Personal tools
You are here: Home Archives Hunger Alerts 2007 Hunger Alerts UPDATE(India): Sub Divisional Magistrate threatens human rights activist in Uttar Pradesh
Navigation
 

UPDATE(India): Sub Divisional Magistrate threatens human rights activist in Uttar Pradesh

Raitara Musahar ghetto is in Pindra village of Varanasi district. The AHRC on four previous occasions had issued hunger alerts reporting cases of acute starvation from Raitara Musahar ghetto. The first case, issued on July 17, 2007 was concerning Mulayam Musahar, a boy aged five years. Mulayam is suffering from Grade III malnourishment. After reporting this case the AHRC had also reported two other cases in succession. The case of Maya Musahar, a five-year-old girl suffering from Grade IV malnutrition, was reported on July 23, 2007 and that of Rema Musahar, a two-year-old girl, also suffering from Grade IV malnutrition, was reported on July 31, 2007.

UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT UPDATE ON HUNGER ALERT

ASIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION – HUNGER ALERT PROGRAMME

Update on Hunger Alert

7 August 2007

[HU-002-2007: INDIA: District administration responds to Hunger Alerts in Uttar Pradesh; RE: HA-006-2007: INDIA: Five-year-old Musahar boy may die from starvation in Raitara of Pindra village in Varanasi in the coming days; HA-007-2007: INDIA: Five-year-old Dalit girl facing imminent death from starvation in Raitara village of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh; HA-008-2007: INDIA: Two-year-old girl facing imminent death from starvation in Raitara village of Varanasi in Uttar Pradesh]
---------------------------------------------------------------------
HU-003-2007: INDIA: Sub Divisional Magistrate threatens human rights activist in Uttar Pradesh

INDIA: Right to food; caste based discrimination; failure of the local administration; corruption
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Dear friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from its local partner the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), a human rights organisation based in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh that the Sub Divisional Magistrate (SDM) of Varanasi, Mr. Anand Swaroop, has threatened Mr. Santhosh Patel, a human rights activist working with the PVCHR. It is alleged that Mr. Patel was threatened by the SDM when he contacted the officer over telephone on 6 August 2007 to lodge a complaint.

CASE DETAILS:

Raitara Musahar ghetto is in Pindra village of Varanasi district. The AHRC on four previous occasions had issued hunger alerts reporting cases of acute starvation from Raitara Musahar ghetto. The first case, issued on July 17, 2007 was concerning Mulayam Musahar, a boy aged five years. Mulayam is suffering from Grade III malnourishment. After reporting this case the AHRC had also reported two other cases in succession. The case of Maya Musahar, a five-year-old girl suffering from Grade IV malnutrition, was reported on July 23, 2007 and that of Rema Musahar, a two-year-old girl, also suffering from Grade IV malnutrition, was reported on July 31, 2007.

The state government, on receipt of the hunger alerts has responded to the call for immediate help by the residents in the Musahar ghetto of Raitara. It is reported that the state government has ordered the district administration to immediately intervene in the situation. It is reported that the Block Development Officer [BDO] from Pindra block had visited Raitara. This was the first visit by a government officer to Raitara Musahar ghetto. Several other government officers including a medical doctor also visited the Raitara Musahar ghetto once the hunger alerts were issued.

In follow-up the Additional District Magistrate also visited the village to study and verify the situation. This was reported by the AHRC through an update to the hunger alert on August 3, 2007, as HU-002-2007. In the meanwhile the Public Food Distribution [PDS] shop in Kharuwa near Raitara was ordered to distribute rationed food grains to all members of the Musahar community in Pindra village. Accordingly the members of the Musahar community started going to the PDS shop at Kharuwa on August 6, 2007.

This was objected by the village head of Pindra Mr. Rajkumar Yadav. Yadav ordered the PDS shop licensee not to distribute rationed articles to the Musahars. Mr. Santhosh Patel, the staff of PVCHR tried to intervene. But Yadav threatened Santhosh and abused him of having influenced the Musahars by buying them country liquor and rallying them against Yadav. Santhosh immediately contacted the SDM Mr. Anand Swaroop over his telephone and informed him that the village head Mr. Rajkumar Yadav is preventing the Musahars collecting their legitimate supply of rationed food grains from the PDS shop.

The SDM immediately shouted at Santhosh abusing him by saying that he and his organisation is bringing shame for the country and that if Santhosh pursued the complaint against the village head the SDM would book Santhosh with criminal cases and ask the police to arrest him.

The PVCHR and the AHRC in the past several occasions had expressed suspicion about the clandestine activities of the village head in connivance with some officers in the district administration. It is alleged that Rajkumar Yadav is also known to be the head of the local mafia with which his brother Mr. Sijan Yadav, a proclaimed criminal is attached with. The AHRC and PVCHR had also raised alarm that the village head with his connections would retaliate against the human rights activists and the Musahar community since his position was found challenged.

In the meanwhile the situation of starvation and hunger of the Musahar community in Raitara was reported through a special report aired by the NDTV. The special report was titled 'Mulayam, Maya namesakes starve'. This report was aired as a part of primetime news in India on August 5, 2007. The state government was immediate to respond. The Additional District Magistrate – Administration [ADM – Admn.] of Varanasi district visited Pindra village on August 6 and ordered to issue red ration cards to all members of the Musahar community living in different ghettos in Pindra. A Red Ration Card is issued to a person/family that is poor and below the poverty line entitling the person to receive food grains through the PDS shops at a highly subsidised rate.

The AHRC while appreciating the state government's initiative to address the problems in Raitara Musahar ghetto is equally apprehensive about the attitude of some of the officials in the Varanasi district administration, particularly the SDM Mr. Anand Swaroop. The very fact that he threatened a human rights activist, in spite of all these exposure is a clear indicator to the extent to which the village head of Pindra, Mr. Rajkumar Yadav, is connected with some corrupt officials within the district administration.

