In this debate of merit verses reservation, the brahmanical crookedness is working overtime through media. A tiny protest of illinformed people has been made 'national' by the 'national' media. Those of us who have been working against this very system, internet and web remain the best alternative source to get our voices spread all over the world.
I had filed a case with National Human Rights Commission regarding the harassment of
a bright Dalit scholar who completed his M.Phil and is not being enrolled for Ph.D at the National Law University, Raipur. To day, I have got official confirmation from NHRC that they have send notice to Secretary, Higher Education, Government of Chhatishgarh in this regard and asked them to send a Action Taken Report in this regard with in four weeks. The notice was issued on 21st of April, 2004.
Abhishek Anand case suggest how Dalit face discrimination at different levels. It is doubly important for the government and educational system to ensure that issue of diversity and affirmative action become a part of our national life and not just 'sarkari' orders.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
National Human Rights Commission
New Delhi April 6, 2006
Re: Harassment of a bright Dalit student in the Hidaytullah National Law University, Raipur
I write this to inform you about Abhishek Priya Anand, a student who enrolled for Integrated Interdisciplinary ( M.Phil-Ph.D ) course from Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur, Chhatishgarh. Abhishek took this four-year residential course offered by the University in July 2003.
According to structure, he should have been provided M.Phil degree in the very first year but that did not happen. His M.Phil was prolonged for one year and finally he got his worksheet for M.Phil after two and a half year. There has been no notification issued in writing to him as why has his case being delayed. Even when Abhishek wanted to enroll for the Ph.D, the University has shown no interest in dealing with him.
During my recent visit to Raipur to attend a National Seminar on " Towards a National Dalit Policy', I met Abhishek Priya Anand when he discussed the issue with me. I was shocked to hear from him the problems that he had been facing. It seems that the University authorities have targeted him deliberately that smell deep caste prejudices.
Abhishek has been a bright student all his life. He is a Master of Science from Sri Sathya Sai Institute of
Higher Learning, Prashanti Nilayam and got around 68% of marks. When he enrolled for this
comprehensive integrated course, he never realized that he would face a severe threat to his career. He
was supposed to get teaching assignment from the second year but was denied the same. The students
from other castes are clearly favored. He got his stipend of Rs 5,000/- for just two months only and that
too in the second year only. Most of the other student received it for over 5-6 months. None of them
have been informed as why the stipend was not given. In the third year, Abhishek was supposed to
get Rs 10,000/- per month to pursue his Ph.D.
According to documents made available to us, a three member committee formed to look into the matter had come to unanimous conclusion that Abhishek be enrolled for the Ph.D programme. The Vice Chancellor of the University Dr M.K.Shrivastava has not only not taken any interest in the case but also seems to have a prejudiced mind. After three years of staying at a place, the Vice Chancellor ordered Abhishek be thrown out of the University Hostel. Abhishek was told that since there is no faculty for his specific case, he couldn't be enrolled in the University as a Ph.D student.
It is amusing that a University which officially offer courses in certain categories deny the same to one bright student and that too from a Dalit community which remain marginalized, not due non availability of merit or meritorious students, but with deep rooted prejudices in our system. It was easy for the Vice Chancellor to ask the student to go back but where would the student go. Abhiskeh has written to every one in the University including the Vice Chancellor and other State authorities but so far nothing has happened. It is imaginable that a student cannot go too far fearing a backlash from higher authorities who are out to destroy his career.
Other Dalit students in graduate and postgraduate classes also confided with me in Raipur that their life is made difficult under the current administration. They are not allowed to venture out freely outside the campus.
Abhishek wants justice to be delivered because his future is doomed if the University does not enroll him. He switched to Law from M.Sc in Chemistry. The University was offering the course and he shifted. He is hardworking and cannot afford to lose three years period that he has devoted to his new course including obtaining M.phil degree. A young student cannot be denied justice under the pretext of unavailability of faculty. Who is going to compensate him for his years that he has devoted in the college.
I am enclosing the details of Abhishek Priya Anand which I have received from him through emails. I have got one copy of his letter addressed to NHRC when I was coming back from Raipur. We are also enclosing various petition of Abhishek's to the authorities including the advertisement regarding the course given by the University in the newspapers.
We are ready to provide all other details to NHRC in this regard. As a social activist, who has been working on the issue of human rights of the marginalized, I must say, Abhishek's case is a fit case for NHRC to intervene effectively. His case reflects how the caste prejudices are still strong in our society. Chhatisgarh is under Naxal threat because Dalits, Adivasis are further marginalized and people are losing faith in the institutions. This faith in the institutions can only be restored if justice is not only done but also done speedily. Dalits have continuously opted for a constitutional remedy even when they have to face the brunt. I do hope that an institution such as NHRC would come forward to the rescue of young Abhishek so that his faith in Law and constitution remain intact.
There are a few questions of propriety and ethics which should be asked from the authorities:
How can they deny a student right to study further without completing his full courses. No show cause notices have been served to the student if he violated any order of the authorities.
Can a student be responsible for joining a course if the University does not find faculty for the same ?. Why did the University go ahead with the programme ?
Abhishek has not been given teaching assignment despite the fact that second year student often get the same.
He was given stipend for two months only. Why has it not been given and why it was stopped.
Universities action has given tremendous mental torture to a bright student and it has now asked him to vacate the hotel. Who is going to compensate for that.
We hope that a prompt action from NHRC will give justice to a Dalit student. NHRC should seek an explanation from the authorities as why have they been harassing a student who is brilliant and has been enrolled in the institution with all necessary requirements.
Vidya Bhushan Rawat
Social Development Foundation,
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Tuesday, May 09, 2006
Action Needed to End Impunity and Hold Perpetrators Accountable
Human rights violations rose significantly after King Gyanendra of Nepal took all powers on February 1, 2005. Most of the abuses included an increase of systematic torture, rape, and extrajudicial killings by the King’s security forces, and the suppression of political and civil rights, but economic rights were also violated. In the final days of his absolute rule, the Nepalese people experienced harsh measures imposed by the King and his regime, and the excessive force exercised by regime-hired thugs, the King’s army, the armed police, and the Nepal police. Human rights violators, perpetrators and those who issued the orders alike, must be reprimanded and brought to justice. Impunity, long the standard in Nepal, is not acceptable.
It is frustrating and disappointing that perpetrators of human rights abuses and enemies of the 2006 peaceful democratic movement move freely and without fear of being prosecuted. Nearly two weeks after the fall of the King’s dictatorship, the masterminds and implementers of the repressive policies of the previous regime have not been brought under scrutiny and go unrestricted in enjoying their unlimited access as though still in positions of authority and power. The reinstated House of Representative (HOR) and the new government, headed by the well-respected leader G. P. Koirala, have made numerous decisions that endorse the 12-point understanding of seven political parties and the Maoists, these include: the removal of the terrorist tag and red corner notice against Maoists leaders; approval of the proposal for a constituent assembly election; formation of a judicial commission to investigate the use of excessive force against peaceful demonstrations; announcing reparations for the families of martyrs and for injured persons; announcing an official dialogue with the Maoists and reciprocating the Maoists’ ceasefire; and annulling all political appointments of King Gyanendra since October 2002. However, even some of these steps seem ad hoc or incomplete, such as approving a proposal for a constituent assembly election, the formation of the commission without having a clear mandate set in place, or deciding on reparations that do not necessarily take into account the future livelihood or education of those families.
The new government and reinstated HOR seem to be hesitating to endorse the people’s aspirations that were brought to the forefront during the 19-day-long April movement, which include the announcement of an unconditional election to constituent assembly through the enactment of an interim constitution, and to carry out judicial actions such as arrest and criminal prosecution of those involved in the use of excessive force resulting in the killing of 21 people thus far, and the injury of more than 5,000 people. Similarly, the whereabouts of more than a dozen people remain unknown, with corpses also being taken by the security forces after the use of open fire.
Perpetrators of human rights abuses must face the consequences for their violations of the people’s rights, including political detention, the use of excessive force, as well as the misappropriation of state funds and abuse of power. Unfortunately, one of the main culprits is the former Home Minister, Kamal Thapa, who has been seen enjoying himself freely in public places without hesitation or concern over being held accountable for his actions. Mr. Thapa and the others responsible for the repression of the people roam freely and enjoy a privileged life with seemingly full immunity. Considering that no action has been initiated against those who have committed crimes that could be immediately brought before the courts, and that no actions have been taken to prevent those who will be investigated from leaving the country or destroying evidence, they continue to operate with impunity and with the continued protection of the palace and the King’s security forces.
Many of these culprits have either escaped or are staying in safe places (there are some accounts of them staying in the premises of the security forces or under the heavy protection of the royalist security forces), and they are once again attempting to empower the palace and dismantle democratic structures by being spoilers to the HOR decision-making and to the ongoing peace initiatives. These destructive efforts aim to eventually disrupt the people’s noble mission to hold the constituent assembly election and establish sustainable peace. We fear that once again the pro-democratic government will delay taking action against perpetrators; such was the case with the 1990 Mallik Commission that resulted in a report but no action against human rights abusers and eventually allowed them to reenter power under the King’s rule and continue their regression without fear of facing state offences for their misuse of power and authority.
To prevent this from reoccurring, the members of HOR and the new government must carry out the following immediate actions against the perpetrators involved in the violation of human rights and the use of excessive force (this is not a comprehensive list).
1. Seize the passports of all members of the previous regime, including the heads of all four security agencies, responsible commanders that issued orders to field commanders, and field commanders deployed to suppress peaceful movement.
2. Suspend all services granted to state officials that members of the former regime continue to receive (private protection from the security forces, staff, living in government housing, etc…).
3. Expel the heads of the security forces (as their terms were extended by royal proclamation) and appoint pro-democratic officials in those vacant positions.
4. Suspend field commanders who were personally involved in suppressing peaceful demonstrations either by issuing orders, or being complicit in the actions of his unit (many can be identified according to their deployment in areas where serious incidences occurred).
5. Freeze the bank accounts of senior members of the previous regime, high-ranking officers of the security forces, and of unofficial advisors to the palace and the regime, such as Satchit SJB Rana, Bharat Keshari Singh and Sharad Chandra Shah.
6. Immediately enforce the Mallik commission report.
7. Immediately impeach the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court and pro-royalist judges, including the Chairperson of royal advisory council and the Commission for Investigation of the Abuse of Authority (CIAA) (all of which were king-appointed).
8. Seize the passport of all members of the Royal Commission for Corruption Control (RCCC) officials and other illegal royal appointments.
9. Take immediate actions to begin freezing accounts and property of the royal family and senior officials during the regime until an account of the abuse of state and public funds and property during this time can be determined and then begin repossessing property and recovering those funds.
10. Call on the international community to refuse entry of human rights abusers and those being investigated into their countries, and to make public the international bank accounts of those perpetrators.
11. Work with the human rights community to determine the strategy for efforts to hold perpetrators to account after the initial judicial commission’s report.
May 9, 2006, Kathmandu