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At first sight, it seems that the rule of law and the respect for human rights and human dignity prevail but there exists significant human rights abuses, despite the extensive constitutional and statutory safeguards. Many of these abuses are generated by intense social tensions, violent secessionist movements and the authorities’ attempts to repress them, and deficient police methods and training. Serious human rights abuses include extra-judicial executions and other political killings, torture, and excessive use of force by security forces and separatists militants, as well as kidnapping and extortion by militants, especially in Kashmir and north east India; torture, rape, and deaths of suspects in police custody through out India; arbitrary arrest and incommunicado detention in Kashmir and in the north-east; Continued detention through out the country of thousands arrested under special security legislation; long delays in criminal trials; widespread inter-caste and inter-communal violence, both societal and by the police and other agents of government, against women; discrimination and violence against indigenous people; and widespread exploitation of indentured, bonded, and child Labour.

In India, people are confronted with a state apparatus that has perfected a system of repression and Oppression. Repression is not just a matter of custodial torture and extra judicial murder. Mis-governance or mal governance is repression too. The Indian state per se is not responsible for crimes against humanity and for violation of human rights; rather the instrumentalities of the state abuse the authority vested in them.

In India, there are various groups of people who are socially or economically disadvantaged such as Dalits, the tribals, the abjectly poor, the abysmally helpless and ignorant, the landless, the women, and all those who are or are forced to become marginal to the mainstream. They compromise an overwhelming majority.

India’s caste system continues to cast its shadow over the country’s secular and democratic constitution. Although Art 17 of the Constitution of India abolishes the practice of untouchablity, and Art 14 & 15 calls for equality and the prohibition of any form of discrimination respectively, widespread social and economic inequalities and discriminations plague Indian society and are in fact are constantly on the rise. Social Discrimination is rife in India and it increasingly takes the form of police and state abuse towards scheduled castes, as well as other ethnic minorities. Discriminatory attributes are rife amongst law enforcement officials; the Indian police force is known for its communalism and political affiliations. Large scale violations of human rights perpetrated on Dalits involve burning of homes and fields, murder, torture and beating of women, molestation, rape, and custodial death.

Women are particularly vulnerable to the discrimination in India. Custodial rape is not unusual and the conviction rate for this type of crimes remains close to zoo. Rape committed by the armed forces is also common in areas of insurgency, such as north-east India, where this offence is usually perpetuated during combating operations carried out in search of terrorists.

Custodial torture is another example of the widespread violation of civil rights of citizens. It happens in spite of Art 22 of the Constitution of India, which provides for the protection against arbitrary arrest and detention. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has time and again held that the dignity of individuals should be maintained at all times, including when they are in a state custody, and that an individual never loses his fundamental rights which continue to inhere in him even when he is in judicial custody. The Hon’ble Supreme Court held that the right to life (Art 21) includes the right not to be tortured or humiliated. The apex Court had laid down guidelines to be followed in cases of detention and judicial custody; this includes an obligation on the part of the state to ensure that there is no infringement of the indefeasible rights of a citizen to life, except in accordance with law, while the citizen is in its custody. In spite of this, one gets to hear almost everyday about cases of custodial deaths. This is so because the state confers arbitrary power to the police under the pretext of maintaining law and order, and in so doing, legitimizes human rights violations. The Indian police today are also agents of social prejudice and bias.


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