Asian Centre for Human Rights

Dedicated to promotion and protection of human rights in Asia

INFO BY COUNTRY / INDIA / ANNUAL REPORT /UTTARANCHAL

UTTARANCHAL

I. Overview

Human rights situation in the Congress ruled Uttaranchal remained disturbing. On 26 July 2004, 60-year-old, Baba Uttarakhandi died after observing 37-day fast over the demand for establishment of the permanent capital at Gairsain instead of temporary capital at Dehradun. He was rushed to the hospital at the last moment and died of cardiac arrest. [1]

The crime graph in the state was reportedly rising and policemen themselves were responsible for many incidents. In 2003, nearly 20 police personnel were suspended for different offences. In January 2004, Navin Kumar, a police constable, and two other state police personnel were arrested for a robbery at a house in the Balbir Road area. Gold ornaments weighing one kg, a computer and a Santro car were reportedly recovered from Navin Kumar’s house. [2] The police arrested traffic constable Vinod Kumar on charges of raping a fourteen-year-old minor girl in Rudraprayag district on 2 December 2004. [3]

II. Atrocities against the Dalits

About 150 Dalit families of Ambedkar settlement in Shaheed Udham Singh Nagar district have reportedly been denied the right to food, justice, rehabilitation and land rights since their illegal eviction in 1993 despite Supreme Court ruling of February 2004 in their favour. In February 2004, the Supreme Court ruled that around 150 Dalit families in Ambedkar settlement have legal rights to over one-thousand acres of land. The Dalit community of Ambedkar settlement had been legally tilling the land in question for over thirty years till they were forcibly evicted in 1993 by the police and other officials. The village was reportedly demolished in connivance with a private company M/s Escort Farms Ltd and over 80 of the villagers were detained for eight days on charges of disturbing the peace. In 1992, a local government official had declared the Dalit settlement as ‘surplus land’ under state law, but the private company M/s Escort Farms Ltd contested the granting of title in the Allahabad High Court. In May 1995 the court rejected the petition and ordered the state government to pay one million rupees in compensation to be used for the rehabilitation and resettlement of the villagers. The company moved the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court asked the state government to return the land to the Dalits. But the state government failed to respect and implement the Supreme Court order. Due to the lack of livelihood and rehabilitation, around 150 Dalit families in Ambedkar settlement had been facing severe starvation. [4]

On 19 November 2004, a Dalit bridegroom, Nand Kishore, son of police constable Lalita Prasad Tamta, was allegedly ill-treated in his own village Hanera in Pitthoragarh district while returning after his wedding in Bagheshwar, along with the procession. The ‘sawarnas’ (upper caste) people allegedly blocked the Dalit “baraat” procession and refused to let the party pass through the road outside their houses. Some allegedly threw dirty water at the ‘baraat’, and they not only made derogatory casteist remarks against the ‘baraat’ but also pushed the bride’s palanquin. The police have arrested seven persons in this connection, and charges have been framed against them under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. [5]

III. Internally Displaced Persons

The Pancheswar Dam, an Indo-Nepal joint project, in Pithoragarh district near the Indo-Nepal border will reportedly cause displacement of 80,000 people in India and 20,000 in Nepal. The groundwork has already begun for the 315-metre-tall dam, which will be higher than the Tehri dam. The reservoir of the dam would span 120 square kilometers and submerge about 146 villages in India and 50 villages in Nepal respectively. [6]

Rehabilitation of the persons displaced due to Tehri hydel project has not been completed so far. Although the state government claimed that it had completed the rehabilitation till 760 meters level, some displaced villagers are still waging their last battle in Old Tehri town itself. [7] The Tehri Dam authorities have already spent Rs.1,000 crores on the rehabilitation process but the money did not allegedly reach the affected people in rural areas. [8]

IV. The Maoists

The activities of the Maoists from Nepal have reportedly increased in Uttaranchal.

On 28 August 2004, a two-year-old girl identified as Gudia daughter of Laxmi Dutt Gadkoti, former president of the Jhulaghat Vyapar Sangh, was seriously injured when Maoists opened fire on Indian side from across the Indo-Nepal border at Jhulaghat in Pitthoragarh district. [9] On 24 September 2004, the Maoists burnt a wooden bridge connecting India and Nepal in the district. [10]

The Uttaranchal police arrested five suspected Maoist sympathisers in the forests of Udham Singh Nagar adjoining Nepal on 30 August 2004.  Those arrested persons were reportedly locals acting as carriers of food and other essential items to some activists of the Maoist Communist Centre of India. [11]

In October 2004, 18-year-old Khemraj Bhatt, an alleged Maoist area commander from Nepal was arrested while trying to re-enter Nepal from Lohaghat area of Champawat district. On 19 December 2004, Uttaranchal police stated that Bhatt would be handed over to the Royal Nepalese Army after consultations with the Ministry of External Affairs. [12]


[1] . Uttaranchal bundh to protest death of activist, The Deccan Herald, 11 August 2004

[2] . Policemen turn Ali Babas in Uttaranchal, The Deccan Herald, 8 January 2004

[3] . Cop arrested on rape charge, The Central Chronicle, 6 December 2004

[4] . http://www.foodjustice.net/ha/mainfile.php/ha2004/34

[5] . Dalit ‘baraat’ ill-treated seven arrested, The Tribune, 24 November 2004

[6] . Mega dam to be built in Uttaranchal, The Hindustan Times, 3 January 2004

[7] . Tehri hydel project may be commissioned by June, The Deccan Herald, 17 December 2004

[8] . Clash of titans in Tehri, The Central Chronicle, 28 April 2004

[9] . Uttaranchal kid hurt in Maoist firing, The Indian Express, 30 August 2004

[10] . Maoists burn bridge linking India, Nepal in Uttaranchal, The Indian Express, 25 September 2004

[11] . Maoist ‘supporters’ held, The Hindu, 1 September 2004

[12] . Maoist to be handed over to Nepal, The Indian Express, 20 December 2004