BSF operates, and is permitted to operate, with impunity and in utter defiance of these three legal documents.

The AHRC has documented substantial number of BSF atrocities in India over the years. AHRC and MASUM have reported in detail over 800 cases of custodial violence committed by the BSF over the past eight years and have called for action on the part of the Indian authorities. The AHRC has noted the absolute impunity with which the BSF acts, a fact evidenced by the lack of disciplinary action taken against their criminal offences by the relevant BSF superiors and police personnel. Critically, many of these cases reveal a troubling unresponsiveness, and sometimes complicity, in parts of the legal system to patent injustices committed against individuals by the BSF. Not only is the legitimacy and integrity of the Indian justice system threatened, but so is its border and national security.
Sanjit has, as a human being, a right to life, liberty and personal security (Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 6 (1), 7, 9 and 10). He had additional rights as a vulnerable minor to extra protection by the state (India ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992). Sanjit further had a right to move freely within the borders of his own country (UDHR Article 13(1)). The BSF jawans who had so cruelly beaten Sanjit and his siblings obviously did not perceive the boys as born free and equal to them in dignity and rights (UDHR Article 1). The BSF jawans were also obviously lacking in reason and conscience and had not acted towards the minors in a spirit of brotherhood.

Instead, the BSF violate Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which demands that no person be denied of his life except according to procedure established by law, a transgression that should be swiftly met with by the centre through punitive action against these rogue actors. In states like Manipur other para-military units like the Assam Rifles outrage the conscience of mankind with their blithely committed atrocities and cower like criminals behind the patently unjust and draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 passed 11 September 1958 by both houses of parliament in India, which accords Armed Forces in "disturbed areas" the ability to act with complete unaccountability. The forces are permitted to use force "as [the officer] may consider necessary", to destroy any fortified position or shelter likely to be used for training armed volunteers/gangs and to arrest and search without warrant. These terms violate the letter and spirit of international law, which demands the unconditional protection of every human being's fundamental rights.

Even then the Act attempts, if weakly, to institute some safeguards – the armed forces are compelled to work in cooperation with the district administration and not as an independent body, for instance. The Forces are required give "due warning" before firing (which they rarely, if ever, give). Arrested persons are to be handed over to the Officer-in-Charge of the nearest police station without delay. Yet problems arise when the intent was never to arrest but to assault and kill, when BSF personnel act irresponsibly and refuse to coordinate with provincial authorities and behave, in essence, as an "independent body" and law unto itself.

The BSF promise border security, self-restraint in the use of lethal weapons, fewer unnecessary deaths – these are empty promises. The organisation promises instead the gradual corruption of already weak policing systems, increased lawlessness and an environment of palpable fear that reeks of oppression, past feudalism and neo-colonial structures in contemporary Indian society. The BSF beast is injustice manifest that has firmly embedded itself in institutions originally construed as bulwarks against such. It is a beast that ought to be quickly rehabilitated – or permanently put down.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the authorities mentioned below demanding an investigation into this case. Sanjit Mondal's torture and murder by BSF jawans must be inquired into at the earliest possible moment. Sanjit's family members and the rest of the traumatised community, particularly witnesses to the incident, must be provided adequate protection against reprisals by challenged BSFs. The community must also be assured that such senseless acts of violence and impunity will not occur again in the future, or, if they do, that they will be capably met by proper checks and balances within the justice system.

The AHRC is also writing separate letters to the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and the Chairperson of the Committee on Rights of the Child calling for further intervention in this case.

To support this appeal, please click here:

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Please investigate the torture and attempted murder of Sanjit Mondal by six BSF jawans attached to Harudanga Mini Camp under Kaharpara Camp of the BSF and the criminal negligence and inaction by police officers at Raninagar Police Station in Murshidabad, West Bengal

Name of victim: Mr. Sanjit Mondal, son of Mr Krishna Chandra Mondal, 17 years old (date of birth is 5 January 1994; he was a minor at the time of the incident), member of a Scheduled Caste and resident of the Char Durgapur Village, Harudanga Post Office under the jurisdiction of Raninagar Police Station, Murshidabad, West Bengal
Alleged perpetrators: Six BSF personnel posted at Harudanga Mini Camp under Kaharpara Camp of the BSF at the time of the incident
Date of incident: 15 April 2011 around 5pm
Place of incident: At the agrarian field of Mr Krishna Chandra Mondal at Char Dumuria Mouza (Dag No. 813 of Part No. 665) of Borderpara, commonly called Sahar Char or Nirmal Char of Borderpara, situated 500 metres from Harudanga Mini Camp under Ranitala Police Station.

