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India: Attack on AALI legal rights initiative by BSP leader and his goons | Press release by womens groups in Lucknow

30 October 2013

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PRESS RELEASE BY WOMEN RIGHTS ORGANISATIONS, LUCKNOW

29th October 2013, Press Club, Lucknow

ATTACK ON AALI OFFICE AND ASSAULT ON AALI STAFF

On the evening of 27th October 2013, the office of Association for Advocacy and Legal Initiative (AALI), women’s rights organisation based in Lucknow, was attacked by Ashish Shukla, BSP leader from Amethi (Uttar Pradesh), along with his family and goons.

Around 5.00pm, the BSP leader Ashish Shukla, his wife Uma Shukla, son Akarsh Shukla along with 40‐50 men, barged into the premises of the house where the organisation is based and beat up the caretaker and his wife. The organization is based in the house of a retired High Court judge. They then forcibly entered the premises, beat‐up the two women AALI members, dragged them by the hair and abducted them. They took them to Khatu Shyam Mandir (Old Hyderabad Colony, Thana Mahanagar), where they were confined, badly beaten up and mauled for 45 minutes. When the team member refused to gave away information about the survivor’s whereabout, she was threatened with rape and murder.

In the meanwhile, the other team members got to know about the incident and managed to trace the girls. Girls were rescued by Mahanagar police from the temple. Some of the perpetrators were arrested.

AALI’s office was also ransacked, property was damaged and documents were taken away. FIR regarding the incident was lodged the same evening at Mahanagar PS along with written statements by the two AALI team members.

Given that present status AALI team is not functioning from that office. We are apprehensive about the manner in which investigation into the attack has so far been carried out. The main perpetrators (named in the FIR and statements of girls) are still at large. We have been informed that one of them has already been released on bail.

The next day on 28th October 2013, the AALI team members were again physically and verbally abused in Civil Court premises when they were accompanying the girl to record her statement before the Magistrate, by the relatives of the survivor including her mother.

However, the threat and fear of further attacks still remains as the attackers have threatened the team members and are constantly enquiring about the whereabouts of the team members from the caretakers of the organization’s office. This attack has occurred in the context of the case of a 19 year old girl who approached AALI for help as she was being sexually abused within the home.

AALI followed all appropriate legal procedures and provided her safe shelter as per her wishes. The attackers are family members of the girl.

We, women’s rights and human rights organisations based in Uttar Pradesh, vehemently condemn this attack on two staff members of AALI and demand strict action against the perpetrators.

We demand that the police conduct proper and prompt investigation in the case of attack against the staff members of AALI and arrest the perpetrators immediately.

At this juncture we are all asking you to support us in this fight for justice.

As the main perpetrator has been identified and given his power and influence, we demand immediate arrest of all those involved.

It is to be noted that this is not an isolated incident. In the recent past there have been attacks on Sahjani and Sanatkada. It is shocking to see the way muscle power and violence is being used that too in the State capital and in civil court premises. We strongly condemn this blatant display of power and use of brute force against women’s human rights defenders. This is absolutely unacceptable and must stop. We demand justice, action and accountability. And we demand them now.

Sanatkada, Humsafar, Sahayog, MASVAW, AIDWA, AIPWA, Vanangana, Saanjhi Duniya, AALI, Nirantar, Suraksha, Oxfam, Saksham, DAG, Action Aid, Mahila Federation, Mahila Samakhya, UNICEF, Plan India, Upvan, Vayam, Breakthrough