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Human Rights

5 Investigates undercover finds prostitution, ‘human trafficking

In the shadows of Boston’s old red-light district sex may not be for sale on the streets, but when 5 Investigates went undercover they found offers of sex for a fee happening behind closed doors.

The neon signs for massages glow in the windows of the second floor of 40 Harrison Ave. in the heart of Chinatown.

With cash in hand our producer hit two businesses, Diva Beauty Spa and Lotus Massage, on different nights.

When the massage ended, he said, “At a certain point with her hand on my private area she asked me if I wanted her to finish and made a hand gesture. In the old days you would see prostitutes on the street, now I just stepped into a doorway, went upstairs and found the same thing.”

Weeks later, two women were taken into custody and evidence was hauled out of Chinatown massage parlors during a Boston Police raid targeting alleged houses of prostitution and human trafficking.

Two of the businesses raided were part of our investigation at 40 Harrison Ave.

The detective sergeant who heads up the Boston Police Human Trafficking Unit told 5 Investigates police had received community complaints that people were going in not just for massages but to get illicit sex, illegal sex for a fee.

Investigators said in many cases what’s happening in Chinatown is more than just women working as prostitutes in massage parlors.

They believe it’s part of the underground sex trade involving human trafficking.

“Many of the women I’ve talked to who have come to this country have left very abusive situations back in China. They thought they were going to work in a restaurant or be domestic help and the next thing they know they’re involved in the sex trade,” said the detective.

The businesses and the services they offer can be easily found on websites popular with men on the hunt for sex.

Documents obtained by 5 Investigates show there’s been a history of problems at Diva Beauty Spa over the past few years. A complaint was filed in April with the state about alleged illegal sex at Diva Beauty Spa. They were also cited in 2012 for having an unlicensed masseuse.

The current owner of Lotus, Sophia Wang, was charged with sexual conduct for a fee back in 2008 and maintaining a house of prostitution in 2010. Both charges were dropped. Last year police obtained a search warrant after a massage therapist at Lotus told an undercover officer she would perform a sex act for $40.

Police don’t target the women providing the sex, who in most cases, are brought in from New York.

They focus on the business owners, the johns who provide the demand and pimps trafficking the women.

The head of the Boston Police Human Trafficking Unit said, “As you can imagine there’s a great demand and that’s the big problem. There’s a lot of money being made by pimps because guys are willing to pay two to three-hundred dollars for services at lunch.”

Both owners will be summonsed to court for maintaining houses of prostitution.

The state fined Lotus Massage last year for licensing and labor law issues. Diva Beauty Spa was issued a stop-work order last week, but that’s under appeal.

Because it’s difficult to prosecute these cases, city, state and federal investigators use a multi-pronged approach which includes looking at labor laws, immigration laws and inspecting the businesses.

Human Rights, Human Traffiking

New law to counter human trafficking in India

The Modi government is introducing a new law to fight this rising problem, affecting many thousands of boys, women and girls every year

 

For years India has remained the “top destination” for human trafficking in South Asia, according to the United Nations Office on Organized Crime (UNODC). This is a major problem in South Asian countries because of their porous borders, it says.

South Asian children continue to be trafficked for multiple forms of sexual exploitation. The abuse includes prostitution, sex tourism, child pornography, pedophilia – and to get them to work in factories, agriculture, domestic servitude and begging, for forced marriage, adoption, military recruitment and debt release.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) figures, the state of Bihar ranked third just behind Rajasthan and West Bengal in 2017, when 362 boys and 33 girls below 18 years of age were rescued from the clutches of traffickers.

In February 2018, the Indian Cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, approved the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention, Protection and Rehabilitation) Bill for introduction in the parliament. The bill, if passed, will lead to the creation of a national anti-trafficking bureau, to comply with a December 2015 Supreme Court order that an investigative agency be established to counter human trafficking. It will criminalize aggravated forms of trafficking with the intent of preventing this crime, and rescuing and rehabilitating victims.

The NCRB reported that in 2016 the government had identified 22,955 victims of trafficking – a significant increase from 8,281 victims the previous year. The NCRB said about half of the victims (11,212) were subjected to forced labor, while 7,570 were exploited in sex trafficking, 3,824 exploited in an unspecified manner, and 349 victims were subject to forced marriages.

But the government did not specify the age, gender or nationality of victims who suffered this exploitation. It included a small number of other crimes involving another 162 victims.

Boys most affected

The Indian government identified 8,651 boys, 7,238 women, 5,532 girls, and 1,696 men as trafficking victims. The great majority were Indian – 22,932 victims, while the other people affected were Sri Lankans (38), Nepalis (38), Bangladeshis (36) and 73 from a range of other countries, such as Thailand and Uzbekistan.

Most of the statistics and data on trafficking is gathered in relation to cases of cross-border trafficking of women for sexual exploitation. So, there is less information on the extent of trafficking linked to other purposes and trafficking of boys. In some countries, it is a custom or ritual to detain trafficked boys for some form of labor or pleasure.