I am writing to express concern regarding yet another case of torture and attempted murder by BSF personnel personnel posted at Harudanga Mini Camp under Kaharpara Camp of the BSF at 5pm on 15 April 2011. The details of the case are as follows:

The victim is Sanjit Mondal, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident. Sanjit Mondal lives with his parents and two brothers. His father, Mr Krishna Chandra Mondal, is a reputed school teacher at the nearby Mahadebpur Sishu Siksha Kendra and owns a small piece of land which Sanjit and his brother help till when not engaged in their regular studies. This piece of land is situated at the Indo-Bangladesh border; this exposes them and fellow villagers to frequent BSF atrocities. An inquiry undertaken by MASUM reveals the following facts:

On 15 April 2011, Sanjit had been watering the field for kharif cultivation in preparation for sowing jute. Six uniformed BSF jawans from the Harudanga Mini Camp suddenly set upon him and began beating him with the butts of their rifles. All six had been carrying firearms at the time of the incident. Sanjit fell to the ground due to the force of the sudden attack and bashing. The BSF personnel turned to kicking his chest with boot-clad feet.

When Sanjit's family heard about the savage beating Sanjit was enduring at the hands of the BSF personnel, his uncle, Mr Bisnupada Mondal, Mr Bikash Mondal (son of Mr Binay Mondal), Mr Madhu Mondal and other residents of Char Durgapur Village, Harudanga Post Office, rushed to the spot and found Sanjit writhing in pain as the BSF jawans continued their vicious attack. The witnesses protested the abuse and requested that the BSF personnel leave off the beating, upon which the personnel hurled humiliating verbal abuse at them. The BSF personnel then made as if to leave the victim and moved a few yards off, but then turned and fired upon Sanjit. Family members and eyewitnesses believe this was intended to kill Sanjit.

The pellets pierced different parts of Sanjit's body and his head, causing him to fall unconscious. The BSF jawans then left, believing they had managed to kill him. The victim was them brought to Godhanpara Block Primary Hospital and Domkal Sub-Divisional Hospital, where the doctors initially refused treatment when they heard about the involvement of the BSF in the boy's injuries. The family desperately sought the help of a local medical practitioner who was not properly qualified, but he failed to remove the pellets from Sanjit's body. Later, the doctors at Domkal Sub-Divisional Hospital managed to remove two of the pellets, but the rest remained in Sanjit's body and he became very ill.

Fellow villagers came together to provide some financial help to the family for Sanjit's treatment and he was sent to Calcutta Medical College and Hospital in June 2011 for the removal of pellets from his body. The doctors there recommended a major surgery which the family was unable to afford, so the surgery was eventually not arranged for.

The two siblings of Sanjit had been severely tortured by BSF personnel previously on 24 September 2009, also while they were at the field. After that incident, Sanjit's father had made a complaint to Raninagar Police Station, where Case No. 615/09 was registered but no further action taken to investigate the violence. Such apathy by the police to their plight frightened Sanjit and his family to the point of being reluctant to make another complaint to the police against the BSF. Instead, the family made a complaint to the police outpost at Calcutta Medical College and Hospital on 2 June 2011. No inquiry was made into the matter.

The father of the three child victims somehow plucked up enough courage to submit a written complaint to the Superintendent of Police, Murshidabad on 4 April 2012, almost a year after the incident. The BSF had surprisingly not yet made a complaint against Sanjit, a devious method so commonly observed in their method of pre-emptively covering up their criminal acts of violence against their victims. Sanjit was treated at MASUM's monthly medical camp, VIC-TREE, a project run by the assistance of the United Nations Voluntary fund for Torture Victims (UNVFVT), where his statement was recorded. This verbal account can be accessed here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=02cHSaOtZdI&feature=colike (unfortunately, no English subtitles are yet available). Still no investigation has been conducted to this day, and there is reason to believe the perpetrators of this crime against Sanjit are still free and in the same position of power to terrorise and injure others, as well as to conduct retaliatory attacks against Sanjit, his family and eyewitnesses for bringing the matter up with the police.

The BSF violated specific rules laid out in the 1973 Criminal Procedures Code and constitutional rights of the individual to life and liberty. The six BSF personnel who had lynched and attempted to murder Sanjit demonstrated a blatant disregard for the law and for human lives. The six BSF personnel acted with complete impunity and unconscionable violence, exploiting the privilege of authority and firearms. What was so frightening was the banality and thoughtlessness of such abuse, both of that privilege and of the person.

The BSF personnel failed to report the incident to the police who had legal jurisdiction over the area. The BSF also did not subsequently make any complaint with the police against Sanjit, which is atypical of the BSF in cases of extrajudicial killings by their personnel. As such, it is unclear if there were grounds at all for the attack by the BSF on a defenceless and hopelessly outnumbered minor.

