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Home > Human Rights > State repression on political and social activists in Uttarakhand

State repression on political and social activists in Uttarakhand

An investigation by PUDR and PUCL (Uttarakhand)

by PUDR, 16 November 2008

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Peoples Union for Democratic Rights

Press Release

7th November, 2008

Findings of PUDR (Delhi) and PUCL (Uttarakhand) into human rights violations by police and intelligence authorities of political and social activists in Uttarakhand.

A four member fact-finding team undertook a fact finding from October 23-26, 2008 and 6-7 November, 2008 to investigate state repression of individuals and crackdown on organisations in Uttarakhand, happening in the guise of suppressing the Maoist threat. The team comprised Rajendra Dhasmana (President of Uttarakhand PUCL,) Anand Swaroop Verma, Pankaj Bisht, Gautam Navlakha and Anirban (from PUDR). In Uttarakhand the team was also joined by Hem Mishra and Khem Singh (of Dakhal.) In the course of the investigation we visited, in chronological order: Haldwani, Almora (from where we went to Someshvar and Dasau near Petsal,) Ramnagar, Dineshpur (via Kashipur and Gadarpur,) and Rudrapur. In the second phase we visited Dehradun and met with two accused in the Dehradun jail as well as some senior officials. After speaking to both officials and activists, it was clear to us that the Maoist threat is more conjured than real.

State repression is happening for chiefly three reasons: (1) insecurity resulting from emergence of CPN (Maoists) in Nepal as a major political force and the likelihood of its appeal spilling over into India; (2) availability of central government funds to states for combating Maoist; and (3) an attempt on the part of the regime to pre-emptively crack down on opposition against large scale alienation of land and privatization of river water. The Maoist bogey has come in handy for local power wielders too to use against their opponents such as peasant or social activists etc raising demands for land ceiling laws and distribution of land to landless peasants. Repression broadly functions in a couple of ways: either through arrests, brutal torture in police custody, being implicated falsely in cases, and/or through a sinister campaign of striking fear in the everyday lives of people, a microcosm of which we ourselves witnessed in Lakhipur village under Thana Dineshpur.

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