A Born Human Rights Activist

rnk.jpgIt is with saddness that we report on the passing of Ram Narayan Kumar, a human rights activist who actively and vocally worked on the dissapearances and killings in Punjab. He was 56years old.

Kumar was a born human rights activist. He had engaged himself with human rights activism since 1975 when he was jailed for 19 months for protesting against the imposition of emergency. Though he belonged to Andhra Pradesh, his conscience dragged him to protest against the wide spread human rights violations in Punjab. There he co-founded Committee for Coordination on Disappearances in Punjab (CCDP) and co-authored a voluminous edition called Reduced To Ashes’, a compilation of about 600 cases of human rights violations in the state. This report prompted the National Human Rights Commission to take cognizance of the large scale custodial disappearances and deaths in Punjab during that decade. [link]

In Terror in Punjab, Ram Narayan Kumar traces the roots of Sikh dissent in India that eventually culminated in the armed confrontation in 1984. Kumar also addresses thepost-1984 period of Sikh militancy and the Indian state’s success in countering this militancy.

Kumar…documents and pays tribute to the Akali tradition of non-violence. He refers to the Akali Dal’s peaceful struggle for a Punjabi-speaking state, and makes an important point of historical value by highlighting that the Akali agitation of the 1980s for Punjab’s demands constituted “the largest non-violent movement in the sub-continent, including both the colonial and the independent periods, with over 150,000 volunteers courting arrest within a period of three years.” [link]

Ram Narayan Kumar worked extensively with several human rights organizations, including Ensaaf and his contributions to the field of human rights justicewere invaluable. He playedan important role in defending the rights of families who had been affected by the violence in Punjab. Wewill remember his work, his contributions and his value to the very important work being done for justice in Punjab.


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4 Responses to “A Born Human Rights Activist”

  1. Mewa Singh says:

    My first introduction to Ram Narayan Kumar was on a hugely important video that was widely distributed by Gurmit Singh Aulakh amongst others. "Disappearances in Punjab" was a brave video created by Ram Narayan Kumar and Lorenze Skerjanz in the mid 1990s.

    Less than a decade later I was to meet him in a Chandigarh hotel. An opinionated man, his books are an important documentation of some of the inner conflicts of various militant groups. Although I strongly disagreed with his conclusions and analysis, his dedication must be admired.

    May the mantle of his work be carried forward by others. This would be the greatest acknowledgement and tribute.

  2. Mewa Singh says:

    My first introduction to Ram Narayan Kumar was on a hugely important video that was widely distributed by Gurmit Singh Aulakh amongst others. “Disappearances in Punjab” was a brave video created by Ram Narayan Kumar and Lorenze Skerjanz in the mid 1990s.

    Less than a decade later I was to meet him in a Chandigarh hotel. An opinionated man, his books are an important documentation of some of the inner conflicts of various militant groups. Although I strongly disagreed with his conclusions and analysis, his dedication must be admired.

    May the mantle of his work be carried forward by others. This would be the greatest acknowledgement and tribute.

  3. Remembering Ram Narayan Kumar

    A crusader Punjab will remain indebted to

    It is really painful and sad to know that Ram Narayan Kumar passed away on June 28, 2009 at his house in Kathmandu. He should really be considered as one of the finest human rights researchers, activists and campaigners in South Asia. A crusader Sikh will remain indebted to Ram Narayan Kumar, but I don’t think so.

    I personally met him in Ludhiana and Chandigarh when he was allowed to expose freely the Sikh affairs and Sikhs under the garb of acting as the human rights activists when the Sikhs were feeling threatened from the security forces and the Indian agencies.

    He was not interested to get justice for the Sikhs in the court of law on the basis of repots prepared by him and his team and thus was not ready to prepare the reports accordingly of that standard as I noticed from his activities and the behaviour.

    I did watch him investigating the case of death of former Jathedar of Sri Akal Takhat Sahib, Gurdev Singh Kaunke and pointed him out that you are distorting or adding the facts and manipulations in a planned manner, which may not stand the test of law. On this, he felt agitated.

    The material was being collected by him and his associates, only for writing a book, which they did, without intending to expose the misdeeds of violation of human rights by the government of India, in the court of law.

    I may be wrong to say so. That’s what the government of India wanted from him and his associates, now, settled abroad, so far, I have information about some of them!

    July 3, 2009

  4. Remembering Ram Narayan Kumar
    A crusader Punjab will remain indebted to

    It is really painful and sad to know that Ram Narayan Kumar passed away on June 28, 2009 at his house in Kathmandu. He should really be considered as one of the finest human rights researchers, activists and campaigners in South Asia. A crusader Sikh will remain indebted to Ram Narayan Kumar, but I dont think so.

    I personally met him in Ludhiana and Chandigarh when he was allowed to expose freely the Sikh affairs and Sikhs under the garb of acting as the human rights activists when the Sikhs were feeling threatened from the security forces and the Indian agencies.

    He was not interested to get justice for the Sikhs in the court of law on the basis of repots prepared by him and his team and thus was not ready to prepare the reports accordingly of that standard as I noticed from his activities and the behaviour.

    I did watch him investigating the case of death of former Jathedar of Sri Akal Takhat Sahib, Gurdev Singh Kaunke and pointed him out that you are distorting or adding the facts and manipulations in a planned manner, which may not stand the test of law. On this, he felt agitated.

    The material was being collected by him and his associates, only for writing a book, which they did, without intending to expose the misdeeds of violation of human rights by the government of India, in the court of law.

    I may be wrong to say so. Thats what the government of India wanted from him and his associates, now, settled abroad, so far, I have information about some of them!
    July 3, 2009