Some boys from Bihar and Uttar Pradesh are subjected to forced labor in embroidery factories in Nepal, while Burmese Rohingya, Sri Lankan Tamil, and other refugee populations continue to be vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor in India, according to US State Department estimates.

People are mostly trafficked from countries like Nepal and Bangladesh, Indian officials say. Often refugees are targeted by local people. Victims of natural disasters are also targeted. Displaced Rohingya were at great risk of human trafficking from the border of Myanmar and Bangladesh, experts said.

The scope of information available on trafficking in different countries varies widely. Bangladesh, India and Nepal compile limited data, while the lack of data in Bhutan and the Maldives makes it difficult to analyze trafficking patterns in those countries, researchers said.

Human trafficking was last addressed at the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation, but SAARC is often sidetracked due to disputes between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, or accusations that Pakistan has interfered in Afghanistan.

The SAARC Convention on Preventing and Combating Trafficking in Women and Children for Prostitution was held in 2002, but few changes have occurred in South Asian nations due to the lack of legislation or enforcement of anti-trafficking initiatives.

Men or boys are usually considered an invisible population as the traditional discourse on human trafficking does not usually take them into account. They are usually seen as predators or buyers of women, who are considered to be more vulnerable than young men. Lack of opportunities or little support from families are usually given as reasons that led to young men becoming victims of human-trafficking rackets.

Experts say speedy trials need to be implemented and legal authorities given adequate funds and training to break the cycle of trafficking and rehabilitate the survivors, so they can access prompt and proper care, such as psychological counseling. (Asia Times)

 

Human Rights

Death toll rises to 27 from Delhi riots during Trump trip

NEW DELHI (AP) – At least 27 people were killed and 189 injured in three days of clashes in New Delhi that coincided with U.S. President Donald Trump’s first state visit to India, with the death toll expected to rise as hospitals continue to take in the wounded, authorities said Wednesday.

Shops, Muslim shrines and public vehicles were left smoldering from violence between Hindu mobs and Muslims protesting a new citizenship law that fast-tracks naturalization for foreign-born religious minorities of all major faiths in South Asia except Islam.

Twenty-four deaths were reported at two hospitals in New Delhi, officials said.

The clashes were the worst communal riots in the Indian capital in decades. The law’s passage in December earlier spurred massive protests across India that left 23 dead, many of them killed by police.

The dead in this week’s violence included a policeman and an intelligence bureau officer, and the government has banned public assembly in the affected areas.

Police spokesman M.S. Randhawa said 106 people were arrested for alleged involvement in the rioting.

Officials reported no new violence Wednesday as large police reinforcements patrolled the areas, where an uneasy calm prevailed.

National Security Adviser Ajit Doval toured the northeastern neighborhoods of Delhi where the rioting occurred, seeking to assure fear-stricken residents including a female student who complained that police had not protected them from mobs who vandalized the area and set shops and vehicles on fire.

While clashes wracked parts of the capital, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hosted a lavish reception for Trump, including a rally in his home state of Gujarat attended by more than 100,000 people and the signing of an agreement to purchase more than $3 billion of American military hardware.

On Wednesday, Modi broke his silence on the violence, tweeting that “peace and harmony are central to (India’s) ethos. I appeal to my sisters and brothers of Delhi to maintain peace and brotherhood at all times.”

New Delhi’s top elected official, Chief Minister Arvind Kerjiwal, called for Modi’s home minister, Amit Shah, to send the army to ensure peace.

Police characterized the situation as tense but under control. Schools remained closed.

Sonia Gandhi, a leader of the Congress party, India’s main opposition group, called for Shah to resign. She accused Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party of creating an environment of hatred and its leaders of inciting violence with provocative speeches that sought to paint Muslim protesters against the citizenship law as anti-nationalists funded by Pakistan.

New Delhi’s High Court ordered the police to review videos of hate speeches allegedly made by three leaders of Modi’s party and decide whether to prosecute them, the Press Trust of India news agency reported.

The clashes escalated Tuesday, according to Rouf Khan, a resident of Mustafabad, an area in the capital’s northeast.

Khan said mobs with iron rods, bricks and bamboo sticks attacked the homes of Muslims while chanting “Jai Shri Ram,” or “Victory to Lord Ram,” the popular Hindu god of the religious epic “Ramayana.”

As Air Force One flew Trump and his delegation out of New Delhi late Tuesday, Muslim families huddled in a mosque in the city’s northeast, praying that Hindu mobs wouldn’t burn it down.

“After forcing their way inside the homes, they went on a rampage and started beating people and breaking household items,” Khan said of the mobs, adding that he and his family had to run and take shelter inside a mosque that he said was guarded by thousands of Muslim men.

“I don’t know if our house was burned or not, but when we were running away we heard them asking people to pour kerosene and burn everything down,” Khan said.

Some of the dead had bullet wounds, according to Dr. Sunil Kumar, medical director of the Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital.

Others came to the hospital with gunshot and stab wounds and head injuries.

Among them was Mohammad Sameer, 17, who was being treated for a gunshot wound to his chest Wednesday at Guru Teg Bahadur Hospital.

