narendra modi said let the people vent their anger

‘I was there. Narendra Modi said let the people vent their anger’

DIG Sanjeev Bhatt knows the terrible truth about Gujarat 2002. ASHISH KHETAN has his explosive revelations. Will the Supreme Court take it on record?

 
PHOTO: INDIAN EXPRESS ARCHIVE

CHIEF MINISTER Narendra Modi’s interrogation by the Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT), published in TEHELKA last week, (The Artful Faker), was a class act in tactical evasion. But Modi made one slip. On the evening of 27 February 2002, after the terrible Sabarmati train carnage in Godhra, Modi had called a ‘law and order meeting’ at his residence, at which, in an unforgivable act, he is infamously reported to have told his officers, “Let the Hindus vent their anger.” The signal was sent. The mayhem that followed is history.

In March 2010, when asked by SIT inquiry officer AK Malhotra about who was present at this meeting, Modi named seven bureaucrats and officers. Then, he singled out one police officer: Sanjeev Bhatt, deputy commissioner of internal security in the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB).

Malhotra had asked Modi who was present at the meeting, not who was absent. But curiously, after he had listed the names of those present, Modi volunteered this unnecessary and unprompted piece of information: Sanjeev Bhatt, DC (Int) was not at the meeting, he said, because it was a “high-level meeting”.

It is significant that Modi unilaterally tried to disown and discredit Bhatt’s presence at the 27 February meeting because two months earlier, as officer after officer had pleaded amnesia about the proceedings at the meeting, just one officer had told the SIT team that if the Supreme Court were to summon him, or if a criminal case were to be registered, he would testify and tell the truth of what he heard at that meeting. That officer was Sanjeev Bhatt.

‘As I looked through the charred debris, my shoes were encrusted with a thick paste, a mix of burnt flesh and soil,’ says Bhatt

It is also significant that neither Modi nor others refute the fact that Bhatt was present the next morning at another highlevel law-and-order meeting called by the chief minister (at which no infamous thing was said). Or, indeed, at several other lawand- order meetings chaired by the chief minister in the weeks to come. If he was not too junior to attend a meeting on 28 February then, why was he too junior to attend one on 27 February?

What does Sanjeev Bhatt know that Modi would like to discredit?

When Sanjeev Bhatt was summoned by the SIT in January 2010, he deposed for two days before them.

“As I was surveying the torched building and the compound, alongside the heaps of charred remains, what looked like a mix of household objects and decomposing bits of human flesh, I came upon a half burnt Encyclopaedia Britannica. I picked it up and wiped off the soot deposited on it with my handkerchief. Inside the book, at the top on the first page, the name Ahsan Jafri was written with a flourish. For a few moments I kept staring at the name, admiring the stylish handwriting. Though I had never known or met Jafri in my life, in his handwriting I could see that he must have been a cultured and learned man,” Bhatt, 47, told the SIT.

Bhatt was describing the heartrending scene he saw on his visit to Gulberg Society two days after a Hindu mob had killed 69 Muslims in this building. Among the dead was former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri. He was 64 at the time and his body and the bodies of 37 other victims were hacked and burnt beyond recognition and thus could never be identified: they were all buried en masse. The bodies of only 31 victims were identified, some by their mangled remains, some through the few discernible pieces of clothing that had remained unburnt.

The SIT calls Modi partisan and communal but refuses to probe further. It forgets that if he had been fair, it would have saved lives

“My thoughts immediately went back to my childhood,” Bhatt continued. “In those days there was no internet and for any reference material I would have to cycle to the nearest library. As a student it was my desire to own a copy of Encyclopaedia Britannica. And here it was lying half burnt, in a heap of charred human remains before me.” After a moment, he added, “The stench was nauseating. In many parts the soil was crusted with a thick charcoal like paste, perhaps a mixture of burnt human flesh and sundry other things. The soles of my shoes got plastered with that substance. I haven’t worn those shoes since neither have I cleaned them.”

Bhatt had other things to tell. It was agonizing, he said, to see the impunity with which violent mobs had gone about the city unleashing terror.

“Two days after the Godhra train incident,” he told the SIT, “I was passing by Saraspur area. To my right I saw a mob trying to demolish a masjid known as Mancha Masjid. I told my driver to stop. The moment I stepped out of the car, the mob started dispersing.”

Police and mobs don’t sit well together, Bhatt added. But during the 2002 riots that’s exactly what happened. As sections of the Gujarat police morphed into a cheering crowd on the sideline, Hindu mobs went on a killing spree. “It takes decades for a building to be reduced to ruins. The Gulberg Society was turned into wreckage in a span of few hours,” he said.

Some of what Bhatt told the SIT was recorded in a typed statement, a copy of which is now before the Supreme Court. But it’s what Bhatt told the SIT cops offthe- record that paints the true picture of the Gujarat riots.

IN ITS cover story last week (Here is the smoking gun, 12 February), TEHELKA had exposed how the SITwas unwilling to prosecute Modi and other senior officials and ministers, despite recording an overwhelming body of evidence that showed that both Modi himself, and his government, had behaved in a dangerously communal manner at the peak of the riots, had illegal positioned politicians in police control rooms, persecuted neutral officers, appointed Sangh members as public prosecutors and destroyed police wireless messages and minutes of crucial law and order meetings. Yet, the SIT had concluded, all of this was not sufficient grounds to investigate Modi further “under law”.

The SIT team had also reported that the most serious allegation against Modi — his alleged instruction to senior administrative and police officials that Hindus should be allowed to vent their anger — could not be substantiated. Inquiry officer Malhotra reported that such a meeting had indeed been held on 27 February, but none of the officers present, save Sanjeev Bhatt, would testify about what had transpired at the meeting. (Curiously, two claimed amnesia; four denied Modi had made such a statement; one denied he had been part of the meeting.) Malhotra also noted that most of these officers did not seem to be speaking their minds, either because they had been rewarded by the Modi government with choice postings, or because they were still in its service and feared the fall-out.

However, in an explosive detail that can have far-reaching consequences if the Supreme Court decides to pursue it, on page 149 of his report, Malhotra also noted that “Sanjeev Bhatt, the then DC (Int), has claimed off-the-record that the CM did utter these words.”

This opens up space for some urgent questions. What exactly did Sanjeev Bhatt tell the SIT “off-the-record”? Why did he choose not to put it on record? And what impact will it have if it is put on the record? First, read what Bhatt told the SIT.

“There is a lot of anger in the people. This time a balanced approach against Hindus and Muslims will not work. It is necessary that the anger of the people is allowed to be vented.” These, according to Bhatt, are the exact incendiary words Modi had spoken at the meeting and which Bhatt later scribbled down in a personal notepad he maintained during the riots.

When Bhatt made this revelation, Malhotra had jumped out of his chair. “You are the first man who has dared to speak the truth,” he said and took Bhatt by his hand to the cabin of his senior officer Paramvir Singh, a former special director of the Central Bureau of Investigation, who was supervising the probe against Modi at the time. Singh, too, was reportedly delighted to find a witness ready to stand his ground and speak the truth.

Bhatt then described the ground floor room where the meeting occurred. He also told Malhotra and Singh that though the then BJP MLA Haren Pandya was not part of the meeting, he was present in one of the adjoining rooms in the CM’s bungalow while the meeting was going on.

(About two and a half months after the riots, on 13 May 2002, Pandya had deposed before two retired judges — Justice PB Sawant and Justice Hosbert Suresh — that ‘he had attended a meeting on 27 February 2002 night at the residence of Modi in which the latter had made it clear that should there be a backlash from the Hindus the police should not come in their way.’ Pandya was murdered mysteriously a few months later.)

   
Vanished lives Late Ahsan Jafri, heavy on the country’s conscience; Zakia Jafri, still fighting

PHOTO (RIGHT): TRUPTI PATEL

Both Justices Sawant and Suresh have testified before the SIT confirming Pandya’s deposition before them, implicating Modi. Now, Bhatt’s version of events coupled with the existing evidence pointed towards a strong possibility that on the night of 27 February, Modi had convened two meetings — one administrative and the second political — and on one hand gave VHP and BJP leaders a fatal signal to mobilise riotous mobs and on the other hand instructed the police machinery to turn a blind eye.

(In 2007, in another corroborative detail, the then Godhra BJP MLA and a rabid Bajrang Dal leader, Haresh Bhatt had also told this reporter in the course of an undercover investigation that Modi had given rioters approval to run amok for three days. Arvind Pandya, the Modi government’s special prosecutor in the Justice Nanavati- Shah Commission, was also captured on a spy-cam saying it was Modi’s strong leadership that had made the post-Godhra pogrom possible.)

Bhatt told the SIT officers everything that transpired at the meeting but declined to put it on record because the ongoing SIT probe was merely a preliminary enquiry and not a criminal investigation under the Criminal Procedure Code of India.

“He has stated that he attended this meeting in his capacity as an intelligence officer, and as per his belief, it would not be professionally appropriate on his part to divulge the exact nature of discussions that took place during the said meeting. However, he would be duty bound to disclose the same to the best of his recollection and ability, as and when he is required to do so under legal obligation,” Malhotra noted in his report. (Bhatt is presently a DIG with the State Reserve Police Training Centre.) The understanding was that if an FIRwas filed later, Bhatt’s initial statement could be expanded into a full disclosure, recorded under Section 161 of the CrPC.

Though this one statement, if proved, should be enough indictment against Modi, there are other damning things Bhatt told the SIT team off-the-record.

In a damaging written statement, which is now with the Supreme Court, Bhatt had recorded how the SIB was flooded with a deluge of intelligence after the Sabarmati tragedy, indicating that the VHP, Bajrang Dal and other Hindutva organisations could incite communal violence in Ahmedabad and other districts in Gujarat. He had also recorded that all the while mobs were mobilising at Meghani Nagar and surrounding Gulberg Society, the SIB was consistently receiving and passing on field intelligence to the office of the then DGP K Chakravarthi and then Commissioner of Police of Ahmedabad, PC Pande about the dangerous build up.

But what Bhatt told the SIT off-therecord is even more shocking.

Bhatt told Malhotra that he did not only pass this information to the DGP and Commissioner: he also spoke directly with the office of the chief minister himself.

“Initially I kept passing the reports of a mob build-up near Gulberg Society to DGP K Chakravarthi and Commissioner PC Pande. But I found Pande was not bothered at all,” Bhatt said.

“Then I went to the office of DGP Chakravarti and told him to somehow prevail upon Pande to at least announce curfew in Naroda and Meghani Nagar. After much dithering, Pande announced curfew sometime post noon. But the order existed only on paper. On the ground it was never implemented. The mob at Gulberg was not dispersed until 4.30 pm,” Bhatt said.

“Since the curfew was never imposed, the crowd at Gulberg kept multiplying,” he continued. “Finally, when I saw that Pande was not budging at all, I made Chakravarthi speak to Pande on the phone. But to my utter shock I found Pande was still not willing to act,” Bhatt reportedly told Malhotra.

‘Intelligence was pouring in. Pande refused to act. I realised Modi’s signal had percolated through the police machinery,’ says Bhatt

“It was at this point that I called up OP Singh (Modi’s personal secretary) and spoke to him. I explained the gravity of the situation at Gulberg Society to him and told him to communicate immediately to the chief minister that if the police didn’t act immediately, the mob would set the society on fire and kill dozens of Muslims including former Congress MP Ahsan Jafri,” Bhatt said.

According to Bhatt, after his call to Modi’s secretary he waited a while to see if the city police would finally act. But, terrifyingly, there was still no response. “At this point I got convinced,” Bhatt told Malhotra, “that Modi had really meant what he had said the night before and his message had percolated down to a large section of the police machinery.” According to Bhatt, Chakravarthi had wanted to act but he was helpless. The city police was under Pande and he was not ready to do anything.

Given the way other senior officers had evaded questions about that fateful meeting at the chief minister’s residence (See TEHELKA story The Smoking Gun), Bhatt was the only hope for the SIT in its quest for the truth. But between January, when Bhatt deposed before the SIT, and May 2010, when SIT submitted its report to the Supreme Court, things changed dramatically. In the last week of February 2010, Paramvir Singh quit the probe team citing personal reasons. Malhotra alone drafted the 600-odd page inquiry report which he submitted before the court in May 2010. And instead of recommending the registration of an FIR and full-fledged investigation (as Bhatt had thought the SITwould do), the SIT came to conclusions that contradicted the very findings on which they were based.

Raghavan and Malhotra reprimanded Modi for being unfair, partisan, communal and immoral but — inexplicably — claimed this was not sufficient ground for a further and more stringent investigation against him. They seemed to forget that non-partisan and fair conduct from Modi could have saved the lives of hundreds of innocent men, women and children whose only crime was that they were Muslims in a state run by him.

THERE ARE many other questions the SIT must answer. Why didn’t it keep a written account of everything Bhatt told them off the record for future reference? Doesn’t the Supreme Court have the right to know Bhatt’s full off-the-record deposition? Why did Malhotra only mention a small portion of it? Equally, did Malhotra follow up on the leads and inputs provided by Bhatt? If not, what was the purpose of making him depose for over two days? What efforts did Malhotra make to corroborate Bhatt’s version of events besides asking the top rung of the bureaucracy and police, who are themselves cited as accused in Ahsan Jafri’s wife Zakia’s complaint? Why did he not go down the ladder to lower level police personnel to know from them what was happening on the ground?

TEHELKA has managed to track down one independent witness who has corroborated Bhatt’s claim of having attended the 27 February evening meeting. This witness is one more proof of the shoddiness of the SIT probe. Proof of all the unturned stones; the work waiting to be done if there is the will for it.

But before we get to that, take a look at what was happening behind the scenes in the corridors of power, even as hundreds of Muslims were being brutalised on the streets of Ahmedabad.

Sanjeev Bhatt was the senior most deputy commissioner in the State Intelligence Bureau (there were two other DCs besides him) and was also the longest serving officer in the bureau. He was in-charge of the internal security desk and his job involved collecting, collating and analysing intelligence before sending it to senior police officers, the home minister and chief minister of the state.

On 28 February, police inspectors, subinspectors and constables posted with the SIBwere constantly sending reports to the SIB control room about the rapidly deteriorating situation in Naroda Gaon, Naroda Patiya and Meghani Nagar (where Gulberg Society was situated).

According to Bhatt’s testimony before the SIT, a SIB police inspector whose last name was Bharwad was positioned in Meghani Nagar for collecting intelligence. (Bhatt didn’t remember his first name but told Malhotra he could easily make an official enquiry with the SIB and find out.) According to Bhatt, Bharwad was sending him a ball by ball commentary of the crisis spiraling at Gulberg Society.

According to Bhatt, Bharwad told him over the phone that local VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders kept shouting abusive anti- Muslim slogans for several hours outside Gulberg Society, inciting and mobilising the mob. Many VHP and Bajrang Dal members from Meghani Nagar were part of the mob, but tempos, cars and motorcycles carrying rioters from other localities also kept pulling in, adding to the numbers. Most of the Bajrang Dal activists were carrying tridents in their belts, a small number were carrying firearms. But the most preferred weaponry was gas cylinders and cans filled with petrol and diesel.

For several hours, hundreds of Muslims who had taken shelter in Gulberg — thinking that a society housing a Congress leader would be safer — made desperate calls to friends, relatives and the police, pleading to be rescued. But the local police remained a mute spectator. At times, it even goaded the mob into committing violence. At around 2 pm, after four hours of complete paralysis on the part of the police, the emboldened mob finally stormed the building.

“According to Bharwad, the rioters first looted the place. He also reported a few instances of rape. As Bharwad sent us these field reports, we called up the Ahmedabad police control and passed it on to them,” Bhatt told Malhotra.

“At around 2.30 pm he again called me and told me that the mob had dragged out Ahsan Jafri and had clasped his head in a sandsa (a contraption used in Gujarat to catch stray dogs). For some time the mob paraded him around, his head still clasped in the iron contraption, kicking and slashing him. Then they removed the sandsa and hacked him into pieces. Finally they made a heap of him and set it on fire,” Bhatt reportedly told Malhotra.

WHEN NARENDRA Modi was questioned by the SIT, Malhotra asked him: ‘Did you receive any information about an attack by a mob on Gulberg Society? If so, when and through whom? What action did you take in the matter?’

     
High handed Modi, always on guard a policeman watches Muslim shops burn in Ahmedabad Lest we forget Qasimbhai (foreground) who lost 19 members of his family at Gulberg

MODI REPLIED: ‘To the best of my recollection, I was informed in the law and order review meeting held in the night about the attack on Gulberg Society in Meghani Nagar area and Naroda Patiya.’

Where does the truth lie? Bhatt had told Malhotra that he had personally informed OP Singh, Modi’s personal secretary, about the ongoing Gulberg carnage. It is also important to remember that since October 2001, when Narendra Modi took over as Gujarat chief minister, he has held the post of home minister of the state. In this capacity, the Gujarat Police and state intelligence functions directly under him.

It is also important to remember that on 28 February, as the massacre at Gulberg Society ensued, the police control room was flooded with distress calls. Here are just a few wireless messages that the SIT has managed to procure.

12:20 HRS: Police Inspector KG Erda of Meghani Nagar sends a message to Ahmedabad police control room that a mob of around 10,000 had surrounded Gulberg Society and was pelting stones and also trying to set it on fire. Erda requested for additional forces.

12:38 HRS: A police mobile van stationed near Meghani Nagar sends a message to Ahmedabad police control room that Gulberg Society had been surrounded by a mob of 4,000 to 5,000 people.

14:05 HRS: Joint Commissioner Sector 2, MK Tandon sends a message to police control room that Ahsan Jafri had been surrounded by a mob and additional forces should be dispatched.

14:14 HRS: KG Erda sends another message to Ahmedabad police control room that a mob of 10,000 people was about to set Gulberg Society on fire and ACP, DCP and additional forces be sent immediately.

14:45 HRS: KG Erda sends yet another message that the society had been surrounded from all sides and the mob was about to set it on fire.

15:45 HRS: Tandon sends a message to control room enquiring if there was any incidence of violence at Gulberg Society (by this time the carnage was in full swing).

Just this tiny sample of messages is proof that the police were fully aware of what was going on but did little to disperse the mobs, except exchange messages. It is also important to note here that the SIT report says that the original police control room records are missing and that ‘the Gujarat government has reportedly destroyed the police wireless communication of the period pertaining to the riots.’

Isn’t just this — the destruction of official records — sufficient grounds for further investigation?

From 12.30 pm to 3.45pm, no reinforcements were sent. Tandon only reached the spot around 4:30 pm to clear the bodies. Erda has already been booked by the SIT in the Gulberg Society case. SIT has also accused Tandon and the then DCP of the area PB Gondia of willfully allowing the carnage and is investigating their role further. But, inexplicably, the SIT has not indicted PC Pande, the Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad at the time.

Yet, here’s the obvious question: what did Pande do about the constant stream of reports, both from the local police and the SIB, about the mob build-up? (A few wireless messages that the SIT has managed to procure and quoted in its report show that Pande had apparently instructed a few officers to reach the spot but he never followed up on his own orders to find out if they were complied with.) This, coupled with Bhatt’s account that Pande deliberately did not pay any heed to his intelligence inputs, nails Pande’s culpability. There is also the plain, bald fact: why did no senior officers or reinforcements reach the spot?

Pande was one of the officers present in the infamous February 27 meeting at the CM’s residence. He also received around 15 calls from the chief minister’s office around the time the massacres at Naroda and Gulberg were underway. The natural question that arises is what did Pande discuss with the chief minister and his aides while these terrible massacres were on? In a constitutional state, the chief minister would have asked Pande what he was doing to ensure the safety of citizens and instructed him to take urgent measures. If Modi claims, as he has done in his interrogation session with the SIT, that he didn’t even know about the massacres till later that night, should one accuse him only of a communal mindset or also add plain inefficiency and incompetence?

In an interesting codicil, after his retirement in 2009, Pande was appointed as chairman of the Gujarat Electricity Regulatory Commission — a post-retirement benefit he continues to enjoy.

ACCORDING TO SIT sources, besides narrating his first-hand account, Bhatt also submitted a few intelligence reports prepared during the riots to the SIT.

A few reports, dated February 27, soon after the Sabarmati train carnage news broke, show that the state government had a mountain of intelligence which clearly showed that VHP and Bajrang Dal leaders and cadres were preparing for communal violence on February 28.

A report named DIR/2/COM/Precaution/ 72/2002 dated 27.02.2002 said: Information has been received that in respect of the Godhra incident, VHP has called for Gujarat bandh on 28.02.2002. In that respect the VHP has called for a meeting at its Ahmedabad office to chalk out future activities and strategies. In this regard necessary watch needs to be kept and any information so received must be transmitted.’

In another message to all district police the SIB said, ‘The situation arising out of bandh call needs a strict vigil from the police units to avoid any untoward incident.’

Yet another message, numbered D-1/9- HA, alerted all police commissioners and district SPs that after the Godhra incident the people of minority community travelling by public transport and cars may be targeted to take revenge.

Bhatt also submitted a few reports which had warned the government very early on the morning of February 28 about the mobilisation of mobs by Hindutva organisations. Again, the reports were sent to the chief minister’s office.

For instance, a report named C/Precaution/ 177/2002, dated 28.02.2002 and marked to the CMO and MOS (Home), states: ‘Some members of Bajrang Dal and VHP have been found to be part of the mobs at different places. They are moving on motorcycles and are attacking autorickshaw drivers who belong to the minority community. They are also attacking poor people of other professions from the minority community and thereby causing serious injuries. It is hereby directed that police must take extra precautions in respect of such vehicles and people.’

There are other glaring crevices between official statements and the truth. Contrary to the Modi government’s claim that there were no funeral processions of the victims of the Sabarmati train carnage paraded in Ahmedabad, the intelligence reports submitted by Bhatt show that funeral processions were indeed taken out in Ahmedabad. This lends credence to the allegation that Modi deliberately had the bodies brought from Godhra to Ahmedabad to fuel the communal frenzy.

A REPORT named C/Dir/ Shamshan yatra/ 176/2002 dated 28.02.2002 and marked to Modi’s office and senior police officers states: ‘In respect of the incident at Godhra in which the funeral procession of identified bodies of dead karsevaks is likely to be taken out from the Sola Civil Hospital. In this procession a large number of people are expected to participate and during and after the processions there is a likelihood of disturbances.’

   
Cover-up team? Then Police Commissioner, Ahmedabad, PC Pande; Additional DG Police, Geeta Johri

PHOTOS (L TO R): INDIAN EXPRESS ARCHIVE, AP

Bhatt also gave the SIT a series of intelligence reports suggesting that a large number of bodies were dumped in a well at Naroda Patiya then covered with debris so nobody would get suspicious. His reports also show that when an SIB inspector tried to probe further, somebody planted a dead pig in the well as a decoy for the foul stench and derailed the search. (It is significant to remember that one of the prime conspirators of the Naroda Patiya massacre, Babu Bajrangi had told this reporter during TEHELKA’s undercover story that many bodies were disposed off in wells to bring down the official death toll.)

Human rights activists like Teesta Setalvad have been petitioning the government and the courts for eight years to excavate the well at Naroda Patiya. When the probe was transferred to the SIT, these activists reiterated their plea but the SIT bought the Gujarat government’s explanation without further probing.

All of this emerges from just a few reports that Bhatt managed to procure. In a move that can only be construed as a cover- up, the Modi government did not provide the SIT with any documents related to intelligence or law and order meetings pertaining to the riots. The government also refused to share the security logs of the chief minister and other senior officials which would have shown their movement during the riots.

Apart from Bhatt, there are only two other police officers who have provided the SIT with crucial documents that could nail the Modi government.

Former ADGP (Int) B Sreekumar gave the SIT a huge volume of intelligence reports on how arms and bombs were smuggled in Ahmedabad during the riots and how the Modi government didn’t take enough security measures for the karsevaks before the Godhra train incident. Both Bhatt and Sreekumar were shunted out of the SIB by the same order on the same date: 18 September 2002. Sreekumar was superseded and had to fight a case to get his pension; Bhatt has not been given one executive posting for the past eight years.

IPS officer Rahul Sharma who gave the SIT cellphone data records of senior ministers, bureaucrats and police officers for the period pertaining to the riots was served a show cause notice by the Modi government last week for producing these records before the SIT without its permission. (See box)

The SIT report has recorded many instances of how upright officers were persecuted by the Modi government after the riots. Clearly, that intimidation continues.

Tehelka has managed to track down a new witness. If a magazine can make the effort to verify Bhatt’s claims, why can’t the SIT?

The SIT report – under whatever compulsion it may have felt – has tried to deflect Sanjeev Bhatt’s claim that he was at the February 27 meeting and that he had gone there on the insistence of DGP Chakravarthi. But TEHELKA managed to track down Tarachand Yadav, 50, a Gujarat police head constable, who was Bhatt’s driver during the riots. Yadav told TEHELKA that on February 27, 2002, Bhatt left office at around 8 pm, after which he drove Bhatt to his home at Drive-In Road, Ahmedabad.

‘Sahab went jogging and returned after an hour or so. I had finished my dinner when sahab again came out and told me that we had to go back to Police Bhawan at Gandhinagar. When we reached DGP sahab’s car was already parked outside. Sahab got into DGP sahab’s car and told me to follow. We drove to CM Bungalow in Gandhinagar. DGP sahab and Bhatt sahab went inside. There were other cars also parked outside the bungalow. After about half an hour Bhatt sahib came out and I drove him back to Police Bhawan. Sahab must have worked in the office for another hour or so after which I drove him back home.’

TEHELKA is ready to provide the SIT and, if asked, the Supreme Court a copy of Yadav’s recorded version of events.

But the moot question is, if a newsmagazine can make the effort to cross-check and verify Bhatt’s claims, why didn’t the SIT — mandated by no less than the Supreme Court of India — take more trouble to get to the bottom of one of the most violent ruptures in our nation’s recent history?

Can a lax probe of this nature – which has itself listed all that it has not done — ever hope to unravel the truth behind the killing of over 2,000 innocent people? Will Gujarat remain a festering wound, providing extremists in both the Hindu and Muslim communities a pretext to indulge in more horrific acts of violence? Will no corrective lesson go out to all those leaders and officers who failed in their duty? Or will the Supreme Court intervene forcefully in the riot victims’ despairing quest for justice?

All eyes are now on the three judge bench which will convene on March 3 and deliver its much anticipated verdict.


ashish.khetan@tehelka.com


LAST MEN STANDING

 

The persecution of upright officers continues even now, finds ANUMEHA YADAV

A KEY POINT of the SIT report on the 2002 riots was that it affirms that the Narendra Modi government persecuted police officers who tried to stop the violence. Their persecution is still on.

On 5 February, the government issued a notice to senior IPS officer Rahul Sharma asking how and why he submitted phone records of senior politicians and bureaucrats during the riots to inquiry commissions without approval. In its notice, nine years aer the riots, it asked Sharma why action should not be taken against him.

“The government is trying to discredit Sharma and intimidate him. It destroyed all original evidence and now it is trying to discredit the records Sharma has submitted,” says lawyer Mukul Sinha of Jan Sangharsh Manch.

The Modi government did not keep any records or minutes of the crucial meetings it held during the riots, something the SIT has raised a question over.

Sharma, a 1992 batch IPS officer now posted as DIG Rajkot, was DCP (control room), Ahmedabad, in April 2002. Investigating the violence at Naroda Patiya and Gulberg Society, he collected data from AT&T and CelForce mobile service providers of all calls received and made in Ahmedabad during this period and handed over these to the Crime Branch. These CDS containing phone records of senior ministers, police officers, and members of RSS and VHP to each other were subsequently “lost”. But while deposing before the Nanavati Commission set up in March 2002 to inquire into the riots, Sharma submitted a copy of this CD that he had preserved.

 
Obstructed IPS officers Satish Verma (top) and Rahul Sharma

These phone records have been one of the most significant pieces of evidence in nailing the guilty, including the arrest and the cancelling of anticipatory bails of Gujarat VHP president Jaideep Patel and minister Maya Kodnani in 2009, and in the investigation into the killing of Congress ex-MP Ahsan Jafri and 30 others at Gulberg Society. The CDS are vital pieces of evidence in the Naroda Patiya violence in which 105 Muslims were killed by official count.

But scuttling any effort for fair investigations seems to be the norm in Gujarat. A week before Sharma received his notice, another senior IPS officer, Satish Verma, member of a separate SIT set up to inquire into the 2004 Ishrat Jehan encounter, flagged that he was being restricted from pursuing leads in the case. Verma, one of three police officers probing this encounter allegedly carried by Gujarat police officers to please their political bosses, submitted an affidavit citing instances of interference.

In an 80-page affidavit in the Gujarat High Court on 28 January, Verma described how obvious forensic evidence had been ignored by a previous SIT set up by the Gujarat government in 2009, including bullets in Ishrat’s body that did not match the weapons the police claim were used in the encounter. Verma described how Mohan Jha, a Gujarat cadre officer, who was also a member of the previous SIT, and Karnail Singh, a Delhi cadre officer, deliberately forwarded the retraction of a key witness to the HC without any comments to create doubt and ambiguity. Verma disclosed how Jha, who is the current JCP, Detection of Crime Branch (DCB), tried to put 26 police officers directly under himself in the Special Operations Group last month, claiming they were needed for security in the Vibrant Gujarat summit. All 26 were with the DCB on the day of the encounter.

