India’s Hypocritical ‘Democracy’

Sylvia Villalobos (Philippines) | PKKH:

The “largest democracy in the world” does not have clean human rights records. Every year, thousands of people are imprisoned for political reasons, often without charges of trials. Torture and ill-treatment are common, and hundreds have died in custody. Hundreds more are victims of extra-judicial executions or forced “disappearances”. Armed groups commit grave human rights violations, including killings, tortures and rapes, with impunity.

Each day the survivors are denied their rights to knowledge, justice and reparation, their anguish are compounded, their nightmare prolonged, and their alienation deepened. Until India ends impunity for these genocidal killings,”, “it will continue to be a nation ruled by men, and not the law.”

Innumerable attacks on Indian Buddhists — shame on democracy There are 231 rapes and 51 murdered last year. The families are helpless, only hope is help from world community !



“Thousands of mothers await their sons even though some may know that that the oppressor has not spared their sons’ lives on this earth. A mother’s heart is such that even if she sees her son’s dead body, she does not accept that her son has left her. And those mothers who have not even seen their children’s dead bodies, they were asking us: at least find out, is our son alive or not?”

In the typical scenario, police take into custody a suspected militant or militant supporter without filing an arrest report. If the detainee dies during interrogation or is executed, officials deny he was ever in custody and claim he died during an armed encounter with police or security forces. Alternatively, police may claim to have been ambushed by militants while escorting a suspect. Although the detainee invariably dies in “crossfire,” police casualties in these “incidents” are rare. The said practice is also known as “fake encounter killings“

In the majority of cases, the police abducted the victims of extrajudicial executions or “disappearances” in the presence of witnesses, often family members. Family members of the victims further experienced multiple forms of abuse. A recent study conducted by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) and the Bellevue/NYU Medical Center Program for Survivors of Torture revealed that family members of the “disappeared” were also tortured in over half of the cases they investigated.


-Jaswant Singh Khalra, human rights activist, killed October 1995 see report

In early 1995, human rights activists Jaswant Singh Khalra and Jaspal Singh Dhillon, of the Akali Dal political party, used government crematoria records to expose over 6,000 secret cremations by the police in just one of then 13 districts in Punjab. They focused their investigations on illegal cremations, putting aside other possible ends of the victims’ bodies, such as dismemberment or dumping in canals. Jaswant Singh Khalra described how the hesitation of family members to report “disappearances” led him and Dhillon to the cremation grounds: “countless mothers, countless sisters weren’t ready to say that their loved one has “disappeared”]. They said, “[I]f you take this issue further, and our son is still alive, they [the police] will kill him.” Thus, Khalra and Dhillon went to the cremation grounds:

“We went and asked the employees: ‘During this time, how many dead bodies did the police give you?’ Some said we burned eight to 10 everyday. Some said there was no way to keep account; sometimes a truck full of bodies came, and sometimes two to four dead bodies came [T]hey told us we could get the account from one place: ‘The police gave us the dead bodies, and the municipal committee gave us the firewood.’”

As Khalra began collecting information from the municipal records which gave the number of dead bodies brought by specific police officers and the amount of firewood purchased to burn the bodies, he also began to receive threats from the security forces. Eventually, the Punjab police abducted Jaswant Singh Khalra on September 6, 1995, secretly detained and tortured him for almost two months, and murdered him in late October 1995. His body was dumped in a canal.

Photo essays

Punjab Mass cremation

Custodial Violence and Rape Cases

While rape may take the form of individual violence of men against women, often, as disturbingly, rape occurs as an instrument of repression, and is used as a political weapon. It then becomes a potent instrument for the intimidation of whole sections of people in which women are specifically the victims of a peculiarly brutal and dehumanizing form of violence. Violence by individual men on individual women is itself a serious violation of women’s rights but in the context of civil liberties it is important to highlight the growing incidence of custodial rape by agencies of the State such as forest officials, army personnel, and especially by policemen.

Custody deaths, torture in custody and custodial rape have been subjects of much concern. of state violence, and the defence of the state has been that they were hardened militants.

Custodial rape has found an expanded definition – in terms of power rape – in the Penal Code, 1860. However, these provisions have hardly been invoked. In the meantime, most often, judicial perceptions of the victim of custodial rape have in significant measure, discredited the victim’s version, and blamed the victim resulting in reduction of sentence for policemen convicted of rape to less than the minimum prescribed in law.

From Mathura to Rameeza Bi to Maya Tyagi to Suman Rani – THE cases of Mathura, Rameeza Bi (gang raped by policemen in Hyderabad in 1978) and Maya Tyagi (on June 16, 1980, policemen in Baghpat, Haryana undressed her and by force paraded her) have passed into the horror experience of custodial violence,related link


These women have become an icon of patriarchal prejudices. Campaigns in the matter of custodial rape have invoked their name, and they are now names that are

etched into the history and legend of the women’s movement. (3)18,359 rape cases reported in 2007, in India: NCRB The National Crime Records Bureau’s latest figures put India in the top half of countries registering a high crime rate. (General crime statistics 2003)


The issue of tribal land alienation was correlated with that of displacement, and the judicial system was used to get an order declaring unconstitutional the transfer of land from a tribal to a non-tribal through the medium of the state (in its land acquisition capacity).

