Human rights activist detained illegally

Bhatinda, Punjab, India, 23.2.01

Incidence-

Dr. Vineeta Gupta, General secretary Insaaf International was detained
illegally from 12 noon to 12.45 PM on 22.2.01 by the Deputy Commissioner
(DC), Bhatinda. She was released with the threat to be arrested again. A
deputation of various social and human rights groups, consisting of more
than 100 prominent citizens had gone to submit memorandum to the deputy
commissioner of Bhatinda under the banner of Save old Hospital committee.
About 15 members of the deputation went inside the office of DC while
others waited outside the office. Dr. Vineeta Gupta joined the meeting a
little later as one of the member of the executive committee of the Save
Hospital Committee. When Dr. Gupta entered the office of DC, he pointed at
her and said in a very insulting manner that this lady is inciting you.
She is misguiding all of you. On this Dr. Gupta got up to leave the office
of DC and said that she would rather leave if DC has this kind of behavior
and objection to her presence. When she opened the door of the office, DC
called his male guards to arrest her. In our country it is mandatory to
call lady police to arrest the females. The guards did not move to arrest
Dr. Gupta even when DC ordered them again. Dr. Gupta on being ordered to
be arrested went back to sit in her seat and waited for next direction of
the deputy commissioner. After this DC sent for District Attorney
immediately. The members of the deputation pleaded the DC to drop the
matter. DC categorically told them that Dr. Gupta would not be spared until
she apologizes. Dr. Gupta refused to apologize, as she had not committed
any wrong. During 45 minutes of detention, Dr. Gupta was repeatedly
insulted and humiliated by DC. In a very insulting manner he pointed at
Gupta and asked the deputationists why they associate themselves with lady
like Dr. Gupta and used much more insulting and discriminatory words. When
Dr. Gupta wanted to object to his behavior, he cut her short by saying
that he was not addressing her and she is not allowed to speak.

On arrival of District attorney (DA), DC asked him to frame Dr. Gupta in a
case of contempt of court. DA showed his inability to do that by saying
that it was not a court. Then DC asked DA to frame her in obstruction of
government duty and some other sections of Criminal Penal Code of India.
He asked his stenographer to record the statements of the deputationists
according to his wish to frame Dr. Gupta in false case. All the members of
the deputation refused to give false statement. After much pressure,
humiliation and threatening, DC allowed Dr. Gupta to leave with remark
that she will be arrested again but detained the rest of the members. For
two hours they were detained and were pressurized to depose against Dr.
Gupta, but in vain. After coming out the dputationists released a press
statement collectively stating that Dr. Gupta was threatened of arrest and
that they were detained for two hours to give false statement against Dr.
Gupta. Dr. Gupta after being released, addressed about 200 people who had
collected in front of the DCs office and briefed them about what had
happened and her stand on the issue.

Background-

Insaaf International is running a campaign against the shifting of the
children hospital from the center of the city and selling of this property
for commercial use to foot the bill for constructing offices for the
bureaucrats. This step of the government has affected the health care of
thousands of poor and slum dwellers in the city.

World Bank Funded Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) Children
hospital land is soon to be sold to raise funds for making modern District
Administrative Complex (DAC) for the bureaucrats in Bhatinda. The town
hospital building (now children hospital) is situated in the heart of the
city. It was renovated extensively with the World Bank (WB) loans under
the Punjab Health Systems Corporation (PHSC) project in 1998 for shifting
of children hospital. About two million Indian rupees out of the WB loan,
spent on renovation will go down the drain with pulling down of the
building. Previously Children hospital was housed in the civil hospital
complex out-side the city. The decision to shift the children hospital was
taken with a view to provide easy accessibility of the health services to
the people in Bhatinda. More over it was felt that having two hospitals
(civil hospital and children hospital) in one building was waste of
resources and services of medical professionals. The doctors in both the
hospitals out-numbered the rooms available in one building there, for them
to sit.

