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TITLE:  INDIA HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES, 1994
AUTHOR:  U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE
DATE:  FEBRUARY 1995









                             INDIA


India is a longstanding 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.

Although the 25 state governments have primary responsibility 
for maintaining law and order, the central Government provides 
guidance and support through use of national paramilitary 
forces.  The Union Ministry for Home Affairs controls the 
nationwide police service, most of the paramilitary forces, and 
the internal intelligence bureaus.  Paramilitary forces are 
deployed throughout India and have committed significant human 
rights abuses, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir.

India has a mixed economy.  The private sector is predominant 
in agriculture, most nonfinancial services, consumer goods 
manufacturing, and some heavy industry.  The Government 
continued economic liberalization and structural reforms begun 
in 1991.  India's economic problems are compounded by rapid 
population growth of 2 percent per year with a current total 
well above 900 million.  Income distribution remained very 
unequal.  Forty percent of the urban population and half the 
rural population live below the poverty level.

There continue to be significant human rights abuses, despite 
extensive constitutional and statutory safeguards.  Many of 
these abuses are generated by intense social tensions, the 
authorities' attempts to repress violent secessionist 
movements, and deficient police methods and training.  These 
problems are acute in Kashmir, where the judicial system has 
been disrupted both by terrorist threats including the 
assassination of judges and witnesses, and by judicial 
tolerance of the Government's heavy handed anti-militant 
tactics.

Serious human rights abuses include:  extrajudicial executions, 
torture, and reprisal killings by security forces fighting 
separatist insurgents in Kashmir and northeast India; political 
killings, kidnaping, and extortion by militants; extrajudicial 
executions by police in Punjab; torture, rape, and deaths of 
suspects in police custody throughout India; incommunicado 
detention for prolonged periods without charges under special 
security legislation; government failure in most instances to 
prosecute and appropriately punish police and security forces 
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.

Beginning in late 1993, the Government sought to address human 
rights concerns by establishing a National Human Rights 
Commission (NHRC) with powers to investigate and recommend 
policy changes, punishment, and compensation in cases of police 
abuse.  The Commission began to establish a record as an 
effective advocate for human rights when it examined security 
forces abuses committed in November 1993 in Bijbehara, 
Kashmir.  One international human rights group commended the 
Commission's reports as "hard hitting."  The steadfast work of 
local human rights groups and the contribution of the NHRC 
helped bring about a public acknowledgement of serious human 
rights abuses and the need for official steps to deal with them 
(see Section 4).

RESPECT FOR HUMAN RIGHTS

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 militant 
terrorists continued at a high rate, particularly in Jammu and 
Kashmir, and the northeast, where separatist insurgencies 
continued in 1994.

The security forces continued to commit extrajudicial killings 
of suspected militants in Kashmir.  Human rights monitors 
maintain they have documented the names, dates, and 
circumstances in scores of extrajudicial killings each month.  
Typically, those killed were detained by security forces, and 
their bodies, bearing multiple bullet wounds and often marks of 
torture, returned to relatives or were otherwise discovered the 
same day or a few days later.  While there is little 
information to corroborate individual cases, press reports and 
anecdotal evidence leaves no doubt that the pattern exists and 
is extensive.  Security forces claim that these killings, when 
they acknowledge them, occur in armed encounters with militants.

Deaths in Kashmir, particularly of security forces and 
militants, increased in 1994 compared with the previous year.  
Press reports indicate that 1,296 civilians, 175 police 
personnel, and 1,630 militants died in insurgency-related 
violence in Kashmir.

In Punjab, instances of terrorist violence virtually 
disappeared in 1994, and the number of Sikh militants killed 
diminished considerably from 1993.  The NHRC, visiting the 
state in April, concurred with a widespread public perception 
that Punjabi militancy was at an end and that police excesses 
could no longer be explained as a response to an emergency.  In 
a report issued in August, the NHRC strongly recommended that 
the Punjab state government take steps to restore the normal 
functioning and oversight of the police.  During 1994, 76 
alleged Punjabi militants were reportedly killed in armed 
encounters, including only 4 in the last 6 months of the year, 
compared with more than 583 such killings in 1993.  No police 
or other security personnel were killed in such encounters in 
1994.  The fact that no police died underscored the 
implausibility of police claims that militants were killed in 
"crossfire."

Punjab police hit teams again in 1994 pursued Sikh militants 
into other parts of India.  On June 24, Punjab police shot and 
killed Karnail Singh Kaili, a man they identified as a Sikh 
terrorist leader of the Bhindranwale Tiger Force (BTFK) in West 
Bengal.  The government of West Bengal claimed that it had not 
been informed of the presence of the Punjab police in West 
Bengal, seized Kaili's body and weapons, and barred the 
departure of the police team until the Punjab Chief Minister 
apologized.

In Bihar, human rights groups claim police continued to kill 
Naxalites in faked "encounter killings."  In one case in April, 
police allegedly killed 11 suspected Naxalites in cold blood 
and then claimed the deaths had occurred in an encounter.  
During their August visit to Andhra Pradesh, representatives of 
the NHRC heard complaints of abuses committed by both Naxalites 
and police.  The NHRC asked the Bihar government for details of 
nine alleged faked encounter killings by the police and 
recommended the payment of compensation to the relatives of the 
Naxalite killings, and also to the relatives of the victims of 
faked encounter killings.

There is evidence that the practice of faked encounter killings 
has spread to Bombay.  The previous year's pattern persisted in 
1994.  There were over 60 alleged criminals reported as killed 
in armed encounters with the Bombay Police during the first 7 
months of the year.

While state authorities continued to tolerate extrajudicial 
killings in areas buffeted by separatist insurgencies, the 
press and courts paid increasing attention to deaths in police 
custody and faked encounter killings.  The Supreme Court 
directed active investigation and prosecution of custodial 
deaths and other cases of police abuse and negligence.  In one 
case, murder charges were brought against Punjab policemen for 
a faked encounter killing.  In another case, a High Court judge 
in July recommended murder charges for 11 Punjab policemen in a 
faked encounter killing and compensation to the victim's family.

In September the Supreme Court strongly criticized the Punjab 
police, including the Director General K.P.S. Gill, for 
inaction following the abduction by police in 1991 of 7 members 
of a family, none of whom has been seen since.  In October the 
Supreme Court ordered the prosecution of 58 police officers 
accused in the 1991 murders of 10 Sikh youths in Uttar 
Pradesh.  The NHRC is investigating 25 cases of suspected faked 
encounter killings.

