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  • Bihar


    I. Overview. 1

    II. Human rights violations by the security forces 2

    a. Violations of the right to life. 2

    b. Arbitrary arrest, illegal detention and torture. 3

    III. Violations of International Humanitarian Law by the AOGs 3

    a. Violations of the right to life. 3

    b. Destruction of public properties 4

    IV. Judiciary and administration of justice. 4

    V. Freedom of the press 5

    VI. Mob violence. 5

    VII. Violations of the rights of the Dalits 6

    a. Denial of access to public places 6

    b. Physical attacks against the Dalits 7

    c. Violence against Dalit women. 7

    VIII. Violations of the rights of the child. 8

    IX. Violations of the prisoners’ rights 9


    I. Overview

     

    Bihar remained the most lawless State in India. According to police records, a total of 2516 cases were registered in Gopalganj district alone in 2007. These included 48 murder cases, 9 rape cases, 25 dowry death cases and 38 cases under Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocity Act among others.[1]

     

    During 2007, Bihar witnessed increasing mob violence. In September 2007, the Bihar government decided to impose a fine on an entire village if its residents take the law in their own hands while dealing with criminal offenders. On 13 September 2007, 10 suspected thieves were beaten to death with sticks and iron rods by hundreds of villagers at Dhelpurwa village in Vaishali district.[2]

     

    The State government of Bihar had reportedly been preparing a three-pronged strategy to deal with the Naxalites: increased security action against the Naxalites, strengthening the intelligence network and effective implementation of the development schemes. In the wake of the Naxal attack on two police stations in Rohtas district that killed nine persons including five policemen, Bihar demanded 10 companies of paramilitary forces from the Centre to fight the Naxalites. The government of Bihar has reportedly been negotiating with insurance companies including General Insurance Corporation, National Insurance Corporation and Life Insurance Corporation to provide insurance cover of Rs 10 lakh to police personnel deployed in the Naxal affected areas.[3] After the meeting of the National Security Council on 2 August 2007, the Central government selected two districts in Bihar to launch “strong anti-Naxalite action”.

     

    Kidnapping for ransom remained a flourishing business in Bihar. Lawyers, doctors, contractors and businessmen and school students were prime targets. According to official estimates, more than 900 persons were abducted across the state in the first three months of 2007 alone. Over 2,000 persons were kidnapped in 2006.[4] But these figures were only a fraction of the reality. Most cases go unreported.  

     

    II. Human rights violations by the security forces


    a. Violations of the right to life

     

    The Bihar Police were responsible for gross human rights violations including torture and violations of the right to life.

     

    According to information obtained by Asian Centre for Human Rights under the the Right to Information (RTI) Act, NHRC received two cases of deaths in police custody in Bihar during the period of 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007.

     

    In 2007, ACHR documented a number of deaths in police custody.

     

    On 22 January 2007, Prabhas Singh was allegedly tortured to death in the custody of the police of Alamnagar police station in Madhepura district. He was arrested in connection with a dowry case filed by his wife. Sub-Inspector Shiv Shankar Chowdhury allegedly demanded bribe from Singh for withdrawal of the case and was beaten to death when he refused to pay. Doctors at the local Sadar Hospital said he was brought dead and blood was oozing out of the mouth, nose and ears.[5]

     

    On 5 October 2007, Ashok Shah, a political leader associated with CPI (ML), died due to alleged police torture after he was arrested on charges of attempt to rape in Runi Saidpur under Sitamarhi district of Bihar.[6]

     

    The police also resorted to indiscriminate firing at civilians. On 16 March 2007, two persons were killed and at least six others injured when police opened fire at people protesting irregularities in preparation of the below poverty line list in Matihani block in Begusarai district.[7] On 3 August 2007, Darshan Thakur was killed and three other injured when constable Aditya Narayan Singh opened fire at flood victims in Madhubani district.[8]

     

    However, there were reports of civilians being killed in fake encounters. On 14 May 2007, three policemen were suspended for their involvement in a fake encounter, in which a woman and her daughter were killed at Ranjitpur village in Sitamarhi during an anti-Naxal operation.[9] Similarly, on 19 May 2007, two Sub-Inspectors, Kaisar Alam and Utttam Singh were arrested on the charge of killing a youth identified as Mohd Gufran in a fake encounter in Samastipur district in 2002.[10]

     

    b. Arbitrary arrest, illegal detention and torture

     

    According to the figures received by Asian Centre for Human Rights through the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the NHRC received only one case of illegal arrest, three cases of unlawful detention and 334 other cases of police excesses in Bihar during the period of 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007. Besides, the police failed to take action in 410 cases during the same period.

