NHRC notice to Chhattisgarh over attack on Swami Agnivesh

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued notice to Chhattisgarh’s chief secretary and police chief over the alleged attack last week on social activist Swami Agnivesh by members of the Salwa Judum civil militia.

“The commission has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report alleging that a large group comprising special police officers of Chhattisgarh police and members of the Salwa Judum attacked Swami Agnivesh on March 26, 2011 as he attempted to deliver relief to a village reportedly torched by the security forces in Dantewada district,” a statement said Wednesday.

“Considering the issues raised in the report, the commission today observed that the entire incident is a matter of great concern, and issued notices to the Chief Secretary and Director General of Police, Chhattisgarh calling for their factual reports within four weeks in the matter,” it added.

The report referred to the aftermath of an incident in which three men were killed, three women were sexually assaulted and about 300 homes, granaries and woodsheds were torched by the security forces during a five day anti-Maoist operation in the villages of Tarmetla, Timapuram and Morpalli in Dantewada, an NHRC official said.

Swami Agnivesh had gone to the affected villages to deliver clothes, blankets and other relief material, when he was attacked twice in six hours by a mob at a Salwa Judum camp at Dornapal, the official added.

Salwa Judum is an anti-Maoist movement supported by the Chhattisgarh government.

Lawyers attack Andhra High Court hall, tension coninues

The situation in the Andhra Pradesh High Court premises remained tense Thursday as lawyers from Telangana continued their protest for the third day, attacking court halls and disrupting proceedings.

For the third day in a row, the protesters targeted the court hall of Justice C.V. Nagarjuna Reddy, damaging furniture and throwing papers and books at him, eyewitnesses said. Lawyers vented their ire at him for continuing with court proceedings despite the boycott call.

As one of the judges Wednesday received minor injuries in a similar attack, the judges held an emergency meeting to discuss the situation.

Utter chaos prevailed in the court premises as Telangana lawyers again went on the rampage damaging court property. Acting Chief Justice Meena Kumari visited the chamber of Justice Nagarjuna Reddy and advised the lawyers to be peaceful in their protest.

The condition of three advocates, who are on an indefinite fast on the court premises since Monday, deteriorated Thursday. Advocates from various courts and leaders of political parties met them and expressed their solidarity.

Tension also prevailed at the main entrance to the high court as one of the protesting lawyers tried to immolate himself while others continued their virtual siege of the court complex demanding 42 percent share for Telangana among government-appointed law officers.

Lawyers from Telangana had heated arguments with their counterparts from Andhra and Rayalaseema regions. The two groups nearly came to blows, further adding to the tension.

The state government, which has denied any bias towards Telangana in recruitment of law officers, has formed a two-member ministerial committee to look into the problem.

Law Minister M. Venkata Ramana Rao, who is a member of the panel, Thursday invited the Telangana lawyers’ Joint Action Committee (JAC) for talks. “We will clear all their misunderstandings if they come forward for talks,” he told reporters.

The JAC, however, has ruled out talks unless the government gives a written assurance to meet its demand.

The panel has claimed that Telangana has maximum representation in the posts of government pleaders, assistant government pleaders and standing counsel.

JAC leaders who are on fast for an indefinite period near the office of the advocate general in the high court premises are also demanding the resignation of Advocate General D.V. Seetharama Murthy, who is not from Telangana.

Work in other civil and criminal courts across Telangana region also remained paralysed. The lawyers staged demonstrations demanding due share for the region in the appointments of law officers.

Telangana Rashtra Samiti (TRS), which is spearheading the movement for separate statehood to Telangana, Thursday staged road blockades in different parts of the region to show solidarity with protesting lawyers.

Haryana told to arrest all Dalit attack accused by Monday

The Supreme Court Thursday slammed the Haryana government for its failure to arrest all those who looted and burnt Dalit houses in Mirchpur village in Hisar district April 21 and told it to arrest by Monday all accused who are on the run.

If those responsible for committing atrocities could not be arrested then what right does the director general of police have to continue in office, asked an apex court bench of Justice G.S. Singhvi and Justice A.K. Ganguly.

If Haryana police is incapable of arresting those wanted in the Mirchpur case, ‘then we will ask some paramilitary force to arrest them’, the court said.

The court also wanted to know what the chief secretary of the state was doing. The court said that all those wanted in Mirchpur attack on Dalits should be arrested by Monday.

The court said that all those who have committed the crime should be brought before the law and be made to account for their sins.

It may be recalled that April 21 this year people from the dominant caste attacked and burnt the houses of Valmiki community in Mirchpur in which 70-year-old Tara Chand and his disabled daughter Suman were burnt alive.

This led to an exodus of Dalits from the village.

Taking note of the failure of the government to rehabilitate the Dalit victims, Justice Singhvi told the Advocate General of Haryana H.S. Hooda: ‘You do not allow them to live then should we direct the neighbouring state to accommodate them.’

The court also took note of the fact that things have come to such a pass that Dalit children of Mirchpur were not going to school.

Senior counsel Colin Gonsalves told the court that a 14-year-old Dalit girl died of shock after she was scolded and humiliated in the school.

Directing the government to provide two quintal wheat to each of the Dalit family in the village within seven days, the court asked the state to furnish all the records in support of its claim that it had given 65 people hundred days’ employment under a central government scheme.

Justice Singhvi told Haryana’s advocate general that ‘apart from legal issues we are concerned with the humanitarian aspect of the plight of the victims’.

Justice Singhvi further said that ‘all the people who are uprooted should be settled and protected. They should not live under threat’.

The court was told that 52 people involved in the Mirchpur incident have been arrested and remaining would be arrested soon.

This prompted Justice Singhvi to ask if the remaining accused have gone to Dubai or fled to other states in the country.

The court was also given a report by the advocates from the office of the advocate general on Mirchpur incident. The court said that the copies of the same should be given to all the parties in the case.

Akshardham temple attack: Death for three confirmed

The Gujarat High Court on Tuesday upheld the POTA court verdict on the three accused in the 2002 Akshardham terror attack case.

The special POTA court had given death penalty to the accused.

The POTA court had convicted six persons for providing logistic support to the two terrorists — Murtuza Hafiz Yasin and Ashraf Ali Mohammed Farooq – who stormed into the temple premises on September 25, 2002, and gunned down 33 people.

Both the attackers – alleged members of Lashkar-e-Toiba – were killed in the subsequent operation by the security forces.

Three of the six convicts – Shan Miya alias Chand Khan from Bareilly, Adam Ajmeri and Mufti Abdul Qayyum Mansuri from Ahmedabad – were awarded death sentence.

Another convict, Mohammed Salim Shaikh, was awarded life sentence. Abdul Miyan Qadri and Altaf Hussain got 10 years and five years imprisonment each.

Apex court notice to Haryana over Dalit arson attack

The Supreme Court Monday issued notice to the Haryana government on the plight of 150 Dalit families who were driven out of their village in Hisar district after an arson attack on their homes last month.

A 70-year-old man and his 18-year-old physically challenged daughter were killed and at least 18 houses were damaged April 21 in an arson attack allegedly by members of the Jat community on Dalit families in Mirchpur village in Hisar, some 300 km from state capital Chandigarh.

Describing it as an