Deaths of suspects in police custody continued to occur as a 
result of torture during interrogation.  One such case was that 
of Madan Lal who died in November 1993 within hours of being 
picked up and released by police.  In June the NHRC recommended 
the award of $1,700 to compensate Lal's family, the transfer of 
the investigation from the Delhi Police Department to the 
Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and the initiation of 
proceedings against a police officer who had threatened 
witnesses.  The Government accepted the recommendations.

The press reported that police arrested Mahesh Paswan in the 
Hajipur District, Bihar on the evening of February 19 and that 
Paswan died in custody early the next morning.  The victim's 
father filed charges against four policemen suspected of 
causing his son's death.  The authorities suspended one 
officer, and the district magistrate initiated an inquiry.

According to press reports, Bapula Das died in police custody 
in the Khandagiri Police Station in Orissa April 27, hours 
after he was detained.  Two men who had been detained with Das 
told a local human rights group that the police tortured the 
three of them with electric shocks.  The Orissa Government 
reportedly suspended three police officers, initiated a 
judicial inquiry, and paid the victim's family $800 in 
compensation.

On August 29, Kashmiri journalist Ghulam Mohammad Lone and his 
young son were shot dead in their home.  He had received a 
death threat from an army officer in connection with a story 
reporting corrupt practices in the military.  At year's end, 
the authorities had not charged anyone in the killing.

Terrorist attacks accounted for hundreds of deaths.  As in the 
past, Kashmiri militant groups carried out politically 
motivated killings on a wide scale, targeting progovernment 
politicians, government officials, alleged police informers, 
civilians and members of rival factions.  Examples included:  
the shooting death of Wali Mohammad Itoo, a National Conference 
leader and former state minister; the killings of former state 
assembly member Abdul Majid Pandey and a police inspector in 
separate incidents on July 15; and the killing of three 
passengers on two buses stopped by militants in the Doda 
District May 20.  On June 20, militants allegedly shot and 
killed the Dr. Qazi Nissar, the Mirwaiz (Muslim religious 
leader) of South Kashmir, for speaking out against militancy.  
The Government estimated that 70 persons, including 35 
militants, were killed in clashes between militant factions in 
the first 3 months of 1994.

Maoist revolutionary Naxalites continued to commit many 
killings in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Orissa.  Naxalites held 
"people's courts" in which village headmen and others were 
condemned to death and summarily executed as "class enemies" 
and "caste oppressors."  In Bihar during 1993, 300 persons were 
estimated to have been killed in clashes between security 
forces and Naxalites, and between Naxalite factions.

Extensive, complex patterns of violence continued in the seven 
states of northeastern India.  Numerous killings can be 
attributed to conflicts in each of the following categories:  
between indigenous peoples, usually Buddhist or animist, and 
immigrant groups, usually Muslim or Hindu; between tribes of 
indigenous peoples; between security forces and militants of at 
least 18 insurgent groups; among factions of insurgent groups.  
Large numbers of security personnel were among the victims of 
the violence of the northeast.

     b.  Disappearance

There were widespread reports of disappearances again in 1994.  
There are credible reports that police throughout India often 
do not file required arrest reports.  As a result, there are 
hundreds of unsolved disappearances in which relatives claim an 
individual was taken into police custody and never heard from 
again.  Police usually deny these claims, countering that there 
are no records of arrest.

Security forces acknowledge that they detained more than 10,000 
in Jammu and Kashmir from 1990 to mid-1994 and that they 
released over 7,000 of them.  The Government made public a list 
of more than 3,000 detainees in more than 20 detention centers 
in Jammu and Kashmir in 1994.  However, human rights groups 
maintain that the Government does not acknowledge holding 
without charge as many as 7,000 additional persons in 
incommunicado detention.

The Government maintains that screening committees run by the 
state government provide information about detainees to their 
families.  However, other sources indicate that families are 
able to confirm the detention of their relatives only by 
bribing prison guards.  The Kashmir Bar Association reports 
that bodies bearing marks of torture of persons detained weeks 
earlier have been found or returned to the victim's families.

Amnesty International (AI) published a report in December 1993 
on disappearances in Jammu, Kashmir, and Punjab.  The 
Government's response to the report shed little light on cited 
cases.  The response indicated that the Government of Pakistan 
and militant groups bear the responsibility for creating 
circumstances in Kashmir that "created possibilities of what 
may be perceived as excesses."  The response indicated that the 
Government had completed inquiries on 75 disappearances:  35 
were dismissed on the grounds that no missing-person reports 
were filed with local police authorities.  That is, the 
relatives did not file reports with the authorities whom they 
believed perpetrated or condoned the abductions.  Investigation 
continued in 12 cases, and in 10 cases the authorities released 
disappeared individuals from detention.  The Government offered 
other explanations for the remaining cases.

Problems with the absence of police arrest records is 
particularly common in Punjab, where a number of disappearances 
were reported.  A noteworthy case is that of Sukhwinder Singh 
Bhatti, a defense lawyer for accused Sikh militants.  On May 
12, plainclothes police officers arrested Bhatti; he has not 
been seen since.  In a letter to the Chief Justice, a group of 
Punjab lawyers pointed out that Bhatti's case was the fourth in 
3 years in which the police kidnaped a defense lawyer for 
accused terrorists.  On June 17, the Haryana and Punjab High 
Court ordered a CBI investigation into Bhatti's case; and on 
July 22, the NHRC summoned the Punjab state Home Secretary to 
provide explanations for the disappearances of the four 
lawyers.  The NHRC reported that the cases are under 
investigation or before the Supreme Court.

Militants in Kashmir and the northeast have increasingly 
resorted to kidnapings to sow terror, seek the release of 
detained comrades and extort funds.  According to the 
government, Kashmiri militants conducted 368 kidnapings in 
first half of 1994, including those of an American citizen and 
5 British nationals, all of whom were released unharmed or 
freed unharmed by police.

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

The law prohibits torture, but there is credible evidence that 
it is common throughout India.  The authorities often use 
torture during interrogations.  In other cases, they torture 
detainees to extort money and sometimes as summary punishment.  
Police officials in West Bengal acknowledged in press 
interviews that torture is a routine practice in interrogation.

Human rights groups continue to report numerous cases in which 
police and paramilitary forces have used torture during 
interrogations in Kashmir, Punjab, and Assam.  Commonly 
reported methods include:  beatings, rape, burning with 
cigarettes and hot rods, suspension by the feet, crushing of 
limbs with heavy rollers, and electric shocks.  Because many 
alleged torture victims die in custody, and others are afraid 
to speak out, there are few first-hand accounts, although the 
marks of torture have often been found on the bodies of 
deceased detainees (see Sections 1.a. and 1.b.).  The 
prevalence of torture by police in lockups throughout India is 
borne out by the number of cases of deaths in police custody.

