Tuesday, 15 June, 2004

Brutal attack on Kailash Satyarthi during rescue of children in Great Roman Circus

Memorandum to the Honourable Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, from Kailash Satyarthi

16 June, 2004


Hon. Shri. Mulayam Singh Yadav
Chief Minister, Uttar Pradesh


On the appeal of 4 parents from Nepal who came India and asked us to rescue their children, we attempted to rescue the girls. The activists of Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), met the District Magistrate (DM), Sh. M.I.I Khan of Gonda on 14th June and lodged a complaint with him that the Great Roman Circus, currently running in Karnailgunjhas employed the children from these parents and also many other underage girls are kept in bondage in the circus who must be rescued.
The attitude of the District Magistrate was very negative and humiliating. After repeated requests, he asked the Sub-Divisional Magistrate of Karnailgunj, Sh. Hawaldar Singh, who was present there to take action.

Yesterday morning, on 15th June, we took the 4 parents and met the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) and the Police Superintendent (SP) of the area.
When after some time with the officials of the local administration and some media people we reached the circus, the owners were standing outside the gates of the circus, which was closed as if they already knew we were going to come and were waiting to receive us. The night before we had some inkling that through the SDM the circus owners would have got the message that we would be coming. So we sent some of our team members ahead to Karnailgunj who were surprised to see the orderly of the DM already present there.

Yesterday when we were taken inside the circus, behind a tent there were around 2 dozen girls and young women sitting there dressed very nicely, but among them the 4 girls, whose parents were with us were not there. BBA activists then ran around the circus and found Neeta, the daughter of Bishumaya who was hidden by the circus people. On seeing the girl, the circus owner, Raza Khan became very angry and within moments he threatened to kill me. In front of the SDM, the police and the media he shouted that from here until Delhi he will follow me. After this the SDM said, I can't say anything, now whatever happens, will be your responsibility. The next moment, Raja Khan tok out his pistol and unlocking it leapt towards me.
After this, his so called manager and his gang started pushing me. Seeing the clear conspiracy between the police the local administration. SDM and the circus owners, we felt it was better that we should leave the circus.
When we started runing out, the circus owner told that the gate should be locked from the inside. But, fortunately before the lock was put my team members could make the gate open and take me out. When in this confusion we tried to sit in our car and leave, we noticed that a police vehicle had blocked our way. Through the fields this was the only way to the circus.
Left with no other option, we ran through the fields. But there was a canal next to the fields because of which the car could not move any further. By this time many people from the circus had surrounded the car with iron rods and bamboo sticks. When we got out of the car to cross the canal on foot, some of the henchmen following us attacked from both the sides in which I got a very deep cut on my head. Blood started flowing profusely and even in that state they kept on attacking me on my back and legs with iron rods.
My son, Bhuvan tried to save me and he also came under the attack and was brutally beaten. Our activist, Govind and the Nepali parents also sustained injuries. Somehow we managed to get into another car and reached Lucknow, where we went to Mayo hospital for treatment.

From the start we had told the local administration that we will take the responsibility of taking all the underage children and others who will be rescued to their parents safely. Till the time the children are taken to their parents all the girls can stay at the BBA run Balika Ashram in Delhi.
Also, the officials from our partner NGO in Nepal, N.C.W.F are continuously with us in this effort and are ready to take the girls safely back to Nepal to be with their parents. I and this organisation have requested the local administration and the SP to give us the responsibility of the underage girls. This incident has again highlighted the Gunda Raj" (Criminals rule) present in the local administration and the police in the state.

It is to be noted that, taking into account the bad name that this circus has and the objectionable attitude of the local administration I had met the state's Welfare Minister, Sh. Awadhesh Prasad the night before the incident.
He called the police personnel over the telephone and instructed them to provide police protection to me. I also met a senior minister of the state, Sh. Balram Yadav, and got them to confirm that the local administration will undertake legal action to release the girls from the circus. The Samajwadi Party Member of Parliament from Lakhimpur Khiri, Sh. Ravi Prakash Verma has also written a letter requesting the local administration to help us in this regard.

