The State Department web site below is a permanent electronic archive of information released prior to January 20, 2001.  Please see for material released since President George W. Bush took office on that date.  This site is not updated so external links may no longer function.  Contact us with any questions about finding information.

NOTE: External links to other Internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein.

Department Seal


TITLE:  INDIA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1993                             
DATE:  JANUARY 31, 1994


India is a parliamentary democracy with a free press, 
civilian-controlled military, independent judiciary, and active 
political parties and civic associations.  Competitive 
elections produce regular changes of leadership at the 
national, state, and municipal levels.

The 25 state governments have primary responsibility for 
maintaining law and order.  However, the central Government 
provides guidance and support through use of national 
paramilitary forces and in law has ultimate responsibility for 
protecting the fundamental rights guaranteed under the 
Constitution.  The Union Ministry for Home Affairs controls the 
nationwide Indian Police Service, most of the paramilitary 
forces, and the internal intelligence bureaus.  The rapid 
growth of the internal intelligence bureaus and the increased 
use of paramilitary forces against separatist insurgencies and 
communal unrest have given the Home Ministry increasing 
day-to-day control over law and order operations.  Centrally 
controlled paramilitary forces are deployed throughout India 
and have been responsible for significant human rights abuses 
in Jammu and Kashmir and the northeast.  These abuses 
ultimately raise questions about the effectiveness of civilian 
oversight and the extent of the Government's willingness and 
ability to prosecute offenders vigorously.  Army units are also 
deployed for internal security duty in Kashmir and the 
northeast, and generally show greater respect for human rights 
than the paramilitary forces, although they have also been 
responsible for some abuses.

India has a mixed economy, with the private sector dominating 
agriculture, most nonfinancial services, consumer goods 
manufacturing, and some heavy industry.  The Congress (I) 
Government pursued economic liberalization and structural 
reforms begun in 1991.  Trade and foreign investment 
restrictions were relaxed, certain government subsidies and 
foreign exchange and price controls were reduced, and the 
government deficit was brought under control.  India's economic 
problems are compounded by population growth of 2 percent per 
year, with a current total of about 891 million.  Income 
distribution remained very unequal.  Forty percent of the urban 
population and 51 percent of the rural population live in 
extreme poverty.

Despite extensive constitutional and statutory safeguards, 
significant human rights abuses persist throughout India.  The 
abuses are aggravated by severe social tensions and the 
authorities' attempts to contain violent secessionist 
movements.  Abuses are particularly acute in disturbed areas, 
such as Punjab and Kashmir, where the judicial system has 
broken down in the face of terrorist threats.  As in past 
years, areas of abuse include:  extrajudicial executions and 
reprisal killings by security forces in Kashmir, Punjab, and 
northeast India (encouraged in some cases in Punjab by 
government bounties on killed militants); political killings, 
kidnaping, and extortion by militants; torture, rape, and 
deaths of suspects in police custody throughout India; 
incommunicado detention for prolonged periods without charge 
under special security legislation; inadequate prosecution of 
police and security forces' personnel implicated in abuse; 
widespread intercaste and communal violence; legal and societal 
discrimination as well as extensive violence, both societal and 
by police and other agents of government against women; 
infrequent prosecution of "dowry deaths" (wife murder); and 
widespread exploitation of indentured, bonded, and child labor.

In 1993 the Government sought to address human rights concerns 
by opening dialogs with international human rights 
organizations and the International Committee of the Red Cross 
(ICRC), allowing some international monitors access to Kashmir 
and other parts of India, enhancing human rights training for 
police and army personnel, and creating a National Human Rights 
Commission with powers to investigate and recommend punishment 
in cases of police abuse.  To date these efforts have produced 
only modest results.


Section 1  Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including 
           Freedom from:

     a.  Political and Other Extrajudicial Killing

Political killings by both government forces and militants 
continued at a disturbing rate, particularly in Jammu and 
Kashmir, Punjab, and the northeast, where separatist 
insurgencies continued in 1993.  Extrajudicial executions of 
suspected militants and their supporters by government security 
forces accounted for hundreds of deaths, as did terrorist 
attacks by militant groups.  Ethnic and communal strife 
resulted in additional killings.  Deaths in police custody 
received increased public attention in 1993 and were the 
subject of significant court decisions mandating compensation 
for victims and their families.  However, as in the past, there 
was little evidence that the responsible officials received 
appropriate punishment.

Extrajudicial executions in areas facing separatist insurgency 
were generally tolerated by state authorities, who claimed the 
breakdown of judicial systems left security forces no 
alternative for dealing with accused terrorists.  A September 
1991 amendment to the Code of Criminal Procedure granted broad 
protection to all public servants, including the security 
forces, for acts committed while discharging their official 
duties in states under President's rule.  This provision 
contributed to the security forces' sense of impunity in Jammu 
and Kashmir, which remained under President's rule throughout 
the year.

Civilian and security force casualties reported in Kashmir were 
relatively stable, but the number of militants killed climbed 
significantly.  Press reports indicate that 1,161 civilians and 
215 security force personnel died in insurgency-related 
violence in Kashmir in 1993.  Militant casualties during this 
same period numbered 1,438, many of whom died under suspicious 
circumstances.  The Jammu and Kashmir Basic Rights Protection 
Committee, a group headed by a retired high court justice, drew 
on press accounts to detail 168 deaths in security force 
custody during the first 4 months of 1993.  The victims of 
custodial violence included a state police constable, whose 
reported death in army custody in April sparked a 6-day police 
rebellion centered in Srinagar.  (See Section 1.g. for further 
discussion of extrajudicial killing in Jammu and Kashmir.)

Kashmiri militant groups carried out politically motivated 
killings on a wide scale, targeting government officials, 
alleged police informers, members of rival factions and Hindu 
civilians.  On August 14, militants stopped a bus in Jammu and 
killed 16 Hindu men.  On August 3, militants attacked Hindu 
pilgrims near Anantnag, killing 1 and injuring 23.  Among those 
killed in targeted militant attacks were a retired assistant 
commissioner, a Hindu leader in Jammu, a Srinagar-based news 
reader for All India Radio, and the relative of a local 
Congress(I) leader. 

In Punjab police continued to engage in extrajudicial killings 
including faked "encounter" killings.  In the typical scenario, 
police take into custody a suspected militant or militant 
supporter without filing an arrest report.  If the detainee 
dies during interrogation or is executed, officials deny he was 
ever in custody and claim he died during an armed encounter 
with police or security forces.  Alternatively, police may 
claim to have been ambushed by militants while escorting a 
suspect.  Although the detainee invariably dies in "crossfire," 
police casualties in these "incidents" are rare.

In one such incident, a 22-year-old Sikh farmer, Manjinderpal 
Singh, was picked up by police on July 12.  According to the 
Punjab Human Rights Organization, the detainee's father and 
members of the village council on July 14 contacted the 
district police chief, who told them Singh would be released 
soon.  On July 20, the police chief reported that Singh had 
been killed on July 15 in an encounter with militants.  The 
police reportedly offered no explanation for the delay in 
informing the family.

In another case of extrajudicial killing, Kulwant Singh, a Sikh 
lawyer, disappeared on January 25 along with his wife and child 
after he was called to the Ropar police station to pick up a 
client.  Following repeated inquiries by local lawyers for over 
2 weeks, the district police superintendent announced that 
Kulwant Singh and his family were killed on January 25 by two 
terrorists who wanted to surrender.  The police superintendent 
claimed the terrorists who allegedly confessed to the killings 
committed suicide by swallowing cyanide shortly before their 
role in Kulwant Singh's murder was made public.  Punjab Chief 
Minister Beant Singh agreed to order an inquiry into the case 
but reportedly backed off in the face of police resistance.

The Armed Forces (Punjab and Chandigarh) Special Powers Act of 
1983 grants army and paramilitary personnel wide discretion in 
the use of lethal force, giving authorities an easy defense for 
"encounter" killings. Extrajudicial executions were also 
encouraged by the Punjab government's practice of offering 
bounties for killed militants.  The chief minister told the 
state assembly that over 41,000 such bounties were paid between 
1991 and 1993; in some cases more than one person claimed 
credit for the same killing.

The claim of Indian human rights groups that Punjab police were 
engaged in a systematic campaign to liquidate militants and 
their supporters is borne out by data showing a high ratio of 
militant to security force casualties.  Press reports indicate 
589 alleged Sikh militants were killed in Punjab in 1993, 
compared to 23 civilians and 16 members of the security forces.