“Verma says he had started maintaining an official note on what is going on in the SIT in December, 19 days aer the SIT began work. This shows he saw the need to put the irregularities on the record and anticipated that his efforts for a fair investigation would be obstructed. It shows how twisted this attempt to investigate these fake encounter killings is,” says a senior police officer, requesting anonymity.

 

STATE TERRORISM-TYRANNY

-1-
STATE TERRORISM-TYRANNY
THE HORRIFYING HUMAN TRAGEDY
CALLED MANGALORE SEZ
DEATH, DESTRUCTION AND RAPE
OF THE PLANET
EXTRACTED FROM
(A REPORT ON THE ATTACKS ON MINORITIES AND
THEIR PLACES OF WORSHIP IN KARNATAKA)
PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY
Conducted at the instance of the
People’s Union for Civil Liberties, South Kanara
And
The Catholic Association of South Kanara
And
Transparency International India, Karnataka Chapter
By:
Justice Michael F. Saldanha,
Retired Judge, Karnataka High Court.
President, The Catholic Association of South Kanara.
Chairman, Transparency International India, Karnataka Chapter
-2-
Publisher : People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Karnataka
First edition : July 2010
Copies : 2000
Contribution : Rs.15/-
Printer : Prasad Printers, Kulshekar, Mangalore-5
For Copies Contact :
P.B.D’Sa Justice M.F. Saldanha
Working President 401, Sillver Crest
PUCL Karnataka 13, Rest House Road
“Pauline” Valencia Bangalore-560001
Mangalore-575002 Tel:25596713/9844028695
Tel: 0824-4252170/9008820186
Suresh Bhat Mr. B.G. Kosky
President Vice-Chairman,
Komu Souharda Vedike Transparency International India
Eesha Vasyam, 2-10-776, 101-A, M.B. Centre,
Near Mangala Gas Godown, 134, Infantry Road,
Bejai Mangalore-575004 Bangalore-560001
Tel: 2225652 Tel:91-80-22868800
Dr.V.N. Laxmi Narayana Dr. Ramdas Rao
General Secretary PUCL Karnataka Secretary PUCL Karnataka
#5598. 5th Cross, Vijayanagara 2 stage, #59, Shivaji Road,
Mysore-570017 Shivajinagar, Bangalore-560051
Tel: 0821-2513121/9480326622 Tel:9449399729
Prof. Y.J.Rajendra Mr. Walter Pinto
Vice president PUCL Karnataka President Catholic Sabha
#40, 8th cross, 5th main, Vishnu Prakash
Sampangi Ramanagar Court Road, Udupi- 575101
Bangalore-560027 Tel:0820/2529063/2630503
Tel: 9449011530 /9845406817
Prof. N Babiah [PDF] Secretary
76, III Stage, Vinayaka Layout Catholic Association of
Vijayanagar, South Canara, Catholic Centre
Bangalore-560040. Hampankatta, Mangalore-575001
Tel:9449904487 Tel:0824-2422059
Pastor Walter Mabeen Catholic Sabha
Chairman, Karnataka Missions, Network, Mangalore Pradesh
‘ELIM’ Mercara Hill, Bishop’s House, Mangalore – 3
Mangalore-565002 Tel: 2427474
Tel:9845083323
-3-
God grant me the
Serenity
to accept the things
I cannot change…
Courage to
change the things I can
and Wisdom to
know the difference…

-5-
I have often been asked as to why the SEZ issue finds place in an
incisive report on communal attacks. Obviously, the basis for the
question emanates from the fact that SEZs are related to economic
and industrial development and are far distanced from communal
overtones and sociological issues such as class war not to mention
religious issues. The few of my friends who have read this chapter
raise their eyebrows in shock and disbelief when they found that in
the Indian context and more importantly, under the present
Government in Karnataka, and the religious persecution that has been
let lose in Dakshina Kannada that the euphemism of the term SEZ
turned out to be a horrifying genocide. True, the dominant forces
and the State Machinery did not physically hack the Christians and
the poor tribals to pieces but what they did was even worse. To my
mind, an instant death howsoever horrifying would have been far
more merciful to a horrifying fate ahead.
In Judgment after Judgment, I had struck down the misuse of
acquisition powers by the State Machinery through coercive steps
for the benefit of the richest of the rich and the most powerful in the
land. It is this fattest class who are given prime land at insane prices
and all the possible tax concessions even to the extent of feeding
them lavishly with scarce commodities such as power and water by
physically throwing out lakhs of tribals and farmers from their little
holdings because they have no power to resist. We are told that the
Central and State Governments have strictly instructed the SEZ to
concentrate on barren land and not to touch green areas such as
paddy fields, farm lands, forests, lakes, rivers, wells and the like. The
authorities contend that they have not touched any such areas. The
truth of the matter is that the Mangalore SEZ does not cover even
one square centimeter of barren land. Every single piece of land had
FOREWORD
-6-
paddy fields, vegetable and fruit gardens, fruit trees, small farms, lakes,
rivers and wells. The Lokayukta has convicted the Land Acquisition
Officer and several of the Revenue Officials all of whom were heavily
bribed by the SEZ Authorities to forge and fabricate the revenue
records and convert them to read that paddy fields and farm lands
were barren areas. When I visited Mangalore, in connection with the
Church attacks, I was informed that the entire area covered by the
SEZ consisted of over 70% Catholics, all of whom grew paddy, organic
vegetables, they owned fruit trees and this fertile belt was well irrigated
by little rivers and thousands of wells have provided the highest quality
of water. All these little hamlets had virtually hundreds of chapels,
grottos and little prayer centres, all of which have been bulldozed by
the SEZ authorities. It was this complaint which took me to the area
after visiting Bajpe.
The villagers themselves met me and requested me to come and
see for myself as to whether the horror story was true and I found
that the reports were a gross understatement. On 8th November
2008, I personally witnessed the SEZ Officers led by a barbarian by
the name of Raghavendra Holla who was strutting around like a badshah,
a bunch of dangerous looking thugs who were designated as
the SEZ Contractors and a whole lot of earth moving machinery all
of which was being protected by the local police. The paddy fields
that were ready for harvesting were being covered with two feet of
soil and thereafter levelled out and photographed to give the
impression that it was barren land. The vegetable gardens which
provided Mangalore with the choicest of organic vegetables were
first bulldozed and then levelled under several feet of mud and again
photographed to give the impression that this was a barren area. I
told Holla and the Contractors that the wells, the streams and the
little lakes were precious and that they should not be destroyed.
Holla who claimed that he was the full brother of the then State
Advocate General – Mr. Udaya Holla, a Senior Counsel of considerable
merit, displayed his arrogance and if I may add, contempt for the
High Court because I had told him that the Judges would take a
-7-
serious view of what he and his hire links were doing there, ordered
the machinery to be brought out again, all the wells, the streams and
the two small lakes were filled with debris and levelled and
photographed and he told me that nobody will believe that they ever
existed. An elderly Christian lady who was a neighbor and outside
the SEZs designated zone told Swamiji and me that on the previous
night, the Contractors led by one Kotian who was an extremely
dangerous looking man and threatened to kill me if I opened my
mouth, had encroached into her little farm and taken away the cows,
goats, four pigs and all the poultry and sold them to the butchers
there itself. Merely because she came to complain, Holla sent the
Machinery to her farm and within 15 minutes, all the fruit trees and
vegetable gardens were destroyed and she was told that she should
move her belongings out before afternoon as the house was going to
be leveled down. All these under protection from the Police Officers
of the Bajpe Police Station who were also armed. Holla and his mafia
got the police to threaten the media persons and all of us including
Swamiji who was present that we would be arrested on the spot,
taken to the police station and beaten unconscious if we did not
leave. This is the summary of how the SEZ claimed to have acquired
the barren land.
This particular spot was farmed by tribals who formed the
poorest of the poor. In their own small way, they had set up a small
prayer shed which was like a chapel and some grottos which had
statues in them. There were also two or three similar religious
structures put up by persons professing the Hindu faith. These were
raised to the ground in our presence and Holla instructed the
demolition squad to drive the earth movers over the debris, so that
it was completely crushed and could never be recognized as being
the remnants of religious structures. What almost created a riot was
the fact that one small area was apparently used by the Christians as
a burial ground and there were several graves and crosses there.
When Holla had these demolished, sentiments ran high and the
persons present reacted violently. There was a joint operation by
-8-
the mafia and the police, I would equate one with the other who
mercilessly beat the poor villagers and drove them away. This is the
kind of respect that the BJP Government in Karnataka has for places
of worship and even for sacred spots like burial grounds. Not only is
it deplorable, unpardonable, but shameful to the worst degree. All of
this has been recorded by me in my letters to the SEZ Authorities, to
the Chief Justice of the High Court and to the Human Rights
Commission.
What I need to highlight is the fact that when arrogance reaches
demonic levels, public servants such as Holla rise to horrifying heights
or rather, sink to disgusting depths. This man who was dressed like a
cowboy wearing Rayban glasses with a string of gold chains dangling
from his neck and sporting a two lakhs rupee watch, had four mobile
phones with him which were being used constantly. For our benefit,
these were kept on the speaker mode, so that, all could hear his
conversations with two of his top officers by the name of Prasad and
Pai, as I understand, these two fellows were the SEZ’s big bosses.
Holla was reporting his every movement to them and they were
actively encouraging the fellow even to the extent of telling him that
money is no consideration and that he should call in additional
machinery and level the whole hamlet to the ground within the next
three hours. They also told him to get the police and the revenue
authorities to make an inventory that it was a completely barren
area, devoid of human habitation and even any water source.
Not one of my letters to the SEZ Authorities was either replied
nor have any of the above facts been disputed. The Judiciary of-course
is so very busy that even when I reported atrocities of these horrifying
dimensions to the Hon’ble Chief Justice, was any cognizance taken.
Essentially, the atrocities was part of the SEZ mafia in collaboration
with the police and the revenue authorities all of whom would have
normally come in for severe action had the High Court taken
cognizance, but this did not happen. It pained me to read in the papers
that the High Court was celebrating some kind of Centenary for
-9-
which the State Government had sanctioned over a Crore of rupees
which excluded a Centenary Arch costing Rs.68.00 Lakhs which to
my mind has disfigured the period building. The State Government
was also kind enough to make a gift to the High Court of a fleet of
expensive new cars. I did not feel sad because I spent fifteen long
years using a broken down Ambassador Car that was sent to the
garage on every working day. In my last year, I was thrilled to receive
a substandard brand new Ambassador Nova which I used for six
months and the log book showed that it had made 100 trips to the
Dealers in 180 days and the cost of replacements exceeded the value
of the car. When I took up the issue with the Vehicle Department, I
realized that the purchase of these vehicles is intended to feed a
large number of parasites starting from the High Court Department
to the State Government and the Dealers.
Later on, in this Chapter, I have dealt with the human trauma
and what has happened to the human beings who occupied this area
and what is to be done with that part of the District which is being
turned into a new Hiroshima. The irony of the matter is that the
media by and large fully supports the SEZs which regularly hold cocktail
parties and other enjoyable functions for them apart from which, ads
worth Crores of rupees are released. The entire population of the
area as also the State and the country have been indoctrinated with
the cheerful news that huge chemical complexes will generate
immense wealth and employment and prosperity to the region and
that even if it is at the cost of raping the earth, it is still worthwhile. I
would like the population of the sub-continent and of the earth to
whom thousands of acres of prime, fertile agricultural land has been
gifted for one thousandth the market value to know who the stake
holders in these SEZs are and how poor they are that the Central
and State Government should be kind and charitable to them. One
of the stake holders is the Oil and Natural Gas Commission, among
the biggest and richest Corporations in the sub-continent to whom
these concessions are being extended. I wrote to the Chairman of
the Commission recording the atrocities, the man probably threw
-10-
the letter into his waste paper basket, never even acknowledged it,
but obviously could not dispute one syllable of the horror story.
The most unpardonable and utterly disgusting fallout of the
SEZ Operation is that it has become a REAL ESTATE
GOLDMINE OF UNIMAGINABLE DIMENSIONS.
In terms of sociological consequences, approximately 3.00 Lakh
tribals and subsistence level farmers aged between 1 month and 80
years have been physically uprooted and thrown out of their lands
and homes. The Law requires that if any such person is required to
be uprooted, that they have to be rehabilitated. When I was Advocate
General of Maharashtra, in the famous Nhavaseva Port Trust case,
where thousands of acres of lands were acquired to set up a multi
billion dollar port, it was at my instance and for the first time ever in
this country that the Central and State Governments followed a broad
formula that is set out below:
(a) That every single family who was required to move because
of acquisition of their lands was shifted into permanent
alternate accommodation that was made available before
they were divested of their possession. This was because
citizens at this economic level would be forced to migrate
to the closest city to die on the footpaths and the
compensations would be pocketed by the Project Officers
and the other officials after fabricating bogus documents. It
was therefore necessary that they be around and available
to receive their compensation. Several safeguards were
observed to ensure that the compensation does not get
diverted to Government Officers, Activists, Social Workers
and Lawyers.
(b) That at-least one member from each family was given
permanent employment in the new project, so that, they
did not have to starve. (irrespective of when the project
was completed, they would receive an equivalent of
subsistence allowance till their salary commence).
-11-
(c) Steps were taken to ensure that in not a single case, was the
education of the children disrupted even for a day.
(d) More importantly, the principles of the Land Acquition Act
were not followed and the concept which later years as a
High Court Judge, I incorporated in 17 of my Judgments was
used for purposes of fixing the scale of compensation. The
market value of the land at current rates in the hands of the
new project was the barometer and this amount was
computed. Undoubtedly, it came to much much more than
the stingy impractical and disgusting levels fixed a hundred
years back under the Land Acquisition Act (where the value
of a yielding mango tree is Rs.18/-) and the bulk of this amount
was really invested under a deferred payment scheme so
that the beneficiaries did not blow up the money nor were
they deprived of it by unscrupulous elements as always
happens and it was equally convenient for the project
authorities to pay the higher amount on a deferred payment
scheme over a prescribed period of time.
In the case of the Mangalore SEZ, none of this has happened.
Under the so-called rehabilitation scheme, the SEZ Officers have sold
the plots for payment in cash to the highest bidders, as a result of
which, these colonies have been fully populated by outsiders and the
Officers of the SEZ have become Crorepathis overnight. One of the
very convincing methods used by these corrupt officers is to arm
each of the occupants with a false affidavit which can be executed for
a hundred rupees stating that the person concerned was earlier
residing at so and so place and has been rehabilitated. We cross
checked 93 such cases and found that the results were 100% in that
the documents were fabricated and the persons were total outsiders.
As far as the Padav area is concerned, the position is even worse
because the fields in question were sought to be converted into a
kind of a temple colony. A large number of extremely suspicious
looking thugs were present there and they stated that they were
reconstructing temples belonging to family gods that were shifted
-12-
from elsewhere and each of these institutions is an extremely lucrative
money centre.
What is the impact on the women and children? All those who
were earning their livelihood by growing healthy crops, organic
vegetables, fruit and farm products have had to work as coolies and
construction labourers and sleep on the footpaths or slums of the
cities. Not a single one of over one lakh children has been able to go
back to schools and they will go back as beggars, criminals and drug
addicts. The men who cannot work as construction workers will
turn into beggars, petty criminals, alcoholics and die a quick death.
The very worst consequence of these SEZ operations is that
since the nearby towns and cities cannot absorb the uprooted human
beings as every field right down to prostitution, crime and drug
addiction is beautifully saturated in the sub-continent. They are
required to migrate into the hills, forests and barren areas and live
like wild animals. This is the transformation that the SEZs have achieved
by converting a sizeable part of the population into so-called Naxalites
and Maoists. They are desperate human beings, their days are
numbered and their lives mean nothing and all they want is to settle
score with the forces that reduce them to this position and that is
why they are driven to violence. Once the situation gets as bad as
this, the Law Enforcement Agencies brand them as Terrorists and
are heavily rewarded and complimented for shooting them down.
Unfortunately, the sociological problem has not been understood
and is worsening and the Mangalore SEZ is one of the most shameful
and horrifying examples of precisely this.
(Justice M. F. Saldanha)
-13-
If any state can lay claim to be “Gandhi’s own country” it is
India, and sadly enough instead of venerating and perpetuating his
sacred principle of ahimsa, on his death anniversary this year, the
Home Minister of the country announced that every Maoist and
Naxalite will be shot dead. Nobody protested – these human beings
are regarded as dreaded terrorists and we are all led to believe that
they are “anti-social, a menace and a danger”. Would Gandhiji
have categorised them as pests to be eliminated at sight, but more
importantly, would he have approved of the violence on either side?
Many a time, he was quick to point out that an eye for an eye would
leave the whole world blind! The real tragedy is that he is not here to
stop these State atrocities.
The very Politicians who go around in Khadi and precariously
climb ladders to garland statutes of the Mahatma are totally committed
to the so-called policy of development which sanctions Industrial Areas
and Special Economic Zones. Nothing wrong in the policy as long as
it is properly executed- not the way a lethal gas plant was located in
the midst of the city- in the USA Union Carbide had to observe a 90
mile radius of a “no habitation zone” as the gas was so lethal- in India
life is cheap and happily NO POLITICIAN OR BUSINESSMAN DIED
OR WAS MAIMED! There is a mad rush to create the show-pieces
called SEZ’s on the graves of the villagers and by turning all the fertile
green areas into disgusting concrete jungles and factories. My
research indicates that not even one single SEZ in this
country has observed the basic norm that no green areas
such as forests, no water bodies such as lakes and rivers and
no human habitations such as villages and hamlets can be
touched and that all these SEZs must be set up in the area
comprising of the country’s 39.68% of barren areas. The truth
is that on an average 93% of the land that is forcibly acquired
using muscle power and the state machinery riddled with
INTRODUCTION
-14-
corruption comprises of villages and green areas as also
water bodies. IN THE CASE OF THE MANGALORE SEZ,
THE FIGURE IS AS HIGH AS A DEPLORABLE 97%.
Shamefully enough, we have the country’s so-called richest and finest
corporate bodies such as ONGC involved in the Mangalore SEZ – in
West Bengal, it was the Tatas who were beaten back for the first
time, but were welcomed in Gujarat. The wild life has been annihilated,
the cattle has been butchered, the livestock has been eliminated, the
villages have been bulldozed, the water bodies have disappeared and
above all, the whole of the population has either been killed or driven
into the barren hills and what is left of the forests. It is these
desperate human beings who are labeled as Maoists and
Naxalites because, like the proverbial wounded serpent, they
have decided to hit back at the very forces that reduced
them to this condition. Recently, when Arundati Roy told the
Central Government that the Adivasis and Tribals and the poorest of
the poor who have been consigned to the wilderness and whose
homes have been given to the industrialists and the richest of the
rich are not to blame for this human tragedy, that there must be a
stop to the insanity of locating SEZs in the wrong areas and that
rehabilitation and welfare measures required to be undertaken for
these desperate human beings, instead of shooting them, she received
strong criticism from the Media for “siding with the Terrorists.”
I revere Gandhiji for many reasons, the most important of which
was that he had compassion for the weak, he took up the cause of
the underdog and he had his sense of values well grounded. We were
brought up to believe in survival of the fittest- I ask, what about the
survival of the weakest? When he spoke of wiping every tear from
every eye, he referred to this strata of human beings and not to the
political class or the rich and famous who do not know what it is to
shed a tear, but who reduce the lives of the poorest of the poor to
an unending saga of endless misery and tears. Though he left us more
than six decades ago, his ideals are good for all time and if the insanity
of SEZs which he would never have approved of, is to be at all
curtailed, it will be through a return to the Mahatma. Below is an
extract from an inspiring publication “Gandhi’s Outstanding
-15-
Leadership” authored by my esteemed and exceptionally brilliant
friend Allan P. Nazareth, which I consider to be most appropriate:
“Because we are “The finite created for the infinite”, the
leadership we need, and deserve, has to be rooted in immortal
values. In the final analysis good and trustworthy Leadership
calls for moral judgments on what is right action, because history
has amply demonstrated that in the long run Truth alone
triumphs. Decisions based solely on technical knowledge do
not require leadership. To make right choices leaders need to
have deep understanding of the lives and ideas of the world’s
great moral philosophers and of those who have applied them
to solve some of its most difficult problems.
Leaders who inspire, and command universal respect, are those
who espoused Right rather than Might, and truth, justice and
non-violent conflict rather than hate, violence and war. Lincoln’s
words “Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith
let us to the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it” are
still as powerfully inspiring as they were a hundred and forty
years ago when they were spoken. Napoleon’s words, uttered
at his remote St. Helena prison are significant. “Glory is fleeting,
obscurity is forever …. There are only two powers in the world
– the spirit and the sword. In the long run the sword will always
be conquered by the spirit.”
I would recommend the book to every right thinking Indian or
for that matter human being, but it would be difficult to put its contents
across to the political and business community neither of whom is
amenable to the art of reading. To those who receive this booklet,
another extract from the same book is worth reproducing:
“The prime component of Gandhi’s leadership was his elevated
vision that humans, the highest manifestation of God’s creation,
can and would live in harmony and peace, firmly adhering to
Truth, Justice, Love and Non-Violence. “Non-violence is the law
of our species as violence is the law of brute. The spirit lies
dormant in the brute and he knows no law but that of physical
might. The dignity of man requires obedience to a higher law –
-16-
that of the spirit… It is the law of love that rules mankind. Had
violence i.e. hate rules us, we should have become extinct long
ago. Mankind has to get out of violence only through non-violence.
Hatred can only be overcome by love.
In his historical perspective, he saw dictators and tyrants
maintaining their fearful sway only temporarily. All empires built
with the sword end up in the dustbin of history; only those built
on the spirit with Truth, love and self-sacrifice by the great seers
and prophets have survived and flourished. Since humans are
created “in the image of God” and are imbued with the “Divine
Spark” they have to be led by Truth and love, not by fear and
hate. One has to live, and if necessary to die for Truth, but never
to hurt or kill anyone.
For Gandhi, Truth (Satya) was as real and omnipotent as God
himself. In fact, Truth is God, as Truth is what is and God is the
only reality that always is. “The world rests upon the bedrock of
Satya… which being what it is it can never be destroyed. This is
the doctrine of Satyagraha in a nutshell.” Truth is the ‘Right Path’
and it is ‘Right that is Might’ not its opposite. He often quoted the
Bhagwad Gita’s core philosophical assertion ‘Satyanasti pao
Dharma’ (There is no greater duty than adherence to Truth).
Truth implies Justice, and both are essential requisites for the
attainment of peace. “Peace will come when Truth is pursued,
and Truth implies Justice”. Justice requires that the adversary’s
views and requirements be given due consideration. “Three fourths
of the miseries and misunderstandings in the world would disappear
if we step into the shoes of our adversaries and understand their
standpoint”. Justice also requires that the final agreement made
be acceptable to all concerned.
Whereas Gandhi was passionately dedicated to Truth even as a
youth, particularly after he learnt about Harishchandra’s
unshakeable adherence to it despite innumerable hardships, his
deep commitment to non-violence came only in his early thirties
after he read Christ’s Sermon on the Mount and Tolstoy’s The
Kingdom of God is within you. The strong non-violent traditions
-17-
of the Jain community of his native Gujarat had of course mentally
prepared him for this. Non-violence thus became his immutable
path for realization of Truth. For him it meant complete abstention
not only from all physical, mental and emotional injury to others
but also cleansing oneself of all hatred and desire for revenge.
One had to hate and confront evil but nonetheless love the evil
doer because even he is endowed with the Divine spark which
love can ignite and induce his conversion. “Non-violence is based
on the assumption that human nature in its essence is one and
therefore unfailingly responds to the advances of love… The
hardest metal yields to sufficient heat. Even so, the hardest heart
must melt before the heat of non-violence and there is no limit to
the capacity of non-violence to generate heat.
For him: “The objective of all non-violent activity is always a mutually
acceptable agreement, never the defeat, much less the humiliation
of the opponent” and “A non-violent revolution is not a programme
for seizure of power. It is a programme for transformation of
relationships ending in a peaceful transfer of power.”
Gandhi’s vision, though considered utopian by some and arcadian
by others, was actually an elevated, wide spectrum, deeply spiritual
yet practical one. Like the tall redwood tree, which views the
farthermost horizon, yet is fully aware of every environmental
nuance around its sumptuous girth and at its deepest root, Gandhi
perceived the macro and micro effects of human behaviour in
diverse fields. His vision can justifiably therefore be described as
extraordinary.”
Ultimately, the return to sanity and Gandhiji’s principles is the
only answer to the problem. As the subsequent events in Central
India have indicated, state violence has resulted in a backlash and the
consequences will be horrifying if it spreads. The Mangalore SEZ is a
horror story to beat all others and that is why, it is necessary to let
the world know the truth. It does not make pleasant reading but like
the bitter pill, if we are aiming at saving the sub-continent, it is a
must.
Justice Michael F. Saldanha
-18-
The greatest legal fraud and the social atrocity that has taken
place in the last decade has been the setting up of Special Economic
Zones by the Government of India and the State Governments, both
shamelessly acting as the agents of the vested interests. A large amount
of publicity is done creating the impression that the SEZ in question
is an unmixed blessing because it will provide jobs and economic
prosperity to the entire region. All the big and small businesses pour
money into the SEZ Company which in turn does high power publicity
and the first casualty is the Media. Huge unnecessary expenditure on
meaningless advertisements is undertaken and the whole of the media
regularly invited for so-called briefings at Five Star Hotels, after which,
the region is brain-washed into believing that the SEZ will create a
paradise on earth in that region. WE HAVE THE CLASSIC
EXAMPLE OF BHOPAL WHERE THE WHOLE WORLD
COULD NOT UNDERSTAND AS TO HOW A PLANT
USING LETHAL CHEMICALS WAS SET UP RIGHT IN THE
HEART OF BHOPAL CITY AND THE DISASTER HAS
RIGHTLY BEEN DESCRIBED AS THE HIROSHIMA OF
INDIA. THIS HAS NOT HAPPENED IN ANY OTHER
COUNTRY ON THIS PLANET.
The SEZ story has been a uniform social disaster all over the
country because the first thing that the vested interests do is to ask
for land which is extremely well situated i.e. close to all the facilities
and further more, where there is the best infrastructure such as
rivers, water supply and the like. The Central and State Govts. provide
prime land belonging to the poorest of the poor to the richest of the
rich as an INCENTIVE at 1868 acquisition rates in 2010 and all of
these end up as Corporate Assets worth thousands of Crores of
Rupees. To compound it all, the public are told that they will provide
Revenue whereas the fraud is that they are given TAX HOLIDAYS!
Next comes the Mega Fraud of providing jobs responsible research
THE GORY EPISODE
OF THE MANGALORE SEZ
-19-
evidences that not even 1% if those who have LOST THEIR
EVERYTHING get employed! The harsh truth is that these
so called SEZs are the biggest real estate scam of the
Century. Judging from the dangerous Chemical units
proposed for the Mangalore SEZ, this is another MEGABHOPAL
in the making.
All these prime lands in this sub-continent are occupied by
villagers and they are all under cultivation producing different types
of ORGANIC crops, fruits and vegetables and other farm products
like milk, eggs, chicken, sheep and goats, pigs, cattle and the like. This
is the normal structure all over the country. Whereas prior to the
Mangalore SEZ the satellite images of the area reflect a total canopy
of dense green resembling a rain forest area, after the butchering of
over 30,000 trees by the kind-hearted officers of the SEZ today it
compares with the SAHARA DESERT. The occupants are Adivasis,
Tribals, Dalits and the poorest of the poor. None of these people
have any fighting power and taking advantage of the situation, the
following pattern emerges:
(a) That the local leaders are bought over and they are asked
to get the consent letters from all the villagers which are
obtained virtually at knife point. The few who resist
DISAPPEAR. While the SEZ officials naturally do nor admit
that as many as 427 persons have been murdered, they
politely contend that they have LEFT. (for their heavenly
abode!) I am not impressed by their honesty. It defies logic
and human intelligence to contend that every villager would
give up their everything for a pittance of money- whom
are they fooling?
(b) That documents are fabricated showing the receipt of so
called payments which are usually in cash. In the case of
the Mangalore SEZ, in many of the cases, bank accounts
were created and the so-called compensation was
deposited without the villagers even knowing about it.
Thereafter, the same persons who created the Bank
Accounts have withdrawn the money.
-20-
(c) Documents evidencing surrender of possession were also
fabricated by the local mafia and a record created that the
villagers had not only agreed to give up their lands, that
they had been paid compensation and that they have
surrendered the possession VOLUNTARILY AND
WILLINGLY- the SEZ Officers forgot to add the word
HAPPILY! The whole operation virtually stinks.
(d) The same mafia provided the so-called contractors who
were a bunch of thugs accompanied by musclemen and
the local police all of whom are on the payroll of the SEZ.
Bulldozers are brought, the entire village is demolished
within an hour usually at night, trucks of soil and debris
are kept ready, all the fields, farms and vegetable gardens
are buried under two feet of soil, all the trees are cut and
by the next day, before anybody can even raise a protest,
the area looks exactly like a barren piece of land. I HAVE
PERSONALLY WITNESSED THIS BEING DONE
ON THE MORNING OF 8TH NOVEMBER 2008 IN
A VILLAGE CLOSE TO MANGALORE
OCCUPIED BY CHRISTIANS WHO WERE ALL
AGRICULTURISTS AND PROVIDED MOST OF
MANGALORE’S ORGANIC VEGETABLES. THE
REST OF THEM WHO CARRIED OUT THE
SAME AGRICULTURAL OPERATIONS WERE
KUNBI TRIBALS. THE POLICE WERE PRESENT
IN LARGE NUMBERS PROTECTING THE
MAFIA, THE SEZ OFFICERS WERE PRESENT
THERE AND MAINTAINED THAT THEY HAD
DONE EVERYTHING ACCORDING TO LAW. I
HAD REGISTERED MY STRONG PROTEST
AGAINST THESE ATROCITIES AND SO HAD
THE SWAMIJI WHO WAS PRESENT THERE.
THEY REFUSED TO LISTEN AND BY EVENING,
WE CAME TO KNOW THAT THE POLICE
HAVE REGISTERED CASES AGAINST ALL OF
US WHO HAVE VISITED THE AREA UNDER
-21-
SERIOUS CHARGES OF RIOTING, TRESPASS
AND EVEN ATTEMPT TO MURDER. THESE
CASES HAD BEEN FILED BY THE OFFICERS
AND CONTRACTORS OF THE SEZ. THIS THE
ROLE OF THE STATE MACHINERY.We were
fortunate to escape with our lives on that day
(e) What was even worse in this case was that all the land
records were destroyed and replaced with fabricated
documents to the effect that the area consisted of barren
land. The Government of India directions totally prohibit
paddy fields, vegetable gardens and farm lands being either
acquired or used for SEZs and in order to get over this,
the documents were fabricated. The matter was reported
to the Lokayukta because the local police had been
completely bought over and refused to register any
offences. The Upa-Lokayukta after holding an enquiry has
passed severe strictures against the State Government
and even directed a prosecution against the Government
Officers particularly the Land Acquisition Officer and the
Revenue Officers. Till today, nothing had happened. The
land in question was hurriedly allotted to some influential
persons who are supposed to have been rehabilitated and
they were told to hurriedly construct houses and temples
there to make it a fait accompli. THE HON’BLE HIGH
COURT OF KARNATAKA, LIKE WHAT
HAPPENED IN THE BHOPAL CASE, IS STILL
HEARING THE PETITION LONG AFTER MOST
OF THE POOR VICTIMS ARE DEAD.
(f) The most shameful part of the entire SEZ operation is
that large and medium sized PRIVATE industry which
grabs this land which is a virtual goldmine, is misusing the
State powers under the Land Acquisition Act, These
powers are only permitted to be used in the case of
acquisition for public welfare projects like roads, dams
etc. I have in at least 10 Judgments struck down any
-22-
acquisitions of this type which entail public disaster and
do not cater exclusively to public welfare. The
compensation which is fixed at 18th century values never
ever reaches the beneficiary and the money- bags gets
these lands virtually free. In Judgment after Judgment, I
have pointed out that even if in a given instance, the
acquisition can be justified, nothing less than the current
market value has to be paid and this must reach
the beneficiary before they are dispossessed. In not
one case has this happened and it is shameful that the
Central Government and the State Governments are
functioning as agents of the vested interests.
(g) Every part of the country including Dakshina Kannada is
being ruined and devastated by these SEZs and the simple
results in terms of human misery are unthinkable. We are
then told that the country is facing a problem from
Naxalites and Maoists. These human beings have not
emerged from another planet nor have they come from
another part of the world. They are all peasants villagers
and farmers who have been forcibly thrown out of their
lands as happened in the case of the Mangalore SEZ, and
who have been driven into whatever is left of the hills and
forests. Earlier, they used to die on the footpaths of the
nearest city which is still happening but a few of them
who survived decide that they will put up a fight before
they are shot down by the police and the army. A 69
year old man Giriya Gowda, with tears in his eyes
told me that his paddy fields are gone, his vegetable
gardens are destroyed, his coconut trees and fruit
trees have disappeared, his cattle is finished, above
all, the bulldozer has destroyed his house, he and
his family are on the footpath and his grandchildren
are out of the village school. Despite his age, he
said that the Police and the Government Officers
assisted by the local mafia who represent the SEZ
and its Officers have done this to him and he had
-23-
resolved that he will take as many of them with
him before he dies. The Government will define
him as a Naxalite or a Maoist, the police will shoot
him down and the SEZ will come up over his dead
body.
Why does this Chapter find place in this Report ? It is because
the incidents took place at the same time when the minorities were
attacked and it forms an integral part of the State terrorism that
Karnataka is facing. The victims consisted essentially of the members
of the Christian community. The rest of them were the poorest of the
poor, the KUNBI tribals. I have selected only one area, but this has
been the story of the Mangalore SEZ in respect of every inch of land
that they have illegally taken possession of. The elite of Mangalore, the
leaders of the Church, the businessmen and the Chambers of
Commerce who meet at the Five Star Hotels have commended the
Officers of the SEZ who are acting in tandem with them. The farm
lands that once produced organic vegetable for the full District, the
fruits, the coconuts, the poultry, the livestock and everything else that
was good for the region have been destroyed and we are told that
Toxic and hazardous chemical complexes of the same lethal character
as the Union Carbide Plant at Bhopal will come up in this region.
CLASS WAR/GENOCIDE/ SLAUGHTER OF THE
MINORITIES
It is the same class of human beings i.e. those belonging to the
upper class who planned and executed the Church attacks, that
have used the muscle power in the SEZ operation. They would not
have targeted any village or any area or any person who came within
their social status but the oppressed classes are easy prey, as happened
in Orissa. The minorities i.e. the Christians and the tribals, adivasis
and the backward classes are all soft targets. This is one of the most
shameful CLASS-BASED attacks in the history of Dakshina Kannada
and it is not over, because the SEZ Officers have proudly proclaimed
that the next phase of the SEZ is now being taken up!
Apart from the violence and the muscle power used by the State
Machinery and the unlimited illegalities, what has characterised this
-24-
operation is the fact that in this instance again, it is the State Machinery
that has been 100% responsible for the human social and ecological
disaster. What I can never condone is the fact that whenever there
were protests or any resistance, that extreme form of violence was
used by the State and the SEZ to put it down. One of the forms of
State Terrorism is to register unlimited number of criminal cases
against the victims and more importantly, any of the citizens who
come to their assistance. Every one of the social activists and
volunteers has been beaten up, arrested, the courts joining in cheerfully
and refusing bail and each of them has 30 to 50 criminal cases filed
against them. Nobody has been spared- I HAVE TWO CRIMINAL
CASES REGISTERED AGAINST ME BY THE OFFICERS/
AGENTS OF THE SEZ FOR HAVING VISITED THE AREA
THOUGH I HAVE NOT BEEN ARRESTED SO FAR! One
Raghavendra Holla who claimed to be the Major Domo of
the SEZ accompanied by a most dangerous and offensive
looking thug named Kotian were driving around the area in
an expensive SUV. Holla told me that he was the brother of
the State Advocare General (the AG subsequently denied
this and assured me that Holla would be dismissed from
service and prosecuted. Instead, he has become the General
Manager of the SEZ.) These were the two who threatened
to KILL us in the presence of the Police. When some of the
poor tribals begged that their standing crops be spared, rhey
were kicked by these two. One Marybai came to complain
that her house and vegetable garden which were outside
the designated area were being targeted. Holla and Kotian
sent the bull-dozers to destroy them immediately which was
done. The insolence was such that when I told them not to
destroy the fresh water wells, they filled them up with mud
in our presence. Shocking as it may sound, this is a sample
of the Human Rights violations in Karnataka’s Dakshina
Kannada! The next evening on my way to the Airport, I
stopped at the Bajpe Police Station as I was told that it had
been taken over by the SEZ. Holla and Kotian had thrown a
big victory party, liquor was flowing like water, everybody
-25-
was dead drunk and having a great time at the taxpayer’s
expense. I spent ten minutes there UNNOTICED and
discreetly left. So much for Karnataka’s Police under Home
Minister Acharya.
What is even more pathetic is that apart from all of this appearing
in the local TV and papers, right down to our being threatened, the
kicking, bull-dozing and the drunken party, NOTHING HAPPENED.
I have elaborately recorded all of this in my letters to the State Human
Rights Commission Chairman, the C.M., Home Minister, D. G. Police,
Central Minister Kamal Nath, Chairman ONGC and to the CEO of
the SEZ- no replies, no denials, NO ACTION.
What did hurt me really was that I wrote to the Chief Justice
recording all the above horrors with supporting material and
requested the High Court to take Suo Moto Action in the case. NO
REPLY, NO ACTION. That Hon’ble C. J. is now in the Supreme
Court dispensing a higher form of justice. I ask myself the question –
would this have happened if Infosys or Reliance were the applicants?
Is it not true that the status of the victim definitely counts and makes
all the difference. When will our legal system make some time for the
98% of the Indian population who do not belong to the rich and
famous class?
Hundreds of futile complaints have been filed before the Human
Rights Commission on behalf of the victims. I must say that it has
tried to do its best but it is a powerless organization, the State
Government has deliberately deprived it of any worthwhile
infrastructure and it has not been able to prevent or redress even
one of these atrocities. The Karnataka High Court has provided
zero relief. That is not surprising because a battery of lawyers
representing the vested interests sees to it that nothing happens in
the Court(s) and the end result is just sad and horrifying. To crown
it all, every one of the women volunteers who tried to fight for these
helpless people, apart from arrests and criminal cases, were repeatedly
threatened that they would be molested and gang raped and that
they would be mutilated for life with acid thrown on them. This is the
proud track trcord of the Mangalore SEZ.
-26-
The last and equally serious area of damage and human misery,
but which is directly in line with this Report is the fact that the SEZ
and its Officers in the areas of which they had taken forcible
possession, have demolished as many as 123 Churches, Chapels,
Prayer Halls, Prayer Centers and Grottos belonging to the Catholic
community. Their explanation is that the allegation is false because
there are no records to show that they existed. For that matter,
there are no records (AFTER MANIPULATION) to show that
any villages, farm lands, wells or trees existed in that area. To think
that there is supposed to be a Rule of Law in the State of Karnataka,
that all of these atrocities have happened in this very State under the
present BJP Government, that zero relief is forthcoming and that
the injustice is continuing, shows that there is something very seriously
wrong with our justice dispensation system- it has been a disastrous
let-down, it has totally failed.
THE CASUALTY LIST
I now come to the most gory and blood curdling part of this
most sordid episode. In my letter to the Chairman of ONGC, one of
the country’s most prestigious Public Sector Units which is a partner
in the Mangalore SEZ, I had provided the Hon’ble Gentleman with
some statistics that nobody has looked at – the cost in terms of
human misery, devastation, destruction and raw blood that is the
price of this SEZ. The letter was also addressed to Mr. Kamalnath,
the Union Minister for this Project, to the Prime Minister, to the
Chief Minister and the Home Minister of Karnataka. It was duly
delivered to all of them. Nobody responded, which is understandable
because the facts are indefensible, but more importantly, nothing has
been disputed nor can it be disputed. The Central Government has
laid down an inflexible rule that SEZs can only be set up in barren
areas – more than 1/3rd of the sub-continent comes under this
category- and there is a clear prohibition against appropriating
agricultural land, farms, villages, hamlets and more importantly areas
inhabited by the weaker sections namely the poorest of the poor,
the tribals, the depressed classes and the adivasis. This rule has been
breached in the case of every SEZ set up in the country and the very
-27-
worst of the lot is the Mangalore SEZ. In other cases, the
agricultural and inhabited areas illegally appropriated vary
from 15 to 40%. In the case of Mangalore SEZ, the breach is
100%. The list of Casualties:
(a) Agricultural lands illegally appropriated 100%.
(b) Fresh water wells destroyed – 2415.
(c ) Streams, Tanks and Minor water bodies destroyed – 614.
(d) Senior citizens over 70 years virtually finished off for life- 704.
(e) Senior citizens over 60 years virtually finished off for life- 548.
(f) Children/School/College going virtually finished off for life– 2150.
(g) Farmers ( men and women) virtually finished off for life – 4611.
(h) Tribals, Backward Classes and Christians – 100%.
(i) Upper Class persons – 0%.
(j) Number of Small Farms destroyed – 1616.
(k) Number of coconut trees destroyed – 6450.
(l) Number of other fruit trees – Mango, Jackfruit etc. – 13,860.
(m) Poultry including Broiler Farms and Ducks over 2,00,000
(n) Sheep and Goats over 18,000.
(o) Buffaloes over 11,000.
(p) Cows and Bulls over 19,000
(q) Pigs over 7,000
This is the trail of blood that this Mangalore SEZ has started
with. The later part of the Casualty list consists of birds and animals
belonging to households and little farms all of which have ended up in
the slaughter houses. The entire area has been bulldozed and I recall
telling the SEZ Officers headed by one Raghavendra Holla and a bunch
of thugs who had threatened to kill Swamiji, myself, all those who
accompanied us and even the media persons that they should atleast
spare the fresh water wells which were being filled up with mud and
levelled. I then realized that when the vegetable gardens and paddy
fields were being bulldozed and covered with one meter of mud that
the idea was to falsely contend that only barren lands had been
acquired. This was the same reason why every tree in the area was
also destroyed. The SEZs Officers and their contractors might have
-28-
become crorepathis but there is such a thing as Nemisis and it will be
interesting to see how long this ill-gotten wealth (BLOOD MONEY)
lasts with them and whether or not the tears anguish and deaths of
all these forms of life which includes the trees which also have life
and are precious, will not catch up with all of these persons.
CLASS WAR:
It was only in the Tata Case in West Bengal that the National
Media projected the very important fact that industry and big business
is built on the graves of the tribals, the backward classes and the
minorities. That is the story of the Mangalore SEZ. A checklist of
the names of the entire SEZ brigade throws up the fact that
they belong exclusively to the upper caste and the privileged
class. Next we come to their Partners in crime namely the
Contractors who come from the same category. A
microscopic examination of the victims will indicate that
they all come from the category of Tribals, Christians and
backward classes. If this is not a class war or to use a more
appropriate term, virtual class genocide, what else is it ?
These are angles at which polite society and the rest of the well to do
Indians have never looked. Appropriately enough, I have entitled this
report “State Terrorism – Tyranny”. The reasons are more than
obvious. I do hope that a reading of this Chapter which will also be
published separately, will work as a rude eye opener. One does not
have to go to Africa and other parts of the world to witness the most
horrifying transgressions of Human Rights, it has happened in the
State of Karnataka and more precisely in Dakshina Kannada under
the euphemistic and glorious banner entitled Mangalore SEZ.
THE CREATION OF NAXALITES / MAOISTS:
Both these are extremely unpleasant terms and conjure up images
of violent human beings who spread death and destruction. The
Governments tell us that these persons should be shot at sight and
when this is done, the citizens rejoice. Has anybody ever tried to do
the elementary exercise of finding out as to who created them. None
of these human beings have come from another planet or from another
country. They are native Indians who have turned violent out of
-29-
desperation. Earlier, it was the powerful upper caste human beings in
the villages and the rural areas who threw them out of their lands
and their meagre possessions with the active assistance of the police
and the revenue officials and they were driven into what remained of
the forest or the barren hills. They resembled wounded animals driven
out of their habitat and forced to fight for their existence. I repeat
the words of 69 year old Giriya Gowda who wept when his house
was bulldozed, his vegetable gardens were destroyed, all his poultry
and cattle gone and even his wells filled up with mud and he was the
so called offender who had to be forcibly thrown out of his ancestral
land by the police, revenue authorities and the mafia hired by the
SEZ. He wept and told me that I have nothing left but before I go, I
will take a sizeable number of this lot with me. Can he be blamed for
this reaction?
The so-called Naxalites and Maoists are all the tribals, adivasis,
backward classes and the minorities who have been the victims of
terror and tyranny and who have no other language except to hit
back and try and get even. The Government produces SEZs for big
industry and this is the human price. This is the origin of these
movements and this is the reason why their ranks are increasing. It
was not very different in the Chambal ravines when women like
Phoolan Devi were tortured, humiliated, raped and subjected to
horrifying levels of tyranny and a few of them decided to fight back in
the same language and the Government classified them as Dacoits.
When the history of the Mangalore SEZ comes to be written, it
will be a horror story of an edifice built on graves.
JUSTICE M.F. SALDANHA (Retd)

