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Ensaaf Dispatch

April 2008
Volume 5 Issue 1

Ensaaf: Four Years of Working to End Impunity & Achieve Justice

April marks Ensaaf's fourth anniversary! In four years, your support has allowed Ensaaf to make significant accomplishments in working towards ending impunity and achieving justice for human rights violations in Punjab, India. These accomplishments include...Continue »

Support Ensaaf with Your Online Searches & Purchases!

What if Ensaaf earned a penny every time you searched the Internet? Or if a percentage of every purchase you made online went to support our cause? Well, now it can!... Continue »

US State Department Releases 2008 India Country Report on Human Rights Practices, Cites Ensaaf

According to the State Department, India has made "little progress" in "holding hundreds of police and security officials accountable for many disappearances committed during the Punjab counterinsurgency... Continue »

Update: Jaswant Singh Khalra's Murder: The Case Against KPS Gill

On May 13, 2008, the Punjab and Haryana High Court will hold a hearing regarding the petition calling on the government to prosecute former Punjab police chief KPS Gill for his role in the illegal detention, torture, and murder of human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalra... Continue »

Ensaaf Selected for India-Wide "Understanding Impunity" Project

Ensaaf is the only participant that is positioned as a regional consultant, contributing to the documentation efforts from Punjab, as well as an international consultant, advising on methodology, training, and advocacy... Continue »

India Comes Under Scrutiny at the First Session of the UN Universal Periodic Review

On March 25, 2008, the Indian National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), under Chairperson Rajendra Babu, issued its latest order in the Punjab mass cremations case. Although the NHRC has taken significant steps to address its arbitrary procedures and practices, it has retained major defects that will likely continue to compromise even its limited objectives... Continue »

India Comes Under Scrutiny at the First Session of the UN Universal Periodic Review

The UN Human Rights Council reviewed India on April 10, considering reports submitted by the government of India, the Indian National Human Rights Commission, UN agencies, and civil society stakeholders such as Ensaaf... Continue »

Terror in Punjab: Narratives, Knowledge, and Truth

Ensaaf Advisory Board member Ram Narayan Kumar released his new book, Terror in Punjab: Narratives, Knowledge, and Truth, in Chandigarh, Punjab on April 19, 2008... Continue »

Kulvir Singh Barapind Acquitted of all Charges

Ensaaf helped secure protection for Barapind from torture and mistreatment in detention in India... Continue »

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Four Years of Working to End Impunity & Achieve Justice

April marks Ensaaf's fourth anniversary! In four years, your support has allowed Ensaaf to make significant accomplishments in working towards ending impunity and achieving justice for human rights violations in Punjab, India. These accomplishments include:

On October 18, 2007, Ensaaf and Human Rights Watch released Protecting the Killers: A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India, together with a photo essay and video testimonials.
Legal Advocacy

Ensaaf provided litigation support to the lead counsel in the Punjab mass cremations case proceeding before the Indian National Human Rights Commission. On March 25, 2008, the Indian National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) issued its latest order in the case, responding to some of the criticisms raised by Ensaaf in its joint report with Human Rights Watch (HRW), Protecting the Killers: A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India. Ensaaf further coordinated international advocacy around this case, such as a torture and trauma study by medical experts, a joint Ensaaf/HRW op-ed, and an Ensaaf op-ed.

Ensaaf provided litigation support to attorney RS Bains in the case against six police officers charged with murdering human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra. In Fall 2005, Ensaaf provided litigation support in Khalra's murder trial, leading to the convictions of these six mid-level officers. On October 8, 2007, a division bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court upheld the convictions of five of the Punjab police officers. Four of those convicted received enhanced sentences of life in prison, so that all five convicts are serving life sentences.

Ensaaf provided litigation support to counsel in the High Court case filed against former police chief KPS Gill on behalf of slain human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra. The petition was filed by Paramjit Kaur Khalra on September 5, 2006, the eleventh anniversary of Khalra's abduction, in the Punjab and Haryana High Court after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) refused to investigate and prosecute Gill for his role in the crimes against Khalra. Ensaaf drafted the petition's international law arguments on the doctrine of superior responsibility.

