Skip to main content

Jamia, Aligarh, Assam: Police using excessive, unnecessary force, says US rights body

Counterview Desk
Asking the Government of India to "show restraint at demonstrations" referring to what called "possible excessive use of police force against citizenship law protesters", the Human Rights Watch, in a statement from New York, has apprehended that "international standards" should be observed in "policing assemblies".
"The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials provide that law enforcement officials may only use force if other means remain ineffective or have no promise of achieving the intended result", the top human rights organization says, referring to international "outrage" over the citizenship law.

Text:

The Indian authorities should immediately order all police to abide by international standards on policing assemblies, Human Rights Watch said today. The police may have used excessive force against demonstrators across the country who have been protesting against the enactment of the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Act on December 12, 2019.
The government should establish a credible independent investigation into allegations of excessive force, brutality, and vandalism by law enforcement officials against demonstrators.
“The Indian government should address the concerns raised about the citizenship law instead of trying to shut down the protests with excessive force,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director. “The police should have learned by now that responding to protesters with brutality only encourages more violence.”
The newly amended law grants citizenship only to non-Muslim irregular immigrants from the neighboring Muslim-majority countries of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Protesters, including many university students, called for the law’s repeal, saying it was unconstitutional and divisive.
Six people have been killed since the protests began soon after parliament passed the law on December 11. The protests started in India’s northeast state of Assam, where police fatally shot four people, according to reports. In West Bengal state, the law sparked violent protests in some places. At the same time, peaceful protests were held all over the country, including in Delhi, Mumbai, and Bangalore.
Police in Assam have arrested 175 people and held 1,460 others in preventive detention, and dozens of people have been injured, including police officials.
On December 15, police in Delhi fired teargas shells against protesting students inside Delhi’s Jamia Millia Islamia university. The university’s vice chancellor said the police entered the university without permission and targeted students in the university library and hostels, beating up students and some staff.
A video of police brutally beating a man as female students try to defend him and chase police away from a residential neighborhood close to the university have also raised concerns over police actions.
The police assert they acted with maximum restraint and were forced to respond after students turned violent, throwing stones and damaging public vehicles. The university’s vice chancellor has sought a high-level inquiry into the violence. The university students also dissociated themselves from the violence in a statement, saying: “We have maintained calm even when students have been lathi-charged [attacked with batons] and women protesters have been badly beaten up.”
Nearly 60 people, including students and police, were injured at the Jamia Millia Islamia protests. Hundreds of people also protested outside the city’s police headquarters in Delhi demanding action against Delhi police. Many students across Indian cities came out in support of the Jamia Millia Islamia protesters.
At Aligarh Muslim University in Uttar Pradesh, hundreds of students clashed with police on December 15, and police fired teargas shells and lathi-charged protesting students. Police officers were also injured in the clashes. Police were seen vandalizing motorcycles outside the university gates at night in apparent retaliation.
The right to peaceful assembly and protest is a fundamental right protected under international law, and one of the cornerstones of a society built on respect for human rights and rule of law. International human rights standards provide that law enforcement agencies should protect and facilitate that right, and should as far as possible apply nonviolent means before resorting to the use of force.
Internet shutdowns have been disproportionate, unnecessary, and in violation of India’s international legal obligations
Human Rights Watch is concerned about the police using unnecessary or excessive force against protesters. While some protester action may warrant police use of force, international human rights standards limit the use of force to situations in which it is strictly necessary.
The United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials provide that law enforcement officials may only use force if other means remain ineffective or have no promise of achieving the intended result. When using force, law enforcement officials should exercise restraint and act in proportion to the seriousness of the offense and to the legitimate objective to be achieved. Lethal force may only be used when there is an imminent threat to life.
Indian authorities shut down the internet in several districts including in West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura, Arunachal Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh states, contending it was necessary to maintain law and order. India has frequently used internet shutdowns in response to protests, and, as Human Rights Watch and others have documented, these shutdowns have largely been disproportionate, unnecessary, and in violation of India’s international legal obligations including the rights to freedom of expression and assembly.
The shutdowns also affect access to essential activities and services, including emergency services and health information, mobile banking and e-commerce, transportation, school classes, reporting on major crises and events, and human rights investigations.
The Citizenship Amendment Act has prompted international condemnation, including from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which urged the Indian authorities to respect the right to peaceful assembly and to abide by international norms and standards on the use of force when responding to protests. 
The Act was passed amid the government’s push for the National Register of Citizens, a nationwide citizenship verification process that would identify irregular immigrants, which government statements indicate is aimed at disenfranchising and stripping Muslims of their citizenship rights.
“The Indian government failed to grasp the extent of public opposition over erosion of basic rights evident in these protests,” Ganguly said. “The government’s strongest response to the protests would be to repeal the citizenship law and withdraw its plan for citizenship verification that threatens marginalized communities.”

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Students, lawyers, professors detained in Delhi for demonstrating in support of farmers

By Our Representative  About 25 protestors, belonging to the civil rights network, Campaign Against State Repression (CASR), a coalition of over 40 organisations, were detained at Jantar Mantar for holding a demonstration in support of the farmers' stir on Friday. Those detained included students, lawyers and professors, including Prof Nandita Narain and Prof N Sachin. 

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.