There were several reports during 1993 that Punjab police "hit 
teams" were pursuing Sikh militants in other parts of India.  
On May 17, one such team raided an apartment in Calcutta 
looking for alleged militant Lakshmi Singh.  According to 
neighbors, Punjab police commandos broke into the apartment 
early that morning, shot Singh and his wife in their bedroom, 
then fled with the bodies.  The government of West Bengal 
lodged a protest with the Punjab government, but no 
disciplinary action was reported against the police commandos.

In a similar incident, on July 3 two brothers, Dilbagh and 
Kashmir Singh, were taken into custody in Bombay by a Punjab 
police team.  After his release, Kashmir Singh claimed they 
were subjected to mental and physical torture before being put 
on a train for Punjab on July 5.  When they turned his badly 
bruised body over to family members, police said Dilbagh Singh 
had fallen from the moving train.  Bombay Sikh activists 
claimed Dilbagh Singh was killed by the police and called for a 
full investigation, but no action was taken.  Punjab Police 
Chief K.P.S. Gill told journalists on July 22 that "the purpose 
of having such teams has been to trace, identify, and kill top 
militants."  Gill added that Punjab police teams were stationed 
in the states of Rajasthan, Gujarat, West Bengal, Bihar, 
Maharashtra, Jammu and Kashmir, Assam, and Uttar Pradesh.

There were few instances of terrorist violence in Punjab during 
1993, in part a consequence of stringent government security 
measures.  On April 25, the district commissioner (head of 
civil administration) in Bathinda was injured by a bomb that 
exploded near his vehicle.  On March 24, militants on a scooter 
killed seven people and injured two when they opened fire on a 
crowd near Ludhiana.  Sikh militants operating in the Terai 
region of Uttar Pradesh killed 11 people and injured 3 in a 
string of apparently random attacks on June 9.  On September 
24, Sikh militants reportedly fired on a bus-load of Youth 
Congress leaders near Ludhiana, killing 3 and injuring 11.

In the states of Andhra Pradesh and Bihar, Maoist revolutionary 
Naxalites targeted politicians, landlords, and government 
officials in terrorist attacks.  The Andhra Pradesh Civil 
Liberties Committee, in turn, charged the state government with 
killing 249 suspected Naxalites in faked "encounters" during 
1992.  In February the People's War Group (PWG) assassinated 
the Additional Director of the Andhra Pradesh police academy in 
a daylight attack.  The PWG killed several dozen other police 
and paramilitary personnel in ambushes and land mine attacks.  
The Maoist Communist Center (MCC), a Naxalite group active in 
Central Bihar, operated a parallel judicial system that ordered 
summary executions of landlords and other "class enemies."

In the seven states of northeastern India, at least 18 major 
insurgent groups were active, including the United Liberation 
Front of Assam (ULFA), the National Socialist Council of 
Nagaland (NSCN), and the Bodo Security Force.  Most of the 
reported casualties in the northeast were army and paramilitary 
personnel.  In August and September, however, NSCN militants 
killed more than 200 Kuki tribesmen, including women and 
children, in a series of attacks in the hill districts of 
Manipur.  This followed an NSCN ambush on June 29 that left 27 
army personnel dead and 24 injured.

Large-scale army operations in Assam were suspended, but the 
army retained overall responsibility for coordinating police 
and paramilitary forces in the region.  Under the Armed Forces 
Special Powers Act of 1958, army and security forces were given 
wide discretion to use lethal force in Assam and four other 
northeastern states.  In February the regional high court in 
Guwahati ordered the Indian army to pay $1,600 in compensation 
to the family of a man who disappeared in 1991 while in army 
custody.  The court had earlier issued a habeas corpus petition 
ordering the Government and army to produce the man in court 
after he had been detained for interrogation about his son.  
ULFA militants in Assam killed accused informers and at least 
seven "deserters" who had accepted a government amnesty.  
ULFA's chairman reportedly issued a directive from Bangladesh 
calling for the death of all ULFA members who surrendered to 

Indian newspapers reported nine deaths in custody or after 
police torture in and around Delhi during 1993.  Press reports 
from the southern city of Bangalore alleged there were six 
deaths in police custody there during the year ending August 
30.  The Chief Minister of West Bengal told the state assembly 
there had been 277 custodial deaths in his state since 1977, of 
which only 1 case was probed by the courts.

India's Criminal Procedure Code requires a magisterial inquiry 
in every case of a death in police custody.  However, most 
custodial abuse is directed at the poor and uneducated lower 
castes, who are unlikely to understand their right to redress.  
Inquiries are often not carried out, and when an investigation 
does occur, the results are generally not made public.

     b.  Disappearance

Disappearances are believed to occur on a large scale.  There 
are credible reports that police throughout India often do not 
file required arrest reports, with the result that there are 
hundreds of unsolved disappearances in which relatives claim a 
person was taken into police custody and never heard from 
again.  Police usually deny these claims, countering that there 
are no records of arrest.

This problem is particularly acute in Punjab, where there was a 
sharp rise in reported disappearances as the police sought to 
eliminate militants and their supporters.  Sikh human rights 
groups reported dozens of disappearances in which police 
claimed they never held a person, even when there were 
witnesses to the arrest.

In cases where officials acknowledged an individual was in 
custody, police sometimes report the detainee was killed while 
trying to escape when taken to recover an alleged arms cache.  
Without exception, human rights groups say, these detainees are 
never seen again.  The Human Rights Trust, a Delhi-based 
nongovernmental organization (NGO), reported 28 such cases, 
with registered arrest reports, between January and May.  One 
case involved Gurdev Singh Kaonke, a Sikh religious leader who 
reportedly escaped while being taken to recover an arms supply 
on January 2 and has not been seen since.

     c.  Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading 
         Treatment or Punishment

Although torture is prohibited by law, there is credible 
evidence that torture of detainees is common throughout India.  
Sometimes this abuse is part of the interrogation process, 
sometimes it is to extort money from the victim or his 
relatives, and sometimes it is summary punishment doled out by 
individual police officials.

Confessions extracted by force are generally inadmissible in 
court.  Under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities 
(Prevention) Act (TADA), however, a confession made to an 
officer above the rank of superintendent of police is 
admissible as evidence, provided the police have "reason to 
believe that it is being made voluntarily."  Press accounts and 
reports by human rights groups indicate that brutality in 
extracting confessions under the TADA is common.

Indian human rights groups have detailed numerous individual 
cases of torture and abuse during interrogation by police and 
paramilitary forces in Kashmir, Punjab, and Assam.  Forms of 
torture include beatings, rape, burning with cigarettes and hot 
rods, suspension by the feet, crushing of limbs with heavy 
rollers, and electric shocks.  Many alleged torture victims die 
in custody, and others fear to speak out due to the threat of 
police retaliation.  Consequently there are few firsthand 
accounts.  One exception was the case of Masroof Sultan, a 
Kashmiri student who was pulled from a bus on April 8 and 
tortured with electric shocks.  Sultan told foreign journalists 
he was shot and left for dead by border security force (BSF) 
soldiers who tried to pass off his death as a crossfire 
incident.  Sultan's family claims to have seen him in custody 
and pleaded for his release.  Although his case was taken up by 
several governments and international human rights groups, the 
Government did not investigate Sultan's torture or punish those 

Another case involved the gang-rape of a Kashmiri woman on May 
25 by army troops outside Srinagar.  The victim, Nazeera Jan, 
told reporters that 10 soldiers broke into her room, tied her 
husband to a tree outside, and sexually assaulted her.  A 
medical examination confirmed that she had been raped, and the 
army announced court-martial proceedings against four of the 
accused.  State officials claimed that the four were each 
sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment, but this punishment was 
not publicized.  In Calcutta, a police constable was sentenced 
to life imprisonment for his involvement in a custodial rape 
incident in 1992 that was taken up by opposition politicians 
and women's groups.

In response to a parliamentary question on August 19, the Home 
Ministry stated that 146 security force personnel had been 
disciplined for "acts of omission and commission during 
operations in Jammu and Kashmir during the past 3 years."  
Because the Government did not publicize the forms of 
punishment or the crimes involved, it was impossible to judge 
the adequacy of the punishment or even if the crimes involved 
human rights issues.  A Home Ministry note given to the South 
Asia Human Rights Documentation Center described punishments 
ranging from 7 years' to 6 months' imprisonment meted out in 
nine cases of rape, extortion, or sexual abuse.  There is no 
evidence that any member of the security forces has been 
punished for an incident of custodial death or custodial 
torture in Jammu and Kashmir.  Among Kashmiris, there is a 
general impression that official abuse goes unpunished.

