Human Rights Law Network

The Initiative

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Initiative Overview
Together with other human rights organisations and secular groups, HRLN works in solidarity with the victims of communalism, bringing cases to court, working on trainings and publications to make people aware of their rights and dispel myths that fuel the rise in communal acts and crimes.

Initiative Impact

  • In the Gujarat massacres, a team of lawyers and social workers from the network played an active role in pushing for the prosecution of the errant police officers, and also to get civil relief for the victims of the carnage. A large portion of the cases were successful, thereby providing closure to the families of those who suffered.
  • Our lawyers, activists and senior judges participated in and co-organised the concerned citizen’s tribunal in Gujarat in May 2002 where victim and eyewitness testimonials were recorded and relief camps were established. This resulted in spreading awareness of the atrocities and provided factual evidence which was used to secure State aid for the victims.
  • In the 1991-92 Bombay massacre, members of the Network were active in fact-finding teams, in the official commissions of enquiry, and in the class action litigations that were filed in the high court and the Supreme Court.
  • HRLN jointly-organised a ‘communalism and the law’ workshop which succeeded in encouraging the use of the legal system to combat communal practices. The workshop equipped paralegals, activists and lawyers with the necessary information and skills required in getting persons released on bail, defending appropriate cases in trials, getting compensation for deaths, injuries and damages to property.
  • HRLN continues to play a leading role in responding to the 2008 Orissa riots. From organising fast-response fact-finding missions to uncover the depth of the destruction, to bringing specific cases to court, to monitoring the conditions of the relief camps, HRLN has made a concrete difference in the lives of those who have been directly and indirectly affected by this most recent wave of violence.

Foremost Challenges
Citizens’ reports, findings of commission of enquiries appointed by governments, newspaper reports and eyewitness accounts of victims clearly indicate the active participation, instigation and encouragement of discrimination and violence by the police and government.

It is not simply an issue of the majority community initiating the riot. In all cases, there is evidence of repeated and detailed offences by the State which have even been documented by the official enquiry commission. As a result of the connivance by the State, few involved in the massacres are ever punished.

A study of the riots in the past two decades shows that the existing criminal justice system completely failed in regards to punishing the police and members of the majority community. In many cases, police officers indicted by the enquiry commissions were, in fact, promoted by the government – thus rewarding them for their heinous acts. Clearly, the greatest challenge in combating communal violence is overcoming the obstacles put in place by the very people who are meant to protect society.


Legal Aid & Public Interest Litigation
Seeks justice for victims of communal crimes by investigating incidents and filing petitions.

Legal Education, Judicial Colloquia & Training
A series of workshops have been conducted in different states which addressed socio-political perspectives on communalism such as myths related to communalism, democracies and conversions, freedom struggle and the communal issue, communal fascism and fundamentalism. Additionally, these workshops equipped participants to legally intervene through defensive and proactive measures.

Advocacy & Campaigning
HRLN and other organisations in Mumbai, Delhi and Gujarat drafted a model communal crimes bill agitating for a system operated by the majority community in favour of the minority community in cases of communal carnage. This special law is intended to combat the spread of communal crimes in the country.

Crisis Response, Investigation & Monitoring
Fact finding reports educate the public about the true facts of massacres, including injustice done to minority communities and their suffering which otherwise might have been overlooked by the mainstream media.

Access to Justice & People’s Tribunals
IPTs to expose and investigate communal disturbances include the IPT on communalism in Orissa which investigated criminal activity and human rights violations by Hindu rightwing organisations, the consolidation of these forces, and the related growth of social violence against marginalised people.

Solidarity & Movement -Building
Organises meetings across the country for activists, paralegals, lawyers, community members, judges, journalists, academics, and even police persons and bureaucrats, on agitating for the rights of people affected by communal violence.

Publications & Communications
Know-your-rights materials on matters relating to communalism and the law.

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Human Rights Law Network
c/o Socio-Legal Information Centre
576, Masjid Road, Jungpura
New Delhi - 110014
+91-11-24374502 (Fax)

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Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) is a division of the Socio-Legal Information Centre (SLIC). SLIC is a non-profit legal aid and educational organization, registered under the Registration of Societies Act, 1860, Indian Public Trust Act, 1950 and the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, 1976.

HRLN is a division of the Socio-Legal Information Centre (SLIC). SLIC is a non-profit legal aid and educational organization, registered under the Registration of Societies Act, 1860, Indian Public Trust Act, 1950 and the Foreign Contributions (Regulation) Act, 1976.