India: minority rights defender laid off for joining demonstrationEvent
- Initial Date
- Aug 25, 2022
- Event Description
About the Human Rights Defender: Mr. Nitesh Alawa is a human rights defender who works as a patwari (revenue officer) in the village of Badi Khattal in Jobat tehsil of Alirajpur district in Madhya Pradesh. Mr. Alawa has been active in the fight for rights of Adivasis in the region and has in the past raised his voice against atrocities committed against the communities. Mr. Alawa is the district president, Alirajpur of the Madhya Pradesh Patwari Union, the Media In-charge of Tribal Employees-Officers Organization and is the district vice president of the Scheduled Caste-Scheduled Tribe Officer Employee Organization. Background of the Incident:
On July 4, 2022, an Adivasi woman was burnt alive in Guna district. The accused allegedly put diesel and set her on fire. The accused also made a video of this heinous crime.
A week before the incident, the woman’s husband said that his family had sought protection from the police, citing threats from the accused persons.
The gruesome nature of the attack was met with protests across the state. One such peaceful citizens protest was held on July 24, 2022, a Sunday, in Guna by leading Adivasi groups in the state include, the Jai Adivasi Yuva Shakti (JAYS). Mr. Nitesh Alawa at- tended this peaceful protest in solidarity with the victim and to demand justice. The protest was attended by adivasis from over 15 districts across the state.
Details of the Incident: On August 25, 2022, Mr. Alawa was suspended from duty and a departmental inquiry was started. He was given a show cause notice on August 18 to which he replied on August 24. The suspension order cited Rule 3(1), 5 (1), 6(1) of the Madhya Pradesh Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1965 and Rule 9 of the M.P. Civil Services (Classification, Control and Appeal) Rules, 1966, which authorizes suspensions pending disciplinary actions.
The order stated that they had taken the action as it had come to the administration’s notice that there had been several “viral videos” circulated on social media, where Mr. Alawa has allegedly made incendiary and inflammatory speeches at the Guna meeting along with members of JAYS with an alleged attempt to create tensions among people.
Rule 3(1) of the Madhya Pradesh Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1965 states that every Government servant shall always, maintain absolute integrity, maintain devotion to duty and do nothing which is unbecoming of a Government servant. Rule 5 (1) of the Madhya Pradesh Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1965 states that no Government servant shall be a member of, or be otherwise associated with, any political party or any organisation which takes part in politics, nor shall he take part in, subscribe in aid of, or assist in any other manner, any political movement or activity. Rule 6(1) of the Madhya Pradesh Civil Services (Conduct) Rules, 1965 states that no Government servant shall engage himself or participate in any demonstration which is prejudicial to the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency, or morality, or which involves contempt of Court, defamation or incitement to an officer. It is important to note that Mr. Alawa had taken leave from work with prior intimation to his superiors. He did not attend the protest in the capacity of any political party. The protest was not political in nature and was aimed at seeking justice for an Adivasi woman who had been burnt alive. The order also states that he had been given “prior warning” regarding his activities. HRDA-India had sent an urgent appeal to the Hon’ble NHRC on September 14, 2021 pertaining to the case of Mr. Alawa (Case No. 2849/12/26/2021). He was suspended for the exact same reason – participation in a protest. Back then the protest was regarding the brutal mass murder of Adivasis in Nemawar district in Madhya Pradesh.
- Impact of Event
- Gender of HRD
- Administrative Harassment
- Rights Concerned
- Freedom of assembly
- Freedom of expression
- Right to Protest
- Right to work
- Minority rights defender
Case shared by FORUM-ASIA member People's Watch
- Monitoring Status
- Event Location
- Event Location
- Summary for Publications
On 25 August 2022, Nitesh Alawa, minority rights defender, was laid off from his duty as revenue officer after taking part to a peaceful demonstration for the killing of an Adivasi woman in Alirajpur District, India.