Custodial abuse is common even in Indian states free of 
insurgency.  Scheduled castes and harijans, people at the 
bottom of India's social ladder, are particularly vulnerable to 
police violence.  There continued to be consistent reports that 
police, mostly upper caste Hindus, deliberately targeted 
members of these groups and religious minorities for beatings 
and rape.  A highly publicized case from 1992, involving a low 
caste thief castrated while in police custody, remained stuck 
in the courts.  The district magistrate's report to the Supreme 
Court called for disciplinary action against four police 
officers, along with three doctors accused of altering 
evidence.  As of the end of the year, the station house officer 
and assistant subinspector charged in the case remained out on 
bail, despite a Supreme Court recommendation that bail be 
cancelled by May 10. 

The Government grew increasingly sensitive to allegations of 
police abuse during 1993 and took some steps to address the 
problem.  The Home Ministry reiterated instructions to police 
authorities that coercive methods should not be used on persons 
in police custody and expanded human rights training at India's 
elite national police academy.  The Government says many 
members of the police have been disciplined for abuse of 
detainees.  However, punishment is usually meager (suspension 
or transfer) and occurs only in a small percentage of 
incidents.  The courts have played a role in trying to bring 
police behavior into line with Indian law.  In a key decision 
on March 30, the Supreme Court reaffirmed the right of victims 
and their families to seek compensation from the Government for 
abuse while in police custody.  However, the serious backlog in 
India's judicial system means that custodial abuse cases 
usually move slowly.  In 1993, for instance, three policemen 
were sentenced to life imprisonment for their role in a 
custodial death in 1980.  In August the principal suspect in 
this case was granted bail, pending his appeal before the Delhi 
high court.

The Government does not allow independent monitoring of prisons 
by NGO's.  Prison conditions are, however, the subject of 
frequent press reports and have been assessed by human rights 
groups relying on testimony from former detainees.  Press 
reports include charges of sexual abuse of prisoners; the use 
of prisoners by prison officials for domestic labor; the sale 
on the black market of food and milk meant for prisoners; and 
the sale of women prisoners to brothels.  Women constitute 2 to 
6 percent of the total prison population, according to the 1987 
National Expert Committee on Women Prisoners Report.

A June 1993 report by the Human Rights Trust charged that 
prisoners in New Delhi's Tihar jail, considered one of the 
best-run in India, had inadequate food, medical care, and 
clothing.  The prison houses approximately 8,500 prisoners in 
facilities designed to hold 2,219.  Over 90 percent are 
awaiting trial, according to the jail's inspector general, and 
may be held months or even years before getting a court date.  
There were reportedly some 120 suicides in Tihar between 1988 
and 1992.

The Juvenile Justice Act of 1986 provides that boys under 16 
and girls under 18 are not to be held in prisons.  However, 
these provisions appear to be widely ignored, especially in 
police lockups.  The Supreme Court has criticized the states 
for not providing separate facilities for children in jails and 
for not constructing reformatory institutions.

In August the Supreme Court took up the issue of persons with 
mental disorders who have committed no crimes but are held in 
prisons throughout India.  In its response to a petition by a 
West Bengal human rights monitor, the Court restrained the 
Government from putting mentally ill people in jail and 
directed all state governments to report on the status of 
"noncriminal lunatics" in their states.  A senior West Bengal 
official stated that there were more than 1,000 such persons in 
West Bengal prisons.

There are three classes of Indian prison facilities.  Class "C" 
cells are the worst.  They often have dirt floors, no 
furnishings, and poor quality food.  They are overcrowded, and 
the use of handcuffs and fetters is common.  Prisoners in these 
cells reportedly suffer the most abuse.  Prisoners are 
designated class "C" on the basis of their standing in society, 
not on the nature of the crime--those who cannot prove they are 
either college graduates or income taxpayers when they come 
before the magistrate are class "C."

Class "B" cells are for college graduates and taxpayers.  
Crowding is less of a problem in "B" cells, and the food and 
treatment of prisoners are reportedly better than in class 
"C."  Class "A" cells are for "prominent persons," as 
designated by the Government.  Prisoners in these cells are 
accorded private rooms, visits, and adequate food, which can be 
supplemented by their families.  In fact, very few prisons 
actually maintain class "A" cells; class "A" prisoners are 
usually held in government guest houses.  These provisions are 
not evenly enforced.  Kashmiri political leaders Abdul Gani 
Lone and Syed Ali Shah Geelani, for instance, were held in 
class "C" cells at New Delhi's Tihar jail, even though their 
backgrounds entitle them to class "A" facilities.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

There were credible reports of widespread arbitrary arrest and 
detention under the special security laws enacted over the past 
decade to help law enforcement authorities fight separatist 

The Constitution requires that an arrested person be informed 
of the grounds for arrest, given the right to be represented by 
counsel, and (unless he is being held under a preventative 
detention law) produced before a magistrate within 24 hours of 
arrest.  At this initial appearance, the accused is committed 
to custody (either police or judicial remand) or released.  An 
accused must be informed of his right to bail at the time of 
arrest and (unless he is being held for a nonbailable offense) 
may apply for bail at any time.  The police must file a charge 
sheet within 60 or 90 days of arrest, depending on the severity 
of the crime.  If the police fail to do so, court approval of a 
bail application becomes mandatory.

The Constitution permits the enactment of preventive detention 
laws in the event of threats to public order and national 
security.  These laws provide for limits on the length of 
detention and for judicial review.  Government critics charged 
with political offenses such as sedition or disruptive speech 
are typically held for extended periods under the TADA or the 
National Security Act (NSA) but are never formally tried.  Some 
alleged militants in Kashmir and Punjab have been in detention 
for years.  International human rights groups claim there are 
thousands of political detainees in India.

The NSA, passed in 1980, permits detention of persons 
considered security risks; police anywhere in India (except 
Kashmir) may detain suspects under NSA provisions.  The Jammu 
and Kashmir Public Safety Act (1978) covers corresponding 
procedures for that state.  Under the NSA's strong preventive 
detention provisions, a person may be detained without charge 
or trial for up to 1 year on loosely defined security grounds.  
A detention order must be confirmed by the state government and 
reviewed by an advisory board of three high court judges within 
7 weeks of arrest.  NSA detainees are permitted visits by 
family members and lawyers and must be informed of the grounds 
for detention within 5 days (10-15 days in exceptional 
circumstances).  Some 16,000 people have been detained under 
the NSA since its inception.  More than two-thirds of those 
detained were released by order of the state government or 
advisory board.  According to the Government, as of May 1993, 
there were 639 people under NSA detention nationwide.  The 
cumulative figure for Public Safety Act arrests in Kashmir (as 
of January 1, 1993) was 2,983, with all but 998 of the 
arrestees subsequently released.

The TADA, though enacted in 1985 to fight insurgency in Punjab, 
has been invoked by almost every state in India, including 
those where no real emergency exists.  The TADA punishes those 
found guilty of terrorist and disruptive acts or membership in 
a terrorist gang with no less than 5 years' imprisonment and up 
to the death penalty for certain terrorist crimes.  Disruptive 
activities are defined broadly to include speech or actions 
that disrupt or challenge the sovereignty or territorial 
integrity of India.  The TADA extends the period to 60 days 
during which a detainee may be held in police custody after 
remand by the court and allows administrative detention up to 
180 days (1 year in special circumstances).  Suspects held 
under the TADA must be presented within 24 hours before an 
executive magistrate who reviews the detention order, but human 
rights groups say this requirement is frequently ignored.  The 
Act was extended for 2 years in May, when an amendment was 
added requiring authorization from a state police inspector 
general before a court takes cognizance of a TADA case.  (See 
also Sections 1.c. and 1.e.)

There were 7,816 reported arrests under the TADA in 18 states 
and union territories during 1992.  The Government claimed a 
total of 52,268 people were arrested under the TADA between 
1985 and February 15, 1993.  Of these, only 434 were 
convicted.  The vast majority of TADA detainees are eventually 
freed on bail or released without charge.

There are widespread accusations that the special security laws 
have been misused in states not experiencing civil unrest as a 
convenient way to hold people without trial.  These accusations 
are borne out by government data showing TADA and NSA arrests 
by state.  In 1992, for instance, TADA was used more frequently 
in Gujarat and Andhra Pradesh than in Punjab, which was the 
Act's original target.  Indeed, during the first 7 months of 
1993 Gujarat registered 1,409 TADA arrests, more than half the 
nationwide total of 2,514.  As of April, detentions under NSA 
in 1993 were highest in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.

Human rights monitors and the president of the Madras High 
Court Lawyers Association accused the Tamil Nadu government of 
using the NSA and other special security laws to detain 
political opponents under the pretext of fighting terrorism.  
In Punjab, state authorities used the TADA to arrest Sikh 
political leaders and prevent opposition rallies.  In Assam, 
authorities used the TADA to silence journalists and human 
rights activists suspected of separatist sympathies.  In 
Maharashtra, police were accused of using the TADA to round up 
Muslims indiscriminately on suspicion of involvement in the 
March 12 Bombay bombings.