Ensaaf brought global attention to these cases by partnering with the world's most preeminent human rights organizations, such as Human Rights Watch, REDRESS, and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law. These organizations have made joint submissions with Ensaaf to institutions such as the US Congressional Human Rights Caucus, the Indian Central Bureau of Investigation, and the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (pdf), calling for an end to impunity for human rights violations in Punjab.

Documentation and Education

In 2004, Ensaaf released a ground-breaking 150-page report, Twenty Years of Impunity: The November 1984 Pogroms of Sikhs in India, with a preface by former New York Times reporter Barbara Crossette. The report analyzes 1100 affidavits and previously unavailable government records and reveals the systematic and organized manner in which state institutions and Congress officials perpetrated mass murder in November 1984 and later justified the violence in inquiry proceedings. The second edition, released in early 2007, reflects on recent developments, including the report issued by another government inquiry commission, the government's Action Taken Report, and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh's alleged apology.

In 2005, Ensaaf organized a torture and trauma study by six experts from Physicians for Human Rights and the Bellevue/NYU Program for Survivors of Torture to examine 127 families in Amritsar, Punjab; their report was submitted to the National Human Rights Commission on October 24, 2005, and details the physical and emotional suffering that families continue to endure, more than ten years after violent conflict ended.

Also in 2005, Ensaaf released its report, Fabricating Terrorism, on the use of torture and illegal detention in the crackdown on alleged Punjabi militants from June 2005 to August 2005.

On October 18, 2007, Ensaaf and Human Rights Watch released Protecting the Killers: A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India, together with a photo essay and video testimonials. The report examines the challenges faced by victims and their relatives in pursuing legal avenues for accountability for human rights abuses perpetrated by security forces. The report describes the near total failure of India's judicial and state institutions to provide justice for victims' families. The report has been covered in over 54 newspapers worldwide, generating wide press attention to the struggle for justice for disappearances and extrajudicial executions committed from 1984 to 1995.

Ensaaf has collected dozens of narratives from survivors who have experienced torture, illegal detention, or the disappearance of a family member. Their personal experiences of violent oppression, combined with existing records of human rights violations collected over the past 15 years, will serve as the basis for upcoming advocacy and litigation. Ensaaf's partner organization, the Human Rights Data Analysis Group (HRDAG), a Benetech Initiative, has provided expert guidance in documentation methods and will provide quantitative analysis, based on scientific best practices, of the available human rights data. HRDAG's analyses are used by truth commissions, international criminal tribunals, and non-governmental organizations around the world.

For the past two years, the US State Department has cited Ensaaf in its annual country report on human rights practices in India. Further, Ensaaf has made over 60 presentations and speeches across North America highlighting efforts at truth, justice, and reparations for victims of gross human rights violations in Punjab. Ensaaf also published two op-eds (1, 2). Ensaaf's work has received coverage in national and international papers.

UN Advocacy

Ensaaf has submitted numerous communications to various UN human rights mechanisms, including the cases of human rights activists Sukhwinder Singh Bhatti and Jaswant Singh Khalra.

On November 21, 2007, Ensaaf met with the United Nations Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances (WGEID) in Geneva, Switzerland, to present general allegations (pdf) against India for its role in perpetrating enforced disappearances in Punjab. The allegations, as well as 32 individual cases jointly submitted by Ensaaf, REDRESS, and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice, are currently under consideration by the Working Group and were transmitted to the government of India in April.

Institutional Development

As a young organization, Ensaaf is committed to institutional growth and stability. Ensaaf has developed a strong governing Board of Directors, dedicated to systems development, planning, financial oversight, and accountability. Ensaaf has further implemented an extensive evaluation and monitoring program to improve our efficiency and effectiveness towards maximizing our impact. Ensaaf's Advisory Board members further enhance Ensaaf's capacity, contributing significant time, resources, and work on joint projects.