     

    During 2007, Bihar witnessed increased number of mob violence. The police were themselves accused of taking part in the mob.

     

    On 28 August 2007, Mohd Aurangajeb alias Salim, an alleged thief, was reportedly tied behind a motorcycle by Assistant Sub-Inspector LB Singh and Constable Ramchandra Singh and dragged on the roads of Nathanagar locality in Bhagalpur. However on 30 October 2007, an inquiry committee, constituted by the state government to probe the role of the policemen, cleared the policemen of all charges claiming that they were actually trying to save Salim from the mob.[11]

     

     

    III. Violations of International Humanitarian Law by the AOGs

     

    The Naxalites were responsible for gross violations of international humanitarian law including killing, abduction, torture, summary executions after trial by its so-called Peoples' Court, Jana Adalat etc.

     

    a. Violations of the right to life

     

    According to the estimate of Asian Centre for Human Rights, the Maoists killed at least 28 persons in Bihar during January – September 2007 alone. Of them, 13 were civilians.[12]

     

    Some of the victims included:

     

    -          Laxmi Narayan Kunwar and Nandu Singh who were killed at Maniapur village in East Champaran district in May 2007;[13]

    -          Ramchandra Yadav, a Janata Dal (U) activist, and Anil Yadav who were killed with their throats slashed at Satgharwa village in Munger district on 29 May 2007;[14] and

    -          Arun Kumar, Kapildev and Abhay Kant who were killed at Sukki village under Patepur block in Vaishali district on 10 December 2007.[15]

     

    In most cases the victims were accused of being police informers.

     

    The Naxalites also continued to deliver kangaroo justice through so-called Jana Adalats, Peoples' Courts. Trials were arbitrary and those found guilty were awarded capital punishment. On 1 July 2007, Shambhu Shah and Meghu Ram were beaten to death by the Naxalites in the presence of the villagers after the “Jan Adalat” (People’s Court) sentenced them to death on the charge of being police informers at Sisahani village under Pakri Dayal police station of East Champaran district of Bihar. Another villager Laxmi Shah was critically injured and was admitted at Motihari Sadar Hospital.[16]

     

    b. Destruction of public properties

     

    The Naxalites also destroyed of infrastructure.

     

    On 10 April 2007, the Maosts blew up buildings of two adjacent schools which were being housed a CRPF picket earlier Munger district.[17]

     

    In October 2007, the Maoists blew up a railway track near Tilrath railway station in Begusarai district during bandh called by them.[18]

     

    On the night of 11 November 2007, the Maoists blew up the Kesath block office in Buxar district.[19]

     

    On 2 December 2007, the Maoists blew up the railway track at Rajapatti station in Chapra district to protest the arrest of one of their leaders.[20]  

     

    IV. Judiciary and administration of justice

     

    Judicial delay was further compounded due to large number of vacancies in the judiciary. There were 14 vacancies of judges against the sanctioned strength of 43 in the Patna High Court as on 1 January 20008. In the District and Subordinate Courts, 541 posts of judges were vacant as of 30th September 2007. A total of 1,02,165  cases were pending before the Patna High Court and a total of  13,49,510 cases were pending before the District and Subordinate Courts as on 30th September 2007.

     

    On 7 July 2007, a Bhagalpur Court awarded life imprisonment to fourteen persons in the Bhagalpur massacre in which 116 members of a minority community were killed in 1989.[21] On 5 September 2007, a fast track court in Nawada awarded death penalty to four persons in connection with the massacre of five persons at a temple in Dola village on 11 August 2005.[22]

     

    However, there was lack of security to judges/lawyers especially those who were involved in speedy trials. On 8 November 2007, Ram Naresh Sharma, public prosecutor in the Begusarai civil court, was shot dead by unidentified gummen at his residence in Begusarai town. He was representing prosecution in speedy trial of all the criminal cases involving don-turned MP Surajbhan Singh.[23]  

     

    V. Freedom of the press

     

    The media was at receiving ends in Bihar. On 1 November 2007, two journalists of the NDTV news channel Prakash Singh and Habib Ali were reportedly taken hostage and assaulted by ruling JD (U) MLA Anant Kumar Singh and his men when they went to his residence at Mall Road in Patna to seek his comment in a case of alleged rape and murder of a woman. NDTV’s cameraman Habib Ali received internal injuries in the chest and had to be admitted in an ICU. Several other journalists were also assaulted including ANI cameraman Ajay Kumar who was seriously injured.[24]

     

    VI. Mob violence

     

    During 2007, Bihar witnessed increased number of mob violence.