While the loss of land to the tribal is considered as a violation of their rights and protection of those rights, the settlers are largely people who belong in a marginalized sector of the society. Not a single case out of 29,596 cases of alienation and restoration of tribal land has been ruled in favour of the tribals in Madhya Pradesh. In Orissa, an overwhelming 43,213 out of 104,644 cases were decided against the tribals. This was followed by Tripura where an overwhelming 20,043 cases out of the 29,112 cases were rejected.

(see )

Urban Shelter and Demolition

The ‘clearing’ of pavements by removing hawkers has been an occurrence and is discernible in most cities. Eviction of Hawkers, and of dwellers, is an important issue, and the demands include classification not only of shelter, land and monetary compensation, but of livelihood too. The illegal status of the urban dweller who cannot afford to purchase legality has been aggravated by B.N. Kirpal,J saying: ‘Establishing or creating slums, it seems, appears to be good business and is well organised…Large areas of public land, in this way, are usurped for private use free of cost… The promise of free land, at the taxpayers’ cost, in place of a jhuggi, is a proposal which attracts more land grabbers. Rewarding an encroacher on

Public land with free alternate site is like giving a reward to a pickpocket.

The right to life enshrined as fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India [ 1 ] includes meaningful right to life and not merely animal existence. Right to life would include right to live with human dignity.

Sexual Harassment at the Workplace

Sexual harassment accompanied by violence has become a common feature with cases of acid throwing where there is unrequited love, and harassment which has culminated in the murder of a hounded girl. [2] A K.CHOPRA’S case:4
A K.Chopra’s case, is the first case in which the Supreme Court applied the law laid down in Vishaka’s case and upheld the dismissal of a superior officer of the Delhi based Apparel Export Promotion Council who was found guilty of sexual harassment of a subordinate female employee at the place of work on the ground that it violated her fundamental right guaranteed by Article.21 of the Constitution.

In both cases the Supreme Court observed, that ” In cases involving Human Rights, the Courts must be alive to the International Conventions and Instruments as far as possible to give effect to the principles contained therein- such as the Convention on the Eradication of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, 1979 [CE DAW] and the Beijing Declaration directing all state parties to take appropriate measures to prevent such discrimination.”

The guidelines and judgments have identified sexual harassment as a question of power exerted by the perpetrator on the victim. Therefore sexual harassment in addition to being a violation of the right to safe working conditions is also a violation of the right to bodily integrity of the woman.


These have been one of the vehicle of reutilizing the enactment of laws that are normally promulgated in an

Emergency or in extraordinary situations.

The Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act 1987 (TADA) was contested for

Its denial of fair trial standards – e.g., it reduced the tiers of appeal34

The provision regarding making confessions to a police officer admissible in evidence

The broad contours of the law on what constitutes terrorism, and

Potential and proven abuse – for e.g., the largest number of TADA detainees were in Gujarat, where militant activity was not present.

The area was inhabited by majority of Muslims. Example of this was the Hindu Massacre of Muslims in Gujarat in 2002 where many Muslims was burnt to death (see video)

The Indian Government  failed  to address the resulting humanitarian condition of people, the “overwhelming majority of them ,Muslim,” who fled their homes for relief camps in the aftermath of the events; as well as the Gujarat state administration for engaging in a cover-up of the state’s role in the massacres. Many of the investigations and prosecution of those accused of violence during the riots have been opened for reinvestigation and prosecution. The large-scale civil unrest has been generally been described as riots or inter-communal clashes.

Preventive Detention (A Constitutional Tyranny)

When the Constitution came into being in 1950, preventive detention laws were avowedly intended to be a transient measure. During the emergency, the Maintenance of Internal [4] Security Act 1971 (MISA) was among the more infamous laws which allowed for preventive detention of persons in the avowed interest of maintenance of internal security. There are now a number of legislations which permit preventive detention, in the states and at the centre. The National Security Act 1980 (NSA) is an instance of the latter. The A.P Prevention of Dangerous Activities of Bootleggers, Dacoits, Drug Offenders, Goondas, Immoral Traffic Offenders & Land Grabbers Act 1986 is an example of the former. Public protest against the continuance of these laws is almost inaudible despite

• the long periods, sometimes up to two years, that a person may be kept in preventive detention

• the tardiness of the procedure prescribed – e.g., the executive may be given up to three months to get the

opinion of the Advisory Board which may effectively have a person in custody under executive order up to ninety days

• the range of activities that are allowed to be covered by preventive detention laws that are unconnected with public order or law and order. Unlike the challenge to the TADA, preventive detention laws have not engaged the human rights community in any sustained manner. (for more details) on preventive detention