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Support Ensaaf with Your Online Searches & Purchases!

What if Ensaaf earned a penny every time you searched the Internet? Or if a percentage of every purchase you made online went to support our cause? Well, now it can!

GoodSearch.com is a new Yahoo-powered search engine that donates half of its advertising revenue, about a penny per search, to the charities designated by its users. Just go to www.goodsearch.com and enter Ensaaf as the charity you want to support. Use it just as you would any search engine, and watch the donations add up. If everyone receiving this newsletter used Goodsearch just twice a day for one year, the donations would add up to $5,000!

When you support Ensaaf, you are investing in sound strategies, an experienced full-time staff, and a network of prominent international and domestic organizations dedicated to ending impunity and achieving justice in Punjab.

GoodShop.com is a new online shopping mall that donates up to 37 percent of each purchase to your favorite cause. Hundreds of stores including Amazon, Target, Gap, Best Buy, ebay, Macy's, and Barnes & Noble have teamed up with GoodShop, and every time you place an order, you will be supporting Ensaaf. Just go to www.goodshop.com and enter Ensaaf as the charity you want to support; then click on the store you want to purchase from. By conducting your normal shopping online through GoodShop.com, you could be donating hundreds of dollars more to Ensaaf annually!

When you support Ensaaf, either through GoodSearch.com, GoodShop.com or by donating directly, you are investing in sound strategies, an experienced full-time staff, and a network of prominent international and domestic organizations dedicated to ending impunity and achieving justice in Punjab.

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US State Department Releases 2008 India Country Report on Human Rights Practices, Cites Ensaaf

On March 11, 2008, the US State Department released its annual Country Reports on Human Rights Practices. According to the State Department, India has made "little progress" in "holding hundreds of police and security officials accountable for many disappearances committed during the Punjab counterinsurgency and the Delhi anti-Sikh riots of 1984-94, despite the presence of a special investigatory commission."

The US State Department specifically referred to the lack of progress of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) as it continued to investigate over two thousand cases of murder and cremation that occurred between 1984 and 1995, referring to the Punjab mass cremations case. Additionally, the report noted that there were no developments in the case filed by Paramjit Kaur Khalra, the widow of human rights activist Jaswant Singh Khalra, seeking prosecution of former police chief KPS Gill in the abduction, illegal detention, torture, and murder of her husband.

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Update: Jaswant Singh Khalra's Murder: The Case Against KPS Gill

 On May 13, 2008, the Punjab and Haryana High Court will hold a hearing regarding the petition calling on the government to prosecute former Punjab police chief KPS Gill for his role in the illegal detention, torture, and murder of human rights defender Jaswant Singh Khalra. At this hearing, a Division Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court will respond to written submissions made by both parties and hear oral arguments.

The petition was filed by Paramjit Kaur Khalra on September 6, 2006, the eleventh anniversary of Khalra's abduction, in the Punjab and Haryana High Court after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) refused to investigate and prosecute Gill for his role in the crimes against Khalra. Ensaaf drafted the petition's international law arguments on the doctrine of superior responsibility.

In February 2008, the CBI responded to the petition filed by Mrs. Khalra and sought the dismissal of the petition, stating that their investigation did not lead to evidence to "substantiate the allegations against Gill."

While the CBI asserts that no evidence exists to prosecute Gill, direct evidence of Gill's involvement was put on record during the trial of his subordinate officers. In his trial testimony, Special Police Officer (SPO) Kuldip Singh, who guarded Khalra in illegal detention, testified that Gill interrogated Khalra several days prior to Khalra's murder. His testimony also indicated that Gill ordered subordinates to murder Khalra. The CBI actively worked to prevent the inclusion of key witness Kuldip Singh in the criminal trial against Gill's subordinate officers.