     

    In September 2007, the Bihar government decided to impose a fine on the entire village if its residents take the law in their own hands while dealing with criminal offenders. On 13 September 2007, 10 suspected thieves were beaten to death with sticks and iron rods by hundreds of villagers at Dhelpurwa village in Vaishali district. On 10 September 2007, a mob had reportedly gouged out the eyes of three persons for snatching a motorcycle in Nawada district. Similarly, on 28 August 2007, a youth, who had snatched a gold chain from a woman, was badly beaten up by a mob at Nathnagar in Bhagalpur.[25]

     

    On the night of 24 September 2007, Bikrama Ram, an alleged thief, was beaten to death at Lokhara village under Majhagarh police station in Gopalganj district.[26]

     

    Passengers from the North east India traveling through Bihar faced threats to life due to killings of migrant workers in Asom by the AOGs. On 25 January 2007, Daimalu Daimary, son of Binoy Daimary of Bagaribari village under Mazbat police station in Udalguri district of Asom, was tortured and killed at Danapur railway station on his way to Asom from New Delhi.[27]

    VII. Violations of the rights of the Dalits

     

    Caste-based violence and discrimination against the Dalits were common in the State.

     

    According to official figures, there was rise in cases of atrocities against the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs) in Bihar. A total of 1932 cases of atrocities against SCs and STs were registered during 2007 against 1729 in 2006. Out of the cases registered during 2007, one related to murder, 11 to rape, 8 arson, and 67 under the SC/ST Atrocities Prevention Act of 1989 and the Indian Penal Code.[28] However, the official figures did not reflect the actual figure. Many cases go unreported due to fear of reprisal and in many cases police did not registers the complaints.

     

    a. Denial of access to public places

     

    The Dalits continued to face systematic discrimination and untouchability. On 15 August 2007, the head of Dumari panchayat, Ram Sinhasan Ram was assaulted when he dared to hoist the national flag at Durgavati in Sasaram because he was a Dalit. Similarly, deputy mukhiya (village headman) Subodh Kumar Paswan, another Dalit, was barred from hoisting the tricolour at Arajpur panchayat at Madhepura.[29]

     

    Mid-day meals for schools cooked by Dalits were refused. In June 2007, Muslim students of a Government-run Urdu school in Rohtas district refused to eat the mid-day meal cooked by a Dalit woman.[30]

     

    b. Physical attacks against the Dalits

     

    The police were themselves the perpetrators of crimes against Dalits.

     

    On 22 August 2007, two minor Dalit girls identified as Kamli, 10, and Chandni, 8, of Manipur village in Samastipur district were drowned and died after they were allegedly thrown into floodwater by Lalal Singh, a Bihar Military Police constable, for collecting firewood from his orchard. [31]


    In November 2007, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued a notice to the Bihar government on the alleged
    crimes against Dalits by a police inspector in Buxar district. The police inspector reportedly picked up 18 Dalits from Bannarpur village and severely beaten and forced them to lick spit after being kept in the lockup for about 24 hours. Later, he called their wives to the station and asked to beat them with their slippers which they refused.[32]

     

    Politicians were also involved in violence based on discrimination. On 14 June 2007, state Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh allegedly beat up a widow who had gone to meet him seeking an employment for her son in Bhagalpur.[33]

     

    On 18 August 2007, Dalit student Navin Kumar Paswan, a Class IV student of a government school, lost his eye after being beaten up by Headmaster Rajendra Jaiswal and teacher Shekhar Bharti for demanding more food during a mid-day meal of Aujapauchha village in Purneaa district.[34]

     

    c. Violence against Dalit women

     

    Dalit women continued to be vulnerable. There were reports of killing, rape and torture of Dalit women.

