INDIA: Human rights activist facing threats for reporting cases in Uttar Pradesh
December 4, 2007
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ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION URGENT APPEALS PROGRAMME
4 December 2007
UA-335-2007: INDIA: Human rights activist facing threats for reporting cases in Uttar Pradesh
INDIA: Threats to human rights activist; corruption; intimidation
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) regarding the recent threats to Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, the convener of the PVCHR in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh state. It is reported that Dr. Lenin has been receiving calls over his telephone from unidentifiable telephone numbers threatening him that if the PVCHR continue reporting cases of hunger and starvation deaths from Uttar Pradesh state he will be shot dead and that the staff of the PVCHR will be implicated in false cases and the organisation forced to close down.
The AHRC has been contacted by Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi at 8:21pm Hong Kong time today that he has been receiving anonymous life threatening calls in his mobile phone since 4:45pm, Indian Standard Time (IST). The callers are reportedly threatening Dr. Lenin that he would be shot dead and that the staff of the PVCHR charged with fabricated cases and his organisation, the PVCHR, forced to close down since the PVCHR has been reporting cases of starvation deaths and malnutrition from the Uttar Pradesh state, India.
In the past two years the PVCHR has been instrumental in reporting cases of starvation and malnutrition from Uttar Pradesh, of which the case of Pritam, a three-year-old boy from Ambedkarnagar district of the state, who died from starvation on 25 November 2007, has been widely reported in the state as well as national media. Since the media started covering the news, the local staff of the PVCHR who has been working in the village where Pritam lived, Mr. Manoj Kumar, also has been receiving threats. For further details regarding this case, please see UA-333-2007.
Once the news regarding Pritam's death started coming out through the media, print and electronic, the other political parties in the state also have taken up the opportunity to sling dirt at the state administration. The state Chief Minister Ms. Mayawathi has appeared in all television news channels at about 1pm IST alleging that the cases reported by the PVCHR are false and inflated. The cases reported by the PVCHR are based on authentic documents, which also include medical certificates from local hospitals concerning the physical condition of each victim.
THE AHRC IS ALSO IN POSSESSION OF THESE DOCUMENTS AT OUR HONG KONG OFFICE, SINCE THE PVCHR FROM THE BEGINNING WAS EXPECTING THIS BACKLASH BY THE STATE ADMINISTRATION.
It is unfortunate that state administration is denying the cases reported by the PVCHR and the AHRC, instead of taking immediate actions against the corrupt government officers, who by criminal neglect in their duty, has pushed innocent children and poor persons to die from starvation in the state.
The AHRC is aware that the state administration led by Ms. Mayawathi has in the past has taken strict actions upon cases that were reported by the AHRC and the PVCHR, which has resulted in improvement of the living conditions of the poor and vulnerable communities in the state. The AHRC and the PVCHR expects that the state administration would immediately contact Dr. Lenin to assess the situation and would take all necessary precautions to safeguard the life and security of Dr. Lenin, the PVCHR and its staff.
For further information regarding some of the cases reported by the PVCHR in 2007 please see HU-002-2007, HA-004-2007, HA-005-2007, HA-006-2007, HA-008-2007, HA-009-2007, HA-010-2007, HA-011-2007, HA-012-2007, HA-013-2007, HA-014-2007 and HA-015-2007. For further cases please see the website of Urgent Appeals.
Please write to the authorities mentioned below expressing your concern about the incident and calling for an urgent intervention in the case. The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders calling for an intervention in this case.
Chief Minister's Secretariat, Lucknow
Fax: + 91-522-2230002/2239234
Dear Chief Minsiter,
INDIA: Please enquire about the death threats to Dr. lenin Raghuvanshi of the PVCHR
Name of the victim: Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, Convener, the PVCHR, SA4/2A, Daulatpur, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
Date of incident: November 4, 2007 at about 4:45pm (Indian Standard Time)
I am writing to express my concern regarding the case of Dr. Lenin Raghuvanshi, the convener of a local human rights organisation based in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh. Dr. Lenin, as you might be aware, is the convener of the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR). I am informed that at about 4:45pm, Indian Standard Time, Dr. Lenin started receiving anonymous calls on his mobile telephone threatening him that he will be shot dead and that fabricated cases would be registered against the staff of the PVCHR and that the PVCHR will be forced to close down since the PVCHR has been bringing shame to the state. It is unfortunate that you, as the Chief Minister of the state, have appeared on all major television channels alleging that the PVCHR and the AHRC has been reporting false cases from Uttar Pradesh just hours before Dr. Lenin started receiving anonymous threatening calls.
I am informed that the copies of the records like medical certificates of the victims of all the cases reported by the PVCHR from Uttar Pradesh has been also transferred to the AHRC office in Hong Kong for their verification and safe custody on a regular basis.
I am informed that the state administration in the recent past was in fact positively responding to all the cases reported by the PVCHR and the AHRC. I am also aware that, after the recent change in the state administration, in several cases the Chief Minister's office has directly intervened to resolve the issues of poor villagers whose cases were brought to the attention of your office by the PVCHR and the AHRC.
I hope that in this case too your office will positively respond, thereby taking all immediate precautions to ensure the safety of Dr. Lenin and the rest of the staff at the PVCHR. I am informed that the AHRC has already communicated this matter to the office of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the situation of human rights defenders calling for an intervention in this case.
I therefore urge you to take immediate steps through your office to ensure that:
1. A written complaint is recorded regarding the anonymous life threatening calls received by Dr. Lenin;
2. That the state administration will do everything legally possible to ensure the safety of the field activists of the PVCHR, and;
3. That the state administration will ensure that the work of the PVCHR in Uttar Pradesh state will continue unhindered.
I hope that you will take appropriate actions in this case at the earliest.
PLEASE ALSO SEND A COPY OF YOUR LETTER TO:
1. Ms. Veena Kumari
Varanasi, Kachahari, Uttar Pradesh
Fax: + 91 542 2501450
2. Mr. Shripad Sirodakar
Senior Superintendent of Police
Varanasi, SSP Office, Kachahari, Uttar Pradesh
3. Dr. Kashmir Singh
Inspector General of Police
Varanasi District, Uttar Pradesh
4. Mr. Vikram Singh
Director General of Police
1-Tilak Marg, Lucknow
Fax: + 91 522 2206120, 2206174
Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (email@example.com)