Appeal to Bihar CM: Release of Death Row Prisoners, Nanhe Lal Mochi, Veer Kuar Paswan, Krishna Mochi and Dharmender Singh, convicted in the Bara Massacre Case, 1992

To,

The Hon’ble Chief Minister of Bihar

4, Deshratna Marg,

Patna, Bihar - 800001

 

2nd November, 2016

 

Subject: Release of Death Row Prisoners, Nanhe Lal Mochi, Veer Kuar Paswan, Krishna Mochi and Dharmender Singh, convicted in the Bara Massacre Case, 1992. 

 

Sir,

We, the undersigned appeal for your immediate intervention in ensuring the release of four death row prisoners, Nanhe Lal Mochi, Veer Kuar Paswan, Krishna Mochi and Dharmender Singh, who are currently languishing in Bhagalpur Jail. Arrested after being accused in the Bara massacre of 1992, Veer Kuar Paswan, and Krishna Mochi have already spent over 23 years in jail while Nanhe Lal Mochi has been incarcerated for 18 and Dharmender Singh for 17 years now. Their death sentences were awarded in 2001 by the TADA designated court and confirmed by the Supreme Court in April 2002. Yet, their mercy petitions, framed in 2003, were never sent to the requisite authorities for over ten years. The inordinate delay caused by wilful negligence deprived these men of their constitutional rights to appeal for mercy within a reasonable period of time. The existing principles of natural justice were overturned in their case and they have been forced to bear the unbearable punishment of a living death for a very long time. We believe that all four deserve the right to release and we draw your attention to the facts of the case. 

  • The four prisoners were picked up at different times after the Bara massacre of February 1992 and never granted parole. None of them ever got any relief from their imprisonment, either during the nine-year length of the trial or in the fifteen years following the apex court judgment. Even though two of them, Nanhe Lal Mochi and Veer Kuar Paswan lost their wives, they were not permitted to attend the last rites. Three of the prisoners belong to landless Dalit families and worked as harwahas before their arrest and the fourth, Dharmender Singh, has lost all his resources in the course of the trial and has suffered permanent damage in his legs on account of inhuman torture while in custody. The social profile of the prisoners confirms that death penalty is a punishment that is reserved only for the extremely poor and Dalits, a point noted by the 2015 Law Commission report on Death Penalty (p. 149).
  • The four were tried under the infamous TADA, an act which was allowed to lapse in 1995 because of strong public appeal against its undemocratic and draconian nature. Yet, the Bara trial shows that the afterlife of TADA is vengeful as all the undemocratic and discriminatory features of the lapsed law were upheld: police confessions, denial of bail and denial of appeal before the High Court. The death sentences imposed on the four prisoners are outcomes of a trial held under an extremely unfair, undemocratic and lapsed law. Added to the unfairness of the trial is the unfairness of the delay that the prisoners suffered in not being able to petition for appeal.
  • The four were sentenced to death for their alleged role in the Bara carnage, a heinous massacre in which 35 Bhumihar men were hacked to death. Yet, Bara was not an isolated ‘terror’ case. As a recent report by People’s Union for Democratic Rights, PUDR, shows (Harvesting Death: Massacres in Bihar and the Question of Justice, 2016), the RanvirSena, the last of the caste senas active in the 1990s, was responsible for 23 incidents of mass killings in which 256 poor and Dalit persons lost their lives. In at least four of the cases which were tried under normal law, Bathani Tola, Laxmanpur Bathe, Nagari Bazaar and Miyanpur, 125 accused were brought to trial, and 56 were initially acquitted by the lower courts and 68 were later acquitted by the Patna High Court for want of evidence. Only 1 person was given life imprisonment in the Nagari massacre. Against these acquittals, the Bara death sentences stand in stark contrast as this is the only case of massacre in which TADA was applied and upheld, even though the apex court had noted infirmities in its application. Even more worrying is the fact that the apex court was split in its verdict: the two-member majority judgement upheld the death penalty whilst the third dissenting judgment acquitted one, Dharmender Singh, and awarded life imprisonment to the other three. The unfairness of the Bara death sentences can only be understood when compared with other cases.
  • Today, while their fresh mercy petition awaits the decision of the President, it is necessary to demand their release, particularly since their case has never merited any public attention. Besides their poverty and social identity, which arguably form a very strong reason for demanding their release, the inordinate length of time that they have spent as death row prisoners underlines the reasons for their release. It will be unconstitutional and inhuman to keep them in this condition any longer. We believe that only by releasing them, we, as a society will be justiciable and conscionable. We appeal to you to do the needful. 