Exile is not practiced.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

India has an independent judiciary with strong constitutional 
safeguards.  An October Supreme Court decision gave the Chief 
Justice of India--in consultation with his colleagues--a 
decisive voice in selecting judicial candidates.  Under the 
Constitution, judges are appointed by the President and may 
serve up to age 65 in the Supreme Court and age 62 in the state 
high courts.  India's legal procedures generally assure a fair 
trial when they function normally, but the process can be drawn 
out and inaccessible to the poor.  Defendants have the right to 
choose counsel from an Indian Bar that is fully independent of 
the Government.  There are effective channels for appeal at 
most levels of the judicial system.  This is not true for cases 
tried under the TADA which can be appealed only to the Supreme 
Court.  Since many TADA detainees lack the resources to gain 
access to the Supreme Court, the act effectively limits appeal.

The Indian Criminal Procedure Code provides for an open trial 
in most cases but allows exceptions in proceedings involving 
official secrets, trials in which statements prejudicial to the 
safety of the State might be made, or under provisions of 
special security legislation such as the TADA.  Defendants are 
presumed innocent until proven guilty except in certain cases 
(see below).  There are effective channels for appeal at all 
levels of the judicial system, although there is some 
limitation on appeals under the special security laws.  
Sentences must be announced in public.

The TADA authorizes secret testimony to protect witnesses and 
suspends the usual prohibition on the use of evidence gathered 
through police interrogation.  Indians charged under the TADA 
with certain categories of crimes are presumed guilty and carry 
the burden of proving their innocence.  Human rights groups 
charge that these categories are so broad--including cases in 
which weapons are recovered or there is strong incriminating 
evidence--that they can be manipulated to fit any case.  TADA 
trials are held before special courts.  The state or central 
government may designate a court as a TADA court for any 
geographic area, any case, or any class of offenses.  
Appointees to TADA courts must have served as a Sessions Judge 
or Additional Sessions Judge immediately prior to their 
appointment.  Some 450 petitions have been filed before the 
Indian Supreme Court challenging the constitutionality of the 
Act, but the court has yet to give its opinion.  Constitutional 
challenges to the TADA cover a broad spectrum.  Many contend 
that the TADA violates the accused's right to due process.  
Others claim the TADA abrogates the jurisdictional rights of 
the States by eliminating appeal to the High Court.  Still 
others address the TADA's incompatibility with the 
constitutional guarantee of free speech.

Muslim personal law governs many noncriminal matters involving 
Muslims, including family law, inheritance, and divorce.  The 
Government's declared policy is not to interfere in the 
personal laws of the minority communities, with the result that 
laws that discriminate against women are upheld.  Different 
personal laws are administered through the single civil court 

In Kashmir and Punjab the judicial systems barely function.  In 
both states, threats by militants against judges, witnesses, 
and their family members have created a situation in which no 
court is willing to hear cases involving terrorist crimes.  As 
a result, there were no convictions of alleged terrorists in 
Kashmir or Punjab during 1993.

There are no political prisoners in India.  (For political 
detainees, see Section 1.d.)

     f.  Arbitrary Interference with Privacy, Family, Home, or 

Under Indian law, warrants are normally required for searches 
and seizures.  In a criminal investigation, however, police may 
conduct searches without a warrant if obtaining one would cause 
undue delay.  They must justify such searches after the fact in 
writing to the nearest magistrate with jurisdiction over the 
offense being investigated.  This requirement appears to be 
respected.  The Special Powers Acts allow an officer or 
noncommissioned officer of the Armed Forces to arrest, without 
warrant, any person who has committed a cognizable offense or 
against whom a reasonable suspicion of such an act exists.  The 
officer may use such force as necessary to effect the arrest, 
enter and search, without warrant, any premises, and recover 
any property reasonably suspected to be stolen or any arms 
believed to be unlawfully kept.  There is no judicial review of 
this procedure.  Indeed, the Acts bar any prosecution, suit, or 
other legal proceeding against any person in respect to 
anything done or purported to be done in exercise of the powers 
conferred by the Acts, except with the prior sanction of the 
central Government.  

Surveillance of communications, including tapping telephones 
and intercepting personal mail, is authorized under the Indian 
Telegraph Act "on the occurrence of any public emergency or in 
the interest of the public safety or tranquility."  These 
powers have been used by every state government.

     g.  Use of Excessive Force and Violations of Humanitarian 
         Law in Internal Conflicts

Both government forces and militants committed egregious 
violations of humanitarian law in the disputed state of Jammu 
and Kashmir.  The Muslim majority population in the Kashmir 
valley increasingly found itself trapped between the repressive 
tactics used by security forces to combat insurgency and the 
militants' acts of wanton violence.  Approximately 400,000 
Indian army and paramilitary forces have been deployed 
throughout Jammu and Kashmir to contain the separatist 
movement.  Under the Armed Forces (Jammu and Kashmir) Special 
Powers Act, security force personnel have sweeping powers, 
including authority to shoot to kill suspected lawbreakers or 
disturbers of the peace and to destroy structures suspected of 
harboring militants or arms.

There were credible reports that security forces frequently 
used excessive force against civilians, sometimes in 
retaliation for attacks by Kashmiri militants.  On January 6, a 
40-man BSF unit responded to a hit-and-run attack by militants 
by firing on civilians and setting fire to buildings in Sopore, 
a stronghold of the Hizb-Ul Mujahideen militant group.  
According to Kashmiri and Delhi-based investigators, the 
day-long BSF rampage left 43 people dead, 14 injured, and 
around 300 homes and businesses burned.  Witnesses reported 
that BSF personnel used rags dipped in fuel to spread the 
flames and fired indiscriminately on civilians.

The Government responded by dispatching senior officials to 
Sopore, promising compensation to victims, suspending nine BSF 
personnel (including the commandant), and transferring the 
entire BSF unit.  The Government also ordered a judicial 
inquiry into the incident.  This effort was hampered by a 
reported militant order to witnesses to boycott the 
investigation.  As of year's end, the judge assigned to the 
probe had yet to complete his investigation.  BSF troops were 
accused of firing without warning on an October 22 
demonstration in the militant stronghold of Bijbehara, leaving 
41 dead and 76 injured, according to the Peoples Union for 
Civil Liberty.  Despite government claims that the security 
forces were ambushed by militants, only one BSF subinspector 
was injured.  The Government subsequently announced two 
official investigations and a separate inquiry by the National 
Human Rights Commission into these incidents.

There were other examples of BSF personnel using excessive 
force against civilians.  In mid-April, at least 16 people were 
killed and 260 shops and houses were gutted when fire swept 
through the Lal Chowk area of Central Srinagar.  It appeared 
the blaze began when Kashmiri demonstrators set fire to an 
abandoned BSF bunker.  However, press reports indicate the BSF 
troops responded by firing randomly at demonstrators and 
setting fire to homes and businesses in neighboring areas.  An 
official inquiry was announced, but the results were never 
released.  In July a BSF soldier shot and killed an 8-year-old 
boy when he reportedly mistook a kitchen utensil the boy was 
holding for a grenade.  When the enraged parents ran at the BSF 
men, they too were shot and killed.

Kashmiri militant groups were also guilty of serious human 
rights abuses.  In addition to political killings detailed in 
Section 1.a., militants committed extortion and carried out 
acts of random terror that left hundreds of Kashmiris dead.  
Two people were killed and three injured on May 11 when 
militants reportedly fired a rocket at the government 
headquarters in Srinagar.  Twenty-five people were injured on 
May 3 when a bomb planted by alleged militants exploded in a 
Jammu theater.  On September 15, a bomb reportedly planted by 
militants exploded in a Hindu temple in Jammu, killing one 
person and injuring eight others.  Between January 1990 and 
July 1993, the Government claimed, militants killed 1,817 

Militant groups were accused of executing captured soldiers and 
informers by strapping grenades to their bodies and setting 
them off in public.  In addition, militants were implicated in 
dozens of killings involving rival separatist factions.  The 
Government accused the Hizb-Ul Mujahideen group of 
responsibility for the March 31 execution of Dr. Abdul Ahad 
Guru, a leading Kashmiri human rights monitor.  On March 22, a 
Delhi paper carried a report that Dr. Guru was being used by 
the Home Ministry as a channel to the Jammu and Kashmir 
Liberation Front.  Ten days later, his bullet-ridden body was 
found on the outskirts of Srinagar.