FACT – FINDING REPORTS and NHRC & SHRC CASES and RELATED CORRESPONDENCE

FACT – FINDING REPORTS
and
NHRC & SHRC CASES
and
RELATED CORRESPONDENCE
VOLUME – I
PUCL Dakshina Kannada
2
FACT – FINDING REPORTS and NHRC & SHRC CASES and
Related Correspondence – Vol I
Compiled by : Suresh Bhat, Bakrabail
Publisher : People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Karnataka
First edition : December 2010
Pages : 96
Copies : 1000
Contribution : Rs.125/-
Printer : Prasad Printers, Kulshekar, Mangalore-5
Note: This book is the first of a series. The remaining will be published subsequently
3
4
5
One question that repeatedly haunts the common man is: why is it
that the behaviour of the Indian police towards the masses has not
undergone any appreciable change despite the country becoming an
independent republic. The answer is to be found in the country’s continued
dependence on the archaic and colonial Indian Police Act of 1861. The
latter law was passed by the then British rulers of India immediately after
the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857 with the sole purpose of imposing a firm and
stiff regime of police force upon the local population. In fact, that police
system was designed for maintaining the absolute authoritarian form of
foreign rule in India. The managerial philosophy of the police hierarchy
was based on distrust of the lower ranks. However despite attaining
Independence in 1947, the Indian Police Act of 1861 was not replaced.
Political powers continue to maintain a strict control over the police
organization and structure. The managerial philosophy, value system, and
ethos of the police to date remain militaristic in design, and suppressive
in practice. Today the Police Act of 1861 functions in association with
the Indian Penal Code (IPC), the Code of Criminal Procedure (Cr. PC)
and the Indian Evidence Act, 1872.
As per the provisions of the Indian Constitution, policing is a state
subject. Hence the responsibility of providing police service to the people
vests with the respective state governments. That most states have chosen
to adopt the old 1861 Act without change tells its own story. Though
some have passed new laws, the changes are only cosmetic and they are
still patterned on the 1861 model. The unfortunate result is there for all
to see. Over the years political control of the police force has only
tightened.
There has been almost 30 years of debate and discussions on the
subject of a new Police Act. While reports submitted by several
government committees and commissions gathers dust on shelves, the
country continues with the same old colonial law. A brief history of the
new Police Act that is still in the making is worth recalling. It was only in
1979 that a National Police Commission was set up to draft a new law. It
FOREWORD
6
produced 8 reports including a Model Police Act. But nothing happened
till 1996. In that year two former senior police officers filed a writ petition
in the Supreme Court praying for directions to the various governments
to implement the recommendation of National Police Commission. As
per the Court’s directions the government set up one more Committee
headed by former police chief J.F. Rebiero, to revise the recommendations.
The Rebiero Committee produced two reports between 1998 and 1999.
In 2000 the government set up a third Committee under the former
Home Secretary K.Padmanabhaiah which released its report in the same
year. Then in 2005 the government appointed a group headed by advocate
Soli Sorabjee to draft a new Police Act. This group submitted a Model
Police Act in late 2006. At the same time Supreme Court directed the
various governments to implement police reforms and provided them
with a framework within which to begin the reform process. A copy of
the Court’s guidelines can be found at the end of this book.
But sadly there is hardly any progress on the reforms front. Though
some states claim to have carried out some reforms, it is partially correct
because in actuality they have diluted the provisions defeating the very
purpose of the Court’s intentions. On the whole, the picture remains
dismal and the Indian police continue to act as the private henchmen of
vested interests and unscrupulous politicians. In the present neo-liberal
economic age we have neo-colonialism managing a back-door entry into
the country in the form of multi-national corporations and getting
entrenched. The pliant governments of the day which enable an unhindered
plundering of the country’s resources by the national and international
corporations, utilize an obedient police force to contain the rising
resistance of the masses.
Today India is witness to a very sad situation where criminals,
communalists and anti-social elements have infiltrated into politics,
bureaucracy and the police force. As a result there is a phenomenal
increase in the number of cases of custodial deaths, torture, extortion
and fake encounters by the police. But Government doctors and judiciary
have shamelessly joined hands with the police. There is injustice
everywhere. The Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and the Official
Secrets Act are mainly being utilized for the purpose of arresting innocent
citizens, branding them as terrorists and keeping them in indefinite custody
7
thus denying them their fundamental rights. According to noted writer
Arundhati Roy, “In the year 2004, 181 nations signed a document calling
for additional emphasis to be given to the protection of human rights this
era of the war on terrorism. India did not sign this document even though
the USA did.”
PUCL has consistently been protesting the rights violations
committed by the police. It has found that the majority of violations occur
in the case of minorities, poor and the dalits. PUCL has been conducting
fact-findings wherever possible and submitting such reports and complaints
to the National and State Human Right Commissions and various other
authorities. In this compilation you will find some of our fact-finding
reports, the complaints we lodged and the replies received. On the whole
it reveals the ineffectiveness of the Human Right Commissions in properly
dealing with the various rights violations and punishing the guilty. In our
opinion the Commissions suffer from lack of infrastructure and manpower
which appears to be the result of deliberate neglect by the governments.
It seems as though the governments have created these bodies as an
obligation under the International Human Rights Covenant, to which it is
a signatory, only to file reports to the United Nations Human Rights
Commission from time to time. The intention of PUCL in publishing this
compilation is to make it as a reference book for all Human Rights activists
and as an eye-opener to the general public who are continuously fed with
false information. We trust that it will also afford an opportunity for the
government to do some soul-searching and strengthen the various Human
Rights Commissions and expedite the police and judicial reforms which
are overdue.
In order to show the power of the people and the importance of
public opinion in a democracy we are holding a People’s Audit of atrocities
committed by the police in the Karavali belt, on 11th and 12th December,
2010. The jury is headed by Justice M.F.Saldanha (Retd.). The other
members of the jury are Mr Purushotham Poojary, senior advocate
Mangalore; well-known Human Rights champions Mr Nagari Babaiah and
Mr Mathew Philip from Bangalore; Prof Rita Noronha, a well-known Human
Rights activist from Mangalore; Ms Merlyn Martis, advocate and wellknown
Human Rights champion from Mangalore.
8
The editorial board wishes to place on record its gratitude for all
the assistance and help rendered by Ms Jayalakshmi, Ms Sapna and Ms
Reema.
Our special thanks to M/s Prasad Printers for their excellent work.
Editorial Board
I.J.S. Shet
Suresh Bhat B.
Harsha Raj Gatty
References:
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative

http://mha.nic.in/pdfs/police_act_1861.pdf

http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/publications/police/

police_organisations.pdf

http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/publications/police/

karnataka_police_act_1963.pdf

http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/publications/police/

karnataka_police_amendment_bill_2007.pdf

http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/publications/police/npc_bill.pdf

