PUCL Bulletin, Dec. 2000
The People Speak out: Police Harassment of Bengali Speaking Muslims of Yamuna Pushta
"Their version is being publicised by everyone, newspapers, TV, radio, etc, no one is concerned with ours" bemoans a woman resident of Sanjay Amar colony:
On the midnight of 20th June 2000, the police officials of Kotwali Police Station attacked the Bengali Basti, Sanjay Amar Colony and arrested about 100 local residents, including women and children. There were no women police personnel in the raiding party. Next day while the women and children were released, the male members were detained and taken to shelter homes/ Lampur beggar home for deportation. It is understood that large number of such detained persons are also lodged at present in the Rain-basera in front of Old Delhi Railway Station.
SI, Pradeep Kumar, along with three constables entered the house of Mohd. Eskan, and hit him. When he became unconscious they opened the steel almirah and took away his and his wife's passports. Eskan was taken to the hospital for treatment. After being discharged from the hospital, he filed a case in Session Court for the recovery of his passport. The police did agree to return it. However, till 27.6.2000, it had not been returned.
The residents reported that on the night of June 20th /21st more than a hundred men, women, and children were rounded up from the Bengali Basti of Sanjay Amar Colony and sent to Kotwali. It is pertinent to add that:
1. No policewomen were there
to handle women and children.
2. Police used obscene, vulgar and abusive language.
3. The hapless people were repeatedly beaten with lathis while being rounded up from their jhuggis, at the Chowki, and while getting into and getting down the police truck from Chowki to Kotwali.
4. At Kotwali they were taken to the 2nd floor. There were policemen standing at each stair with lathi in hand and they were hitting in the persons going to the 2nd floor.
5. Obscene questions were asked about male female relation within the family.
6. The people were hit in private parts, in the back, in arms and legs. Thus the injuries, though painful, looked as minor injuries.
Verbatim account of arrest: On 20th /21st June, night, Neela heard knocks and shouts outside her Jhuggi. On opening the door, she, her husband Arif, her sister Seema, Mother Aalia and Brothers Bittoo and Vicky were rounded up by the police. As there was no woman police the ladies were unwilling to go to police Chowki. There were 10-15 policemen there. Mansab Ali, one of the constables, on finding the women unwilling to go to police Chowki, slapped them and hit with his lathi. When they were taken to Chowki, they saw that already 25-26 women resident of the Colony were already there. From Chowki they were taken to Kotwali where there were about 125 persons. Whosever among them spoke Bangla, was badly beaten up. The women and children were released the next day. The men were sent to Fateh Puri Rain Basera.
Same treatment was met to Neela, w/o Siraj, and their two sons and daughters. While Neela and kids were released, the husband was detained in Fatheh Puri Rain Basera. Earlier on 16th June 2000, 4-5 persons were rounded up for interrogation. Now they are lodged in the Beggar's Home at Lampur Border.
The PUCL team went to Fatheh Puri night shelter. However, the sub inspector refused the permission to enter and talk to inmates. From the grill gate the team members could see women and children also inside the shelter. The SI said, the team members needed the permission of FRRO. The FRRO refused the permission to talk to the inmates of the night shelter especially women and children. The FRRO, however, assured the team that the inmates living conditions, in the night shelter was better than what it was in the Jhuggi bustees. He said there were about 133 Bangladeshis in Lampur Beggar's Home and 235 in Fatheh Puri night shelter. About the procedure followed he said that they are sent to him after police verification. Delhi police issues a certificate to that effect. Some verification is done at the FRRO level too. The FRRO said anybody could give information about the foreigners and any police personnel can question the concerned individual. Coming back to the present drive, he said the detained persons names and addresses are sent to the BSF who in turn talk to its counterpart, on the other side of the border, to verify the antecedents. Once the verification is complete, the detained foreigners are sent to the BSF outposts by train. A police escort is provided and the basic needs of the persons fulfilled by the State. He added that a list of 58 persons had been sent to BSF. The Bangladesh counter part of the BSF confirmed the antecedents of 33 persons. These 33 persons, he claimed, had been deported.
The People's Union for Civil
Liberties, Delhi sent a protest letter to the Dy. Commissioner of Police (North)
and to the SHO, Kotwali on 21st June 2000. A copy of the said protest letter
is enclosed as Annexure 1. Protest telegrams were also sent to the DCP, SHO,
and the Lt. Governor, but without any response. In a Criminal Misc. (Main) case
No. 2140 of 2000 filed on behalf of eight detenues, the Hon'ble High Court stayed
the deportation of 8 petitioners. It passed the following order:
" issue notice to 14th July, 2000. Mr. M. S. Butalia accepts notice. The ration cards of petitioners 1 to 7 have been shown to me, which show that the petitioners have been residing in Delhi for sometime. It is contended that the petitioners are not citizens of Bangladesh.
Till the next date of hearing the petitioners shall not be deported if not already deported.
Dasti, June3oth 2000 Sd/-J Vikramjit Sen, Vacation Judge."
