South Asians for Human Rights

Promoting Democracy, Upholding Human Rights

Published in Times of India, July 19th.
GANDHINAGAR: The rise in number of complaints alleging human rights violation in Gujarat is disquieting. The annual report of the Gujarat State Human Rights Commission (GSHRC) for the year 2010-11 was tabled in the state assembly on Friday. It shows an alarming 504% rise in complaints about violation of human rights filed before the commission in the past five years.

According to the report, 610 complaints were filed before the rights commission in the year 2006-07 but, in 2010-11, the number of petitions had jumped to 3,077.

The report also mentions a 950% increase in complaints about threats from the underworld, including the various mafia in the state. In 2006-07, a total of 22 complaints of harassment by criminals were registered; in the year 2010-11 this had risen to 209. Complaints about police atrocities filed before the commission in 2010-11 went up by 6.75 times over the number filed in 2006-07.
Complaints about breach of human rights of Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST), women, about land disputes and harassment of family, and service matters have also increased sharply over the last five years. The number of petitions alleging violation of SC/ST rights increased by 3.58 times while those alleging breach of women’s human rights went up by 4 times in the past five years. Complaints filed before the SHRC over land disputes and about family harassment increased by 4.93 times. Further, grievances related to service matters shot up by 5.25 times between 2006-07 and 2010-11.

The highest number of complaints – 135 – alleging harassment by the underworld was registered in Ahmedabad district in 2010-11. Bhavnagar, Junagadh, Gandhinagar and Patan districts were close second. As for complaints alleging violation of SC/ST rights, Ahmedabad, Banaskantha, Sabarkantha, Jamnagar and Surendranagar received the highest number of petitions.

In 2010-11, the maximum complaints about police atrocities were received from Ahmedabad, Banaskantha, Gandhinagar, Bhavnagar, Sabarkantha and Junagadh districts.

In the past five years (between 2006-07 and 2010-11), the state Human Rights Commission received a total of 10,380 complaints.

Rights panel victim of state govt’ apathy

The State Human Rights Commission’s role in improving the life of people in state is crucial but the state government has been apathetic towards it. In fact, the commission has not even been allocated sufficient manpower and resources to allow it to discharge its duties. Rajani Patel, minister of state (MoS), home, gave a written explanation for the extraordinary delay in tabling of the commission’s 2010-11 annual report.

“The manpower with the commission is less than what has been sanctioned for it. Inadequate manpower was the reason for the delay in submission of this mandatory report before the state assembly,” Patel stated. The commission is yet to prepare the report for 2011-12 and 2012-13 due to lack of manpower.

The state government has been posting in the commission those officials who are believed to be involved in serious cases or are not competent enough to work at crucial posts. It seems the state government does not consider the commission’s role as crucial, said sources in the government.