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PUCL, March 2011

Karnataka state complicity in violence against minorities

Foreword

[ Full Report ]

After the BJP Government assumed power in Karnataka in the year 2008, there was a sudden spurt in inter-communal hostilities.

It initially started with some of the militant organizations adopting an ultra-aggressive posture by decorating every town, city and village with saffron flags, posters and the like which was accompanied by groups of young persons going around these places targeting the minorities. Even where members of the minority communities were assaulted, their shops looted and places of worship defiled, the Police refused to register offences against the wrong-doers, instead of which, the Complainants were threatened, beaten up and often times arrested and put behind bars. Taking up the matter with the higher authorities served no purpose because each of these
Police Officers would straight away make the excuse that the instructions have come from the Vidhana Soudha.

What this meant was that the police force in the State got completely saffronised because inevitably every member of the force desired to flow with the tide which they also found very beneficial financially and career-wise. Specifically, at least three of the most violent and dreaded Police Officers from Mangalore who should have been dismissed from service and prosecuted and convicted were rewarded with promotions! To quote an example, the militant organizations would loot shops and restaurants and would also drag persons to the Police Stations on the ground that they were converting others or that they were cattle thieves and the like and this gave the police an excellent opportunity to exploit the victims and make big money. It also became the order of the day for the police to target the members of the Muslim community on the ground that they were Terrorists or were linked with anti-social activity. This meant that any member of the community could be subjected to search of the house or business area and the police would help themselves to whatever they wanted and pick up one or two persons on the ground of suspicion and blackmail them.

What was really tragic was the fact that in not a single one of these cases did the Courts provide any relief. This wave of communalism overtook the Bar as a result of which, it was extremely difficult for any of the victims to get a Lawyer to appear for them. The subordinate Judiciary would rubber stamp anything and everything that the Police would do how so very astounding it may be.

To quote one specific example, when the Editor of the Karavali Ale was arrested on totally false and unsustainable grounds, the Magistrate refused Bail and when this could no longer be done, the Police told the Court that NINE other Courts had issued NON BAILABLE WARRANTS against him on one and the same charge! This was action ultimately quashed by the High Court with strictures but that was after the lapse of nearly one year. To sum it up, there was a complete breakdown of the Law and Order situation. Matters really exploded in September 2008 when the Churches were attacked and the Police Department in partnership with the militant organizations let loose the type of violence and false arrests that this country has seldom seen.

There was a universal demand that a Judicial enquiry headed by a Retired Supreme Court Judge be set up by the Central Government to examine the facts and produce a report along with recommendations in respect of these horrifying events and one of the basic demands was that the role of the Chief Minister and the Home Minister, the State Government and the various wings of the Government particularly the Police should be investigated. Not surprisingly, the Chief Minister immediately picked a Retired High Court Judge from his own Home Town and from his community to head the enquiry and the terms of reference necessarily excluded all the above areas. This enquiry was financed by the State Government and immediately there was a strong public protest that like all other Judicial enquiries set up by a State Government or the Politicians in power, that this enquiry also would carry on for a couple of years, that the investigation would be an eye-wash and more importantly that it would completely cover up for the Politicians and the State Government and its officials and not only exonerate them, but as happened in the case of the Nanavati Commission in the State of Gujarat, it would give the culprits a clean chit and even go to the extent of complementing and praising them.

It was in this background that PUCL decided to institute a Peoples’ Tribunal Enquiry under the auspices of Transparency International which was to be a one man Commission headed by Justice M.F. Saldanha. With the assistance of several persons, the Commission held an incisive investigation, the unique feature being that instead of the old fashioned formal hearings, the Judge went to every one of the areas and personally investigated the scene of offence, met the victims and the witnesses and several others, afforded the authorities an opportunity of explaining their defence and thereafter, produced a detailed Report, parts of which have been released and the whole report is to be released shortly in the form of a volume.

The findings are extremely damaging to the Politicians, the State Government and the Bureaucracy but the principle responsibility for the violence, and the total breakdown of the law and order situation has been ascribed to the police and to the Courts which have let down the citizens by refusing to render Justice, by supporting the custodial terrorism and wrongfully upholding every illegal detention and the worst form of infringements of human rights. If the Church attacks were shameful enough and invited universal condemnation Nationally and Internationally, with the question being asked as to why the persons who were involved in the violence and who openly came out in Press Conferences on Television and on Public platforms boasting about their great achievements were not arrested even though every one of their actions were cognizable offences, the State Government openly encouraged another organisation called the Rama Sene which was even more militant and violent. Apart from targeting the students and younger people belonging to the Muslim and Christian communities they started moral policing whereby open violence was let loose against the boys and girls of these communities.

