Freedom Under Fire: Bandh Call Against Inter-religious Marriage; Handwara Girl, Father in Police Custody

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

Freedom of expression is your right. Credit: rhinman/Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

Credit: rhinman/Flickr, CC BY 2.0.

Bandh call against inter-religious marriage

With opposition mounting from Hindutva groups to the inter-religious marriage of N. Ashitha and Shakeel Ahamed in Mandya, police have initiated a series of measures including the arrest of troublemakers and denial of permission for their protest, The Hindu reported.

The Swabhimani Vokkaligara Sene has since joined the group of those opposing the marriage, with the convener calling for a ‘Mandya bandh’ on April 16. He said the Sene would organise a motorcycle rally to oppose the marriage. The police has urged the public not to

The BJP, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad had launched protests outside Ashitha’s house earlier this week.

Handwara girl raped by soldier, father both detained by police, says rights group

The Jammu and Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a human rights body, on Thursday accused the police of detaining the father of the Handwara girl, who was allegedly raped by a soldier, The Hindu reported. Noting that the 16-year-old girl’s family approached the JKCCS for legal counsel and other support, the rights body spokesman said that “the girl has been kept in police custody from April 12 to date,” quoting her family members. The police has said the custody is “protective,” and she and her family were there willingly.

“Last night, around 1 am, the father of the victim was called to the Handwara police station. He was accompanied by his brother. Since then his whereabouts are not known. The family has been denied access to both the minor girl and her father,” said JKCCS spokesman. “The detention of the minor girl and her father are outside the powers of the state and appears to be an attempt to pressure the family to withdraw all allegations against the armed forces.” Family members are demanding the release of both the girl and her father.

Protests had erupted after the alleged rape, where army firing killed four and injured many.

Abuses by police, forces major rights problem in India, says US

Abuses by police and security forces are the most significant human rights problem in India, the US said on Thursday while raising concerns by civil society over the “failure” of the Gujarat government to hold accountable those responsible for the 2002 riots in the state, a Hindustan Times report says.

“The most significant human rights problems involved police and security force abuses, including extra-judicial killings, torture, and rape; corruption remained widespread and contributed to ineffective responses to crimes, including those against women, children and members of scheduled castes or tribes; and societal violence based on gender, religious affiliation, and caste or tribe,” the US state department said in its annual 2015 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices.

Human rights lawyers, activists unhappy with Doval’s exclusive class for SC judges

Human rights lawyers and activists are unhappy that National Security Adviser Ajit Doval is set to give an exclusive class to 25 Supreme Court judges on ‘national security and threats of global terrorism’ during their three-day retreat beginning Thursday in Madhya Pradesh, India Today reported. Writing a letter to chief justice T.S. Thakur, the lawyers and activists of ‘Campaign for Judicial Accountability and Reforms’ said if Doval is being heard on the issue, they should also be allowed to give their version on these sensitive issues.

They have said that it will be inappropriate for the judges to be briefed only Doval, with no representatives from human rights organisations offering an alternative perspective on how the actions of security agencies impact human rights.

Shoe hurled at Kanhaiya in Nagpur

According to a report in The Hindu, a shoe was hurled at JNU Students’ Union President Kanhaiya Kumar while he was speaking at an event to commemorate B.R. Ambedkar’s 125th birth anniversary at Dhanwate National College, Nagpur. The attacker, a Dalit man said to be associated with the RSS, was arrested. ABVP activists also tried to disrupt the event, shouting ‘Bharat mata ki jai’ as Kanhaiya started speaking.

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

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