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A lazy sunday for me. While I was whiling away my time reading the paper I started wondering if there would ever be a time when the Government would apologise for the great wrongs committed against the poor agrarian people that has led to the naxal problem. Or perhaps the dalits.

The incident in Australia marks an important revelation in the progress of a welfare state. To understand that the state program must secure the rights of all is one of the most important facets of the democracy. But while this historic apology has taken place, the aborigines have already started planning their law suits asking to be compensated for it. An apology and further measures for protection was what they deserved but law suits are way too much. The irony of the law I presume.

Coming back to India, the Courts have made it clear that the idea of affirmative action under Articles 15(4) and 16(4) of the Constitution will be only to those communities that are ‘historically wronged‘. This is an interesting classification I must say and to add that the only form of benefit that comes to these communities is in the form of reservations. The greater issue at hand is the mistakes that the government is committing in furthering the interests of the minor rich and sacrificing the lives and means of livelihood of the majority poor. If there is an apology involved, it is in this area. With the series of property amendments to the Constitution, legislations regarding meager monetary compensation and not to forget the thousands of farmers who have killed themselves for the Government doesn’t give a damn about them; surely there is an apology to be given here.

Killing 80 (or more) people in Nandigram was no joke but a serious consequence of this mistake. The naxalite problem is also a related consequence. Perhaps we need a reformed government to re-consider the claims of such groups; because their penury was caused by government action itself and not by any extraneous circumstances. I always believe that society reforms and proceeds towards rationality with time but I think the time of us Indians is way far to come.

There is an apparent irony in today’s paper. On the front page you have a half page story talking about India’s investment and how Mukesh Ambani is the world’s richest man (63 billion $ is a lot). On how the sensex has risen 1000 points in 14 days and the top 5 companies have contributed to it.

A few pages afterwards we have a story about 25,000 people marching to the capital to demand land rights and stressing that they have been betrayed by corporates, rich landlords and the likes of them. I was aware that this march was being organised during my stay in the Gandhi Peace Foundation. This march is no joke and I have witnessed the people at ekta parishad planning out everything to the detail.

The above above two instances tell us the story of the Indian Nation. Those who get rich do so at the cost of thousands of others. The Planning commission has released a document stating that the issue of naxalism is directly linked to land rights of the poor. Helloo!!!!! “did you take that long to realise it?”. The Prime Minister says that he shall form a committee to look into this land issue. Now that he’s made the statement the poor will be ‘packed off’. That’s how diplomacy works in this country. Give them an assurance, a ray of hope and there shall be no issue in the future. The same was with the Gujjars too. Ah well! nobody seems to realise the gravity of the situation. I can just imagine 25000 people coming from gwalior to Delhi on foot just to hear this statement without understanding that 7 Race Course Road might hardly do anything. They have bigger things to do; remember the Nuclear deal and saving the coalition!

That is the irony of India Shining. We see it, we know it, but most of us don’t raise a voice about it.

 

March 29, 2007

Dear SAARC Government Leaders:

 

As the leaders of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) meet in New Delhi on April 3 and 4, 2007, the discussions will inevitably focus upon economics and regional security. At SAARC meetings, human rights problems in each member country have usually been treated as an internal matter. However, it takes only a quick survey of the region to see that there are many human rights issues that would benefit from mutual engagement and agreement.

 

Apart from other serious human rights problems, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka are also dealing with situations related to armed conflicts and insurgencies. Nepal, with its numerous human rights problems, has only just emerged from a violent conflict that claimed over 13,000 lives, and violence continues in the south. Bangladesh has witnessed increased militancy and the caretaker government has detained tens of thousands, often ignoring basic due process, in its efforts to combat corruption and crime. Bhutan continues to discriminate against citizens of Nepali origin. In the Maldives, there are serious curbs on political freedom.

(the weilikanda massacre in srilanka)  
In Sri Lanka, the human rights situation has deteriorated drastically since major hostilities between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) resumed in early 2006. The LTTE has been responsible for numerous political killings and indiscriminate bomb attacks, and continues to use child soldiers and forcibly recruit adults for its forces. It has prevented civilians from fleeing areas of combat in the north and east. Government security forces have increasingly violated the laws of war by engaging in indiscriminate attacks in which civilians were killed and have also been implicated in extrajudicial executions. “Disappearances” attributable to state security forces or allied armed groups have risen sharply; hundreds of alleged “disappearances” have been reported on the Jaffna peninsula over the past 15 months. More than 15,000 refugees have fled to neighboring India and over 200,000 were internally displaced by the fighting in the north and east. The government has forced displaced civilians to return to their homes in the east despite their concerns about security and access to humanitarian aid. The Karuna group, with the open support of state forces, continues to abduct and forcibly recruit boys and young men for its forces and political work. Civil society has increasingly come under attack and national institutions involved in human rights protections have been undermined.

the situation at nandigram (Nandigram)

In India, impunity laws that protect members of the security forces from prosecution continue to fuel human rights abuses in the conflict in Jammu and Kashmir and in the northeast. Security forces have been responsible for widespread abuses including torture and arbitrary detentions. Recently, in Jammu and Kashmir, police investigations revealed that some policemen, usually in joint operations with the army, were killing civilians in faked encounters, and then claiming that they were Pakistani militants. New Delhi has failed to act on the recommendations of a government-appointed committee that said the Armed Forces Special Powers Act should be repealed. Despite encouraging disaffected groups to choose dialogue and peaceful protest in the northeast or in areas where Maoist groups have begun an armed campaign, the Indian government has failed to acknowledge or address such methods; for instance, it has failed to investigate the reasonable demands of Irom Sharmila, who has been on a seven-year hunger strike to demand an end to human rights abuses by troops in Manipur. The government’s failure to implement its laws that protect vulnerable communities received international attention in Maharashtra state recently, where four members of a Dalit family were brutally murdered, but no arrests were made until there were violent protests. Hindu extremist groups continue to threaten religious minorities, tribal groups and Dalits. Indian police have used excessive force against villagers and farmers opposing development projects. Laws to protect women and children have not been effectively implemented. India has failed to adequately acknowledge and protect refugees from Burma and Bhutan, and has provided military assistance to the Burmese army, which has frequently attacked civilians and committed other atrocities in its war against ethnic insurgents.

In Pakistan there have widespread reports of arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances. Alleged terrorism suspects are often detained without charge or tried without proper judicial process. Human Rights Watch has documented scores of arbitrary detentions, instances of torture, and “disappearances” by the security forces in Pakistan’s major cities. The government has failed to provide the civilian population in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas adequate protection from Taliban attacks after agreements ending military operations there effectively ceded power to local tribal leaders closely allied with the Taliban. Civilians have also died in counter-terrorism operations due to the security forces’ use of excessive force. While the authorities routinely misuse counter-terrorism laws to perpetuate vendettas and as an instrument of political coercion, sectarian militants continue to target the Shia Muslim minority in Pakistan and are responsible for attacks upon civilians in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir. Women and girls in Pakistan confront astounding levels of violence, with hundreds of women and girls murdered each year in the name of family “honor.” Journalists and human rights defenders face frequent threats and attacks from state agents and extremists. Pakistan’s judiciary remains subservient to the military. When it does attempt to act independently, the government has intervened, as it has done recently with the arbitrary removal of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

In Afghanistan, more than 1,000 civilians were killed as a result of violence related to the insurgency in 2006; 15,000 families were displaced and over 200,000 children were unable to attend school. The violence prevented reconstruction and access to clean water, education, and health care. The Taliban and other anti-government forces continue to attack aid workers, government officials, teachers, students, and schools. Regional warlords implicated in war crimes, some allied with the government, continue to perpetrate serious human rights abuses throughout Afghanistan. Afghan women and girls continue to suffer from entrenched discrimination throughout the country. They have among the highest rates of illiteracy, maternal mortality, and forced marriage in the world. There are few remedies available for gender-based violence and many women and girls confront severe restrictions on their freedom of movement. Afghanistan is again on the precipice of becoming a haven for human rights abusers, criminals, and militant extremists, many of whom in the past have severely abused Afghans, particularly women and girls.

In Bangladesh security forces have long been implicated in torture and extrajudicial killings. These have continued since a state of emergency was declared on January 11, 2007. The killings have been attributed to members of the army, the police, and the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), an elite anti-crime and anti-terrorism force. Killings in custody have been a persistent problem in Bangladesh. To date, no military personnel are known to have been held criminally responsible for any of the deaths. There have been widespread abuses reported against Hindus and Ahmadiyya Muslims. Women continue to suffer domestic violence including acid attacks, largely with no response from the state. Most recently, under the state of emergency, the military has arrested thousands of people on allegations of corruption and other crimes, but many have been denied their due process rights. Some have been tortured. There have also been attempts by the authorities to control the media, with editors being privately summoned to impose self censorship.

Bhutan has continued its discriminatory practices to enforce a distinct national identity, in line with Bhutan’s “one nation, one people” policy. These policies are perceived as a direct attack on the cultural identity of the ethnic Nepalese living in southern Bhutan. The government forcibly evicted tens of thousands of ethnic Nepalese in 1990 and 105,000 still remain in seven refugee camps in Nepal. Nearly 50,000 Bhutanese refugees live outside the camps in India and Nepal. Bhutanese Nepali speakers who managed to avoid expulsion and still live in Bhutan remain very insecure. Some have been denied citizenship cards following the latest census in 2005 and so they are now effectively stateless in their own country.

In the Maldives, citizens continue to face restrictions on political freedom. Security forces have been implicated in torture and arbitrary detention, among other abuses. There are severe limitations upon the rights to freedom of the press, assembly, association, and religion. Unequal treatment of women continues, as do restrictions on workers’ rights.

In Nepal, the November 21, 2006 agreement between Nepal’s coalition government and the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist) ended ten years of fighting that killed an estimated 13,000 people. The deal included compliance with an armed management pact, under which each side would put away most of its weapons and restrict most troops to a few barracks, under the supervision of monitors from the United Nations. Both parties agreed to end all forms of feudalism and promote greater inclusion of marginalized groups. However, ethnic, linguistic and regional tensions continue, with increasing violence in the south where ethnic minorities are demanding equal representation in determining Nepal’s future. Women are yet to be an equal part of the peace process. Impunity remains a problem, with little urgency in investigating and prosecuting those responsible for atrocities during the conflict. The army was responsible for enforced disappearances, torture and mistreatment of detainees, while the Maoists recruited children into armed conflict and punished civilians that they deemed as insufficiently committed to their cause with executions, mock executions, cutting body parts, and severe beatings. Meanwhile, trafficking of Nepali women and children into India as domestic labor or sex workers continues, particularly because thousands remain internally displaced due to the conflict.

Human rights abuses such as those listed above are often the cause and fuel of conflict. A failure by the state to provide and protect economic, social and cultural rights and civil and political rights, including ensuring the rights of marginalized groups such as ethnic and religious minorities, can lead to discontent that eventually turns violent.

Militants and armed groups, such as Kashmiri, Maoist and northeastern militants in India, the LTTE in Sri Lanka, and Islamist groups in Pakistan and Bangladesh, often commit human rights abuses and violations of international humanitarian law, including indiscriminate bomb attacks, extortion, killings and abductions. Security forces deployed by the state for counter insurgency operations, unless properly checked, have in turn become responsible for abuses including torture, extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions and enforced disappearances.

Regional security and economic progress cannot be achieved unless every citizen is provided with a secure environment to enjoy their civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights. This is especially true for groups historically discriminated against, like women and children. Half of the world’s poor live in this region. Policies and laws to help them will be useless unless effectively implemented.

SAARC represents a sixth of the world’s population and plays a significant role in global affairs. It is crucial that SAARC adopt measures that provide good governance standards for the region, including respect for fundamental human rights. If it does so, it could become a beacon for the rest of the world. Unfortunately, to date SAARC has not taken human rights seriously. Instead it has been largely a talk shop and a photo opportunity for its members’ leaders.

Human Rights Watch encourages SAARC members to:

 

  • Ensure the protection of vulnerable communities including religious and ethnic minorities, Dalits and tribal groups. Governments should repeal all laws that lead to discrimination against minorities such as citizens of Nepali origin in Bhutan, Tamils in Sri Lanka or the Ahmaddiyas and Hindus of Bangladesh. Instead, laws designed to protect these groups should be properly implemented, such as in the case of Muslims, Christians, tribal groups and Dalits in India.  
  • End specific legal, cultural, or religious practices by which women are systematically discriminated against, excluded from political participation and public life, segregated in their daily lives, raped in armed conflict, beaten in their homes, denied equal divorce or inheritance rights, killed for having sex, forced to marry, assaulted for not conforming to gender norms, and sold into forced labor. Arguments that sustain and excuse these human rights abuses – those of cultural norms, “appropriate” rights for women, or western imperialism – barely disguise their true meaning: that women’s lives matter less than men’s.  
  • Implement laws to end human rights abuses against children including the use of children as soldiers; the worst forms of child labor; torture of children by police; police violence against street children; conditions in correctional institutions and orphanages; corporal punishment in schools; mistreatment of refugee and migrant children; trafficking of children for labor and prostitution; discrimination in education because of race, gender, sexual orientation, or HIV/AIDS; and physical and sexual violence against girls and boys.  
  • Build strong international human rights norms and institutions to create a successful, rights-respecting counter-terrorism policy. Protection of human rights should be treated as an essential tool in the fight against terrorism, not as an obstacle.  
  • End state participation in enforced disappearances, torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, and extrajudicial executions, which are often masked as armed encounters.  
  • Prosecute and punish those responsible for human rights abuses, including persons implicated as a matter of command responsibility when superiors knew or should have known of ongoing crimes but failed to take action. These include high-ranking and powerful individuals, including those holding government positions.  
  • Stop supplying weapons to governments likely to use them to commit violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. India supplies weapons to Burma, and Pakistan has provided weapons to Sri Lanka. SAARC member states , have also provided weapons to abusive opposition groups.  
  • Tie military aid to fellow SAARC members and other countries to strict human rights compliance.  
  • Prohibit the use, production, and trade of antipersonnel landmines and cluster munitions that cause unacceptable harm to civilians.  
  • Adopt multilateral labor agreements to protect workers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal, and India who migrate to the Middle East and Asia. These workers, especially those in construction and domestic service, regularly suffer unpaid wages, confiscation of their passports, hazardous working conditions, and sometimes physical abuse. High recruitment fees and deception during recruitment have led many workers to be trapped in situations amounting to debt bondage and human trafficking. Labor-sending governments should regulate and monitor labor recruitment agencies by placing caps on recruitment fees, providing clear information in enforceable employment contracts, and strengthening support services in embassies abroad for abused workers.  
  • Provide proper protection and access to humanitarian assistance for refugees and internally displaced persons. No one should be returned to a place where their life or freedom would be threatened. The groups at risk today in the SAARC region include Afghan refugees in Pakistan, Rohingyas in Bangladesh, Burmese and Sri Lankan refugees in India, and Tibetan and Bhutanese refugees in Nepal. The internally displaced include tens of thousands who fled from armed conflicts in Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan as well as those displaced due to natural disasters such as the Indian Ocean tsunami and the Kashmir earthquake.

We look forward to discussing these issues with each of you in both a bilateral and multilateral context.

Thank you for your consideration.

Yours sincerely,

Brad Adams

Executive Director

Asia division

I just got hold of an interesting document.
Below is Amnesty International’s letter to George Bush ahead of his visit to India is 2006. A good read.

USA: Letter from Amnesty International to President Bush on His Upcoming Visit to India

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States
The White House
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

Amnesty International welcomes your visit to India during the first week of March. Your visit represents a rare opportunity for you to directly communicate your concerns about human rights in India. While you discuss economic cooperation and civilian nuclear partnership with the Indian Prime Minister, it is vital that you also raise human rights concerns affecting large numbers of Indian citizens. Amnesty International strongly urges you to include Indian human rights concerns in your joint communiqué with the Indian Prime minister Manmohan Singh.

Even though India is the world’s largest democracy, there remain serious and disturbing human rights practices, including “disappearances”, rape, extrajudicial executions, deaths in police and military custody, torture, cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment, arbitrary arrests, dowry deaths, and numerous other human rights abuses.

The Government of India not only fails to prevent these abuses, but also shelters members of security forces from facing justice. People living in several of the northeastern states of India, Kashmir, religious minorities, those belonging to the lowest social order called “dalits”, and indigenous communities called “adivasis” face the brunt of these abuses. Other socially and economically marginalized groups including women face discrimination at the hands of the police and criminal justice system. While some laws were passed to address some of the human rights abuses; serious concerns remain about the implementation of such laws.

There are numerous human rights violations taking place in India. Following are some of the abuses and concerns:

Massacre of Sikhs: Over three thousand Sikhs were massacred when the governing Congress Party incited mob violence targeting Sikh civilians in reaction to the 1984 assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi by her Sikh bodyguards. Scores of women were gang raped and some were burnt alive. After two decades, a judicial commission concluded that members of the governing Congress party were involved. Several belonging to the same party were cleared of charges, which led to criticism from several civil society and Sikh organizations and opposition political parties. Twenty years have passed since the massacre, but only a few have been brought to justice for this mass killing.

Massacre of Muslims: In 2002, over 2,000 Muslims were massacred in Gujarat as a reaction to a train fire that killed 59 Hindus. This train fire was blamed on Muslims. Hindu mobs allegedly incited by state Bharatiya Janata Party members went on a killing spree targeting Muslims. Several hundred Muslim women and girls were gang raped and some were burnt alive. Pregnant women and children were also targeted. After three years, very few individuals have been brought to justice.

Bhopal tragedy: Several thousand people have died and many more continue to die from a 1984 gas leak at Union Carbide’s pesticide plant in Bhopal in 1984. Twenty years have passed since the leak occurred, but the plant site has not been cleaned up and toxic wastes continue to pollute the environment and ground water. Tens of thousands continue to live with debilitating illnesses. Despite numerous efforts, survivors continue to be denied adequate compensation, medical help, rehabilitation, and justice.

Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958: The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 has remained in effect in “disturbed areas,” including Kashmir and large parts of the northeastern states of India for over forty years. This act is a major contributor to massive human rights abuses in these areas of India. This law protects Indian Security forces from prosecution by requiring permission to prosecute from India’s Central Government–permission which is rarely given. As a result, security forces often take the law into their own hands and commit massive human rights abuses against the civilians. This law has facilitated grave human rights abuses, including “disappearances,” rapes, extrajudicial executions, and deaths resulting from torture. This law also gives the security forces power to shoot to kill anyone even without any threat to the lives of security forces.

Northeastern States: One of the areas “hidden” from international attention is the region of northeast India. A reign of terror is prevailing in this area, which is largely facilitated by the above mentioned Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958. Security forces kill, rape, “disappear” and commit other gross human rights abuses with virtual impunity. Amnesty International has never been permitted to visit the northeastern states of India.

Kashmir: The Indian side of Kashmir is another area where Indian Security forces commit massive human rights abuses with impunity. This is once again facilitated by the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 and other similar laws. Indian Security forces “disappear,” rape, extra-judicially execute, torture people to death, and commit other severe human rights abuses. Authorities arbitrarily detain people and use preventive detention to stifle political dissent. The civilian population of Kashmir has paid a high price for the conflict. Thousands have disappeared and the total casualties since 1989 are believed to be around 38,000.

One example of impunity in Kashmir is that of a human rights lawyer and activist Jalil Andrabi. Nine years after the “disappearance” and killing of Jalil Andrabi, an army major identified as responsible by a special investigation team had still not been brought to justice. Army representatives asserted that they have not been able to locate him. Amnesty International has never been permitted to visit Kashmir.

Abuses against “Dalits”: India’s caste system involves a social hierarchy and individuals are considered to be born into a particular caste and remain in the caste throughout their lives. Outside these caste categories are the “untouchables,” now commonly known as “dalits”, whose occupations – sweepers, tanners, sanitation workers, etc – were viewed as “polluting” the community. Nearly 200 million people in India belong to this category and this system has been called India’s “hidden apartheid.” Abuses against “dalits” are numerous and take many different forms including: parading of naked dalit women through the streets, socioeconomic discrimination, killings, arson-burning of dalit communities, gang rape, bonded labor, denial of land rights, and many more. The police and the criminal justice system also discriminate against dalits. Though important strides have been made, much remains to be done.

Abuses against Adivasis: The indigenous communities called adivasis face immense pressure from dam and mining development projects and settlements. Adivasis face socioeconomic discrimination as well as discrimination by the police and the criminal justice system. For example, recently police used excessive force during a protest against the construction of a steel plant on traditional adivasi land in the state of Orissa. At least twelve adivasis, including three women and a twelve year old boy, were reportedly killed in the police firing.

Abortion of female fetuses: Traditional preference for boys has led to thousands of female fetuses being aborted despite the prohibition of pre-natal sex discrimination for the purpose of the abortion of female fetuses. In May, the Health Minister stated that there had not been a single conviction for breaking the ban since it was introduced eight years earlier.

Mr. President, Amnesty International urges you to secure a meaningful commitment from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to improve India’s human rights situation. It is essential that human rights be treated as an important issue like trade and civilian nuclear partnership.

We urge you to include human rights as part of your overall discussion with the Prime Minister and that you demand the following:

1) Abolition of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act of 1958 and other similar laws.
2) Immediate release of those held under such laws.
3) That those involved in the massacres of Sikhs and Muslims be brought to justice.
4) Immediate resolution to the Jalil Andrabi case.
5) Adequate compensation, medical help, rehabilitation, and justice to those who were affected by the Bhopal tragedy, including full cooperation to bring Dow Chemical in compliance with their responsibility.
6) An immediate investigation into the abuses happening in northeastern India.
7) That Amnesty International and other human rights organizations be allowed access to Kashmir and to all northeastern states.

Mr. President, we urge you not to miss this opportunity to speak for those whose rights have been violated in India. They need your help.

Sincerely,

William Schulz
Executive Director

Below is a motion of the European Parliament. It is revolutionary in the sense that it is obliging India to do something that its not done in the past many years. This resolution also comes forth in light of the Indian review of the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) which takes place tomorrow. The .Pdf version of the Document may be downloaded here.

EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT RESOLUTION ON THE HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION OF THE DALITS IN INDIA

P6_TA-PROV(2007)0016

The European Parliament ,

– having regard to the hearing held by its Committee on Development on 18 December 2006,

– having regard to its resolution of 28 September 2006 on the EU’s economic and trade relations with India (1) and Parliament’s Human Rights Reports of 2000, 2002, 2003 and 2005,

– having regard to General Recommendation XXIX (descent-based discrimination) adopted by the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination on 22 August 2002 and the 48 measures to be taken by the State Parties,

– having regard to the study being undertaken by the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, in which draft Principles and Guidelines for the elimination of “discrimination based on work and descent” are being developed, and noting the preliminary report issued by the Special Rapporteurs on discrimination based on work and descent,

– having regard to the various provisions in the Constitution of India for the protection and promotion of the rights of Dalits, concerning at least 167 million people, including the provisions on the abolition of the practice of untouchability, the prohibition of discrimination on grounds of caste, equality of opportunity in matters of public employment and educational, employment and political affirmative action through reservations in State-run institutions and political representative bodies; having regard also to numerous legislative measures ordering the abolition of some of the worst practices of untouchability and caste discrimination, including bonded labour, manual scavenging and atrocities against Dalits,

– having regard to the National Human Rights Commission, the National and State Commissions for Scheduled Castes and the National Safai Karamchari Commission, dealing with the problem of manual scavenging,

– having regard to Rule 91 and Rule 90(4) of its Rules of Procedure,

A. whereas India is the largest functioning democracy in the world where every citizen is equal before the ballot box, India’s immediate past President and Head of State was a Dalit and Dalits have served as ministers; whereas there are Hindu schools of thought which reject caste discrimination and exclusion as an aberration of their faith,

B. whereas Dalits and similar groups are also found in Nepal, Pakistan and Bangladesh,

C. whereas the National Human Rights Commission of India has reported that the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act remains very unsatisfactory, and whereas it has published numerous recommendations to address this problem,

D. whereas, despite twenty-seven officially registered atrocities being committed against Dalits every day, police often prevent Dalits from entering police stations, refuse the registration of cases by Dalits and regularly resort to the practice of torture against Dalits with impunity,

E. whereas, despite the fact that many Dalits do not report crimes for fear of reprisals by the dominant castes, official police statistics averaged over the past 5 years show that 13 Dalits are murdered every week, 5 Dalits” homes or possessions are burnt every week, 6 Dalits are kidnapped or abducted every week, 3 Dalit women are raped every day, 11 Dalits are beaten every day and a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes (2) ,

F. whereas a recent study on untouchability in rural India (3) , covering 565 villages in 11 States, found that public health workers refused to visit Dalit homes in 33% of villages, Dalits were prevented from entering police stations in 27.6% of villages, Dalit children had to sit separately while eating in 37.8% of government schools, Dalits did not get mail delivered to their homes in 23.5% of villages, and Dalits were denied access to water sources in 48.4% of villages because of segregation and untouchability practices,

G. whereas half of India’s Dalit children are undernourished, 21% are “severely underweight”, and 12% die before their fifth birthday (4)

H. whereas untouchability in schools has contributed to far higher drop-out and Illiteracy levels for Dalit children than those of the general population, with the “literacy gap” between Dalits and non-Dalits hardly changing since India’s independence and literacy rates for Dalit women remaining as low as 37.8% in rural India (5) ,

I. whereas Dalit women, who alongside “Tribal” women are the poorest of the poor in India, face double discrimination on the basis of caste and gender in all spheres of life, are subjected to gross violations of their physical integrity, including sexual abuse by dominant castes with impunity and are socially excluded and economically exploited,

J. whereas the National Commission for Scheduled Castes has observed substantial under-allocation and under-expenditure of the allocation for Dalit welfare and development under the government’s Special Component Plan for Scheduled Castes,

K. whereas Dalits are subjected to bonded and forced labour and discriminated against in a range of markets, including in the labour, housing, consumer, capital and credit markets; are paid lower wages and subjected to longer working hours, delayed wages and verbal or physical abuse,

 

1. Welcomes the various provisions in the Constitution of India for the protection and promotion of the rights of Dalits; notes however that, in spite of these provisions, implementation of laws protecting the rights of Dalits remains grossly inadequate, and that atrocities, untouchability, illiteracy, inequality of opportunity, manual scavenging, inadequacy of wages, bonded labour, child labour and landlessness continue to blight the lives of India’s Dalits;

2. Expresses its concern at the low rate of conviction for the perpetrators of such crimes and calls on the Government of India to improve its criminal justice system in order to facilitate registration of charges against perpetrators of crimes against Dalits, to increase the conviction rate for such perpetrators, to significantly reduce the duration of court procedures; and to take special measures for the protection of Dalit women;

3. Welcomes the recent ban on the employment of children as domestic servants and workers in roadside eateries, restaurants, teashops etc. and urges the Indian Government to take further steps towards the complete banning of all forms of child labour;

4. Calls on the Government of India to take urgent steps to ensure equal access for Dalits to police stations and all other public institutions and facilities, including those related to its democratic structure such as panchayat buildings (the buildings housing local assemblies) and polling booths;

5. Applauds the fiscal policy followed by the Planning Commission of India and the various Ministries in the provision of the budgetary allocations towards the welfare and development of Dalits, and calls on the Government of India to ensure complete and time-bound implementation of all policy and budgetary measures towards the welfare and development of Dalits, including full implementation of the Special Component Plan for Scheduled Castes;

6. Urges the Government of India to engage further with relevant UN human rightsbodies on the effective elimination of caste-based discrimination, including the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the UN Special Rapporteurs assigned to develop Principles and Guidelines for the Elimination of Discrimination based on Work and Descent;

7. Calls on the Government of India to ratify the UN Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and to take preventive measures to reduce the risk of Dalits facing torture, to take legal measures to criminalize torture in India, to take punitive measures to prosecute police who commit torture, to consistently provide rehabilitation and compensation for torture victims and to put in place an independent complaints mechanism for victims of torture that is accessible to Dalits;

8. Notes with concern the lack of substantive EU engagement with the Indian Government, notably within the EU-India Summits, on the vast problem of caste-based discrimination;

9. Urges the Council and the Commission to raise the issue of caste-based discrimination during EU-India Summits and other meetings as part of all political, human rights, civil society, development and trade dialogues and to inform the committees concerned of the progress and outcome of such dialogues;

10. Urges the EU members of the Joint Action Committee to develop dialogue on the problem of caste-based discrimination in terms of its discussions on democracy and human rights, social and employment policy and development cooperation;

11. Reiterates its expectation that EU development programmes in India include specific measures to ensure that minorities such as Dalits and Adivasis and other marginalized communities, tribes and castes, are able to close the wide gap with the rest of the population regarding the attainment of the Millennium Development Goals;

12. Recalls its demand that the Council and the Commission give priority to promoting equal opportunities in employment in private EU-based companies and encouraging EU- based companies to implement the “Ambedkar Principles” (Employment and Additional Principles on Economic and Social Exclusion Formulated to assist All Foreign Investors in South Asia to Address Caste Discrimination);

13. Welcomes the EU’s commitment to the development of Principles and Guidelines for the Elimination of Discrimination on the basis of Work and Descent by the UN Sub- Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, and urges the Commission and the Council to continue that support;

14. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the governments of the Member States, the President, the Government and Parliament of India, the UN Secretary-General, and the heads of the UN Sub-Commission on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights, the International Labour Organization, the UNICEF, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.

(1) Texts Adopted , P6_TA(2006)0388

(2) Derived from figures provided in Crime in India 2005 , http://ncrb.nic.in/crime2005/home.htm and

http://ncrb.nic.in/crime2005/cii-2005/CHAP7.pdf

(3) Cf. G. Shah, H. Mander, S. Thorat, S. Deshpande and A. Baviskar Untouchability in Rural India , ,

Sage Publications, India, 2006.

(4) National Family Health Survey, commissioned by the Indian Ministry of Health and Family Welfare,

1998-99 (last survey available), Chapter 6, p. 187, http://www.nfhsindia.org/data/india/indch6.pdf

(5) 2001 Census of India.