Ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Rajasthan Police has repeatedly resorted to disproportionate force against protestors. The 2007 protests by Gujjars demanding Scheduled Tribal status and the killing of 21 persons by the police was the most serious human rights violation by the State.
Dalits faced serious ongoing discrimination and violations for attempting to enter public buildings and places. The National Crime Records Bureau recorded a total of 3910 cases of crimes against the Dalits in Rajasthan during 2006. Dalit women were particularly vulnerable to violence. The NCRB recorded a total of 12,934 cases of violence against women in 2006.
The NCRB also recorded 951 cases of crime against children including 71 cases of killing 311 cases of rape during the same time. According to official estimates, 1,029 children were reported missing in Rajasthan since 2001.On an average, 170 children go missing in Rajasthan every year or one child every two days.
The failure to appoint adequate judges contributed to the increased backlog of cases in the courts. As of 30th September 2007, there were 2,12,451 cases pending in the Rajasthan High Court and 11,02,918 cases pending in the district and subordinate courts of Rajasthan. There were vacancies of 5 judges in the Rajasthan High Court as on 1st January 2008 and 136 judges in the district and subordinate courts as on 30th September 2007.
The Rajasthan Police were responsible for serious human rights violations. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) received two cases of encounter deaths and three cases of custodial deaths in police custody from Rajasthan during 1 April 2006 – 31 March 2007. In addition, the NHRC also registered one case of custodial violence, one case of illegal arrest, 14 cases of unlawful detention, 270 cases of failure on the part of the state administration in taking action, 107 cases of false implication, and 238 cases of “other police excesses” during the same period.
On 29 May 2007, the Gujjars launched protests demanding Scheduled Tribe status in Rajasthan. The security forces responded with indiscriminate use of force. During a weeklong protest which ended on 4 June 2007, at least 26 persons were killed, of which 21 persons who were killed by the police.
On 23 December 2007, one person was killed when police opened fire on a group of villagers at Kapasan in Chittaurgarh district.
On 27 September 2007, Hazrat Ali (25), s/o Samsad Seikh and Jinnat Ali (32), s/o Maharuddin Seikh, residents of Murshidabad in West Bengal, were arrested by the police of Jotbara police station from Kachi Basti area in Rajasthan after they had gone to Rajasthan to look for a job. They were taken to the Jotbara Police Station where they were beaten up by the police in the lock-up. Later, they were shifted to Muralipur police station and Boishalinagar Police Station where they were tortured. The police registered a case under Foreigners Act and Arms Act against the victims.
The NCRB recorded 967 cases of violations of the rights of the tribal peoples in Rajasthan during 2006. These included 20 cases of killing, 32 cases of rape and 26 cases under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. In Rajasthan, the charge-sheeting rate for the crimes committed against the tribals during 2006 was 99.6.
In February 2007, a tribal identified as Ram Lal was killed in police firing in Rishhabdev town in Udaipur district. The family members of the deceased were paid only Rs 1 lakh as compensation.
The state government failed to check alienation of tribal lands. According to the Annual Report 2007-08 of the Ministry of Rural Development, Government of India, and a total of 2,084 cases of land alienation involving 6,615 acres of land have been filed in the court in Rajasthan. 1,257 cases have been disposed of by the court, of which only 187 cases (involving 587 acres of land) have been disposed of in favor of tribals while 53 cases involving 187 acres were rejected.
Dalits continue to face serious violation. According to the NCRB a total of 3910 cases of crimes were recorded against the Dalits in Rajasthan during 2006. Of these, 60 cases were killing, 132 rape cases, and 119 cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocity) Act, 1989.
Apart from atrocities, Dalits are denied access to public places and prevented from performing official duties in public places.
On 17 June 2007, Dalit, Ramlal reportedly sustained three fractures in his hands after a mob beat him up with sticks and iron rods for touching a community water pump at Takholi village in Tonk district.
On 15 August 2007, Dhanvanti Devi Meghwal, Pradhan of Shergarh panchayat Samiti in Jodhpur district, was prevented from hoisting the national flag on the Independence Day function. She alleged that the local Member of Legislative Assembly humiliated her in public.
On 25 October 2007, a Dalit social worker associated with the NGO Prayas was allegedly not allowed to enter Lake Palace, a five-star hotel in Udaipur, because he was a Dalit.
The cases of rape, untouchability, beating and insult of Dalit women at public places were regularly reported in Rajasthan. Crimes against Dalit women were often hushed up under pressure from higher castes.
On 9 April 2007, a 12-year-old Dalit girl reportedly committed suicide by setting fire to herself at Dugari village in Bundi district after she was allegedly raped by one Geetram in broad daylight after her parents went to Jaipur to work.
On 6 July 2007, Dalit Banna Bairwa was shot dead by Bhanwarlal Gujjar at Bilia village in Bhilwara district on his wife’s refusal to withdraw a rape case against the accused.