This was followed by an incident known as the Pub Attack Case wherein a whole lot of young women were molested and beaten up while they were dancing. The National and International media covered this incident live and it sent shock waves through the whole country and through every other civilized nation inviting total condemnation. Not a single arrest was made nor was any action taken and the Ram Sene went totally out of control in the whole District. The Home Minister 10 justified all these criminal activities on the ground that the students concerned had given provocation which was downright false. It must be said to the credit of the previous D.C. Ponnu Raj that he issued a show-cause notice to the Head of the Ram Sene who was beating his chest and loudly proclaiming that he would step up the violence. After following the procedure prescribed by Law, an Order was passed against Muthalik externing him from the District. The Law prescribes that if the Order was wrong that the aggrieved party had to file an Appeal and that he could even obtain Interim Orders provided the case so warranted. It is quite unprecedented for the Appellate remedy to be by-passed and for the party to directly approach the High Court as there exists a total legal bar to the High Court exercising jurisdiction when an alternate remedy exists and when it has not been exhausted.

To the utter shock of the right thinking citizens of the State and particularly Dakshina Kannada District – Muthalik straight away approached the High Court and the High Court not only entertained the Petition but straight away granted a Stay. With due respect, it is submitted that it is Orders such as these that completely destroy the status and confidence of the few good officers in public office like Ponnu Raj because it is such men who stick their necks out in the course of duty and if the High Court slaps them in the face, it will send shock waves to this and every other good Officer who will be disappointed and frustrated and will desist from standing up to illegalities.

PUCL and Transparency International found that the role of the Police Department in all these atrocious activities was indefensible and that these two areas namely the Police and the Courts required to be carefully investigated and that the time has come for the problem to be studied, for appropriate recommendations regarding corrective action required to be set out and follow up measures undertaken and accordingly, a Peoples Tribunal Enquiry was fixed for the 11th and 12th December 2010 in Mangalore. This was the Justification for the institution of the Tribunal’s Enquiry and the Report and Findings as also the Recommendations are contained in this volume. We gratefully acknowledge the time and the skills of the Jury Members who presided over the enquiry and who 11 collated the material that forms part of the case history and the findings as also the recommendations. All of these were put together by Justice M.F. Saldanha who did the final drafting, and who assumes responsibility for everything contained in this volume and to whom we are extremely grateful. It was decided that the Report be preceded by a Foreword amplifying the background to the enquiry. Justice Saldanha has drawn heavily from what emerged in the earlier Enquiry conducted by him as also a lot of supportive material that emerged thereafter since he has been actively pursuing the various heads.

For instance, it was necessary to point out to the Home Minister of the State who kept on publicly declaring that the attacks against the minorities have subsided, that by 15th August 2010 i.e. Independence Day, there had been a fresh lot of regular attacks against the minorities and that they had totaled 1000. Secondly, the Home Minister had to be reminded that whereas prior to his Government assuming power and prior to the Church attacks of September 2008 that there had not been one single recorded case of so-called conversions or attempts and that after his oral directions to the Police, every Police Station has been registering at least 20 such false cases every month in order to build up the statistics. The media and independent authorities have been examining the genuineness of these offences that have been registered and every one of them have been found to be false as not a single one of the so called Complainants is even traceable. Undoubtedly, these are sensitive areas and the facts are unpleasant but in the public interest, they have to be recorded and exposed. This job has been done by Justice M.F. Saldanha independently and none of the remaining members of the Jury are in any way responsible for it. It is clarified that PUCL, Transparency International and Justice M.F. Saldanha who has authored the Foreword take fully responsibility for this part of the volume.

P. B. D’Sa
STATE PRESIDENT, PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES. MANGALORE
DATED : 17.01.2011

SUDDEN SAFFRONISATION IN KARNATAKA The BJP Government with B.S. Yediyurappa as the Chief Minister and V.S. Acharya as the Home Minister, (both seasoned RSS pracharaks) assumed power in the year 2008 and within days the State of Karnataka witnessed a total upheaval. This was more pronounced in the Karavali area because Acharya who held the Home Portfolio spent more time in his home town of Udupi and with his close associates from the RSS and the Bajrang Dal, the Swamijis,and his Guru at Kalladka than at the State Head Quarters at Bangalore. There was a sudden burst of saffronisation through the entire coastal belt.

