Summer Internship with Punjab State Human Rights Commission — Nupur from University Institute of Legal Studies

Wildcard Entry for: –  10th August 2012

Name of the intern: –  Nupur

Institute: –  University Institute of Legal Studies, Panjab University

Organization interned with: –  Punjab State Human Rights Commission

Internships are often one of the greatest learning experiences in a law student’s life. However, to find the right internship after the first year itself can be difficult due to the sheer number of options. In May 2011, I started with my very first internship. I was guided by my conscience towards Human Rights and that is why I picked Punjab States Human Rights Commission [PSHRC] to work at. My excitement level was very high, for it was my first legal internship, and that I would gain knowledge as to how things worked in real life.

Initially I was told by those who interned there, that we do not get much work to do. However, if one asked for it, they wouldn’t be disappointed. There will always be those who take their internship too seriously, and those who take it too lightly. I remember my mentor and guide, Mr. Rohit Chathrath, who is the System Manager there. He coordinated impeccably with the interns. During the first two weeks, he made us learn about how the complaints are sorted and scrutinized properly and what came as a startling fact to us, was that the majority of complaints ever received by PSHRC, were about the inaction of the local police officials. We dealt with fresh complaints wherein the complainant mentioned her grievance because the police, the SHO’s, in most cases, failed or didn’t take the right action. And there were some cases wherein ill-treatment was meted out to the aggrieved.

Soon after scrutinizing the complaints that would be entertained by PSHRC, had the matter not been sub-judice (under judgement), we were given case files from which we learnt tons of things, especially on how the commission really goes about in its probe and investigations.

At the end of the two weeks, interns were allocated their project. I took up “Honor Killings Are Not So Honorable.” Honor killing is the homicide of a member of a family or social group by other members, due to the belief of the perpetrators that the victim had brought dishonor upon the family or community. Honor killings are directed mostly against women and girls. For the first time ever, I got to do -in-depth research and if I’m honest, whatever cases I came across, shook me to my core. The cases where the victims were strangulated to death, shot, mutilated, burnt with acid, girls were raped and tortured.

I remember mentioning the case of Leila Hussein, an Iraqi woman living in Basra who came to public attention in March 2008, when her husband killed their teenage daughter — reportedly with the approval of the local police — because she had formed a friendship with a British soldier stationed in the city. In an unusual move for an Iraqi woman, Hussein spoke out against the so-called “honour killing,” left her husband and went into hiding. She had intended to leave Iraq for Jordan with the help of an Iraqi women’s rights group. But she was shot dead in Basra by unknown assailants on May 17, 2008, the day she had planned to leave the country. The Observer reports that local police are not certain that she was the target of the shooting.

Not to talk of afar, I was given details about a case of honor killing that PSHRC was investigating under the authority of Mr. Rohit. The victim was Shama Shukla, a Research Scholar at Panjab University, who was murdered by her family, who thought they were dishonored because Shama had a love relationship with a man. Sir guided me about it. I watched the news that were telecasted regarding PSHRC’s probe into the matter, and constantly kept myself updated of the proceedings with sir. However, justice was denied and delayed, and the perpetrators are still free. No matter what our civilized society says and talks of, we aren’t too civilized till the time these heinous crimes are not wiped off from the face of Earth.

The need of the hour is to realize that life is precious and everyone has a right to choose whom they’re going to love. If the nation could learn that inter-caste marriages are in national interest, and doesn’t bring upon dishonor, it will be a step closer to eradicate casteism, the root cause of most crimes. I’m thankful to my mentor, for I wouldn’t have learnt so much otherwise. (Note : Don’t look for internships with stipend, what one can still learn from the opportunities at hand, suffice for everything.)

Was this interesting? If yes, please like the post on Facebook (below) and help Nupur become winner of the week and win the prize (Rs. 1,000/-) that she truly deserves!


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