The rape of persons in custody is part of the broader pattern 
of custodial abuse.  According to the Home Minister, 54 cases 
of custodial rape occurred in 1991, 79 in 1992 and 45 in 1993.  
A report published by the People's Union for Democratic Rights 
(PUDR) in May detailed 24 cases of alleged custodial rape 
between 1989 and 1993 in Delhi.  The PUDR noted that there have 
been no convictions and that the authorities reinstated three 
of 10 policemen dismissed in connection with these cases.

In Madras, there were three publicized cases of gang rapes of 
the wives of prisoners in police stations in 1994; a number of 
policemen have been suspended in connection with these cases.  
In late December, an official investigation recommended 
official charges against policemen who allegedly raped seven 
women in a melee that occurred when the police blocked the 
movement of demonstrators near Muzaffargarh on October 2.  
There were also many reports of rapes committed by security 
forces and militants in Kashmir and the Northeast.

Confessions extracted by force are generally inadmissible in 
court.  Under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities 
(Prevention) Act (TADA), a confession made to an officer above 
the rank of superintendent of police is admissible as 
evidence--provided the police believe the confession was 
voluntary.  However, the use of torture to obtain confessions 
under TADA is common.

Prison guards have abused inmates for reasons unrelated to 
interrogation.  In one particularly serious case, 7 prisoners 
died and 27 were injured as a result of beatings by guards in 
Pilibhit Jail on the night of November 8.  Criminal charges 
have been brought against guards and other officials involved.

Although custodial abuse is deeply rooted in police practices, 
there is evidence of growing public awareness of the problem.  
The NHRC has identified torture and deaths in detention as one 
of its priority concerns.  It has directed district magistrates 
to report all custodial deaths within 24 hours and stated that 
failure to do so will be interpreted as an attempted coverup.  
Magistrates appear to be complying with this directive.

The courts also have been more active in prosecuting cases of 
custodial abuse.  Many cases are old and illustrate the 
slowness of the judicial system in custodial cases.  Early in 
the year, five Delhi constables were sentenced to 5 years' 
rigorous imprisonment for illegally confining and beating to 
death Kamal Kumar in July 1979.  In January the Supreme Court 
sentenced three Uttar Pradesh policemen to imprisonment and 
fined two CBI inspectors for beating a suspect on the steps of 
the Supreme Court.  In April the Punjab High Court ordered 
$1,700 in compensation to 4 women who had the word "pickpocket" 
tattooed on their foreheads by Punjab police.

There are three classes of prison facilities.  Prisoners are 
not classified by the nature of their crimes, but by their 
standing in society.  Class "C" prisoners are those who cannot 
prove they are college graduates or income taxpayers.  Their 
cells are overcrowded, often have dirt floors, no furnishings, 
and poor quality food.  The use of handcuffs and fetters is 
common.  Class "B" prisoners--college graduates and 
taxpayers--are held under markedly better conditions.  Class 
"A" prisoners are prominent persons, as designated by the 
Government, and are accorded private rooms, visits, and 
adequate food, which may be supplemented by their families.  
Class "A" prisoners are usually held in government guest 
houses.  The authorities do not always follow this 
classification:  following their arrest in October 1993, 
Kashmiri political leaders Abdul Gani Lone and Syed Ali Shah 
Gilani were held for months as class "C" prisoners before they 
were moved to a guest house (see also Section 1.e.).

According to a statement in Parliament by Minister of State for 
Home Affairs, P.M. Sayeed, New Delhi's Tihar Jail, considered 
one of the best-run in India, housed in March 8,577 
prisoners--in facilities designed to hold 2,487.  According to 
Sayeed, 7,505 detainees awaited the completion of their trials, 
while 672 others have been in trial for 3 years or longer.

The Government does not allow NGO's to monitor prison 
conditions.  Nevertheless, prison conditions are a subject of 
press reports and have received greater attention from human 
rights groups.  Press accounts of prison conditions include 
reports of sexual abuse of prisoners, the use of prisoners by 
prison officials as domestic servants, the sale of food and 
milk for prisoners on the black market, the sale of female 
prisoners to brothels, and the marketing and export of 
prison-made goods.

Women constitute 2 to 6 percent of the total prison population, 
according to the 1987 Justice Krishna Iyer Report.  Although 
Parliament passed a Children's Act in 1960 to safeguard young 
prisoners against abuse and exploitation, and a Juvenile 
Justice Act in 1986 provides that boys under 16 and girls under 
18 are not to be held in prison, most states have not 
implemented these Acts.  The Supreme Court has criticized the 
state governments for not providing reformatories and separate 
detention facilities for children.

     d.  Arbitrary Arrest, Detention, or Exile

Over the past decade, the Government implemented a variety of 
special security laws intended to help law enforcement 
authorities fight separatist insurgency.  There are credible 
reports of widespread arbitrary arrest and detention under 
these laws.

The Constitution requires that detainees have the right to be 
informed of the grounds for arrest, have the right to be 
represented by counsel, and, unless the person is held under a 
preventive detention law, the right to appear before a 
magistrate within 24 hours of arrest.  At this initial 
appearance, the accused must either be remanded for further 
investigation or released.  The Supreme Court has upheld these 
provisions.  An accused person must be informed of his right to 
bail at the time of arrest and may, unless he is held on a 
nonbailable offense, apply for bail at any time.  The police 
must file a charge sheet within 60 to 90 days of arrest; if 
they fail to do so, court approval of a bail application 
becomes mandatory.

The Constitution permits 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.  Several laws of this type remain in effect.

The National Security Act (NSA) of 1980 permits detention of 
persons considered security risks; police anywhere in India 
(except Kashmir) may detain suspects under NSA provisions.  
Under these provisions, the authorities may detain a suspect 
without charge or trial as long as 1 year on loosely defined 
security grounds.  The state government must confirm the 
detention order, which is 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 to 15 days in exceptional circumstances).  Nationwide, more 
than two-thirds of the 16,000 people detained under NSA since 
1980 have been released by order of the state government or an 
advisory board.

The Jammu and Kashmir Public Safety Act (PSA) of 1978 covers 
corresponding procedures for that state.  In May the 
authorities released and immediately rearrested Kashmiri 
political leaders Abdul Gani Lone and Syed Ali Shah Gilani, who 
had been detained under the PSA in October 1993.  The move 
followed a decision by the Supreme Court which ruled that the 
authorities did not have sufficient grounds to detain Lone and 
Gilani.  However, they and 376 other Kashmiri detainees were 
released in October.  Over half of the detainees in Jammu and 
Kashmir are held under the PSA.