The whole of the State Machinery was completely communalized and the greatest tragedy was that the subordinate judiciary took a cue from the Lawyers who had joined the movement and totally aligned itself with them. All of a sudden, saffron flags, posters and streamers inundated the whole area. What accompanied this was total disaster.

UNPRECEDENTED VIOLENCE AGAINST MINORITIES The Karavali area resembled Nazi Germany at the height of the Nazi power. Suddenly, huge battalions of youth, mainly on two wheelers but also in other vehicles which included Government Jeeps and KSRTC buses started patrolling the roads. Violence was freely indulged in, all directed against the minorities i.e. the Christians and the Muslims. Their shops, establishments and places of business were not only targeted but were indiscriminately exploited and looted. The Police Department under the supervision of S.P. Satish Kumar who was the virtual godfather of all the anti-social elements in the entire region ably supported by Inspector – Jayant Shetty and a host of police officers who included Police Inspectors - Ganapathy and Shivakumar unleashed the type of violence that the region has never experienced before.

POLICE COLLUSION AT VIOLENCE Not one complaint in respect of assault, rioting, looting or dacoity was registered in any police station in the entire region. Anybody who went to a Police Station to complain was mercilessly beaten up, arrested on false charges and thrown into the lock up. The levels of police torture and false involvements reached an unprecedented scale and the greatest tragedy was that a good section of the Lawyers who had jumped on to the Bandwagon refused to render any assistance to the victims but were ever willing to come out powerfully on behalf of the aggressors. This is a sad blemish on the profession but is precisely what happened in Nazi Germany.

NO RELIEF FROM THE JUDICIARY-MATTER OF SHAME What is really pathetic is the fact that the Courts provided zero relief. I am saddened and ashamed at the role of the Judiciary during this period and the manner in which every single victim was illegally and dishonestly denied Bail, retained in custody for abnormal periods of time and there was not one instance when action was taken by a single Judge in the hundreds and thousands of cases where the victims complained of inhuman and merciless torture at the hands of the police. In my opinion, this period represents the blackest era in the history of the subordinate Judiciary of the Karavali region.

MORAL POLICING / ATROCITIES AGAINST WOMEN An organisation under the banner of the Rama Sene which had been both militant and violent in the District suddenly stepped up its aggression and hatred for the Christians and the Muslims and let loose violence which was directed against the younger members of these communities. The whole of the student population was terrorized, Muslim girls were not allowed to use the veil or burkha and what was really bad was the fact that these boys and girls were pulled out from buses and cars, beaten up on the road, taken to secluded places and mercilessly assaulted and threatened that if they lodged any complaints they would be killed. A string of such events took place with not a single complaint being entertained or any action being taken against the culprits. The Home Minister Acharya has gone on record before the Media stating 14 that the Rama Sena was fully justified in attacking anyone whose behaviour was considered “immoral”. According to him, even where assault and kidnapping had taken place and where students have been pulled out from their hostels, class rooms and even residential areas that the action is justified.

When there is a Home Minister of this type who gives full backing and encouragement to criminal activity and above all to the spread of communal hatred, the question really arises as to whether the Police inaction can be faulted. It was under similar circumstances when in a series of atrocities against women which were outrageous, that I had pointed out that the Police force in Karnataka exists to protect the Law breakers and that it serves absolutely no purpose to spend Rs.260.00 Crores per month on maintaining this Department, that it should be disbanded and public money saved and that the citizens will look after their own safety.

EDITOR SEETHARAM CHAINED-WORLD SHOCKED- COURTS INDIFFERENT The world conscience has been shocked when the facts of the Editor Seetharam’s case were projected by me Nationally and Internationally. While papers like the “Udayavani” came out with blazing SAFFRON HEADLINES and the rest of the media was terrorized, Seetharam’s one publication “Karavali Ale” stood its ground and this invited the fury and revenge of Acharya. Under the personal and direct Orders of Home Minister Acharya, Editor Seetharam was illegally arrested, chained hand and foot in total defiance of the Law laid down by the Supreme Court of India and paraded through the Court Premises and produced in Court without there being any charge or case against him. The Judge had denied him Bail the previous night, he was retained in custody for one and a half months and taken to all corners of the State by the Police in defiance of Court Orders with repeated attempts being made by the Police authorities to finish him off and it is only the Vigilance of the Members of PUCL and a small band of persons, one of whom was myself who saved this man’s life.