However, both the trial court and the Punjab and Haryana High Court especially cited the testimony of SPO Kuldip Singh in convicting and upholding the convictions of the police officers for Khalra's illegal detention and murder. The High Court stated "Kuldeep Singh [Kuldip Singh] is the star witness...We find his statement to be truthful, convincing and inspiring confidence."

Ensaaf provides litigation support in this case to ensure that all of Khalra's murderers are brought to justice. For more information, visit Ensaaf's page on advocacy pursued regarding the murder of Jaswant Singh Khalra. This page includes links to judgments and legal papers, as well as information on joint initiatives by international human rights organizations, including Ensaaf, Human Rights Watch, REDRESS, and the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice at New York University School of Law.

NOTE: In the separate case regarding the detention and murder of Khalra by lower-level officers, the police officers have appealed their convictions to the Supreme Court and filed applications for bail. The Supreme Court issued notice to the parties regarding the admissibility of the appeals and bail applications. A hearing on the appeals and applications may be held as early as the second week of May 2008.

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Ensaaf Selected for India-Wide "Understanding Impunity" Project

Ensaaf has recently been selected to participate in an India-wide survey of impunity entitled "Understanding Impunity: Failures and Possibilities of Rights to Truth, Justice and Reparation." The project is based at the Kathmandu office of the South Asia Forum for Human Rights (SAFHR), and is funded by the International Development Research Center. The Understanding Impunity Project will concentrate on four regions in India: Gujarat; Kashmir; the Northeast, including Assam, Manipur and Nagaland; and Punjab. The project aims to document and understand impunity on a regional level in order to form the basis of a coordinated strategy against impunity in India.

Ensaaf is the only participant that is positioned as a regional consultant, contributing to the documentation efforts from Punjab, as well as an international consultant, advising on methodology, training, and advocacy. Other project participants include experienced researchers based in Kathmandu and the regions in focus, and prominent advocates and organizations from the human rights community, such as the Center for Law and Development, Lawyers' Collective, and Nyayagraha.

Ensaaf is the only participant that is positioned as a regional consultant, contributing to the documentation efforts from Punjab, as well as an international consultant, advising on methodology, training, and advocacy.

The objectives of the three-year project include:

  • Documenting the operational aspects of impunity at various levels;
  • Developing a rational and just framework of liability and reparation, based on empirical and rational evidence of harm cause by State violence, human rights abuses, including physical and mental injury, emotional and moral harm, livelihood losses, and afflictions and agonies born by social collectives;
  • Building public pressure and strengthening the ongoing advocacy campaigns for justice and reparation for victims of political violence, including sexual violence, through a regional consultation.

After three years, the project will conclude with the publication of a comprehensive volume, including an advocacy plan and detailed recommendations to end impunity in India.

The Understanding Impunity Project is being directed and led by renowned human rights activist and writer Ram Narayan Kumar, who also serves on Ensaaf's Board of Advisors.

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NHRC Issues Order in the Punjab Mass Cremations Case

On March 25, 2008, the Indian National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), under Chairperson Rajendra Babu, issued its latest order in the Punjab mass cremations case. This order addressed some of the criticisms raised by the Committee for Information and Initiative on Punjab (CIIP), and Ensaaf in its joint report with Human Rights Watch (HRW), Protecting the Killers: A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India. Although the NHRC has taken significant steps to address its arbitrary procedures and practices, it has retained major defects that will likely continue to compromise even its limited objectives.

Background to the case

The Punjab mass cremations case developed from investigations by human rights activists Jaswant Singh Khalra and Jaspal Singh Dhillon conducted in 1994 and early 1995, when they used government crematoria records to expose over 6,000 secret cremations by the police in Amritsar district—just one of then 13 districts in Punjab. Based on this information, the CIIP moved the Supreme Court in April 1995 to demand a comprehensive inquiry into extrajudicial executions ending in secret cremations. In December 1996, the Supreme Court empowered the NHRC to adjudicate the matter of police abductions leading to disappearances and secret cremations in Punjab.

