The HRDA-India, a forum for the protection of human rights defenders, has issued an urgent appeal for action to protect Dalit human rights defender Mr. Rajat Kalsan. Mr Kalsan is working to help Dalits gain justice and protection from abuses as a lawyer and activist in Haryana state. He has worked on gang-rape cases and cases of attack and arson committed by dominant castes against Dalits and a host of other cases involving serious violations of human rights. The appeal states that due to this work, dominant caste leaders are colluding with local police to file false charges against Mr. Rajat and cause him serious harm.
The appeal directed to the National Human Rights Commission of India states that false cases have been filed against Mr. Kalsan and that he is receiving death threats on account of his work defending the rights of Dalits in the State.
“Currently Mr. Rajat and his family are facing serious threats to life and liberty and it is alleged that senior officers of the state police department have intentionally and deliberately not provided him with the police security and are hands in glove with the dominant caste leaders in an attempt to assassinate him. Due to these threats, Mr. Rajat is unable to visit his home and undertake his peaceful human rights work of challenging the caste atrocities in Haryana,” states the appeal.
For the past six years Mr. Kalsan has received police protection which has now been withdrawn leaving him in serious danger. The appeal asks the National Human Rights Commission to immediately take the following action:
- Undertake an immediate, thorough, transparent, effective and impartial investigation into the above mentioned incident pertaining to the life and liberty of human rights defender Mr. Rajat Kalsan and order for quashing the false cases against him. The commission should record the statement of Mr. Rajat Kalsan;
- Order for immediate reinstatement of the police protection to Mr. Rajat Kalsan and his family;
- Ensure provision of reparation, compensation, apology to Mr. Rajat Kalsan for the psychological sufferings he underwent because of the undue harassment and ensure that he is provided with adequate protection and allowed to pursue his human rights work in a safe and enabling environment;
- Based on an independent investigation, order for prosecution against the state police officials who are involved in the harassments and threats to Mr. Rajat Kalsan.
- More generally, ensures in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international human rights instruments ratified by India is strictly adhered to in the state of Haryana.
A copy of the letter has also been submitted to the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression and the UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance.