Skip to main content

57 "extra-judicial" deaths in Kaziranga, Assam, in 2014-16: Blanket immunity to forest cops under AFSPA blamed

Authorities in action: Kaziranga National Park 
By Our Representative
Facts have come to light suggesting that there have been 57 cases of extra-judicial killings in the Kaziranga National Park (KNP), Assam, over the last three years, as against 106 over the since 1996. The recent deaths include 27 in 2014, 23 in 2015 and 7 in 2016. Ironically, not a single forest staffer has been killed in "encounters" since 1985.
Bringing this to light, the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), the apex body of a large number of mass organisations across India, has alleged that these facts raise “some crucial questions about the official claims that all the killings are of poachers in cross-fire.”
Pointing that the killings are being carried out in what is being termed as ‘good faith’, citing Section 197 of CrPC, NAPM adds, this is the direct result of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which is applicable in the North-Eastern states, allowing “blanket immunity” to “shield for fake encounters, rapes and torture” of scheduled tribes and other forest dwellers of Kaziranga.
NAPM's strong reaction comes amidst a sharp upturn in the struggle against the allegedly repressive attitude of the forest department of Assam and “silence” of the Government of India in the garb of conservation.
Activists like Pranab Doley, Soneswer Narah and others of the Jeepal Krishak Shramik Sangha Akhil Gogoi, associated with the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti and face “continuous threats, trumped-up charges, hand-cuffing and arrests”, because they have been highlighting the “immunity” of the forest department in dealing with the local people.
Funeral procession following September 2016 firing
In an effort to “ensure” that such repressive tactics do not get prominence across the world, NAPM says, recently the government banned the BBC documentary ‘Killing for Conservation’, “which exposes the shoot-at-sight policy of KNP and the grim situation of the locals being threatened, harassed, tortured and even killed by the forest department, using the conservation shield.”
The documentary is said to have portray the serious issues faced by communities living at the periphery of KNP by the forest department, pointing to the government’s immunity in its “repression” on the KNP’s forest dwellers.
Wondering whether what is happening in KNP – or elsewhere in Niyamgiri, Narmada and Nilgiris – is forced ‘development’ on the tribal people, NAPM says, “We are compelled to ask the Governments of Assam and India, if what the state is doing at KNP is indeed ‘conservation’ or ‘militarization’.”
Seeking “radical overhaul of the conservation policy and practice of the state, which disregards centuries old-indigenous culture, life and livelihoods”, NAPM, in its statement signed by a large number of top activists says, there is a need for “inclusive and participatory socio-economic development of the locals of Kaziranga in order to protect KNP.”
Those who have signed the statement include Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh of the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), Prafulla Samantara of the Lok Shakti Abhiyan, and Binayak Sen and Kavita Srivastava of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties.
Says NAPM, “The unjust firing of two persons and repression on many others by the state police last September, when the people were opposing the eviction drive in the KNP’s expanded buffer zone, even as demanding rehabilitation as per the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, since the residents were living there since 4-5 decades, is still fresh in people’s memory.”

Comments

TRENDING

Mystery around Gujarat PSU 'transfer' of Rs 250 crore to Canadian firm Karnalyte

By AK Luke, IAS (Retd)*
While returning from a Board meeting of the Oil India Limited (OIL) in Ahmedabad some time in 2012, two officers of the Gujarat State Fertilizers and Chemicals Ltd (GSFC), Nanavaty and Patel,  saw me off at the airport. They said they were proceeding to Canada in connection with a project GSFC had entered into with a company there. As we were running late, I hastily wished them the best.

J&K continues to be haunted, as parts of India 'degenerate' into quasi-Kashmir situation

By Rajendran Narayanan*, Sandeep Pandey**
“Jab har saans mein bandook dikhe toh baccha kaise bekhauf rahe?” (How can a child be fearless when she sees a gun in every breath?) remarked Anwar, a gardener from Srinagar, when asked about the situation in Kashmir. On November 30, 2019, a walk through an iron gate in a quiet neighbourhood of Srinagar took us inside a public school. It was 11 am when typically every school is abuzz with activity. Not here though.

Savarkar in Ahmedabad 'declared' two-nation theory in 1937, Jinnah followed 3 years later

By Our Representative
One of the top freedom fighters whom BJP and Prime Minister Narendra Modi revere the most, Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, was also a great supporter of the two nation theory for India, one for Hindus another for Muslims, claims a new expose on the man who is also known to be the original proponent of the concept of Hindutva.

Indians have made 119 nations their ‘karma bhumi’: US-based Hindu NGO tells Rupani

Counterview Desk
In a stinging letter to Gujarat chief minister Vijay Rupani, the US-based Hindus for Human Rights (HfHR), referring to the report citing his justification for the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) – that “while Muslims can choose any one of the 150 Islamic countries in the world (for residence), India is the only country for Hindus" – has said, he should remember, Hindus have made several countries, including USA, their home.

Dalits rights meet planned on how citizenship law 'negates' Ambedkar's equality focus

By Our Representative
A Dalit rights meet has been planned at the Dalit Shakti Kendra (DSK), Sanand, Ahmedabad district, to discuss implications of the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), passed by Parliament on December 10-11, for Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalized sections. Announcing the decision, DSK director Martin Macwan said, the meet would take place on December 25, 2019, at 11.00 am, to commemorate the anniversary of burning of copies of Manusmriti by Dr BR Ambedkar.

What about religious persecution of Dalits, Adivasis, asks anti-CAA meet off Ahmedabad

By Rajiv Shah
A well-attended Dalit rights meet under the banner “14 Pe Charcha” (discussion on Article 14 of the Indian Constitution), alluding to Prime Minister Narendra Modi well-known campaign phrase of the 2014 Parliamentary elections, “chai pe charcha” (discussion over cup of tea), organized off Ahmedabad, has resolved on Wednesday to hold a 14 kilometres-long rally on April 14 to oppose the controversial Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA), enacted on December 10-11.

'Allow critical thinking': SAARC-sponsored varsity teachers support protesting students

By Our Representative
Teachers of the high-profile South Asian University (SAU), a New Delhi-based international institute sponsored by eight member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – have supported “peacefully protesting students and other citizens” against the Citizenship (Amendment) Act (CAA), 2019 and the National Register of Citizens (NRC).

Upendra Baxi on foolish excellence, Indian judges and Consitutional cockroaches

By Rajiv Shah
In a controversial assertion, top legal expert Upendra Baxi has sought to question India's Constitution makers for neglecting human rights and social justice. Addressing an elite audience in Ahmedabad, Prof Baxi said, the constitutional idea of India enunciated by the Constituent Assembly tried to resolve four key conflicting concepts: governance, development, rights and justice.

Kerala governor turned History Congress into political arena, 'insulted' Prof Irfan Habib

Counterview Desk
In a signed statement, office bearers of the Aligarh Society of History and Archaeology (ASHA), Prof Syed Ali Nadeem Rezavi (president), Prof Jabir Raza (vice-president), Prof Manvendra Kumar Pundhir (secretary) and Prof Farhat Hasan (joint secretary), have said that Kerala governor Arif Mohammad Khan had sought to insult veteran historian Prof Irfan Habib, 88, at the 80th session of the Indian History Congress, even as turning it into his “political arena”.