Speaking to The Associated Press after having an operation, Sameer said he was standing on his family’s apartment terrace watching Hindu mobs enter Mustafabad when he was shot in the chest.

“When Sameer was shot, I took him on my shoulders and ran downstairs,” said the boy’s father, Mohammad Akram. “But when the mob saw us, they beat me and my injured son. He was bleeding very badly. While they were beating with sticks, they kept on chanting ‘Jai Shri Ram’ slogans and threatened to barge inside our homes.”

Akram said he managed to get his son into a vehicle, but they were stopped several times by Hindus demanding they pull their pants down to show whether they were circumcised before they managed to escape from the area and reach the emergency room. Muslims are generally circumcised, while Hindus are not.

In Kardampura, a Muslim-majority area where a youth was shot and killed on Monday, hundreds of police personnel in riot gear patrolled the area and asked people to stay indoors, while residents said they were living in fear.

“We are scared and don’t know where to go,” said one resident, Dr. Jeevan Ali Khan. “If the government wanted, they could have stopped these riots.”

Close by, black smoke still rose on Wednesday afternoon from a market that sold tires and second-hand car parts in Gokalpuri as fireman tried to douse the smoldering fire.

The violence drew sharp reactions from U.S. lawmakers, with Rep. Rashida Talib, a Democrat from Michigan, tweeting, “This week, Trump visited India but the real story should be the communal violence targeting Muslims in Delhi right now.”

Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the killing of Muslims, saying: “Now 200 million Muslims in India are being targeted. The world community must act now.”

Trump told reporters Tuesday that he had heard about the violence but had not discussed it with Modi. Instead, Trump gloated about his reception in India.

India has been rocked by violence since Parliament approved the citizenship law in December. Opponents have said the country is moving toward a religious citizenship test, but Trump declined to comment on it.

“I don’t want to discuss that. I want to leave that to India and hopefully they’re going to make the right decision for the people,” he said.

It was the worst religiously motivated violence in New Delhi since 1984, when Prime Minister Indira Gandhi was killed by her Sikh bodyguards, triggering a wave of riots that resulted in the deaths of more than 3,000 Sikhs in the capital and more than 8,000 nationwide.

In 1992, tens of thousands of Hindu extremists razed a 16th-century mosque in northern India, claiming that it stood on the birthplace of the Hindu god Rama. Nearly 2,000 people were killed across the country in the riots that followed.

The religious polarization that followed saw the right-wing Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party emerge as the single largest party in India’s Parliament. The Congress party and regional parties courted Muslim votes by portraying themselves as defenders of minority rights.

In 2002, the western Indian state of Gujarat erupted in violence when a train filled with Hindu pilgrims was attacked by a Muslim mob in a small town. A fire erupted – it remains unclear whether it was arson – and 60 Hindus burned to death. In retaliation, more than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, were killed in the state.

Modi was Gujarat’s chief minister at the time. He was accused of tacit support for the rampage against Muslims, but a court ultimately cleared him of wrongdoing. Still, for several years the U.S. included him on a travel ban. Hosting Trump in Gujarat was important symbolically for Modi.

Violent large-scale clashes between Hindus and Muslims last took place in New Delhi in 2014, months after Modi’s party came to power, in a largely poor neighborhood close to where this week’s rioting occurred.

A Muslim-owned shop was set on fire, Hindus pelted a mosque with stones, and dozens of angry Muslim men attacked Hindu homes. About three dozen people were injured.

___

Associated Press journalists Ashok Sharma and Shonal Ganguly in New Delhi, and Munir Ahmed in Islamabad, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

Family members of Rahul Solanki, who was killed during clashes between Hindu mobs and Muslims protesting a contentious new citizenship law, weep outside a mortuary in New Delhi, India, Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020. At least 20 people were killed in three days of clashes in New Delhi, with the death toll expected to rise as hospitals were overflowed with dozens of injured people, authorities said Wednesday. The clashes between Hindu mobs and Muslims protesting a contentious new citizenship law that fast-tracks naturalization for foreign-born religious minorities of all major faiths in South Asia except Islam escalated Tuesday. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Human Rights

Gunman fires at anti-CAA protest rally in Delhi in presence of police

Image result for gunman fire on protesters in presence of police

A teenager today pulled out a gun and fired at students protesting against the citizenship law near Jamia Millia University in Delhi, injuring one student. Only after he fired the shot did the police, present in large numbers to keep a check on the protest, react.

The protests spiraled as hundreds more joined in, breaking police barricades as they tried to march towards Rajghat.

Home Minister Amit Shah said he had ordered stringent action in the shooting incident and “the culprit will not be spared”. The probe has been transferred to the Crime Branch of the Delhi Police.

In a chilling video, the teenager is seen walking backwards as he points his gun at protesters. Dozens of policemen in riot gear are seen behind him, but none of them is seen trying to stop the shooter.

Yeh lo azaadi (here’s your freedom)” he sneers at the protesters. After he fires the shot, one police officer is seen walking towards him and grabbing him. Saying that he was a juvenile, police officials said that the attacker cannot be named.

