Human Rights Activist Assaulted in Front of Court House

Rachael Kilsby
Posted May 29, 2009 from Australia
hasina_kharbhih_photo.jpg (1/1)

Human Rights Activist Assaulted in Front of Court House Thursday, May 28, 2009

Shillong based human rights activist Hasina Kharbhih was the victim of a planned assault outside of the Shillong District Council Court this afternoon. Her attacker, a woman currently on bail for stalking Ms. Kharbhih over the last few months with threatening calls demanding that she stop her investigation into a high-profile human trafficking case. Ms. Dympep has also tried to use the court system to harass Ms. Kharbhih, filing a defamation case against her and insinuating in her FIR that she was having a relationship with Ms. Kharbhih’s husband. Thanks to police reluctance to pursue Ms. Dympep, she has managed to evade any conviction and today appeared completely unconcerned about the consequences of her actions when publicly striking out at Ms. Kharbhih. One has to wonder who is protecting Ms. Dympep and why?

Ms. Kharbhih, founder of Impulse NGO, an organization implementing anti-human trafficking initiatives and HIV prevention strategies, is also an esteemed Ashoka fellow and recipient of numerous honours, including the UNANIMA 2009 Woman of Courage Award. Ashoka, an international association of social entrepreneurs, believes Ms. Kharbhih’s life to be in danger and is currently looking at evacuation and exile strategies.

The attack on Ms. Kharbhih occurred as she was entering the court. Ms. Dympep and a male companion had been waiting outside for Ms. Kharbhih and when she arrived they began verbally and physically attacking her. Several nearby witnesses heard Ms. Dympep screaming “I’ll get Impulse shut down” and “make sure you are out of Shillong.” She then vowed to have Vijay Mallya [the CEO and owner of Kingfisher Airlines] come to Shillong and put an end to Impulse NGO Network.

Hasina is nationally and internationally famed for her dedication to fighting for the rights of women and children. This ongoing ordeal has made Ms. Kharbhih’s life difficult over the past eight months. A special officer, at the DSP level has been appointed to investigate her case and the Asian Human Rights Commission has posted an urgent appeal on its website (www. The AHRC is also providing support by connecting her to additional legal aid.

The harassment began in July 2008 when a male caller, who had been tracking Ms. Kharbhih’s day to day movements, phoned at odd hours trying to prevent the investigation of a particular human trafficking case.

Two weeks later, a female caller also began contacting the Impulse NGO office about the same case, relaying messages to staff members that Ms. Kharbhih had "better watch out." Brazenly, the woman made no attempt to conceal her various numbers and repeatedly demanded Ms. Kharbhih respond to a given cell phone number - which she refused to do.

Impulse NGO has handled human trafficking matters since 1999. From 400 cases, this is the first time intimidation directed at the organization has reached such a high level.

The case gaining so much attention concerns a group of girls recruited under the false pretence of employment with a major private airlines. Like many of Meghalaya's human trafficking victims, these girls were lured for work in escort industries across India's tourist and business destinations.

Among the group was Ms. Dympep, who has been identified as the female caller. When police requested her presence at the police station, she claimed to be too busy planning a wedding to manage it, and the matter was left.

Police apathy has marked this case from the start. While sitting in the police station, Ms. Kharbhih received more of the obnoxious calls, this time with the police able to listen in, and yet they still refused to trace the call.

A FIR was filed against Ms. Dympep by Impulse NGO on 1st September, 2008, and with the signature of a junior lawyer, she was able to obtain bail. Later an extension of this bail was approved while a police investigation took place. However, during this time, Ms. Dympep absconded on numerous occasions and police neglected to refile the report within the 90 day period.

It has been alleged that since her return to Shillong, Ms. Dympep has been acting as a recruiter, luring girls.

More than a year ago Ms. Dympep, in the small city of Guwahati, happened to apply for a passport with 65 other North-East Indian girls on the same day. Ms. Dympep's family reported to Impulse NGO that Dalphi Wahlang, a woman who has a possible link with an international drug smuggling racket, was also a member of this recruitment group.

Ms. Wahlang was arrested by Bangalore Customs just 2 days ago with her Nigerian partner. The couple attempted to smuggle 2.5 kg of heroin, roughly USD 1.6 million worth on the international market, into South Africa from two different multinational courier offices.

During a police interrogation, the duo confessed to mailing 14 of these consignments from Bangalore alone. Kolkata, Patna and Mumbai, were other locations used by the couple and their destinations included Spain, Canada, South Africa, the UK, and China.

Though red flags are waving, serious police work is needed to penetrate this possibly wide-reaching drug and human trafficking ring.

By Rachael Kilsby Impulse NGO Network Shillong, Meghalaya

Comments 4

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  • Jacqueline Patiño
    May 29, 2009
    May 29, 2009

    As one of our sisters in World Pulse said:' Men like to fight, they are violent, but we aren't, we like peace and we are not violent. They have reigned for too long, and now it is our turn. We will do it without violence'. We need to believe this. Otherwise all hope will be lost.

    We need to support each other in the search of non violent behavior. We need to learn how to request, formally and informally, that people treat us without violence.

    In this case, male violence is showing off at its best. And it is very hard to decide what to do, as violent males + political power, are an explosive mixture.All women, all of us, need to recognize that we are non violent, we need to proclaim that in the world. We need our societies to become aware that there is, effectively, a non violent way to everything.

    Please do not give up, keep sharing, keep supporting the ones who give up their own privacy to speak up for the ones in danger. Thank you for doing it and showing us the way.

    A big hug,


  • JaniceW
    May 29, 2009
    May 29, 2009

    Rachael, thank you for bringing this to our attention. You might like to connect with member, Kathleen Maloney-Dunn, who is a Human Rights attorney. She recently worked as a visiting legal professional on war crimes appeals from Darfur, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Uganda at the International Criminal Court in the Hague. Returning to Portland, Oregon she has been working on trying to change Oregon's laws on trafficking to bring them up to other states', federal, and international standards.

    Educated in the U.S.A., she has also lived in Africa and India working on women's and development issues. Pursuing her advanced law degree in International Human Rights at Oxford University, she also works with non-profits to help combat human trafficking. Kathleen can be found at:

  • Philo Ikonya
    May 29, 2009
    May 29, 2009

    Thank you Hasina for standing up for what is right. For taking so much because you are against trafficking of humans! It sort of tells us where the rest of the world, the rest of us, might be... in a conspiracy of silence as the world goes on....

    After such an attack Hasina, I want to send you much strength and to let you know that as you know, the world will want us to look at this as how women attack one another.. it is not about women, I am sure you know, but about the forces of the class struggle and how is sets people against one another after dividing them. I have been under attack and I know how badly it feels and how also it trickles down to your family and friends and gets interpreted in different ways some which try to take away your own certainty on the struggle. I know you are strong but get stronger. Keep focused. Get all the support our sisters are suggesting and keep up the struggle!

    Philo Ikonya

  • Nirupama Dutt
    May 31, 2009
    May 31, 2009

    My dear Hasina,

    The heart beats for you. I hope you get justice. We are all with you.