http://www.humanrightsinitiative.org/programs/aj/police/india/history/

default.htm
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The People’s Union for Civil Liberties will try to bring together all
those who are committed to the defence and promotion of civil liberties
in India, irrespective of any differences which they may have in regard to
political and economic institutions suitable for the country.
The aims and objects of the organisation will be:
(a) to uphold and promote by peaceful means civil liberties and the
democratic way of life throughout India;
(b) to secure recognition to the principle of dignity of the individual;
(c) to undertake a constant review of penal laws and the criminal
procedure with a view to bringing them in harmony with humane
and liberal principles;
(d) to work for the withdrawal and repeal of all repressive laws including
preventive detention;
(e) to encourage freedom of thought and defend the right of public
dissent;
(f) to ensure the freedom of the press and independence of mass media
like radio and television;
(g) to secure the rule of law and independence of the judiciary;
(h) to make legal aid available to the poor;
(i) to make legal assistance available for the defence of civil liberties;
(j) to work for the reform of the judicial system so as to remove
inordinate delays, reduce heavy expenses, and eliminate inequities;
(k) to bring about prison reform;
(l) to oppose police excesses and use of third degree method;
(m) to oppose police discrimination on the ground of religion, race, caste,
sex, or place of birth;
(n) to combat social evils which encroach on civil liberties, such as
untouchability, casteism, and communalism;
(o) to defend in particular the civil liberties of the weaker sections of
society and of women and children;
(p) to do all acts and things that may be necessary, helpful, or incidental
to the above aims and objects.
PUCL
AIMS AND OBJECTIVES
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1. To increase consciousness about and commitment to human rights
and civil liberties among all sections of our people;
2. To provide a platform for all groups including political parties to
come together for furthering the cause of human rights, even though
the groups may have differences among themselves on other aspects
of social and political life.
3. To energise and creatively use the existing institutions like the courts
and the press, so that they may become more sensitive to the human
rights situation in India; and
4. To intervene directly in cases where gross violations of human rights
take place.
PRINCIPAL FUNCTIONS
OF THE PUCL
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* mobilising public opinion in favour of a better climate for protection
of civil liberties in the country.
* conducting investigations into incidents of violations of human rights,
brought to notice by the victims, the press, a member, or any
concerned individual.
* publishing the findings of these investigations in the PUCL Bulletin
and releasing them to the press, or making them public by other
mean such as public meetings, etc. Many reports are published as
separate documents also.
* filing petitions, on the basis of these investigation, or even otherwise.
These cases are prepared and argued by our lawyer members in the
local courts, High Courts, or the Supreme Court. They meet all the
expenses of fighting these cases, from their own pocket.
The PUCL does not simply react. It organises seminars, lectures,
etc., for focusing attention on the problems concerning its area of
work. It has raised its voice against various oppression laws and
retrograde amendments to the Constitution. It has tried to find the
causes of communal riots and tried to create amity amongst various
sections of society. It also organises observer teams at the time of
Elections from sensitive constituencies. The PUCL had formulated
a Charter of Demands addressed to all national parties prior to the
general elections in 1989. The practice has been kept up.
It has been active on environmental issues, especially for the rights
of those affected adversely by ‘development’ projects. It has, from
time to time, taken up issues to courts at various levels. The PUCL
has, more than once, taken up the cause of pavement dwellers. It is
MAJOR AREAS OF ACTIVITY
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specially sensitive to the oppression of dalits, minorities, women,
and children.
The PUCL also organises a JP Memorial Lecture on March 23rd every
year. This is the date on which the Emergency was lifted in the year
1977. In the same function the PUCL presents its Journalism for
Human Rights’ Award which carries a citation and an award of
Rs.20,000/- This Award was instituted in 1980 to enthuse interest in
civil liberties and human rights amongst journalists and also to bring
to light the dedication and the work of those working in this field.
There is a common belief that those who believe in capturing power
through violent means, having no faith in the existing parliamentary
democracy or the Constitution, have no rights and liberties. PUCL
thinks otherwise. While disagreeing with their methods and deploring
their actions, PUCL maintains that conditions existing in the society
are no less responsible for motivating people to alter them through
violence. In certain cases their violence is retaliatory against that of
the government. Rule of law has to be guaranteed to every citizen of
the country. This is the basic test of civil liberties. The same is its
attitude to criminals, prisoners, anti-social elements, etc.
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Article 1.
• All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They
are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one
another in a spirit of brotherhood.
Article 2.
• Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this
Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex,
language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin,
property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be
made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status
of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be
independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation
of sovereignty.
Article 3.
• Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 4.
• No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave
trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.
Article 5.
• No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading
treatment or punishment.
Article 6.
• Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before
the law.
UNITED NATIONS
Universal Declaration of Human Rights
December 10, 1948
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Article 7.
• All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination
to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection
against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against
any incitement to such discrimination.
Article 8.
• Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent
national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him
by the constitution or by law.
Article 9.
• No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Article 10.
• Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an
independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights
and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
Article 11.
• (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed
innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which
he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
• (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any
act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national
or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a
heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the
time the penal offence was committed.
Article 12.
• No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy,
family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and
reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against
such interference or attacks.
Article 13.
• (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence
within the borders of each state.
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• (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own,
and to return to his country.
Article 14.
• (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries
asylum from persecution.
• (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely
arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes
and principles of the United Nations.
Article 15.
• (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
• (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied
the right to change his nationality.
Article 16.
• (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race,
nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family.
They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and
at its dissolution.
• (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent
of the intending spouses.
• (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and
is entitled to protection by society and the State.
Article 17.
• (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in
association with others.
• (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.
Article 18.
• Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion;
this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom,
either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to
manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and
observance.
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Article 19.
• Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this
right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to
seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media
and regardless of frontiers.
Article 20.
• (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and
association.
• (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.
Article 21.
• (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country,
directly or through freely chosen representatives.
• (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his
country.
• (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of
government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine
elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be
held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.
Article 22.
• Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and
is entitled to realization, through national effort and international cooperation
and in accordance with the organization and resources of
each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable
for his dignity and the free development of his personality.
Article 23.
• (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to
just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against
unemployment.
• (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay
for equal work.
• (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable
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remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy
of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of
social protection.
• (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the
protection of his interests.
Article 24.
• Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable
limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.
Article 25.
• (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the
health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food,
clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and
the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability,
widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond
his control.
• (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and
assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy
the same social protection.
Article 26.
• (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at
least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education
shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be
made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible
to all on the basis of merit.
• (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human
personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and
fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and
friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further
the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
• (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that
shall be given to their children.
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Article 27.
• (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of
the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement
and its benefits.
• (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material
interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production
of which he is the author.
Article 28.
• Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the
rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.
Article 29.
• (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and
full development of his personality is possible.
• (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject
only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose
of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms
of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public
order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
• (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary
to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.
Article 30.
• Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any
State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform
any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set
forth herein.
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1) This is a case pertaining to K. Kamalaksha Gatty a police constable
for 26 years who was ill treated by his department. It is because of
his wife was a social worker. While he was under suspension for
nearly a year he was physically thrown out of quarters with his wife
and children as well as cooking utensils. He was also not paid his
salaries during this suspension period for which he was eligible. The
compliant sent to NHRC by PUCL on 14-1-1999 he his published
here with NHRC did not take any steps in this regard.
NHRC Cases
CONSTABLE K. KAMALAKSHA GATTY’S CASE
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Case No. NHRC 90/10/2005-2006
2) This is a complicated case of one Staney Rasquina residing within the
jurisdiction of Kavoor Police Station. He was harassed by one Sudhir
and his gang who were known rowdies and criminals. They were
also suspected to be murderers of a particular person whose body
was found in highly decomposed conditions for which the concerned
medical officer had refused to give a proper report stating that the
body was in highly decomposed condition. They had also raped a
woman. In spite of lodging this complaint against Sudhir and his gang
the Kavoor police did not carry out proper investigation but in fact
a false case was filed against Staney Rasquina. Finally PUCL followed
up this complaint with NHRC but as usual the latter closed the case
without making proper investigation. It is a pity that with all the
infrastrure available to it, NHRC expects a human rights organization
like ours to adduce evidence and prove the case. If this is so, the
commission does not fulfil the mandate given to it nor does it help
the citizen in anyway.
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NHRC 313/10/28/09-10
3) This is a complaint sent by us regarding the death of one B.
Muhammed of Gurpur, Mangalore to NHRC on 8-10-2009. It is about
his sudden death after the unauthorized trespass of Bajpe Police
into his house and the shock he got on seeing them. NHRC has
simply closed the file on receiving a report from IGP Western range
denying any wrongdoing by them. NHRC has not done an
independent investigation. The NHRC has had not provided the
report of IGP to us for our comment. Even otherwise the
responsibility of investigating our complaint is of NHRC which has
simply believed the statement given by the police and closed the file.
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A CASE OF CONTEMPT OF SUPREME COURT BY GOVT.
OFFICERS
4) This is the case where one Mr. K.R. Bhandary and his entire family
was deprived of the very right to life with dignity because a Supreme
Court order was not implemented by the DC and the Tahsildar
concerned in spite of a struggle stretching to three generations. Our
complaint dated 3-6-1997 was never replied to by NHRC .
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CASE NO. 594/10/19/08-09-OC
5) This is a case of harrasment and torture, meted out to a journalist
from Mangalore who was repeatedly ill treated and his right to
freedom of expression and right to life with dignity were deprived
by the police. NHRC simply closed the file asking Superident of Police
Dakshina Kannada to take steps deemed fit by him. If this is the kind
of remedy NHRC offers to Indian citizens what is the purpose of
existence of NHRC?
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6) In 1997 Shanthi, daughter of Albert Mascarenhas of Mangalore, went
missing and her dead body was found in a lodge at Mulky 20km from
Mangalore. The police declared that she had committed suicide. But,
according to media reports, Shanthi was allegedly abducted by three
local rowdy elements who then took her to Mulky, raped and killed
her. The media pointed out loopholes in police investigation. Albert
Mascarenhas lodged a complaint with the NHRC as per PUCL
directions.
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7) Two women, Mrs Seetha Rathore and Saraswathi Samanth allegedly
killed by some policemen in league with certain politicians. When
PUCL complained to NHRC, the latter asked the local Superintendent
of Police to investigate the case. The SP sends a report exonerating
the policemen and NHRC accepts it without any objection.
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8) On 21.8.2001 Abdul Rauf, a bus driver, gets killed by unknown
persons. The Bus Workers’ Union holds a public protest during
which police led by circle-inspector HRS Shetty burst tear gas shells
and assault innocent persons. PUCL conducts a fact-finding and sends
a report to NHRC. The NHRC asks the IGP(Western Range) to
investigate the case. On receipt of IGP’s report exonerating the
policemen involved, NHRC closes the case.
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HRC2200/CR/2008-4Th JULY 2008 ATTACK ON ATUL RAO UNDER
TRIAL IN UDUPI JAIL
1) Atul Rao, an accused in some case and lodged in the Udupi sub-jail
was assaulted within the jail premises. PUCL made a complaint to
SHRC on 4.7.2008. As usual SHRC forwards it to the IGP(WR) who
files a reply on 19.8.2008 exonerating the personnel involved. SHRC
disposes of the case.
SHRC Cases
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POLICE ENCOUNTER WITH SO-CALLED NAXALS
2) An alleged “encounter” took place between the police and naxals at
Mavinahole near Horanaadu in Chikmaglur district on 18th , 19th
November 2008, in which one policeman and two naxals died. SHRC
conducted a suo motu fact-finding and since its comments are
extremely relevant we are reproducing four pages of the said report
for the information of public. Almost all encounters carried out by
the police we have strong reasons to suspect the police version
after visiting the spot of the encounter.
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A DALIT ATROCITIES CASE
3) On the basis of media reports that dalit students were denied entry
to Mudagodu Durgaparameshwari temple and about the Ajalu system
being practised against the Koraga tribals, PUCL made a complaint
to SHRC on 16.12.2008. The SHRC forwards the complaint to the
Block Education Officer who replies that the media reports are false
and such incidents have not taken place. And SHRC accepts his version
and closes the case.
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MORTAL ATTACK ON MUSLIMS BY COMMUNAL ROWDIES
4) Two cattle traders Nazir and Muhammed Hasan were attacked
allegedly by men belonging to Sangh Parivar groups. PUCL lodged a
complaint with SHRC on 30.3.2009. SHRC sent it to the Inspector
General of Police (WR). The latter’s enquiry report accepted in toto
by SHRC. Totally dissatisfied with this verdict, PUCL writes back to
SHRC.
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HRC NO.2105/2009 DEMOLITION OF ZOPPADPATTIES BELONGING
TO DALITS
5) In 2009 some 60-odd houses belonging to poor persons at Shaktinagar
in Mangalore are demolished by the authorities. PUCL’s complaint
to SHRC gets forwarded to the Deputy Commissioner of the district.
PUCL is not satisfied with DC’s reply and protests to SHRC. SHRC’s
final report 2105/2009 dated 15.1.2010 asks for a proper survey of
the damages and directs the city corporation to arrange to provide
roofs to the homeless and report back on action taken.
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6) Fact-finding report on the atrocities committed by the police on
Tejaswiraj, former president of NSUI, Mangalore. We sent this report
not only to SHRC but also to NHRC and wrote to the Govt to
dismantle all the unauthorized torture chambers that are secretly
functioning all over the state in which innocent victims are tortured
by using third degree methods which are totally banned by Supreme
Court as well as United Nations. We need to educate the victims to
file private criminal cases in the courts and take the Police to task
and expose their uncivilized behavior. There is no other remedy for
these hardened criminals in khaki.
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PUCL
PEOPLE’S UNION for CIVIL LIBERTIES
Father Muller Road, Valencia, Mangalore – 575 002, Work: 4252170
Fax: 4252174, E-mail: pucl_sk@yahoo.com’
All that is necessary for evil forces to triumph in this world is for enough good
people, to do nothing’-Edmund Burke
PUCL representative met Tejaswiraj in room no: 210 at the AJ
Hospital near Kottara junction, Mangalore. It is observed that his right
leg and thigh are completely covered in bandage. He has difficulty in walking.
The following is an account of the circumstances surrounding Tejaswiraj’s
arrest as narrated by him:
The main accused Riyaz is a friend of a certain Radhakrishna’s
acquaintance. This person Radhakrishna is a childhood friend of Tejaswiraj.
About one year ago, Riyaz was taken to a mobile shop in Falnir by one Sajid.
Riyaz had made some purchases in that mobile shop through credit card. This
was a fraudulent transaction.
Why did the police, who now claim that they have a CD of the CCTV
recording of that transaction in the shop, had not taken any action for nearly
one year? The Falnir mobile shop falls under the Pandeshwar PS and not under
the Mangalore Rural station. Sajid, arrested recently by the Mangalore Rural
police, gave them the name of his friend Majid. Majid was called to the Mangalore
Rural PS on Monday(29th June?). This person Majid gave Radhakrishna’s and
Tejaswiraj’s telephone numbers to the police.
Immediately Tejaswiraj was called to the Mangalore Rural police station.
The moment he set eyes on Tejaswiraj the Sub Inspector Prakash, said, “Oh,
we have been waiting for long to get hold of you. Wait for 5 minutes.”
All of a sudden Tejaswiraj’s eyes were blindfolded and he was driven to
some unknown location. Upon reaching there his blindfold was removed and he
managed to see that he was at a house on top of a hill and the vehicle that
Report on the custodial torture on
Tejaswiraj, President of National
Students Union of India, D.K.
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brought him was a private silver-coloured Travera. The location could be
somewhere around Neerumarga.
Within five minutes SI Prakash made his appearance in this place. He
asked Tejaswiraj to show the credit card. Tejaswiraj replied that he did not
possess any credit card. But he was repeatedly beaten and subjected to roller
treatment. Finally he could not bear it any more and said yes and showed his
ATM card and said this all that I have. SI Prakash abused him and said, “Now
that I have caught you I’ll show you what police is. You have a bias against the
police hunh? …..I’ll see to it that you won’t get into politics any more. I have
CCTV records of you inside the shop.” He then called up the Kavoor SI Anantha
Padmanabha and forced Tejaswiraj to apologise to him.
On the following afternoon Tejaswiraj was transferred to the Pandeshvar
PS. There he was kept for 3 days since he had been charged under non-bailable
offences. Finally on the evening of Friday the 3rd, he managed to obtain conditional
bail. Immediately he got himself admitted in AJ Hospital. Though the hospital
has now sent a medico-legal report to the Kadri PS, till now no one has visited
the hospital.
Tejaswiraj has also made an important observation that there
are four Muslim youth undergoing torture in the same house that he
was detained in.
Observations and comments
Tejaswiraj is the president of the district unit of the National Students
Union of India (NSUI) which is affiliated to the Congress Party. He has
been very active in exposing and protesting the misdeeds of Sangh Parivar.
He had led student protests against the government-sponsored
“Movement Against Terrorism” organised by Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi
Parishat (ABVP). This so-called movement was clearly meant to further
divide the student community on communal lines. Thus Tejaswiraj has
been a thorn on the side of the ABVP and its mentors, Rashtriya
Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). The Sangh
Parivar has been wanting to target him since a long time and now that
there is a majority BJP government in power, the witch hunt has started.
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The targets are secular groups and persons like Tejaswiraj and the
minorities.
It is a fact that the Dakshina Kannada police force has become
saffronised to a great extent. This has happened over a long period of
time and has been done systematically by the Sangh Parivar as part of
their larger agenda. If Dakshina Kannada today has become one of the
most communal hot spots in the entire country, then part of the credit is
due to this saffronised police force. SI Prakash and many other policemen
with diseased brains are the sad end-results of very, very clever RSS
propaganda. Such policemen are unfit to be in the Indian police because
they have no respect for the secular values of the Indian Constitution.
They have been brain-washed by RSS to such an extent that it has turned
them into blind minority-haters. They arrest members of minority
communities, especially Muslims, and subject them to torture on the
smallest pretext/suspicion. During the recent attacks on Christian
churches, the Sangh Parivar bias of the police was very much in evidence.
This has been witnessed and recorded on video. A report on the incident
that appeared in the Kannada daily newspaper “Karavali Ale” dated 6/7/
09 is enclosed.
Reportedly SI Anantha Padmanabha and SI Pramod are relations of
the present district-in-charge minister.
This report is prepared by M/s. P.B. D’Sa, James Lewis and Suresh
Bhat of People’s Union for Civil Liberties. Dakshina Kannada
For People’s Union for Civil Liberties
P.B.D’Sa James Lewis Suresh Bhat
Date :7/7/09
Copies of Report forwarded to:-
1. State Human Rights Commission to probe into the incident
particularly into the torture chambers created by the Police in D.K.
and take appropriate steps to stop custodial torture.
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2. Superintendent of Police. D.K. with a request to file an FIR on the
basis of this report against S.I. Prakash and others for torturing
Tejaswiraj,
3. Inspector General of Police, Western Range for necessary action
4. DGP & IG Karnataka State, Bangalore, for necessary action and with
a strong request to transfer all policemen who have been in the
district for more than a period of three years.
This report was forwarded to the SHRC on 7.7.2009. A copy of the
above report was also sent to the NHRC. Both NHRC and SHRC rejected
it saying it was unsigned. Fact is, out of the three people who prepared
the report, one signature was inadvertently missed. PUCL once again
sent a report duly signed by all three on 8.9.2009. But there is no response
till now.
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Directive–I: State Security Commission
1. Commission already functioning or not?
2. Names and particulars of the Chairman/ Members?
3. How many meetings held so far with dates of such meetings?
4. Whether any reports placed before the State Assembly?
Directive–II: Selection & Tenure of Director General of Police
1. How many times DGP changed in previous 3 years?
2. Method adopted for empanelment of officers for DGP’s post, each
time?
3. How many officers included in the panel?
4. Seniority-wise Serial No. of the officer selected as DGP, in the selection
panel?
Directive–III: Minimum Tenure of Other Officers
1. Details of officers (Officers in charge of Police Stations, District SPs,
Range DIGs & Zonal IGs) transferred out from their posts in less
than 2 years of posting
2. Grounds for such transfer, in each case?
Directive–IV: Separation of Investigation from Law & Order
1. Whether or not earmarked staff since provided for crime investigation
work at police station level, in at least urban areas with population of
10 lakh & more?
2. Is such dedicated staff actually available for investigation work now?
Important information that a citizen should know
ANNEXURE I
Supreme Court Directions
in Prakash Singh Case
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Directive–V: Police Establishment Board
1. Police Establishment Board created or not?
2. If yes, with what composition?
3. What are its assigned functions?
4. Cases, if any, in which the decisions of the Board were set aside or
modified by the State Govt/ Secretariat?
Directive–VI: Police Complaints Authorities
1. Complaints Authorities at the State & District levels created or not?
2. Composition of such Authorities, with names & particulars of
Chairman/ Members?
3. Whether adequate staff & infrastructural facilities provided or not?
4. How effective are the Authorities in their functioning?
3
90
“ Custodial violence, including torture and death in the lock-ups,
strikes a blow at the rule of law, which demands that the powers of the
executive should not only be derived from law but also that the same
should be limited by law…………….
Transparency of action and accountability perhaps are two possible
safeguards which this Court must insist upon.”
D.K.Basu vs. State of West Bengal (1997) 1 SCC 216
In view of the increasing incidence of violence and torture in custody,
the Supreme Court of India has laid down 11 specific requirements and
procedures that the police and other agencies have to follow for the
arrest, detention and interrogation of any person. These are:
Police arresting and interrogating suspects should wear “accurate,
visible and clear” identification and name tags, and details of interrogating
police officers should be recorded in a register.
􀀢 A memo of arrest must be prepared at the time of arrest. This should:
􀀢 have the time and date of arrest.
􀀢 be attested by at least one witness who may either be a family member
of the person arrested or a respectable person of the locality where
the arrest was made.
􀀢 be counter-signed by the person arrested.
􀀢 The person arrested, detained or being interrogated has a right to
have a relative, friend or well-wisher informed as soon as practicable,
of the arrest and the place of detention or custody. If the person to
be informed has signed the arrest memo as a witness this is not
required.
ANNEXURE II
REQUIREMENTS FOR ARREST,
DETENTION, INTERROGATION
8th March 2005
D. K. BASU JUDGMENT
91
􀀢 Where the friend or relative of the person arrested lives outside the
district, the time and place of arrest and venue of custody must be
notified by police within 8 to 12 hours after arrest. This should be
done by a telegram through the District Legal Aid Authority and the
concerned police station.
􀀢 The person arrested should be told of the right to have someone
informed of the arrest, as soon as the arrest or detention is made.
􀀢 An entry must be made in the diary at the place of detention about
the arrest, the name of the person informed and the name and
particulars of the police officers in whose custody the person arrested
is.
􀀢 The person being arrested can request a physical examination at the
time of arrest. Minor and major injuries if any should be recorded.
The “Inspection Memo” should be signed by the person arrested as
well as the arresting police officer. A copy of this memo must be
given to the person arrested.
􀀢 The person arrested must have a medical examination by a qualified
doctor every 48 hours during detention. This should be done by a
doctor who is on the panel, which must be constituted by the
Director of Health Services of every State.
􀀢 Copies of all documents including the arrest memo have to be sent
to the Area Magistrate (laqa Magistrate) for his record.
􀀢 The person arrested has a right to meet a lawyer during the
interrogation, although not for the whole time.
􀀢 There should be a police control room in every District and State
headquarters where information regarding the arrest and the place
of custody of the person arrested must be sent by the arresting
officer. This must be done within 12 hours of the arrest. The control
room should prominently display the information on a notice board.
These requirements were issued to the Director General of Police
and the Home Secretary of every State. They were obliged to circulate
the requirements to every police station under their charge. Every police
station in the country had to display these guidelines prominently. The
judgment also encouraged that the requirements be broadcast through
92
4
radio and television and pamphlets in local languages be distributed to
spread awareness.
Failure to comply with these requirements would make the concerned
official liable for departmental action. Not following these directions
constitutes a contempt of the Supreme Court, which is a serious offence,
punishable by Imprisonment and fine. This contempt of court petition
can be filed in any High Court.
These requirements are in addition to other rights and rules, such
as:
􀀢 The right to be informed at the time of arrest of the offence for
which the person is being arrested.
􀀢 The right to be presented before a magistrate within 24 hours of the
arrest.
􀀢 The right not to be ill-treated or tortured during arrest or in custody.
􀀢 Confessions made in police custody cannot be used as evidence
against the accused.
􀀢 A boy under 15 years of age and women cannot be called to the
police station only for questioning.
The Constitution
The Constitution of India, which is the basic law of the country,
provides protection to all persons from ill treatment and torture by the
police and other state agencies.
Article 21
Guarantees the right to life and personal liberty to all persons.
Article 22
Lays down the rights available at the time of arrest and detention.
These rights can be enforced by directly approaching the High Courts
and the Supreme Court of India.
93
Dakshina Kannada Police Diary
SL OFFICERS STD OFFICE OFFICIAL MOBILE
1 IGP W/R 0824 2220501 9480800032
2 MANGALORE POLICE
COMMISSIONER 9480805952
3 S.P. D.K 0824 2220503 9480805301
4 ADDL S.P. D.K 0824 2220505 9480805302
5 DSP DCRB 0824 2220513 9480805309
6 DSP W/R 0824 2220509 9480805318
7 DSP HQ W/R 0824 2220509 9480805319
8 DSP RCIB 0824 9480800177
9 DSP F.P.B W/R 0824 2220508 9480800486
10 CPI. D.S.B 0824 2220511 9480805307
11 R.P.I.D.A.R. 0824 2220512 9480805306
12 C.P.I.(WIRELESS) 0824 2220500
13 C.P.I.F.P.B 9480805310
14 C.P.I.IMMIGRATION
(Airport) 0824 2220534
15 PSI IMMIGRATION PNB 0824 2220541
16 DISTRICT CONTROL 0824 2220500 9480805300
17 CITY CONTROL 0824 2220555
18 PSI FMS MANGALORE 0824 2448920
19 NDPS 0824 2429735
20 C.P.I.C.S.P. MANGALORE 0824 2451303
21 DSP EXCISE & LOTTERY 0824 2421163
94
SL OFFICERS STD OFFICE OFFICIAL MOBILE
1 ASP MANGALORE CITY 0824 2220514 9480805320
2 C.P.I NORTH P.S. 0824 2220516 9480805338
3 PSI L & O NORTH P.S. 0824 2220516 9480805345
4 PSI CR. NORTH P.S 0824 2220516
5 C.P.I SOUTH P.S. 0824 2220518 9480805339
6 PSI L & O SOUTH P.S. 0824 2220518 9480805346
7 PSI SOUTH CRIME 0824 2220518
8 C.P.I EAST P.S. 0824 2220520 9480805347
9 PSI EAST L & O 0824 2220520
10 PSI EAST CRIME 0824 2220520
11 PSI URVA L & O 0824 2220521 9480805349
12 PSI URVA CRIME 0824 2220521
13 PSI BARKE L & O 0824 2220522 9480805350
14 PSI BARKE CRIME 0824 2220522
15 CPI TRAFFIC 0824 2220523 9480805337
16 PSI TRAFFIC EAST-I 0824 2220523 9480805371
17 PSI TRAFFIC EAST-II 0824 2220523
18 PSI TRAFFIC WEST-I 0824 2220524 9480805351
19 PSI TRAFFIC WEST-II 0824 2220524
20 W.P.I WOMEN P.S 0824 2220525 9480805348
21 W.P.S.I WOMEN P.S 0824 2220525
22 C.P.I DCIB 0824 2220558 9480805308
23 C.P.I RAILWAY 0824 2220559
MANGALORE CITY SUB-DIVISION
95
SL OFFICERS STD OFFICE OFFICIAL MOBILE
1 DYSP PANAMBUR 0824 2220526 9480805322
2 CPI PANAMBUR 0824 2220528 9480805331
3 PSI PANAMBUR 0824 2220530 9480805355
4 PSI BAJPE 0824 2220531 9480805356
5 PSI KAVOOR L&O 0824 2220533 9480805358
6 PSI KAVOOR CRIME 0824 2220533
7 CPI MANGALORE (R) 0824 2465803 9480805330
8 PSI L & O MLORE (R) 0824 2220535 9480805352
9 PSI (CR) MLORE (R) 0824 2220535
10 PSI L & O ULLAL 0824 2466269 9480805353
11 PSI (CR) ULLAL 0824 2466269
12 PSI KONAJE 0824 2220536 9480805354
13 CPI MULKI 0824 2290560 9480805332
14 PSI MULKI 0824 2290533 9480805359
15 PSI MOODABIDRI 08258 236333 9480805357
16 CPI SURATHKAL 0824 2220540
17 PSI L &O SURATHKAL 0824 2220540 9480805360
18 PSI CR. SURATHKAL 0824 2220540
19 KATEEL O.P 0824 2200313
PANAMBUR SUB DIVISION
96
SL OFFICERS STD OFFICE OFFICIAL MOBILE
1 ASP PUTTUR 08251 230500 9480805321
2 CPI PUTTUR TOWN P.S 08251 230555 9480805333
3 PSI L/O PUTTURTOWN 08251 230555
PUTTURTOWN W PSI 08251 230555
4 PSI CR PUTTUR (T) 08251 230555
5 CPI PUTTUR RURAL 08251 252555
6 PSI UPPINANGADI 08251 251055 9480805362
7 NELLYADI O.P 08251 254101
8 PSI PUTTUR RURAL 08251 232102 9480805363
9 PSI KADABA P.S 08251 260044 9480805364
10 CPI SULLIA 08257 233115 9480805334
11 PSI L/O SULLIA 08257 230337 9480805365
12 PSI CR SULLIA 08257 230337
13 BELLARE O.P 08257 271995
14 PSI SUBRAMANYA I/C 08257 281250 9480805366
15 CPI BANTWALA 08255 235000 9480805335
16 PSI L/O BANTWAL (T) 08255 232111 9480805367
17 PSI CR BANTWAL (T) 08255 232111
18 PSI BANTWAL (R) 08255 235000 9480805368
19 FARANGIPETE O.P
20 PSI VITTLA P.S 08255 239233 9480805369
21 CPI BELTHANGADI 08256 232093 9480805336
22 PSI BELTHANGADI 08256 232093 9480805370
23 DHARMASTALA O.P 08256 277253
24 PUNJALAKATTE O.P 08256 259375
25 P.S.I. VENOOR 08256 286232 9480805372
26 PSI FMS PUTTUR 08251 738778
PUTTUR SUB: DIVISION