On 29th June 2000 the Dy. Commissioner of Police (north Delhi) issued notice to large number of residents of Bengali Basti stating that the concerned addressee was believe to be a foreigner and that he was required to prove that he was citizen of India or was having valid documents to continue his stay in India. The addressee was directed to appear on 1st July along with his documents to prove his citizenship in the office of the Dy. CP. The format of the said notice is reproduced below in (Box 2):
Millan Master@ Aby Hanif
S/o Asaduj Jaman
R/o C - 19-B-407 Bengali Basti
Yamuna Pushta, Delhi
Whereas you Shri Aby Hanif @ Millan Master S/o Shri Asaduj Jaman are presently residing at the above-mentioned address and there are reasons to believe that you are a foreigner illegally staying in India without any valid document as required by law of land and according to Section 9 of Foreigners Act, 1946, you are required to prove that you are either a citizen of India or having valid documents to continue your stay in India.
Therefore, you are hereby
directed to appear at Room no. 12, Foreigners Cell, Office of DCP/North, Civil
Lines, Delhi on 1.7.2000 at 10.am along with all the documents (Ration Card,
Passport, Voter Card, Birth Certificate, domicile certificate, Visa, etc) in
your possession which you may think fit to prove your Nationality as Indian/legal
stay in India. If you fail to do so it will be presumed that you have nothing
to say in support of your claim and ex-parte proceedings for deportation to
alleged country of your origin shall be initiated.
Deputy Commissioner of Police, North District, Delhi
Similar notices were served on about 30 residents on 29th June 2000 out of which 15 were required to appear before the DCP on 1st July 2000 in the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police and the other 15, on 2nd July. Similar notices were served to other residents of the locality. Some of the residents, who were served such notices, appeared before the police officials on 1st July 2000 in the office of the Deputy Commissioner of Police and submitted representation dated 1.7.2000 along with photo copies of their documents like Ration Card, voter identity card, Delhi administration card, birth certificates of their children, passports, voters list and other documents as available with them. Some of the residents did not go personally out of fear of the police but sent their documents (copies) along with their representations. Before that the residents had submitted before the police officials that time given to them for appearing before the DCP for proving their case was very short and unreasonable and insufficient and had requested for more time but their requests were rejected.
On 1st July the Police officials who interrogated Mr. Millan Master @ Aby Hanif and other residents informed them that documents like ration cards, voter identity card, passports, birth certificates, of the children and other connected documents were not relevant. They demanded proof of the ancestors of the residents, pattas of lands, complete details of the villagers or cities where the residents had lived before, etc, etc. The residents were kept from morning to evening for interrogation. The representatives of the PUCL Delhi including its General Secretary, Ms. Gopa Joshi, were present there for a short while. The police officials were already convinced that the residents present there were foreigners and after completion of formalities, they would be deported in due course. During the course of interrogation the police officials were making repeated forceful attempts to compel the residents to make false admission that they were foreigners. But in spite of the said threats and pressures, the residents refused to submit to the said unlawful pressures of the said police officials. The residents were released in the evening with the warning that the deportation proceedings against them were likely to be completed within 30 days. The police officials also took photographs of the residents and made them to sign on certain documents without explaining to them the significance of the same. However, it was told that such procedure was part of deportation process.
Those residents who did not appear before the Dy. C.P. on 1st July out of fear but had submitted their documents (photo copies) through their representatives are being threatened by the police officials that they would be deported soon.
The process of scrutiny
of foreign national is defined in the foreigners (tribunals) Order 1964. According
to this order:
2. Constitution of Tribunals: (1) The Central Government may by order, refer the question as to whether a person is or is not a foreigner with the meaning of the foreigners Act, 1946 (31 of 1946) to a tribunal to be constituted for the purpose, for its opinion.
(1-A) The registering authority appointed under sub rule (1) of Rule 16-F of the Citizenship Rules. 1956 may also refer to the Tribunal the question whether a person of Indian origin, complies with any of the requirements under sub section (3) of Section 6-A of the Citizenship Act, 1955 (57 of 1957).
In Paragraph 2, after sub paragraph (1), the sub paragraph (1-A) was inserted wide notification No. GSR 203 (E), dated 15th January 1986, published in the Gazette of India, dated 14.2.86 effective from 14.2.86.
2. The tribunal shall consist of such number of persons having judicial experience as the Central Government may think fit to appoint.
3. Where the tribunal consists
of two or more members, one of them shall be appointed as the chairman thereof.
3. Procedure for disposal of questions: (1) The Tribunal shall serve on the person to whom the question relates, a copy of the main grounds on which he is alleged to b e a foreigner and give him a reasonable opportunity of making a representation and producing evidence in support of his case and after considering such evidence as may be produced after hearing such persons as may reserve to be heard, the Tribunal shall submit its opinion to the officer or authority specified in this behalf in the order of reference.
"(1-A) The tribunal shall, before giving its opinion on the question referred to in sub paragraph (1-A) of paragraph2, give the person in respect of whom the opinion is sought, a reasonable opportunity to represent his case."
