Mangaluru: A three-member people’s tribunal headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice Gopala Gowda, recently called on eye witnesses and victims of December 19 violence and police action in the city to depose before it. The tribunal was constituted to bring out the truth about the violence and police action in the city on December 19. It was jointly organised Indian Social Forum, Bangalore, Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) and ‘Samvidhanadha Haadiyalli’ under the banner of “Listening Posts”.

The tribunal which was organised at a private hotel in the city also saw two young kids, barely into their teens lined up for the deposition. Much to the surprise of the tribunal which also consisted of former Karnataka Public Prosecutor, BT Venkatesh and senior Journalist, Sugata Srinivasaraju, the two kids came forward to depose before the tribunal.

When curious Justice Gopala Gowda enquired the kids, they introduced themselves as Shifani and Sabeel. They were 14 and 9 years old respectively and were students of 9th and 5th grade. The coordinator of the tribunal then informed Justice Gowda that they were kids of Abdul Jaleel, who was killed in Police firing on December 19.

Shifani and Sabeel had not come before the tribunal to seek assistance or help, they had come to tell the tribunal about what they saw on the fateful Thursday of December 19.

Justice Gowda then questioned the young kids and enquired about their studies and academics before asking anything about December 19. 9-year old Sabeel who told Justice Gowda that he wants to become a pilot to “fly in the sky” when he grows up added that his father had picked him and his sister from the school barely two hours before he was shot dead by the police.

“He picked us from our school van and took us home around 1:30 pm on December 19. We had lunch together that afternoon. There were chaos going around when he went out of the house saying he was going to offer namaz. He was then shot by the police in his eyes, and his brain” Sabeel told the tribunal.

When the tribunal asked Sabeel if his father had participated in the protest, Sabeel downplayed the allegations that he was taking part in the protest and said he was at home all the afternoon before going out for namaaz.

15-year old Shifani, who unlike her brother has not decided what she wants to become when she grows up, then took over and spoke to the tribunal. She added that she could see her father falling down after being shot soon as he stepped out of the house.

“He had lunch with us and left the house saying he is going to offer namaz. Soon as he stepped out, he was shot down by the police. We could see him walking and falling down all of a sudden. He was dead on the spot. He was with us just a few moments ago, and in no time he was dead. He just peeped out of the house to see where the police were and what was happening so that he can go and offer namaz and they killed him” Shifani said as she broke down before the tribunal.

Justice Gowda then expressed his condolence to the family and felt sorry for the trauma and dilemma the young kids had to go through at the tender age. He added that the truth will come out and any injustice made to them and their family on December 19 will not remain hidden.

The police has named both the deceased in police firing as the accused in the FIR, a move that prompted the state government from dispensing the ex-gratia amount it initially announced for the families of the deceased. The police and government have maintained that a thorough enquiry will be made into the case to bring out the truth.

Currently, a magisterial enquiry has been ordered by the government which is expected to submit its report to the government and Human Right Commission within three months. Meanwhile, a CID investigation into the matter is also underway to ascertain facts about what happened and how things panned out on December 19 in the port city.

Irrespective of the outcome of the enquiry, the loss incurred by the two very young minds of Shifani and Sabeel and the trauma they have been into of watching their father lying in the pool of blood is irreparable and if their version of facts come out as the truth in the enquiry, the question remains, who should be held responsible for tearing through the childhood of Shifani and Sabeel?

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New Delhi: The NHRC has issued notice to the Union Home Secretary over rights organisation Amnesty International winding up its operations in the country after alleging witch-hunt by the government, officials said on Wednesday.

According to media reports, after the complete freezing of its bank accounts in India the Amnesty International has reportedly halted all the work in the country, the NHRC said in a statement.

"The National Human Rights Commission has taken suo motu cognisance of the matter and directs issuance of the notice to the Home Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, government of India, calling for their comments on the allegations levelled by the Amnesty International as mentioned in the news report," it said.

In a statement earlier, the international NGO had stated that "it has been compelled to let go of staff in India and pause all its ongoing campaign and research work," the NHRC said.

"It is alleged that this is the latest in the incessant witch-hunt of human rights organisations by the government of India over unfounded and motivated allegations," the rights panel said.