STATE TERRORISM

1
STATE TERRORISM
POLICE ATROCITIES IN THE KARAVALI AREA
COUPLED WITH
FAILURE OF THE JUDICIARY
IN PROTECTING
CITIZENS RIGHTS & LIBERTIES
(A REPORT ON THE TOTAL BREAK DOWN OF THE LAW &
ORDER SITUATION AT THE INSTANCE OF THE POLICE
ACCOMPANIED BY A COMPLETE LET DOWN BY THE
SUBORDINATE JUDICIARY)
PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY
Conducted at the instance of the
People’s Union for Civil Liberties, South Kanara
And
Transparency International India, Karnataka Chapter
And
The Catholic Sabha, Dakshina Kannada
By:
Justice Michael F. Saldanha,
Retired Judge, Karnataka High Court.
Chairman, Transparency International India, Karnataka Chapter.
2
PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY
Conducted on 11th and 12th December 2010
MEMBERS OF THE JURY
JUSTICE MICHAEL F. SALDANHA
PROF. NAGARI BABIAH
PROF. DR. RITA NORONHA
ADVOCATE – MRS. MERLYN MARTIS
ENQUIRY ORGANISED AND CONDUCTED
BY
MR. P.B. D’SA
STATE PRESIDENT,
PUCL KARNATAKA
3
Justice Michael F. Saldanha (Retd)
Chairman Transparency International India
(Karnataka Chapter)
4
DEDICATION
This report is dedicated to all those
victims of Police Atrocities and
Judicial Atrocities
In India that we call a democracy.
PUCL – D.K
If you want a share of fame, you’ve got to be
willing to take a share of the blame.
If no one heeds your call, go forth alone.
If there is no struggle, there is no progress.
Violence always rebounds, always returns home.
If you can’t bear crosses, you can’t wear a Crown.
Remember to hate, to be violent, is demeaning.
The appearance of millionaires in any society is
no proof of its affluence.
5
God grant me the
Serenity
to accept the things
I cannot change…
Courage to
change the things I can
and Wisdom to
know the difference…
6
7
After the BJP Government assumed power in Karnataka in the
year 2008, there was a sudden spurt in inter-communal hostilities. It
initially started with some of the militant organizations adopting an ultraaggressive
posture by decorating every town, city and village with saffron
flags, posters and the like which was accompanied by groups of young
persons going around these places targeting the minorities. Even where
members of the minority communities were assaulted, their shops looted
and places of worship defiled, the Police refused to register offences
against the wrong-doers, instead of which, the Complainants were
threatened, beaten up and often times arrested and put behind bars.
Taking up the matter with the higher authorities served no purpose
because each of these Police Officers would straight away make the
excuse that the instructions have come from the Vidhana Soudha. What
this meant was that the Police force in the State got completely
saffronised because inevitably every member of the force desired to
flow with the tide which they also found very beneficial financially and
career-wise. Specifically, at least three of the most violent and
dreaded Police Officers from Mangalore who should have been
dismissed from service and prosecuted and convicted were
rewarded with promotions! To quote an example, the militant
organizations would loot shops and restaurants and would also drag
persons to the Police Stations on the ground that they were converting
others or that they were cattle thieves and the like and this gave the
police an excellent opportunity to exploit the victims and make big money.
It also became the order of the day for the police to target the
members of the Muslim community on the ground that they were
Terrorists or were linked with anti-social activity. This meant that any
member of the community could be subjected to search of the house or
business area and the police would help themselves to whatever they
wanted and pick up one or two persons on the ground of suspicion and
blackmail them. What was really tragic was the fact that in not a
THE JUSTIFICATION
8
single one of these cases did the Courts provide any relief. This
wave of communalism overtook the Bar as a result of which, it was
extremely difficult for any of the victims to get a Lawyer to appear for
them. The subordinate Judiciary would rubber stamp anything and
everything that the Police would do how so very astounding it may be.
To quote one specific example, when the Editor of the Karavali Ale
was arrested on totally false and unsustainable grounds, the
Magistrate refused Bail and when this could no longer be done,
the Police told the Court that NINE other Courts had issued NON
BAILABLE WARRANTS against him on one and the same charge!
This was action ultimately quashed by the High Court with strictures
but that was after the lapse of nearly one year. To sum it up, there
was a complete breakdown of the Law and Order situation.
Matters really exploded in September 2008 when the Churches
were attacked and the Police Department in partnership with the militant
organizations let loose the type of violence and false arrests that this
country has seldom seen. There was a universal demand that a Judicial
enquiry headed by a Retired Supreme Court Judge be set up by the
Central Government to examine the facts and produce a report along
with recommendations in respect of these horrifying events and one of
the basic demands was that the role of the Chief Minister and the Home
Minister, the State Government and the various wings of the Government
particularly the Police should be investigated. Not surprisingly, the Chief
Minister immediately picked a Retired High Court Judge from his own
Home Town and from his community to head the enquiry and the terms
of reference necessarily excluded all the above areas. This enquiry
was financed by the State Government and immediately there was
a strong public protest that like all other Judicial enquiries set up
by a State Government or the Politicians in power, that this enquiry
also would carry on for a couple of years, that the investigation
would be an eye-wash and more importantly that it would
completely cover up for the Politicians and the State Government
and its officials and not only exonerate them, but as happened in
the case of the Nanavati Commission in the State of Gujarat, it
would give the culprits a clean chit and even go to the extent of
complementing and praising them. It was in this background that
9
PUCL decided to institute a Peoples’ Tribunal Enquiry under the auspices
of Transparency International which was to be a one man Commission
headed by Justice M.F. Saldanha. With the assistance of several
persons, the Commission held an incisive investigation, the unique
feature being that instead of the old fashioned formal hearings, the Judge
went to every one of the areas and personally investigated the scene of
offence, met the victims and the witnesses and several others, afforded
the authorities an opportunity of explaining their defence and thereafter,
produced a detailed Report, parts of which have been released and the
whole report is to be released shortly in the form of a volume. The findings
are extremely damaging to the Politicians, the State Government and
the Bureaucracy but the principle responsibility for the violence, and the
total breakdown of the law and order situation has been ascribed to the
police and to the Courts which have let down the citizens by refusing to
render Justice, by supporting the custodial terrorism and wrongfully
upholding every illegal detention and the worst form of infringements of
human rights.
If the Church attacks were shameful enough and invited universal
condemnation Nationally and Internationally, with the question being
asked as to why the persons who were involved in the violence and who
openly came out in Press Conferences on Television and on Public
platforms boasting about their great achievements were not arrested
even though every one of their actions were cognizable offences, the
State Government openly encouraged another organisation called the
Rama Sene which was even more militant and violent. Apart from
targeting the students and younger people belonging to the Muslim and
Christian communities they started moral policing whereby open violence
was let loose against the boys and girls of these communities.
This was followed by an incident known as the Pub Attack Case
wherein a whole lot of young women were molested and beaten up
while they were dancing. The National and International media covered
this incident live and it sent shock waves through the whole country and
through every other civilized nation inviting total condemnation. Not a
single arrest was made nor was any action taken and the Ram Sene
went totally out of control in the whole District. The Home Minister
10
justified all these criminal activities on the ground that the students
concerned had given provocation which was downright false.
It must be said to the credit of the previous D.C. Ponnu Raj that he
issued a show-cause notice to the Head of the Ram Sene who was
beating his chest and loudly proclaiming that he would step up the
violence. After following the procedure prescribed by Law, an Order
was passed against Muthalik externing him from the District. The Law
prescribes that if the Order was wrong that the aggrieved party had to
file an Appeal and that he could even obtain Interim Orders provided
the case so warranted. It is quite unprecedented for the Appellate remedy
to be by-passed and for the party to directly approach the High Court as
there exists a total legal bar to the High Court exercising jurisdiction
when an alternate remedy exists and when it has not been exhausted.
To the utter shock of the right thinking citizens of the State and particularly
Dakshina Kannada District – Muthalik straight away approached the
High Court and the High Court not only entertained the Petition but
straight away granted a Stay. With due respect, it is submitted that it is
Orders such as these that completely destroy the status and confidence
of the few good officers in public office like Ponnu Raj because it is such
men who stick their necks out in the course of duty and if the High Court
slaps them in the face, it will send shock waves to this and every other
good Officer who will be disappointed and frustrated and will desist from
standing up to illegalities.
PUCL and Transparency International found that the role of the
Police Department in all these atrocious activities was indefensible and
that these two areas namely the Police and the Courts required to be
carefully investigated and that the time has come for the problem to be
studied, for appropriate recommendations regarding corrective action
required to be set out and follow up measures undertaken and
accordingly, a Peoples Tribunal Enquiry was fixed for the 11th and 12th
December 2010 in Mangalore.
This was the Justification for the institution of the Tribunal’s Enquiry
and the Report and Findings as also the Recommendations are
contained in this volume. We gratefully acknowledge the time and the
skills of the Jury Members who presided over the enquiry and who
11
collated the material that forms part of the case history and the findings
as also the recommendations. All of these were put together by Justice
M.F. Saldanha who did the final drafting, and who assumes responsibility
for everything contained in this volume and to whom we are extremely
grateful.
It was decided that the Report be preceded by a Foreword
amplifying the background to the enquiry. Justice Saldanha has drawn
heavily from what emerged in the earlier Enquiry conducted by him as
also a lot of supportive material that emerged thereafter since he has
been actively pursuing the various heads. For instance, it was
necessary to point out to the Home Minister of the State who kept
on publicly declaring that the attacks against the minorities have
subsided, that by 15th August 2010 i.e. Independence Day, there
had been a fresh lot of regular attacks against the minorities and
that they had totaled 1000. Secondly, the Home Minister had to be
reminded that whereas prior to his Government assuming power
and prior to the Church attacks of September 2008 that there had
not been one single recorded case of so-called conversions or
attempts and that after his oral directions to the Police, every Police
Station has been registering at least 20 such false cases every
month in order to build up the statistics. The media and independent
authorities have been examining the genuineness of these offences
that have been registered and every one of them have been found
to be false as not a single one of the so called Complainants is
even traceable. Undoubtedly, these are sensitive areas and the facts
are unpleasant but in the public interest, they have to be recorded and
exposed. This job has been done by Justice M.F. Saldanha independently
and none of the remaining members of the Jury are in any way
responsible for it. It is clarified that PUCL, Transparency International
and Justice M.F. Saldanha who has authored the Foreword take fully
responsibility for this part of the volume.
P. B. D’Sa
STATE PRESIDENT,
PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES.
MANGALORE
DATED : 17.01.2011
12
SUDDEN SAFFRONISATION IN KARNATAKA
The BJP Government with B.S. Yediyurappa as the Chief Minister
and V.S. Acharya as the Home Minister, (both seasoned RSS
pracharaks) assumed power in the year 2008 and within days the State
of Karnataka witnessed a total upheaval. This was more pronounced in
the Karavali area because Acharya who held the Home Portfolio spent
more time in his home town of Udupi and with his close associates from
the RSS and the Bajrang Dal, the Swamijis,and his Guru at Kalladka
than at the State Head Quarters at Bangalore. There was a sudden
burst of saffronisation through the entire coastal belt. The whole of the
State Machinery was completely communalized and the greatest tragedy
was that the subordinate judiciary took a cue from the Lawyers who had
joined the movement and totally aligned itself with them. All of a sudden,
saffron flags, posters and streamers inundated the whole area. What
accompanied this was total disaster.
UNPRECEDENTED VIOLENCE AGAINST MINORITIES
The Karavali area resembled Nazi Germany at the height of the
Nazi power. Suddenly, huge battalions of youth, mainly on two wheelers
but also in other vehicles which included Government Jeeps and KSRTC
buses started patrolling the roads. Violence was freely indulged in, all
directed against the minorities i.e. the Christians and the Muslims. Their
shops, establishments and places of business were not only targeted
but were indiscriminately exploited and looted. The Police Department
under the supervision of S.P. Satish Kumar who was the virtual godfather
of all the anti-social elements in the entire region ably supported by
Inspector – Jayant Shetty and a host of police officers who included
Police Inspectors – Ganapathy and Shivakumar unleashed the type of
violence that the region has never experienced before.
FOREWORD
13
POLICE COLLUSION AT VIOLENCE
Not one complaint in respect of assault, rioting, looting or dacoity
was registered in any police station in the entire region. Anybody who
went to a Police Station to complain was mercilessly beaten up, arrested
on false charges and thrown into the lock up. The levels of police torture
and false involvements reached an unprecedented scale and the greatest
tragedy was that a good section of the Lawyers who had jumped on to
the Bandwagon refused to render any assistance to the victims but were
ever willing to come out powerfully on behalf of the aggressors. This is
a sad blemish on the profession but is precisely what happened in Nazi
Germany.
NO RELIEF FROM THE JUDICIARY-MATTER OF SHAME
What is really pathetic is the fact that the Courts provided zero
relief. I am saddened and ashamed at the role of the Judiciary during
this period and the manner in which every single victim was illegally
and dishonestly denied Bail, retained in custody for abnormal periods
of time and there was not one instance when action was taken by a
single Judge in the hundreds and thousands of cases where the victims
complained of inhuman and merciless torture at the hands of the police.
In my opinion, this period represents the blackest era in the history of
the subordinate Judiciary of the Karavali region.
MORAL POLICING / ATROCITIES AGAINST WOMEN
An organisation under the banner of the Rama Sene which had
been both militant and violent in the District suddenly stepped up its
aggression and hatred for the Christians and the Muslims and let loose
violence which was directed against the younger members of these
communities. The whole of the student population was terrorized, Muslim
girls were not allowed to use the veil or burkha and what was really bad
was the fact that these boys and girls were pulled out from buses and
cars, beaten up on the road, taken to secluded places and mercilessly
assaulted and threatened that if they lodged any complaints they would
be killed. A string of such events took place with not a single complaint
being entertained or any action being taken against the culprits. The
Home Minister Acharya has gone on record before the Media stating
14
that the Rama Sena was fully justified in attacking anyone whose
behaviour was considered “immoral”. According to him, even where
assault and kidnapping had taken place and where students have been
pulled out from their hostels, class rooms and even residential areas
that the action is justified. When there is a Home Minister of this type
who gives full backing and encouragement to criminal activity and above
all to the spread of communal hatred, the question really arises as to
whether the Police inaction can be faulted. It was under similar
circumstances when in a series of atrocities against women which were
outrageous, that I had pointed out that the Police force in Karnataka
exists to protect the Law breakers and that it serves absolutely no
purpose to spend Rs.260.00 Crores per month on maintaining this
Department, that it should be disbanded and public money saved and
that the citizens will look after their own safety.
EDITOR SEETHARAM CHAINED-WORLD SHOCKED- COURTS
INDIFFERENT
The world conscience has been shocked when the facts of the
Editor Seetharam’s case were projected by me Nationally and
Internationally. While papers like the “Udayavani” came out with blazing
SAFFRON HEADLINES and the rest of the media was terrorized,
Seetharam’s one publication “Karavali Ale” stood its ground and this
invited the fury and revenge of Acharya. Under the personal and direct
Orders of Home Minister Acharya, Editor Seetharam was illegally
arrested, chained hand and foot in total defiance of the Law laid down
by the Supreme Court of India and paraded through the Court Premises
and produced in Court without there being any charge or case against
him. The Judge had denied him Bail the previous night, he was retained
in custody for one and a half months and taken to all corners of the
State by the Police in defiance of Court Orders with repeated attempts
being made by the Police authorities to finish him off and it is only the
Vigilance of the Members of PUCL and a small band of persons, one of
whom was myself who saved this man’s life. The Press Council of India
has recorded strong findings against the State Government and the
Police Department in this case, the State Human Rights Commission
has passed severe strictures and the High Court has ordered a princely
15
sum of compensation quantified at Rs.10,000/- (which in my considered
view is not only a miscarriage of Justice, but a total let down by the
higher Judiciary) and at the end of the day, Acharya, the Police
authorities, the Doctors and every one else goes scot-free and as an
eye wash, we are informed that two Police Constables have been
suspended for one week on the ground that they wrongly handcuffed
and chained the Editor.
ERRANT POLICE OFFICERS REWARDED
Transparency International and several citizens’ organizations
insisted that Disciplinary Action be taken against SP – Satish Kumar,
Jayant Shetty and Ganapathy, the three Police Officers who had been
responsible for the unleashing of violence against the minorities which
had reached unprecedented levels. Under pressure, Chief Minister –
Yediyurappa who had partnered Acharya in every one of these activities
stated that a High Level Departmental Enquiry would be conducted.
One of the very good Senior DIGs came to Mangalore, held an enquiry
and submitted a Report to the Government holding these three persons
guilty on all counts, recommending their immediate suspension and
stringent disciplinary action. The material on record fully justified this
and if there was any Rule of Law in Karnataka not only should these
Officers have been dismissed from service but they should have been
put on Trial and made a public example of. In nine of the leading
Judgments on the point, the Supreme Court has repeatedly pointed out
that the Police Department is entrusted with the sacred duty of
maintaining Law and Order, and of safeguarding citizens rights and
property particularly where the weaker sections and the minorities are
concerned and that no member of the Force at whatever level should
be spared under any circumstances, when they are found to be
dishonest, corrupt, violent and rank sadists as turned out in the case of
the whole of the Police Department in the Karavali area. The Supreme
Court has gone on to observe that this Class of Public Servants who
turn into perverts have to be awarded deterrent and exemplary
punishment in the Public Interest.
Following these directions, in at least 6 of the cases, as Judge
of the Karnataka High Court, I have awarded imprisonment ranging
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from 5 to 10 years RI to errant members of the Police force not to
mention Life Imprisonment awarded to six barbaric police
personnel who had beaten to death three poor boys in Shimoga.
What action has the Yediyurappa Government taken on the findings
recorded against these Police Officers. The file was called for by the
State Human Rights Commission and not shockingly, there is an
endorsement in Acharya’s handwriting as Home Minister defending
these Officers which reads “no action for the time being” and then
follows the endorsement by the Chief Minister – Yediyurappa which
reads “Treat the Case as closed”. Then follows the nicest part of
the operation where these Police men are promoted and are even
recommended for Police honors.
POLICE ATROCITIES OF THE EXTREME DEGREE
I set out below a few instances that highlight what was going on:
ATTACKING MUSLIMS
(a)A Muslim vegetable vendor in one of the small towns near
Mangalore was attacked by the local Bajrang Dal and taken to the Police
Station on the allegation that he had stolen the neighbouring Vendor’s
vegetable worth Rs.17/-. The man was stripped naked, mercilessly
beaten and subjected to every conceivable form of torture at the local
police station for two full days. No entry was made showing an arrest.
He was not produced before the local Court and the police found that
they had used too much force and the man was unconscious and about
to die. He was put in the Police Jeep, brought to Mangalore and thrown
on the footpath near the State Bank of India at 6.00 a.m. in the morning.
A group of Muslims who were returning from Prayer witnessed this
incident, picked up the unconscious man and took him to the Wenlock
Hospital. The Doctors refused to either treat him or to admit him unless
directed by the local Police as it was a medico-legal case. The Mangalore
police refused to entertain any complaint or to support his admission to
the Hospital though the man was in a precarious condition in order to
support their colleagues who had almost beaten him to death. The result
was that the community collected money and had the man treated at a
private hospital for three months. Though, he did survive, he has suffered
17
lifelong kidney damage. When he went back to his hometown, the local
police who had almost killed him on the earlier occasion and against
whom PUCL had lodged a complaint to the then IG, recorded a statement
and took his signature to the effect that he was traveling to Mangalore,
fell out of a local bus and sustained severe injuries. On the basis of this
report, the then DIG closed the case. The victim, his family and relations
were all warned that if the matter was taken up, their women would be
raped, their houses would be burnt and that there would be no trace of
any of them.
ATTACKING CHRISTIANS
(b)After the police violence at the Permanur Church where over
180 Catholics were severely brutalized by the Police, desperate attempts
were made to effect false arrests and to contend that it was some of the
local youngsters who were involved in group rivalry who are responsible
for the incident. Mercifully enough, the brutalization by SP. Satish Kumar,
Jayant Shetty and the huge police force has been vividly record on
video, has been shown on all the National Channels as also the
International Channels including BBC and CNN. The method adopted
by the Police was to round up as many young Christian Boys as possible,
to beat them up and then record so-called confessions to the effect that
they were responsible for the incident. The local police registered as
many as 47 false cases to support their S.P. The local Courts
repeatedly refused Bail to these poor boys supporting the Police
all the way. The victims were retained in custody for a period of up to 3
and 4 months regularly brutalized while in custody and the majority of
them have lost their source of livelihood not to mention the hundreds of
students whose careers were ruined. They have all been terrorized into
not taking any counter action. During this period, I was informed that a
young man, aged 22 years from the area who used to drive a small
tempo delivering milk for his livelihood was sent for by the local police.
Knowing his fate, the boy ran away to his uncle’s house at Padil. A few
days later, the police traced him, arrested him at Padil and mercilessly
beat him at his uncle’s house. No arrest was shown for 24 hours and he
was severely tortured at the Police Station, at which time, he started
bleeding profusely. The Police ordered his relations to take him to a
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Private Hospital and to inform the Doctors that he was the victim of a hit
and run case on the highway. We had met the relations who were too
terrified to even lodge a complaint against the police. The whole village
collected money for the emergency surgery because his facial bones
had been fractured and he required an immediate operation. It took
him Eleven Weeks to recover from the police brutality. It is true that no
complaint has been registered and further action was not possible
because of the terror tactics adopted by the Police Department.
TARGETING MUSLIMS-FALSE CHARGES OF TERRORISM
(c)Taking full advantage of the fact that some Muslim Organisations
were involved in acts of terrorism which included bomb blasts in some
parts of the country, the local police took it upon themselves to target
the Muslim community. It became routine for the police personnel to
enter the houses of members of the community on the ground that they
had secret information of involvement on the part of local persons. Young
boys were indiscriminately assaulted and their mathematical instruments
used for geometry and their geography books and maps were seized
and torn up on the ground that they were planning terror operations
against the State. Jewellery was looted from the houses and anybody
who lodged a complaint was arrested on the ground that they were
suspected Terrorists. This form of police / State terrorism received 100%
support from the Courts. In not a single case, was Bail granted and the
custody periods were indiscriminately extended. A father and son were
arrested on the ground that they were linked with the Bombay Blasts.
They were retained in custody for four months as the Police claimed
that they were investigating and the Court refused Bail though there
was zero evidence. After four months, the Police took them to Mumbai,
where they were retained in custody for another eight weeks because
the Mumbai Police told the Court that they had no evidence against
them, but that they were required to check about their involvement in
the Ahmedabad riots. When the Court refused to extend the remand
after two months, they were taken to Ahmedabad and were detained for
another five months on the ground that the investigations were pending.
When the local Human Rights Activists took up the matter before the
Court, they were taken to Jammu & Kashmir on the ground that they
19
were connected with the Terrorists from that State. This involved illegal
detention for another seven months as the police contended that though
there was no evidence against them, they were checking their links with
the Pakistani Terrorists. When all of this failed, they were brought back
to Bangalore and the Courts have still not released them from custody
as the Police contend that they have fresh information that they are
connected with the attacks on Parliament. Through this lengthy period
of time, two totally innocent citizens have been denied their liberty
for about TWO YEARS through a conspiracy between the police
and the Courts for a couple of years when admittedly there is zero
evidence against them. The provocation for their initial arrest was
because they had addressed a complaint to the DG Police in Bangalore
that the local police had entered their house, molested the women, beaten
up the remaining inmates and looted the place by taking away jewelry,
electrical gadgets, watches and property worth Rs.3,70,000/-. This is
the price the victims had to pay for complaining. The wonderful result
of all this was that in answer to the question on the floor of the
assembly, both the Home Minister and the Chief Minister contended
that there is not a single complaint against the Police Department
from any member of the Muslim community in the Bangalore
Region.
CHURCH ATTACKS-POLICE INACTION
(d)Since, September 2008, there have been 2116 attacks on places
of worship belonging to the Christian community. There have been 1868
instances of violence against individuals, shops, eating houses and other
small business establishments belonging to members of the Christian
and Muslim community. Every single one of these incidents has been
reported to the Police authorities, 90% of them in writing because the
leaders of the communities have instructed the victims to do this. Not
one complaint has been entertained, not one FIR has been registered
and not a single one of the culprits have been arrested. To quote just
one example, I had personally questioned the S.P. and the then DIG
Police as to why no action has been taken on four simultaneous cases
of attacks and vandalism committed by the Bajrang Dal activists and
other anti-social elements on a little shop belonging to a Catholic
20
Newspaper Vendor. He has on all four occasions named the persons
involved and furnished the numbers of the vehicles used by them. The
answer from the Police Department to me was that neither the individuals
nor the vehicles were traceable. To the question as to why no FIRs
were recorded, the answer was that they were acting on instructions
from the Vidhana Soudha.
SEZ ATROCITIES BY THE POLICE
(e)One of the highlights of the Police performance in Dakshina
Kannada has been the total alignment with the authorities of the
Mangalore SEZ. The victims in this case happened to be 69% Christians
and all the entire lot, even the non-Christians were tribals and those
belonging to the weaker sections. They were looted, beaten up, their
homes, fields and property destroyed, their standing crops were buried
under debris through bulldozers, the compensation amounts
misappropriated, documents and records forged and fabricated, all of
which have invited severe strictures from the Lokayukta and Justice
S.R. Nayak, the Head of the State Human Rights Commission. In all of
this, where the SEZ authorities had used the services of the mafia,
musclemen and criminals of the worst category against the poor, weak
and helpless victims, the atrocities of the Police Department in these
acts of State Terrorism are shameful and unpardonable. There are on
record 2726 written complaints from the victims, social workers and
NGOs who represented these poor persons. The date, time, full
particulars and names of the culprits have all been set up. Not one
single complaint has been registered. No FIRs recorded and what is
even more shameful is that the various police stations and in particular
the office of the SP, Mangalore were functioning as part and parcel of
the SEZ. What needs to be taken particular note of is the fact that
1246 false cases were registered against the victims and the social
workers who tried to assist them, in all of which cases, the Police made
it a point to register so-called FIRs invoking non-bailable offences, so
that the victims could be retained in custody for abnormally long periods
of time. In addition to this, on every occasion when the so-called accused
were produced in Court, Bail was opposed by the Police. I have no
hesitation in recording the fact that there is unmistakable evidence that
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the whole of the Police Department starting from the SP to Officers like
Jayant Shetty and all the way down the line to the constables was totally
corrupted and was on the pay-roll of the SEZ. On 8th November, 2008,
when the Internationally acclaimed Swamy Agnivesh and I
personally went to KUNBI PADAV and witnessed the atrocities
taking place and the Police protecting the SEZ mafia, the Bajpe
Police Station is supposed to have recorded two FIRs against
Swamiji and myself on a host of serious criminal charges such as
attempt to murder, unlawful assembly, rioting, intimidation, trespass
and interfering with public servants in the discharge of their duties.
We have not so far been arrested, but it is not known when the
police will decide to do so, because both of us were told that once
the police lay their hands on us and take us into custody, every
bone in our bodies will be broken. IF THIS IS NOT STATE
TERRORISM, WHAT ELSE IS IT ?
FAKE ENCOUNTERS
(f) The Police Department in Dakshina Kannada are Specialists in
fake encounters and encounter killings. Since, the year 2004, the Police
have been indiscriminately shooting down whomsoever they find
inconvenient and in all these fake encounters, evidence is fabricated to
indicate to the public that the deceased person was the aggressor and
further more, that he or she had indulged in anti-social activity and acts
of terrorism but that there is no recorded criminal evidence or convictions
because the police were not able to arrest the persons. I had occasion
as Judge of the Karnataka High Court to examine as many as 21
such cases and every single one of them I have recorded that the
so-called encounter was fake and that the killing was thoroughly
unjustified. In the majority of these cases, the Police are heavily paid
by the Opponents of the deceased who are after their property or desire
to settle scores with them and that is the real ground for shooting. In not
a single one of the 21 cases, where I had directed that all those involved
in the incident and those who had paid them / conspired with them should
be prosecuted, not a single prosecution followed from the State
Government. Similarly, since all those who have been shot come from
the poor and weak strata, no action has followed and the Police have
22
got away with these murders.
Reference is invited to the enquiry conducted into the Editor –
Seetharam case wherein the Police followed Seetharam and his wife
on a Sunday night when they were on their way to attend to a temple,
intercepted them and for the next two hours, kept taking them to once
secluded place after the other in order to stage a so-called encounter
and shoot them, but god was on their side and they survived only because
every single road chosen by the police happened to have a fair amount
of traffic or the presence of villagers and they finally gave up in the hope
of getting the job done within one of the police lock ups or jails.
(g)CUSTODIAL VIOLENCE:
There has been a serious charge against the Police Department
that apart from the torture chambers run by the Department and the
abnormal inhuman and sadistic violence that the Officers and Staff