In paragraph 3, after sub paragraph (1), the sub paragraph, (1-A) was inserted, vide notification No. GSR 203 (E), dated the 15th January1986, published in the Gazette of India, dated 14.2.86, effective from 14.2.86.
(2) Subject to the provisions
of this order, the tribunal shall have power to regulate its own procedure.
4. Powers of Tribunals. The tribunal shall have the power of Civil Court while trying a suite under the code of civil procedure, 1908, in respect of the following matters, namely:
(a) Summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person in examining him on oath;
(b) Requiring the discovery and production of any document;
(c) Issuing Commissions for the examinations of any witness.
The tribunals are to adjudicate upon as to whether a person is or is not a foreigner. But the powers given to it under Clause 4 are very limited considering the importance of the matter left to its adjudication. The tribunal needs to be limited to sub Clauses (a) to (c) in this Clause. It is to try the matter like the Civil suit by all such powers as under the Code of Civil procedure. The tribunal needs to try the matter like a judicial authority, so it should have all the powers of a code, if not the scope of its under Clause 4 needs to be widened enough to unable it to play a more judicious role.
The citizenship Act 1955, provides elaborate procedure for determination and termination of citizenship of a citizen and only "prescribed authorities" as specified as per provisions of the said Act in different situations can embark upon an inquiry to find out the status of nationality of a person. The Hon'ble Supreme Court in the matter of Lal Babu Hussain Vs. electoral registration officer has dealt with this question in following manner:
" .. It will be seen from sub section (2) of section 9 that if any question arises as to whether and how any person has acquired the citizenship of another country, it shall be determined by such authority, in such manner and having regard to such rules of evidence as may be prescribed in that behalf. If we turn to citizenship Rules, 1956 we find detailed provisions in regard to the procedure to be followed for the acquisition of citizenship and for the termination thereof. It will thus be seen that if a person has acquired citizenship of India and a question arises whether or not he/ she has lost the citizenship by acquisition of another country, that question has to be resolved by the authority prescribed under the Act. Thus the question whether a person is a foreigner is a question of fact that would require careful scrutiny of evidence since the enquiry is quasi-judicial in character. The question has to be determined by the central government, vide Govt of Andhra Pradesh vs. Syed Mohd. Khan 1962 Supp. (3) SCR 288: (AIR 1962 Supreme Court 1978) and State of UP Vs. Rehmatullah (1971) 2 SCC 113: AIR 1971 SC 1382).
From the resume of the aforementioned provisions of the Constitution and the Citizenship Act, it becomes clear that whenever any authority is called upon to decide even for limited purpose of another law, whether a person is or is not a citizen of India, the authority must carefully examine the question in the context of the constitutional provisions and the provisions of the citizenship Act extracted hereinabove."
From the above it is clear that only a prescribed authority under the relevant Acts like Citizenship Act or Foreigners Act can issue such notices for inquiring into the citizenship status of a person. Dy. Commissioner of Police (North) is certainly not the prescribed authority for such purpose.
The main objections are:
I. Impugned notice Annexure 1 does not disclose as to under what provisions of law and under what authority the DCP-North Distt has issued such notices. Thus the impugned notice Annexure P-1 is liable to be quashed.
II. That the impugned notice Annexure does not disclose the material on the basis of which the DCP North Distt has reason to suspect that the person concerned is not a citizen of India. This procedure is arbitrary and in violation of the directions of the Supreme Court in the said judgement AIR1995 SC 1189 (Lal Babu Hussain case in which residents of the area concerned in the present case were duly represented). In Para 2 of the said directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court has stated as under:
"2. In all the three cases we quash the proceedings and direct that the Election Commission may, if so desired, initiate fresh proceedings by issuance of a notice under the relevant provision disclosing the material on the basis whereof he has reason to suspect that the person concerned is not a citizen of India."
Neither such material has been disclosed in the impugned notice Annexure P1 nor such material was disclosed and supplied to Millan Master and other residents who appeared before the police officials of the Dy. Commissioner of Police.
That the DCP North has referred to Section 9 of Foreigners Act 1946 in impugned notice which is reproduced below:
"9 BURDEN OF PROOF: -
If any case not falling under section 8 any question arises with reference to this act or any order made or direction given there under, whether any person is or is not a foreigner or is or is not a foreigner of a particular class to description, the onus of proving that such person is not a foreigner or is not a foreigner of such particular class or description, as the case may be, shall, notwithstanding anything contained in the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872), lie upon such persons".
The reference of the above section 9 of the Foreigners Act, 1946 and reliance over it in the impugned notice Annexure 1 is totally out of place. The provision is rule of evidence, which is to be resorted to when civil or criminal proceedings are undertaken in a case, especially under Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, which provide for penalties like imprisonment and fines. The DCP-North cannot appropriate the said section for the benefit of his arbitrary and illegal proceedings.
I. The impugned notice Annexure
1 dt. 29th June 2000 directing the residents to appear before the DCP-North
on 1st July 2000 to prove that whether they are citizens of India or not, i.e.,
within 24 hours is a mockery of justice and is in utter violation of the law
of the land. The said procedure adopted by the DCP-North is in contravention
of the following directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the said Lal Babu
"4.The officer holding the enquiry shall bear in mind that the enquiry being quasi judicial nature, he must entertain all such evidence, documentary or otherwise the concerned affected person may like to tender in evidence and disclose all such material on which he proposes to place reliance, so that the concerned person has had a reasonable opportunity of rebutting such evidence. The concerned person, it must always be remembered, must have a reasonable opportunity of being heard.
"5.Needless to say that the Officer inquiring into the matter must apply his mind independently to the material placed before him and without being influenced by extraneous considerations or instructions.
"6. Before taking a final decision in the matter, the Officer concerned will bear in mind the provisions of the Constitution and of the Citizenship Act extracted hereinabove and all the related provisions bearing on the question of citizenship and then pass an appropriate speaking order (since an appeal is provided).
"7. These guidelines not being exhaustive, the Officer concerned must, where special situation arise conduct themselves fairly and in a manner consistent with the principles of natural justice and should not appear to be acting on any preconceived notions,"
IV. However, the police authorities have already formed an opinion that the residents are foreigners and are determined to deport them. The evidence alleged to have been collected on the back of the residents and they have no opportunity to rebut them. In fact before issuing such impugned notices Annexure1, the DCP North ought to have disclosed the material against the residents and ought to have allowed them an opportunity to rebut the same.
The Central Government in exercise of powers conferred by Section 3 of the Foreigners Act, 1946, has issued "The Foreigner (Tribunals) Order, 1964" for purposes of determining the question of nationality of a person February 17, 2001n. According to its clause 2 the "Central Government may by order, refer the question as to whether a person is or i9s not a foreigner within the meaning of the Foreigners Act, 1946 to a Tribunal constituted for the purpose for its opinion". Clause 3 of the said ORDER is reproduced below:
``3. Procedure for disposal
(1) The Tribunal shall serve on the person to whom the question relates, a copy of the main grounds on which he is alleged to be a foreigner and give him a reasonable opportunity of making a representation and producing evidence in support of his case and after considering such evidence as may be produced after hearing such persons as may deserve to be heard, the Tribunal shall submit its opinion to the Officer or authority specified in this behalf in the order of reference".
Clause 4 of the said ORDER refers to the power of Tribunal in summoning and enforcing attendance of any person, discovery of production of documents and issuing commissions for examination of witnesses as per procedure of C.P.C.
The aforesaid procedure to determine the question of nationality of a person shows that the question is to be taken very seriously in consonance with the principles of natural justice and fair play and such an issue cannot be left to be decided at the mercy of the police officials of the respondents.
V. The modus operandi of the police officials of the respondents is that they obtain the signatures and writings of the persons under force and threat to the effect that the concerned person is a foreigner and then start deportation proceedings on the basis of such 'admission' extorted under pressure. The concerned affected persons due to their poverty, economic disablement and lower status in society are unable to resist this kind of pressure tactics of the police.
VI. Even the alleged deportation process is eyewash. The intended deportees are taken to West Bengal-Bangladesh border and left there somewhere at an open space on the side of the Indian border. The Security officials at the border of Bangladesh do not allow such intrusion in their territory. The alleged persons are left at the border to fend for themselves and to their fate without ensuring whether they are received inside the Bangladesh territory. In fact such kind of deportation to Bangladesh cannot be affected without taking into confidence the Bangladesh authorities and without having some agreement on the alleged deportees with the said country. On the other hand, the Indian authorities cannot violate the territorial integrity of the neighbouring nation by throwing the alleged deportees into its side of the border without its consent. It will amount to breach of the international law.
The present drive for identifying the Bangla speaking people as foreigners in arbitrary manner and without following due procedure in law by the police officials of the respondents is violation of the fundamental rights enshrined in articles 14, 19, and 21 of the Constitution of India. The majority of such persons being targeted for deportation belong to minority community whose members are already feeling tense. The arbitrary and high handed manners of the police authorities in identifying the alleged foreigners on the basis of their subjective satisfaction and one sided inquiry is not conducive to peace and tranquility in society. There is virtual commotion among the members of the minority community i.e. Muslims that the present drive against so-called foreigners is to harass and victimize them. Therefore, it is of utmost importance that the procedure adopted by the authorities should not only be fair but must appear to be fair in the public eyes.
In 1983, G.O.I passed [The] Illegal Migrants (Determination by tribunals) Act, 1983- See Annexure 6.
Even in the past the residents of Bengali Basti, Sanjay Amar Colony, Yamuna Pushta had to go to Court to prevent the Electoral Registration Officer for deleting their names from electoral rolls. A date chronological account is given below:
List of Dates and Synopsis
1994 Names of 16955 poor, illiterate and ignorant residents, mostly belonging to the minority community of a Jhuggi Jhonpri Basti, Sanjay Amar Colony of Delhi exist in the final electoral rolls (ER) of 1994 of Polling Station (PS) Nos. 87 to 108 under4 Assembly Constituency No. 58, Matia Mahal, Delhi.