While being taken away, he shouted “Delhi Police zindabad (Long live Delhi Police)”.

The shooter has been detained and is being questioned. “A crowd was coming from Jamia. The person came from the crowd,” senior police officer Chinmoy Biswal told NDTV as the police faced questions about their slow response.

The incident comes against the backdrop of hate speeches made during the campaign for the February 8 Delhi election; Union Minister Anurag Thakur has been banned from campaigning for 72 hours after he was caught on camera encouraging the slogan “Desh Ke Gaddaro Ko, Goli Maaro S***** Ko (Shoot the traitors)” at a rally.

The teenager is from Uttar Pradesh’s Jewar, near Delhi. Details on his Facebook page soon started emerging.

The man had gone live on Facebook minutes before he drew out his gun. Videos on his Facebook timeline showed him walking around in the crowded road – the venue of the protest – with a red backpack on. His previous posts seemed to indicate that he had come prepared for the consequences of his action. “On my last journey, take me draped in saffron and shout slogans of Jai Shri Ram,” one of them in Hindi read. Another more threatening post read, “Shaheen Bagh, Game Over”, referring to a massive protest against the citizenship law taken up by women and children.

“We were standing near the barricades when suddenly this outsider, whom none of us recognised, tried to disturb the peace of the march. He marches forward with a revolver in his hand. We were all trying to stop him and calm him down. The policemen were standing there. We tried to approach them to stop that guy. But they just kept standing there simply. When we tried to take the revolver from his hand, he shot one of our friends,” Jamia student Aamna Asif, who witnessed the terrifying incident, told NDTV.

“He was definitely not one of us. He was from outside,” she added.

The student who was shot at has been identified as Shadab Farooq and was seen being taken away, as he walked with his left hand in blood. He has been taken to the trauma centre of the All India Institute Of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

The locality has been heavily barricaded after the firing and traffic has been diverted from all the roads near the area.

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Shadab Farooq, the injured student, is helped after an unidentified man opened fire during a protest against the new citizenship law outside Jamia Millia Islamia. (Reuters)

Violence broke out at Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia university last month during a protest against the citizenship law; the police were accused of using excessive force on students. Earlier this month, masked goons attacked students and teachers at JNU, triggering nationwide outrage and protests.

Today, hundreds of women protesting at Shaheen Bagh, not far from Jamia, for around six weeks were denied permission by Delhi Police to take out a march from Jamia Millia Islamia to Rajghat, Mahatma Gandhi’s memorial. The protesters said that they had planned a peaceful march to the Rajghat on the death anniversary of the Mahatma Gandhi.

The firing took place days after Union Minister of State for Finance Anurag Thakur urged a crowd at an election rally in Delhi to say “goli maaro” – or shoot down traitors.

Thousands, including students in multiple cities and towns across the country, have taken to the streets since last month to protest the new citizenship law that they say discriminates against the minority Muslim community.

The Citizenship (Amendment) Act, for the first time, makes religion the test of citizenship in India. The government says it will help minorities from three Muslim-dominated countries to get citizenship if they fled to India because of religious persecution. Critics say it is designed to discriminate against Muslims and violates the secular principles of the constitution.

Human Rights

The ICJ’s Ruling on the Rohingya and What It Means for India and the CAA

On January 23, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) passed an order in the case of Gambia against Myanmar about the treatment of the Rohingya in Myanmar. The UN and other international bodies have said that Myanmar conducted genocide against Rohingyas. India has been in denial. The Narendra Modi government wants the Rohingya to be pushed back to their country of origin. Rohingya refugees fleeing what the world now recognises as genocidal conditions in Myanman have not been permitted to enter the country and have been denied appropriate human and humane conditions of work. This was brought to the attention of the Supreme Court in vivid terms, with the Union of India still in denial. Under the Indian constitution, persons (not just citizens) are entitled to equality, life and liberty and due process.

Around 740,000 Rohingyas fled to Bangladesh following the crackdown of 2017. This does not count the refugees who fled to other countries and the many who were massacred in Myanmar before and after the crackdown.

Last November, the tiny West African nation of Gambia had the courage to file a case against Myanmar over the treatment of Rohingyas in the ICJ at The Hague in General List No.178 entitled: Request for the indication of provisional measures. At issue was the ‘Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide”.

Gambia’s Justice Minister Abubacarr Tambadou talks to the media outside the ICJ. Photo: Reuters/Eva Plevier

Myanmar was given notice and heard. Gambia’s team had eight persons making the case. Myanmar had four, led by State Counsellor Aung Sang San Suu Kyi. It may be recalled that in December 2019, she appeared before the ICJ to say no genocide had occurred and that measures had been taken to protect the Rohingya. After discussing the legal authorities on genocide, the court concluded (para 76-82) that Myanmar was bound by the Genocide Convention and made the following directions which need to be quoted from the order:

76. From all of the above considerations, the Court concludes that the conditions required by its Statute for it to indicate provisional measures are met. It is therefore necessary, pending its final decision, for the Court to indicate certain measures in order to protect the rights claimed by The Gambia, as identified above (see paragraph 56). 

