Amnesty International calls for an enquiry into
police brutality in the Maan Valley, Madhya Pradesh
Amnesty International has written
to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Digvijay Singh, asking for an
inquiry into an incident in the adivasi village of Khedi Balwadi, district
Dhar, on 20 July 2002.
The organization received disturbing reports that about 400 police officers
from Amjera police station resorted to beating villagers who resisted
their efforts to forcibly evict them from their houses and properties.
Amnesty International believes that Madhya Pradesh police may have used
a disproportionate use of force during the operation. The village is to
be submerged by the waters of the Maan dam.
On the evening of 20 July, about 400 police officers reportedly entered
Khedi Balwadi and started pulling and dragging people into vans, without
any provocation from the villagers and without any warning. Those resisting
the action were severely beaten and male policemen are reported to have
used abusive language and mishandled a large number of women, separating
some of them from their infant children. Police also entered the houses
without showing any search warrants. The villagers reported that some
of their property, including jewellery and cattle, is now missing, and
asserted that it might have been illegally appropriated by police during
the operation. The villagers were subsequently taken to Kesur resettlement
site, 75 kilometres away, where no medical assistance was provided to
those who had been beaten. Some of their belongings were also transferred
there by police. The villagers were not officially arrested or charged
with any offence but remained under arbitrary police guard for about 24
hours, before being allowed to leave the site.
Amnesty International pointed out to the Chief Minister that the police
operation as reported amounts to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment
as defined in the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman
and Degrading Treatment, which India has signed. The operation also appears
to be in violation of Article 3 of the "Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement
Officials" (1979), stating that "Law enforcement officials may
use force only when strictly necessary and to the extent required for
the performance of their duty".
In the letter, Amnesty International urged the Government of Madhya Pradesh
to take action against any police officers found to have used excessive
force against the villagers. It called on the state executive to set up
a prompt and impartial judicial enquiry into the incident and to make
public and fully implement the findings of this enquiry. The organization
will continue to monitor the developments after this incident.
The letter was copied to: Mr Ayodhya Nath Pathak, Director General of
Police, Madhya Pradesh; Justice JS Verma, Chairperson, National Human
Rights Commission; Justice Gulab Gupta, Chairperson, Madhya Pradesh State
Human Rights Commission; Mr. Jual Oram, Minister for Tribal Affairs and
to the Chairperson of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and