9.9.1994 Election Commission writes to the authorities of certain constituencies in the country to identity foreign nationals and to delete their names from the Electoral Rolls. The Election Commission's letter also contains the direction that onus of proof for the citizenship status of a person would be on that person and further, it prohibits the officers to entertain certain documents as a proof of the citizenship of that person.
20.9.1994 The Electoral Registration officer (ERO) having jurisdiction over PS Nos. 87 to 108 of Delhi assembly Constituency No. 58 issued a general notice to all the voters of these polling stations stating that they are suspected to be non citizens and directs them to be appear before him on specified dates with proof of their citizenship.
29.9.1994 The voters of
PS Nos 87 to 108 to whom notices were issued, appear before the
to concerned authorities and tender whatever documentary evidence of their being
16.10.1994 Indian nationals like copies of their ration cards and Jhuggi tokens issued by the Delhi Administration and letter from their native village Pradhans/ legislators, etc., they have. The officers told them that these documents were of no avail and that they should instead produce copies of their passports, citizenship certificates, or birth certificates.
Early 1995 As a result of 1994 special revision of the ERs., the ERO removed 16454 out of a total of 16955 names on the electoral rolls of PS nos. 87 to 100, mostly belonging to minority community leaving their names of merely 501 voters.
19.1.1995 Aggrieved by the result of the Special Revision of ERs conducted by the ERO, PUCL Delhi along with Mahila Jagriti Samiti and some of the affected persons file a Writ Petition (CWP No 56 of 1995) in the Supreme Court of India for quashing the revision proceedings and for restoration of the deleted names in the ERs. At that time, there are two other similar proceedings pending before the Supreme Court seeking similar relief. These are Writ petition Nos. 731 of 1994 (Lal Babu Hussain Vs. ERO) and Civil Appeal No. 1319 of 1995 arising out of a SLP (Civil) No. 21961 of 1994 (Hussain Dalwai Vs. UOI).
19.1.1995 The Hon'ble Supreme Court considers all the three matters together and disposes them off by a common judgment reported as Lal Babu Hussain vs. ERO, AIR 1995 Supreme Court 1189. The Hon'ble Court finds that the procedure adopted by the concerned EROs was unreasonable, unconstitutional, and violative of statutory provisions and principles of natural justice. It quashes the proceedings of the EROs as a result of which the names of the voters were removed from the ERs in all the three cases and at the same time it also quashes the Election Commission's order in his September 9, 1994 letter, which had prohibited the officers from entertaining certain documents tendered by the affected persons in support of their citizenship claims.
The Hon'ble Supreme Court stated as under: -
"From the resume of the aforementioned provisions of the constitution and the citizenship Act, it becomes clear that whenever any authority is called upon to decide even for the limited purpose of another law, whether a person is or is not a citizen of India, the authority must carefully examine the question in the context of the constitutional provisions and the provisions of the citizenship Act".
The Hon'ble Supreme Court further directed the Election Commission to follow certain specific guidelines, if it desired to initiate fresh enquiries under the rules and that purpose. The said lines are summarized below:
a) While initiating fresh
proceedings, the notice issued by the officers would disclose the material,
on the basis of which they have a reason to suspect that the person concerned
is not a citizen of India.
b) Revision Enquiry being of quasi-judicial nature, the officers would receive all the evidence, documentary or otherwise, which the seekers/claimants tender in support of their cases (The order of the EC prohibiting certain documents for this purpose has been quashed.) and assess them for their value.
c) The officers would conduct themselves fairly, independently, and consistent with principles of natural justice, without appearing to be acting on any preconceived notions or without being influenced by any extraneous considerations or instructions.
d) The officers would keep in mind that the names of the affected persons were already on the electoral rolls and the assumption is that at the time of initial inclusions, the entire procedure laid down in rules for the purpose must have been undergone. Therefore, they must attach adequate probative value to this fact before issuing any show cause notice and in any subsequent revision proceedings.
e) The officers holding the enquiry shall disclose to the affected persons all such materials on which they (affected officers) have a reasonable opportunity of rebutting such evidence.
f) The officers would pass appropriate speaking orders.
4.12.1995 The Electoral
returning officer, after the judgement of the Hon'ble Supreme Court issued fresh
notices regarding enquiry about their citizenship status of Early 1998 the residents
of the said Sanjay Amar Colony. The enquiry was conducted again in arbitrary
fashion and with subjective mind without following due procedure and the principle
of the natural justice and flouting the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court
names of large number of voters were deleted in arbitrary fashion again and
no speaking orders were passed.
November1998. As the procedure adopted by the authorities denying the citizenship of about 12000 poor, illiterate, and ignorant persons, mostly of the minority community, and deleting their names from the electoral rolls of 1994 was a mockery of justice and against the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court, People's Union for civil Liberties (Delhi), hereinafter to be referred to as PUCL and Mahila Jagriti Samiti, Sanjay Amar Colony on behalf of about 12,000 persons of the colony whose were arbitrarily deleted from the electoral rolls, filed writ petition no. 6403 of 1998 in the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi challenging the said action of the Electoral Authorities on the basis of one sided police report and for prohibiting the electoral returning officer to conduct any fresh electoral revision , proceedings without credible evidence against the citizenship status of the concerned persons and to proceed strictly in accordance with the Hon'ble supreme Court's directions.
