Pay compensation to activists, lawyers who were falsely implicated: NHRC tells Chhattisgarh govt
National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) authorities have ordered compensation of Rs 1 lakh each for 13 human rights activists and lawyers, including Delhi University (DU) Professor Nandini Sundar, who were falsely implicated by Chhattisgarh Police for raising the issue of tribals’ rights violations in the Bastar region in 2016.
The NHRC made its observation on the basis of two cases filed by the Chhattisgarh Police in the Bastar region in 2016 – one at Tongpal police station and another at Kishtaram police station of Sukma district.
The order was issued by NHRC on March 13, 2020 and was received by the complainant on July 7. As per order, the Chhattisgarh government was directed to submit the compliance report along with the proof of payment within the next six weeks.
Altogether, 13 rights activists and lawyers were booked in the two cases, including Professor Sundar and others from the Telangana Democratic Front (TDF), who had tried to enter Chhattisgarh on a fact-finding mission about alleged human rights violations in December, 2016.
The NHRC order is directed to the director-general of police (DGP), Chhattisgarh, DM Awasthi, and the state chief secretary, RP Mandal.
The rights panel stated that it took suo motu cognisance of the alleged harassment and intimidation to the human rights activists and lawyers by the Chhattisgarh Police.
The state government was also directed to inform the status of the probe being conducted about the burning of effigies of human rights activists and lawyers by the Chhattisgarh Auxiliary Police (CAP).
The NHRC order cited “trumped-up” first information reports (FIRs) registered against Professor Sundar and others, including the fact-finding team of lawyers from Telangana and Dr. Lakhan Singh, who was the president of the Chhattisgarh chapter of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), one of the largest human rights bodies in the country, and also the arrest of a local journalist Santosh Yadav.
“As regards to the registration of FIRs against Professor Nandini Sundar and others, the DGP has submitted that during the investigation, no evidence was found against her, Archana Prasad, Vineet Tiwari, Sanjay Parate, Manju, and Mangla Ram Karma. Hence, their names have been removed from the FIRs,” the NHRC said.
“We recommend and direct Chhattisgarh government through the chief secretary to pay a sum of Rs 1 lakh each as monetary compensation to Nandini Sundar, Archana Prasad, Vineet Tiwari, Sanjay Parate, Manju and Mangla Ram Karma, whose human rights were violated by the Chhattisgarh Police. The chief secretary shall submit the compliance report along with the proof of payment within six weeks,” it added.
DGP Awasthi submitted that all the other seven accused -- CH Prabhakar, B Durga Prasad, B Rabindranath, D Prabhakar, R Lakshimaiya, Mohammad Nazir and K Rajendra Prasad -- were acquitted of all the charges by the chief judicial magistrate, Sukma.
Professor Sundar reacted to the NHRC’s directives to the Chhattisgarh government.
“We are yet to receive any compensation. But, as and when I receive it, I plan to share the sum as legal aid for innocent tribals, who are falsely implicated,” she said.
RP Mandal, chief secretary, Chhattisgarh, told HT that the state government has received NHRC’s directives.
“We have received the directives from NHRC. The state government is taking appropriate steps about them,” Mandal added.
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