Ruled by the Congress and
Nationalist Congress Party coalition, Maharashtra
continued to witness serious human rights violations.
The State police have been responsible for custodial
death, rape and torture. Although in a few cases,
death in custody was established such as that of Khwaja
Yunus, a prime suspect in Ghotkopar blast case of
2 December 2002, most custodial deaths went unpunished.
The Dalits continued to
face physical violence as well as boycott by the upper
caste Hindus for making attempts to access the public
places including water wells.
The conditions of the Adivasis,
indigenous peoples in Maharashtra remained deplorable.
On 5 July 2004, state government acknowledged that
more than 9,000 tribal children below the age of six
years died of starvation/ malnutrition in 15 districts
of Maharashtra between April 2003 and May 2004. As
many as 1,041 children died of malnutrition during
April- May 2004. The Naxalites have reportedly strengthened
their activities in tribal-dominated districts of
Gadchiroli, Gondia and Chandrapur.
In violation of the Supreme
Court order of 2000, the Maharashtra government raised
the height of the Sardar Sarovar dam without resettling
the already affected families. On 13 March 2004, the
Narmada Control Authority allowed raising of the Sadar
Sarovar dam height from 100 metres to 110 metres though
thousands of families were not resettled.
On 4 June 2004, the state
government announced a three-member panel headed by
former High Court judge Chandrashekhar Dharmadhikari
to review the Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime
Act (MCOCA). On different occasions, courts
found misuse of the MCOCA and the Prevention of Terrorism
Act, 2002. On 16 April 2004, Zaheer Ahmed Sheikh,
the prime accused in the blast of a BEST bus at Ghatkopar
on 2 December 2002 that left two persons dead and
34 injured, was reportedly granted bail for Rs 1 lakhs
following the ruling of the Central POTA Review Committee
that there was no prima-facie evidence against him.
. 9,000 kids starve to death
in shining India, The Times of India, 6 July 2004
. The Free Press Journal, 22
. Three-member panel to review
MCOCA, The Indian Express, 5 June 2004