Kashmiri militants continued to use kidnapings of prominent 
businessmen and politicians to seek the release of detained 
militants, sow terror, and extort funds.  After a hiatus of 
several months, kidnapings in Jammu and Kashmir climbed sharply 
during the first part of 1993.  Among those held were a former 
Member of Parliament, the director of the State Tourism 
Development Corporation, and a university professor.  The Home 
Ministry reported that 22 government employees were kidnaped 
during the period from April to June.  Press reports indicate 
that abductions continued at a similar pace throughout the year.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution protects these freedoms, and they are, with 
some limitations, exercised in practice.  A vigorous press 
reflects a wide variety of public, social, and economic 
beliefs.  Indian newspapers and magazines regularly publish 
investigative reports and allegations of government wrongdoing, 
and the press as a whole champions human rights and criticizes 
perceived government lapses.

The Press Council of India is a statutory body of journalists, 
publishers, academics and politicians, traditionally chaired by 
a sitting or former Supreme Court justice.  Designed to be a 
self-regulating mechanism for the press, it investigates 
complaints of irresponsible journalism and sets a code of 
conduct for publishers.  This code includes not publishing 
articles or details that might incite caste or communal 
violence.  The council publicly criticizes newspapers or 
journalists it believes to have broken the code of conduct, but 
its findings, while noted by the press community, carry no 
legal weight and have little influence on journalists.

National television and radio are government monopolies and are 
frequently accused by opposition politicians and the print 
media of manipulating the news to the benefit of the 
Government.  However, international satellite television is not 
censored or otherwise controlled by the Government and is 
widely distributed in middle-class neighborhoods via cable.  It 
is gradually eroding the Government's monopoly on electronic 

Under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), the Government may 
restrict publication of sensitive stories, but this is 
sometimes interpreted broadly by the Government to suppress 
criticism of its policies.  For instance, in Punjab, despite 
the decline of militancy, the Government occasionally impounded 
issues of newspapers because of what it considered 
objectionable reporting.

The 1971 Newspapers Incitements to Offenses Act remained in 
effect in Jammu and Kashmir throughout 1993.  Under the Act, a 
district magistrate may restrict the press from carrying 
material resulting in "incitement to murder" or "any act of 
violence."  Punishment permitted under the Act includes seizure 
of newspapers and printing presses.  Despite these 
restrictions, newspapers in Srinagar regularly carried militant 
press releases attacking the Government and reported in detail 
on alleged human rights abuses.  The Government has taken no 
steps to prevent Kashmiri papers from printing militant press 
releases.  Reporters were subject to harassment by security 
forces.  On August 5, three journalists in Srinagar were beaten 
with batons and rifle butts by BSF troops who objected to their 
coverage of an opposition rally.  In Assam, the Government 
arrested an editor and several reporters in connection with 
articles they published about ULFA militant activities.  
Journalists and academics who gathered in the state capital on 
February 20 to protest these arrests were met with a police 
baton charge in which 25 people were reportedly injured.

In Tamil Nadu, the state government applied intense pressure to 
the opposition press as relations between the state government 
and Delhi deteriorated.  State officials frequently used 
"defamation" charges in the courts to intimidate editors and 
journalists.  In July the state government withdrew police 
protection from a Madras weekly; shortly thereafter, the 
newspaper was ransacked.  An official investigation was 
launched immediately after the attack.  There has never been a 
determination of responsibility.  The Government permitted 
foreign journalists to travel freely in Kashmir, meet with 
militant leaders, and file reports on government abuses.

On January 31, militants in Punjab assassinated a reporter for 
the Hind Samachar News Group.  The Babbar Khalsa International 
claimed responsibility, saying it would not tolerate 
journalists who projected a negative image of militancy.

In Kashmir, rival militant groups threatened journalists and 
editors and even imposed temporary bans on some publications.  
Militants burned the residence of an Urdu-language newspaper 
editor who refused to carry their press release.  In September 
the paper suspended publication, citing militant harassment.

Journalists in the western states of Maharashtra and Gujarat 
were subject to regular harassment by Hindu radicals 
representing nongovernment political groups.  On August 18, 
members of the Shiv Sena Organization assaulted the editor of a 
Bombay newspaper when he criticized the Shiv Sena newspaper at 
a journalists' seminar.  The same day, members of a Hindu labor 
organization ransacked the office of a Bombay tabloid and beat 
up its senior reporter.  In May the editor of a Gujarat 
newspaper was stabbed to death by unidentified attackers.  Six 
months earlier, the local Shiv Sena chief had publicly 
threatened the editor's life, after he published editorials 
critical of the group.

A government censorship board reviews films before they are 
licensed for distribution.  Board members are appointed by the 
Government, through the Ministry of Information and 
Broadcasting.  The board deletes material deemed offensive to 
public morals or communal sentiment.  Producers of video news 
magazines are also required to clear their products with the 
board, which occasionally censors parts of stories that put the 
Government in a bad light.  There is a mechanism to appeal the 
board's decision which sometimes results in a censorship ruling 
being overturned.

Indians enjoy complete academic freedom, and students and 
faculty espouse a wide range of views.  In addition to 10 
national universities and about 160 state universities, states 
are empowered to accredit local private institutions.

     b.  Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and Association

The Constitution protects the right of peaceful assembly and 
the right to form associations, and these rights are generally 
respected in practice.

Local governments ordinarily respect the right to protest 
peacefully, but authorities sometimes require permits and 
notification prior to holding parades or demonstrations.  Under 
the Criminal Procedure Code (CRPC), the authorities may order 
the dispersal of any assembly of five or more people that is 
likely to cause a disturbance of the peace.  The Code allows 
the authorities to ban such assemblies prospectively for a 
period up to 2 months.  At times of civil tension, authorities 
may ban public assemblies or impose a curfew.  In February the 
Government used provisions of the Criminal Procedure Code to 
ban a large rally in the capital by the Hindu Bharatiya Janata 
Party (BJP) and to arrest those defying the ban.  The BJP 
claimed about 50,000 people were arrested nationwide, most of 
whom were released within a few days.  In October and December, 
the State government in Punjab arrested over 1,000 opposition 
party members in an effort to prevent a protest march to Delhi 
and a proposed series of sit-ins at district headquarters 

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act of 1967 empowers the 
Government to ban organizations whose activities promote 
communal hatred.  Five religion-based organizations (three 
Hindu and two Muslim) were banned under the Act in reaction to 
the destruction of a mosque in Ayodhya in December 1992, but 
enforcement of the bans was lax.  A special tribunal overturned 
the ban on three of the organizations in June.  The Government 
restricted freedom of assembly in Srinagar and other parts of 
Jammu and Kashmir by placing them under sporadic curfew during 
much of the year.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

India is a secular state in which all faiths enjoy freedom of 
worship.  Government policy does not favor any religious 
group.  Nevertheless, tensions over religious differences pose 
challenges to the secular foundation of the Indian State.

Hindu-Muslim tensions remained high in the aftermath of the 
December 1992 Ayodhya crisis.  Communal riots in Bombay during 
early January left at least 550 people dead and 2,500 injured.  
Witnesses said some of those killed were stoned to death or 
burned alive.  In a report published in August, the Indian 
People's Human Rights Tribunal, led by two retired high court 
judges, characterized the riots as "an organized crime 
perpetrated by communalists in connivance with the police."  
The Tribunal's report, supported by over 2,000 depositions, 
asserts that the police were either passive bystanders or 
openly sided with Hindu mobs.  Press accounts state that the 
overwhelming majority of those killed or injured in the riots 
were Muslims.

The Religious Institutions (Prevention of Misuse) Act makes it 
an offense to use any religious site for political purposes or 
to use temples for harboring persons accused or convicted of 
crime.  While specifically designed to deal with Sikh places of 
worship in the Punjab, the law technically applies to all 
religious sites.

Indian religious organizations may maintain communications with 
coreligionists abroad, but financial contributions from 
overseas are regulated by the Home Ministry and may not be used 
to finance publishing.  There is no national law to bar 
proselytizing by Indian Christians, but laws in some states 
discourage them from practicing openly.

Foreign missionaries can generally renew their visas, but since 
the mid-1960's the Government has refused to admit new resident 
missionaries.  Those who arrive now do so as tourists, and stay 
for short periods.  As of January 1992, there were 1,611 
registered foreign missionaries in all of India.  The sharp 
rise of conversions among tribals of the northeast continued to 
create tensions; as in the past, state officials refused to 
issue permits for foreign Christian missionaries to enter some 
northeastern states.

     d.  Freedom of Movement Within the Country, Foreign 
         Travel, Emigration, and Repatriation

Indian citizens enjoy full freedom of movement within the 
country, except in certain border areas where, for security 
reasons, special permits are required.  Travel abroad is 
generally not restricted, but there are exceptions.  Under the 
Passports Act of 1967, the Government may deny a passport to 
any applicant who "may or is likely to engage outside India in 
activities prejudicial to the sovereignty and integrity of 
India."  This provision is occasionally used to bar government 
critics (especially advocates of Sikh independence) from 
traveling abroad.

