Governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party, Madhya Pradesh continued to witness serious human rights violations against women, Dalits, tribals and religious minorities. Dalit and tribal women were specifically targeted and those who sought justice faced physical intimidation and violence including killings.
The human rights situation remained grim. The NHRC registered 10 deaths in police custody, six alleged encounter deaths, three disappearances, 59 deaths in judicial custody, six illegal arrests, eight unlawful detentions, 108 false implication of innocent persons, and 194 cases of “other police excesses” in Madhya Pradesh during 1 April 2006 – 31 March 2007. The National Crime Records Bureau recorded killing of nine civilians in police firing in 2006.
Tribals and Dalits faced ongoing widespread and serious violations of human rights. According to the Ministry of Rural Development of Government of India, Madhya Pradesh’s courts had ruled on 29,596 cases on alienation and restoration of tribal lands in 2007. Not a single case was ruled in favour of any tribal.
Another 24,210 cases were pending in the court. A total of 53,806 cases involving 158,398 acres of land were filed in the court in the Madhya Pradesh.
The Judiciary faced significant case backlogs. A total of 1,87,677 cases were pending with the Madhya Pradesh High Court and 1,02,3939 cases were pending with the District and Subordinate Courts as of 30 September 2007. The courts had inadequate numbers of staff including stenographers for the trial court judges. On 1 January 2008, there were 2 vacancies against the sanctioned strength of 43 in the Madhya Pradesh High Court while there were 310 vacancies against the sanctioned strength of 1,221 in the District and Subordinate Courts as on 30 September 2007.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 3,939 cases of crimes against children were reported in 2006. These included 117 cases of murder, 829 cases of rape, 237 cases of kidnapping and abduction, among others. On 12 March 2007, State Labour Minister Jagdish Deora informed the State Assembly that there were 10,65,259 child labourers in Madhya Pradesh as per the 2001 census. The government had reportedly freed 8,826 children employed in hazardous industries.
Finally dam-affected villagers of Madhya Pradesh were left out during the survey of submergence areas. In November 2007, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) handed over evidence of 2,200 houses in 46 villages in Khandwa and Dewas districts to the Grievances Redressal Authority that were apparently deliberately left out during a survey of submergence area of the Indira Sagar Dam.
Police were responsible for serious human rights violations. According to the 2006 Annual Report of National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 22,224 complaints were received against the police personnel in Madhya Pradesh during 2006. Of them, a departmental inquiry was ordered into 4,787 cases and magisterial inquiry was ordered into 348 cases. 18 police personnel were sent up for trial during the year. Of the 6 police personnel whose trials were completed, 2 were convicted and 4 acquitted.
The NHRC recorded 10 police custody deaths in Madhya Pradesh during 1 April 2006 – 31 March 2007. The National Crime Records Bureau of the Ministry of Home Affairs recorded two deaths in police custody in 2006. The police claimed that one of them had committed suicide while the other died a natural death.
Asian Centre for Human Rights documented several custodial deaths in Madhya Pradesh during 2007.
On 1 March 2007, Chandrabhan, son of Babulal, died due to alleged torture in the custody of Pipri police station in Gwalior. The deceased was arrested after he had eloped with his girlfriend Ramshri Bai Lodhi.
On 2 April 2007, 50-year-old Ram Lal Sahu allegedly committed suicide in the Bandri police station in Sagar district following his arrest on 1 April 2007. The concerns over the case were confirmed when assistant Sub Inspector Purushottam Tiwari and constable Arun Kumar were suspended in the case.
On 9 April 2007, Santosh Jadon, resident of Raja Ka Tor village, died due to alleged torture in the custody of the Sabalgarh police station in Morena district. He was arrested from Kharela village under Sabalgarh police station on 8 April 2007 in connection with theft. On 9 April 2007, he was admitted to Jayarogya Hospital in a critical condition where he died. Police claimed that he was very drunk at the time of arrest and died as a result of alcohol poisoning. The deceased’s family members alleged that he died due to torture in custody.
On 21 May 2007, a woman identified as Geeta Devi (30) committed suicide by consuming poison alleging police torture shortly after she was released from police custody of Gourihar police station under Chhattarpur district in Madhya Pradesh. She was interrogated in connection with the theft of a motorcycle.
On the night of 19 October 2007, Ghanshyam Choudhary, son of Nanuram Choudhary of Khatipura, was allegedly tortured to death in police custody at Heera Nagar Police Station in Indore of Madhya Pradesh after he was picked up in connection with a theft case. Heera Nagar police station in-charge, D P Ahirwar and other police personnel, who were drunk, allegedly tied the deceased to a tree and beat him. His condition deteriorated in the police lock-up. Subsequently, he was taken to Bapat hospital from where he was taken to Maharaja Yashwantrao hospital, Indore where he died.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, nine civilians were killed in police shooting incidents in Madhya Pradesh during 2006. The NHRC received six cases of alleged encounter deaths in the state during 1 April 2006 – 31 March 2007.