The TADA was enacted in 1985 to fight insurgency in Punjab, but 
has been invoked by almost every state, including those in 
which there is no insurgency (see also Sections 1.c. and 
1.e.).  TADA stipulates that those found guilty of terrorist 
and disruptive acts, or membership in a terrorist gang, may be 
sentenced to no less than 5 years.  It also carries 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 it 
allows administrative detention up to 180 days (1 year in 
special circumstances).  Suspects held under 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 TADA was extended for 2 
years in May 1993, at which time an amendment was added 
requiring authorization from a state police inspector general 
before a court takes cognizance of a TADA case.

According to the Government, there were 8,742 TADA arrests in 
21 states in 1993, the latest year for which information is 
available.  In May the Home Ministry informed Parliament that 
61,843 persons had been detained under TADA since the law's 
enactment in 1985, and 48,502 had been released on bail.  While 
the Ministry said it did not maintain information on the 
numbers of cases that resulted in conviction, the Minister of 
State conceded that the number was very low.

Press reports claim that, on the basis of official figures, 626 
persons have been convicted under TADA in all of India since 
1986.  According to a study by one human rights group, 18 of 
11,957 detainees arrested under the TADA have been convicted in 
the state of Gujarat, even though that state has not 
experienced any insurgency.  The vast majority of TADA 
detainees are eventually freed on bail or released without 
charges being filed.

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 1993 more persons were detained under TADA in 
Gujarat and Maharashtra than in Punjab, which was the Act's 
original target.  The authorities in Gujarat detained 2,902 
persons under TADA in 1993--roughly one third of the nationwide 
total.  Detentions under NSA in 1993 were highest in Gujarat 
and Uttar Pradesh.

Public opposition to TADA rose after a Supreme Court decision 
in March upheld the Act's constitutionality.  The press, human 
rights groups, and lawyers' organizations criticized the 
decision.  The National Minorities Commission and prominent 
Muslim members of the Ruling Congress (I) Party, including a 
sitting minister, claimed that TADA is used disproportionately 
against minorities, Muslims in particular, and called for its 
repeal.  In July the Supreme Court issued another decision that 
restricted the use of TADA to terrorist crimes and called for 
the release of those detained under TADA after 180 days if no 
charges have been brought.

The Home Minister acknowledged that there has been widespread 
abuse of TADA and directed the chief ministers of the states to 
correct these practices.  The pace of releases subsequently 
accelerated and, by the end of November, the nationwide total 
of persons detained under TADA was reduced to 6,432.  The 
largest number of those still held are in Kashmir and the 
northeastern states in Maharashtra, where religious riots 
occurred in January 1993.

The Minister of State for Home Affairs stated in July that the 
Government might not renew TADA when it expires in April 1995, 
if the Government found that the states have misused the Act. 
The NHRC announced in August that it would ask the Supreme 
Court to review its March decision.  In September the NHRC 
entered a plea before the Court challenging one of TADA's 
provisions.  The Court denied NHRC's standing but allowed its 
lawyer to advise the Court.

The court system is overloaded.  The result has been the 
detention of persons awaiting trial for periods longer than 
they would receive if convicted.  Prisoners may be held months 
or even years before obtaining a trial date.  According to a 
reply to a parliamentary question in July, more than 111,000 
criminal cases were pending in the Allahabad High Court, the 
most serious case backlog in the country, of which nearly 
29,000 cases had been pending for 5 to 8 years.

Eleven detained foreigners petitioned the Delhi High Court in 
July to investigate the delay in their trials and threatened a 
hunger strike.  Four had been held for 4 to 7 years pending 
completion of their trials.

The Government does not practice exile.

     e.  Denial of Fair Public Trial

India has an independent judiciary with strong constitutional 
safeguards.  Under a Supreme Court ruling, the Chief Justice, 
in consultation with his colleagues, has a decisive voice in 
selecting judicial candidates.  The President appoints the 
judges, and they serve up to age 62 in the state high courts 
and 65 in the Supreme Court.

When legal procedures function normally, they generally assure 
a fair trial, but the process can be drawn out and inaccessible 
to the poor.  Defendants have the right to choose counsel from 
a 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 TADA, which may 
be appealed only to the Supreme Court.  Since many TADA 
detainees lack the resources to appeal to the Supreme Court, 
the Act effectively limits appeal.

The Criminal Procedure Code provides for an open trial in most 
cases, but it 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 TADA.  Sentences must be 
announced in public.  TADA authorizes secret testimony to 
protect witnesses and suspends the usual prohibition on the use 
of evidence gathered through police interrogation.  Persons 
charged under TADA with certain crimes are presumed guilty and 
carry the burden of proving their innocence.  Human rights 
groups credibly charge that these categories are so broad that 
they can be manipulated to fit any case.  TADA trials are held 
before special courts, which may sit "in camera" in any 
district of the state where the crime was committed.

Constitutional challenges to the TADA have been raised on the 
premise that it violates the defendant's right to due process, 
abrogates the jurisdictional rights of the states by 
eliminating appeal to the High Court, and that it is 
incompatible with the constitutional guarantee of free speech.

Muslim personal status law governs many noncriminal matters 
involving Muslims--including family law, inheritance, and 
divorce.  The Government does not interfere in the personal 
laws of the minority communities, with the result that laws 
that discriminate against women are upheld.

In Kashmir, the judicial system barely functions due to threats 
by militants against judges, witnesses, and their family 
members and because of judicial tolerance of the government's 
heavy handed anti-militant actions.  Courts there are not 
willing to hear cases involving terrorist crimes or fail to act 
expeditiously on habeas corpus cases.  As a result, there were 
no convictions of alleged terrorists in Kashmir during 1994, 
even though some militants have been in detention for years.  
In Punjab, where a similar situation had existed, the courts 
began to play a more assertive role in 1994 (see Sections 1.b. 
and 1.c.).

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

The police must obtain warrants for searches and seizures.  In 
a criminal investigation, the police may conduct searches 
without warrants to avoid undue delay, but they must justify 
the searches in writing to the nearest magistrate with 
jurisdiction over the offense.  The authorities in Jammu and 
Kashmir, Punjab, and Assam have special powers to search and 
arrest without a warrant.

The Indian Telegraph Act authorizes the surveillance of 
communications, including monitoring telephone conversation and 
intercepting personal mail--in cases of public emergency or "in 
the interest of the public safety or tranquility."  These 
powers have been used by every state government.