The burning of Roop Kanwar (see report)

on the pyre of her husband in Rajasthan in 1986, has reintroduced sati into mainstream discourse. Questions of discretion, custom and communal prides have been asserted to substantiate the practice. State inaction has been at issue. In 1987, the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act was enacted making encouragement of sati an offence; and the death penalty was introduced as an alternative sentence. The attempt to commit sati was made punishable with imprisonment for a term up to six months or with fine, or both; this has been contested ever since its inception as punishing the victim. The ‘glorification’ of sati, where a temple is constructed and a dead woman worshipped bringing in money to the family, has also been made punishable. This last is constantly under contest- as denying the right to practise a religion. Women’s groups in Rajasthan see this as a particularly important provision in taking away the material incitement in the commission of sati.The communal violence of much of the protest against this law, and of the practice itself, is a telling statement of the capacity of patriarchy to deny a place for human rights.

(A Hindu woman refuses to practice Sati was beaten to death video includes graphic content, discretion is advise)(See

Child Labour, Rape, Prostitution, Exploitation

India has 375 million children, more than any other country in the world. Their condition has improved in the last five decades, with child survival rates up, school dropout rates down, and several policy commitments made by the government at the national and international levels.

Indian Government passed the 1986 Child Labor Prohibition and Regulation Act



Resource allocations by the State, however, remain quite inadequate to take care of the survival and healthcare needs of infants and children, their education, development and protection. Child labour still exist in the villages and elsewhere. Child rape, Child trafficking, child prostitution is still rampant some of the girls contracted AIDS/HIV.

(check out documentary)


The outcast, people of the lower caste in India also known as the untouchables. Treated with inequality , The biggest offence a Dalit could commit under established Untouchability was to ‘pollute’ the upper castes through deliberate physical contact (which is why, in a humorous way, modern-day Dalits in urban and semi-urban areas take great pleasure in deliberately touching traditional temple priests – the man is constrained to take a bath).

[8]….What’s in a name? To an outcaste, it is everything – past, present and future. It defines where he comes from, where he is at present, where he wants to be in the future, and is central to understanding the aspiration of the outcastes for dignity, equality and release from impoverishment and backwardness.

The word ‘Dalit,’ used to identify the outcastes, is of recent usage. Traditionally, despicable and contemptuous names have identified them, as required by caste law:

“Let (the first part of) a Brahmina’s name (denote
something) auspicious, a Kshatriya’s be connected with
power, and a Vaisya’s with wealth, but a Sudra’s (express
something) contemptible.

‘(The second part of) a Brahmina’s (name) shall be (a
word) implying happiness, of a Kshatriya’s (a word)
implying protection, of a Vaisya’s (a term) expressive of
thriving, and of a Sudra’s (an expression) denoting

Indian Constitution abolished Untouchability, which meant that Dalits could not legally be excluded from normal life or required to perform “polluting” jobs traditionally related to their ‘Untouchable’ status, the tradition continues, though, at lower levels than ancient times, varying in extent and intensity from state to state and between urban and rural areas.

National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), motivated by the principle of Untouchability, Dalits face almost 140 forms of work & ancestry based discrimination at the hands of the principal castes. Such discrimination generally occurs in three contexts – social, economic and religious. film documentary about Dalit in Maharashtra) see

India has turned its back against human rights to increase its economic expansion. For a country that promote democracy and human rights oppressed its own citizen and the most gross violators of human rights .India allowed private sectors to monopolize control in many years ,thus furthering the unavailability of the poor to access required facilities. India’s “Tryst with Destiny “and the experiment of developing within the confines of a democratic framework has failed. India was still marked by extreme poverty and by the myriad of human rights violation and social conflicts. But unless Indian governance becomes more transparent and accountable, India will remain a government of corruption and inefficiency ,of a scale acceptable only in a “Hypocritical Democracy “


National Human Rights Commission Of India

Human Rights Watch

Asian Indigenous and Tribal Peoples Network


[1] Article 21 Right to Live with Human Dignity the Constitutional Law of India 46th ed.Dr. J .N. Pandey, Central Law Agency

[2] Legal Service India, Sexual Harassment and Rape Laws in India

[3] Info Change Women

[4] Human Rights in India

[5] FRONTLINE Volume 21 – Issue 05, February 28 – March 12, 2004
India’s National Magazine from the publishers of THE HINDU

[6] Ministry of Labor Government of India

[7h]Embassy of India Policy Statements, Embassy of India Washington D.C

[8]Truth About Dalits and Untouchables in India by Oliver D. Souza

Who are the real Dalits of India? Rediff India Abroad As it Happens

NSM New Socialist Movement Judicial Activism on Right to Shelter-Rights of the Urban Poor

HUMAN RIGHTS FEATURES (Voice of the Asia-Pacific Human Rights Network) (A joint initiative of SAHRDC and HRDC) B-6/6 Safdarjung Enclave Extension, New Delhi 110 029, India

National Crime Records Bureau (India ) Relevant Precedence and SCC rulings.

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