Letter: Questions about India's human rights record

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The Independent Online
Sir: You report (12 June) that various Sikh and Kashmiri human rights organisations had been 'disinvited' from the Vienna Conference on Human Rights in response to pressure from the Indian government. As that government appears intent on stifling the sources of inconvenient questions, I wish to raise a few myself:

1. Why has India not acceded to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment?

2. Why were at least 25,000 people detained without charge in 1992 under statutes empowering preventive detention? Why are official figures of such detentions not available?

3. Why has the Supreme Court of India still not examined the constitutionality of the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act 1987, which empowers the state to detain an individual for up to two years without charge?

4. Why do about 100 people, at a conservative estimate, die every year in police custody? Why are these deaths never investigated, as is required by section 176 of the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure?

5. Why has not one person been tried and punished for involvement in the massacres of at least 4,000 sikhs in Delhi, Kanpur and other cities after the assassination of Indira Gandhi in November 1984?

6. How many civilians have been killed by the Indian security forces in Kashmir, Punjab, Assam, Nagaland, Mizoram, Manipur, Tripura and Arunachal Pradesh? Why has not a single member of the security forces been convicted for murder?

I await the answers. The question are not merely rhetorical.

Yours sincerely,

P. M. VARADARAJAN

Levine Memorial Lecturer in Law

Trinity College

Oxford

15 June

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