9.3.1999 The said writ petition C.W. 6403 of 1998 was dismissed by the division bench of the Hon'ble Supreme Court.
14.7.1999 The petitioners PUCL and another filed SLP No. 8035/99 against the said judgement of the Hon'ble High Court and the Hon'ble Supreme Court vides its order dtd. 14.7.1999 directed this Hon'ble High Court to hear the petition and dispose it finally. The said writ petition 6403/98 was revived and is pending in this Hon'ble High Court for final disposal. The next date in the said writ petition is fixed as 12.7.2000 for further hearing.
On the midnight of 20th June, the police officials of Kotwali P.S. attacked Bengali Basti Sanjay Amar Colony and arrested about 100 local residents including women and children. There were no women police in the raiding party. Police used obscene, vulgar, and abusive language. The hapless people were repeatedly beaten with lathis while being rounded up from Jhuggis, at the Chowki and while getting into and getting down the police truck from Chowki to Kotwali. The people were hit in private parts, in the back, in the arms, and legs. Thus injuries though painful looked as minor injuries.
On 29th June 2000 the Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) issued notices to a large number of residents of Bengali Basti stating that the concerned addressee was believed to be a foreigner and that he was required to prove that he was a citizen of India or was having valid documents to continue his stay in India. The addressee was directed to appear on 1st July 2000 along with his documents to prove his citizenship in the office of the DCP. A copy of the letter issued to Mr. Wazuddin is being attached herewith as Annexure 2
On 1st July 2000 several residents presented themselves before police officials including Mr. Wazuddin along with documents such as ration card, voter I-Card, birth certificates, School certificates, passports, etc. Police officials demanded the documents of the birth of their parents. During interrogations the police officials were making repeated forceful attempts to compel the residents to make false admissions that they were foreigners. Police officials got signatures or thumb impressions of these people on several papers without explaining them, without their free consent and under duress. All these people were threatened to be arrested and deported soon.
Process of scrutinizing foreigners is defined in Foreigners (Tribunals) Order, 1964. Section 2 of this order states: Constitution of tribunals: (1) The Central Government may by order, refer the question as to whether a person is not a foreigner with the meaning of the Foreigners Act, 1946 (31 of 1946) to a tribunal to be constituted for the purpose, for its opinion.
(1-A) The registering authority appointed under sub rule (1) of Rule 16-F of the citizenship Rules, 1956 may also refer to the tribunal the question whether a person of Indian Origin complies with any of the requirements under subsection (3) of section 6-A of the Citizenship Act 1955 (55 of 1957)
The citizenship Act, 1955 also elaborated the procedure for determination and termination of citizenship of a citizen and only 'prescribed authority" as per the provisions of the Said Act.
On the night of 13/14 July 2000 three police officials along with three police informers abducted three persons namely Mr. Babul Khan, Sarvar Sheikh and Sarvar Pokhi. They were kept in abduction at Azadpur, tortured and tried to be sodomised. These police officials asked Rs. 9,000/- from them to release them. An FIR was filed in PS Mandawali. Out of these three police officials the police arrested one. All the three were suspended. Two police officials and two informers are still absconding. This matter was reported to the NHRC and the File No. of NHRC is 1184-30-2000-2001.
On 15.7.2000 itself, the day they were rescued from abduction, Babul, Sarvar Sheikh, and Sarvar Pokhi were arrested under foreigners Act, 1946. Competent Court released them on bail.
On 1st August 2000 Mr. Abdul Khalik (who was injured the day before at home), his wife and one and a half month old baby were arrested. Police took his all belongings along with cash. Police has locked and sealed his house after vacating it. On the same day Mr. Skan was arrested, the police took his belongings away and the house was sealed.
On 1st August 2000 police took belongings of Mr. Anwar in absentia and the house was sealed.
On 4th August people of Sanjay Amar Colony started to sell their belongings on throwaway prices. This incident was telecast on D.D. II news Aaj Tak and published in The Statesman on 6th August on front page and in The Indian Express on 7th August 2000.
On 16th August 2000 some policemen in police uniform stating to be from the P.S. Preet Vihar went to the residence of Mr. Babul khan. They told the family members and neighbours of Babul Khan that he was wanted in a theft case. As Babul Khan was not there, they picked up Rahim and his mother and told the neighbours that they will be released when Babul Khan will reach Police Station. This matter was reported to the Police Commissioner of Delhi, DCP East and Lt. Governor of Delhi.
An anticipatory bail application was moved before Hon'ble Court on 16th August 2000 at Karkardooma Court. On 17th August 2000 it was told to the Hon'ble Court there was no FIR against Babul at Preet Vihar P.S. and Preet Vihar Police did not went to arrest him. On 17.8.2000, the police arrested five persons, namely Mr. Abu Hanif, Dr. Muzibur Rahman, Tufatzil, Sheikh Nur Islam, and Seikh Alam.