V. Violations of the prisoners’ rights
Prison conditions were deplorable. The NHRC received 54 cases of deaths in judicial custody from Rajasthan during 1 April 2006 – 31 March 2007.
On 29 June 2007, a fast track court in Bikaner sentenced four persons, including a jail superintendent, jailer and two prisoners, to life imprisonment for their involvement in the custodial death of a prisoner identified as Lakhvinder Singh at the Bikaner central jail on 17 June 1993.
In July 2007, a fact-finding committee appointed by the Rajasthan High Court to look into the condition of prisoners lodged in Jaipur Central Jail reported violation of the rights of jail inmates. During its visit to the jail, the Committee found that prisoners who could not pay money ranging from Rs 500 to Rs 5,000 were beaten and forced to do manual labour for cleaning the drainage and washing utensils. Most of the under-trials did not know about the free legal aid and the jail authorities took no interest in helping them.
VI. Special focus: The Gujjar protests for Scheduled Tribe status
On 29 May 2007, people from the Gujjars tribe launched protests demanding Scheduled Tribe status in Rajasthan. The security forces responded with indiscriminate force. During a weeklong protest which ended on 4 June 2007, at least 26 persons were killed, of which 21 persons who were killed by the police. The Gujjar leaders agreed to withdraw their protest after the state government agreed to set up a three-member Committee to examine the community's demand for ST status.
The Committee headed by Justice Jasraj Chopra, retired judge of the Rajasthan High Court, submitted its report to the State Government on 17 December 2007. It rejected the Gujjars’ demand for ST status as they did not meet the criteria. However, the Committee recommended a special package of benefits.
On the basis of the recommendations of the Justice Chopra Committee, the state government on 18 December 2007 decided to set up a four-member high level Committee headed by Ramdas Agarwal to prepare the package of benefits.
The Gujjars resorted to violence and damaged properties. On 5 June 2007, the Supreme Court while taking suo motu cognizance of the large scale destruction of properties during Gujjar demonstrations, directed the police chiefs of Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi to account (within 10 days) for the action they had taken or proposed to take against those who damaged property during the week-long Gujjar agitation.
On 18 June 2007, the Supreme Court appointed two committees to examine the damage to public property in the Gujjar violence. The Apex Court said: '”We are not concerned with this one incident, all over the country massacre of human life and damage to property are being done. People have started feeling that there is no rule of law.'' Stating that it was a national issue the apex court issued notice to all states and Union Territories asking them to respond on how many cases have been filed against damage to property and how many have been convicted within three weeks.
1. Talks succeed, Gujjar stir to be called off, Rediff News, 4 June 2007, available at: http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/jun/04rajriot7.htm
2. Rajasthan’s missing cell: Our job is to collect data, we do it every month, The Indian Express, 9 February 2007
3. Supreme Court of India, Court News, October-December 2007, Vol.II Issue No.4, available at http://www.supremecourtofindia.nic.in/CtNewsOct_Dec07.pdf
4. Information obtained by ACHR from NHRC by filing of RTI application
5. Talks succeed, Gujjar stir to be called off, Rediff News, 4 June 2007, available at: http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/jun/04rajriot7.htm
6. Youth dies in police firing, The Statesman, 24 December 2007
7. Information received from MASUM, Kolkata
8. 2006 Annual Report of the National Crime Records Bureau
9. Congress complains to Central Tribal Commission, The Hindu, 14 March 2007
10. see http://rural.nic.in/annualrep0708/anualreport0708_eng.pdf
11. Dalit attacked for touching water pump, DNA, 21 June 2007, available at: http://www.dnaindia.com/report.asp?NewsID=1105017
12. Dalit women narrate their tales of woe, demand justice, The Hindu, 16 December 2007
13. Dalit says Udaipur hotel refused entry, The Asian Age, 3 November 2007
14. Dalit girl raped, commits suicide, The Asian Age, 12 April 2007
15. A “reign of terror” in Rajasthan - ‘Dalit man shot dead for refusing to withdraw rape case’, The Hindu, 12 July 2007
16. Information obtained by ACHR from NHRC by filing of RTI application
17. Lifer for jail officers, The Statesman, 30 June 2007
18. “Rights of jail inmates violated” – Force labour, no legal assistance available: Committee, The Hindu, 20 July 2007
19. Talks succeed, Gujjar stir to be called off, Rediff News, 4 June 2007, available at: http://www.rediff.com/news/2007/jun/04rajriot7.htm
20. Chopra panel submits report, The Hindu, 18 December 2007
Rajasthan govt rejects Gujjars' demand,
NDTV, 18 December 2007, http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=NEWEN2007003626
22. Report on Gujjars to be sent to Centre, The Hindu, 19 December 2007
23. Gujjar violence a 'national shame', says apex court, The Hindustan Times, 5 June 2007
24. Gujjar violence: SC appoints two panels, NDTV, 18 June 2007, available at: http://www.ndtv.com/convergence/ndtv/story.aspx?id=newen20070015895