77. The Court recalls that it has the power, under its Statute, when a request for provisional measures has been made, to indicate measures that are, in whole or in part, other than those requested. Article 75, paragraph 2, of the Rules of Court specifically refers to this power of the Court. The Court has already exercised this power in the past (see, for example, Alleged Violations of the 1955 Treaty of Amity, Economic Relations, and Consular Rights (Islamic Republic of Iran v. United States of America), Provisional Measures, Order of 3 October 2018, I.C.J. Reports 2018 (II), pg.651, para.96). 

78. In the present case, having considered the terms of the provisional measures requested by The Gambia and the circumstances of the case, the Court finds that the measures to be indicated need not be identical to those requested.

79. Bearing in mind Myanmar’s duty to comply with its obligations under the Genocide Convention, the Court considers that, with regard to the situation described above, Myanmar must, in accordance with its obligations under the Convention, in relation to the members of the Rohingya group in its territory, take all measures within its power to prevent the commission of all acts within the scope of Article II of the Convention, in particular: (a) killing members of the group; (b) causing serious bodily or mental harm to the members of the group; (c) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; and (d) imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group. 

80. Myanmar must also, in relation to the members of the Rohingya group in its territory, ensure that its military, as well as any irregular armed units which may be directed or supported by it and any organizations and persons which may be subject to its control, direction or influence, do not commit acts of genocide, or of conspiracy to commit genocide, of direct and public incitement to commit genocide, of attempt to commit genocide, or of complicity in genocide. 

81. The Court is also of the view that Myanmar must take effective measures to prevent the destruction and ensure the preservation of any evidence related to allegations of acts within the scope of Article II of the Genocide Convention. 

82. Regarding the provisional measure requested by The Gambia that each Party shall provide a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to its Order, the Court recalls that it has the power, reflected in Article 78 of the Rules of Court, to request the parties to provide information on any matter connected with the implementation of any provisional measures it has indicated. In view of the specific provisional measures it has decided to indicate, the Court considers that Myanmar must submit a report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to – 24- this Order within four months, as from the date of this Order, and thereafter every six months, until a final decision on the case is rendered by the Court. Every report so provided shall then be communicated to The Gambia which shall be given the opportunity to submit to the Court its comments thereon.

The ICJ also observed that it could take further provisional measures.

As an authoritative pronouncement, it is both symbolic and law. That said, I am uneasy on three counts. First, it throws the Rohingya back into the lions’ den and tell the lions not to be hungry. Second, it asks Myanmar to take measures to stop this genocide. It is easy for Myanmar to enact policies and law. It will tout this as compliance. Third, they are expected to report back in four months and thereafter every six months.

Every commentator seems to say that the ICJ cannot enforce its decisions but Myanmar’s vulnerability may persuade the country to do so. My fear is that they will report and fill it with lies, deceits and untruths or twisted truths. Where will we go from there? I think a UN Special Rapporteur on Genocide should monitor this genocide, past or future, and also human rights organisations.

Explainer: The International Court of Justice’s Rulings Are Final but Not Enforceable

Whatever its limitations, the ICJ’s provisional measures are a victory for humanity. Will what the world court has said have an impact on India and on the debate over India’s Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA?I think it does.

Firstly, India is bound by the ICJ’s decision. Recall that the decision was unanimous and confirmed by all judges, including India’s Justice Dalveer Bhandari. Of course, Justice Bhandari cannot act on Narendra Modi or Amit Shah’s instructions. But his concurrence in this case is important.

Second, if we look at the CAA, we will notice the target beneficiary countries of the Act do not include Myanmar. The Rohingyas are Muslims and the double whammy is that Muslims are excluded from the CAA, even from Bangladesh, where many have sought refuge.

Protest against the CAA and NRC in Mumbai on Sunday. Photo: PTI

What is India’s stance in relation to the Rohingya? In fact, they cannot be repatriated to their country of origin (Myanmar) or their transit country (Bangladesh). Bangladesh does not want them back. One of the backbones of the CAA is to confront persecution. Here is a clear case of persecution in a near neighbouring country, which, till 1937, was administratively part of India. There cannot be a hiatus between India’s new law on persecution – the CAA – and its own internationally binding obligation under many composite human rights instruments. Even though it has not signed the Refugee Convention, it sits on the executive committee of the United Nations High Commissioner of Refugees and Indian courts have mandated that some refugees have a right to process their status.

by Rajeeb Dhavan, The WIRE

Human Rights

300 signatories including Naseeruddin Shah, Mira Nair issue open letter opposing CAA, NRC

Naseeruddin Shah, Mira NairRatna Pathak Shah, Jaaved Jafferi vocalist TM Krishna, author Amitav Ghosh, historian Romila Thapar and 300 other signatories have extended support to students protesting against CAA-NRC with anopen letter published on Indian Cultural Forum. They have expressed their solidarity with the students protesting against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and against the National Register of Citizens (NRC).According to PTI, the open letter states that the signatories stand in solidarity with the students and others who are protesting and speaking out against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and against the National Register of Citizens (NRC), also saluting the collective cry for upholding the principles of the Constitution of India. Stating that they are ending their silence, the open letter also stated that they will stand with those who stand for democracy.

