The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) expresses its deep concern over the inhuman and degrading treatment being meted out to Dalit rights activist Chandrashekhar Ravan by the government of Uttar Pradesh. Last reported, Mr. Ravan, was rushed to the Lala Lajpat Rai Memorial Medical College from Saharanpur on Nov 8, 2017 for ‘stomach infection’.
Mr. Ravan, completely healthy at the time of his arrest, was unable to walk on his own and was wheelchair bound when last seen while being sent to the District Hospital, Lucknow by the jail authorities on October 28. He was then diagnosed with multiple issues including acute abdominal pain, and was kept in the Intensive Care Unit.
We do not have much information on what happened in between- from getting discharged from Lucknow Hospital to be brought to Saharanpur Hospital and then getting sent to Meerut Medical College. Apparently, the authorities seem to be hiding a lot and that is worrisome.
Worryingly, the authorities are continuing the witch-hunt despite rapidly deteriorating health of Mr. Ravan raises serious doubts over their intent and hints at inhuman and degrading treatment being meted out to him.
The Uttar Pradesh police had arrested Mr. Ravan, the founder of the Bhim Army, in connection with caste clashes in Saharanpur district on June 9, 2017.
The Allahabad High Court ordered his release on bail on 2 November2017 in all the four cases. But on the next day of the bail orders of Allahabad High Court, the Uttar Pradesh Government slapped the draconian National Security Act (NSA) 1980 on Mr. Ravan. Ironically, the authorities did not even bother with the Court’s reprimand while rubbishing the claims that he was primary conspirator behind the caste riots in May 2017 and calling them ‘politically motivated’.
The NSA Act, which allows for preventive detention while making access to legal recourse almost impossible is almost unheard of in modern democracies. It is essentially used to curb political dissent and keep the dissenters in custody while also ensuring that they get no legal relief. The fact that it was slapped on Mr. Ravan the day after he got bail exposes the real intent of the authorities.
It is in this context that the AHRC demands an immediate intervention by the authorities over the issue and ensure that the both, the right to life with dignity and physical integrity of Mr. Ravan is ensured. The government of Uttar Pradesh would better remind itself that its acts are not merely inhuman and endanger Mr. Ravan’s life but they also violate the Right to Life with Dignity guaranteed by the constitution of India; repeatedly endorsed by many of the judgements of the Supreme Court, most famously, perhaps, in the Prem Shankar Shukla versus Delhi Administration case (1980 AIR 1535).
The authorities in Uttar Pradesh must revoke NSA from Mr. Ravan and ensure the best medical facilities to him. Further, if they do not do this, the High Court of Allahabad must take cognizance of this willful defiance of its bail order and take appropriate action.
The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) works towards the radical rethinking and fundamental redesigning of justice institutions in order to protect and promote human rights in Asia. Established in 1984, the Hong Kong based organisation is a Laureate of the Right Livelihood Award, 2014.