On May 25, the Punjab state government ordered the authorities 
to intercept any mail addressed to or mailed by various Sikh 
political, student, and lawyer groups, persons residing in 
Pakistan, or any group or person considered a danger to the 
state.  On July 25, the state High Court ordered the state 
government to suspend implementing the order.

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

Both government forces and militants continue to commit serious 
violations of humanitarian law in the disputed state of Jammu 
and Kashmir.  Between 400,000 and 450,000 Indian army and 
paramilitary forces are deployed in Jammu and Kashmir, but 
their number substantially increased during 1994.  The Muslim 
majority population in the Kashmir Valley is caught between the 
repressive tactics of the security forces and acts of wanton 
violence committed by the militants.  Under the Jammu and 
Kashmir Disturbed Areas Act, and the Armed Forces (Jammu and 
Kashmir) Special Powers Act, both passed in July 1990, security 
forces personnel have extraordinary powers, including authority 
to shoot to kill suspected lawbreakers and those disturbing the 
peace, and destroy structures suspected of harboring militants 
or arms.

The number of cases in which the security forces caused the 
deaths of civilians diminished when compared with 1993.  In the 
most serious case, 18 civilians and 3 members of the Kashmir 
police died and 15 were injured in the village of Kupwara on 
January 28.  Kashmiri sources claim the deaths, including those 
of the policemen, occurred when security forces fired on a 
crowd demonstrating near the district magistrate's office.  
Security forces claim they returned fire when militants 
attacked a military convoy passing through the town.  Results 
of a magisterial inquiry have not been made public.

In April the NHRC released a report on the October 1993 
incident in Bijbehara, in which Border Security Force (BSF) 
personnel killed 41 civilians by gunfire.  In the report, the 
NHRC asked the authorities to keep it informed about the 
disciplinary proceedings initiated against 14 BSF personnel.  
It also recommended compensation for the families of the 
victims and a government review of BSF operations in situations 
in which civilians may be affected.  A Commission of Inquiry 
has not completed its investigation of the January 1993 
incident in Sopore, in which a BSF unit fired on civilians, 
killing 45, while responding to a hit-and-run attack by 
militants.

There were credible reports that security forces retaliate 
against civilians following attacks by Kashmiri militants.  In 
March in Mahand village, seven persons, including two children, 
died while asleep at home after a paramilitary unit set off an 
explosion in apparent reprisal for an earlier landmine attack 
on their own forces.

In July a Ministry of Defense spokesman announced in Srinagar 
that a court-martial had sentenced two army enlisted men to 12 
years' rigorous imprisonment for raping a Kashmiri woman 1 
month earlier.  The announcement broke with the Government's 
previous policy of not announcing the disciplinary sentences 
handed down to security forces personnel in Kashmir.

Kashmiri militant groups were also guilty of serious human 
rights abuses.  In addition to political killings and 
kidnapings (see Sections 1.a. and 1.b.), militants engaged in 
extortion and carried out acts of random terror that left 
hundreds of Kashmiris dead.  A bus bombing near Jammu on July 
16 killed 6 and left 27 injured.  According to the Government, 
the number of deaths caused by militants, including the deaths 
of hundreds of civilians, continued at a level comparable to 
1993.  Also, according to the Government, these militant groups 
killed about 70 members of rival factions, including 35 
militants between January and mid-April 1994.  Such deaths were 
said to have totaled about 100 in all of 1993.

Section 2  Respect for Civil Liberties, Including:

     a.  Freedom of Speech and Press

The Constitution protects these freedoms, and with some 
limitations they are exercised in practice.  A vigorous press 
reflects a wide variety of public, social, and economic 
beliefs.  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, with a chairman 
appointed by the Government.  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.

National television and radio, which are government monopolies, 
are frequently accused of manipulating the news to the benefit 
of the Government.  However, international satellite television 
is widely distributed in middle class neighborhoods via cable 
and is gradually eroding the Government's monopoly on 
television.

Under the Official Secrets Act (OSA), the Government may 
restrict publication of sensitive stories, but the Government 
sometimes interprets this broadly to suppress criticism of its 
policies.  In January a journalist and two other persons were 
prosecuted in Kerala under the OSA for photographing and 
photocopying documents at an All India Radio (AIR) station in a 
restricted area.  The journalist had earlier published a series 
of articles critical of AIR's broadcasting.

The 1971 Newspapers Incitements to Offenses Act remains in 
effect in Jammu and Kashmir.  Under the Act, a district 
magistrate may prohibit the press from carrying material 
resulting in "incitement to murder" or "any act of violence."  
As punishment, the Act stipulates that the authorities may 
seize newspapers and printing presses.  Despite these 
restrictions, newspapers in Srinagar regularly carry militant 
press releases attacking the Government and report in detail on 
alleged human rights abuses.

The authorities allowed foreign journalists to travel freely in 
Kashmir, where they regularly spoke with militant leaders, and 
filed reports on government abuse.  Militant groups also 
threatened journalists and editors and even imposed temporary 
bans on some publications.

In January the Punjab police raided the office of the Punjabi 
daily Aj Di Awaz and arrested several employees under the 
TADA.  The authorities subsequently released all the detainees 
except editor Gurdip Singh on bail, and the newspaper has 
resumed publication.  In another incident, the police detained 
a Punjabi journalist for 4 days for questioning about press 
releases issued by militants.  On July 1, police officers beat 
two journalists who had asked Punjab Director General of 
Police, K.P.S. Gill, embarrassing questions at a press 
conference in Delhi.

On July 3, the authorities in Assam arrested Ajit Bhuyan and R. 
N.D. Barua, the editors of two local newspapers, under the TADA 
on suspicion of their links with Assamese militants.  Bhuyan, 
who also heads a local human rights group, claimed he was 
interrogated about the sources of articles on official 
corruption but not about possible links with militants.  At 
year's end, both were released on bail.

In late December 1993, the authorities filed charges under the 
TADA against a newspaper editor, Parag Kumar Das, following his 
publication of a book advocating Assam's independence.  The 
police reportedly confiscated his manuscript and all copies of 
the book.

A government censorship board reviews films before licensing 
them for distribution.  The board deletes material deemed 
offensive to public morals or communal sentiment.  Producers of 
video news magazines must also submit their products to a 
government censorship board, which occasionally censors stories 
that portray the Government in an unfavorable light.  The 
board's ruling may be appealed and overturned.  In March the 
board's decision to ban a film on the 1992-1993 riots in Bombay 
was overturned.

Citizens 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 locally run 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.

Authorities sometimes require permits and notification prior to 
holding parades or demonstrations, but local governments 
ordinarily respect the right to protest peacefully.  At times 
of civil tension, authorities may ban public assemblies or 
impose curfew under Section 144 of the Criminal Procedure 
Code.  The authorities in Punjab frequently imposed such 
restrictions in previous years but limited their use in 1994; 
opposition Akali parties were permitted to hold public rallies 
and conduct membership drives.

