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India authorities, Maoists threatening activists: HRW

Indian authorities and Maoist rebel groups have threatened and attacked civil society activists thereby interfering with the human rights work in the area of central and eastern India, Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] reported [text, PDF; press release ] Monday. HRW found that most of the activists who have been victims of violence were residing in India's Orissa, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh states. Villagers in the conflict areas are also locked between Maoists and the government because both sides are demanding information and loyalty while those who refuse are subject to arbitrary arrests and torture. The human rights group urged both sides immediately to stop their hostility against activists. It also expressed concern that the interference with the assistance programs of activists is most likely to have a detrimental effect on the general population rather than merely influencing local individuals. The 60-page report was based on more than 60 interviews with individuals, including local residents, journalists and activists who witnessed the alleged inhumane treatment by the Indian government and the Maoists committed from July 2011 to April 2012.

HRW's criticism of India's violence against activists was not the first time India has been under international attention for its human rights practices. In April UN Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions Christof Heyns called on [JURIST report] the Indian government to cease its practice of extrajudicial and arbitrary executions. A month earlier Amnesty International [advocacy website] urged [JURIST report] the Indian government to stop capital punishment. AI claimed that India would move away from the international trend of abolishing capital punishment if it continues with such practice. In January HRW called on India to prosecute soldiers for torture and extrajudicial executions on its Bangladesh border.

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