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Illegal arrest of HRDs: Guwahati, Assam

In the early hours of January 20, 2024, police officials from Jorabat and Furcating Police Stations in Guwahati arrested human rights defenders (HRDs) Mr. Bidyut Saikia and Mr. Akash Doley, respectively, from their residences. These arrests were conducted without informing the HRDs of the charges against them, omitting the preparation of any arrest memo, and failing to notify their families of their whereabouts. Despite being detained overnight, they were not presented before a Judicial Magistrate. When civil society members sought information regarding the arrests from the police control room, the Assam Police failed to provide any details. These actions represent multiple violations of DK Basu guidelines on detention and arrest, as well as NHRC guidelines for police personnel, including the right to be informed of the grounds of arrest and to have a relative or friend notified of the detention location.

Such targeted attacks on HRDs by the police constitute an infringement upon the fundamental right to life and liberty, as enshrined under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution, Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. The disregard for proper arrest procedures and the denial of basic rights highlight the urgency for intervention. HRDA appealed to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to invoke Section 12 (a) of the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2019 to initiate an independent inquiry into this incident as part of suo moto’s action.

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