Signatories:

  1. Prakash Ambedkar (Bharipa Bahujan Mahasangh)
  2. K Satchidanandan (Writer, Activist)
  3. Bezwada Wilson (Safai Karmchari Andolan)
  4. Rita Manchanda (South Asia Forum for Human Rights)
  5. Justice H. Suresh (Rtd. Judge, Bombay High Court)
  6. Justice AP Shah (Rtd Chief Justice, Delhi High Court)
  7. Justice K.Chandru (Rtd Judge, Madras High Court)
  8. Githa Hariharan (Author)
  9. John Dayal (Activist)
  10. Yogendra Yadav (Swaraj Abhiyan and Jai Kisan Andolan)
  11. Anand SwaroopVerma (Author)
  12. Ramesh Thanvi (Writer and Educationist, Jaipur)
  13. Ajay Singh ( Poet)
  14. Kiran Singh (Story writer/ Kahanikar)
  15. UshaRai      (Story writer/ Kahanikar)
  16. Bhasha Singh  (Writer and Journalist)
  17. Sanjay Kak (Independent film-maker)
  18. Aruna Roy (MKSS, NCPRI and NAPM, Rajasthan),
  19. Ramchandra Guha (Author, Academic)
  20. Urvashi Butalia (Publisher, author)
  21. Anand SwaroopVerma (Author)
  22. Ramesh Thanvi  (Educationist/ writer)
  23. Anand Patwardhan (Filmmaker)
  24. Prof. Jean Dreze (Economist, Honorary Professor at Delhi School of Economics)
  25. Nageshwar Prasad, National Council member, PUCL
  26. Prof. Farida Abdullah Khan (National commission for Minorities)
  27. Prof. Amit Bhaduri (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  28. Prof. D M Diwakar, Former Director, A.N. Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna
  29. Sukhdeo Thorat (Chairperson, Indian Council for Social Science Research)
  30. Vimal Thorat (Retd Professor, IGNOU)
  31. Sumanta Bannerjee (Journalist and Researcher)
  32. Prof. Ranabir Sammadar  (MCRG, Kolkata)
  33. Prof. Anand Teltumbde  (Goa Institute of Management)
  34. Prof. Manoranjan Mohanty (CSD, Retd. From University of Delhi)
  35. Prof Kalpana Kannabiran, Council for Social Development, Hyderabad.
  36. Prof Jayati Ghosh (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  37. Prof. G. Haragopal, (Visiting Professor, National Law School of India University, Bangalore)
  38. Prof Nandini Sundar (Deptt of sociology, Delhi School of Economics)
  39. Preeti Sinha, (Editor, Filhaal Magazine)
  40. Sanjeev Chandan (Editor, Streekal)
  41. Dr.Anup Surendranath, Director, Centre on the Death Penalty, National Law University, Delhi
  42. Prof N. Raghuram (Biotechnologist New Delhi)
  43. Prof Y. Madhavi (Senior Principal Scientist New Delhi).
  44. Dr. Uma Chakravarti  (Activist, Academic, Filmmaker)
  45. Prof. Neera Chandhoke, (Retd.) University of Delhi
  46. Prof. Nivedita Menon, (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  47. Prof. Satish Deshpande, (University of Delhi)
  48. Prof Anand Chakravarti (Academic, Retd. Delhi University)
  49. Prof. Ujjwal Kumar Singh (University of Delhi)
  50. Anil Chamadia (Writer and Journalist, Delhi)
  51. Harsh Mander (Social Activist and writer; Director, Centre for Equity Studies)
  52. Peggy Mohan (Linguist, writer)
  53. Prof Dinesh Mohan (TRIPP, IIT Delhi and Shiv Nadar University)
  54. C. Rammanohar Reddy (Journalist; former Editor, EPW)
  55. Ratneshwar Singh, Sr. Advocate, Patna High Court
  56. Prabir Purkayastha (Newsclick)
  57. Shalini Gera (Advocate, Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group)
  58. Navkiran Singh (Advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court; LFHRI)
  59. Adv. Mithilesh Singh, District Court, Patna