     

    On 18 May 2007, a Dalit woman identified as Kari Devi (45) was beaten to death by former village head Saroj Singh of Dhansir village in Gaya district on suspicion that she stole a cow.[35]

     

    On 31 August 2007, steaming dal was poured on a Dalit woman identified as Gyanti Devi and her six-month-old daughter by Ramavatar Yadav and his three sons in Patna in Bihar. Gyanti Devi was targeted because she had protested when her other children were being roughed up by Ramavtar for allowing the children to play in the premises of a temple.[36]

     

    In January 2007, Ranju Kumari, a Dalit woman of Ahiyari village under Kamtaul police station, was kidnapped and repeatedly raped for more than a month by two influential men Kailash Yadav and Manoj Yadav. She was taken to Patna and then to Amritsar in Punjab. Later, she was rescued by the Pingalwala Charitable Trust in Amritsar.[37]

     

    On 6 February 2007, a 14-year-old Dalit girl was gang-raped and then killed by three youths to avoid identification at Korandih village in Bhojpur district.[38]  

     

    VIII. Violations of the rights of the child  

     

    Children continued to face violence and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act of 2000 was routinely violated.

     

    In March 2007, a 17-year old minor identified as Arvind Kumar was forced to write his Class XII examinations in handcuffs at Dehrion-Sone in Sasaram district. The juvenile, a student of Navodaya Vidyalay in Aurangabad district of Bihar, was arrested on 31 January 2007 on the charge of murdering his classmate and sent to jail. The Aurangabad court granted him permission to appear for his examinations but he was forced to take his examinations in handcuffs in clear violations of the Supreme Court directive not to handcuff minor offenders. His pleadings for removal of the handcuffs during the examination were turned down by the police.[39]

     

    On 24 June 2007, two minors identified as Rakesh (8 years old) and Rahul (6 years old) were illegally detained by the police at the Shastri Nagar Police Station in Patna for six hours without food and water for allegedly stealing berries from a local market. The minor boys alleged that they were beaten-up and locked-up in the jail along with several other convicts. It was only when the local residents and media teams arrived at the police station that both the minors were released.[40]

     

    In June 2007, arrest warrant was issued against a three-year-old boy identified as Raj Kumar Jha alias Raju Jha, son of Raj Narayan Jha along with six other persons on the charges of rioting and attacking policemen during a clash between two communities in a village under Manihari police station of Katihar district. The boy was charged under sections 147, 148, 149, and 359 of the Indian Penal Code and the Arms Act. [41]

     

    On 25 September 2007, two minor sisters Rinku (3) and Sangita Kumari (7) appeared with their parents in district and sessions judge court for bail under various sections of IPC in Darbhanga disctrict. Rinku was charged with forcibly taking away a flowerpot, while Sangita was charged with grievously assaulting one Bhageshwari Devi.[42]

     

    IX. Violations of the prisoners’ rights

     

    Overcrowding remains a problem in Bihar jails. In April 2007, there were more than 42,000 people lodged in various jails of Bihar against a capacity of about 20,000.[43] There were constant reports of deaths of prisoners in judicial custody.

     

    According to information received by Asian Centre for Human Rights under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the NHRC received 193 cases of deaths in judicial custody in Bihar during the period of 1 April 2006 to 31 March 2007.

     

    ACHR also documented a number of cases of deaths in judicial custody during 2007.

     

    On 10 September 2007, an under-trial prisoner identified as Nagina Singh died in Gaya Central jail. While the jail officials claimed that he had committed “suicide” by jumping from the stairs, which lead to the second floor of the three-storied central jail, the jail inmates alleged that a jail official pushed him off the stairs. [44]

     

    Torture of prisoners continued to be reported. In January 2007, a Dalit prisoner identified as Arun Das, serving a sentence in a narcotic law-related case and lodged at Purnia jail, was allegedly tortured by prison officials for his failure to pay a bribe. The victim’s body allegedly bore burn marks inflicted by cigarette butts and his genetalia were also injured as the prison officials attempted to slash them with blades.[45]

     

    Prisoners were not provided timely medical assistance. In November 2007, an inmate identified as Bhuttu Chowdhary, lodged at the Beur Jail in Patna, reportedly died due to the negligence of the jail officials in providing timely medical assistance. The prisoner was said to be suffering from diarrhea.[46]

     



    [1]. Crime Statistics, Gopalganj District Police, available at: http://gopalganjpolice.bih.nic.in/crime.html

    [2]. Bihar : Entire village will be fined for mob violence, Rediffnews, 15 September 2007 , available at: http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/sep/15bihar.htm

    [3]. http://www.achrweb.org/ncm/NCM-VOL-02-03.pdf

    [4]. 3 months, 900 kidnappings in Bihar ,

    http://www.ibnlive.com/news/india/04_2007/3-months-900-kidnappings-in-bihar-38618.html