In over 11 years of proceedings, however, the NHRC has refused to independently investigate a single abuse or allow a single victim family to testify. Instead, the Commission has based its findings on information provided by the Punjab police, the perpetrators of the cremations. Furthermore, the Commission has limited its inquiry to over two thousand cremations in three crematoria in one district of Punjab and has refused to consider secret cremations, extrajudicial executions, and disappearances throughout the rest of the state, despite evidence that these crimes were widespread and systematic. Read Ensaaf's analysis in the joint Ensaaf/HRW report.

The latest NHRC order addressed some of the CIIP and Ensaaf/HRW criticisms. The NHRC:

  • Set-up a three member committee that will solicit evidence and participation from victim families in order to identify the remaining 657 unidentified cremations;
  • Ordered the committee to use the incident report form developed by the CIIP, subject to modifications, and consider circumstantial evidence to establish the identity of the victims and circumstances leading to the secret cremations;
  • Ordered the solicitation of claims from throughout Punjab. This expansion marks an acknowledgment of the fact that individuals living outside of Amritsar were cremated in Amritsar and it is necessary to reach their next of kin to establish the identity of all of the victims. (Ten percent of the previously identified cremations came from outside of Amritsar, including non-adjacent districts); and
  • Criticized the Bhalla Commission for adopting a defective methodology, which effectively restricted the number of victims eligible for compensation and prevented the identification of cremation victims, as pointed out by the CIIP.

Thus, in a welcome move, the NHRC appointed a committee that will solicit claims from throughout Punjab and consider both direct and circumstantial evidence to determine the identities of the victims and the circumstances leading to their illegal cremations. The consideration of this evidence, as well as the potential for victim families' to participate before the committee, will significantly increase the ability of the committee to establish the identity of the cremation victims and also determine whether the victims died in police custody.

With its latest order, the NHRC also corrected some of the errors of the Bhalla Commission. Because the Bhalla Commission rejected CIIP's proposed incident report form and refused to consider information on experiences prior to custody, it also rejected eyewitness evidence of police custody of the victims prior to cremation. Instead, Justice Bhalla demanded eyewitnesses to the clandestine death or cremation. The NHRC reproached Bhalla for rejecting the affidavit of Gurbachan Singh, whose case is highlighted in the Ensaaf/HRW report. This case includes evidence that his son Charrat Singh was in the custody of Punjab police before Charrat Singh was disappeared and secretly cremated. Justice Bhalla had rejected the affidavits of the witnesses on the grounds that they had neither seen the dead body nor the cremation, so they could not provide evidence for the identification. The NHRC stated that "[w]hen the death and cremation were in secrecy and no information had been given to the relatives of the deceased, it is impossible to ask for them to witness the same." And further that "circumstantial evidence shall be crucial for identification in this case and the learned Commissioner fell in error by discarding such evidence."

Continuing Problems

The major failings of the order include:

  • Appointing a senior Punjab police officer (Deputy Inspector General, Border Range) to the committee that will evaluate and pass recommendations on the claims submitted by victim families. In so doing, the NHRC has ignored the conflict of interest posed by empowering a member of the agency responsible for the violations to decide the claims of the victims of that agency. The NHRC has further failed to consider the message that this appointment sends to the victim community, who will likely view the police officer's appointment as a deliberate attempt to intimidate them and deny the possibility of a fair and impartial process and outcome. (Other members of the committee include the Commissioner of Jalandhar and a retired District and Sessions judge from Punjab; the District Commissioner of Amritsar will serve as the convenor);
  • Appointing the "State" to investigate and verify claims submitted by the victims. Although the NHRC has not expressly identified the State agency, it is likely to continue its decade-long practice of relying on the Punjab police for investigation, despite the fact that police perpetrated the killings and secret cremations and admitted to forging and concealing the identities of the cremation victims. Since the committee has not begun to operate, the NHRC still has an opportunity to appoint an independent body or State agency to conduct the investigations and verifications;
  • Limiting publication of the notice, which will disclose the location of the claim forms, to in and around Amritsar, without explaining how families in other districts will learn of the availability of the claim forms; and
  • Adopting the arbitrary compensation scheme outlined in the November 2004 NHRC order, ignoring the scope and multiplicity of violations suffered by the cremation victims and their survivors, among other aspects required by reparations law. The NHRC granted compensation to the next of kin of 90 victims identified during the Bhalla Commission proceedings for the violation of the "dignity of the dead," ignoring the violation of the right to life preceding the secret cremations.