The fact that the BSF had recently issued a statement claiming increased self-restraint on the use of lethal weapons (lethal INSAS AK47 rifles are standard issue) and attempts to minimise the loss of human lives flies in the face of what has happened to Sanjit. In the press release, it was also clear that the BSF Director General had been referring to smugglers crossing the Indo-Bangladesh border, who have committed "cognizable crimes" and were criminals "we want to apprehend". Sanjit's only crime had only been watering his father's field alone.

Sanjit is fortunate to escape with his life. In a far less fortunate encounter with BSF jawans, 21-year-old Mr Babu Seikh (refer AHRC-UAC-088-2012), also from Murshidabad district in West Bengal, lost his life, murdered by BSF who claim to "have no desire to kill anybody". Babu left behind a teenage widow and eight-month-old daughter.

While the populace and other NGOs such as MASUM had welcomed such statements by the BSF, the apparent deception, or at least the failure to implement to use of non-lethal weapons, creates a sense of bitterness and disillusionment amongst the people the Force is designed to protect, and serves to erode the BSF's legitimacy. The "rogue" character of these paramilitary forces further reflects badly on the central government that continues to endorse, fund, and, at least theoretically, lead it. For such a well-established force to perpetrate such acts of cruelty is disgraceful. Such acts truly lower the morale of other individuals within the force who try hard to fulfil their proper duties in order to protect the very people their comrades are hurting.

The above case highlights several systemic failures in the administration of Murshidabad in West Bengal:

1. The lack of transparency and accountability in the operation of the BSF, which breeds impunity and disregard for the law;
2. The hypocrisy with which the BSF approach the people by first promising to exercise restraint and then being responsible for the nefarious and senseless attack on Sanjit and attempt on his life;
3. The lack of enforcement and/or poor communication by India's central government of basic protocol amongst paramilitary forces such as the BSF;
4. The lamentable lack of complete responsiveness on the part of the police and the medical fraternity to aggrieved locals either due to cowardice, collusion with the BSF and/or an execrable apathy to the plight of the victim and his family
The Border Security Act, 1968 and its Rules 1969, was intended to regulate the conduct of the BSF. Section 41 (f) of the Act mandates that a BSF officer who commits any offence against the property or person of any inhabitant of, or resident in, the country in which he is serving to be punished with seven years of imprisonment. The Indian Penal Code of 1860 also provides punishment for voluntarily causing hurt or injuries to a person. Section 326 of the Code prescribes punishment by way of imprisonment for a term of ten years to a person who voluntarily causes hurt by dangerous weapons or means. In addition, Article 21 of the Constitution guarantees protection of life and personal liberty of every citizen. There is, however, an obvious lack of discipline and commitment to duty, as well as a culture of violence and impunity, within the BSF. This case once again illustrates how the BSF operates, and is permitted to operate, with impunity and in utter defiance of these three legal documents.
The AHRC has documented substantial number of BSF atrocities in India over the years. AHRC and MASUM have reported in detail over 800 cases of custodial violence committed by the BSF over the past eight years and have called for action on the part of the Indian authorities. The AHRC has noted the absolute impunity with which the BSF acts, a fact evidenced by the lack of disciplinary action taken against their criminal offences by the relevant BSF superiors and police personnel. Critically, many of these cases reveal a troubling unresponsiveness, and sometimes complicity, in parts of the legal system to patent injustices committed against individuals by the BSF. Not only is the legitimacy and integrity of the Indian justice system threatened, but so is its border and national security.

Sanjit has, as a human being, a right to life, liberty and personal security (Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 6 (1), 7, 9 and 10). He had additional rights as a vulnerable minor to extra protection by the state (India ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1992). Sanjit further had a right to move freely within the borders of his own country (UDHR Article 13(1)). The BSF jawans who had so cruelly beaten Sanjit and his siblings obviously did not perceive the boys as born free and equal to them in dignity and rights (UDHR Article 1). The BSF jawans were also obviously lacking in reason and conscience and had not acted towards the minors in a spirit of brotherhood.

Instead, the BSF violate Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, which demands that no person be denied of his life except according to procedure established by law, a transgression that should be swiftly met with by the centre through punitive action against these rogue actors. In states like Manipur other para-military units like the Assam Rifles outrage the conscience of mankind with their blithely committed atrocities and cower like criminals behind the patently unjust and draconian Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 passed 11 September 1958 by both houses of parliament in India, which accords Armed Forces in "disturbed areas" the ability to act with complete unaccountability. The forces are permitted to use force "as [the officer] may consider necessary", to destroy any fortified position or shelter likely to be used for training armed volunteers/gangs and to arrest and search without warrant. These terms violate the letter and spirit of international law, which demands the unconditional protection of every human being's fundamental rights.

