IRCT is gravely concerned by the news of ongoing harassment and false allegations against Mr Mangla Prasad Rajbhar. All harassment and reprisals against Mr Rajbhar and other human rights activists in Uttar Pradesh must end immediately so they can continue their legitimate and vital defense of human rights.
The IRCT has received information that Mr Mangla Prasad Rajbhar, a social activist and human rights defender for the marginalised Musahar in Uttar Pradesh (UP) has been falsely implicated in criminal charges relating to a violent dispute between two communities over food distribution.
Mr Rajbhar has dedicated his life to raising awareness about human rights violations against the Musahar and other marginalised communities and is an active member of the People’s Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) in Uttar Pradesh. Now, with State lock down in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, food shortages are impacting heavily on those most disadvantaged. Mr Rajbhar has raised public attention to the starvation caused by the COVID-19 lockdown and advocated for the local Government to provide food security for the most marginalised communities.
The IRCT is greatly concerned that the actions taken against Mr Rajbhar may serve to silence him and others working to ensure the human rights of the most vulnerable Indians during this difficult time.
“In times like these, it is essential that health and human rights defenders are enabled to provide support and speak out publicly in defence of human rights without fear of reprisals. We need independent actors serving the public interest to check and criticise the State publicly more than ever,” said IRCT President, Jorge Aroche
Therefore, the IRCT calls on the Indian authorities to:
- Ensure that measures responding to the COVID-19 pandemic are in strict compliance with their obligations under the core UN human rights treaties ensuring a strong focus on protecting the economic and social rights of the most marginalised populations.
- To improve protection of human rights defenders who expose the human rights impact of COVID-19 related measures.
- Effectively investigate all allegations of harassment and reprisals against human rights defenders.