INDIA: An acting village head assaults human rights defenders and villagers in a corruption cover up


Urgent Appeal Case: AHRC-UAC-129-2009
ISSUES: Corruption, Human rights defenders, Threats and intimidation,

Dear friends, 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has learned that police and government officials have refused to look into a case of corruption and sponsored thuggery in a Varanasi village, where leaders are abusing a government scheme to relieve poverty. Human rights activists and villagers were beaten by an organised gang in a village hall after they complained that an audit was being fabricated, and that many of their names were being misused. We have also learned that although the office of the village head was reserved for a female candidate and was won by the wife of a local landlord, it is her husband who runs the village. Reliable reports claim that he has been bribing officials to maintain his position. 


According to information received from the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), a social audit was arranged at the Ahirani Community Centre in Nathaipur village on 14 September by the Badagaon Block Development Officer (BDO). The audit was to look into the operation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (NREGA), which is operated by the Village Panchayat – the smallest village administrative unit, last amended in 1999 under the Uttar Pradesh Panchayat Raj Act, 1947. The NREGA is a central government scheme that provides employment to the poor and is supposed to work in tandem with the Panchayat to make sure that village affairs are attended to on a grassroots level, and that villagers are empowered. 

The elected village head is charged with keeping payment records under the scheme, and the social audit has been built into NREGA to avoid corruption and allow villagers to lodge complaints. Local human rights organisations are also invited to participate in the audit to ensure transparency. 

Though the village head, Ms. Usha Devi, was not present for the audit, her husband, Mr. Lolarak Singh arrived at the community centre with BDO Mr. Atul Mishra, in the latter’s vehicle. However when Mishra started reading out the payment records to the villagers, according to procedure, many found that they were falsely recorded as having been employed and paid. A Mr. Lalji objected to the entry of his name in the list, which recorded too many working days. Others started to complain, and claim that embezzlement had taken place. 

According to our reports, Singh along with staff of the Village Panchayat, including Mr. Anil Dubey, the Village Secretary and the Assistant Development Officer verbally abused the villagers, and then started to physically push them around. Various women were struck, including a Ms. Chandra Devi. Activists note that Singh and the officers were then joined by known underworld figures, who had been keeping a low profile at the meeting. They reportedly started to beat the villagers, shouting that low caste Dalits have no right to complain against their upper caste masters. 

Lalji and Mr. Magala Rajbhar, an activist associated with the PVCHR, tried to intervene and keep the peace, but were beaten by Singh. The BDO called off the meeting and made moves to leave. When asked to call the police by two female PVCHR staff members (Ms. Shruti and her sister Ms. Anupam), he claimed that he would rather report it personally. Shruti requested that she and Lajli go with him and the three tried to leave, but a mob of upper caste men led by Singh reportedly surrounded the vehicle and demanded that Lalji get out. At this point Mishra allegedly pushed Lalji out of his vehicle, and Shruti followed, fearing for his safety. The two were beaten, and one man, Guddu Dubey, known for his links to the underworld, struck Shruti to the ground. Villagers were able to intervene and the two victims were taken to Phulpur Police Station to make a report. 

At the station they found that BDO Mishra had not reported the incident. Police refused to register the case or make moves to go to the scene. Left with no other option, Shruti filed a written complaint at the station and returned to the PVCHR office in Varanasi. 


According to local reports, the head position at Nathaipur village was reserved for a female candidate in the past election. The local landlord Lolarak Singh put his wife, Usha Devi forward for the post and since then for all practical purposes, Lolarak has managed the office, allegedly controlling the village with a group of aggressive henchmen and paying regular bribes to village officials. It appears to local activists that officials have colluded in the misappropriation of funds meant for development programmes. The arrival of Singh at the audit with the BDO, plus the lack of action taken by the officer, has done little to assuage these suspicions. 

Widespread corruption and the near-impossible task of exposing it, has rendered many of the government-sponsored schemes in rural India a failure. Neither the state government nor its agencies like the revenue department and the police have shown much active interest in the problem. When ordinary villagers protest and fall victim to landlord-sponsored violence, their protection often falls to human rights defenders. This has led to many such defenders being abused, injured and killed. 


Please write to the authorities below expressing your concern and calling for a thorough investigation into the various forms of corruption taking place in Nathaipur village. 

The AHRC is sending a letter to the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, calling for an intervention in this case.

