PUCL Bulletin, April 2001
PUCL-Delhi Report (Sept.1999-Nov.2000)
By Gopa Joshi, General Secretary, PUCL-Delhi.
During the last fourteen months PUCL-Delhi has been active on several fronts. Some of them are as follows:
1-The issue of civil liberties of Minorities: PUCL-Delhi has been constantly reacting to violation of civil liberties of minorities' communities. The most notable form of violation has been projecting Bangla speaking Muslims as Bangladesh nationals and harassing them as foreign nationals. PUCL-Delhi has been insisting that the government machinery, in identifying and deporting the foreign nationals, follow the various Acts dealing with foreigners passed by the Parliament from time to time. The purpose of this insistence is to ensure that civil liberties of foreigners are not violated. In this respect the PUCL-Delhi received an oral complaint about the arrest of 30-35 Bangladeshi nationals in 24-Parganna in West Bengal. They were going from Delhi to Bangladesh. As they did not possess the necessary papers they were arrested and jailed by the West Bengal police. The matter was discussed in a fortnightly meeting of PUCL- Delhi and it was decided to approach the National PUCL to ensure protection of civil liberties of the arrested persons -- many of whom were women and children. The National PUCL wrote to the concerned authorities in West Bengal. The Delhi-based members of the affected families told us, that the behaviour of the authorities changed thereafter. Their attitude towards women and children became more humane.
In the fortnightly meeting of 17-5-2000, Bangla speaking Muslim residents of Bengali Basti of Sanjay Amar Colony, Yamuna Pushta reported police harassment. The area DCP, they said, justified police harassment on the ground of these residents being Bangladesh nationals. As Mr. Prashant Bhusan has been looking after their cases in the Supreme Court, it was decided to talk to him about the renewed incidents of harassment. The local people were asked to give a brief account of the incidents of harassment to the PUCL-Delhi. It was also decided to have a public meeting at Bengali Basti of Sanjay Amar Colony on 20-5-2000. The PUCL-Delhi President, ex-President, Mr. Prasant Bhusan, General Secretary, and members of the executive attended the meeting.
In our fortnightly meeting of 21st June, the residents of Sanjay Amar Colony reported the steps taken by Delhi police to deport them. They said that they have valid documents to prove their Indian citizenship. But the police were not taking cognisance of those documents. They told that on 20th June the police rounded up about 100 men, women, and children and kept them in the Kotwali at Daryaganj for whole night. Next day the women and children were released. But men were kept in detention. Mr. N.D. Pancholi on behalf of the PUCL-Delhi sent letters to the Home Minister, the Police Commissioner, and the S.H.O. informing them that the Supreme Court was yet to pass its judgment on the issue of their being foreigners or not. As the residents did not come forward with their papers a fresh petition in the High Court could not be filed.
On 23rd June, the Muslim residents of Yamuna Pushta were reported to have assembled at the local Police Chowki because the Police personnel from the Chauki had earlier entered the Madarsa and allegedly defiled the holy Koran. There was arson, and police firing in which one youth died. Delhi PUCL's investigative team visited the area on 27th and 28th June and talked to the families of those arrested by the police. The team members also met the father of the deceased youth. On 29th June, 15 residents of Bengali Basti received notices from the DCP's office asking them to produce documents proving their Indian citizenship on 1st July. Mr. Pancholi, on behalf of the PUCL-Delhi represented them at the DCP's office. A PUCL team also went to meet the DCP on 1st July. As he did not come to the office the meeting did not take place. On 2nd July some of the residents decided to file a writ petition in the High Court challenging the validity of the notices sent by the DCP. Accordingly a writ petition was filed on 4th July in Delhi High Court. The Court, however, dismissed the petition. On 19th July, the issue was again discussed in the fortnightly meeting and Mr. S. S. Nehra was given the responsibility of monitoring the instances of police excesses in identifying foreign nationals. A report on all these developments was prepared and submitted to the N.H.R.C. The Chairperson of N.H.R.C. Justice J.S. Verma told our president that in view of the sensitive nature of the problem he had decided to place the matter before the full Commission.
PUCL-Delhi learnt from newspapers about police brutality on Jamia Milia Islamia students. Instantly an investigation team headed by its President, went to the campus to make an on-the-spot study of the situation.
The team members also met the Vice Chancellor of the University to get his version of the incident. An exhaustive report was compiled and released to the press. On the basis of its findings the PUCL team met the Chairperson of the NHRC Justice J.S. Verma and appealed him to enquire into the matter. The PUCL also joined hands with other organizations to raise the issue of implicating the students in false cases with the Lt. Governor of Delhi. On 6-5-2000 a public meeting was held in Indian Law Institute to express its concern on Growing Lawlessness of Law Enforcing Authorities. Other organizations like Champa, and Radical Humanist Association joined hands in organizing this public meeting. Representatives of Lawyers Associations, PUDR, Saheli, CPI -ML (New Democracy), students from Jamia Milia, Geetha, of Construction Workers-Tamil Nadu, and many other organizations participated. Mr. N.D. Pancholi read the key note paper on behalf of PUCL-Delhi.
In view of mounting attacks on Christians a joint forum named Insani Ekta Manch has been formed in Delhi. PUCL-Delhi was part of it. Besides conducting enquiries into several violent incidents against Christians, the Manch also held a seminar on, 'Threat to national unity and integrity and to the democratic rights of the people from the fascist forces', on 10-3 2000.
Citizenship issue of Chakmas has been taken up with the Home Ministry.
