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Sikh body writes to HRW cataloging incidents of rights violations of past one year in Punjab

December 10, 2011 | By

Amritsar (December 10, 2011): Taking up the cases of the denial of civil liberties of common citizens in addition to political dissenters, the Dal Khalsa on Saturday invited the US-based Human Rights Watch to probe “the continuing abuse of human rights in Punjab.”

Marking the 63rd World Human Rights Day, the group has, in a six-page missive addressed to the international watchdog’s office in New York, listed what it claims are instances of “custodial deaths, violations of rights of political dissenters and common citizens over the past one year (2011).”

For the first time, letter also highlighted incidents of high-handedness when the authorities decided to crack down on agitations by pharmacists, ETT teachers, linemen of electricity board, female multi-purpose health workers, unemployed B.Ed. teachers, veterinary doctors, farmers and employees of a sugar mill, besides Sikh radicals.

“The rights abuses widely reported in the media have failed to elicit any reaction from the law-makers in the state of Punjab or the Union government in Delhi”, reads the letter faxed to the HRW Director.

Alleging that impunity to police continues unabatedly, the letter states “Punjab is clearly heading towards a lawless state, where anarchy rules and combined with the economic difficulties of the people, will force the people too to take the law into their hands”.

“We are particularly concerned about the prospects of retired bigwigs of Punjab police jumping into the political fray (referring to SS Virk and Izhar Alam). While there was no doubt that every citizen is well within rights to join politics, what concerns us that those who are taking the political route to become lawmakers have a history of gross lawlessness”, states the letter signed by Dal Khalsa’s political secretary Kanwar Pal Singh.

The Sikh group urged HRW to press the Indian government for abolition of death penalty in the country, release of political detainee Bhai Daljit Singh, fresh judicial inquiry into the custodial deaths and intervention of all law makers and law-enforcing agencies to ensure a more humane approach while dealing with the protestors.

The recent judgment of the Supreme Court of India, in which it has rejected a probe against a senior police officer S S Saini, accused for violation of human rights, only on technical grounds, was worrisome, reads the letter.

In fact the letter is a somewhat surprising damnation of the ruling Shiromani Akali Dal led government, accusing it of deploying the police for political purposes.

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