To support this case, please click here: SEND APPEAL LETTER


Dear _________, 

INDIA: Please take actions against those who have assaulted human rights defenders and villagers in a corruption cover up 

Name of victims: 
1. Ms. Shruti Nagavanshi, human rights activist, PVCHR; Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. 
2. Ms. Chandra Devi, wife of Vijay Kumar; Nathaipur village, Pindra Block, Uttar Pradesh. 
3. Mr. Mangala Rajbar, human rights activist, PVCHR; Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. 
4. Mr. Lalji Rajbar, son of Pancham Rajbar; Nathaipur village, Pindra Block, Uttar Pradesh. 

Name of alleged perpetrators: 
1. Mr. Lolarak Singh, alias Arun; son of Lallan Singh; Nathaipur village, Pindra Block, Uttar Pradesh. 
2. Mr. Guddu Dubey, son of Phulchand Dubey; Nathaipur village, Pindra Block, Uttar Pradesh 3. Mr. Anil Dubey, staff of the Nathaipur Village Panchayat; Pindra Block, Uttar Pradesh. 
4. Village Secretary, Nathaipur Village Panchayat, Pindra Block, Uttar Pradesh. 
5. Mr. Atul Mishra, Block Development Officer, Pindra Block, Uttar Pradesh. 

Date of incident: 14 September 2009 
Place of incident: Ahirani Community Centre, Nathaipur Village, Uttar Pradesh 

I am writing to express my concern about the organised assault and threats to the lives of villagers and human rights defenders, resulting from corruption, as reported from Nathaipur Village in Uttar Pradesh. 

I am informed that the victims were assaulted by the perpetrators named above on 14 September at the Ahirani Community Centre during a social audit. I am informed that the husband of the village head (and allegedly ‘acting chief’ of the village) Lolarak Singh was trying to prevent a social audit, along with village officers. The audit was to look into the operation of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (NREGA), and to allow complaints regarding its operation. 

I am informed that much of the violence took place after villagers heard their names being misused and misrepresented in the scheme’s financial records, as kept by the village head, suggesting that some kind of embezzlement had taken place. 

The victims were threatened and assaulted by the perpetrators in public, and in the presence of Block Development Officer (BDO), Mr. Atul Mishra. This officer not only arrived with the main perpetrator of the violence in his own car, but made no use of his authority or even his duty as a civilian, to report the abuse to the police. Eyewitnesses saw Mishra pushing a human rights defender from his vehicle at the demands of a violent group of thugs, after which the defender and a female colleague were beaten. 

I am aware that corruption in the administration of the Village Panchayat is common in India. I am also informed that the landlords, who often control the management of Village Panchayats in rural India, regularly abuse, assault and threaten villagers and activists who question the legitimacy and transparency of their actions – and those of the landlords. I am informed that the incident above is one of many. It is unfortunate and symbolic to see that the BDO, a senior revenue officer, not only neglected to help the victims but appeared to collude with the illegal violence and cover up being perpetrated. 

I therefore request that you immediately ensure that the following is undertaken: 

1. An immediate investigation into the entire incident; 
2. The recording of witnesses’ statements, in particular that of the victims named above, by the police; 
3. An enquiry into the running of the NREGA schemes in Nathaipur Village Panchayat, particularly regarding the amount of money spent on development programmes; 
4. A case against the perpetrators named above for assaulting, injury and obstructing the duty of government servants. 

Yours sincerely, 


1. Chief Secretary 
Government of Uttar Pradesh 
Shri Lal Bhadur Shastri Bhavan 
Lucknow 226001, Uttar Pradesh 
Fax: +91 52 2223 9283 

2. Director General of Police 
1-Tilak Marg, Lucknow 
Uttar Pradesh 
Fax: + 91 522 220 6120 / 220 6174 

3. Chief Minister 
Government of Uttar Pradesh 
Chief Minister’s Secretariat 
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh 
Fax: + 91 52 2223 0002 / 2223 9234 

4. Inspector General of Police 
Varanasi Zone 
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 

5. Senior Superintendent of Police 
Varanasi, SSP Office 
Kachahari, Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh 

Thank you. 

Urgent Appeals Programme 
Asian Human Rights Commission (

Document Type : Urgent Appeal Case
Document ID : AHRC-UAC-129-2009
Countries : India,
Issues : Corruption, Human rights defenders, Threats and intimidation,