Thus, despite the NHRC now opening-up to relevant evidence, significant problems remain. The appointment and direct participation of Punjab police in the evaluation, and likely verification, of the victims' evidence and claims raise serious doubts about the ability of the committee to function in an impartial and transparent manner, as well as the intentions of the NHRC. The NHRC is well aware that Punjab police deliberately and admittedly illegally fabricated and concealed the identities of their secret cremation victims, and has a track record of failing to cooperate with the NHRC and its designates in identifying the cremation victims, including suppressing relevant information. As long as the NHRC continues to abdicate its responsibility to the Punjab police, it is unlikely to reach a just determination of the claims and will only further alienate the victim families that come before the committee.

The NHRC also continues to restrict its purview to three crematoria in Amritsar district and the issue of compensating illegal cremations, instead of providing an effective remedy for the systematic violation of the right to life throughout Punjab. Unless the NHRC embraces its duty to investigate the widespread and systematic nature of the crimes, with a view to establishing individual and institutional responsibility and the entire spectrum of rights violated, the NHRC will have failed in its mandate from the Supreme Court and eroded the rule of law in favor of impunity.

The next hearing before the NHRC in this case is scheduled for May 15, 2008.

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India Comes Under Scrutiny at the First Session of the UN Universal Periodic Review

From April 7 to April 18, 2008, the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) conducted its first Universal Periodic Review (UPR) session, assessing 16 member countries on their fulfillment of human rights obligations and commitments. The UNHRC reviewed India on April 10, considering reports submitted by the government of India, the Indian National Human Rights Commission, UN agencies, and civil society stakeholders such as Ensaaf.

Reports Submitted for Consideration

For consideration at the review session, Ensaaf submitted its recent joint report with Human Rights Watch, Protecting the Killers: A Policy of Impunity in Punjab, India, as well as a letter (pdf) summarizing gross human rights violations perpetrated in Punjab and the government's failure to provide effective remedies for these violations. Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch also submitted their concerns regarding the Punjab mass cremations case, such as the NHRC's exclusive reliance on the State's admissions or denials to reach its determinations. The Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances noted that it is reviewing hundreds of cases of disappearances that occurred between 1983 and 2004 in Punjab and Kashmir, stemming from the wide powers granted to security forces.

The National Human Rights Commission of India submitted a report on its fulfillment of international human rights obligations. Among the achievements it described, the NHRC stated that "The Commission, due to its accessibility and positive actions, has gained credibility amongst the people, which is its major strength." The NHRC's report went on to claim that the compensation granted in the Punjab mass cremations case to the next of kin of over 1300 victims was an "important" decision. Interestingly, while the Commission has yet to acknowledge the Punjab mass cremations as custodial deaths, disappearances, or extrajudicial executions, it noted in its report that the Commission laid down "stringent reporting requirements in respect of custodial deaths."

India's Response at UPR Session

The NHRC's report was indicative of the overall attitude of the government of India towards the review process, one in which it ignored criticisms of its human rights record, instead claiming that in the context of "dealing with terrorism," India's gains in human rights protections should be commended. The government of India did not address impunity for human rights violations in Punjab. Furthermore, in response to concerns voiced by Canada and other nations regarding the impunity with which security forces operate, India stated that no forces, armed or police, function with impunity. Member nations, however, singled out the Armed Forces Special Powers Act of 1958 (AFSPA), which, among its many draconian provisions, allows members of the armed forces to shoot to kill civilians based on mere suspicion. Counter-terrorism legislation such as the AFSPA has been widely criticized for promoting impunity for human rights violations and rendering it nearly impossible to challenge the actions of security forces.

