EXTERNAL AI Index: ASA 20/30/96
20 June 1996
Further information (3) on EXTRA 43/96 (ASA 20/12/96, 21 March 1996) and
follow-up (ASA 20/18/96, 7 May 1996 and ASA 20/23/96, 22 May 1996) - Fear of
Ill-treatment / Arbitrary Arrest / Medical Concern
INDIA 188 Bhutanese people from refugee camps in eastern Nepal
new incident: Over 100 Bhutanese people beaten during funeral procession
Amnesty International is concerned at reports that, on 19 June 1996, over 100
Bhutanese people taking part in a funeral procession were injured after having
been beaten with lathis (weighted bamboo canes) by a group of approximately
30 police officers of the West Bengal Police. Five people were reported seriously
injured and were admitted to hospital for treatment. Ram Bahadur Rai was hit
on the head, Gyanu Kumari Koirala (f) suffered a dislocated shoulder and Tek
Bir Chhetri, Ram Bhandari and Chandra Bahadur Chuwan have suspected internal
injuries and shock.
The funeral procession of about 300 people had set off from Panchanadi, Siliguri
District, accompanying the body of Baburam Shengden towards the Indo-Bhutan
border. It was reportedly heading towards Bhutan in order to fulfil the dead
man's last wishes that his funeral rites be conducted in Bhutan. When the
procession reached the bridge at Mahananda, on the border between Japlpaiguri
and Darjeeling Districts, it was stopped by a police barricade across the road.
Police reportedly refused requests from the leaders of the procession to be
allowed to continue and when the marchers moved forward onto the bridge, police
officers armed with lathis began to beat them.
Baburam Shengden was a Buddhist, originally from Bhutan, who had been living
in the refugee camps in eastern Nepal since 1992. The 50-year-old refugee died
in Behrampur Central Jail, West Bengal on 13 June. He had been in prison since
28 March 1996, when he was arrested together with 189 others by the West Bengal
police while participating in a peaceful march.
In total, 945 Bhutanese people are currently detained at four jails in West
Bengal for participating in a series of marches organized since early 1996.
Amnesty International continues to call for their immediate and unconditional
release unless they are to be charged with a recognizable criminal offence.
FURTHER RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/
airmail letters in English or in your own language:
- expressing concern that approximately 100 Bhutanese people were injured,
two of them seriously, after being beaten with lathis by the West Bengal police
while participating in a funeral procession on the Mahananda Bridge on the
border of Jalpaiguri and Darjeeling Districts on 19 June 1996;
- calling for an immediate independent and impartial investigation into the
- seeking assurances that all Bhutanese people detained at Behrampur, Siliguri,
Jalpaiguri and Alipurdurwar jails in West Bengal be given urgent and appropriate
medical treatment where necessary;
if possible also:
- urging that the conditions of detention at jails in India are implemented
in accordance with the Body of Principles for the Protection of All Persons
under Any Form of Detention or Imprisonment;