“We stand in solidarity with the students and others who are protesting and speaking out against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and against the National Register of Citizens (NRC). We salute their collective cry for upholding the principles of the Constitution of India, with its promise of a plural and diverse society. We are aware that we have not always lived up to that promise, and many of us have too often remained silent in the face of injustice. The gravity of this moment demands that each of us stand for our principles. The policies and actions of the present government, passed quickly through parliament and without opportunity for public dissent or open discussion, are antithetical to the principle of a secular, inclusive nation. The soul of the nation is threatened. The livelihoods and statehoods of millions of our fellow Indians are at stake. Under the NRC, anyone unable to produce documentation (which, in many cases, does not exist) to prove their ancestry may be rendered stateless. Those deemed ‘illegal’ through the NRC may be eligible for citizenship under the CAA, unless they are Muslim,” the statement read.

The open letter also criticised police brutality on students at Jamia Millia Islamia and Aligarh Muslim University. “The response of the government and law-enforcement agencies to the distress of its citizens has been callous and high-handed. India has seen the most Internet shutdowns of any democracy in the world. Police brutality has left hundreds injured, including many students from Jamia Milia Islamia University and Aligarh Muslim University. Several citizens have been killed while protesting. Many more have been placed in preventive detention. Section 144 has been imposed in numerous states to curb protests.”

Earlier, Naseeruddin Shah had sparked a debate when he took a dig at contemporary Anupam Kher for being vocal and also referred t him as a ‘clown’. Anupam Kher hit back at Naseeruddin Shah by posting a video of his answer on Twitter.

Human Rights

US official asks India to release political detainees

NEW DELHI: A visit by foreign envoys to Jammu and Kashmir is a “useful” step, a senior US diplomat said late Friday, while urging the Indian government to release “political leaders detained without charge” following the lockdown that was imposed in the union territory in August.

“I was pleased to see some incremental steps, including the partial return of internet service in Kashmir. And the visit by our ambassador and other foreign diplomats to Jammu and Kashmir is something that I know was extensively covered in the press. We see this as a useful step,” Alice Wells, the Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South and Central Asia, told reporters in Washington.

“We also continue to urge the government to permit regular access by our diplomats, and to move swiftly to release those political leaders detained without charge,” Wells said. She was briefing reporters at the end of a visit to Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka.

The comments follow a visit by diplomats from 15 countries to Jammu and Kashmir earlier this month for the first time since New Delhi revoked the region’s special status in August and changed it to a union territory.

The government at the Centre detained some political leaders, imposed curbs on movement of people and communications in August. Since October, it has been slowly rolling back some of the curbs.

On Saturday, the Kashmir administration announced restoration of broadband and mobile data services at 2G speeds almost six months after imposing a clampdown on communications.

In her remarks, Wells also spoke about the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), saying that the US stressed on the principle of equal protection under the law. The CAA, which promises citizenship to only non-Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Bangladesh who came to India before 2015, has been called discriminatory by its critics and opposition parties.

“The visit also offered an opportunity to hear more regarding developments with India’s Citizenship Amendment Act, which is undergoing I would say a vigorous democratic scrutiny, whether it’s in the streets, by the political opposition, media, and the courts. We continue to underscore the importance of the principle of equal protection under the law,” she said.

The Indian government says the CAA is necessary to help those who have faced religious persecution in three neighbouring countries and will not endanger the citizenship of any Indian.

Human Rights

Noam Chomsky shows solidarity with NE’s indigenous people over CAA

Noam Chomsky shows solidarity with NE’s indigenous people over CAA. Along with Noam Chomsky, James Scott and Survival International also extended support to the concerns of Northeast people over Citizenship (Amendment) Act, informs Richard Kamei, He is a PhD candidate at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai.

The passage of Citizenship (Amendment) Bill (CAB) encountered vehement protests from Assam, Tripura, Meghalaya and other Northeast Indian states. Despite opposition at Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, the President of India gave his assent to it and CAB became an Act — Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA). This spiralled into a spontaneous protest across the country with violent incidents against students and protesters starting off at Assam, Shillong (Meghalaya), Jamia Millia Islamia and other parts of New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and other states. Internet ban was implemented in various places including Assam, Tripura, then in Meghalaya, and later in parts of Uttar Pradesh.

CAA goes against the values of secularism, equality and democracy, and rights of indigenous people. CAA aims to grant citizenship to persecuted minorities from three neighbouring countries, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Afghanistan on the basis of religion, excluding Muslims.