However, in Andhra Pradesh the authorities arrested 400 persons 
in February for violating Section 144 in an effort to prevent a 
conference on "Suppression of People's Movements," sponsored by 
the Communist Party--Marxist Leninist.  In northeastern India, 
the authorities used Section 144 to prohibit members of the 
Bodo tribe from entering the Darrang District and to prohibit 
rallies by the All Assam Students' Union.  The authorities also 
invoked Section 144 to prohibit entry into the Dhule District 
by activists opposing construction of the Narmada dam.

The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act prohibits the 
establishment of organizations that promote communal hatred.  
The Government has used this Act to prohibit two organizations, 
one Hindu and one Muslim, after Hindus destroyed a mosque in 
Ayodhya in December 1992.  However, the authorities do not 
rigorously enforce this law.  Srinagar and other parts of Jammu 
and Kashmir were under sporadic curfew during much of the year.

     c.  Freedom of Religion

India is a secular state in which all faiths generally enjoy 
freedom of worship.  Government policy does not favor any 
religious group.  There is no national law to bar proselytizing 
by Indian Christians.  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 1993, there were 1,923 registered foreign Christian 
missionaries in India.  As in the past, state officials refused 
to issue permits for foreign Christian missionaries to enter 
some northeastern states.  Tensions between Hindus and Muslims 
continue to pose a challenge to the secular foundation of the 
State (see Section 5).

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

Citizens enjoy freedom of movement within the country except in 
certain border areas where, for security reasons, special 
permits are required.  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."  The Government uses this 
provision to prohibit the foreign travel of some government 
critics, especially those advocating Sikh independence.

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

Although India is not a signatory to the U.N. Convention and 
Protocol on Refugees, the Government follows its general 
principles.  The Government recognizes certain groups, 
including Chakmas and Tamils from Sri Lanka, as refugees by 
providing assistance in refugee camps or in resettlement areas, 
as in the case of Tibetans.  The Government neither deports 
Afghans, Burmese, and other nationalities nor recognizes them 
as refugees.  Instead, these people receive renewable residence 
permits and are recognized as refugees by the U.N. High 
Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), or are ignored.

Pursuant to a 1993 agreement with the Government of Bangladesh 
for expeditious repatriation of Chakma refugees, 1,850 were 
repatriated in February and some 3,000 more were repatriated in 
July and August.  Some human rights groups claim that in many 
cases these repatriations were involuntary and refugees staged 
a hunger strike to protest them.  The Government has rejected 
offers by the UNHCR to monitor these repatriations.  Human 
rights organizations and the press corroborate claims by 
refugees that the Government has reduced rations and cash 
assistance to refugee camps holding Chakmas to encourage their  
repatriation.

According to the UNHCR, 102,437 Tamil refugees from Sri Lanka 
were living in India in early September.  Of the total, 69,150 
lived in 122 camps in the state of Tamil Nadu, 31,668 more are 
living with friends and relatives, and 11,629 suspected of 
militant activities are detained in special camps.  The state 
government, using central Government resources, provides 
shelter and subsidizes food to those in the camps.  Enforcement 
of a Tamil Nadu government ban on nongovernmental organization 
(NGO) assistance to the camps has been relaxed.  NGO's visited 
the camps in 1994.  Voluntary repatriation under UNHCR 
supervision continues.  According to the Government, 7,000 were 
scheduled to be repatriated to Sri Lanka in early fall.

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

Citizens exercise this right freely.  India has a democratic, 
parliamentary system of government with representatives elected 
in multiparty elections under universal adult suffrage.  A 
Parliament sits for 5 years unless dissolved earlier for new 
elections, except under constitutionally defined emergency 
situations.  State governments are elected at regular intervals 
except in states under President's rule, i.e., rule from the 
center.

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 
may be declared in the event of a collapse of a state's 
constitutional machinery.  The Supreme Court in May upheld the 
Government's authority to suspend fundamental rights during an 
emergency.

The Home Ministry has indicated its desire to replace 
President's rule with an elected state government in Jammu and 
Kashmir but says law and order problems are an obstacle to the 
holding of state assembly elections.  President's rule remained 
in effect in Jammu and Kashmir throughout the year.  
President's rule in Manipur was extended on May 11 and was in 
effect through the entire year.  President's rule in the states 
of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, and 
Rajasthan, invoked following the December 1992 Ayodhya crisis, 
ended with state assembly elections in November 1993.  A state 
assembly for the national capital territory of Delhi was 
elected for the first time in November 1993.

The Constitution reserves seats in Parliament and state 
legislatures for "scheduled tribes" and "scheduled castes" in 
proportion to their population (see Section 5).  Indigenous 
people participate actively in national and local politics, but 
their impact depends on their numerical strength.  In 
Northeastern states, indigenous peoples are a large proportion 
of the population and consequently exercise a dominant 
political influence in the political process.  In Maharashtra 
and Gujarat, on the other hand, tribal peoples are a small 
minority and have been unsuccessful in blocking projects they 
oppose.

There are no legal impediments to the participation by women in 
the political process.  A large proportion of women participate 
in voting throughout the country, and numerous women represent 
all major parties in the national and state legislatures.

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

Independent human rights organizations operate throughout India 
investigating abuses and publishing their findings which are 
often the basis for reports by international human rights 
groups.  However, the police targeted human rights monitors for 
arrest and harassment.  As noted in Section 1.b., the police in 
Punjab abducted a lawyer involved in defending accused Punjabi 
militants, and he subsequently disappeared.

The Government appointed a National Human Rights Commission 
(NHRC) in October 1993 with powers to investigate and recommend 
policy changes, punishment, and compensation in cases of police 
abuse.  In addition, the NHRC is directed to contribute to the 
establishment, growth and functioning of nongovernmental human 
rights organizations.  The Government appoints the members and 
finances the activities of the NHRC, which is prohibited by 
statute from investigating allegations of abuse involving army 
and paramilitary forces.  Indian human rights groups criticized 
the legislation creating the NHRC; they remain skeptical, but 
have indicated that thus far most of their concerns appear to 
be unfounded.  In its first year of operation, the NHRC 
received 3,000 complaints of human rights abuses and 
investigated cases in nearly every state in India.  Despite the 
limitation on its activity, the NHRC also investigated 
allegations of abuse by paramilitary forces.

Disposition of this case load was not available at year's end.  
During its first six months of operation, The NHRC considered 
496 complaints, recommended punishment and compensation in 174, 
dismissed 274, and sent 48 to other fora.  The NHRC's report on 
the October 1993 killing of 41 civilians in Bijbehara, Kashmir 
was described as "hard hitting" by an international human 
rights group.  In addition to closely following court martial 
proceedings initiated against 14 BSF members, the NHRC 
recommended that the BSF conduct a full review of force 
deployment in civilian areas and pay compensation to the 
families of the victims.  The Commission directed district 
magistrates nationwide to report all cases of custodial death 
to it within 24 hours or be presumed to have attempted a 
coverup.  A typical example inquiry into a custodial death by 
the NHRC was that of the case of Madan Lal.  The Delhi police 
complied with all the Commission's recommendations including 
the institution of departmental proceedings against a police 
officer who had threatened witnesses (See Section 1.a.).

The Commission's report on its visit to Punjab strongly 
criticized the state government for abuses by police and 
recommended corrective measures.  At year's end, the state 
government had not responded to the NHRC's recommendations.

The Government granted requests for visits to India by some 
international human rights organizations but refused others.  
In January it permitted Amnesty International to visit Bombay, 
the first such visit in 14 years to visit to India.

In March the Government permitted representatives of the 
International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to make a 
humanitarian needs survey in Jammu and Kashmir.  The survey 
resulted in a formal offer of ICRC's services.  Discussions 
were not concluded at year's end.  ICRC representatives also 
conducted training of police and border security force 
personnel in international humanitarian law.

However, the Government refused a requested visit by the U.N. 
Human Rights Commission's Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, 
Summary, or Arbitrary Executions to evaluate reported 
violations of the right to life in Kashmir.  The Government 
stated that the NHRC will undertake such investigations.  It 
also denied entry visas to two Human Rights Watch researchers.

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, there are 
other laws as well as social and cultural practices that have a 
profound discriminatory impact.

     Women

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 and the Dowry Prohibition Act.  However, the Government 
often is unable to enforce these laws, especially in rural 
areas where traditions are deeply rooted.  Female bondage and 
forced prostitution are widespread in parts of Indian society.  
According to a government study, 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 serious 
problem.  In the typical dowry dispute, a groom's family will 
harass a woman they believe has not provided sufficient dowry. 
This harassment sometimes ends in the woman's death, which 
family members often try to portray as a suicide or kitchen 
accident.  Although most "dowry deaths" involve lower and 
middle-class families, the phenomenon crosses both caste and 
religious lines.

Government figures show a total of 5,377 dowry deaths in 1993, 
an increase of about 12 percent from 1992.  Under a 1986 
amendment to the Penal Code, the court must presume the husband 
or the wife's in-laws are responsible for every unnatural death 
of a woman in the first 7 years of marriage--provided that 
harassment is proven.  In such cases, police procedures require 
that an officer of deputy superintendent rank or above conduct 
the investigation and that a team of two or more doctors 
perform the postmortem procedures.

Nonetheless, convictions in dowry death cases are rare.  
Lawyers note that judges and prosecutors, usually men, are 
uninterested in cases of domestic violence and susceptible to 
bribes.  In May the Law Ministry stated that in the Uttar 
Pradesh High Court, 33 dowry death cases were pending from 
1985, 26 from 1986, 35 from 1987, 54 from 1988, and 56 from 
1989.  With few exceptions, the accused are free on bail.

The personal status laws of the religious communities 
discriminate against women.  Under the Indian Divorce Act of 
1869, a Christian woman may demand divorce only in the case of 
spousal abuse and certain categories of adultery, while for a 
man adultery alone is sufficient.  Under Islamic law, a Muslim 
husband may divorce his wife spontaneously and unilaterally; 
there is no such provision for women.  Islamic law also allows 
a man to have up to four wives but prohibits polyandry.

The Hindu Succession Act provides equal inheritance rights for 
Hindu women, but married daughters are seldom given a share in 
parental property.  Islamic law recognizes a woman's right of 
inheritance but specifies that a daughter's share should be 
only one half a son's.  Under tribal land systems, notably in 
Bihar, tribal women do not have the right to own land.  Other 
laws relating to the ownership of assets and land accord women 
little control over land use, retention, or sale.

There are thousands of grassroots organizations working for 
social justice and economic advancement of women, in addition 
to the National Commission for Women.  The Government usually 
supports these efforts, despite strong resistance from 
traditionally privileged groups.  This resistance is 
illustrated by a September 1992 incident in rural Rajasthan 
when a women's rights monitors was gang-raped by men who 
objected to her work against child marriage.  Five accused 
persons were arrested in December 1993; three were released on 
bail in April.  The court case continues.

     Children

There are an estimated 500,000 street children nationwide.  
Child prostitution in the cities is rampant, and there is a 
growing pattern of traffic in child prostitutes from Nepal.  
According to one estimate, 5,000 to 7,000 children, mostly aged 
10 to 18, are victims of this traffic.

The Child Marriage Restraint (Amendment) Act of 1976 prohibits 
child marriage, a traditional practice in northern India.  The 
Act raises the age of marriage for girls to 18 from 15, but the 
Government does not enforce it effectively.  According to one 
report, 50 percent of the girls in Bihar, Rajasthan, Uttar 
Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh are married at or before age 16.

Amniocentesis and sonogram tests are widely misused for sex 
determination, resulting in a disproportionate number of 
abortions of female fetuses.  In July a bill was introduced 
into Parliament that would prohibit the use of these tests for 
sex determination.  Human rights groups estimate that at least 
10,000 cases of female infanticide occur yearly, primarily in 
poor rural areas.

Female foeticide and infanticide have produced a steady decline 
in the ratio of females to males.  This ratio has decreased to 
927 per 1,000 in 1991, from 955 per 1,000 in 1981, and 972 per 
1,000 at the turn of the century.  Parents often give priority 
in health care and nutrition to male infants.  Women's rights 
groups point out that the burden of providing girls with an 
adequate dowry is one factor that makes daughters less 
desirable.  Although abetting or taking dowry is theoretically 
illegal under the Dowry Prohibition Act of 1961, it is still 
widely practiced.

     Indigenous People

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 removed from 
the protected areas without prior authorization.  No outsiders 
are allowed to own 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 on tribal land in almost all the states of eastern 
India, including by illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and 
businesses which have removed forest and mineral products 
without authorization.  Moreover, persons from other 
backgrounds often usurp places reserved for members of tribes 
and lower castes in national education institutions.