In response to a query regarding the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (Disappearances Convention), India claimed that steps are currently being taken towards ratification. Once ratified, the Disappearances Convention would mandate effective remedies for enforced disappearances, which include: investigating claims of disappearances, prosecuting the offending officials, and providing adequate reparations to the families of the disappeared.

Ensaaf looks forward to India's ratification of the Disappearances Convention and will continue to advocate for international human rights norms to be applied towards gross human rights violations committed in Punjab, so that the Indian government will one day answer for its crimes.

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Terror in Punjab: Narratives, Knowledge, and Truth

Ensaaf Advisory Board member Ram Narayan Kumar released his new book, Terror in Punjab: Narratives, Knowledge, and Truth, in Chandigarh, Punjab on April 19, 2008. Kumar's latest work, based on two decades of his involvement in Punjab, discusses his experiences and understandings of the bloody turmoil and human rights violations in Punjab, the construction and politics of hegemonic narratives of the same period by scholarly and media institutions, the impact of these narratives on democratic discourse regarding governance and rule of law in India, and the vital linkages between the quality and integrity of this discourse and the possibilities and failures of the rights to truth, justice, and reparation.

Kumar's analysis shows the historical triumph of might over right, and the success of the State's narrative in stimulating institutions and society to become inured to the translation of self-defense and national-security rhetoric into a murderous methodology. According to Kumar's analysis, the international media also fell victim to the State's propaganda, indirectly contributing to the legitimization of State violence and the suppression of knowledge about the plight of victims and the denial of their right to an effective remedy.

According to Kumar, although India is capable of humanitarian compassion and empathy, it also has an immense capacity to trample human rights. He cites to the Punjab mass cremations case to illustrate this capacity, where, in thirteen years of litigation, the Supreme Court and National Human Rights Commission "have failed to establish and enforce the principles and the primacy of rights to truth, justice, reparations and the end of impunity, which remains the sheath over the sword held over the heads of those who dare to raise them again." Kumar believes, however, that the failures so far, "may be repaired, at least partially, by a people oriented recovery of facts and their contexts."

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Kulvir Singh Barapind Acquitted of all Charges

Ensaaf helped secure protection for Barapind from torture and mistreatment in detention in India.

On April 29, Kulvir Singh Barapind was released from jail in India after being acquitted of all charges against him. Barapind was extradited from the US to India on June 17, 2006. Ensaaf helped secure protection for Barapind from torture and mistreatment in detention in India. Barapind was in continuous detention for 15 years, 13 years of which he served in the US.

Review of Advocacy

Before he fled to the US in 1993, Indian security forces tortured him severely during two detentions. In November 2005, Ensaaf submitted an application for relief from extradition on behalf of Kulvir Singh Barapind to the US Secretary of State, under the United Nations Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman and Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CAT). Barapind's CAT application presented overwhelming evidence that he would be tortured by Indian officials if he was surrendered to India. On December 27, 2005, the Center for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) called on the US Secretary of State to withhold extradition of any person who is more likely than not to be subjected to torture upon return. The CHRGJ submitted an extensive amicus letter (pdf) in support of the legal position taken by Barapind regarding US obligations under international and domestic law. In January 2006, Ensaaf submitted a communication to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Question of Torture regarding Barapind's case, securing the Rapporteur's intervention. Ensaaf also secured the involvement of Congressman Chris Smith and his Professional Staff Sheri Rickert at the House Subcommittee on Global Human Rights. Further, Ensaaf negotiated and obtained a commitment from the US government to monitor the treatment of Barapind and act on any information of abuse. On June 19, Human Rights Watch (HRW) called on the Indian government to ensure that its security forces did not torture or mistreat Barapind.

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