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Illegal arrest of WHRDs: Andhra Pradesh


On January 22, 2024, Vijayawada police arrested hundreds of Women Anganwadi protestors, subsequently transferring them to various police stations in neighbouring districts. Prior to this, on January 21, 2024, 40 Anganwadi protestors were arrested while demonstrating in front of a police station, leading to the detention of workers en route to Vijayawada from Nellore. The arrests occurred amidst a larger protest by over one lakh Anganwadi workers and helpers spanning 40 days, demanding the resolution of longstanding issues and resulting in the closure of numerous centres across the state. Despite efforts to petition the Chief Minister, the government's decision to label Anganwadi workers as essential services employees and threats of departmental action escalated tensions, culminating in the recent arrests. These actions contravene fundamental rights to freedom of speech and expression, as well as the right to protest peacefully, as recognized by both Indian constitutional law and international human rights instruments.

The detention of Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs) advocating for fair compensation reflects a concerning trend of reprisal against activism. In light of the violations of due process and human rights standards, urgent intervention is warranted. HRDA preferred an appeal to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) to invoke Section 12 (a) of the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Act, 2019, initiating an impartial investigation into the incident as its part of suo moto’s action.

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