PHOTO ESSAY: FIVE HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN PUNJAB
Ensaaf has traveled village to village to document unlawful killings and disappearances committed by Indian security forces during the Decade of Disappearances in Punjab. We have reached 12,000 villages and need your support to continue this work. Donate today, and double your dollar, as part of our 10K in 10 Days matching campaign! The campaign ends July 5th.
In this photo essay, we highlight 5 cases of fundamental human rights violations, as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Article 9: No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.
Indian security officials abducted Charnjit Kaur from her home at 4:30 in the morning, covering her face with her own scarf. They tortured her for five days in illegal detention, stretching her legs apart more than 180 degrees and waterboarding her. They were looking for her son, Jagjit Singh. Later, Punjab Police officials “disappeared” her son. He was 16 years old.
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.
Punjab Police officials tortured Kinder Singh and forced him to witness the torture of his brother, Bal Bahadur Singh. Then, they unlawfully killed Bal Bahadur Singh and their other brother, Balwinder Singh. To escape arbitrary attacks, Kinder Singh and his family abandoned their home and hid from security forces for three years. Singh told Ensaaf, “When police did not leave us alone, we had to go. They burned our house.” Although Singh had to abandon it, he says, “There is no place like home. They disgraced [it]...and left it in no state.”
Article 5: No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
After security officials of the CIA Staff tortured Diljit Singh for 10 days, he lost the ability to walk. “They hung me upside down, ripped apart my buttocks, and used rollers on me,” Singh told Ensaaf. “When they did not learn anything from me, they put peppers in the water, stripped me naked, and placed me inside the peppered water. The peppered water irritated my private parts. It would have been better if they had killed me instead. Then, after police officials beat me, they poured cold water on me. Since [then], my legs do not work. Now, because of the beatings, I cannot walk and just stay in bed.” CIA Staff officials unlawfully killed his brother, Gurdeep Singh, and also tortured several other members of Singh’s family.
Article 3: Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Jasbir Kaur showed Ensaaf photos of family members that police tortured and unlawfully killed on October 7, 1991.
Punjab Police officials came to her house while several militants had entered and were eating lunch. The militants opened fire on the police officials, killed two of them, and then fled. The security forces returned to Kaur’s home later, rounded up her family, tortured them with hot tar, and skinned them with a metal grater from Kaur’s kitchen. Then, the security forces shot everyone, including an eighteen-month old baby. The baby survived but required serious medical care.
Indian security officials unlawfully killed seven members of Kaur’s family that day, but claimed the victims died in an exchange of gunfire.
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.
Satwant Singh Manak has been waiting decades for an independent trial. He filed a lawsuit against Punjab Police officials, who tortured him and his father, and whom he witnessed to have unlawfully killed over a dozen Sikh men and boys in custody.
On November 26, 2013, the Punjab & Haryana High Court dismissed the case and refused to start an inquiry. Since the early 1990’s, Manak has been advocating on behalf of ten victim families whose loved ones were unlawfully killed by the Punjab Police. He was devastated by the verdict, but is resilient. “I will not be scared, nor intimidated, nor sold,” Manak told Ensaaf.
In April 2014, Ensaaf and his lawyers helped Manak and the other victim families appeal their case to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court admitted the appeal and Manak is awaiting a hearing, expected either later this year or in 2017.