The Children hospital provides general health care, mother and child
health services, specialty and medico-legal services. Along with the main
city, it caters to slum areas and many poor inhabited bastis. Now this
hospital is being shifted to the civil hospital premises. The vacated
building will be used temporarily for offices of the top officials of
Bhatinda. Present office complex of the bureaucrats will be demolished to
build a modern administrative complex. Some buildings in the complex to be
demolished were newly built and all others were extensively renovated
about 5 years back at the cost of more than one crore. Later Punjab Urban
Development Authority (PUDA) will sell the land for commercial use to foot
the expenses incurred for making DAC. Crores of rupees are to be spent on
building DAC at a time when Punjab Government is totally bankrupt. It is
unable to pay regular salaries to its staff, pensions to old and widows,
scholarship to backward class students, recruit teaching and medical staff
resulting in empty schools and village hospitals. The Government puts lack
of funds as the reason to cut subsides, social welfare schemes, health
budget, corporatising state health services to get funds from World Bank
and imposing user fee on health and hike in fee structure of educational
institutions.

To pressurize Dr. Gupta to withdraw from this campaign, two days prior to
her detention her hospital was raided on 20.2.01 by about 25 policemen in
plainclothes. The person heading the police party in three government
vehicles introduced himself to her brother Dr. Vitull Gupta as Deputy
Supritendent of Police (vigilance). He told Dr. Vitull that the Deputy
Commissioner Bhatinda had sent him. He further asked if his sister had
filed a writ petition in the high court about the old hospital issue. The
raiding party started taking photographs inside the hospital and intruded
into the rooms forcibly. The patients, neighbors and hospital staff was
terrified. No papers pertaining to raid were supplied at the time of raid
or after wards. Dr. Vineeta Gupta immediately informed the Police
officials about the illegal raid and threat conveyed by them but no action
has been taken so far.

Appeal

Insaaf International apprehends further harrasement, implication in false
cases and threat to life and property of Dr. Vineeta Gupta and her family.
Insaaf International appeals to all the national and International bodies
and Individuals to protest against the illegal detention of Dr. Vineeta
Gupta and raid on her hospital and demand from Indian government to ensure
the safety of Dr. Gupta and her Family and appropriate action against the
DC, Bhatinda immediately. Also try to get this into your local newspapers
to build support for Dr. Gupta. A copy of the coverage if any, may kindly
be sent to us at Insaaf International, Kishori Ram Hospital Building,
Basant Vihar, Bhatinda, Punjab, India Email vineetag@sancharnet.in

Action

Please write letters to the Prime-Minister, Home Minster of India and
Chief Minister and Chief Secretary of Punjab at the following addresses. A
copy of the letter may be sent to us at the address below.
Insaaf International
Kishori Ram Building
Basant Vihar, Bhatinda, Punjab, India
Email vineetag@sancharnet.in
A Sample letter is attached here with for your consideration. We request
the organization to preferably send hard copy to the addresses below.
Thanking you,
Yours Sincerely
Ved Parkash Gupta
Advisor, Insaaf International

Sample letter

To,
1. Mr. A B Vajpai,
Prime Minister of India, New Delhi, India
2. Mr. LK Advani,
Home Minister of India, New Delhi, India
A copy of letter may be sent at his email address mhaweb@mha.delhi.nic.in
3. Mr. Parkash Singh Badal,
Chief Minister of Punjab
Chandigarh, India
4. Chief Secretary to Government of Punjab
Chandigarh, India


Dear Sirs,

It has come to our/my notice that Dr. Vineeta Gupta, General Secretary of
human rights group Insaaf International and a well known social activist
was illegally detained by the Deputy Commissioner (DC) Bhatinda, Punjab on
22.2.01. She was threatened of implication into false cases and arrest by
the DC. Two days prior to this her hospital was also raided by 25
plainclothes police men without any legal orders. This is being done due
to her activities as a social activist. Presently she is running a
campaign to stop shifting of the children Hospital from the present place
and subsequent demolishing and selling of this hospital land for
commercial purposes to foot the bill for making Modren Administrative
Complex at Bhatinda.

We strongly protest against the harrsement and detention of Dr. Gupta and
request your goodself to take prompt action against the guilty. We also
request that safety of Dr. Gupta and her family be ensured.
Thanking you,
Yours sincerely,
______________


Copy- Insaaf International
Kishori Ram Hospital, Basant Vihar, Bhatinda, Punjab, India
vineetag@sancharnet.in

 

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