Even then the Act attempts, if weakly, to institute some safeguards – the armed forces are compelled to work in cooperation with the district administration and not as an independent body, for instance. The Forces are required give "due warning" before firing (which they rarely, if ever, give). Arrested persons are to be handed over to the Officer-in-Charge of the nearest police station without delay. Yet problems arise when the intent was never to arrest but to assault and kill, when BSF personnel act irresponsibly and refuse to coordinate with provincial authorities and behave, in essence, as an "independent body" and law unto itself.

The BSF promise border security, self-restraint in the use of lethal weapons, fewer unnecessary deaths – these are empty promises. The organisation promises instead the gradual corruption of already weak policing systems, increased lawlessness and an environment of palpable fear that reeks of oppression, past feudalism and neo-colonial structures in contemporary Indian society. The BSF beast is injustice manifest that has firmly embedded itself in institutions originally construed as bulwarks against such. It is a beast that ought to be quickly rehabilitated – or permanently put down.

International efforts such as VIC-TREE (by MASUM) and UN VFTV can only accomplish so much. These efforts are palliative, not preventative, in nature. Without state intervention or international pressure, the people of Murshidabad, particularly the most vulnerable – women, children, the elderly, widowed, illiterate, the poor and religious minorities – face, for the foreseeable future, continued abuse of their freedoms and physical person and no likelihood for justice to be served to those acting with complete impunity.

I therefore demand that:

1. The case of Sanjit's torture and attempted murder is investigated by an independent agency appointed by the central government at the earliest possible moment;
2. The case of Sanjit's torture and attempted murder is simultaneously investigated by another neutral commission to be established by the National Human Rights Commission, also at the earliest possible moment;
3. Strong punitive action is taken against the BSF personnel found responsible;
4. A full review of police practices at Ranitala Police Station is conducted to:
a) Determine where the police fell short in arranging for a thorough investigation into the matter
b) Determine how in the future the police may directly contact BSF Headquarters concerning the particular BSF unit's involvement in such crimes and whether authorisation was given for such actions;
c) Determine how in the future a forensic expert may be called in to attend to such cases
d) Introduce training of police personnel in proper procedures, particularly in asserting their mandate over paramilitary forces such as the BSF;
e) Determine how the use of proper procedures can be enforced;
5. Sanjit and his family is paid adequate compensation by the government for physical and psychological hurt resulting from her husband's murder as well as a separate fund/sum to bear the full cost of Sanjit's medical treatment and the surgery recommended by doctors to remove the remaining pellets from his body;
6. Adequate and pre-emptive protection is provided for Sanjit, his family members and other witnesses of this incident, who may be subject to retaliatory attacks by armed BSF personnel;
7. Adequate protection is provided for the people and lands that the BSF have been terrorising;
8. The central government formulate concrete plans to introduce urgently needed reforms and discipline amongst its paramilitary forces, particularly the BSF, which has already been implicated in countless cases of violence against citizens of India;
9. The central government introduce more checks and balances within the policing system by according the police powers that are actually (not theoretically) equal to or greater than the BSF, which is by definition a paramilitary force with a specific mandate to regulate borders only;
10. The central government devote more funds and persons to forensic science, which may facilitate the resolution and conclusion of such cases and which can provide crucial evidence during court prosecutions;
11. The central government place greater emphasis on the legal, constitutional and human rights of individuals when training and briefing police officers, members of the judiciary and the paramilitary forces' personnel and undertake to directly protect such rights also from the centre if provincial authorities are unable or unwilling to do so.

Yours sincerely,

---------------------------------------------------
PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Director General BSF
Block 10, CGO Complex
Lodhi Road, New Delhi -03
INDIA
Fax: +91 11 24360016
E-mail: probsf@yahoo.com, bsfhq@bsf.nic.in, bsf_hq@hub.nic.in, bsf_hq@bsf.delhi.nic.in

2. Director General & Inspector General of Police
Government of West Bengal
Writers Buildings, Kolkata-1
West Bengal
INDIA
Fax: +91 33 2214 4498 / 2214 5486
Email: dgp_westbengal@gmail.com

3. Chief Secretary
Government of West Bengal
Writers' Building, Kolkata, West Bengal
INDIA
Fax: + 91 33 2214 4328
Email: chiefsec@wb.gov.in

4. Additional Chief Secretary (Home)
Government of West Bengal
Writers' Building, Kolkata, West Bengal
INDIA
Email: sechome@wb.gov.in

5. Ms. Mamata Banerjee
Chief Minister
Government of West Bengal
Writers' Building, Kolkata, West Bengal
INDIA
Fax: + 91 33 22144328
Email: cm_wb@nic.in

6. Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg
New Delhi 110001
INDIA
Fax: + 91 11 2338 4863
E-mail: chairnhrc@nic.in

7. Superintendent of Police
Murshidabad
BMP Police Office
Berhampore 742101, Murshidabad District
West Bengal State
INDIA


Thank you

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

Document Type :
Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID :
AHRC-UAC-089-2012
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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.