Such violations have given rise to numerous tribal movements 
demanding protection of land and property rights.  The 
Jharkhand movement in Bihar and Orissa, and the Bodo movement 
in Assam, reflect deep economic and social grievances among 
indigenous peoples.  In the Jharkhand area, tribal people 
complain that they have been relegated to unskilled mining 
jobs, have lost their forests to industrial construction, and 
have been displaced by development projects.  The Government 
has considered the creation of an independent Jharkand state, 
but the affected state governments oppose the idea.

However, there is some local autonomy in the region.  In 
Meghalaya tribal chiefs still wield influence in certain 
villages.  The Nagaland government controls the rights to 
certain mineral resources, and autonomous district councils in 
Tripura, Assam, and Meghalaya control matters such as 
education, rural development, and forestry in cooperation with 
the state governors.

     National/Racial/Ethnic Minorities

The Constitution gives the President authority to specify 
historically disadvantaged castes and tribes which are entitled 
to affirmative action in employment and other benefits.  These 
so-called "scheduled" tribes constitute about 8 percent of the 
Indian population and "scheduled" castes about 16 percent. 
Scheduled tribes and castes benefit from special development 
funds, government hiring quotas, and special training 
programs.  A national commission investigates specific 
complaints about deprivation of the rights of scheduled castes 
and tribes and submits an annual report.

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of 
Atrocities) Act of 1989 specifies new offenses against 
disadvantaged people and provides stiffer penalties for 
offenders.  However, this law has had only a modest effect in 
curbing abuse.  Government statistics indicate that 19,774 
cases of "atrocities" were committed against members of 
scheduled castes tribes in 1993, as compared with 20,834 in 
1992 and 21,505 in 1991.  A Government commission is charged 
with giving special attention to the problems of these 
minorities.

The practice of untouchability was in theory outlawed by the 
Constitution and the 1955 Civil Rights Act, but it remains an 
important aspect of life in India.  Intercaste violence claims 
hundreds of lives each year.  There was a surge of intercaste 
violence in the early months of 1994, following the success of 
parties representing "backward" and scheduled castes in 
November state assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh and their 
formation of a governing coalition in the state.  Members of 
the scheduled castes were disproportionately the victims of 
this violence, which also occurred throughout the country, but 
especially in Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra.

     Religious Minorities

Controversy between Hindus and Muslims continues over whether 
to build a temple or rebuild the mosque on a disputed site in 
Ayodhya.  The potential for renewed Hindu-Muslim violence 
remains high.  Muslim groups protested the disproportionate 
number of Muslims detained under the TADA, particularly in the 
states of Gujarat and Maharashtra and the city of Hyderabad 
(see Section 1.d.).

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.

     People with Disabilities

The Government's Ministry of Welfare has principal 
responsibility for programs for the disabled, and it delivers 
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 still concentrated in urban areas.  
The Government reserves 3 percent of positions in official 
offices and state-owned enterprises for people with visual, 
hearing, or orthopedic disabilities.  The Government provides 
special railway fares, education allowances, scholarships, 
customs exemptions, and rehabilitation training to assist 
people with disabilities.  There is no legislation or otherwise 
mandated provision of accessibility for the disabled.

Section 6  Worker Rights

     a.  The Right of Association

The Constitution provides for the right of association; workers 
may establish and join unions of their own choosing without 
prior authorization.  There are five major recognized national 
trade union centrals, each of which is associated with, but not 
necessarily controlled by, a political party.

Trade unions often exercise the right to strike, but public 
sector unions are required to give 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.  The Industrial 
Disputes Act prohibits retribution by employers against 
employees involved in legal strike actions.  This prohibition 
is observed in practice.

Abuses against nationally organized unions or unionized workers 
are generally not a problem.  However, unaffiliated unions of 
low caste or tribal workers are not always able to secure for 
themselves the protections and rights guaranteed by law.

Unions are free to affiliate with international trade union 
organizations.

     b.  The Right to Organize and Bargain Collectively

The right to bargain collectively has existed for decades.  The 
Trade Union Act prohibits discrimination against union members 
and organizers, and employers may be penalized if they 
discriminate against employees engaged in union activities.

Collective bargaining is the normal means of setting wages and 
settling disputes in the organized industrial sector.  Trade 
unions vigorously defend worker interests in this process.  
Although a system of specialized labor courts adjudicates labor 
disputes, there are long delays and a backlog of unresolved 
cases.  When the parties are unable to agree on equitable 
wages, the Government may set up boards of union, management, 
and government representatives to determine them.

In practice, legal protections of workers' rights are effective 
only for the 28 million workers in the organized industrial 
sector, out of a total work force of 376 million.  Outside the 
modern industrial sector, laws are difficult to enforce.  Union 
membership is rare in this "informal" sector and collective 
bargaining does not exist.

There are 7 export processing zones (EPZ's).  Entry into the 
EPZ's is ordinarily limited to the employees.  Such entry 
restrictions apply to union organizers.  While workers in EPZ's 
have the 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, which is usually set by the state 
governments.  Under this definition, which differs from that of 
the International Labor Organization (ILO), "forced labor" is 
widespread, especially 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 interest, is 
illegal but widespread.  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 from their obligations.  Other sources 
maintain that those released are only one-tenth of the total 
number of bonded laborers.  State governments are responsible 
for enforcing the Act.  Offenders may be sentenced to up to 3 
years in prison but prosecutions are rare.

     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 the state governments 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 and 
the Child Labor Registration Act limit the hours of workers 
below the age of 15 to 4.5 hours per day.

The Government estimates that there were 17.5 million child 
workers in 1985.  The ILO estimates the number at 44 million, 
while NGO's claim the figure is 55 million.  The enforcement of 
child labor laws is the responsibility of the state 
governments.  Enforcement is not effective, especially in the 
informal sector where most of the children are employed.  The 
continuing prevalence of child labor may be attributed to 
social acceptance of the practice, the widespread belief that 
poverty causes child labor, and the failure of the state 
governments to make primary school education compulsory.

In September a group of carpet manufacturers and exporters, in 
cooperation with NGO's and an export promotion project with 
Germany, introduced a program to label export carpets as being 
"child-labor free."  This initiative is being undertaken on a 
trial basis in response to consumer pressure in Germany.

     e.  Acceptable Conditions of Work

Minimum wages vary according to the state and sector of 
industry.  Such wages are considered adequate only for a 
minimal standard of living.  Most unionized workers receive 
much more than the minimum wage, including mandated bonuses and 
other benefits.  The state governments set a separate minimum 
wage for agricultural workers but do not enforce it well.

The Factories Act established an 8-hour workday, a 48-hour 
workweek, and various standards for working conditions.  These 
standards are generally enforced and accepted in the modern 
industrial sector, but tend not to be observed in older 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.


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[end of document]

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