India: Assamese Human Rights Defender Bondita Acharya violently threatened on social media.

Asia Human Rights
April 19, 2017
Reproduced with Permission
Asian Human Rights Commission

Dear Friends,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing about the death threats, rape threats and other abusive messages received by renowned Human Rights Defender, Bondita Acharya, in Assam. She shared her thoughts on a social platform in Jorhat, condemning the arrest of three people for the possession of beef.

Case Narrative:

On April 4th, three people were arrested by the police in Johrat, Assam. A complaint was made by the local BJP leader Mridupawan Bora. He accused them of offending religious sentiments, because they were in possession of 500 grams of beef meant for consumption. Since one was a minor, the other two were arrested and charged under Section 295 (a) of the IPC and the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950 (hereinafter the Act).

According to MASUM, our partner organisation, Bondita Acharya posted her comments on the incident on a social media website on 6th April 2017. Reports state that she had commented that even people from higher castes of the Hindu community eat beef in the state and it was not just Muslims who consumed beef. This angered some people. She received death threats, rape threats, threats of acid attacks and sexually abusive comments. All this for condemning the arrest of three people, and expressing her views on the matter of beef consumption in the state.

On April 9, Acharya filed a complaint with the Superintendent of Police at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Guwahati. She attached screenshots of comments made against her on social media. AHRC has been given access to these by MASUM. Reportedly no action has been taken on her complaint to date. According to a statement issued by 'Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression' (WSS) of which Acharya is a member, the Bajrang Dal has issued a press release demanding a public apology from her for her criticism of the arrests.


According to the Assam Cattle Preservation Act, 1950, under which the three were arrested, cattle slaughter is allowed only under certain conditions. As per Ss. 5 and 6 of the Act, cattle cannot be slaughtered unless a certificate in writing from the Veterinary Officer is obtained for the purpose. Nowhere does the Act state that possession or consumption of beef is criminal or prohibited.

It is becoming increasingly common for people to take refuge in the anonymity and assumed safety offered by the Internet. It allows them to make violent threats and abusive comments, especially against women, on social media platforms. Recently, the young activist, Gurmehar Kaur , was at the receiving end of similar vitriol for sharing her views on the India-Pakistan impasse. In this case, Acharya has also been subject to terrible abuse online. And this is simply because she stated what she feels with respect to beef consumption habits in Assam and the North East. The police must ensure that crimes of this nature are swiftly investigated, utilising the best technology and skills available and prevent religious fundamentalists from having an upper hand.

Additional Information

Bondita Acharya is a human rights defender from Assam, in north-eastern India, and a member of Women in Governance (WinG) Assam. She is also the Northeast coordinator of Human Rights Defenders Alert (HRDA) and a member of the network Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS).

Suggested Action

Please write to the following authorities requesting that Ms. Acharya and her team are provided protection and her complaint is registered and enquired into speedily by the investigating agencies.

The AHRC is writing a separate letter to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders, Michael Forst, urging his intervention in this matter.

To support this case, please click here for Sample Letter:

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Thank you .

Urgent Appeals Program
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