PUCL Bulletin, June 2002

Attack on Human Rights Defenders in Varanasi, UP

- By Dr. Lenin, Co-ordinator, People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR)

We draw your immediate and prompt attention to the following two incidents in the village of Belwa and Indrawar in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh, India. The incident at the Village Belwa took place at 6 A.M. on 13th November 2001. One of PVCHR's Women activist and also the Coordinator of a Women's Forum "Savitri Ba Phule", Durga and her husband Adya Prasad, were attacked violently by armed men of Rajendra Tiwari, the husband of the current Belwa village Pradhan. Consequently both sustained serious injuries on the head and lost a lot of blood.

They were both taken to Phulpur Thana of Varanasi (UP). From there, on the advice of the Station in charge, Durga was taken for medical check up. In the meantime, on receiving this information the Women's Helpline was informed on their phone and also a telegram was sent to the SSP around 11 A.M. Later I sent him a written petition also by speed post. By evening three members of the gang who attacked were arrested and sent to jail. However the police under pressure from political patrons of R. Tiwari had held Adya in the Police Station for more than 24 hours. On the 14th of November 2001, I informed NHRC by Mobile and later had a telephonic talk with the SSP. Later our legal Advisor, Tanveer Ahmad Siddiqui, applied for Bail under IPC 323 and 506 in the court of the 4th ACJM, Varanasi (UP) and he was released. However the police had wrongfully named three of PVCHR activist in the FIR.

The police officers complained of political pressure backing Tiwari who is the ex-Pradhan of Belwa village and has been the Pradhan for more than 20 years. During this period he had not done anything for the development of the village. After the introduction of Women's Reservation he had placed his wife as the Pradhan. But this is only in name. Since her accepting this post she has never held any meeting of the village nor does she ever come out of her house During his tenure Tiwari prevented more than 3000 people from voting and even stopped some people from getting their Photo Identity Cards being made. He has the backing of such political groups as Ajay Rai, MLA and Baba Singh, elected head of the Block, etc. This is a violation of Supreme Court Judgement in criminal appeal No:218 of 1966 which directed that the investigation task of Police should be placed beyond any kind of intervention by the executive or non-executive (Report of NIRC 1995-96,Pg.No:97). The law enforcement agencies should be directed to do their job without fear. On the 12th of November 2001, the community had organized a street play in which apart from education, the issue of the Pradhan 's husband Rajendra Tiwari's misdeeds had also been highlighted.

This we believe had provoked him. Earlier on the 23rd of March 2001 and 5th September 2001 we had organized rallies and demonstration on these issues. The other incident had happened at the village Indrawar whose Pradhan, Hari Shankar Vishwakarma had been accused by the villagers of taking bribes amounting to Rs.500 to Rs.1500 in land allotment. This matter had been brought to the notice of the authorities vide rallies and petitions. On the23rd of October 2001, PVCHR had orgainsed a meeting of the Villagers regarding Education Campaign. During the meeting the Pradhan's henchmen Kalu and Sanju, had abused my wife, Shruti, and me and later even kicked her and threatened to kill both of us.

Later the Pradhan rang me on the phone and threatened not only to kill me but also register false cases against me. I immediately informed the concerned station in charge and later also petitioned him. At around 19.50 I had sent a telegram to the SSP. On the 24th October 2001, I had complained to S.S.P. of Varanasi vide Registered Post. However, till now no action has been taken. Now our activist Ram Prasad has been threatened. The Pradhan has said he is getting a licensed gun and would kill Ram Prasad and later me. They also threatened the teacher of our Primary School, Asha Devi. We bring to your immediate notice fresh threats to PVCHR activist, not only against their works but also their lives.

In the village of Belwa under Phulpur Thana of Varanasi (UP), the husband of the village Pradhan, Rajendra Tiwari, warned PVCHR activist, i.e., Satyanarayan Giri, Sanjay Singh, and me (Dr. Lenin) not to use the streets of Belwa Village. These streets were laid due to PVCHR intervention and campaign. He also threatened to burn the Huts of those villagers who would attend NAFRE's rally at New Delhi scheduled for the28th of November 2001, for positive changes in the 93rd Amendment related to Fundamental Rights of Children's Education.


  • 1. Immediate revoking of the cases against our activists

    2. Initiate enquiries against Tiwari and his misdeeds.
    Not only is he running his own private school in the Government Health Centre in the Village but is preventing the establishment of any Government School in the Village. As a result the children had to go to another school 1km away. This is a gross violation of the Supreme Court Judgement in the case of Unnikrishnan Vs AP (1993-ISC645)

    3. Enquiry into the bribe related activities of the Pradhan of Village Indrawar, Hari Shankar Vishwakarma, in land allotment.

    4. FIR against Harishankar Vishwakarma for threatening to kill me (Dr. Lenin), Ram Prasad, Field Activist, and Asha Devi, Teacher of school run by PVCHR.

    5. Tiwari 's wife is current Pradhan only in name. She never holds any meeting nor does she come out of her house except to meet the District Magistrate and other programme officials.

    6. The U.P. Government should secure the safety of Human Rights Defenders in Uttar Pradesh.

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