Police were asking the neighbours of Mr. Wazuddin for last several days whose reference was given in Para 2 above. On 21.8.2000, police forcibly locked his shop. Police were asking for his son and threatening and abusing the neighbours. Mr. Wazuddin has several documents with him to prove his domicile and citizenship. Copies of his passport, ration card, voter card, driving license, shop registration certificate and Income Tax papers which are annexed herewith as Annexure.
It was reported to us that two months back there were near about 300 people detained at Fathepuri Rain Basera. It was also reported that out of these 300 people 200 had been deported. No one knows the actual position because the relatives of detained people were not allowed to meet them. Neither the detained persons nor their relatives were served any order for leaving the country or any deportation document. No opportunity was being provided to them to present or defend their case.
It is also reported that several hundred people are being detained at Lampur border Rain Basera. It was also reported that near about 17/18 people were taken away by the police to Indo-Bangla Desh border. They were left at the border threatening to be killed if they will see back and were forced to run towards Bangla Desh border. It was alleged that one person was killed and another injured by the bullets of Bangla Desh security forces. No one knows the fate of the rest of the people.
POLICE GOES BERSERK
Police is there to solve the problems, not to dishonour, muses the resident of Yamuna Pushta. After 20th and 21st June arrests and beatings by the police personnel the worst was to follow. On Friday 23.6.2000 around noon a constable name Ramesh went to R.M.P. Dr. Gulam Mustafa and enquired about Mohmadia Masjid and the inmates staying there. Gulam Mustafa told him that the Imams and his assistant named Gaous lived in the Mosque. At that time Gaous was not there. Hence the constable asked Mustaq to send Gaous to the Chowki. Mustaq told the investigating team that he conveyed the message to Gaous. After Namaz, Gaous took his meals and was sitting at the gate of the Mosque. Adjacent to the mosque is the Madarsa. Around 4 pm constable Ramesh came again and took away Gaous to Chowki where he was kept for two hours for interrogation. After two hours he was brought back to the Madarsa and the search of Madarsa followed. In the process all the books were scattered. The holy Koran was torn and trampled upon. After two hours of search of the Madarsa, Gaous was again taken away to the Chowki, leaving the books and papers strewn on the floor of the Madarsa with its doors wide open. Later Imam Bukhari visited the mosque and in the mean time there was a call from the mosque that all devout Muslims should come out. The police had insulted the holy Koran.
A big crowd gathered at the Chowki.
At the Chowki, what happened
people could not tell? But they told about bursting of tear gas shells and firing.
One person died in the firing.
Mohd. Sharif, 40 years, father of Mohd. Muzahid Husssain,18 years: On the day of the incident he had gone to the relatives. He was coming back, on the way he was hit by the police bullet. Father says the police caught him and fired at him. The bullet hit him in the forehead near the eyebrow and came out from the back. The father had gone to Daryaganj when he came back people told him that his son was hit in police firing. It was pistol bullets. When he went to enquire about his son the police abused him and said go to LNJP hospital.
Hell broke loss thereafter. The police ran amuck, abusing beating, and rounding up persons. In the Dholak Basti, till 11.7.2000 the people had not recovered from the panic and shock of the incident. Our team was told that women were molested there. The team could meet the women. The till date the fear the incident was writ large on their faces. They did admit molestation and other excesses, but did not want to be quoted. They feared that the policemen would punish them for reporting the incident. One person was so scared that he had already sent his wife to the village, because she had narrated the incident to a press person.
About the police beating
that night Gulam Moimuddin Khan @ Kashmiri said that even a stepmother does
not torture that cruelly. Even the notorious tyrants might not be that cruel.
He said, "The treatment meted out to us in the Kotwali was worse than that
of the butcher".
He is about 45 years. Has disability of one arm. He owns a sugar cane juice shop. On the fateful night he was sleeping inside his house. His servant, Madan, was sleeping on the doorsteps. There is no door just a jute-mat curtain. At midnight policemen came hitting people with lathis. They first hit Madan, who, to escape beating, came inside the house. The police persons followed him. When they came to know that he was a Hindu, they left him and started beating Moimuddin Khan. His pet name, Kashmiri, was enough provocation for them to beat him black and blue. He was beaten at home and on the way to Police Chowki, at Police Chowki, and at the Kotwali. At Kotwali, each person was made to sit in the cock-pose with his hand holding his ears. Four policemen were hitting thus seated persons on buttocks. One person, who had only a towel, wrapped around his waist, urinated due to beating or fear of beating. He was made to lick his urine, Kashmiri's name was not among the 31 named and arrested in the FIR 327/2000. However, he was not released with others. Later the Jagriti Mahila Samiti members met the concerned officials and insisted on the release of all those not named in the FIR. Thus he was released. The situation is still bad. He said that his hands and feet look like lumps of flesh. There is a sensation of ants' crawling in the soles of feet. Besides the physical pain, there was psychological pain and disgust too. Through out the beating at the Chowki, he kept on repeating to the policemen that he had been an obedient resident of the colony, always at the beck and call of the Chowki in charge. But they did not pay any heed to his pleadings. While Madan's name was enough to escape their beating, his name invited more tortures. Than the obscene language used by police also pained him. He said a large number of Hindus were also arrested beaten and taken to Kotwali. Later they were released.