The Press Council of India has recorded strong findings against the State Government and the Police Department in this case, the State Human Rights Commission has passed severe strictures and the High Court has ordered a princely 15 sum of compensation quantified at Rs.10,000/- (which in my considered view is not only a miscarriage of Justice, but a total let down by the higher Judiciary) and at the end of the day, Acharya, the Police authorities, the Doctors and every one else goes scot-free and as an eye wash, we are informed that two Police Constables have been suspended for one week on the ground that they wrongly handcuffed and chained the Editor.

ERRANT POLICE OFFICERS REWARDED Transparency International and several citizens’ organizations insisted that Disciplinary Action be taken against SP – Satish Kumar, Jayant Shetty and Ganapathy, the three Police Officers who had been responsible for the unleashing of violence against the minorities which had reached unprecedented levels. Under pressure, Chief Minister – Yediyurappa who had partnered Acharya in every one of these activities stated that a High Level Departmental Enquiry would be conducted. One of the very good Senior DIGs came to Mangalore, held an enquiry and submitted a Report to the Government holding these three persons guilty on all counts, recommending their immediate suspension and stringent disciplinary action. The material on record fully justified this and if there was any Rule of Law in Karnataka not only should these Officers have been dismissed from service but they should have been put on Trial and made a public example of. In nine of the leading Judgments on the point, the Supreme Court has repeatedly pointed out that the Police Department is entrusted with the sacred duty of maintaining Law and Order, and of safeguarding citizens rights and property particularly where the weaker sections and the minorities are concerned and that no member of the Force at whatever level should be spared under any circumstances, when they are found to be dishonest, corrupt, violent and rank sadists as turned out in the case of the whole of the Police Department in the Karavali area.

The Supreme Court has gone on to observe that this Class of Public Servants who turn into perverts have to be awarded deterrent and exemplary punishment in the Public Interest. Following these directions, in at least 6 of the cases, as Judge of the Karnataka High Court, I have awarded imprisonment ranging 16 from 5 to 10 years RI to errant members of the Police force not to mention Life Imprisonment awarded to six barbaric police personnel who had beaten to death three poor boys in Shimoga. What action has the Yediyurappa Government taken on the findings recorded against these Police Officers. The file was called for by the State Human Rights Commission and not shockingly, there is an endorsement in Acharya’s handwriting as Home Minister defending these Officers which reads “no action for the time being” and then follows the endorsement by the Chief Minister – Yediyurappa which reads “Treat the Case as closed”. Then follows the nicest part of the operation where these Police men are promoted and are even recommended for Police honors.

POLICE ATROCITIES OF THE EXTREME DEGREE I set out below a few instances that highlight what was going on:

ATTACKING MUSLIMS (a)A Muslim vegetable vendor in one of the small towns near Mangalore was attacked by the local Bajrang Dal and taken to the Police Station on the allegation that he had stolen the neighbouring Vendor’s vegetable worth Rs.17/-. The man was stripped naked, mercilessly beaten and subjected to every conceivable form of torture at the local police station for two full days. No entry was made showing an arrest. He was not produced before the local Court and the police found that they had used too much force and the man was unconscious and about to die. He was put in the Police Jeep, brought to Mangalore and thrown on the footpath near the State Bank of India at 6.00 a.m. in the morning. A group of Muslims who were returning from Prayer witnessed this incident, picked up the unconscious man and took him to the Wenlock Hospital. The Doctors refused to either treat him or to admit him unless directed by the local Police as it was a medico-legal case. The Mangalore police refused to entertain any complaint or to support his admission to the Hospital though the man was in a precarious condition in order to support their colleagues who had almost beaten him to death. The result was that the community collected money and had the man treated at a private hospital for three months. Though, he did survive, he has suffered 17 lifelong kidney damage. When he went back to his hometown, the local police who had almost killed him on the earlier occasion and against whom PUCL had lodged a complaint to the then IG, recorded a statement and took his signature to the effect that he was traveling to Mangalore, fell out of a local bus and sustained severe injuries. On the basis of this report, the then DIG closed the case. The victim, his family and relations were all warned that if the matter was taken up, their women would be raped, their houses would be burnt and that there would be no trace of any of them.