Millions of people of Indian origin live abroad.  Indian 
citizens may emigrate without restriction.

Although India is not a signatory to the U.N. Convention and 
Protocol on the Status of Refugees, the Government follows the 
general principles laid down in that document, including 
opposition to turning back refugees at the border.  Those whom 
it recognizes as refugees are placed in camps (Chakmas, Sri 
Lankan Tamils) or resettlement areas (Tibetans).  Tibetans have 
been accommodated by the Indian authorities since the 1950's.  
Afghans, Burmese, and other nationalities are neither deported 
nor recognized as refugees.  Instead, they receive renewable 
residence permits and are recognized as refugees by the United 
Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) or are ignored.

Bangladeshis formerly received the same treatment, but as 
domestic political pressure increased during 1991 and 1992, the 
Indian government began to crack down on their entry.  During 
1991, according to government statistics, 53,733 illegal 
immigrants from Bangladesh were apprehended on the border and 
turned back.  Government officials say there is no firm 
estimate of the number of Bangladeshis living illegally in 
India, but estimates range from 2 to 15 million.  In addition, 
India is home to over 54,000 Chakma tribal people who fled the 
Chittagong Hill tracts of Bangladesh during the 1980's.  Indian 
and Bangladeshi officials meeting in May reached agreement for 
expeditious repatriation of the Chakmas.  Press reports assert 
that rations and cash assistance to the camps in Tripura were 
reduced in a bid to encourage repatriation under this 
agreement.  As of the end of the year, however, there had been 
no discernible repatriation.

About 80,000 Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka were living in 131 
government-run camps, and up to 100,000 more were settled with 
friends and relatives throughout Tamil Nadu.  The state 
government, using central government resources, provided 
shelter and subsidized food to those in the camps.  In May the 
Tamil Nadu government banned all NGO assistance to the camps in 
an apparent effort to encourage repatriation.  About 7,000 
Tamils were repatriated voluntarily during August and September 
under an Indian government program monitored by the UNHCR.  
India also provided humanitarian assistance to over 100,000 
Tibetan refugees in Himachal Pradesh, Karnataka, and elsewhere 
in India.

Section 3  Respect for Political Rights:  The Right of Citizens 
           to Change Their Government

Indian citizens freely exercise their right to change their 
government.  India has a democratic, parliamentary system of 
government with representatives elected under universal adult 
suffrage; the voting age is 18.

Multiparty elections are held regularly at local, state, and 
national levels.  A Parliament sits for 5 years unless 
dissolved earlier for new elections or under constitutionally 
defined emergency situations.  State governments are elected at 
regular intervals except in states under President's rule.

On the advice of the Prime Minister, the President may proclaim 
a state of emergency in any state in the event of war, external 
aggression, or armed rebellion.  Similarly, President's 
rule--rule from the center--may be declared in the event of a 
collapse of a state's constitutional machinery.  President's 
rule remained in effect in Jammu and Kashmir throughout the 
year.  It was lifted in the states of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya 
Pradesh, Himachel Pradesh, and Rajasthan following elections in 
1993 and declared in the northeastern state of Manipur on 
December 31.

Under the Constitution, seats are reserved for scheduled tribes 
and scheduled castes in Parliament and state legislatures in 
proportion to their population.  Political parties and tribal 
groups work to advance the interests of indigenous people and 
on several occasions have extracted specific concessions from 
the Government.  Women account for about 7 percent of the 
members of Parliament.  They hold or have held a variety of 
senior positions, including Deputy Speaker of the upper house 
and Prime Minister.  By law, women are guaranteed 30 percent of 
seats in all local elected bodies (municipal councils and 
village panchayats).  Some states have discussed the idea of a 
similar reservation for state assemblies.  A government report 
stated that 40 to 50 percent of women exercised their franchise 
in the 1991 national election.

Section 4  Governmental Attitude Regarding International and 
           Nongovernmental Investigation of Alleged Violations 
           of Human Rights

Independent Indian human rights organizations are active and 
vocal.  They include the People's Union for Civil Liberties, 
the People's Union for Democratic Rights, the South Asia Human 
Rights Documentation Center, Citizens for Democracy, and 
numerous regional organizations.  These groups investigate 
specific allegations of human rights abuses and publish reports 
on their findings, which are often highly critical of the 
Government and militant groups.  All of India, including 
Kashmir and Punjab, is open to Indian investigators.

The central Government is generally tolerant of dissent.  
Nonetheless, human rights monitors have been targeted by the 
police for arrest and harassment.  In addition, a number of 
monitors were the victims of killings, some of which may have 
been politically motivated.  Dr. Farooq Ashai, a prominent 
Kashmiri orthopedic surgeon and specialist in the treatment of 
torture victims, died on February 18 when he was caught in the 
line of fire from a security forces' bunker.  Five weeks later, 
Dr. Abdul Ahad Guru, a leading Kashmiri human rights activist, 
was abducted and killed by unidentified gunmen (see Section 
1.g.).  Another Kashmiri human rights figure, Hirdai Nath 
Wanchoo, was killed under similar circumstances in December 
1992.  Results of the official investigation were never 
released; however, according to press accounts the Government 
investigators blamed the Jamait-ul-Mujahideen for Wanchoo's 
death.  Since Wanchoo was a vocal critic of security force 
abuses, most Kashmiris found the accusation not credible and 
accused the Government of the killing.

In Punjab, the police harassed, intimidated, and occasionally 
arrested human rights monitors.  In one case, a Sikh human 
rights monitor was held without charge for 3 weeks, then 
released with instructions to say nothing about his time in 
police custody.  In Maharashtra and Gujarat, hundreds of 
activists and local residents attempting to block the Narmada 
Dam project were arrested and subjected to police intimidation; 
some alleged they were tortured by police.  Doctors in Delhi 
who treated victims of communal riots in December 1992 and 
documented charges of official involvement were later subject 
to harassment by police investigators.  Hospital administrators 
reportedly received requests from the Home Ministry directing 
them to seek explanations from some doctors who were involved 
in an NGO investigation of the Delhi riots.  The doctors were 
associated with the Delhi Medicos and Scientists Forum, which 
published a report on the Delhi riots that accused the Delhi 
police of communal bias and excessive use of force.

In May the Government introduced authorizing legislation for a 
national human rights commission.  The bill was criticized by 
Indian human rights groups, which claimed the commission would 
be dominated by government servants, barred from investigating 
allegations of abuse involving the army and paramilitary 
forces, and provided with inadequate investigatory staff.  A 
Presidential Ordinance issued on September 29 and passed by the 
Parliament in December revised the Commission to give greater 
representation to retired jurists but left it with a limited 
mandate to investigate security force abuses  In December the 
Commission instructed state governments to inform it within 24 
hours of any custodial death.  If an incident is not reported 
on time, the Commission will assume there was a cover-up 

The central Government remains sensitive to international 
allegations of human rights violations.  However, in July the 
Home Ministry reversed its longstanding policy of barring 
investigating teams from Amnesty International and other 
international human rights organizations.  Although no such 
investigations occurred in 1993, the Government indicated the 
timing of such visits would be determined in consultations with 
the central Government and the concerned state government.  The 
Government also reached agreement with the ICRC for a seminar 
on international humanitarian law to be held in Delhi in early 
1994.  In August a four-member delegation from the 
International Commission of Jurists traveled to Kashmir as 
guests of the Government and met with a range of lawyers and 
human rights monitors.

Indian human rights groups say the Government seldom responds 
to inquiries from U.N. bodies such as the U.N. Working Group on 
Enforced or Involuntary Disappearances and the Special 
Rapporteur on Torture.  The official review performed by the 
Human Rights Committee of India's 1989 Report to the Committee 
produced several recommendations for policy changes to 
strengthen the protection of human rights in India, including 
revision of India's special security legislation which could 
violate provisions of the International Covenant on Civil and 
Political Rights.

Section 5  Discrimination Based on Race, Sex, Religion, 
           Disability, Language, or Social Status

The traditional caste system as well as differences of 
ethnicity, religion, and language deeply divide Indian 
society.  Despite laws designed to prevent discrimination, 
these differences are frequently manifest in social and 
cultural practices that have a profoundly discriminatory impact.


India has an elaborate system of laws to protect the rights of 
women, including the Equal Remuneration Act, the Prevention of 
Immoral Traffic Act, and the Sati (Widow Burning) Prevention 
Act.  Deeply rooted traditions, often tied to religious or 
social practice, lead to lax and sometimes no enforcement of 
these laws, especially in rural areas.  Female bondage and 
forced prostitution remain common in parts of Indian society.