The team members also met the family members of some other arrested persons. They confirmed Kashmiri's version of the nature of Police beating and abuses. They said that on hearing about fire, they had kept their goods in a nearby brick house and were sleeping in their respective Jhuggis. The policemen came in groups knocked at the doors and picked the men. They slapped the protesting women. The police threatened the residents that if the doors were not opened, they would start firing on them and later show them as encounter deaths. The other said one can fire at any place. Police did not spare even the disabled. One lady claimed that her husband had serious burn injuries and could not walk. The police arrested even him and put him behind the bars.
Beating of women of Sanjay Amar Colony Yamuna Pushta by male policemen of the Chowki seems to be a common happening. The investigating team was told about constable Mansab Ali who has no hesitation in slapping poor women. While we were talking to a group of women about the manner their male folk were arrested after 23rd June incident at the Chowki, we were told of the policemen beating the women who questioned and protested against the arrests of their family members. For example, Soni W/o Idrish Sheik said policemen slapped her. One woman was reported to have fractured her arm. Similarly, when Pappu's mother protested against policemen beating her sons, the enraged policemen picked up her youngest son and threw him on the ground. Later the child was admitted to LNJP Hospital.
While the women were narrating these incidents of police violence against women they started discussing the kind of beating Praveen Kumar, the just transferred S.I., used to give to women, and comparing with that of Sunder Singh, the one who has taken charge now and was also posted in the Chowki before Praveen Kumar. From their discussions we could deduce that the police personnel, with immunity, could beat the Jhuggi women. The women also had accepted such beating as part of police duty and did not answer our question. They also did not tell us why the policemen beat up the women. It seemed any woman going to Chowki with a complaint in return got thrashing from policemen on duty.
One Sahana told us that when policemen did not find her husband at home, they slapped her. To avoid arrest, her husband was absconding. In one Jhuggi, when the policemen found two old women sleeping, they switched off the light and demanded hundred rupees. The women ran out shouting they do not have hundred rupees. In one Jhuggi, on finding young women with three little kids all alone they said that now it's going to be fun. They started molesting her. With great difficulty she managed to come out of her Jhuggi and shout for help. As everybody was busy in saving one's own skin, no body came to her rescue. She looked pathetic even the day the team members met her. The pain and humiliations suffered that night were writ large on her face. But she and her husband were scared to give details. They feared the policemen could use this as a pretext to harass them again.
The other women, whose husbands had been arrested, feared sexual harassment from the police. As a safety measure, they spend that night in the open places, which they called jungle of Yamuna Pushta.
THE POLICE VESRSION:
After 23rd June incident Mr. Pradeep Kumar S.I. has been removed from the Chowki. The team met L.C. Yadav who has taken charge from him. According to L.C. Yadav one Shah Alam suspected of bomb blast was suspected hiding there. Pradeep Kumar went to look for Shah Alam. After some time, he went again and brought Gaous (Shaq Mullah). He was asked about Shah Alam. They checked Shah Alam's goods. He opened his books kept in a gunny bag. The door of the room remained opened. People spread the rumour of insulting the holy Koran.
Now these two issues, the drive to identify and deport Bangla Deshi nationals and the conviction of those charged for burning police Chowki, have been mixed. In fact, the whole Muslim population of Sanjay Amar Colony has been affected. While the Bengali speaking are leaving no stone unturned to prove their Indian citizenship, the others are either nursing their wounds or are preparing to fight court case, and meeting the arrested family members. In the absence of breadwinners, the women are some how making both ends meet. In this context Sarvaruddin S/o Dobi's remarks are pertinent. He was a voter in his native village. He got it canceled there and got voters Identity Card in Delhi. He has his village passport. Because he is Bengali speaking, the law enforcing authorities doubts his citizenship. But he is confident. He says even if he losses his case in the Supreme Court he is not going to go just because he is a Bengali speaking Indian Muslim.
The Team Conclusions are:
1. The relevant provisions
of Foreign Nationals Acts 1946, 48, 64, the Citizenship Act 1956, and the Illegal
Migrants Act 1983 are not being followed in letter and spirit.
2. The police have shown total insensitivity to the religious feelings of the people. Instead of showing utmost caution, they used the pretext of searching for bomb blast suspect to ignite the religious feelings of already harassed religious minority.
3. The kinds of abuses hurled, the beating done, the way the women were molested and even money extracted from people is a blot on the face of police administration of this democratic country.
4. Even among the poor the worst sufferer is the poorest, the Indian residents of Dholak Basti. The fear of police among them shows that even in normal times they must be frequent targets of police oppression.
5. This is one of the dirtiest and poorest localities of Delhi. Instead of using police to harass and exploit its hapless residents, the government and administration should initiate concrete steps to provide basic minimum facilities and to improve socio-economic condition of the people.
6. The harassment by the police to stop and the guilty policemen brought to books.
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