PUCL, October 2003

Threats to the life and safety of family of Mr. Kannabiran

See also,
Kannabiran's letter to the Chief Minister

PUCL Karnataka letter to NHRC

PUCL Bihar letter to the President of India

(Tamil Nadu & Pondicherry
'Husain House', II Floor, 7/1 Kondi Chetty St., Chennai 600 001, India
Ph: 25392464, 25392459 e-mail : rights@vsnl.com
National Council Member: Sudha Ramalingam
President :R. Niraimathi General Secretary: Dr. V. Suresh


4 Oct. 2003

Dr. A.S. Anand,
Hon'ble Chairperson,

National Human Rights Commission,
New Delhi.

Sub.: Threats to the Life and safety of family of Mr. Kannabiran, National President, PUCL in the wake of assassination bid on Mr. Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh.

Dear Dr. Anand,

I write to you about threats to the life and personal safety of civil liberties activists in Andhra Pradesh in the wake of the assassination bid on the life of Mr. Chandrababu Naidu, Chief Minister of A.P. near Tirupati on 1st October, 2003. As a human rights body, PUCL has always condemned use of violence as a political method. In particular, we condemn the recent assassination attempt on the life of the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh also, which fortunately did not succeed in its aim.

For the past over a decade, every time any senior police officer or political personality has been injured or killed in Andhra Pradesh due to attacks by CPI(ML) group there has been retaliatory assassination attempts on the lives of civil liberties activists in AP. A significant number of prominent leaders of the civil liberties movement in the state have also been killed. Mention may be made of Dr. Ramanadham, J. Laxma Reddy and others. The well known balladeer Gaddar, has also been the subject of many threats and attempts by groups which owe allegiance to or are protected by the state police.

It is in such a context that we bring to your attention threats received by close family members of Mr. K.G. Kannabiran, Senior Advocate and President, National PUCL following the recent incidents in Tirupati. At about 9.00 p.m. on 2nd October, 2003 Dr. Kalpana Kannabiran, Professor of Law in NALSAR, Hyderabad and well known women's rights activist who also incidentally is the daughter of Mr. K.G. Kannabiran, received an anonymous telephone call warning her that her two young daughters would be kidnapped and done away with. Dr. Kalpana immediately lodged a written complaint with the Tukaram Gate Police Station on the same night.

Following this, at about 11.00 a.m. on 3rd October, 2003 2 youths came to the residence of Mr. Kannabiran appearing to sell cane furniture. When their attempts to enter the house of Mr. Kannabiran were stopped by Ms. Vasanth Kannabiran, (a noted women's right activist and writer, and wife of Mr. Kannabiran) who sent them out, they left the house. To her utter shock and horror Ms. Vasanth found the two youth, who appeared like itinerant traders, getting on to a motorcycle whose front head lamp had the words POLICE printed on it. Obviously, the two persons were either policemen in mufti or belonged to a group supported by the police.

Sir, such incidents are not unknown in AP. Even in the case of Mr. Kannabiran, several years back, a similar attempt on his life was made. A group called the Green Tigers has similarly shadowed Mr. Kannabiran and his family. At that time we had sent telegrams to several persons including the then Chief Justice of AP High Court who treated the telegram as a suo motu PIL and issued notice. It is only when the matter became public did the threats quieten down and the surveillance and shadowing of Mr. Kannabiran stop.

A similar situation has arisen once again. We are confident that you Sir, will respond immediately in this matter and pass suitable directions to the police authorities in AP to ensure that nothing untoward happens to Mr. Kannabiran or his family members.

Sir, you are no doubt aware that threats to human rights defenders exist in many parts of the world. In fact the continuing threats to human rights defenders from state agencies and others prompted the United Nations General Assembly to unanimously adopt by consensus, resolution 53/144 on 9th December, 1998 known as the Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognised Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. The Report of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders dated 26th January, 2001 points out that,

"The recurrent problem in the protection of human rights defenders remains the lack or inefficient implementation of the normative frameworks. There have already been a considerable number of communications which allege serious human rights violations targeting human rights defenders, from which no region is free. The risks faced by human rights defenders are seriousŠ".

While all attempts should be made by the police to investigate the assassination attempt on the Chief Minister and apprehend the true culprits, retributive justice should not be resorted to by the law enforcers, either directly by themselves or by being tacit observers while political goons or mafia elements close to the police or enjoying their patronage indulge in retributive or avenging acts. We would therefore request the NHRC to issue guidelines and directives to the AP Police to follow the established legal procedures, respect constitutional guidelines and uphold the rule of law.

In view of the real threats to the lives and safety of Mr. Kannabiran and his close family, and to other civil liberties activists and human rights defenders. We look forward to your immediate response, Sir.

With regards,
Yours sincerely,
Gen. Secretary, PUCL-TN/Pondy.

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