According to an Indian government study, which is borne out by 
press reporting, violence against women--including molestation, 
rape, kidnaping, and wife murder ("dowry deaths")--has 
increased over the past decade.  Domestic violence in the 
context of dowry disputes is a particularly serious problem.  
In the typical dowry dispute, a groom's family will harass a 
woman they believe has not provided a sufficient dowry.  
Occasionally, this harassment ends in the woman's death, which 
family members often try to pass off as a suicide or kitchen 
accident.  Although most "dowry deaths" involve lower 
middle-class families, the phenomenon crosses both caste and 
religious lines.  The Government's strategy to combat violence 
against women emphasizes education and legislation to stiffen 
punishment for abuse.  A National Commission for Women, 
established in January 1992, investigates cases of abuse and 
reports to the Government on measures to improve the status of 
women in Indian society.  The Commission has publicized several 
cases of sexual harassment and physical abuse, but is 
criticized by women's groups for acting in a politicized manner.

Government figures show a total of 4,785 dowry deaths during 
1992, down about 7 percent from 1991.  Under a 1986 amendment 
to the Indian Penal Code, in every unnatural death of a woman 
in the first 7 years of marriage where it is proved she was 
subject to harassment, the court must presume her husband or 
in-laws were responsible.  In such cases, police procedures 
require that the investigation be conducted by an officer of 
deputy superintendent rank or above and that a postmortem be 
performed by a team of two or more doctors.

In March three family members were sentenced to capital 
punishment in a dowry death case in Aligarh.  However, such 
convictions are rare.  One case highlighted by the Indian press 
took 4 1/2 years to reach a preliminary hearing where a judge 
was to decide if there was sufficient evidence to try the 
victim's husband and in-laws for murder.  Moreover, lawyers 
handling dowry cases complain that judges and prosecutors 
(usually men) are uninterested in cases of domestic violence 
and are susceptible to bribes.

Despite several provisions in the Constitution promising 
equality before the law and prohibiting discrimination on the 
basis of gender, the personal laws of several Indian religious 
communities provide for legally sanctioned gender 
discrimination.  Under Islamic personal law, a Muslim husband 
may divorce his wife unilaterally; there is no such provision 
for women.  Islamic law also provides for a man to have up to 
four wives, while polyandry is prohibited.  These provisions 
have sparked debate within India's Muslim community and have 
been loudly criticized by some Hindu groups as examples of 
preferential treatment given to Muslims.

Existing laws relating to asset and land ownership give women 
little control over land use, retention, or sale.  The Hindu 
Succession Act provides equal inheritance rights for Hindu 
women, but in practice married daughters are seldom given a 
share in parental property.  Islamic personal law, while 
recognizing the right to inheritance of both sons and 
daughters, specifies that a daughter's share should be only 
one-half of a son's.  Under the tribal land system, notably in 
Bihar, tribal women do not have the right to own land; the 
traditional practice of putting women to death there as 
"witches" is closely linked to the denial of property rights.

India has thousands of grassroots organizations working for 
social justice and economic advancement of women.  These 
efforts are usually supported by the Government, despite strong 
resistance from traditionally privileged groups.  This 
resistance is illustrated by a case in September 1992 in which 
a women's rights activist in rural Rajasthan was gang-raped by 
men who objected to her advocacy against child marriage.  
Although the case was referred to the Central Bureau of 
Investigation, as of late October the five men accused by the 
victim had not been arrested.


The Government places a high priority on children's health and 
welfare, but its resources are often overwhelmed by demographic 
pressures.  A recent government report estimated the population 
under 6 years of age at 130 million.  A Department of Women and 
Child Development functions under the Human Resources 
Ministry.  The Department's 1992-93 budget accounted for about 
0.44 percent of total government expenditures.  India has a 
large population of street children, with perhaps as many as 
100,000 in major cities such as Delhi, Bombay, and Calcutta.  
Child prostitution in these cities is rampant.  Child marriage, 
a traditional practice in northern India, was outlawed by the 
Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act of 1976.  This law 
raises the age of marriage for girls from 15 to 18, but 
enforcement is uneven.  (See Section 6.d. on child labor.)

Because of a strong cultural preference for male offspring, 
sex-determination tests (amniocentesis and sonogram) are widely 
used, resulting in a disproportionate number of abortions of 
female fetuses.  Human rights groups estimate that at least 
10,000 cases of female infanticide occur each year throughout 
India, primarily in poor rural areas.  Female foeticide and 
infanticide have produced a steady decline in the ratio of 
females to males in the Indian population.  This figure has 
gone from 972 per 1,000 at the turn of the century to 955 per 
1,000 in 1981 and 927 per 1,000 in 1991.  Parents often give 
priority in both health care and nutrition to male infants over 
females.  Women's rights groups point out that the burden of 
providing an adequate dowry for girls is one factor in making 
female births less desirable.  Although abetting or taking 
dowry is theoretically illegal under the Dowry Prohibition Act 
of 1961, it is still widely practiced.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The Constitution gives the President authority to specify 
historically disadvantaged scheduled castes and tribes which 
are entitled to affirmative action in employment and other 
benefits.  Scheduled tribes constitute about 8 percent of the 
Indian population and scheduled castes about 16 percent.  
Scheduled castes and tribes benefit from targeted development 
funds, government hiring quotas, and special training 
programs.  However, spaces in national education institutions 
reserved for tribals and lower castes are often taken by more 
influential people from other backgrounds.  A national 
commission on scheduled castes and scheduled tribes reports 
annually on the status of tribal peoples and investigates 
specific complaints about deprivation of rights of scheduled 
castes and tribes.  The seven-member commission was established 
through a constitutional amendment in March 1992.  Although the 
commission was given the powers of a civil court to call 
witnesses and investigate abuse, it has yet to issue a report 
and has had no impact thus far.

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of 
Atrocities) Act of 1989 provided additional legal protections 
for these disadvantaged groups.  However, it has not checked 
atrocities committed against them.   Scheduled castes and 
scheduled tribes continued to be the victims of murder, rape, 
robbery, burning, and beating because of their status.  The 
Welfare Ministry told Parliament in 1993 that in the states of 
Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar, and Delhi, not a single 
trial involving atrocities against scheduled castes and tribes 
had been completed since 1986.

Although the practice of untouchability was in theory outlawed 
by the Constitution and the 1955 Civil Rights Act, it remains 
very much a part of life in India.  The resulting intercaste 
violence claims hundreds of lives each year.  In Karnataka, 2 
people were killed and 51 injured when police fired on a 
procession of dalits (untouchables) protesting against 
atrocities and discrimination by higher caste Hindus.

The Innerline Regulations, enacted by the British in 1873, 
still provide the basis for safeguarding tribal rights in most 
of the border states of northeastern India.  These regulations 
prohibit any person, including Indians from other states, from 
going beyond an inner boundary without a valid permit.  No 
rubber, wax, ivory, or other forest products may be carried out 
of the protected areas without prior authorization.  No 
outsiders are allowed to hold land in the tribal areas without 
approval from tribal authorities.

Despite constitutional safeguards, the rights of indigenous 
groups in eastern India are often ignored.  There has been 
encroachment (including by illegal immigrants from Bangladesh) 
on tribal land in almost all the states of eastern India, and 
businessmen, flouting the Innerline Regulations, have taken out 
forest and mineral resources.  These violations have given rise 
to numerous tribal movements demanding protection of land and 
property rights, including the Jharkhand movement in Bihar and 
Orissa and the Bodo movement in Assam.

     Religious Minorities

There is no obvious discrimination against religious minorities 
in civil rights areas such as jobs, housing, and education.

     People with Disabilities

India has a long history of concern for its disabled.  The 
country's first NGO dedicated to rehabilitation of the blind 
was created nearly a century ago.  With over 12 million Indians 
suffering from physical disabilities, according to the 
Government, demand for services often exceeds supply.

The Government's Ministry of Welfare has principal 
responsibility for programs for the disabled and targets 
comprehensive rehabilitation services to India's rural 
population through 16 district centers.  A national 
rehabilitation plan commits the Government to putting a 
rehabilitation center in each of India's more than 400 
districts, but services are now concentrated in urban areas.  
The Government reserves 3 percent of positions in official 
offices and parastatal enterprises for people with visual, 
hearing, or orthopedic disabilities.  Other support programs 
include:  special railway fares; assistance for purchase and 
fitting of aids and appliances; customs exemptions under 
bilateral agreements for donated rehabilitation supplies; 
education allowances; and scholarships.  The Welfare Ministry 
also provides substantial funding to several hundred NGO's 
involved in rehabilitation and training of special educators.

