Peopleís Union of Human Rights Inaugural Conference in UP

The founding conference of the PUHR was held in Robertsganj on 2 June 2001. Addressing the conference, the chief guest and prominent human rights and civil liberties leader, and former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court, Shri Rajendra Sacchar said that more people have died through police bullets in Independent India than during British Rule. Vehemently critical of the Rajnath Government, Mr. Sacchar said that instead of donning the crown of killings in fake encounters in UP, Rajnath should spend more energy in containing the activities of land mafias who are expropriating the adivasis’ ancestral rights over forest land and water resources in the districts of Mirzapur, Chandauli and Sonebhadra. Labourers working in brick kilns and collecting tendu leaves get only a miniscule proportion of the minimum wage fixed by the Government. It is under such conditions that the deprived communities and sections are getting organised to fight for justice and dignity, he said. This organised assertion cannot be replied to with bullets, he asserted. 

Justice Sacchar had filed a PIL in the Supreme Court regarding the Bhavanipur Massacre. He expressed regret over the fact that earlier when the NHRC had failed to conduct an investigation into the massacre, it was the UP Government’s non-cooperation that was responsible. At least, through the Supreme Court’s intervention, a primary investigation could be carried out. Talking about human rights, he also mentioned the crisis in the Judiciary. He said, human rights are not charity handed over to people by a Government. In fact, it is the duty of the Government to guarantee human rights to the people who elect them, or else people have the right to impeach such governments.

The conference was inaugurated by former justice of the Allahabad High Court, Mr. Rambahadur Mehrotra, who demanded stern punishment to the officials if found guilty. He emphasised upon the continuity and awareness about human rights movements and welcomed the 500 delegates as well as the families of the victims of police atrocities in the state.

Addressing the conference, CPI(ML) State Secretary, Com. Akhilendra Pratap Singh said that poverty and starvation was not the main factor responsible for the growth of Naxalism in Eastern UP. Rather it was the hold of the land mafia over the forest land, water and other resources. He said that it is the mafia and the criminals, receiving the patronage of the Rajnath Singh Govt., who are responsible for the violence in this region and should be brought to book. The local people had begun to assert their right over the natural resources as well for protecting their identity and culture. He said that even highly placed officials did not know the difference between the MCC and the Maley. He said that Naxalism is being propagated as some criminal activity and even possessing revolutionary literature is considered illegal.

Former MLA and State Public Service Commission Member, Justice Bhagwant Prasad demanded ownership rights for adivasis and dalits and demanded that the region be declared Tribal Region. UP PUCL Vice President Chittaranjan Singh demanded that the PAC be disbanded for its communal character, as has been amply proved in the Kanpur Riots. He said that in eastern UP, people are being arrested and booked under several black acts like the Gangster Act, NSA etc. even for possessing revolutionary literature or for greeting with lal salaams.

Among others who addressed the Conference were advocate Ajai Singh from Ballia, Bindu, an activist of Mahila Samakhya, Advocate of Alld. High Court, Kamal Krishna Roy, advocate Narainji Shukla from Gonda, Citizens’ Rights Organisation, Block Pramukh from Naugarh, Basmati Kol. A 38-member State Council was elected with Chittaranjan Singh as President and Krishnaavatar Pandey, former Director for Basic Education, as secretary. Several important resolutions were passed including a demand to stop state violence in UP.