In 2007, there were many reports of extrajudicial executions.
On 2 July 2007, a tribal identified as Ramesh Vasunia of Jhaida village in Jhabua district was allegedly shot dead by police personnel. When he was shot the victim was accompanied by one Kamlesh Jain and four other persons and his wife and was returning to his village from Meghnagar. The police allegedly conducted the post-mortem hurriedly during the night and cremated the body the same night. The victim’s wife was also allegedly forced to sign on a First Information Report fabricated by the police.
On 21 July 2007, Asish Gohil, son of a deputy ranger, was shot dead by the police in an alleged encounter in Indore. The deceased allegedly fired at the police having been asked to stop.
On 22 September 2007, as Rajendra Singh Patel of Bihara village was killed when a factory guard opened fire on a demonstration by unemployed youth before the J.P. Cement factory at Rewa.
On 23 November 2007, a farmer identified as Ganesh Sahu was shot dead by the police after mistaking him for a dacoit in the forests at Udaipur village of Satna district. Initially the police claimed that Ganesh Sahu was killed by docoits.
Tribals face serious repression in Madhya Pradesh and denial of rights. According to the National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 1,498 cases of crime against the Scheduled Tribes (STs) were reported in 2006. These included 45 cases of murder, 284 cases of rape, 14 cases of kidnapping and abduction, 218 cases under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989. The rate of filing charge-sheeting for crimes against tribals was 99.2% against conviction rate of 34.9% in 2006.
According to Ministry of Rural Development of Government of India, Madhya Pradesh has the distinction of not deciding a single case in favour of the tribals after adjudication of 29,596 cases decided by 2007. Another 24,210 cases were pending in the court. A total of 53,806 cases involving 158,398 acres of land were filed in the court in the Madhya Pradesh.
The government of Madhya Pradesh failed to implement the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Tribal peoples faced evictions from their forest dwellings although they have lived there for generations.
On 19 April 2007, several tribal forest dwellers, including women and children, were injured when the police opened fire on them after they resisted eviction at Gateha village of Teonthar tehsil in Rewa district.
In December 2007, forest dwellers from Nepanagar in Burhanpur district were beaten up and forcefully evicted from their villages by the State Forest department authorities after they were treated as encroachers on forest lands.
The Madhya Pradesh government refused to issue Scheduled Tribes certificates to the tribal children of Barela, Bhil, Bhillala, Patelia and Nagwanshi tribal communities living in 13 villages in Buxwaha block in Chhattarpur district and three villages under Batiagarh block in Damoh district although they are recognized as Scheduled Tribes in the state of Madhya Pradesh. A survey conducted by Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network (AITPN) in 2007 found that majority of these tribals possessed legal documents such as ration cards, voter identity cards, land patta issued by the Madhya Pradesh government, educational certificates, and some even possess court documents to prove their lands to establish beyond doubt that they are genuine residents of Madhya Pradesh. Yet, the state government of Madhya Pradesh turned down several pleas made by these tribal communities to issue ST certificates. Due to non-issuance of tribal certificates, they have been denied rights and welfare schemes to which they are otherwise entitled to under the Constitution as well as relevant laws such as education, scholarships, employment, land rights, etc. Finally when human rights violations are committed against tribals, the police do not register cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989.
According to the National Crime Records Bureau, a total of 4,214 cases of crime against Scheduled Castes (SCs) including 76 cases of murder, 335 cases of rape, 37 cases of kidnapping and abduction 338 cases under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 in Madhya Pradesh during 2006.
On 13 August 2007, Dalit farmer Khilan Singh Ahirwar was burnt alive by four people of the Yadav community following a land dispute at Dhurhara village near Vidisha.
On 25 September 2007, a Dalit labourer identified as Lalsingh Jatav was tortured by two upper caste persons named Kadamsingh Kushwaha and Ball Singh for refusing to work in their fields at Murdav village in Morena district of Madhya Pradesh. The victim was tied to a tractor and dragged on the village street. He sustained serious injuries.
On 11 November 2007, Dalit Kailash was burnt alive by upper castes after he dared to beat away a few animals of high caste people which had strayed into his house at Kharoda village in Dhar district of Madhya Predesh.
In March 2007, a one-member Judicial Inquiry Commission headed by Justice Meena Bhatt inquiring the death of a Dalit in police firing at Gaisabad town in Damoh district had given a clean chit to the police and administration. The report, submitted to the State Assembly stated that Dalit Tulsiram Ahirwar was killed and four others injured when constable Khilan Singh opened fire in self-defence to control a violent mob on 13 February 2000. The Commission stated that no person or official could be held responsible under the circumstances.
