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UA 115/92 - India: illegal detention / fear of ill-treatment: Ajit Singh Bains

, Index number: ASA 20/026/1992

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: ASA 20/26/92
Distr: UA/SC
This is a limited action - please organize up to 15 appeals per section
UA 115/92 Illegal Detention/Fear of ill-treatment 7 April 1992
INDIA: Ajit Singh Bains, human rights activist and retired judge
Ajit Singh Bains, a well-known human rights activist in the north Indian state
of Punjab and a retired judge of the Punjab and Haryana High Court, was arrested
on 3 April 1992 at 10.30am in Chandigarh. He was reportedly taken to Sector
11 police station, Chandigarh, and from there to Ropar police station. Although
his arrest was apparently denied by the Senior Superintendent of Police, Ropar
District, he was reportedly produced before the Deputy Commissioner, Ropar,
on Saturday 4 April. According to several witnesses, Ajit Singh Bains was
brought handcuffed by members of the police and paramilitary forces to his
house in Chandigarh on Sunday 5 April, and his house was searched, but he was
taken away after the search by the police.
At 12am the following day, 6 April, Mrs Rachpal Kaur Bains, the wife of Ajit
Singh Bains, was able to see her husband for about 5 minutes in Anandpur Sahib
police station, Ropar District. He reportedly complained to her that he had
been beaten shortly after his arrest. The police apparently showed her three
First Information Reports (FIR) which allegedly referred to his arrest with
several others under the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act
in connection with recent speeches made at a Sikh religious event on 18 March
in Anandpur Sahib. His name, however, does not appear on these First
Information Reports. A habeas corpus petition was filed by his son on 6 April.
The Punjab High Court has reportedly ordered that he be produced before them
on Wednesday 8 April.
Amnesty International regularly receives reports that officials fail to
acknowledge the detention or whereabouts of people arrested on suspicion of
being members or sympathizers of one of the Sikh opposition groups advocating
a separate Sikh state, "Khalistan". Previously, the Punjab press carried
several articles in which Ajit Singh Bains alleged that he had received death
threats from the Punjab police warning him to cease his activities with the
Punjab Human Rights Organisation, which he chairs. Detainees are often not
brought before a magistrate within 24 hours of arrest, as required in all cases
under the provisions of section 57 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Sometimes
people are held in illegal detention for weeks and sometimes months under special
legislation granting the security forces arbitrary powers to arrest and detain
people without ordinary legal safeguards. During the initial period of
detention, detainees are often held incommunicado and tortured or ill-treated.
In some cases the detainees are eventually found to have died in custody,
while others are found to have been deliberately killed in custody although
official reports say they died in "encounters" with the police.
Page 2 of UA 115/92
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams and airmail letters:
- expressing concern about the reports that Ajit Singh Bains was reportedly
taken away on 3 April 1992 by Punjab police for unknown reasons;
- urging that reports of his arrest be investigated and that he be allowed
immediate access to lawyers and relatives and be brought before a magistrate
- seeking assurances that Ajit Singh Bains is being humanely treated and is
granted full legal safeguards while in custody;
- urging that he be immediately released if he is not to be charged with a
recognizably criminal offence.
1) Mr Surinder Nath
Governor of Punjab
Office of the Governor
Telegrams: Punjab State Governor, Chandigarh, Punjab, India
Salutation: Dear Governor
2) Mr K. P. S. Gill
Director General of Police
Police Headquarters
Telegrams: Director General Police, Chandigarh, Punjab, India
Salutation: Dear Director General
Punjab Human Rights Organisation (Regd.)
Head Office
H. No. 22, Sector 2
Chandigarh (U.T.)
and to diplomatic representatives of India in your country
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 19 May 1992.

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