ATTACKING CHRISTIANS (b)After the police violence at the Permanur Church where over 180 Catholics were severely brutalized by the Police, desperate attempts were made to effect false arrests and to contend that it was some of the local youngsters who were involved in group rivalry who are responsible for the incident. Mercifully enough, the brutalization by SP. Satish Kumar, Jayant Shetty and the huge police force has been vividly record on video, has been shown on all the National Channels as also the International Channels including BBC and CNN. The method adopted by the Police was to round up as many young Christian Boys as possible, to beat them up and then record so-called confessions to the effect that they were responsible for the incident. The local police registered as many as 47 false cases to support their S.P. The local Courts repeatedly refused Bail to these poor boys supporting the Police all the way. The victims were retained in custody for a period of up to 3 and 4 months regularly brutalized while in custody and the majority of them have lost their source of livelihood not to mention the hundreds of students whose careers were ruined. They have all been terrorized into not taking any counter action. During this period, I was informed that a young man, aged 22 years from the area who used to drive a small tempo delivering milk for his livelihood was sent for by the local police. Knowing his fate, the boy ran away to his uncle’s house at Padil. A few days later, the police traced him, arrested him at Padil and mercilessly beat him at his uncle’s house.

No arrest was shown for 24 hours and he was severely tortured at the Police Station, at which time, he started bleeding profusely. The Police ordered his relations to take him to a 18 Private Hospital and to inform the Doctors that he was the victim of a hit and run case on the highway. We had met the relations who were too terrified to even lodge a complaint against the police. The whole village collected money for the emergency surgery because his facial bones had been fractured and he required an immediate operation. It took him Eleven Weeks to recover from the police brutality. It is true that no complaint has been registered and further action was not possible because of the terror tactics adopted by the Police Department.

TARGETING MUSLIMS-FALSE CHARGES OF TERRORISM (c) Taking full advantage of the fact that some Muslim Organisations were involved in acts of terrorism which included bomb blasts in some parts of the country, the local police took it upon themselves to target the Muslim community. It became routine for the police personnel to enter the houses of members of the community on the ground that they had secret information of involvement on the part of local persons. Young boys were indiscriminately assaulted and their mathematical instruments used for geometry and their geography books and maps were seized and torn up on the ground that they were planning terror operations against the State. Jewellery was looted from the houses and anybody who lodged a complaint was arrested on the ground that they were suspected Terrorists.

This form of police / State terrorism received 100% support from the Courts. In not a single case, was Bail granted and the custody periods were indiscriminately extended. A father and son were arrested on the ground that they were linked with the Bombay Blasts. They were retained in custody for four months as the Police claimed that they were investigating and the Court refused Bail though there was zero evidence. After four months, the Police took them to Mumbai, where they were retained in custody for another eight weeks because the Mumbai Police told the Court that they had no evidence against them, but that they were required to check about their involvement in the Ahmedabad riots. When the Court refused to extend the remand after two months, they were taken to Ahmedabad and were detained for another five months on the ground that the investigations were pending. When the local Human Rights Activists took up the matter before the Court, they were taken to Jammu & Kashmir on the ground that they 19 were connected with the Terrorists from that State. This involved illegal detention for another seven months as the police contended that though there was no evidence against them, they were checking their links with the Pakistani Terrorists.

When all of this failed, they were brought back to Bangalore and the Courts have still not released them from custody as the Police contend that they have fresh information that they are connected with the attacks on Parliament. Through this lengthy period of time, two totally innocent citizens have been denied their liberty for about TWO YEARS through a conspiracy between the police and the Courts for a couple of years when admittedly there is zero evidence against them. The provocation for their initial arrest was because they had addressed a complaint to the DG Police in Bangalore that the local police had entered their house, molested the women, beaten up the remaining inmates and looted the place by taking away jewelry, electrical gadgets, watches and property worth Rs.3,70,000/-. This is the price the victims had to pay for complaining. The wonderful result of all this was that in answer to the question on the floor of the assembly, both the Home Minister and the Chief Minister contended that there is not a single complaint against the Police Department from any member of the Muslim community in the Bangalore Region.

CHURCH ATTACKS-POLICE INACTION (d)Since, September 2008, there have been 2116 attacks on places of worship belonging to the Christian community. There have been 1868 instances of violence against individuals, shops, eating houses and other small business establishments belonging to members of the Christian and Muslim community. Every single one of these incidents has been reported to the Police authorities, 90% of them in writing because the leaders of the communities have instructed the victims to do this. Not one complaint has been entertained, not one FIR has been registered and not a single one of the culprits have been arrested. To quote just one example, I had personally questioned the S.P. and the then DIG Police as to why no action has been taken on four simultaneous cases of attacks and vandalism committed by the Bajrang Dal activists and other anti-social elements on a little shop belonging to a Catholic 20 Newspaper Vendor. He has on all four occasions named the persons involved and furnished the numbers of the vehicles used by them. The answer from the Police Department to me was that neither the individuals nor the vehicles were traceable.

To the question as to why no FIRs were recorded, the answer was that they were acting on instructions from the Vidhana Soudha.

SEZ ATROCITIES BY THE POLICE (e)One of the highlights of the Police performance in Dakshina Kannada has been the total alignment with the authorities of the Mangalore SEZ. The victims in this case happened to be 69% Christians and all the entire lot, even the non-Christians were tribals and those belonging to the weaker sections. They were looted, beaten up, their homes, fields and property destroyed, their standing crops were buried under debris through bulldozers, the compensation amounts misappropriated, documents and records forged and fabricated, all of which have invited severe strictures from the Lokayukta and Justice S.R. Nayak, the Head of the State Human Rights Commission. In all of this, where the SEZ authorities had used the services of the mafia, musclemen and criminals of the worst category against the poor, weak and helpless victims, the atrocities of the Police Department in these acts of State Terrorism are shameful and unpardonable. There are on record 2726 written complaints from the victims, social workers and NGOs who represented these poor persons.

The date, time, full particulars and names of the culprits have all been set up. Not one single complaint has been registered. No FIRs recorded and what is even more shameful is that the various police stations and in particular the office of the SP, Mangalore were functioning as part and parcel of the SEZ. What needs to be taken particular note of is the fact that 1246 false cases were registered against the victims and the social workers who tried to assist them, in all of which cases, the Police made it a point to register so-called FIRs invoking non-bailable offences, so that the victims could be retained in custody for abnormally long periods of time. In addition to this, on every occasion when the so-called accused were produced in Court, Bail was opposed by the Police.

I have no hesitation in recording the fact that there is unmistakable evidence that 21 the whole of the Police Department starting from the SP to Officers like Jayant Shetty and all the way down the line to the constables was totally corrupted and was on the pay-roll of the SEZ. On 8th November, 2008, when the Internationally acclaimed Swamy Agnivesh and I personally went to KUNBI PADAV and witnessed the atrocities taking place and the Police protecting the SEZ mafia, the Bajpe Police Station is supposed to have recorded two FIRs against Swamiji and myself on a host of serious criminal charges such as attempt to murder, unlawful assembly, rioting, intimidation, trespass and interfering with public servants in the discharge of their duties. We have not so far been arrested, but it is not known when the police will decide to do so, because both of us were told that once the police lay their hands on us and take us into custody, every bone in our bodies will be broken.

IF THIS IS NOT STATE TERRORISM, WHAT ELSE IS IT ? FAKE ENCOUNTERS (f) The Police Department in Dakshina Kannada are Specialists in fake encounters and encounter killings. Since, the year 2004, the Police have been indiscriminately shooting down whomsoever they find inconvenient and in all these fake encounters, evidence is fabricated to indicate to the public that the deceased person was the aggressor and further more, that he or she had indulged in anti-social activity and acts of terrorism but that there is no recorded criminal evidence or convictions because the police were not able to arrest the persons. I had occasion as Judge of the Karnataka High Court to examine as many as 21 such cases and every single one of them I have recorded that the so-called encounter was fake and that the killing was thoroughly unjustified. In the majority of these cases, the Police are heavily paid by the Opponents of the deceased who are after their property or desire to settle scores with them and that is the real ground for shooting. In not a single one of the 21 cases, where I had directed that all those involved in the incident and those who had paid them / conspired with them should be prosecuted, not a single prosecution followed from the State Government. Similarly, since all those who have been shot come from the poor and weak strata, no action has followed and the Police have 22 got away with these murders.

Reference is invited to the enquiry conducted into the Editor – Seetharam case wherein the Police followed Seetharam and his wife on a Sunday night when they were on their way to attend to a temple, intercepted them and for the next two hours, kept taking them to once secluded place after the other in order to stage a so-called encounter and shoot them, but god was on their side and they survived only because every single road chosen by the police happened to have a fair amount of traffic or the presence of villagers and they finally gave up in the hope of getting the job done within one of the police lock ups or jails.