  60. Arjun Sheoran (Advocate, Punjab and Haryana High Court)
  61. Tapan Kumar Bose (Pakistan India People’s Forum for Peace and Democracy)
  62. Prof. Nasir Tyabji (Historian,  Jamia Milia Islamia)
  63. S.D.J.M Prasad, Convener of SC Department, AICC; Former Convenor- National Coalition to Strengthening of POA Act and Dalit activist
  64. Annie Namala, Executive Director, Centre for Social Equity and Inclusion
  65. Prof. Braj Kumar Pandey (Writer and Retd. Professor, Bihar University)
  66. Dr. Saroj Giri, (University of Delhi).
  67. Prof. Anupama Roy (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  68. Dr. Poonam Singh (Writer and Reader, Bihar University)
  69. Dheeraj Pandey (Right to Food Campaign)
  70. Kamayani Bali Mahibal (Feminist and Human Rights Activist)
  71. Irfan Engineer  (Centre for Study of Society and Secularism)
  72. Anjali Montiero(Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai)
  73. Shrikant Modak, (Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights, Maharashtra)
  74. Monica Sakhrani(Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai)
  75. Jawahar Raja (Advocate, Delhi)
  76. Pushpendra Singh(Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai)
  77. Harsh Kapoor (Independent Researcher,
  78. Prof Lata Singh(Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  79. Prof.Nandini Manjrekar(Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai)
  80. Sanober Keshwaar(Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai)
  81. Prof. Narendra Kumar (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  82. Ashish Ranjan (NAPM Bihar and Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan),
  83. Prof. Manjari Katju, (Professor, Hyderabad Central University.)
  84. Mayur Suresh (Lawyer, legal researcher, SOAS, London)
  85. Prof. P.K. Datta, (Jawaharlal Nehru University)
  86. Prof Prabhu P. Mohapatra (Deptt of History, Delhi University)
  87. Professor N. Sukumar, (University of Delhi)
  88. Prof Apurba K Baruah (Rtd), (Academic Director, Institute of Social Change and Regional Development (ISCARD), Guwahati)
  89. Gabriele Dietrich (Penn Urimay Iyakkam, Madurai, Unorganized Workers Federation and NAPM, Tamil Nadu),
  90. Dr.Sudha Vasan (Sociology Deptt., Delhi School of Economics)
  91. Major Genl. (Retd) Sudhir Vombatkere (NAPM Karnataka)
  92. Arundhati Dhuru (Right to Food Campaign and NAPM-UP)
  93. Anand Mazgaonkar and all saathis of Paryavaran SurakshaSamiti and NAPM Gujarat.
  94. Meera Sanghamitra (NAPM Telangana)
  95. Prof. Gurjant, (Patiala University)
  96. Dr. J Devika, (Centre for Development Studies, Trivandrum)
  97. Mary John, ( Centre for Women’s Development Studies)
  98. Kalyani Sen Menon (Editor @ Bhor)
  99. Anuradha Banerji (Saheli)
  100. Dr Sanjay Kumar (Assoc Prof,, Physics, St Stephen’s College)
  101. Rajiv Suman (Journalist, Streekal)
  102. Prof. Sudipto Kaviraj (Columbia University)
  103. Dr. Nilanjana Kaviraj (Independent researcher, New York)
  104. Dr. Ashok Prasad (Physicist, Colorado State University)
  105. Dr. Ramaa Vasudevan (Economist, Colorado State University)
  106. Arundhati Roy (Writer, Activist)
  107. Jignesh Mewani, (Dalit Atyaachaar Ladat Samiti)

 

Dr. Deepika Tandon, Dr. Moushumi Basu

Secretaries, Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR)