Harassment of human rights lawyer in India

Who we wrote to

The prime minister of India, Narendra Modi.

What’s the issue

Mr Rajat Kalsan, a prominent human rights lawyer and advocate, has received continuous harassment as a result of his work representing members of the Dalit community who are victims of discrimination and alleged violence.

We’re concerned that Mr Kalsan is being prevented from carrying out his duties as a lawyer. Mr Kalsan faces a number of charges and, if convicted, he could potentially face life imprisonment.

We’ve been informed that Mr Kalsan has been forced to suspend his legal practice and has left his hometown due to fears of violence and arrests on other fabricated charges.

We also understand that Mr Kalsan has been threatened with revocation of his practising certificate, after pressure from the District Bar Association to the Bar Council of Punjab and Haryana.

What we asked for

We asked the relevant Indian authorities to:

  • establish an impartial and thorough investigation into the harassment and intimidation against Mr Kalsan
  • allow Mr Kalsan to exercise his freedom of association and guarantee that he will not be subject to further arbitrary arrest or detention
  • review the charges faced by Mr Kalsan and withdraw them if there’s no evidence
  • guarantee in the event of a trial that the relevant authorities will agree to the treaty obligations recognised by India

Timeline

2011 – Mr Kalsan was granted protection by the police because of harassment and intimidation

2015 – Mr Kalsan was charged with rioting, public disruption and other offences related to his participation in protests relating to caste-based discrimination

2016 – his police protection was withdrawn without any formal assessment

2 September 2017 – Mr Kalsan was forced to flee from Bhatla village following a fact-finding mission

14 September 2017 – police submitted a case against Mr Kalsan stating that he was advising members of the Dalit community to make false complaints

29 September 2017 – the High Court of Punjab and Haryana granted Mr Kalsan pre-arrest bail