Sammamish resident goes on hunger strike to protest Indian government officials

Jyoti Ghag is on an indefinite hunger strike to protest  government officials, police departments, lawyers and judges in India after her father was murdered in 2003. - Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter
Jyoti Ghag is on an indefinite hunger strike to protest government officials, police departments, lawyers and judges in India after her father was murdered in 2003.
— image credit: Samantha Pak, Redmond Reporter

Since Saturday, Jyoti Ghag has been on a hunger strike to protest against government officials, police departments, lawyers and judges in India who she said have been involved in torturing members of her family and violating her human rights.

These acts came after Ghag — whose protest began on the corner of 187th Avenue Northeast and Redmond Way but moved to her Sammamish home when she started running a fever — requested the Indian government investigate the murder of her father, a former police officer in the Indian state of Maharashtra, who died 10 years ago. Ghag continues to fast, drinking only water or lemon water, and said she will move her protest back to the corner when she is feeling stronger.

Ghag said her father, whose estate in India was worth about $3 million to $4 million, was killed by relatives "for his money." His death, she said, came after he confronted a relative, a police officer in Mumbai, about suspicions of money laundering in 1998. The relative began abusing and torturing Ghag's father, who was in his 80s. She said this included tying her father to a bed, starving him and more.

"You cannot imagine the kinds of conditions they made him live in," she said.

Ghag said her father endured all of this until he died in January 2003.

It took Ghag two years to gather enough evidence to be able to bring the issue to the authorities in 2005 and when she did, an investigation order was issued by Raosaheb Ramrao Patil, the home minister of Maharashtra.

Ghag said no investigation was done as the police commissioner at the time took bribes to sweep the issue under the rug. However during this time, her two brothers, who still live in India, became victims of physical, mental and emotional abuse during this time.

"They are the only heirs of my dad's property," she explained as the reason.

A second investigation order was issued to a new police commissioner in 2008, but Ghag said the same thing happened this time around as with the first commissioner and no report was filed.

"Instead they arrested my mentally unstable brother," she said.

This was in September 2008 and Ghag flew to India the next day. At this time, she had been diagnosed with cancer in her ear and was forced to discontinue her treatment while she was abroad. It took three weeks to get her brother out of jail — all the while, she said Indian officials mocked her efforts and worked to defame her and arrested her for allegedly breaking into her father's home and trying to steal $1,300 worth of property. Despite the seriousness of the events, Ghag was amused by this last detail as she spent more money to fly to India than she allegedly stole.

She added that the authorities are also calling her a terrorist to further defame her.

"It doesn't matter (to them)," she said about how all of this is ruining her life.

Ghag's hunger strike will end once her seven requests are met.

Her requests are: having her name cleared from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and Embassy of India in Washington, D.C.; having Mohit Shah, the chief justice of Maharashtra, release a letter of apology addressed to Ghag from the External Affairs Ministry, which was submitted to Shah's court on Nov. 7, 2011; bringing Ghag's father's murderers and her family's abusers to justice; rescuing her brothers from their abusers in an expedited manner and getting them urgent psychiatric help; taking disciplinary action against Shah for violating Ghag's human and constitutional rights in his court on Nov. 7 and Dec. 7, 2011; ordering involved guilty officials of the Maharashtra Home Ministry, Maharashtra Police Department and judiciary system to compensate Ghag and her brothers from their personal bank accounts for violating their human and constitutional rights for more than a decade and considering creating laws or an addendum to protect abused husbands' human rights and constitutional rights.

In April and May 2011, Ghag went on another hunger strike in India for similar reasons and went 21 days when her requests were met.

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