The National Crime Records Bureau recorded a total of 14,321 cases of crime against women in 2006. These included 2,900 cases of rape, 617 cases of kidnapping and abduction, 764 cases of dowry death, 2,989 cases of cruelty by husband and relatives, 6,243 cases of molestation, 12 cases of Immoral Trafficking (Prevention) Act of 1956, among others, in Madhya Pradesh during 2006.
On the night of 24 May 2007, a 16-year-old tribal girl was raped by two upper caste Home Guards in the Harda district Collector’s office premises. The victim was working as a labourer at the District Collector’s office. The accused identified as Jitendra and Pankaj have been arrested.
On 17 June 2007, Dalit woman Sarpanch (Village Chief), Indira Kushwah of Mahoikala village in Chattarpur district was beaten up, stripped and paraded naked by upper caste men Lakhan Shukla and Santosh Shukla for not paying them Rs 50,000 from the village development fund.
On 21 November 2007, a Dalit woman identified as Urmila Bai reportedly committed suicide in public in frustration over police inaction after she was raped twice by a Sarpanch’s son, Kale for daring to raise her voice against the corrupt sarpanch in Betul district. Earlier, on 9 October 2007, she told the police that she would take the extreme steps if they failed to act against her rapist.
VI. Violations of prisoners’ rights
Prison conditions remain deplorable. The NHRC recorded a total of 59 cases of deaths in judicial custody in Madhya Pradesh during 1 April 2006 – 31 March 2007.
On 17 April 2007, under-trial prisoner Makhan Singh Kushwah died under circumstances of concern at Joura Sub Jail in Morena district. According to the jailor of Joura Sub Jail, Poonam Singh Baredia, the deceased suffered from epileptic fit and died on the way to hospital. On the other hand, the family members of the deceased claimed that the deceased was tortured to death in the jail.
On 9 April 2007, under-trial prisoner Devendra Singh, lodged in the sub-jail of Vidisha, reportedly died during treatment after he was taken to hospital following complaint of chest pain.
1. Information obtained by ACHR from NHRC through RTI application
2. 2006 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau
4. Supreme Court of India, Court News- October – December 2007, available at: http://supremecourtofindia.nic.in/CtNewsOct_Dec07.pdf
5. Litigants suffer due to lack of judges in State, The Pioneer, 22 February 2007
6. 2006 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau
7. MP has more than 10 lakh child labourers, The Central Chronicle, 13 March 2007
8. 46 dam-hit villages left out in survey: NBA, The Central Chronicle, 22 November 2007
9. 2006 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau
10. Information obtained by ACHR from NHRC through RTI application
11. The National Crime Records Bureau, Annual Report 2006
12. Youth commits suicide in police custody, The Pioneer, 2 March 2007
13. Two police officials suspended, The Pioneer, 4 April 2007
14. Man dies in custody, tension in Morena, The Hindustan Times, Bhopal Edition, 10 April 2007, available at http://hindustandainik.com/news/5922_1967061,0015002100000001.htm
15. 'Harassed' woman commits suicide in Chhattarpur, The Pioneer, 24 May 2007
16. Custodial death: Irate mob torch police station, The Central Chronicle, 21 October 2007
17. 2006 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau
18. Information obtained by ACHR from NHRC through the RTI Act
19. Walk-out over killing of tribal in police firing, The Hindu, 25 July 2007
20. Magisterial probe ordered into Indore encounter, The Pioneer, 25 July 2007
21. Probe ordered into M.P. firing incident, The Hindu, 24 September 2007
22. Cops mistake farmer for dacoit, kill him, The Indian Express, 25 November 2007
23. 2006 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau
25. Governor's intervention sought in Rewa firing, The Pioneer, 24 April 2007
26. Forest dwellers allege eviction, The Hindu, 15 December 2007
27. 2006 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau
28. Dalit burnt over land issue, The Deccan Herald, 14 August 2007
29. Dalit labourer dragged by tractor over refusal to work, The Times of India, 26 September 2007
30. Dalit man set ablaze for shooing away cattle, available at: http://www.ibnlive.com/news/dalit-man-set-ablaze-for-shooing-away-cattle/52203-3.html?xml
31. Clean chit to cops in police firing, The Pioneer, 31 March 2007
32. 2006 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau
33. Teenager raped in Collector's office premises, The Pioneer, 26 May 2007
34. Dalit sarpanch paraded naked in MP village, The Times of India, 3 February 2007
35. CASTE ASIDE - Dalit woman raped twice, driven to suicide, The Hindustan Times, 23 November 2007
36. Information obtained by ACHR from NHRC by filing of RTI application
37. Irked over prisoner's death villagers stage roadblock, The Pioneer, 18 April 2007
38. Undertrial dies during treatment, The Times of India, 9 April 2007