CUSTODIAL VIOLENCE: There has been a serious charge against the Police Department that apart from the torture chambers run by the Department and the abnormal inhuman and sadistic violence that the Officers and Staff regularly let loose on anybody whom they laid their hands on, that they have also been practicing another form of atrocity by getting the antisocial elements within the lock-up and the jail premises to assault the victims and to even kill them. There have been eleven complaints of persons belonging to the minority community who have died in Police custody in the last two and a half years but in all these cases, no action against the police has been possible because they have made false entries in the Police Stations that the death took place on the road in a hit and run case and the Government Doctors have supported the police in these atrocities. In the Editor – Seetham case, where Seetharam was ordered to be retained in Police custody in Udupi and was permitted hospitalization on very valid and real health breakdown reasons, on the express Orders of Home Minister – Acharya and his son who was exercising more powers than the father, without obtaining Court Orders, and in breach of the Law, the Police pulled him out of the Udupi Hospital, refused the family’s requests for an ambulance at their cost and drove him at breakneck speed over horrible roads for two hours till he reached Mangalore at night virtually half dead. An attempt was made to put him into the sub-jail as it was full of gangsters and anti-social elements, all of whom are 23 the best friends of the Police Department so that he could be finished off there.

The presence of the PUCL Office-bearers and the insistence of the Lawyers prevented the attempt of the Police to have him beaten up and possibly killed in the jail. Sometime before this, the Police had falsely picked up two Muslim boys, objected to their bail and had them confined to the Mangalore sub-jail where they tried to incarcerate Seetharam. These two boys were savagely assaulted by a group of Bajrang Dal activists who are present in the same jail. They were moved to the hospital in a precarious condition with grievous injuries in the belief that both of them would die. The injuries were all on vital parts of the body particularly on the head and chest. There were stab wounds and the Press and TV exposed the fact that the assailants had used knives, daggers, iron bars and iron chains. There was a demand for a Judicial Enquiry and the Home Department was asked to explain as to how such deadly weapons had been smuggled into the jail. There was also a demand that the assailants must be charged with offences of attempt to murder and causing grievous hurt and further more, that the Jail Authorities who had permitted deadly weapons to be taken in and had also abetted the assault should be suspended and dismissed from service.

The nice part of the story is that it emerged that the assailants had with them mobile phones and unlimited quantities of liquor. Home Minister Acharya who at that time the Chief Patron of the Bajrang Dal condoned all their violence, ordered that no action be taken against them and immediately issued a statement that the Home Department would look into the matter. What followed: (a) The Jailor who was responsible for allowing illegal arms and liquor into the jail and who also facilitated the incident was immediately shifted by Acharya under his personal Orders to Bangalore and was rewarded with a promotion. (b) Acharya also ordered that no action be taken against any of the assailants on the ground that it was not known as to who exactly had assaulted the Muslim boys. Judging from some of the ridiculous statements that the Home Minister used to 24 issue at that time which defied credibility, it is a small wonder that he did not issue a statement that the injuries were self inflicted ! (c) The victims were treated in the hospital for a long period of time till they recovered and all their relations were warned that if they lodge any complaints or press any charges that they would be finished off.

When questioned by the media as to why the assailants had not been prosecuted, Acharya’s defence was that the victims and their relations had not lodged any complaints and hence, the State was unable to act. It is impossible, in a situation like this to accept that there would be no complaints but even if that was the position having regard to the terror tactics employed, the question still arises as to why the State and the Police Department did not take legal action on their own accord in the case of such serious offences committed within the jail premises.. This a mandatory requirement of the law and no excuse is admissible.

JUDICIAL INDIFFERENCE(h) : No atrocities or illegalities could have taken place on such a continuous and massive scale if the Judiciary had only lived up to its constitutional obligations. It is a matter of regret, distress, deep concern and utter shame that in the whole of the area right through this period of time that one Judicial Officer in any Court so much as listened to recorded or took cognizance of complaints from the victims even when produced in Court. This was a failure of the Law and of judicial duty and it is this failure that encouraged the State Government and the Police to commit the type of atrocities that have been recounted here. In thousands of cases where the victims told the Magistrates that they had been subjected to horrifying torture and serious injuries, they were not even taken out of police custody and consigned to judicial custody. PUCL has checked the court records in over ten thousand such cases and in not a single one has the Magistrate recorded the complaint of torture and injuries. 25 To what extent the Judiciary has failed in its duties is representative on the fact that even in thousands of cases where visible injuries were shown to the Magistrates, no medical investigation or treatment was ordered. Not only is this a breach of the Law and encouragement to the State and the Police Department to multiply violence and atrocities but it is the most horrible infringement and violation of human rights and to think that it has happened at the instance of the Court and Judicial Officers is something absolutely unpardonable.