National education policy emphasizes the mainstreaming of 
handicapped children and stipulates that all educational and 
vocational programs must provide for the special needs of 
people with disabilities.  The Department of Education provides 
funding to state governments and NGO's to install necessary 
facilities.  Although the Government is developing legislation 
modeled on the Americans with Disabilities Act, there is 
currently no requirement for provision of accessibility for the 

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution guarantees the right of association.  Workers 
are guaranteed the right to form and join unions of their own 
choosing without prior authorization, including in export 
processing zones (EPZ's).  Several trade union centrals also 
exist.  Most trade unions have some tie to a national or local 
political party.  However, trade unions stress their formal 
independence from political parties and, on occasion, differ 
from their respective political allies on labor-related 
issues.  According to available data, somewhat less than 25 
percent of workers in the modern sector--roughly 2 percent of 
the total work force--are organized.

Trade unions have the legally protected right to strike, but 
public sector unions mustgive at least 14 days' notice prior to 
striking.  Some states have laws requiring workers in certain 
nonpublic sector industries to give prior strike notice.  The 
Essential Services Maintenance Act allows the central 
Government to ban strikes and requires conciliation or 
arbitration in specified essential industries.  Legal 
mechanisms exist for challenging the assertion that a given 
dispute falls within the scope of this Act.  In 1992 (the last 
year for which data are available) there were 894 strikes.  The 
Trade Unions Act of 1926 specifically prohibits employers from 
taking retribution against striking workers.

Human rights abuses against nationally organized unions or 
unionized workers have generally not been a problem in India.  
However, as with other peripheral groups in Indian society, 
unaffiliated unions of low caste or tribal workers cannot 
always avail themselves of protections and rights guaranteed by 
law.  The investigation into the 1991 murder of Shankar Guha 
Niyogi, a tribal union leader, is yet to be completed.  The 
judicial inquiry that was to investigate the killing of more 
than 18 of Niyogi's followers during a protest sitdown in July 
1992 has not yet commenced.  In June a "peoples tribunal" 
inquiry held state government authorities responsible for the 

Unions are free to affiliate with international trade union 
organizations.  For example, the Indian National Trade Union 
Congress is affiliated with the International Confederation of 
Free Trade Unions (ICFTU), and the All India Trade Union 
Congress (AITUC) is affiliated with the formerly 
Soviet-controlled World Federation of Trade Unions (WFTU).

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The right to organize (including protection against antiunion 
discrimination) and to bargain collectively has existed in 
Indian laws for decades.  Trade unions carry out these 
activities independently and without government or, in general, 
employer interference.  Although hampered by long delays and a 
severe backlog of unresolved cases, a system of specialized 
labor courts exists to hear and adjudicate labor-related 

Collective bargaining is the normal means of setting wages and 
settling disputes in the organized industrial sector, and trade 
unions are usually vigorous in defending worker interests in 
this process.  When collective bargaining fails to establish 
locally equitable wage levels, the Government may set up 
tripartite boards, including trade union representation, to 
determine them.  The Trade Union Act prohibits discrimination 
against union members and organizers, and employers may be 
penalized if they discriminate.  The Supreme Court has 
repeatedly upheld the 1926 Act and reinstated workers dismissed 
for union activity.  

There are seven EPZ's in India.  Physical access to the EPZ's 
ordinarily is limited to those who work in them, and union 
organizers are not exempt from these limitations.  While 
workers in EPZ's have the legal right to organize and bargain 
collectively, trade union activity is rare.  Women workers 
constitute the bulk of the work force in the EPZ's.

     c.  Prohibition of Forced or Compulsory Labor

The Constitution prohibits forced labor, and legislation passed 
in 1976 specifically bans the practice of "bonded labor."  A 
Supreme Court decision defined "forced labor" as work at less 
than the minimum wage (minimum wages are usually set by the 
states, not the central Government).  Under this definition, 
"forced labor" is widespread throughout India, particularly in 
rural areas.  "Bonded labor," the result of a private 
contractual relationship whereby a worker incurs or inherits 
debts to a contractor and then must work off the debt (plus 
extensive interest), is illegal but prevalent.  While 
violations are punishable by imprisonment for up to 3 years, 
individual state labor departments are responsible for law 
enforcement, and prosecutions are rare.

Based on reports from the states, the Government estimates that 
between enactment of the Bonded Labor (Regulation and 
Abolition) Act in 1979 and March 31, 1993, approximately 
251,424 bonded workers had been released, of whom 223,108 had 
been "rehabilitated" by March 31, 1992.  Other sources, 
including the Bandhua Mukti Morcha and the Gandhi Peace 
Foundation, have estimated that those released represent only 
one-tenth of the total number of bonded laborers in India. 
Private and autonomous social organizations, such as trade 
unions, the Council for Advancement of Peoples' Action and 
Rural Technology, and Action for Welfare and Awakening Rural 
Environments, attempt to identify cases of bondage and pursue 
them with the appropriate officials.  However, even with better 
coordination and increased resources to overcome the 
complicated jurisdictional division between central and state 
governments, the eradication of bonded labor is proceeding 

     d.  Minimum Age for Employment of Children

Article 24 of the Constitution prohibits employment of children 
under 14 years of age in factories, mines, or other hazardous 
employment; Article 45 encourages states to provide free and 
compulsory education for all children up to the age of 14.  A 
law passed in 1986 banned the employment of children under 14 
in hazardous occupations (such as glass making, fireworks, 
match factories, and carpet weaving) and regulated their 
employment in others.  The Factories Act of 1948 limits the 
working hours of children between the ages of 15 and 18 to 5 
hours per day.  However, these constitutional and legal 
provisions have had little impact on the use of child labor.  
Government statistics put the total number of child workers at 
17.5 million in 1985.  The International Labor Organization 
(ILO) put the number at 44 million, while NGO's cite a still 
higher figure of 55 million.  As in the case of bonded labor, 
the central Government often faults divided jurisdiction with 
state governments for its inability to curb the practice.  The 
continuing prevalence of child labor can be attributed to 
social acceptance, a widespread official belief that poverty 
causes child labor, and the failure of the state governments to 
make primary school education compulsory.

Two German-funded International Labor Organization (ILO) 
projects begun in 1992 seek to end child labor in the formal 
sector and reduce it elsewhere through promotion of primary 
school and vocational training alternatives.  Some 25 
activities of different NGO's have been approved under the 
projects thus far.  The Tamil Nadu state government and the 
United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) launched a joint 
program to eradicate child labor by promoting primary 
education, with state authorities pledging to enact legislation 
making it compulsory.

Certain industries, especially carpet weaving, have expanded 
their presence in the export market by exploiting the low cost 
of child labor.  The South Asian Coalition on Child Servitude 
(SACCS) promoted consumer education campaigns in the United 
States and Germany (the world's two largest markets for South 
Asian carpets) as well as other European nations and lobbied 
for the selective boycott of carpets produced by child labor.  
SACCS' efforts induced a significant portion of the industry in 
India to join hands with NGO's and the Indo-German Export 
Promotion Project to formulate a certification process for 
carpets made without child labor.  SACCS has lobbied states to 
enact universal, compulsory primary school education laws and 
force political leaders, irrespective of their party 
affiliation, to take a stand on the issue.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

In the "unorganized sector," each state sets separate minimum 
wages for agricultural workers, which are not well enforced.  
While the basic minimum wage varies according to the state and 
sector of industry, most "organized" workers receive much more 
than the minimum wage, especially when legislatively mandated 
bonuses and other benefits are included.  The minimum wage is 
considered adequate only for the most minimal standard of 

The Factories Act established an 8-hour workday, a 48-hour 
workweek, a 24-hour rest period each week, and various 
standards for working conditions.  These standards are 
generally enforced and accepted in the modern industrial 
sectors but tend not to be observed in the more extensive 
older, smaller, and less economically robust industries.  State 
governments are responsible for enforcement of the Factories 
Act.  However, the large number of industries covered by a 
small cadre of factory inspectors and their limited training 
and susceptibility to bribery make for lax enforcement.  
Although occupational safety and health measures vary widely, 
in general neither state nor central government resources for 
inspection and enforcement of standards are adequate.  Safety 
conditions tend to be better in the EPZ's.  Workers are not 
guaranteed the right to remove themselves from dangerous work 
situations without jeopardy to continued employment.  The ILO, 
in conjunction with the International Social Security 
Administration and the Indian National Safety Council, held its 
13th World Congress on Occupational Safety and Health in New 
Delhi in April.  This was the first time this ILO Congress was 
held in a developing country.  Although the congress evoked a 
good response from foreign and Indian practitioners in this 
field, it failed to generate interest among India's general 

[end of document]


Department Seal

Return to 1993 Human Rights Practices report home page.
Return to DOSFAN home page.
This is an official U.S. Government source for information on the WWW. Inclusion of non-U.S. Government links does not imply endorsement of contents.