The AHRC had reported through its earlier hunger alerts that the village head of Raitara, Mr. Rajkumar Yadav, is responsible for keeping away the government schemes from being of any benefit to the Musahar families in Raitara. Even as of today there are several Musahars who are working as bonded labourers in brick kilns and farms owned by Mr. Rajkumar Yadav. The AHRC and PVCHR are calling upon the district administration to intervene in this issue as well with the help of the local police.

The District Magistrate must ensure that all bonded labourers currently being forced to work by Rajkumar Yadav must be immediately released. Bonded labour being a crime, Rajkumar Yadav must be charged under the Bonded Labour System [Abolition] Act, 1976. The district administration must also ensure that caste based discrimination is no more entertained against the Musahar community in Raitara by the upper caste community, particularly the community led by the village head Mr. Rajkumar Yadav. The District Magistrate must also ensure that the subordinate officers in the district administration are not conniving with an alleged criminal, who also happens to be the village head of Pindra.

The administration must also ensure the safety of all human rights activists attached to the PVCHR working in Raitara Musahar ghetto. This is because that there is an apprehension that Rajkumar Yadav may target some of the human rights activists attached to the PVCHR for taking up the issue of the Musahar families in Raitara Musahar ghetto, who were thus far under the absolute control of the village head and starved and forced to work.

SUGGESTED ACTION:
Please write to the District Magistrate of Varanasi in particular so that the conduct of Mr. Rajkumar Yadav and his alleged associate within the district administration Mr. Anand Swaroop the Sub Divisional Magistrate, is inquired into and appropriate actions are taken.

To support this appeal, please click here:

Sample letter:

Dear __________,

INDIA: Sub Divisional Magistrate threatens human rights activist in Uttar Pradesh

Name of the victim: Mr. Santhosh Patel, human rights activist associated with the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights, resident of Musahar ghettos in Pindra village, Varanasi district, Uttar Pradesh
Alleged perpetrator: Mr. Anand Swaroop, Sub Divisional Magistrate in Uttar Pradesh
Place of incident: Pindra village, Varanasi district
Date of Incident: August 6, 2007

I am writing to express my appreciation of the state government's initiative to address the acute food shortage in the Musahar ghettos in Pindra village of Varanasi district. I am informed that the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and its local partner, the People's Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR), had sent out four successive hunger alerts in the past two weeks reporting instances of acute food shortage from Raitara and that the response of the state government was in answer to these alerts.

I am informed that the district administration officers like the Block Development Officer [BDO], the District Magistrate [DM], the Additional District Magistrate [ADM] and a doctor from the nearby public health centre had visited Pindra and its Musahar ghettos in the past few days. I am also informed that the DM has sanctioned red ration cards for all Musahar families residing within Pindra village.

However, while appreciating the initiatives taken by the district administration to address the acute starvation of the Musahar families in Pindra, I am still concerned about the alleged threat posed by the village head Mr. Rajkumar Yadav against the Musahars and the human rights activists working in Pindra.

I am also informed that Mr. Anand Swaroop, the Sub Divisional Magistrate [SDM] was approached by Mr. Santhosh Patel, an activist attached to the PVCHR to lodge a complaint against Mr. Rajkumar Yadav on August 6, 2007. Santhosh had contacted the SDM to lodge a complaint against Rajkumar Yadav when Yadav tried to stop distribution of rationed articles to the Musahars in Pindra. I am concerned to know that the SDM instead of hearing Santhosh, threatened him over telephone informing him that his work and the activities of the PVCHR had brought shame to the country and that if he continued his work, the SDM would register a fabricated criminal case against Santhosh and would bring him under police custody. While this response from a government officer, who also entertains quasi judicial authorities, is shocking, it also reveals the fact that the allegations of corruption within the district administration, particularly by those officials connected to an alleged criminal, who is also the village head of Pindra village Mr. Rajkumar Yadav is probably true.

In this context I am concerned why no actions have been initiated against the village head of Pindra village Mr. Rajkumar Yadav, who has been allegedly forcing Musahar community into bonded labour. I am informed that several Musahars are working for Mr. Rajkumar Yadav as bonded labourers. I am informed that bonded labour practices are prohibited in law in India and also attract prosecution, since bonded labour is a crime. I therefore request you to also look into this aspect of working conditions of the Musahar community in Pindra village.

I also urge you to immediately inquire into the alleged threatening response by Mr. Anand Swaroop, the SDM of Pindra against Mr. Santhosh Patel a human rights activist working with the PVCHR. If the allegation is found correct, immediate actions must be initiated against the SDM.
I request you continued support for the Musahar families residing in the Musahar ghettos in Pindra and to ensure that the situation of acute food shortage in the village is addressed immediately.

Yours truly,

___________

PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTER TO:

1. District Magistrate
Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh
INDIA
Fax: 91 5422501450

2. Chairperson
National Human Rights Commission of India
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg
New Delhi-110001
INDIA
Tel: + 91 11 23074448
E-mail: chairnhrc@nic.in

3. National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes
Government of India
5th Floor, Loknayak Bhawan
Khan Market, New Delhi 110003
INDIA
Fax: + 91 11 2462 5378

4. Ms. Hina Jilani
Special Representative of the Secretary General on human rights defenders
Room 1-040
C/o OHCHR-UNOG
1211 Geneva 10
SWITZERLAND
Fax: +41 22 917 9006 (ATTN: SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS)

Thank you.

Urgent Appeals Programme
Asian Human Rights Commission (ua@ahrchk.org)

Document Actions