(i) REFUSAL OF BAIL:
The same pathetic story is repeated when it comes to the track record of the Judiciary in the matter of grant of bail. The consistent practice followed is to refuse to hear the Accused and his Advocate and to straight away refuse bail and remand the Accused to Police custody. This has happened even in the case of thousands of persons who are victims of police violence at the time of the church attacks and to hundreds who were falsely arrested by the Police in the course of these incidents. I have personally examined the cases of at least 6,000 innocent persons and in not a single one of these cases, could the arrest be justified. In the case of Permanur and Kulsekhar, over 300 persons who were victims of police violence and who were injured, the majority of them with bleeding injuries on the head were produced in blood stained clothes before the Courts and the Magistrates refused them Bail and remanded them to Police custody even refusing medical treatment. In the Milagres incident particularly, as also in two other incidents from Mangalore city, in order to justify the defence put forward by Acharya and his Police that the mobs had attacked them, hundreds of students, mechanics, drivers and other self employed persons were indiscriminately rounded up and arrested. Their college careers were ruined, their businesses were finished all because the Courts refused to grant them Bail for periods ranging from 3 to 6 months.

There was zero material against them. Their arrest was illegal and unjustified and yet the Courts at the instance of the State and the Police detained them in custody irrespective of the consequences. Apart from the illegalities, these are serious and unpardonable infringements of human rights. I will answer the question as to why no counter action or complaints have 26 emanated, the obvious reason is that the State Terrorism has pulverized the victims and their families, they have told me that they are thankful that they are alive and that they dare not agitate for their rights. What distressed me most was the fact that in each and every case, the pathetic statement was that “ after the Courts have done this to us, do you ever expect these very Courts to entertain our complaints or to Order compensation?” This is indeed a very very shameful certificate to the Judiciary coming from the most deserving consumers of Justice.

POLICE GOONDAISM On 23/12/2010. The St. Aloysius College is the oldest and most reputed educational institution in the District. On 23.12.2010, the students had organized a musical function, when all of a sudden, SI – Manjunath from the Bunder Police Station along with a relatively large group of policemen stormed into the campus, disrupted the proceedings and violently attacked the students. When questioned, he stated that police permission had not been obtained for the function. There is no provision of Law under which a college, holding a function in its own premises has to seek police permission. Obviously, this was another method of blackmailing the college and extorting money. The Dakshina Kannada Police have not only got a bad name but have acquired a stinking reputation for blackmail and extortion and this is a classic instance where the Police Force of Dakshina Kannada exposed its true character in all its shameful glory! The matter has been reported to the higher authorities who have all covered up for SI – Manjunath and his team which establishes how deep and how complete the rot is.

ABSOLUTE NEED FOR A HIGH POWERED PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY. It is in this overall background that PUCL and Transparency International have taken a decision to hold a People’s Enquiry into the atrocities of the Police Department and the corresponding failure of the Judiciary to either check these atrocities, to contain them or to take counter action. The hearings were held at the Milagres College Hall on the 11th and 12th December 2010. As a result of the publicity, a large number of aggrieved persons attended the Tribunal hearing. A summary 27 of the proceedings was prepared for purposes of record. More importantly, it was decided to examine a representative number of cases as each of the aggrieved persons and their witnesses deposed before the Jury and they also produced the relevant and requisite records in respect of each case which was fully substantiated. The members of the Jury expressed their opinion at the end of the proceedings on the afternoon of 12th December and Justice M.F. Saldanha who presided over the proceedings and headed the Jury summarized the findings. These are separately set out along with a brief description of each of the cases that were taken up for consideration and the individual findings in respect of the respective case. On a constructive note, there are a series of recommendations in an effort to bring about some correctives.

The situation as it now exists is intolerable, both as far as the depravity, corruption violence and misconduct of the Police and the Judicial action that is unfortunately supporting it all the way, with the dreadful fallout resulting in INJUSTICE ALL THE WAY. Human rights have been defiled, disrespected and destroyed and the Police are living up to the definition which the Allahabad High Court coined for them-”Criminals in Uniform”this just has to change.

(JUSTICE MICHAEL F. SALDANHA)
MANGALORE
DATE : 10TH January 2011

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