In the case of Northeast India, the opposition is on the grounds that foreigners irrespective of their religions must not be settled in Northeast region. They fear that it might further change the demography of the region and challenge its diverse ethnicities and identities, culture, custom, and the question of lands. Assam began the protest early on in the year 2016, it then spread to neighbouring states of Northeast India. The region was simmered with intense protests in early 2019; facing the heat, Citizenship Amendment Bill (CAB) lapsed in Parliament early last year.

Professor Noam Chomsky, American linguist, historian and political activist condemning  CAA
Professor Noam Chomsky, American linguist, historian and political activist condemning CAA

However, the BJP promised to reintroduce CAB through its election manifesto. They campaigned in Northeast with the help of local ruling class by assuring people that they will not be affected and their concerns will be taken care of. They went on to win majority of the seats in Northeast region. As promised, CAB got introduced and passed in both Houses of Parliament and became an Act with the assent of the President.

To facilitate its passage, Inner Line Permit (ILP) was re-introduced in Manipur, and in Dimapur district of Nagaland. The Centre also assured that areas covered by Sixth Schedule will not come under CAA. The assurances and exemptions for Northeast states still leave out major parts of Assam and Tripura where people anticipate that they will be affected by CAA. It is on these that all the Northeast states continue to protest against CAA as they see it to be going against the rights and interests of indigenous people. Professor Noam Chomsky and few other prominent figures were being reached out through an email at this Richard Kamei’s personal capacity. They were informed of the situations of indigenous people of Northeast India and sought their solidarity and support for indigenous people of Northeast India who have been opposing CAB and later CAA through protest, since 2016. A brief history of colonial and settler colonialism in Northeast and CAA implications was written on informing the personalities. The Northeastern part of India is a land of indigenous people numbering hundreds of tribes with their distinct languages, cultures and customs, and identity. The British colonial time is marked with the introduction of settler colonialism into the Northeast region changing its demography, the state of Tripura, for instance, is tremendously affected by it. Tripura, a tribal state, experienced a reduction of tribal population from 87.07% in the year 1881 to 31.78 % of its total population in the year 2011 as per Population history of Tripura recorded in tripura.org.in website. The existence of Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) in large parts of northeast was also being pointed out, in the time when Article 14 of Indian Constitution gained prominence in the minds of people.

American political scientist Professor James Scott showing full solidarity with the people of Northeast India
American political scientist Professor James Scott showing full solidarity with the people of Northeast India

They were being informed that these bases made indigenous people in northeast India despite having protective mechanisms like Inner Line Permit (ILP) and autonomous units, fear about losing their identity, culture, and custom, and lands with another wave of settler colonialism through CAA by settling foreigners in the lands of Indigenous peoples. The protest in Assam witnessed the death of five persons, several injured, detained and arrested, and internet blockade for close to 10 days.

Prof Chomsky took time to read and responded within two days. He shared the message to remind indigenous people of Northeast, and people in general opposing CAA, that his support and solidarity is with them: “I have been following these shocking and dangerous developments with deep concern. The Citizenship (Amendment) Act poses intolerable threats to indigenous people, along with many others, and should be strongly condemned by international opinion, which should also support the resistance to the attacks on secular democracy and fundamental human rights being carried out by the Modi administration.”

Survival International is a human rights organisation that campaigns for the rights of indigenous and/or tribal people and uncontacted peoples
Survival International is a human rights organisation that campaigns for the rights of indigenous and/or tribal people and uncontacted peoples

Professor Scott and Survival International, a human rights organisation that campaigns for the rights of indigenous and/or tribal people and uncontacted peoples, also extended their support and solidarity for the indigenous people of Northeast. They were also being informed about the pending Naga peace talks where the search for its solution continues.

Indigenous people and their struggles more often than not find themselves in a different direction which resides outside of political correctness on the basis of ideological spectrum. Turning towards themselves and devising at their own volition in protecting, preserving and practicing their cultures and customs, traditions and importance of land, has been a marker of indigenous people. The Inner Line Regulation of 1873, as explained by AS Shimray in his book, Let Freedom Ring: The Story of Naga Nationalism, is rooted in the backdrop of flourishing tea plantation where the planters intruded into the lands of the Nagas by trespassing the borders. Land remains inseparable from the identity of indigenous people.

These features encompassing them become more important for assertion as per their past experiences of colonialism and racism, and the vulnerability and threat they face today from the same oppressive forces. It will be unwise to superimpose “borderless imagination” into indigenous people for they are yet to be on equal footing with people from mainstream societies.

On the question of immigrants, the state has a big role to address it in humane ways by prioritising indigenous peoples rights and ensuring at the same time that foreigners/persecuted minorities from neighbouring country get a fair support to lead a dignified life by settling them in other parts of the country which does not come under tribal lands. Last but not the least, taking into accounts of solidarity message from prominent figures like Chomsky and his ilk is not about seeking validation. For indigenous people where survival is their immediate concern, ‘visibility’ is important to carry forward their cause and struggle. It is in this that voice of renowned figure is important to ‘amplify’ tribal peoples’ voices and their struggles.(Richard Kamei can be reached at jenpuna@gmail.com. )

Human Rights, Politics, Sc. & Tech.