regularly let loose on anybody whom they laid their hands on, that they
have also been practicing another form of atrocity by getting the antisocial
elements within the lock-up and the jail premises to assault the
victims and to even kill them. There have been eleven complaints of
persons belonging to the minority community who have died in Police
custody in the last two and a half years but in all these cases, no action
against the police has been possible because they have made false
entries in the Police Stations that the death took place on the road in a
hit and run case and the Government Doctors have supported the police
in these atrocities.
In the Editor – Seetham case, where Seetharam was ordered to
be retained in Police custody in Udupi and was permitted hospitalization
on very valid and real health breakdown reasons, on the express Orders
of Home Minister – Acharya and his son who was exercising more powers
than the father, without obtaining Court Orders, and in breach of the
Law, the Police pulled him out of the Udupi Hospital, refused the family’s
requests for an ambulance at their cost and drove him at breakneck
speed over horrible roads for two hours till he reached Mangalore at
night virtually half dead. An attempt was made to put him into the subjail
as it was full of gangsters and anti-social elements, all of whom are
23
the best friends of the Police Department so that he could be finished
off there. The presence of the PUCL Office-bearers and the insistence
of the Lawyers prevented the attempt of the Police to have him beaten
up and possibly killed in the jail.
Sometime before this, the Police had falsely picked up two Muslim
boys, objected to their bail and had them confined to the Mangalore
sub-jail where they tried to incarcerate Seetharam. These two boys
were savagely assaulted by a group of Bajrang Dal activists who are
present in the same jail. They were moved to the hospital in a precarious
condition with grievous injuries in the belief that both of them would die.
The injuries were all on vital parts of the body particularly on the head
and chest. There were stab wounds and the Press and TV exposed the
fact that the assailants had used knives, daggers, iron bars and iron
chains. There was a demand for a Judicial Enquiry and the Home
Department was asked to explain as to how such deadly weapons had
been smuggled into the jail. There was also a demand that the assailants
must be charged with offences of attempt to murder and causing grievous
hurt and further more, that the Jail Authorities who had permitted deadly
weapons to be taken in and had also abetted the assault should be
suspended and dismissed from service. The nice part of the story is
that it emerged that the assailants had with them mobile phones and
unlimited quantities of liquor. Home Minister Acharya who at that time
the Chief Patron of the Bajrang Dal condoned all their violence, ordered
that no action be taken against them and immediately issued a statement
that the Home Department would look into the matter. What followed:
(a) The Jailor who was responsible for allowing illegal arms
and liquor into the jail and who also facilitated the
incident was immediately shifted by Acharya under his
personal Orders to Bangalore and was rewarded with a
promotion.
(b) Acharya also ordered that no action be taken against any of
the assailants on the ground that it was not known as to who
exactly had assaulted the Muslim boys. Judging from some
of the ridiculous statements that the Home Minister used to
24
issue at that time which defied credibility, it is a small wonder
that he did not issue a statement that the injuries were self
inflicted !
(c) The victims were treated in the hospital for a long period of
time till they recovered and all their relations were warned
that if they lodge any complaints or press any charges that
they would be finished off. When questioned by the media
as to why the assailants had not been prosecuted, Acharya’s
defence was that the victims and their relations had not
lodged any complaints and hence, the State was unable to
act. It is impossible, in a situation like this to accept that
there would be no complaints but even if that was the position
having regard to the terror tactics employed, the question
still arises as to why the State and the Police Department
did not take legal action on their own accord in the case of
such serious offences committed within the jail premises..
This a mandatory requirement of the law and no excuse is
admissible.
(h)JUDICIAL INDIFFERENCE:
No atrocities or illegalities could have taken place on such a
continuous and massive scale if the Judiciary had only lived up to its
constitutional obligations. It is a matter of regret, distress, deep concern
and utter shame that in the whole of the area right through this period of
time that one Judicial Officer in any Court so much as listened to recorded
or took cognizance of complaints from the victims even when produced
in Court. This was a failure of the Law and of judicial duty and it is this
failure that encouraged the State Government and the Police to commit
the type of atrocities that have been recounted here. In thousands of
cases where the victims told the Magistrates that they had been subjected
to horrifying torture and serious injuries, they were not even taken out of
police custody and consigned to judicial custody. PUCL has checked
the court records in over ten thousand such cases and in not a single
one has the Magistrate recorded the complaint of torture and injuries.
25
To what extent the Judiciary has failed in its duties is representative
on the fact that even in thousands of cases where visible injuries were
shown to the Magistrates, no medical investigation or treatment was
ordered. Not only is this a breach of the Law and encouragement to the
State and the Police Department to multiply violence and atrocities but
it is the most horrible infringement and violation of human rights and to
think that it has happened at the instance of the Court and Judicial
Officers is something absolutely unpardonable.
(i) REFUSAL OF BAIL:
The same pathetic story is repeated when it comes to the track
record of the Judiciary in the matter of grant of bail. The consistent
practice followed is to refuse to hear the Accused and his Advocate and
to straight away refuse bail and remand the Accused to Police custody.
This has happened even in the case of thousands of persons who are
victims of police violence at the time of the church attacks and to
hundreds who were falsely arrested by the Police in the course of these
incidents. I have personally examined the cases of at least 6,000
innocent persons and in not a single one of these cases, could the arrest
be justified. In the case of Permanur and Kulsekhar, over 300 persons
who were victims of police violence and who were injured, the majority
of them with bleeding injuries on the head were produced in blood stained
clothes before the Courts and the Magistrates refused them Bail and
remanded them to Police custody even refusing medical treatment. In
the Milagres incident particularly, as also in two other incidents from
Mangalore city, in order to justify the defence put forward by Acharya
and his Police that the mobs had attacked them, hundreds of students,
mechanics, drivers and other self employed persons were
indiscriminately rounded up and arrested. Their college careers were
ruined, their businesses were finished all because the Courts refused
to grant them Bail for periods ranging from 3 to 6 months. There was
zero material against them. Their arrest was illegal and unjustified and
yet the Courts at the instance of the State and the Police detained them
in custody irrespective of the consequences. Apart from the illegalities,
these are serious and unpardonable infringements of human rights. I
will answer the question as to why no counter action or complaints have
26
emanated, the obvious reason is that the State Terrorism has pulverized
the victims and their families, they have told me that they are thankful
that they are alive and that they dare not agitate for their rights. What
distressed me most was the fact that in each and every case, the pathetic
statement was that “ after the Courts have done this to us, do you ever
expect these very Courts to entertain our complaints or to Order
compensation?” This is indeed a very very shameful certificate to the
Judiciary coming from the most deserving consumers of Justice.
POLICE GOONDAISM ON 23/12/2010.
The St. Aloysius College is the oldest and most reputed educational
institution in the District. On 23.12.2010, the students had organized a
musical function, when all of a sudden, SI – Manjunath from the Bunder
Police Station along with a relatively large group of policemen stormed
into the campus, disrupted the proceedings and violently attacked the
students. When questioned, he stated that police permission had not
been obtained for the function. There is no provision of Law under
which a college, holding a function in its own premises has to seek
police permission. Obviously, this was another method of blackmailing
the college and extorting money. The Dakshina Kannada Police have
not only got a bad name but have acquired a stinking reputation for
blackmail and extortion and this is a classic instance where the Police
Force of Dakshina Kannada exposed its true character in all its shameful
glory! The matter has been reported to the higher authorities who have
all covered up for SI – Manjunath and his team which establishes how
deep and how complete the rot is.
ABSOLUTE NEED FOR A HIGH POWERED PEOPLE’S
TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY.
It is in this overall background that PUCL and Transparency
International have taken a decision to hold a People’s Enquiry into the
atrocities of the Police Department and the corresponding failure of the
Judiciary to either check these atrocities, to contain them or to take
counter action. The hearings were held at the Milagres College Hall on
the 11th and 12th December 2010. As a result of the publicity, a large
number of aggrieved persons attended the Tribunal hearing. A summary
27
of the proceedings was prepared for purposes of record. More
importantly, it was decided to examine a representative number of cases
as each of the aggrieved persons and their witnesses deposed before
the Jury and they also produced the relevant and requisite records in
respect of each case which was fully substantiated. The members of
the Jury expressed their opinion at the end of the proceedings on the
afternoon of 12th December and Justice M.F. Saldanha who presided
over the proceedings and headed the Jury summarized the findings.
These are separately set out along with a brief description of each of
the cases that were taken up for consideration and the individual findings
in respect of the respective case. On a constructive note, there are a
series of recommendations in an effort to bring about some correctives.
The situation as it now exists is intolerable, both as far as the depravity,
corruption violence and misconduct of the Police and the Judicial action
that is unfortunately supporting it all the way, with the dreadful fallout
resulting in INJUSTICE ALL THE WAY. Human rights have been defiled,
disrespected and destroyed and the Police are living up to the definition
which the Allahabad High Court coined for them-”Criminals in Uniform”-
this just has to change.
MANGALORE (JUSTICE MICHAEL F. SALDANHA)
DATE : 10TH January 2011
28
FINDINGS OF THE JURY
We propose to briefly summarise the salient facts in respect of the
representative cases in order to amplify the basis of the findings arrived
at. This is also necessary from another angle in so far as the facts will
be illustrative of the manner in which the Police force has been
functioning in and around Mangalore city. We do not propose to set out
the names of the Complainants and witnesses for the obvious reason
that the police have the habit of violently hitting back at anybody who
exposes their atrocities and that is one of the reasons why the
Department has been getting away with criminal misconduct. The facts
however, will demonstrate what exactly the police have been up to.
CASE No.1:
The victim was falsely implicated on a murder charge in the year
1988 by SI Kempaiah. The illustrious SI thereafter moved up because
of his special talents and connections, became an SP and has now
retired from service. The false charge-sheet submitted by him could
obviously not be sustained and even though, 22 years have passed,
the case has not yet been heard and the victim has the trauma of a
murder charge hanging above his head. He has complained to the
Government and to the Department on 16 occasions asking for
action against Kempaiah but nothing has happened.
Findings:
Firstly, the mere fact that the Department is unable to sustain the
charge for 22 years clearly indicates that it is a fabrication. Despite this
position, the Department has covered up for this Officer. Had action
been taken, the man should have been dismissed from service instead
of which, he is rewarded for such misconduct, promoted and allowed to
retire and is obviously being further rewarded for the rest of his life
through a pension. This is dangerous because false implication is a
serious criminal offence, it is indulged in by the police repeatedly and
R E P O R T
29
regularly in order to harass, blackmail and terrorize and if it is not curbed,
the consequences to the citizens are grave.
CASE No.2:
The victim in this case had submitted complaints to the local police,
the then SP Satish Kumar and to DIG – Prasad that his little shop was
being repeatedly attacked by anti-social elements. He has indicated
the names of the persons and the vehicle numbers of the two wheelers
used by them. 27 such incidents had taken place over a period of
three months. He has sustained considerable loss of property due to
these attacks, despite which, the Department has neither registered a
single FIR not taken action against any of the culprits who are well known
criminals. The matter was reported to the DIG, nothing was done by
him and the SP instigated the criminals to STEP-UP THE ATTACKS.
The interesting feature of this case is that the citizen finally mobilised
his own resources and got a few of this own friends to arm themselves
against such attacks and when the culprits found that they would be
severely beaten, if they continued their criminal activities, the trouble
stopped.
Findings:
This is a familiar situation where the Department is taken care of
by a mafia don who happened to be the boss of the culprits. The victim
is left with absolutely no redressal and the serious part of the matter is
that even if complaints are directed higher, where there is a thoroughly
corrupt SP like Satish Kumar, the situation gets further worsened. In
this case, when the DIG repeatedly questioned Satish Kumar, he stated
that the culprits and the vehicles were not traceable which statement
was inherently false. A normal citizen has no capacity to move higher
than the District level and the bottom line therefore is that the presence
of the police is not only useless but worthless in this class of cases.
The aggravating factor is that not only is there no redressal for the injury
but the victim runs a serious risk of violent revenge action from the
Police Department if the matter is agitated further.
CASE No.3:
The victim in this case had parked his car in a designated parking
30
area when a Police Constable turned up, abused him for no reason and
threatened him that he would be taken to the Police Station if he did not
part with money. On his refusal, he was forcibly taken to the Police
Station and when he complained to the Inspector- in-charge, the Officer
abused him in filthy language and told him to pay up the money or else,
that he would be arrested and put in the lock-up on the ground that he
had misbehaved with a member of the Police force. Once he was in the
Police Station, he was taken inside, slapped and all the money that was
on his person was taken away and he was told that if he lodges any
complaint, his legs would be broken.
Findings:
This case is very representative of the real functioning of the Police
Department. Instead of maintaining Law and Order or doing their
designated duties, the Constables are on the look out for victims at all
times in order to extort money. It is not difficult for them to catch hold of
vulnerable persons from time to time, to use abusive language and
muscle power and drag the victim to the Police Station, if they do not
part with enough of money. The highlight of this case is that the reason
why the Police went after the Complainant was because they were
helping themselves to fruit and other eatables from the roadside hawkers
and the Complainant had asked them not to exploit these poor persons.
We take a serious view of this aspect of police misbehavior because
such exploitation has become the order of the day and the victims are
petty traders who are living hand to mouth and they have absolutely no
defence against such anti-social behavior on the part of the police. It is
also representative of how very dangerous it is when a law abiding citizen
is dragged to a Police Station.
CASE No.4:
The Jury was informed by a bunch of witnesses of the total
communalization and saffronisation of the Police Department ever since
the present BJP Government came to power and of the manner in which
the Journalistic community has been targeted. Virtual terror tactics have
been employed by the Police Stations and the Police personnel in the
full confidence that the Courts would fully back them up. This was the
universal complaint of all those who were present and the names of two
31
Police Officers – SP Satish Kumar and Inspector – Jayant Shetty headed
the list of Officers who had been running wild in the Department. They
had been able to withstand complaints to the authorities at any level
because they had the full backing of the Chief Minister and the Home
Minister. After a long period of horrifying atrocities and corruption, SP
Satish Kumar was shifted to another District whereas Jayant Shetty
has been promoted!
The Journalistic fraternity pointed out that these two Officers had
started a trend in the City and in the District whereby ALL victims who
landed in Police Stations were stripped naked and submitted to horrifying
tortures. This sadistic and perverse behaviour of these two Officers
quickly caught on and has become the order of the day in the District.
At least 22 persons who had been victimized in this manner have
supported this version. Also, these two Officers were involved in sadistic
levels of violence in public places and they got away with it because
anybody who complained was picked up, STRIPPED NAKED, beaten
up and implicated in false cases.
Findings:
The implications of these cases are extremely grave because it is
only the media or rather the bold and independent section of the media
who can expose police atrocities and if Officers like Satish Kumar and
Jayant Shetty use abnormal levels of violence and falsely implicate the
Complainants and then get away with such atrocities, then it is quite
obvious as to how they run wild in the District. What is disturbing is the
fact that when such corrupt and criminal Police Officers have the personal
support and backing of the Chief Minister and the Home Minister and in
this case above all the Palak Minister of the District whose name was
repeatedly figuring, no complaints at any level can bring them to book.
What is worse is the fact that it also shows what sort of sexual
perverts these Police Officers turn into when they specialize in
humiliating persons by stripping them naked in the Police Stations
and getting sadistic delight by inflicting the inhuman forms of
torture on them by targeting their genitals. These pervert members
of the Police force totally disregard the physical injury and lifelong
damage that they are inflicting on the victims. We can only
32
summarise these tactics by defining them as a case of POLICE
TERRORISM MIXED WITH ABNORMAL DEGREES OF SEXUAL
PERVERSION.
CASE No.5:
In a very serious incident that took place in Karkala on 29.09.2009,
certain persons who were hostile to the victim came to his house and in
the presence of his wife and father took the victim to the nearby tank on
the ground that they wanted to discuss something. They forcibly
immersed him in the water and held him down till he was dead.
The family members are EYE-WITNESSES. Thereafter, they took the
body to the KMC hospital and reported that they had seen the victim
drowning, that they pulled him out of the water and asked the Doctors to
give him first-aid. The Doctors found the victim dead. The wife and the
father rushed to the Police Station and lodged a complaint which the
police refused to record as the Police had been taken care of. The
Complainants insisted that the Police register an offence of murder and
arrest the culprits who had been named, but the police refused to do
this. They also refused to claim the body until action according to Law
was taken as a result of which it remained in the hospital. The Accused
persons, claiming to be relations, took charge of the body after some
days, took it to the Church and had it buried. The Complainants moved
the higher authorities of the Police Department who also refused to act
in the matter, on the ground that the guilty persons had produced a
certificate from the hospital that the death was due to drowning. The
Complainants then filed a Petition in the High Court and the High Court
ordered that the body be exhumed. Surprisingly enough, though the
body was exhumed after several months, it was found intact because
the Hospital had treated it as an unclaimed body and embalmed it for
use by medical students. The High Court has ordered a fresh Post
Mortem examination but according to the police, the report is not available
for the last four months. The wife and the father point out that the police
have colluded with the murderers and have also abetted them in
destroying the evidence by recording a false cause of death and refusing
to act on the basis of the Complaint from the wife and father both of
whom are eye-witnesses to the murder.
33
Findings:
In the majority of criminal cases which are pre-planned, the Police
are heavily bribed, as a result of which, they refuse to respond to any
emergency calls for help when the crime takes place. Secondly, they
refuse to register any complaint and experience has shown that the
police along with the Lawyers of the criminals who have committed the
offences, register a false cause of death and accord permission for the
disposal of the body. In all these cases, a sham post mortem examination
is conducted and the Doctor at the instance of the police and the Accused
records a false cause of death. All these ingredients are fully present in
this case and the Police heavily bank on the fact that even if at a belated
stage, the Courts Order a re-investigation, that nothing worth-while
transpires because the evidence is virtually dead by that point of time.
This case is a classic instance in which, had the FIR been registered at
the earliest point of time, even if the cause of death was indicated as
drowning, that would have been compatible with the evidence to the
effect that the Accused had forcibly immersed the deceased in the water.
This is a horrifying instance of miscarriage of justice where
the police are parties to the murder and to the destruction of
evidence both of which are serious criminal offences. It is only
hoped that when the Petition is disposed off by the High Court that
directions are issued to register offences against the culprits and the
Police Officers concerned and to proceed according to Law. It is cases
of this type that have completely destroyed whatever little public
confidence that existed with regard to the Police Department.
CASE No.6:
The Jury were given a detailed account of the Police violence at
Ullal on 06.10.2006 when the infamous Jayant Shetty along with
Inspector Shiva Kumar descended on the area and mercilessly assaulted
members of the Muslim community. This was followed by the Police
Officers ransacking every single muslim house and looting the jewellery,
money and valuables worth Crores of Rupees on the ground that they
were looking for Terrorists. From the documents that were produced, it
is quite clear that these atrocities did take place because they have
been elaborately recorded and produced before the higher authorities.
34
Unfortunately, the whole of the police force which was demonstrably
corrupt was also completely saffronised and muslims have therefore
been treated as their enemies. To what extent Shiva Kumar and Jayant
Shetty were aligned to the RSS was demonstrated from the fact that
their open threat over the months and years was that they would bring
the RSS musclemen to Ullal and let them loose on the Muslim community.
In order to defend themselves, Shetty and Shiva Kumar registered
false cases against the Complainants, arrested them, took them to the
Police Station where they were stripped naked and subjected to horrifying
torture. Since, these cases were inherently false, the State Human
Rights Commission presided over by the Hon’ble Mr. Justice S.R. Nayak
has passed severe strictures against these Police Officers and
recommended not only disciplinary action but a prosecution against them.
The State Government has taken no action but on the contrary, these
Officers have been promoted under the Special Orders of Chief Minister
Yediyurappa and Home Minister Acharya. The cases filed by the Police
were all dismissed whereas the Criminal Courts have taken cognizance
of two criminal cases filed against the Police Officers. Those cases are
pending, but unfortunately, on every date of hearing the Accused Police
Officers remain absent and the Magistrate cheerfully adjourns the case.
The Complainants who are risking their everything in order to see that
the Law takes its course against the errant Police Officers are being
driven to frustration / desperation by the Courts and the question posed
to the Jury is as to whether the citizens of this country can ever expect
the Rule of Law to be enforced by the Courts particularly against the
Police.
Findings:
This case raises a host of important issues. Firstly, whether there
are any tangible solutions possible when the Police force is both corrupt
and completely saffronised. Secondly, when errant Police Officers are
protected through political patronage by equally corrupt Ministers where
does this leave the citizen ? Thirdly, when the victims of Police atrocities
are sought to be silenced by involving them in false cases whether this
is not the very height of injustice. Humorously enough, when these
cases fail, as they have to, the Judges smile and tell the aggrieved
35
victims that they are very fortunate that the case did not end in
conviction, that they should be thankful and not think in terms of
action for malicious prosecution.
The High Courts and the Supreme Court of India have consistently
held that the most deterrent sentences should be awarded in all cases
of police excesses, atrocities, violence, custodial deaths and above all,
corruption. The number of Courts who actually carry out this mandate
are few and far between. As Judge of the Karnataka High Court, in
eight such instances, Justice Saldanha has awarded the Police
Officers and the Constables the maximum sentences prescribed
under the Law, as also stinging fines/ compensation of Rs. Five
Lakhs each which were paid over to the victims as compensation
and in all these eight cases the Judgments have been confirmed
by the Supreme Court. It is absolutely essential that the Courts do
this more often. More importantly, directions have been issued to the
subordinate Courts to ensure that in any case, where there is a complaint
against the police, that it be properly looked into and where it is valid
and sustainable that not only should action be taken but that it should
be disposed off on a top priority basis and further more, that all the
support and protection which the Complainants and their witnesses
require must be afforded. What is really required to be done is that
in instances where the Departmental hierarchy and the Politicians
support the demonic Police Officers, all those persons should be
prosecuted. Even if it is for the first time, one such a test case is
taken up, the superior Police Officers and the Politicians will stop
abetting Police atrocities.
CASE No.7:
Once again, the name of Jayant Shetty figures in this case.
Brushing aside the relevant details, what stands out is the fact that in
connection with Jayant Shetty’s Bungalow which is his personal property
and the building material relating thereto, the Police Officer has instituted
a false prosecution by misusing his official position. On our analysis of
the case, we find that the facts clearly warrant action under the Prevention
of Corruption Act, but obviously, this Police Officer has terrorized
everybody in the District and he is still holding a prominent position in
36
the Police Department as a result of which, the victims dare not take
action against him and the Politicians who support him will obviously
not institute any steps. There is a second instance concerning the same
Police Officer pointed out to us wherein two persons have been involved
in a false prosecution. There is zero material against them and yet,
a charge-sheet has been filed and they have been required to attend
the Court for the last two and a half years. What was highlighted
was the fact that when a person is required to attend a Criminal Court,
they have to leave their jobs, business, personal duties and go and sit
in the Court Room invariably for the whole day, as otherwise, a Non
Bailable Warrant is issued by the Magistrate and the Bail is cancelled.
Findings:
If the citizens of this country are to live in safety and in peace, it will
be very necessary to set up a machinery to control and punish Police
Officers of this type as the consequences of their action are absolutely
disastrous. Under the scheme of the Law and under the Constitution, it
is absolutely essential for the Courts to enforce the Law ruthlessly and
to punish the police in every single instance even if it is a misdemeanor.
There are as many as 203 Reported Judgments of the High Courts and
the Supreme Court mandating this, but unfortunately, the subordinate
Judiciary rubber stamps every action of the Police which is sending out
the wrong signals and encouraging Officers like Jayant Shetty to continue
with their demonic misbehavior.
Under the Criminal Procedure Code, it is mandatory for a Magistrate
to dismiss every single proceeding at the earliest point of time when
there is no case made out against the Accused. The Law Commission
has pointed out that in 97% of this category of cases, the case should
have been dismissed, the Accused discharged and action taken against
the Police for filing an unsustainable charge sheet. The lower Judiciary
has failed in its legal and constitutional obligations by allowing the cases
to drag on for anything from three years to seventeen years before they
are thrown out. Are these Judges and Magistrates going to
compensate the innocent citizens, whose lives have been ruined
through such proceedings?
37
CASE No.8:
This head of complaint concerns the Church attacks which made
National headlines as also International concern because the evidence
indicates that whereas the Bajrang Dal, the Ram Sene and other
Organisations were primarily held liable for the violence that the truth of
the matter is that in every single incident, it was the Police who led from
the front. The then DC – Mahabaleshwar Rao and the SP – Satish
Kumar, Inspectors – Jayant Shetty and Ganapathi were the stalwarts
who unleashed unmitigated violence on the members of the Christian
community. Among those who were beaten up, were the Head Mistress
of a school, an elderly nun, aged 87, a 69 year old lady who lost her eye
and thousands of innocent persons. It is a matter of record that the
injured persons whose number exceeds 792 in Mangalore City
alone, many of whom suffered serious head injuries, fractures and
other bodily injuries including near death experience because of
poisonous gas that was released from teargas shells that were used
years after their expiry dates and it has been pointed out by the
victims and their representatives that over 1180 written complaints
were lodged with the various Police Stations that not one FIR has
been registered. On the other hand, a 106 false cases have been
registered by the Police Department to defend themselves and over
2000 persons have been involved in these false cases, 38% of whom
are students who careers have been ruined, housewives, teachers,
self employed persons (a mechanic who is starving because he
was in custody for three months and his little business has
collapsed and 29 auto drivers who were thrown out of their jobs
because they were in custody for long periods). A responsible Priest
who has appeared before the Justice Somashekar Commission has
deposed before us on the basis of irrefutable material and we have
scrutinized the facts and the data and we have no hesitation in accepting
the correctness thereof.
Findings:
Though the Church attacks issue is the matter of separate
investigation, it figures prominently here because it illustrates how the
State Machinery which is supposed to respect the Law and enforce it
38
through the Police Department turns into the Law breaker and how the
victims are denied Justice and at the same time, are hauled over the
coals on the ground that they are criminals. It was pointed out to us that
in every one of these false cases, the Police made it a point to include
half a dozen serious Non-Bailable Offences and the Magistrates
indiscriminately refused Bail. It was only after months that these poor
victims who had been falsely involved and arrested could be released
and after that, they are required to regularly attend the Courts. Over
200 students who were falsely involved have missed their exams, their
careers are ruined and they run the serious risk of being dismissed from
the educational institution on the ground that serious criminal charges
are pending against them. The implications of how serious this aspect
of the police action is will be demonstrated from what we have pointed
out.
CASE No.9:
In this case, a civil dispute is being agitated between two neighbours
over a particular area of land which concerns the erection of gates. As
often happens, one of the parties bribes the Police and asks them to
interfere and they promptly do it as an arm-twisting measure. When the
Civil Court is seized of the matter in a Civil Case, that Judicial Forum
has all the powers to pass Orders both Interim and Final. We have also
found that there is absolutely no Law and Order problem that has arisen
in this case, despite which, without any justification, the Police have
intervened, taken sides and even beaten up the Opposite Party and
collected a huge amount of money from them under the threat that they
will be locked up. While the Law and Order situation has reached a
point of complete breakdown, it was pointed out to us that the Police
Stations are busy involving themselves with property disputes, business
disputes even husband and wife matrimonial disputes, the bottom-line
being that wherever there is money or property involved, that the police
get very active.
Findings:
The Law Commission had occasion to point out that when the data
was evaluated while the Police force contended that they are under
staffed, ill-equipped and unable to cope with the burden of maintaining
39
the Law and Order, that the facts indicated that on a National level, it
was found that in 92% of CIVIL DISPUTES the Police Department
abdicates its primary functions of maintaining law and order and
investigating Criminal Cases, in favour of involvements in personal and
property disputes, that they evict tenants for a fat fee from the landlords,
that they involve themselves in every conceivable aspect of society
where they can make money and this gate case is illustrative of such
dereliction of duty and misuse of power and rank corruption.
CASE No.10:
This case relates to the month of March 2006 and is approximately
4 ½ years old. Pursuant to the death of a married woman, the police