It is clear that the administration in Uttar Pradesh has ignored everything and there is total anarchy in the state. In these circumstances, we are putting our demands before the State Government:
  1. The daughters of the Nepali parents who are present here should be immediately searched for and handed over to them. All minor girls, who are still with the circus under the guise of safety should be immediately released and taken safely to their families in Nepal or should be handed to us.
  2. SDM, Sh Hawaldar Yadav and the Superindent of Police, Sh S. N. Singh should be suspended from office immediately. Also, a case should be filed against them in the court to conspire with the circus owner under attempt to murder me. Circus owner, Raza Khan and his manager should be arrested and they should be booked under trafficking of girls, holding them under bondage and for attempt to murder me and my team members and also for the life threatening attacks.
  3. All girls should be taken for physical and psychological examination and the licence of this circus should be cancelled.
  4. The state government should order a investigation in all the circuses running in the state on human rights and child rights violation.
If within the next 24 hours, no official actions are taken, I will protest against the violence and the increasing anarchy in the state and would sit on indefinite hunger strike from tomorrow morning 10.00 in Lucknow in front of the state assembly. The responsibility of this situation will lie on the state government.


Kailash Satyarthi

Eminent Child Labour activist and Chairperson of Global March Against Child Labour, Global Campaign for Education and SACCS/Bachpan Bachao Aandolan Kailash Satyarthi was attacked brutally while leading a group of activist and parents to rescue some children from circus in Colonelganj Tehsil of Gonda District in Uttar Pradesh, North India today.

Acting on complaints of 11 parents and accompanied by 4 parents (two mothers and two fathers) Satyarthi approached the district administration which reluctantly assigned the Sub Divisional Magistrate to conduct a raid in the Great Roman Circus along with Satyarthi. The Great Roman Circus was camping in Colonelganj, District Gonda. There was reluctance on part of the District Magistrate presently posted in Gonda District. Our reports show that children in hundreds were being cruelly treated and exploited in this circus.

However when the raid started, the entire administration instead of facilitating the team led by Kailash Satyarthi, connived with the circus owner to offset the entire exercise. The circus owner with his men launched a barbaric attack on the team with lethal weapons like knives, iron rods and guns. The entire team was mercilessly beaten. Satyarthi who was leading the team sustained serious head injuries and was bleeding profusely. He sustained several injuries throughout his body. Satyarthi was rescued by the other team members and taken out of the place as the clear intention of the attackers was to eliminate Satyarthi. Satyarthi's son and several others sustained serious injuries. A foreign woman photo-journalist was also beaten up and her camera was smashed. Later he was rushed to the hospital in Lucknow where he got stitches on his head. The x-ray reports of his head injuries are awaited. Satyarthi's condition is stable and he is in high spirits.

Till now several of the children whom the team had gone to rescue are still stuck in the circus. Many parents are also in captivity. We demand that the provincial Government of State of Uttar Pradesh should immediately act for release of all the children and parents held in captivity by the owners of Great Roman Circus. The Government should immediately arrest the culprits led by the owner of the circus and take action against the District Magistrate who is clearly conniving with the attackers and led the entire administration as a mute spectator when this attack was perpetrated on Satyarthi and his colleagues.

In this critical hour we urge the friends, allies, associates, well wishers, patrons and civil society partners worldwide to rise to this occasion and mount pressure on the Government of India to punish the culprits and provide security to Satyarthi.

We would appeal to every one to show solidarity and put moral pressure on the Indian government including the President of India, Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister to take note of the seriousness of the matter and give Satyarthi 24 hours security since the local police has miserably failed to protect him. There is a grave threat to his life by the circus owners. Satyarthi was threatened to be killed on the spot and also to the extent that he would be followed to his home in Delhi where he would be eliminated. All this was said in the presence of the media, local police, administration and they could do nothing.

We would also urge you to put pressure on the Indian government and the provincial government of Uttar Pradesh to take strict action against the Circus owner for the atrocious behaviour of first engaging innocent children for labour and then attacking the concerned civil society movement and parents of the trapped children who had gone to rescue the trapped children. Till now, several of the children whom the team had rescued are still stuck in the circus. Many parents are also in captivity. That the children and their parents should immediately be released.

That the Indian government and the provincial government of Uttar Pradesh to take strict action against the local district authorities for their apathetic conduct and their apparent connivance with the circus owner.

We are suggesting few contact information for your use and reference.

Dr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam
Hon'ble President of India
Rashtrapati Bhawan
New Delhi
Fax: 91 11 23017290, 23017824

Dr. Manmohan Singh
Hon'ble Prime Minister
Government of India
South Block
New Delhi-110001
Ph: 91 11 23012312, 23018939
Fax: 91 11 23015603

Shivraj Patil
Hon'ble Home Minister
Government of India
North Block
New Delhi-110001
Fax 91 11 23094221, 23093750

Chief Secretary, Government of Uttar Pradesh
Fax. 91-522-2239283, 2238409

Principal Secretary,
Home, Government of Uttar Pradesh
Fax. 91-522-2239279, 2238409

Chief Minister, Government of Uttar Pradesh
Fax. 91-522-2239234, 2230002

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