India: Police surveillance on human rights defender and whistleblower
October 31, 2017, 8:04 am
Mr. Ashish Kumar Chaturvedi after obtaining documents regarding irregularities in the medical entrance examination, through Right to Information Act and ascertaining the seriousness of the matter had filed several complaints before Madhya Pradesh government authorities. The said complaints were taken up by the crime branch, Indore initially and later on the investigation was handed over to the special Task Force (STF) and the same was monitored by Madhya Pradesh High Court.
Mr. Chaturvedi is under constant threat from that day onwards. He had been threatened numerous times and is being supplied with PSO for his protection.
Over the period of investigation of “VYAPAM” matter, where Mr. Chaturvedi is one of the main witness, had received and is still receiving threats. Most of the threats have been communicated to the PSO Guards by Mr. Chaturvedi. Apart from Mr. Chaturvedi even the CBI Inspector (Mr. Harish Goyal) who is investigating the Crime No. 285/14 (Where Mr. Chaturvedi is the complainant and in which names of some influential people have come up), was also threatened over phone.
The PSO Guard, who has been assigned to look after the safety and security of the Mr. Chaturvedi has been provided with a video camera for recording Mr. Chaturvedi’s movements and activities In this respect Mr. Chaturvedi has requested for information under Right to Information Act, 2005, for which the office of Jhansi Road Police Station, Gwalior has given information in its reply dated 25.04.17 regarding the video camera.
The PSO guard from the date of issuance of the video camera, have been involved in recording the activities of Mr. Chaturvedi round the clock. Mr. Chaturvedi has been illegally and with mala-fide intentions, been kept under around the clock surveillance by video graphing his actions and movements, which is a complete violation of his fundamental right to privacy as provided by the Constitution of India.
On January 26, 2017, the PSO guard crossed their limits when they illegally, vehemently and without the consent of Mr. Chaturvedi entered into his house and started video graphing, including his mother and sister. The same was objected by Mr. Chaturvedi, however, the PSO guard started abusing him and told that this has been done under the instructions of Assistant Superintendent of Police Mr. Dinesh Kaushal (Nodal Officer) and T.I. Rajkumar Sharma. The guards are still continuing to record and monitor the day-to-day activities of Mr. Chaturvedi by the video came or in their respective mobile phones.
The video graphing of day to day life of Mr. Chaturvedi and his family members by the PSO guards has harassed Mr. Chaturvedi and his family to the core and in the guise of surveillance, the recording is nothing but a tool for the Police authorities to harass the HRD.
Mr. Chaturvedi has made several complaints to the competent authorities and apprised them about the video graphing and monitoring by the PSO guard but no actions has been taken yet.
Although the camcorder was issued for the purposes of safety and security of Mr. Chaturvedi, however, there were several incidents where Mr. Chaturvedi was attacked by some miscreants but the recording of such incident was not done by the PSO guard. In one such incident, Mr. Chaturvedi was engaged in preparation for his sister’s marriage and three persons from a political party tried to abduct Mr. Chaturvedi and used force against him in the presence of PSO guard equipped with camcorder, and the recording of said incident took place. In this respect, Mr. Chaturvedi has filed a complaint with the Police authorities, but no action has been taken till date.
The recording by the PSOs till this date is continued, the only difference is that the video recording is now being done by using their mobile phones.
Mr. Chaturvedi’s normal life has been harmed and his social image has been damaged by such act. It has not only affected his social life, but his right to privacy and right to move freely has been sacrificed and breached by such act. This holds much greater importance after the recent Supreme Court’s 9 member bench ruling that privacy is a fundamental right.