    [5]. Man refuses to bribe cop, dies in custody, The Indian Express, 24 January 2007

    [6]. Bihar CPI(ML) leader dies in custody, The Indian Express, 6 October 2007

    [7]. Officer, retd Armymen in Bihar BPL list, Dalit landless are out, The Indian Express, 19 March 2007

    [8]. Policeman Suspended for Firing on Flood Victims, The Patnadaily, 5 August 2007

    [9]. Gujarat fake encounter finds its echo in Bihar , 3 cops suspended, The Pioneer, 15 May 2007

    [10]. Bihar DGP orders arrest of two encounter cops, The Pioneer, 21 May 2007

    [11]. Clean chit for Bhagalpur cops guilty of dragging thief, The Pioneer, 31 October 2007

    [12]. See ACHR’s quarterly newsletter, Naxal Conflict Monitor series of 2007, available at http://www.achrweb.org/ncm/ncm.htm 

    [13]. Two shot dead by naxalites in Bihar , The Hindu, 25 May 2007

    [14]. Naxals Kill Two in Munger District, The Patnadaily, 1 June 2007

    [15]. Police start hunt for red killers, The Telegraph, 12 December 2007

    [16]. http://www.achrweb.org/ncm/NCM-VOL-02-03.pdf

    [17]. Naxalites blow up two schools in Bihar , http://www.expressindia.com/fullstory.php?newsid=84579

    [18]. Naxals in Begusarai Blow up Train Tracks, The Patnadaily.com, 31 October 2007

    [19]. Naxalites Blow up Block Office in Buxar District, The Patnadaily, 13 November 2007

    [20]. Maoists blow up rly track in Bihar , The Statesman, 3 December 2007

    [21]. 14 get life term for ’89 massacre, The Telegraph, 8 July 2007

    [22]. Death for four for massacre, The Hindu, 6 September 2007

    [23]. Public prosecutor shot dead in Bihar , CM orders probe, The Times of India, 9 November 2007

    [24]. Bihar ruling party MLA held after he and goons assault 3 journalists, The Indian Express, 2 November 2007

    [25]. Bihar : Entire village will be fined for mob violence, Rediffnews, 15 September 2007 , available at: http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/sep/15bihar.htm

    [26]. Another lynching in Bihar , The Hindu, 26 September 2007

    [27]. Minister flays killing of Bodo youth in Bihar , The Assam Tribune, 5 February 2007

    [28]. Atrocities on Bihar ’s SC, ST on rise, The Times of India , 21 March 2008

    [29]. Dalit mukhiya assaulted for hoisting tricolour, The Deccan Herald, 18 August 2007

    [30]. Muslim students refuse food cooked by Dalit woman, The Pioneer, 29 June 2007

    [31]. Policemen throw 2 Dalit girls into floodwater, The Deccan Herald, 24 August 2007

    [32]. NHRC issues notice to Bihar govt on atrocities, The Tribune, 8 November 2007

    [33]. Protest against Minister for Alleged Roughing Up of a Widow, The Patna Daily, 15 June 2007

    [34]. Dalit student beaten up, loses vision, The Tribune, 23 August 2007

    [35]. Dalit woman beaten to death, The Deccan Herald, 21 May 2007

    [36]. Dalit woman taught ‘lesson’ for standing up, The Indian Express, 2 September 2007

    [37]. Dalit woman kidnapped in Darbhanga, The Hindustan Times, 27 April 2007

    [38]. Dalit girl gang-raped, killed in Bihar, The Indian Express, 16 February 2007

    [39]. 17-yr-old takes examin handcuffs, The Hindustan Times, 15 March 2007

    [40]. Complaint of Asian Centre for Human Rights with the National Human Rights Commission of

    India dated 26 June 2007

    [41]. Warrant against 3-yr-old for rioting, The Hindustan Times, 22 June 2007

    [42]. Minor in dock shocks judge - Three-year-old accused of assaulting woman, The Telegraph, 1 October 2007

    [43]. Bihar jails crammed, Nitish plans amnesty for elderly and petty, The Indian Express, 27 April 2007

    [44]. Cloud over jail ‘suicide’- Gaya district magistrate seeks two inquiries into the case, The Telegraph, India, 11 September 2007

    [45]. Inmate torture probe, The Telegraph, 18 January 2007

    [46]. Uproar at Beur Jail after Inmate's Death, The Patnadaily, 14 November 2007

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