interrogated the husband as he was the prime suspect. Not surprisingly,
the man made a deal with the Police and they go and arrest one of the
neighbours on the murder charge placing reliance on a Statement of
the husband implicating him. There was zero evidence in this case, but
since the charge was under Section 302 IPC, Bail was denied to the
Accused and he was retained in custody. Every application made for
discharge of the Accused on the ground that there is absolutely no
evidence against him was mechanically rejected by the Court on a
peculiar ground namely that the case is triable by the Court of Sessions
and that the Magistrate has no jurisdiction to examine the merits. After
almost three years, the Judge changes and so does the Investigating
Officer. The Court then realizes that the Cr.PC mandates the filing of
the Charge-sheet within 90 days which the Police have not done and
further more, that when the Police were questioned, they admitted that
they have no evidence against the Accused, the case was closed and
the Accused was discharged. He was running a small sweets business
with 18 workers. When he was arrested, there was nobody to run the
business and all the 18 persons lost their jobs. After he was released,
since the business had totally collapsed and some other person had
forcibly occupied the premises, the Accused could not resume his
business and was reduced to pauperism. He was a married man with
three children and the entire family has been completely ruined. Neither
the Court nor the Police nor the State are bothered about the horrifying
consequences of what they have done.
40
Findings:
Once again, we need to go back to the Law Commission Reports
wherein it has been repeatedly pointed out that there is a tendency on
the part of the Police to adopt short-cuts. When a serious crime has
been committed, some poor person, usually a servant or a watchman is
picked up, mercilessly tortured and a Police statement issued that he
has confessed to the offence. Some incriminating evidence such as a
knife, blood stained clothes or so-called recovery of property is fabricated
and there are instances in which the Accused who are poor and cannot
afford competent defence, end up on the gallows. The more fortunate
ones receive a life sentence and the small number of extremely fortunate
ones are acquitted if providence provides them with a good and
competent Judge who is also conscientious, which is a rarity. This case
is very illustrative of all these factors and above all of what happens
when a poor person comes out of the Court or the Jail and is ruined for
life despite being completely innocent. While the culprits are the police
in uniform, the real responsibility and culpability in these cases
lies with the Judiciary which is responsible for the dereliction of
duty and these horrifying results. The Law provides for
Compensatory action but in less than 1% of the cases is this
awarded and when it is done, it is usually an absurd or beggarly
figure of about Rs.1000!
CASE No.11
This case concerns a Pastor from a small town against whom a
case was registered on the allegation that he had attempted to convert
a person. This was done at the instance of the local saffron brigade.
He was retained in custody for two months which is totally against the
Law and the records shows that the Police objected to Bail at the instance
of their saffron masters on the ground that the feelings have run very
high in the area and that there will be a serious Law and Order problem
if he is released. When the Pastor was released on Bail, the Police
insisted that he must report at the Police Station every Sunday morning.
The Pastor pointed out to the Court that he has his Church duties on
Sunday mornings, but the Judge refused to change the Order on the
ground that the Police are objecting. This reporting required the Pastor
41
to come to the Police Station at 8.00 a.m. every Sunday and he is
made to wait there for at least three hours on the ground that the
staff are not available, as a result of which, for ten years, he has
not been able to attend to his religious duties. The incident is of
15.03.2000 and the case has not been taken up on the ground that the
Complainant is not traceable – obviously because it is a fabricated case.
When an application was made to the higher Court requesting that since
the Pastor is a permanent resident of that place, he has a house and
family there and the requirement of reporting should be relaxed or
changed to some other day, the Sessions Court dismissed the Application
on the ground that if any variation is asked for, the Bail will be cancelled.
There cannot be a more vindictive or PEVERSE order.
Findings:
One of the repeated Complaints from the litigants as also from
responsible members of the Bar is to the effect that the Magistrates
in Criminal Cases, by and large, instead of impartially evaluating
the material, assessing the correctness or otherwise of the
allegations and being vigilant in cases where it is obvious that the
charge has been fabricated, are abdicating their Judicial duties
and virtually rubber stamping whatever the police produce before
them. In case after case, the Court has shown absolutely Zero respect
for the Law, fairness and Human Rights or for the liberty of the citizen
and have been indiscriminately curtailing the liberty of an innocent person
who has no capacity to protest or to take counter steps. This case is a
classic illustration of the fact that even where the injustice is pointed out
to the higher forum that it is summarily rejected because the attitude, as
one goes higher becomes more callous.
CASE No.12
Not surprisingly, there was a whole host of complaints with regard
to Police harassment and victimization of Christians. Specific instances
were cited not by the dozen but by the hundred in support of such
persecution not by the members of Parties and Organisations who
profess communal hatred but at the instance of the Police Department
which has taken over the role of such persecutions. The explanation
given by the Police Officers, though oral, when questioned by social
42
workers and NGOs is that they receive telephonic communications which
have emanated from Bangalore, not from the Police Headquarters but
from the Home Ministry and the Home Minister himself. One of the
directions that have come directly from Home Minister Acharya to the
Police Stations after the Church attack cases is that every Police Station
must record a specified number of so-called conversion cases and that
incentives should be provided to organizations and individuals who
institute such cases. This is not an empty allegation because the records
fully substantiate this position. In the City of Mangalore alone where
this was being overdone in five separate cases, the so-called
Complainants were questioned at public forums such as this one and
they have openly admitted that they were asked to give a false statement.
Findings:
These allegations are 100% true and justified and they pose a
very serious danger because they indicate total misuse of the Police
machinery by the Government of the State. What has added to the
problem is the fact that on as many as 17 occasions in the last two
years where Public Interest Petitions were filed before the Karnataka
High Court, the Petitions have been summarily dismissed and the sad
part of it is that nine of them were by a Catholic Chief Justice and the
other eight by a Christian Chief Justice against whom serious charges
of corruption were made and who is facing impeachment proceedings.
The first of the two is now in the Supreme Court but he had a track
record in the Karnataka High Court of dismissing every PIL against the
State. Not only does the situation require serious reforms in the working
of the Police Department bur more importantly, a total overhaul of the
working of the higher judiciary.
CASE No.13:
This is a really pathetic case of a Bank employee against whom a
Criminal Complaint was lodged by the Bank that they SUSPECT his
implication in a case of cash shortage. The Police arrest the man and
retaining him for custody for six months periodically subjecting him to
inhuman torture. The amount involved is supposed to be Rs.900/-, the
incident is of the year 2003 and the Bank has reconciled the accounts
which establishes that the Complaint itself was false. The Bank refuses
43
to withdraw the complaint on the ground that it will get into problems.
The employee is under suspension for seven years on the ground that
the case is pending. On every date of hearing, nobody remains present
and the Court continues to adjourn the case. More than a dozen
applications have been made to the Court that the case be closed and
the Accused be discharged as neither the Police nor the witnesses
remain present but the Judge refuses to do this. On two occasions,
when Applications were made to the higher Court, they were rejected
on the ground that it is for the Trial Court to decide whether the Case
should be closed or not.
Findings:
The Citizens of this state are required to believe that the Courts
are Institutions of Justice. This is just one more instance where the
definition has gone wrong and injustice of the grossest level has occurred.
In the first instance, there was no material to register an FIR and even if
this proceeded on the basis of the Bank’s complaint, there was no ground
for the police to object to Bail for six months. The Accused is not a
hardened criminal. The amount involved is a petty Rs.900/- and if at all,
he was involved, he would have admitted it in the first few minutes of
police torture and when this did not happened for as long as six months,
there was no ground to still file a Charge-sheet, more so because when
the Bank reconciled the records, it was found that the Complaint was
unjustified. It was criminal negligence on the part of the police not to
have verified this fact.
Nothing can condone what has happened in the Court room with
the Magistrate mechanically adjourning the case for 7 ½ years despite
the fact that neither the police nor the witnesses remained present. The
Constitution guarantees the right to a speedy trial and more importantly,
the Supreme Court and the High Courts have in the last ten years
repeatedly enforced this right. There is zero justification for what has
happened before the Court. One of the problems faced by the citizens
of this country is that any complaint made against the Courts or the
Judges is construed as an act of Contempt and this is the reason why
even the media is terrorized into silence even when incidents of this
type take place thousands of times every year in every State. The
44
Judiciary is the first institution to preach about the sacred principles of
accountability and it is now time for drastic reforms in the working of the
Courts. The public confidence in these institutions has fallen rapidly
and this is the strongest barometer of the fact that there can be no delay
with regard to correctives.
CASE No.14:
PUCL Dakshina Kannada is required to deal with cases of police
misconduct, excesses and violence almost everyday and Mr. P. B. D’Sa
recounted to us the fact that the number of incidents has been growing
and the gravity of these incidents have also been increasing, both of
which, are a matter of serious concern. One of the first heads which he
brought to our notice was the fact that all over the District, over the last
two years, there have been repeated attacks on persons transporting
cattle. The allegation on every occasion is that the cattle are being
taken to a slaughter house. The persons in the vehicle are beaten up
and vehicle along with the cattle is taken to the Police Station.
Immediately, the Police mercilessly assault all those who are in the
vehicle, register an offence that they are cattle thiefs and put them into
the lock up. The vehicle is impounded and it is a costly and uphill task
to get the vehicle released and to even get a bail order. The victims in
all these cases are very poor and small persons who are transporters.
They are deprived of all their money and belongings, they suffer injuries,
they are unable to attend to their business for days and weeks and are
subjected to horrible exploitation from the police and the lawyers. In
about 40% of the cases, it has been demonstrated that the animal in
question was being taken to the hospital or back, or that it had been
purchased or that it was on the way to the market for being sold. The
entire allegation regarding the slaughter house is totally false in these
cases. Secondly, the evidence indicates that cattle which is old or surplus
or unwanted is sold to the traders for meat. This is a perfectly legal and
legitimate business and it is not for a group of vigilantes to use muscle
power whenever they see cattle being transported and to drag persons
to the Police Stations. The Police have been encouraging this activity
because the evidence indicates that in each and every case where
the cattle have been taken to the Police Station, they have prepared
45
a false document that the owner has taken it back, whereas in fact,
the persons who have illegally impounded the cattle have always
sold it to the BUTCHERS. This is bad enough in the case of cattle that
was being taken for slaughter but in several of the other cases where it
is domestic cattle, it is a tremendous loss to the owners to loose a
valuable cow or a bull. This has become a lucrative business and instead
of preventing it, the police all over the District have been encouraging it.
Findings:
This is one more instance of the Police misusing their power and
functioning in partnership with those indulging in illegal activity. What is
atrocious is the fact that a pretence is being made that the animals in
question are sacred whereas the very gangs involved in this activity
have sold each and every one of the heads of cattle to the butchers.
One of the reasons for the breakdown of the law and order situation in
the District is because a class of people take the law into their own
hands. This is referred to as “Goondaism” and is a cognizable offence.
Where the police join hands with such elements, it is an extremely serious
matter and as a cover for this criminal activity, it is sought to be given a
religious ground or a cover. The disaster story does not end there,
because on every occasion, when the victims have complained to
the Court that the seizure of the cattle was unauthorized and that it
should be returned to them, the Applications have been dismissed
with every Magistrate accepting the false version put up by the
Police that they have no facility to retain live animals at the Police
Station and that the animals were returned to the owners because
they insisted on it. We need to further point out that these are large
animals and that in two of the identical incidents which took place during
the Church attacks and an attempt was made to retrieve the animal that
it was found to be too late because it had already been slaughtered and
the Purchasers admitted having paid Rs.11,000/- and Rs.14,000/-
respectively for the animal. This nothing short of rank dacoity with police
patronage and partnership.
CASE No.15:
On the basis of complaints from the victims who have actually been
subjected to horrifying levels of sadistic torture, PUCL has investigated
46
and found that there are as many as four torture chambers set up by the
Police in Mangalore town itself. These places are reminiscent of the
nazi killing camps. PUCL has taken the matter up with the Police
Department, the Home Department and the State Human Rights
Commission. Whereas the first two have not disputed the position, the
SHRC has passed strictures against the Department on at least a dozen
occasions but to no effect.
Findings:
While it is often argued that in the case of hardened criminals or in
the case of property offences like theft or violent crimes etc. that it is
necessary to resort to third degree methods in the course of investigation,
the well settled position in Law is that this is totally and completely
prohibited and is a very serious infringement of human rights. The State
of Karnataka and the Police Department in the State seem to have
overlooked the basic fact that even a criminal has rights. From the
cases listed out by us above itself it will be seen that in as high as 75%
of the cases, the person arrested by the Police is both poor and innocent
and these torture chambers are used to extort false confessions and
then to deceive the general public that the offence has been solved and
the culprits arrested. Either ways, there is zero justification for these
torture chambers because neither the Law nor the Constitution permits
them.
CASE No.15
Once again, PUCL has reported as many as eleven custodial deaths
from the Mangalore sub-jail alone in the last two years. On every
occasion, the Police have covered up the case by producing a false
medical certificate from the Government Doctors who have certified that
the death was due to shock. In one of the cases where the police had
virtually hanged a young man in order to frighten him but he accidentally
died in the process, they produced a fabricated note stating that he had
committed suicide in the Police lock up. Though, PUCL has agitated
these cases, it has not been possible to get any action taken against
those responsible only because the Police have covered their tracks
through false Post Mortems and Medical Certificates.
47
The Supreme Court while dealing with custodial death cases has
laid down that whenever a person dies in custody, a presumption shall
arise against the State and the Police Officers concerned and that no
Court should accept false and fabricated Medical Certificates. This is a
very serious matter and we need to record that Karnataka State has the
worst record of custodial deaths. Right through his tenure as Home
Minister, Acharya covered up for his Police Department in every case of
custodial death, misusing his position as a Doctor and stating that the
Police had no hand in what happened. What was even worse was
when 63 inmates of the Beggars Home in Bangalore died because
of infection and filthy contaminated food fed to them by the State
authorities and where the post mortem reports conclusively
indicated that these poor persons had died as a result of criminal
negligence on the part of the State authorities, Dr. Acharya has
officially gone on record to insist that the deaths were due to natural
causes. When the Police have a god father of this type, it is not surprising
that Karnataka has the highest number of custodial deaths for any State
in the country. Again, where the State Human Rights Commission has
passed 1426 Orders containing strictures of the highest order against
the State Government in Human Rights Offences, the Chief Minister,
the Home Minister and the whole of the State Government have ignored
those Orders. On the other hand, despite 46 Petitions having been filed
before the Karnataka High Court in this class of cases, all 46 of them
have been dismissed. This is a pathetic record and it is because of
such Orders that the Police are encouraged to keep on torturing and
killing people because they know that nothing will happen to them.
Findings:
We need to observe here that a lot of thought will have to be
bestowed to this category of cases because there is no doubt whatsoever
that if a healthy person dies in police custody that an adverse
presumption arises against the Police. We also concede that when the
torture levels consistently go beyond any capacity of endurance that
the victims could be driven to suicide but the IPC itself prescribes that
the abatement of suicide is punishable with a very stringent jail sentence.
It must be mandated that in any such case, the Police shall not be
48
permitted to obtain false certificates from the Government Doctors who
most of the time are their partners in crime. An independent post
mortem by a Non Government Authority such as the Head of the
Department of a Medical College should be directed to do the Post
Mortem examination and in order to make it fool proof, it must be
prescribed that two such independent examinations must be done.
Also, the Police invariably ensure that the body is hastily disposed off.
For purposes of safety, it must be mandated that the body will have to
be embalmed and preserved for a prescribed period of time, so that, if
the Police have been able to Doctor the independent post mortems that
there will still be scope to get at the truth.
CONCLUSIONS:
The Jury was unanimous with regard to its conclusions which are
summarized below:
(a) That despite the fact that there had been a few communal
eruptions in the area in the past, that the earlier State
Government had taken all essential measures to control the
situation. Unfortunately, after the present BJP Government
came to power, there was a sudden eruption of anti-minority
violence. Instead of containing, controlling and eliminating
this feature, that the State Government provided official
patronage to all those involved in this activity with open support
from the Home Minister and the Chief Minister.
(b) That the immediate fall out of this situation was that the Police
force got completely communalized and started not only
protecting the violence perpetrators but going to the extent of
targeting the minorities. In the Church attacks that took place,
it was the police in all the incidents who led the violent attacks.
Investigations revealed that not only was every instance of
lathi charge unprovoked and unjustified, but that each of these
incidents had been carefully planned with the police
themselves arranging with the culprits to bring tempos full of
rock pebbles which are not available in the area from the river
beds and these were the lethal missiles that were used to
49
start each incident. In all the cases where teargas was used,
it was disclosed that the shells were beyond the expiry dates
by 4 to 8 years, as a result of which, the gas had turned toxic
and poisonous with long term damaging consequences to the
victims. When questioned, the State and the Police had no
answer.
(c) Some of the newspapers and magazines have been openly
exhorting anti-communal activities through their writings. Not
a single instance of action against the individuals or
publications under Section 153A has been taken. The heads
of the Bajrang Dal and the Ram Sene have not only admitted
their part in anti-minority violence of which there have been a
couple of hundred cases in the Karavali area with not a single
person being even arrested. Interestingly, it has come on
record that it was the victims who have been arrested in the
majority of these cases. One of the prominent leaders
during the Dasara of 2008, issued a Statement that
“instead of doing the Ayudha Pooja for your items of trade
and machinery, this year the Pooja should be to the knives,
daggers and swords.”
(d) While the Police were quick to register false and unsustainable
cases by the dozen against Editor Seetharam and members
of the minority community and to obtain Non Bailable Warrants
and target innocent persons on unsustainable charges, in a
series of complaints lodged against the Writers of Inflammatory
Communalistic Articles where conclusive evidence existed,
the Police have closed the cases on the ground that no offence
has been made out.
(e) As far as the Muslim community was concerned, the Police
have been brutally targeting individual muslims, entering their
homes, violently assaulting them, looting property and
valuables and indiscriminately arresting them on grounds of
involvement in terrorist activities. Long periods of custody
have followed and there has not been a single case in which
50
the police have substantiated the allegations.
(f) There has been an abnormally high degree of custodial deaths,
custodial violence on the part of the police and violence against
members of the minority community while in custody and in
not one of theses, an offence has been registered. On the
other hand, particularly after the Church attacks, over a
thousand false and unsustainable cases have been registered
against members of the minority community particularly
Christians, Bail was opposed, they were retained in custody
and even though, every one of these prosecutions was
unsustainable, the State and the Police Department are still
proceeding with those prosecutions in the course of which,
thousands of lives have been ruined.
(g) There has been a sharp rise in the police interfering in cases
where cattle transport was involved with the animals being
confiscated and false cases booked by the Police at the
instance of communal elements. The State Human Rights
Commission has passed severe strictures on at least a dozen
occasions.
(h) The levels of brutal violence demonstrated by members of the
Police force has been disturbing with four specialized torture
chambers having been set up in Mangalore city alone for this
purpose.
(i) It has been demonstrated that the corruption levels in the Police
Department have reached an all time high with the police
themselves actively being involved in the commission of
offences by colluding with the Criminals refusing to render
assistance to the victims, refusing to register complaints and
covering up for the offences even to the extent of fabricating
false evidence. Even in those of the instances where specific
evidence is provided by Complainants, the Police have refused
to accept it and refused to act. The most lucrative business
for the Police Department is by interfering illegally in High
Stake Civil Cases.
51
(j) That in the case of serious instances like custodial deaths
and injuries caused while in custody, false medical certificates
have been fabricated by the Police in order to cover up for
their atrocities and shield the members of the force responsible
for these crimes.
(k) That there have been an abnormal number of false cases
registered against members of the Christian community after
the BJP Government came to power and Home Minister
Acharya issued directions to every Police Station to issue a
prescribed number of such cases every month. Whereas prior
to 2008, there was not a single such complaint or
conviction in the State, in the last two years, over 7500
such offences have been registered.
(l) In those of the false cases where leaders of the Muslim
community had been beaten up and targeted not to mention
illegally confined for long periods and the false prosecutions
have failed no action has been taken against the errant police
officers. Wherever counter prosecutions have been launched,
the Police remain absent on every date of hearing and the
Courts cover up for them. Also, in the prosecution launched
against members of the minority community, the charge-sheets
are not filed for abnormally long periods of time, the Police
and the witnesses are absent on every date of hearing and
the cases never end.
(m) In sharp contrast, whereas as an eye-wash, a few arrests are
made against members of the majority community, the Courts
are ever willing to grant anticipatory Bail, whereas no member
of the minority community even gets anticipatory Bail or gets
Bail for weeks and months. This is a serious reflection on the
impartiality of the subordinate judiciary. Again, in thousands
of cases where the victims have complained of torture and
assault and human rights violations while in custody, in not
even one of those cases, have the Courts either entertained
the Complaints, examined it or taken any action. This is a
52
very serious breach of the Law on the part of the subordinate
judiciary.
(n) Even in the instance of those of the Police Officers like Satish
Kumar, Jayant Shetty and Ganpathi where the Departmental
Enquiry has recorded misconduct of the highest order, the
Home Minister and the Chief Minister have not only exonerated
them but they have been rewarded with promotions. The same
applies to the Jailor from Mangalore who involved in the
horrifying incidents of violence in the Jail who was exonerated
and personally rewarded with a promotion by the Home
Minister.
(o) The image of the Police Department in the Karavali area is at
an all time low. The public confidence in the police is absolutely
zero. The police are regarded as parasites and persons to be
feared and hated and they are principally responsible for the
break down of the law and order situation in the region because
of the open collusion with criminals and mafia dons and total
protection afforded to communal elements and those involved
in anti social activity.
(p) That the confidence in the subordinate judiciary has also gone
to zero with the impression being created that there is no justice
for the citizen in these institutions and that the Courts are totally
on the side of the Law breakers. This is a serious reflection
on the Judiciary, but unfortunately, there has been ample cause
for it.
(q) That as far as the role of the Police and the Courts in the
Mangalore SEZ cases are concerned, it can best be described
as horrifying. The victims in all these cases were the poorest
of the poor, Christians, Adivasis and Tribals. Every conceivable
form of illegality, muscle power and criminal activity not to
mention violence was let loose on these poor persons and the
Police headed these activities targeted this distressed state
of society, refused them any protection or relief and openly
covered up for the law breakers. The Bajpe Police Station
53
and for that matter the District Police Administration were
functioning at all times as a unit of the SEZ. Undoubtedly,
there was a lot of money to be made but the trail of human
woe and misery is shameful and unforgettable. One of the
specific roles played by the Police was to register unlimited
number of false cases not only against the victims but against
anybody who came to their assistance which included Swami
Agnivesh and Justice M.F. Saldanha. Non Bailable Warrants
were indiscriminately obtained and executed by the Police
Department. We cannot condone the role of the subordinate
Judiciary as unfortunately even the higher Judiciary, because
16 PILs have been summarily dismissed by the Karnataka
High Court. When the Union Government examines the sad
question as to how and why poor farmers, Tribals and Adivasis
have been turned into Naxalites and Maoists they will find the
answer in cases like the Mangalore SEZ.
The Editor – Seetharam Case figured very prominently during
the Enquiry- The Editor himself gave evidence and produced all the
supporting documents. merits special mention because initially the Police
had tried to kill him and his wife in a fake encounter which failed, that he
was arrested on a false and unsustainable charge that every cannon of
Law was flouted when he was chained and produced in Court and the
horrifying aspect that emerged when the Magistrate refused him Bail at
night. The record also indicates that every attempt was made to eliminate
him by shifting him from the Udupi Hospital to Mangalore on the Orders
of the son of the Home Minister (who was then more powerful than the
father) when his health condition was very low in a vehicle driven in
such a manner that the ride would normally have proved fatal and then,
because he survived despite his B.P. being 190 / 100, a midnight attempt
to hand him over to hardened criminals in the Mangalore Sub-jail and
when this was stopped by PUCL, he was again shifted at dead of night
through an eight hour ride over horribly broken up roads which the State
Government is famous for and then another attempt at Mysore to send
him to the Jail instead of the Hospital which again failed because of
PUCL are all instances that totally condemn the State Government, the
54
Home Minister and the Police Department. The role of the Judiciary
has been disappointing and pathetic and the question still being
asked in legal circles is how the Police obtained nine Non Bailable
Warrants against the Editor with the Magistrates willingly passing
these Orders on virtually zero material. The Press Council of India,
the State Human Rights Commission and the Karnataka High Court
have recorded concurrent findings against the Police Department and
the State Government as also the Judicial misconduct involved. In the
light of those findings / observations, all that can be said is that this
entire chapter was an abrogation of the Law, it was malicious, vicious,
criminal and something that should never have happened in a democracy.
55
(a) The situation is abnormally grave and it is necessary for the
Central Government and the State Government to take serious
note of these findings, a copy of this Report should be officially
sent to the Union Home Minister, the Governor, the Chief Minister
and the Home Minister of the State as also to the D.G. Police as
immediate corrective steps are required to be taken. The
members of the Christian community and the Muslim community
have essentially been at the receiving end and this will have to
be stopped with adequate measures taken to respect their human
rights and ensure that their constitutional guarantees are safeguarded.
(b) That a copy of this Report be forwarded to the Chief Justice of
India and to the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court because
the role of the Judiciary, mainly the subordinate Judiciary but in
several of the instances, the District Level Judiciary and even the
High Court has come in for sharp criticism, one of the instances
being that 27 PILs have been summarily dismissed by the
Karnataka High Court and even in cases relating to police
atrocities and wrongful detentions, no reliefs have been granted.
Deep seated correctives are therefore essential at all the three
levels. THE OBNOXIOUS PRACTICE OF INDISCRIMINATELY
ISSUING NON-BAILABLE WARRANTS MUST BE OFFICIALLY
STOPPED. The same applies to the illegal refusal of Bail and the
totally illegal practice of deferring Bail applications indefinitely.
(c) As an immediate measure, the State Government must set up
Forums at the District level and the State level where individuals
and their representatives such as the PUCL will be able to point
out specific instances of police atrocities and misconduct not to
mention corruption and these complaints will have to be examined
and if public confidence is to be restored, stringent action against
the culprits will have to follow. For this purpose, it is recommended
that these Forums should have a monthly dialogue with the
RECOMMENDATIONS
56
People’s representatives where the action taken will have to be
made public.
(d) Similarly, it is recommended that at the District and State level,
the Judiciary must set up a Grievance Cell which will be presided
over by a Judge who will entertain complaints of miscarriage of
Justice (eg. Refusal to hear urgent applications, deferring Orders
for abnormally long periods of time and exhibition of open bias
and corruption) and the action taken will have to be made public
within a month, so that, there is total transparency of functioning.
(e) Specifically in the fields of Women’s Rights, atrocities and violence
against women and Human Rights, specific and time-bound action
is required from the State Government with a Public assurance
that these areas will be respected and protected by the Police.
(f) If public confidence in the Rule of Law is to be restored, a few of
the errant Police and Judicial officers will have to be Disciplined
and if necessary punished in the public interest.
While this Report does to some extent read like a disaster or a
horror story, it is an honest examination and a record of the
situation that exists which could not have been more distressing
or horrifying. It is close to malignancy and therefore, calls for
immediate correctives. It was not long ago, i.e. just 30 years
back that the Karnataka Police were rated as the second best
in the country and today, Transparency International has
listed them as being the worst in the country. The Judiciary is
a revered institution and is the last resort of the citizen particularly
as far as Justice, Human Liberty and Fundamental Rights are
concerned and it is very essential that the disturbing features
which have manifested themselves must be eliminated. It is to
this institution alone at all levels that every citizen looks up to and
if there is to be real justice emanating from the Courts, a drastic
overhaul both in attitude and functioning is absolutely essential.
JUSTICE MICHAEL F. SALDANHA
FOR AND ON BEHALF OF THE JURY
BANGALORE
DATE :