Poster-exhibition has been an ongoing activity of PUCL-Delhi. During last one year Posters depicting the nature of police excesses and legal protection against them were exhibited in Seelampur in October, Nov. '99,Feb. March, April, May, June 2000.
In February 2000, the owner of Amber Garments came forward to help the PUCL team to establish contacts with the local people so that a local unit could be set up. He also offered the room above his factory to PUCL to conduct its activities in the locality. However, in the following months he stopped taking interest in our activities.
PUCL-Delhi decided to take its exhibition to the Jhuggi-Jhonpri colonies of Seelampur. In May- June 2000, PUCL-Delhi had its poster exhibition in one of the slum areas of Seelampur. This is probably one of the dirtiest slums of Delhi. It is situated on the banks of an open drain. There is hardly any place within the colony to exhibit the poster. Hence the posters were hung on the road- side. The people after seeing the posters said that the residents of the colony have frequent brawls with the police. They also indicated that under police protection anti- social elements carry out illegal activities-like flesh trade and drug trafficking there. A case of policemen mercilessly beating up a blue line bus conductor also came to our notice.
On Human Rights Day poster exhibition was held in front of National Human Rights Commission. Poster exhibitions were also held in the GPF on 15-1-2000, 26-6-2000.
Vasant Kunj residents were getting polluted and stinking water in their taps. The PUCL got the water tested in the lab and sent the report to the concerned authorities. After persistent efforts the authorities relented and assured supply of potable water.
Reactions in the media: -Press statements were issued condemning show cause notices issued to Indian Social Institute and other N.G.Os. by the government of India, appeal for help to the victims of Orissa cyclone; protesting against fake encounter killings in A.P.; RSS holding the shooting of WATER film etc.
25th June 2000 was observed as 25th anniversary of Emergency in coordination with other organizations. On 26th PUCL-Delhi had its independent meeting on 25 Years of Emergency: Dangers of Hidden Agenda. Mr. Satyendra Ranjan read the key paper on behalf of the PUCL. In this meeting, speakers expressed concern at the imposition of informal emergency by present leaders.
Harassment of the workers of Apollo Hospital by the management and police also figured in the fortnightly meetings. An enquiry committee was set up to enquire into the incidents of harassments and oppression of the workers. The enquiry committee found that the complaints of the workers were genuine. Its report was released to the press. Later a delegation of PUCL-Delhi met the Chairperson of N.H.R.C. and requested him to initiate an enquiry into the cases of violation of human rights of the workers. The N.H.R.C. has taken up the case and issued letters to the concerned authorities.
The N.H.R.C. was also requested to order an independent enquiry into unnatural death of a Nepali domestic servant Shri Vishnu Prasad Pande.
On 20-9-2000, Ms. Sudarshan Kaur complained, that the area police had arrested her husband under the Narcotics Act. She told that as her husband had been reporting the incidents of drug trafficking in his locality to the all the concerned authorities he had become inconvenient to the local police who was hands and gloves with the drug traffickers. She also showed the photocopies of the letters sent by him to various authorities. A committee was formed to enquire into the matter. Dr. Pal took the responsibility of contacting all the members and getting the enquiry done. The report is awaited. [The report has now been submitted].
Taking note of the press reports of police killing of Md. Irshad of Seelampur and Ashwani Kumar Gandhi of Sadar Bazar, two teams were formed to enquire into these incidents. Both the teams have submitted their reports. On the basis of these reports N.H.R.C. has been approached for necessary action. As N.H.R.C. had already taken up these cases, it has decided to include PUCL report in its proceedings.
Reacted to the issues of sexual harassment in Ramjas College Delhi University. On the complaint of Joint Action Committee of the College, approached the National Commission for Women to enquire into the complaint of sexual harassment in the College. The President and General Secretary personally met the Chairperson of the NCW on 24-5-2000 had a long talk with her. The Chairperson Ms. Vibha Parthasarthy did promise to put the matter before the full-Commission and get a Committee set up to enquire into the matter. However, in spite of repeated telephonic reminders the Commission has not yet moved a step in the case. But the PUCL-Delhi is still pursuing the case.
Ms. Nupur's case was discussed in several meetings. She is a victim of domestic violence. As her case is in the court in Jamshedpur it was felt that the PUCL-Delhi does not have an effective role in it.
Renewed attempts to establish Delhi University branch of PUCL were made by calling an informal meeting of sympathetic teachers and students in Delhi University on 1-3-2000. Eight teachers and students attended. The meeting decided to organize a seminar on the Fraud of the Review of the Constitution, in Delhi University. The seminar was held in the Department of Chinese and Japanese Studies on 8-4-2000.Prof. Chaube initiated the discussion.
Earlier on15-1-2000 a seminar on Electoral reforms in the light of Law commission's 170th Report was held in the GPF. On 16-2-2000, Dr. R.M. Pal initiated discussion on reservation.
Activities in Joint for a: A -- Against communalism: Mr. Pancholi represented PUCL-Delhi in joint action programmes of 6th Dec. B -- To oppose imposition of restrictions on civil liberties and on trade union rights participated in the activities of Delhi Janwadi Adhikar Manch. C -- Regularly participating in the activities of Sanjha Manch on the issue of slum clearance and rehabilitation of displaced slum dwellers. PUCL-Delhi's report on homeless residents of Delhi was read at the meeting of Sanjha- Manch. Joint National Convention for Nuclear Disarmament and Peace held in Delhi from 11 to 13 November 2000. Joined hands with other organizations to provide local support including financial help to workers of Kolar Gold Mines who had come to Delhi under KGF banner to resist closure of the mines.
PUCL-Delhi has also tried to take up the issues of visually handicapped and the DU students studying in Hindi medium.
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