Freedom Under Fire: Farmers Protest in Nashik; 47 Cops Held Guilty for 1991 Fake Encounter

A round-up of news, both bad and good, on the rights front from India.

Farmers protesting in Nashik. Credit: Facebook/The Voice of Ram Subramanium

Farmers protesting in Nashik. Credit: Facebook/The Voice of Ram Subramanium

30,000 farmers block roads in Nashik, demand loan waiver and better drought relief

Around 30,000 farmers have blocked the main chowk and roads in Nashik, Maharashtra since Tuesday, the Indian Express reported. The farmers are demanding a loan waiver, better drought relief measures and Rs. 50,000 per acre of destroyed crops. They also want land rights for tenant farmers. The protest is backed by Left-affiliated All India Kisan Sabha, which has said they will not move unless the state government discusses their demands.

Deaf youth ‘beheaded’ on orders of panchayat in Jharkhand

A deaf  youth was beheaded by villagers on orders from a panchayat in Jharkhand’s West Singhbhum village, a Hindustan Times report states. According to police reports, the disabled youth, Sukhlal, beat up his grandfather and entered into a scuffle with his uncle. The grandfather and the uncle complained about the incident to the village head.

The panchayat held Sukhlal guilty and tied him and his father  to a tree. After freeing the boy’s father, villagers along with the youth’s uncle took Sukhlal to a nearby forest where they beheaded him, threw his head in a bush and buried the body near the Sanjay river near Chakradharpur.  According to the police, the boy’s father had been warned to stay quiet.

NaMo Brigade founder is key suspect in RTI activist’s murder

According to an Indian Express report, former convenor of the NaMo Brigade, a youth organisation in Karnataka made togenerate support for Narendra Modi ahead of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, has emerged as a key suspect in the murder of RTI activist Vinayak Pandurang Baliga in Mangalore on March 21.

The suspect, Naresh Shenoy, has been missing for over a week, police have said.

Rights group lobbies with EU to push Modi on FCRA

International human rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) wrote to the European Union a day before the India-EU summit in Brussels on March 30, saying that the Modi regime was using the Foreign Contribution Regulation Act to restrict foreign funding to NGOs like Greenpeace India and ones run by activist Teesta Setalvad, besides stifling free speech by those critical of the government, Times of India reported.

Teacher held for Dalit student’s ‘rape, murder’

Two days after a 17-year old Dalit girl’s body was found in the water tank of her college, Jain Adarsh Teacher Training College in Nokha, Bikaner, police arrested a physical trainer and instructor for allegedly raping her. According to an Indian Express report, her parents also accused the teacher of murder. The girl’s father has named the chairperson of the college, Ishwar Chandra Baid, hostel warden Priya Shukla and Vijendra Singh, a physical training instructor who used to live on the campus, in the FIR.

According to the Bikaner SP’s statement the rape was confirmed and the trainer was arrested on Thursday. The other two are yet to be arrested. “There were no injury marks on her body so we cannot say if it was murder, but we are awaiting forensic results to ascertain the cause of her death,” he added.

Protests continue at Hyderabad University

Students continue to protest at Hyderabad Central University, demanding that VC Appa Rao Podile resigns for his alleged involvement in Dalit research scholar Rohith Vemula’s suicide. Activists who have visited the campus in the last few days in support of the students, including Yogendra Yadav and Teesta Setalvad, have not been allowed entry and held sit-ins at the university gates, Hindustan Times reported.

1991 Pilibhit fake encounters: 25 years later, 47 cops held guilty 

According to an Indian Express report, a special CBI court held 47 policemen guilty of killing 10 Sikh men in three fake encounters on one night in the Pilibhit district of Uttar Pradesh in July 1991, nearly 25 years ago. The CBI had investigated the case on being directed by the Supreme Court. 57 policemen had originally been chargesheeted, 10 of whom died during the investigation.

20 of the guilty are now in judicial custody, and non-bailable arrest warrants have been issued against the others.

Do you know of any other incident we should highlight in this column? Write to me at [email protected].