STATE TERRORISM-TYRRANY

1
PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY
Conducted at the instance of the
People’s Union for Civil Liberties, South Kanara
And
The Catholic Association of South Kanara
And
Transparency International India, Karnataka Chapter
STATE TERRORISM-TYRRANY
AN EDITOR IN CHAINS
HIS MIRACULOUS SURVIVAL
THE SEETHARAM EPISODE
EXTRACTED FROM
(A REPORT ON THE ATTACKS ON MINORITIES AND
THEIR PLACES OF WORSHIP IN KARNATAKA)
By:
Justice Michael F. Saldanha,
Retired Judge, Karnataka High Court.
President, The Catholic Association of South Kanara.
Chairman, Transparency International India, Karnataka Chapter.
2
Publisher : People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Karnataka
First edition : June 2010
Copies : 2000
Contribution : Rs.15/-
Printer : Prasad Printers, Kulshekar, Mangalore-5
For Copies Contacts :
P.B.D’Sa Justice M.F. Saldanha
Working President 401, Sillver Crest
PUCL Karnataka 13, Rest House Road
“Pauline” Valencia Bangalore-560001
Mangalore-575002 Tel:25596713/9844028695
Tel: 0824-4252170/9008820186
Suresh Bhat Mr. B.G. Kosky
President Vice-Chairman,
Komu Souharda Vedike Transparency International India
Eesha Vasyam, 2-10-776, 101-A, M.B. Centre,
Near Mangala Gas Godown, 134, Infantry Road,
Bejai Mangalore-575004 Bangalore-560001
Tel: 2225652 Tel:91-80-22868800
Dr.V.N. Laxmi Narayana Dr. Ramdas Rao
General Secretary PUCL Karnataka Secretary PUCL Karnataka
#5598. 5th Cross, Vijayanagara 2 stage, #59, Shivaji Road,
Mysore-570017 Shivajinagar, Bangalore-560051
Tel: 0821-2513121/9480326622 Tel:9449399729
Prof. Y.J.Rajendra Mr. Walter Pinto
Vice president PUCL Karnataka President Catholic Sabha
#40, 8th cross, 5th main, Vishnu Prakash
Sampangi Ramanagar Court Road, Udupi- 575101
Bangalore-560027 Tel:0820/2529063/2630503
Tel: 9449011530 /9845406817
Prof. N Babiah [PDF] Secretary
76, III Stage, Vinayaka Layout Catholic Association of
Vijayanagar, South Canara, Catholic Centre
Bangalore-560040. Hampankatta, Mangalore-575001
Tel:9449904487 Tel:0824-2422059
Pastor Walter Mabeen Catholic Sabha
Chairman, Karnataka Missions, Network, Mangalore Pradesh
‘ELIM’ Mercara Hill, Bishop’s House, Mangalore – 3
Mangalore-565002 Tel: 2427474
Tel:9845083323
3
Conducted at the instance of the
People’s Union for Civil Liberties,
South Kanara
And
The Catholic Association of South Kanara
And
Transparency International India, Karnataka Chapter
PEOPLE’S TRIBUNAL ENQUIRY
Justice Michael F. Saldanha,
Retired Judge, Karnataka High Court.
President, The Catholic Association of South Kanara.
Chairman, Transparency International India, Karnataka Chapter.
MEDIACORRUPTED, SECULARISMDESTROYED
JOURNALISTSATTACKED
4
This Labour of Love is
dedicated to
“The Media”
“I disapprove of what you
say but I will defend you to
death your right to say it”
- Voltaire
“A good example is the best sermon”
- Anonymous
“He only lives, who lives for
others, others are more dead than alive”
- Swami Vivekananda
5
5
Justice Michael F. Saldanha (Retd)
Chairman Transparency International India
(Karnataka Chapter)
6
God grant me the
Serenity
to accept the things
I cannot change…
Courage to
change the things I can
and Wisdom to
know the difference…
7
Never in the history of civilized nations have the levels of State Tyranny
plummeted to such deplorable depths as to witness a situation wherein
the Editor of a prominent paper is arrested on an utterly ridiculous set of
circumstances by the State Machinery, an attempt is made to eliminate
him and his wife through a familiar “encounter” situation which fails, the
Judge then compounds the matter by refusing bail at night and the next
day, the Editor is produced in Court, handcuffed and secured in
chains, despite the Supreme Court of India having mandated
that this cannot be done even in the case of dangerous criminals.
The Presiding Judge, in spite of vehement objections from the Bar, turns
a blind eye to this. Then follows a month long horror story which the
world must know about. That is the reason why I have been requested
that this Chapter be published and circulated separately.
What followed is even more disturbing. I wrote officially to the Chief
Justice of the State, as the case required an Enquiry to be held against the
Judicial Officer who sided with and covered up for the Police by wrongfully
refusing Bail and not taking immediate action when the Editor was produced
in chains. Nothing happened. I had also demanded that the High Court
take suo-moto action against the State Government for the inhuman
atrocities and more importantly the human rights violations. I received
no reply either from the Hon’ble Chief Justice or from his Registry. After
about six months, a Lawyer informed me that my letter had been placed
before the Division Bench and the Judges had dismissed it on the ground
that I had not appeared before them. Ironically enough, I had spent TEN
precious years of my life as a Judge of this very High Court and brought
global fame to the institution for upholding Human Rights, most of the
time through suo-moto action because the victims were too poor or too
weak to complain or to appear!
Thanks to this brilliant approach, the Government also got away.
Even when Seetharam’s Habeas-Corpus petition was disposed off by the
High Court and his Counsel had effectively presented the horrifying details
FOREWORD
8
of five weeks of State Tyranny to which the Government had absolutely
no defence, the Court awarded a princely compensation of a magnificent
amount of Rs.10,000/- (the State of Karnataka did not pay the amount
but went in Appeal to the Supreme Court and spent Rs.2,00,000/- and
the Petition was ultimately summarily dismissed). This was a case that
called for exemplary compensation- had the High Court awarded
a deterrent figure of Rs.Ten Crores which was perfectly
commensurate with the atrocities and directed the culprits to
individually pay a good part of it after identifying them, starting
with the State Home Minister, there would never have been a
repetition. When Flea-bite punishments are awarded it is the
strongest inducement and encouragement for the guilty to repeat
the offence-nothing is a finer slap in the face of the victim- sadly
enough we call this NYAYA or JUSTICE!
This case was placed before the Press Council of India to whom I
had occasion to furnish all the details because such attacks on the Media
are intolerable. A two member Committee was appointed, they verified
all the facts, they even had a sitting with me in Bangalore, but nothing
happened thereafter. The case was placed before the State Human Rights
Commission which took cognizance of the matter but the result was zero.
This is disturbing, and in India, which is a Democracy and the rule of
Law is supposed to prevail, the poorest of the poor are shot down every
day and the media reports that they are Naxalites, Maoists or Terrorists
and the citizens believe that the police should be commended for killing
them. I have investigated into eleven such encounter killings in Karnataka
and found the charges to be downright false. The victims were all poor
villagers who had been inhumanly thrown out of their homes and lands
by the Government agencies on the ground that SEZs are other forms of
so called “development” were being undertaken. They had been consigned
to the hills and the forests and were perhaps fighting the very agencies
who were responsible for their condition.
What is the strongest signal that emerges from these sordid facts – it
is that SECULARISM HAS BEEN A CASUALTY UNDER THE BJP
GOVERNMENT IN KARNATAKA. Media sycophancy is synonymous
with media corruption and in this case, it was not the common desire on
the part of unprincipled journalists to appease the State Government that
9
was a capitalised upon but a simple bold shameless situation where the
media support was bought through money patronage channelised through
hundreds of crores of rupees of useless self publicity of the State
Government and those in power that has brought the exchequer to the
brink of bankruptcy. The few who resisted this bonanza had to
survive on their own and the one who opposed it, was attacked
and almost finished. It is a strange paradox that whereas the Constitution
of India mandates for secularism that the State of Karnataka, on the other
hand, does everything that the Constitution prohibits and for that matter,
what the IPC defines as Criminal Offences. The right thinking citizens
of this sub-continent and of the world need to take serious
cognizance of this case because the repercussions are exceedingly
dangerous. I would therefore like the contents of this booklet
to be read and discussed and for decisions to be taken at every
level to put a final stop to this state of affairs which is not only
life threatening as Seetharam and his wife have experienced
but would be democracy destroying.
When will the world open its eyes and understand where the truth
lies? How long do we have to wait before the Indian Courts effectively
stop these atrocities by Policing the Police and more importantly jailing
the errant politicians who are the real culprits. What have we set up
specialist bodies like the Press Commission and the Human Rights
Commissions if they are handicapped and cannot, or do not function as
expected? Above all, what about an independent Press- IS ITS SURVIVAL
THREATENED? This case suggests just that. NOBODY CAN ALLOW
THAT TO HAPPEN IN INDIA- THAT WILL BE THE END OF OUR
DEMOCRACY.
- Justice M.F. Saldanha
10
The coming to power of the BJP Government in the State of Karnataka
in the year 2008 was synonymous with incidents of violent hostility against
the minorities and this was more perceptible in the whole of the coastal
or karavali area which covers the South West Coast of India. As often
happens, some of the publications openly supported what was going on
and the most volatile and communally offensive type of articles and
editorials started appearing in the Press. Though the Law prohibits this,
no action was taken by the State Government- on the other hand the
politicians in power openly instigated and supported these campaigns
and those who propagated them. Interestingly enough, I was not aware of
the fact that Chief Minister and the Home Minister were RSS Pracharaksthey
regularly appeared in the media with RSS and BAJRANGDAL leaders
at functions in Khaki Shorts and white banians carrying Lathis and more
importantly, dressed in saffron with religious leaders. Hundreds of Crores
of Rupees of State Funds were donated to Temples and Mutts-not a Rupee
to the minorities!
It was not the pro-hindu line that was alarming but the fact that
there were open and direct attacks against the Christian community. The
State Government, not only did not take action to curb this or to prosecute
the persons advocating communal hatred, but on the other hand,
encouraged it by going out of its way to organize various activities on a
mammoth scale all over the State which were attended and presided over
by the Chief Minister, the Home Minister, the Education Minister and
their colleagues, with the BJP and Bajrang Dal leaders sharing the dais
with the prominent pontiffs of the area. These mammoth melas were held
in Udupi, Mangalore, Puttur, Chickamagalur, Shimoga, Davanagere and
almost every part of the State on a regular basis. Public funds were siphoned
out like water with the Chief Minister announcing massive donations at
every function, only to his own community- the minorities got nothing.
THE EDITOR, SEETHARAM CASE
ATTACKS ON THE MEDIA
11
Only that section of the Press & TV who were supportive were
liberally fed with funds running into hundreds of crores of Rupees by the
State Govt. through all sorts of dubious heads. For instance, seventeen
huge functions were held in honour of Swami Vivekananda all over the
State and Rupees Eight Hundred and Seventy Crores of Rupees were
spent by the State Government in just SEVEN WEEKS. The two-fold
objective of these activities was aimed at terrorizing the local population,
because those attending would invariably indulge in a show of force on
the way to these venues and on the way back. What was characteristic
was the fact that apart from the leading politicians of the State Government
at all levels attending these functions, hundreds of KSRTC buses and
Government vehicles were all mobilized for them. Crores of rupees of
Government money was diverted towards these activities. The Times of
India which is basically a neutral paper published a news report on the
31st of August 2008 to the effect that in response to a query under the
RTI Act, that the Chief Secretary of the State Government had admitted
that in the preceding period which covered just five months that the State
Government had spent Rs.3,118.00 Crores on these activities. This was
apart from an amount of Rs.289.00 Crores which the Chief Minister had
personally (again out of State Funds) donated to various mutts and Hindu
religious places which he had visited. The weak justification that was put
out was that these were all places of pilgrimage which required to be
developed.
The role of the media during this period was interesting in so far as
since the Government was feeding them with a lot of money there was
next to no adverse publicity. When violence was let loose, when other
communities were attacked and when Churches and mosques were
targeted, the Press and the TV would maintain a discreet silence by closing
the other eye and the argument was that the Police have not registered
any offences and therefore, no incidents have taken place. This chapter
is devoted towards illustrating how in a democracy the Media can be
virtually bought over and pressurized into not reporting incidents of
communal disharmony. This was important because if the real stories
were carried, the State Government would run into serious difficulty and
could even have been dismissed from Office. Secondly, the World Media
12
would have attached a lot of importance to these disturbing incidents
and the repercussions would have been very serious. To illustrate, the
incidents on 14th / 15th September 2008, when absolute violence was let
loose by activists but mainly the police and the State machinery against
the members of the Christian community and their places of worship,
were impossible to suppress. The electronic media did carry the incidents
live and so did the Press and the whole world took serious note of it and
the President of the US and the President of France both made it a point
to personally highlight this matter with the Indian Prime Minister and the
Government of India immediately stepped in and issued a notice to the
State Government under Article 355 of the Constitution to show-cause
as to why it should not be dismissed from Office.
Truth can never be totally hidden or suppressed and some of the
publications ran the serious risk of carrying the stories as the incidents
took place. Their reporters and presses, offices and staff were targeted by
the Bajrang Dal and the Police refused to either protect them or to even
register an offence. There is a small publication in the Karavali area which
is a daily paper in the Kannada language and it is extremely popular in
the whole of this belt. The name of this paper is “KARAVALI ALE”. The
Editor of this paper is B.V. Seetharam. He also brings out an English
edition called Canara Times, which is published once a week. Seetharam
popularly known as BVSEE not only carried regular reports and pictures
of the communal atrocities, but he also wrote strong editorials disapproving
of the atrocities and condemning them. He and his entire team received
numerous threats over the telephone and were subjected to even physical
violence from time to time with absolutely no relief from the Police. His
office was regularly stoned and vandalised and despite whatever security
measures he could afford, damage to property became a regular affair.
Instead of being intimidated, BVSEE kept up the campaign.
One Sunday morning, a Jain Sadhu took out a procession through
one of the Main Roads of Mangalore City. The Sadhu was nude, as that
was his religious custom and he was leading the procession with a group
of his followers. This incident created a controversy in the area because
it was a predominantly Christian part of town and the procession went
13
through the area at the same time when the majority of the residents
were making their way to the Church for the Sunday Mass. There were
no confrontations but it raised a raging controversy on the question of
whether it was permissible for a procession of this type to move on the
Main Road of Mangalore when women, girls, children and the general
public who also use the same road had to witness what was happening.
One of the readers wrote a strong letter to the Editor, in which he stated
that obscenity is an offence under the IPC and that even if it is done on
religious grounds, if the offence is committed in a public place that it is
actionable under Law, because it is highly offensive to the general public.
It so happened that BVSEE published this letter. The Government
and the authorities were just waiting for an opportunity to hit back at
him. He and his wife were arrested under half a dozen charges of inciting
communal disharmony etc and TWO CRIMINAL CASES WERE
REGISTERED AGAINST THEM, ONE IN MANGALORE AND THE
SECOND ONE IN THE CHIEF MINISTER,S HOME TOWN OF
SHIMOGA. His wife had nothing to do with the publication and she was
only a Director of the Company. BVSEE also had nothing to do with the
publication of the letter which was done in routine course by the News
Editor and the Staff. The two of them were arrested by the Police late in
the evening on a weekend. When they asked for bail, it was refused.
What is most shameful is that when their Lawyers went to the Magistrate’s
residence and requested for bail, the Judicial Officer refused to hear the
Application. The two of them were put in the filthiest possible
lock-up which was virtually stinking and it was infested with
rats and every other form of vermin. They had the most notorious
anti-social elements for company and the Police refused to even
allow them clothes or home food on the ground that they had
instructions from the highest quarters in Bangalore i. e. the
Home Minister himself, not to allow this. (POLICE OFFICERS
ADMIT) Seetharam had reported the matter to the Human Rights
Commission, in which, he very clearly pointed out that normally the Police
in Mangalore would not have the courage to treat an Editor and his wife
in this manner without express orders from the highest quarters of the
Government. He has also pointed out that because of the condemnation
14
of the atrocities against minorities and the fact that the State Home Minister
who hails from Udupi was actively instigating and supporting these activities
because of his staunch RSS background, that instructions had been given
to torture his wife and him. The State Human Rights Commission has
passed strictures not only against the State Government and the police
but also against the subordinate judiciary.
The behavior of the Magistrate was not only unfortunate but downright
shameful. When BVSEE and his wife were produced in Court, and an
Application was presented for their release on Bail, the Magistrate loudly
proclaimed that these persons have indulged in serious offences and that
they should be remanded to police custody for two weeks and that he
will hear the Bail Application on the next day as he was busy. Since, the
Application was not rejected, there was no scope to move the Higher
Court. On the next day, the Magistrate passed an Order that the Prosecutor
should file his reply within three days and that the Accused should continue
in custody. An Application was presented to the Sessions Court which
was promptly rejected by the Judge on the ground that the Lower Court
had not yet disposed off the Bail Application.
After the lapse of three days, the Prosecutor asked for further time
on the ground that the Police were busy and that they have not given him
necessary instructions. Despite objections, this Application was granted.
On the expiry of this period, the Magistrate heard the arguments for five
minutes and adjourned the hearing to the next day on the ground that he
had no time. On the following day, he heard the Application for five
minutes and adjourned it for the Prosecutor to reply. On the following
hearing, the Prosecutor was heard and the Application was kept for Orders.
No specific date was given. By following these dilatory tactics, the Magistrate
illegally retained the Accused in custody all this time and made it impossible
for them to approach a Higher Court because technically, the Application
was still pending and no Orders had been passed though there was Zero
ground to refuse Bail.
BVSEE’s lawyers applied to the High Court pointing out the conduct
of the Police and the Magistrate. Not only did the High Court straight
away order the release of both of them on Bail, but passed severe strictures
15
against the police for registering an office which was supposed to be on
the basis of the letter that had appeared in the paper regarding the naked
procession of the Jain Muni. The refusal to grant bail by the Magistrate at
his residence was held to be downright improper and motivated and the
manner in which the Bail Application was deliberately delayed and dilated
came in for condemnation from the High Court. The High Court even
directed that a Disciplinary enquiry be held against the Judicial Officer
for the biased manner in which he had conducted himself. Nothing
happened.
My personal view of this incident is that the High Court should have
suo-moto directed action against the police authorities and the State for
having registered a whole set of unsustainable offences. The entire
conspiracy was exposed when the Prosecutor before the Mangalore Court
told the Magistrate that eight of the Police Stations in Mangalore City and
suburbs have registered similar offences. This was seriously contested by
BVSEE’s Lawyers who insisted that the names of the Complainants be
disclosed. When these were verified, it was found that the so-called
Complainants were non-existent and that the addresses were also false.
Mercifully for BVSEE, the High Court while releasing him on Bail ordered
that neither his wife nor he could be arrested on the same or similar
charges in any of the other cases which are supposed to have emanated
from the same incident. This matter created a nation wide sensation and
one of the issues that was widely projected was the question as to why
the High Court had not ordered exemplary compensation against the
State Government for the illegal detention on false and malicious grounds
for a period of 13 days. The cheerful reply that came from the Home
Minister was that the Accused had not applied for compensation and
therefore, the question did not arise. How could the higher Judiciary have
closed its eyes to these illegalities ? Not surprisingly, no further steps
were taken in these nine cases on the ground that the Complainants had
disappeared. After all of this the couple were rearrested and taken to
Shimoga where they were harassed for another Five days in custody on
the excuse that there was a separate case filed there. WE ARE
SUPPOSED TO BELIEVE THAT THE RULE OF LAW EXISTS
IN KARNATAKA.
16
This incident had a chilling effect on the other publications all of
whom decided that it was too dangerous to invite similar steps against
themselves. It must be said to the credit of BVSEE that despite threats,
regular attacks at his office and attacks to his editorial staff that they
continued their campaign and not surprisingly, this was highly appreciated
by the readers and the popularity of the paper increased by about 10
times. The Church attack incidents had swung public opinion heavily
against the State Government all over the country and all over the world
and this was the reason why the police and the State Government did not
openly attack Seetharam for sometime. It was however, clear that they
were looking for an opportunity.
All of a sudden, attacks were started against the distribution channels.
The bundles of the newspaper were targeted in the course of distribution,
forcibly seized and burnt. More than a hundred complaints were filed
with the police even pointing out the names of the persons doing this, but
they refused to act. It became exceedingly difficult for the paper to be
distributed to the Cities, Towns and Villages because it was being targeted
at the distribution points. The more effective tactic that was used was
that every newspaper seller was attacked and beaten up if he so much as
kept even one copy of this paper. This was being done on a daily basis.
One bold hawker opposite Moti Mahal Hotel still insisted on selling the
paper until his little stall was smashed to pieces and he was told that on
the next occasion, he would be finished off. In respect of this incident,
since, I was in Mangalore, I had occasion to see the damage and meet the
victim who told me that the police had refused to even register an offence.
He had identified and named the attackers who were known
anti-social elements. He had also provided the vehicle numbers
and he had personally gone to the SP with a written complaint.
Instead of acting on the complaint, the SP told him that he
would be locked up if he dared to come up with any false
complaints.
It was at this time that I had called on the IG, Western Range, who
appeared to be a good officer, as I required certain information with
regard to the attacks. He was extremely polite and courteous but the visit
17
turned to be a waste of time, because I found that he was being totally
bypassed by the SP and the other Police Officers who were receiving
instructions directly from the Home Minister. Even as far as the attack on
the hawker was concerned, the SP who was present had the gumption to
tell his superior officer that the hawker had lodged a false complaint, that
no damage had taken place, that the investigation indicated that the names
of the culprits and the vehicle numbers were false.
BVSEE had taken up the matter seriously with the Press Council of
India and that body immediately deputed its team to Mangalore and because
of their presence and the investigations that followed, there was a
temporary lull in the situation. From the information gathered by me,
which was carefully verified, I found that as far as these attacks on the
newspaper and on the BVSEEs Offices, distribution network and hawkers
were concerned, that the culprits were gang members of the well known
Dons of Mangalore. One such attack was directed against the residence
of the President of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL). His
house was targeted and he suffered minor injuries in the incident. On this
occasion, the Police pretended to act with a degree of expediency. They
arrested half a dozen of the local petty criminals and issued a Press Statement
that the incident was because of some personal quarrel and rivalry.
It was at this time, on a Sunday evening, that BVSEE and his wife had
decided to visit a temple some distance outside the city. A jeep and two
police vans turned up at his residence where his student daughter was
alone. They forced their way into the house on the ground that they had
to search the place. Extensive damage was caused, a lot of valuables and
cash disappeared from the place and the police party left. They had
obtained information as to where BVSEE was going and all of a sudden at
a lonely place in the dark, the Police Jeep overtook his car and stopped it.
The Police Officers told BVSEE that he was under arrest but refused to
disclose the charges. His Driver was ordered to follow the Police Jeep
with the two vans behind the car. For the next one hour, this convoy
proceeded from area to area in the hope of finding a sufficiently lonely
place. Despite attempts for over an hour, the difficulty that they ran into
was that there was a regular stream of buses, cars and two wheelers and
18
they found it extremely difficult to find the secluded spot that they were
looking for. BVSEE and his wife were terrified principally because the
District Police have become infamous for the number of so-called
“encounter killings” that they have been involved in. I had occasion to
study the modus-operandi which had been identical in eleven cases over
a period of less than one year. In all these instances, the victims have
been shot by the police on the ground that they are supposed to have
attacked the police party with fire arms that have been planted near the
bodies. Some glasses of the police vehicles are broken and a false
Panchanama is made that this happened when the police were fired on
and that the victims were shot by the police in self defence. No records
maintained, no questions asked and in the few instances where the relations
or the Human Rights Organisation have taken up the matters, the High
Court has dismissed the Petitions on the ground that, the deceased
appeared to be Criminals, or Naxalites, or Anti-social elements and that
they were the aggressors. I sometimes wonder whether these temples of
Justice are dishing out NYAYA or AN-NYAYA?
When the attempts to assassinate BVSEE and his wife failed, they
were driven to the Police Station in Udupi. They were made to sit there
for about two hours and the Police refused to disclose the ground on
which they were being arrested. Udupi incidentally is the home base of
the State Home Minister. The operations were being directed by the Home
Minister Acharya’s Doctor son. Finally at about 10.00 p.m., the Police
informed BVSEE that there was a Non Bailable Warrant issued against
him by one of the Courts and that he was under arrest pursuant to this.
What did that warrant pertain to ? A long time earlier, a person in
one of the small towns was arrested by the Police on a charge of molesting
a young student and attempting to rape her. This incident had created a
sensation and was reported by all the papers including BVSEE’s paper.
The Police had investigated into the matter and filed a Charge Sheet
against the Accused as a prima-facie offence had been disclosed. This
Accused filed a Private Complaint before the Magistrate alleging that BVSEE
in his capacity as Editor of the paper had defamed him. The Magistrate
held a preliminary enquiry and dismissed the complaint, very rightly, on
19
the ground that the Police Charge Sheet itself disclosed a prima-facie
offence of molestation and attempt to rape against the Complainant and
that it was absolutely absurd for him to contend that the publication of a
factually correct news report constituted defamation. The Complainant is
supposed to have gone in revision and the Sessions Court without hearing
BVSEE, he supposed to have set aside the Order of Dismissal ex-parte
and directed the Magistrate to hear the matter on merits. The Trial Court
is supposed to have issued summons to BVSEE which were never served
on him, after which, the Complainant and his Lawyer get a Non Bailable
Warrant issued on the ground that the Summons was disregarded. Again,
for weeks and months, this NBW was not even attempted to be executed
and it is this particular NBW which pertained to a different place altogether
that the Udupi Police were referring to and using on that night. Judicial
officers who indiscriminately issue Non-Bailable Warrants on false, nonexistent
and unsustainable grounds deserve to be dismissed from service,
but again, this is not happening. Instead, they get promoted!
Mrs. Seetham was not arrested, she contacted a Lawyer who came
there and demanded that BVSEE be released. The police politely told him
that they were acting on instructions from a very high authority. A Bail
Application was then moved before the Magistrate. This was in a case of
defamation where the NBW pertains to alleged non appearance. Any
Judicial Officer was duty bound to order BVSEE to appear before the
competent Court on the next date of hearing and to release him on Bail.
This Magistrate refused Bail and BVSEE was retained in custody
for the night. I ask myself the question as to whether there were
some outside influences at work- how else can you justify such
an order? As he was extremely unwell, the only concession made was
that he could be retained in the Hospital.
Then follows something that is not only shameful and atrocious but
which has brought a black name to the Karnataka Judiciary both Nationally
and Internationally. On the next morning, in order to humiliate
him, BVSEE was chained hand and foot and was paraded through
the Court Premises in Udupi. There are photographs of this in
the National and International Media. His Lawyer raised a serious
20
objection to a Newspaper Editor being chained as though he was a
dangerous criminal. He was also hand-cuffed and the Lawyer cited the
Supreme Court Judgment totally prohibiting the use of chains and handcuffs
in such situations on the ground that it is an aberration of human rights
and human dignity. Instead of passing appropriate orders and taking action
against the police and the State, the Magistrate told the Ld. Advocate that
he should take up the matter with the police authorities and that he was
not concerned with the condition in which the Accused Editor was
produced before her. So much for the Judiciary’s sacred duty and
responsibility!
BVSEE was offered Bail. He pointed out to the Court that he was
genuinely afraid of his life in Acharya,s hometown after the previous night’s
incident. The police told the Court that there were eight other Non Bailable
Warrants pending against him on grounds of inciting communal
disharmony and that they propose to arrest him in those cases if he was
released in this one. Since, BVSEE stated that for his own safety, he would
not avail of the Bail Order until appropriate orders were obtained in
respect of the other so-called cases, he was remanded to Judicial Custody
for the next two weeks. What happened in this Court Room would
certainly bring a black name to the Judiciary. I had occasion to write to
the Chief Justice recording the sequence of events and pointing out that
it was very necessary that appropriate disciplinary action be taken against
the Judicial Officer after holding an enquiry. The letter was not
acknowledged and months later, I was informed by the members of the
Bar that it had been registered as a PIL, that it appeared before the Division
Bench without any Notice or intimation to me and that the Division
Bench dismissed it on the ground of Non Prosecution. So much for the
manner in which the institution of which I was a member for 15 long
years is now functioning.
BVSEE was retained in the Hospital for a few days, while his Advocates
applied for Anticipatory Bail in the other eight so-called proceedings.
Though, he was in custody, these Applications were dismissed
by the Mangalore Sessions Court on the ground that he should
have been personally present. ABSOLUTELY BRILLIANT
21
JUDICIAL REASONING! As soon as these orders were passed, at
about 9.00 p.m., the Doctors in Udupi stated that BVSEE should be moved
to a bigger hospital in Mangalore. When BVSEE’s Lawyers asked for the
reasons, they were told that it was under directions of the Home Department
which were in turn, surprisingly communicated by the son of the Home
Minister who is supposed to be a Doctor in Udupi.
Despite requests from Mrs. Seetharam that he should be moved in
an ambulance for which she would pay, he was put in a police van,
HANDCUFFED and driven over horrible roads at break-neck speed for
THREE HOURS and brought to the Government Hospital in Mangalore
at midnight, virtually half-dead. Instructions had been issued to the Doctors
in Mangalore not to admit him in the Hospital and to send him to the
local jail. The Lawyers and the members of the PUCL strongly objected to
this, principally because BVSEE was in a precarious condition, his blood
pressure was 190/120 and he would not have survived if he were not put
in the ICCU. The poor Doctors kept arguing that they had telephonic
instructions from the State Home Department. A large crowd of prominent
persons had gathered, as a result of which, the Doctors were forced to
admit him into the ICCU. He remained there for the next one or two
days.
Why did the Home Department suddenly move BVSEE away from
Udupi to Mangalore and that too without obtaining Orders from the
Court, because technically he was supposed to be within the custody of
the local Court in Udupi and could not have been moved without Court
Orders. Irrespective of this breach, the conspiracy was to some how put
him into the local jail in Mangalore. The reason for this was because there
was a group of Bajrang Dal activists who had been arrested for some very
serious criminal offences and had been remanded to Jail custody. Three
days earlier, they had mercilessly assaulted two muslim students
in the jail with deadly weapons. This incident was widely
reported in the local press. It was found that the assailants inside
the Jail had used knifes, chains, iron bars and other deadly
weapons. No offence has been registered against the assailants.
They had caused multiple injuries and the victims who somehow survived
22
because of the intervention of the other inmates, were hanging between
life and death for the next one month. No offence was registered against
the Assailants. When questioned by the Media, the Home Minister
stated that he had immediately transferred the Jailor to
Bangalore and was looking into the matter. Again courtesy
Home Minister Acharya! It was to this jail and into the hands of these
persons that BVSEE was to be sent. It was fortunate for him that the
PUCL, some of the lawyers and a large group of his admirers were able to
prevent this. Even if was not assaulted in the Jail, he would have probably
collapsed and died.
The horror story does not end there. Hardly three days later,
telephonic instructions were received by the hospital in Mangalore late at
night to shift BVSEE to the Jail in Mysore. Again, no Court Orders but
instructions from the Home Department. Despite strong protests from
the family and all those present and despite a request that at least he be
shifted in an ambulance, he was put into a police van and driven all the
way to Mysore where he arrived there 2.30 a.m. in an unconscious
condition. Mercifully for him, the PUCL office bearers and a group of over
50 persons ensured that he was retained in the hospital and not sent to
the local jail. This was done. Before he could be transferred to any other
Jails in the State, because the Home Department had ordered the Mysore
Hospital to shift him to Bellary, a Habeas Corpus Petition was filed before
the High Court and the Court immediately intervened and stopped the
atrocities of the State Government. This Petition was heard a few days
later. The Judges were virtually livid, they directed his immediate release
and ordered compensatory costs of Rs.10,000/- (Rupees Ten Thousand
Only). Those costs have not been paid till today and the State Government
is supposed to have gone in Appeal to the Supreme Court. BVSEE was
also advised to collect the copies of all the so-called cases registered
against him and to apply for quashing which he has done. That Petition
cannot be heard because once again, all the so-called Complainants and
the addresses are bogus and they cannot be served. Mr. Acharya’s Police
Department very shamelessly contends that they had registered these
offences in good faith.
23
I often regarded the Media in India as the conscience keepers of
society – during the emergency, when even the Judiciary of this country
all the way up to the Supreme Court and to the then Chief Justice, failed
India, it was only one institution which stood its ground and that was
manned by the Journalists. The BJP Government in Karnataka which has
brought the corruption levels in the State to the highest in the country
distributed largesse by releasing publicity material running into hundreds
of Crores of Rupees to every publication that would support it in covering
up for corruption and letting loose an unprecedented wave of
fundamentalist attacks against the minorities. One by one, every publication
and every TV Channel fell for this bait. I salute the few who did not
because they lost out in terms of money and were mercilessly attacked in
every conceivable manner. The world needs to know what happened to
Seetharam because it is one of the blackest chapters in Karnataka’s Judicial
history and one of the most shameful in the annals of Journalism. The
Home Minister Acharya’s sons have a website that drips with fundamentalist
venom. The man who wrote one of the most vicious articles against the
Christian community has recently been awarded a Ph.D by the Karnataka
University on the recommendation of the State Education Minister. The
Editor of the paper, Vijaya Karnataka who published this and dozens of
similar articles and editorials was also recommended for a Ph.D by the
same Politician – when the matter was brought to the notice of the
Governor and the University was asked to how such a man could qualify
for an Hon. Doctorate, the guilty Vice Chancellor and his team removed
the Award from the Convocation Agenda on the eve of the Convocation.
Despite two FIRs against these two individuals, for inciting communal
disharmony, the Mangalore Police openly admit that they were directed
by Acharya himself not to proceed and to close the cases. Another
newspaper in the City of Mangalore has been regularly targeting the Muslim
community by publishing the most offensive articles and the State
Government is protecting this Editor despite prosecuting others who did
so and caused communal riots and curfew over the last few weeks. If this
is not a total butchery of the Principles of Secularism, nothing else is. In
sharp contrast, Seetharam’s only sin is that his little publication stuck to
its secular tenets for which his office was attacked six times, his Journalists
24
have been at the receiving end even physically, property is regularly
destroyed, not only are the paper bundles systematically burnt, but the
Vendors terrorized if they sell the paper and we are asked to believe that
there is a Rule of Law in Karnataka.
The reason for my having included this Chapter in my Report which
reads like a virtual horror story, is because it is necessary to illustrate as
to what lengths the Government machinery in Karnataka would go to in
order to cover their tracks and at the same time, hit back and destroy
anybody who was willing to truthfully expose the atrocities that were
going on. How BVSEE and his wife survived this ordeal has been vividly
recorded by a High Powered Committee deputed to Mangalore, Udupi,
Mysore and Bangalore by the Head of the Press Council who is a very fine
and forthright Judge. They had requested me to share with them the
evidence that I had gathered in connection with this incident and the
members had occasion to express that there is just no rule of Law in
Karnataka. This is illustrative of the atmosphere in which the Churches
and the Christian community were mercilessly targeted during this period
of time and the hatred levels that accompanied all these incidents. What
makes Karnataka worse than Orissa is that all the incidents in that State
which virtually shook the world conscience were at the hands of
communally motivated violent groups where as in the State of Karnataka,
it was State terrorism with these groups playing a sub-serviant role and
the Home Minister, the reincarnation of Hitler. It is pathetic to have to
record that whereas the Media is the only watchdog in situations of this
type that in this instance, the State Government had succeeded in bribing
and intimidating the media in to silence. Nothing can be more destructive
to the Indian Democracy.
JUSTICE M.F. SALDANHA, Retd.