General Rawat proposes setting up of an integrated

Delhi: NEW DELHI: Kick-starting the long overdue process for integration among
the Army, Navy and IAF, chief of defence staff General Bipin Rawat has
directed his tri-Service integrated defence staff (IDS) to prepare a plan for
the creation of an Air Defence Command (ADC) as well as “common
logistics support pools” for the armed forces.
The “proposal” for the ADC should be prepared by June 30, said General
Rawat, while also setting out “the priorities for execution of synergy”
among the armed forces in different arenas in a time-bound manner by
December 31.
“Some of the areas identified for jointness and synergy include creation of
common logistics support pools in stations where two or more Services
are located. The Army and Navy, for instance, should share their logistics in Mumbai to avoid duplication and save resources.
The CDS also said efforts will be made to cut out infructuous ceremonial activities, which are manpower intensive,” said an
official.
“While emphasising the collegiate system of functioning, General Rawat directed that all three Services and the Coast Guard
must be consulted and their views obtained in a time-bound manner. Decisions, however, will be taken to ensure optimisation
of resources,” he added.
General Rawat proposes setting up of an integrated Air Defence
Command and common logistics for armed forces
03/01/2020 General Rawat proposes setting up of an integrated Air Defence Command and common logistics for armed forces – Times of India
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/gen-rawat-proposes-setting-up-of-an-integrated-air-defence-command-and-common-logistics-for-armed-forces/articleshowprint/73074338.cms 2/2
If and when the proposed ADC comes up, it will only be the third tri-Service or unified command in the country. The first and
the only theatre or “geographical” command till now was set up in the Andaman and Nicobar archipelago in October 2001,
while the “functional” Strategic Forces Command to handle the country’s nuclear arsenal was established in January 2003.
In contrast, there are as many as 17 single-Service commands (Army 7, IAF 7 and Navy 3). Three new small tri-Service agencies,
not full-fledged commands, were also established last year for the critical warfare domains of space, cyberspace and special
operations.
The setting up of integrated commands and structures, by overriding the proclivity of the three Services to zealously guard
their own turfs, will lead to an integrated land-air-sea war-fighting machinery, save resources and right-size the almost 15-lakh
strong armed forces, as earlier reported by TOI.
Though IAF is primarily responsible for the country’s air defence (AD) against enemy aircraft, missiles and drones, the Army and
Navy also have their own AD weapons with individual infrastructure and logistics chains.
The wide variety of AD weapons in the armed forces include the Israeli low-level Spyder quick-reaction surface-to-air missile
(QR-SAM) systems (15-km range), the indigenous Akash area defence missile systems (25-km range) and the medium and longrange Barak-8 SAM systems (70 to 100-km range) jointly developed by Israeli Aerospace Industries and DRDO.
IAF is also slated to begin inducting five squadrons of the advanced S-400 Triumf missile systems from Russia from next year
onwards, under the $5.43 billion (Rs 40,000 crore) deal inked in October 2018.
With the S-400 systems, which can detect, track and destroy hostile strategic bombers, jets, spy planes, missiles and drones at
a range of 380-km, India plans to boost its air defence coverage along the unresolved borders with China and Pakistan as well
as around cities like New Del

 

Human Rights

Who will police the police? Supreme Court asked 38 years ago

Police brutality and detention of students, activists and citizens in U.P. bring to the fore apex court’s 38-year-old question

Police brutality and detention of students, activists and citizens, including allegations of custodial violence against a 66-year-old Muslim cleric in Uttar Pradesh in connection with anti-CAA protests bring to the fore the Supreme Court’s 38-year-old question: “Who will police the police?”

An exaggerated insistence on “proof beyond reasonable doubts” by courts in cases of custodial violence by ignoring ground realities and fact-situations would make the justice delivery system suspect, the apex court has cautioned. If courts adopt an “unrealistic approach,” it would only reinforce a belief in the police that no harm would come to them if an odd prisoner dies in the lock-up.

“Who will police the police? Police methodology with sinister potential to human liberty deserves strong disapproval and constitutional counteraction by this court,” the Supreme Court observed in Prem Chand versus Union of India in 1981.

‘Despicable practice’

Use of force in custody against a helpless and lonely individual is unlike muscling back a violent mob or a “violent bad character.” “The use of force against an individual in custody in his loneliness and helplessness is a grossly unlawful and most degrading and despicable practice that requires to be condemned in the strongest of terms, and we do so,” the court had observed.

Nothing is as degrading as the police “practising torture of any kind” in custody, especially when India had adopted and signed the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment in October 1997.

In the D.K Basu judgment, the court held that custodial violence, including torture and death in lock-ups, strikes a blow at the rule of law. The same judgment insists that police officers carrying out arrest should wear “accurate, visible and clear identification and name tags with their designations.”

Dual role

The court, in Prakash Singh case, held that the Constitution mandates the police to perform their dual role of a law enforcing agency and an institution to protect citizens’ rights with autonomy, accountability and efficiency. The Code of Conduct for the Police in India of 1960 insists that police personnel recognise themselves as members of the public.