Fact Finding Report on the Suppression of Democratic Dissent in Anti-Nuclear Protests by Government of Tamil Nadu


A warning to the TN Govt on Koodankulam

A warning to the TN Govt on Koodankulam (Photo credit: Joe Athialy)

 

If you want to know how angry TN Chief Minister Jayalalithaa is against the people who dared to voice a view contrary to the nuclear establishment’s, read the press release attached. Just between September and December 2011, at a time when the villagers thought Jayalalithaa was supporting their non-violent struggle, she seems to have instructed the police to file cases against the demonstrators. 109 FIRs have been filed against 55,795 people and an undisclosed number of “others.” At least 21 sections of the IPC have been used, include Section 121 (Waging War against the Government of India) against 3600 people, and Section 124A (Sedition) against 3200 people. The Koodankulam police station has the dubious distinction, perhaps, of being the station where the largest number of “sedition” and “waging war” cases have been filed in the shortest time in the history of colonial and independent India. The Tamil Nadu’s chief minister’s actions in suppressing dissenting voices in Koodankulam make Mamata Banerjee‘s harsh and anti-democratic jailing of professors recently seem like the tantrum of a petulant feudal lord.”

 

 

INTRODUCTION

On 19 March, 2012, the Tamilnadu Chief Minister announced her decision to allow the commencement of work at the Koodankulam Nuclear plant. In anticipation of this decision, the police forces deployed for maintaining law and order during the SankaranKoil bye-election were re-deployed to the areas in and around Koodankulam.

Idinthakarai is a medium-sized fishing village, with a mixed Hindu-Roman Catholic fisher population, and a smaller proportion of other communities. Since August 2011, Idinthakarai has been the epicentre of the protest against the KKNPP. In the seven months of agitation, members of KKNPP have been subject to numerous provocations, including being pelted with stones, harassed, and having their vehicles damaged. By and large, the response of the protestors has been non-violent and democratic. Using established satyagraha tactics such as hunger strikes, dharnas and road blockades, they have managed to keep a struggle alive in the face of propagandist campaign by the Central Government and their paid scientists.

The protest site, which was encircled by more than 7000 armed men, including those from Central forces and the Coast Guard, until March 23, was occupied (at the time of writing) by more than 10,000 people of whom 946 were elderly people, and 1500 children, including 715 below the age of five.

Kuthenkuly is another village neighbouring Idinthakarai, which was also under a state of siege by the forces. This village has 553 primary school children, 198 children below age 5, and 462 elderly people.

Idinthakarai is totally dependent on outside sources for drinking water, medical facilities and fuel. Each day, nearly 50 tanker lorry loads of water are purchased at the rate of Rs. 2.50 per pot. Since the time of the announcement by the Chief Minister, no tanker lorries were permitted to enter Idinthakarai. Since all main roads have been blocked, food supplies, milk and water had dwindled as has the reserve of fuel, oil and diesel. On 20th and 21st March, even the media (NDTV, Headlines Today and Puthiya Thalaimurai) was prevented access to the site, and this access was restored only after concerted public pressure was mounted.

Shopkeepers in nearby villages had been instructed to boycott Idinthakarai and Kuthenkuli villagers, and out of fear of reprisal, many of the shopkeepers were refusing to sell goods to Idinthakarai villagers.

It is learnt that road access to all coastal villages from Tiruchendur to Kuthenkuly had been blocked by the police, and that only coastal access was possible, and even that only to a limited extent.

Women form the bulk of the resistance at Idinthakarai. If the Government of Tamilnadu’s intent was to facilitate entry of technical personnel into the plant site, that has been accomplished, and there is no possibility of that being blocked given the overwhelming presence of armed people in the region. Under these circumstances, the intimidating show of force by the police forces, and the embargo on esosential commodities seems to be a means to teach people a lesson for voicing their concern and challenging the Governments. Even as a Fact Finding Team was being constituted to look into the matter, public pressure resulted in the easing of the situation. Movement of essential supplies was restored, although movement of people, particularly from the village to the outside world remains problematic as many villagers fear that they will be jailed under false pretexts if they ventured out.

FACT FINDING TEAM

A fact finding team comprising the following people visited the areas around Koodankulam nuclear plant on 30th and 31st March 2012, to study the impacts caused by curfew imposed on the areas in and around Koodankulam.

  • Mr. Sam Rajappa, Senior Journalist & Director, Statesman School of Print Journalism, Kolkata

  • Dr. Gladston Xavier, Senior Lecturer, Loyola College

  • Mr. Mahadevan, President, PUCL-Kanyakumari District

  • Ms. Porkodi, Advocate, High court – Madurai bench

  • Mr. Rajan, PUCL Kanyakumari

Day 1 (30th March 2012) -

The team visited Idinthakarai, a coastal village where around 4000 people from various coastal villages had gathered to protest democratically against the nuclear plant. The team interacted with the people and inquired about various issues faced by them during the curfew. The team also met the co-ordinators of the protest, including Dr. S.P. Udhayakumar and Mr. V. Pushparayan. Later in the day, the team visited SACCER at Nagercoil, the school run by Ms. Meera Udhayakumar, the wife of Dr. S.P. Udhayakumar, which was attacked and heavily damaged by an unknown mob on 21st March 2012.

Day 2 (31st March 2012)

The team visited CASA Nagar, a tsunami rehabilitation colony located about 700 meters from the nuclear plant and interacted with residents of the colony. The team then visited the Koodankulam village and interacted with villagers who immediately gathered in large number to address the fact finding team. Later in the day, the team along with Supreme Court Adv. Prashant Bhusan, met Mr. Vijayendra Bidari, Superintendent of Police, Tirunelveli district.

FINDINGS

In spite of a prohibitory order to prevent people from entering Radhapuram taluk in Tirunelveli district where the Koodankulam nuclear power plant is located, we found three to four thousand people had gathered at the nearby Lourdes Churchyard in Idinthakarai, where a relay hunger strike was in progress for the five months. The agitators were strictly adhering to the Gandhian principle of non-violence.

As we entered the villages in the vicinity, we found all shops closed except the lone liquor shop run by the State government. Finding no customers, liquor was offered at discounted prices. Shopkeepers complained that the police was forcing them to open their shops but they stood their ground and refused to open. Similarly, fishermen were compelled to put out their boats and resume their fishing activities. None obliged. The government, on its part, stopped supply of milk and drinking water to the
villagers. For denying drinking water supply in tanker lorries, the government blamed the protesters for putting up road blocks. But these were by thorny bushes and stones which any one could have removed. We had no difficulty in taking our car to these villages, notwithstanding the so-called road blocks. The government also suspended bus services in the area, causing untold hardships to the aged, ailing, and pregnant women needing urgent medical attention.

A cluster of loudspeakers was in full blast as we reached Idinthakarai, the centre of the anti-nuclear power plant agitation. Six or seven boys and girls, all below the age of 10, were at the mike. “Again and again we’ll rise and establish a new tradition. Nature is our mother. You have no right to destroy it. Come soon, come soon. Come to close down the nuclear plant,” they were heard shouting in unison in Tamil, like children of their age reciting nursery rhymes. Another group of children was squatting on
the floor with a notebook scribbling away merrily. Asked if they were doing their school homework, they looked aghast. They stopped going to school to take part in the agitation which was a matter of life and death for them. They were composing newer slogans to replace the group at the mike. Yet another group of same age-group of budding playwrights was scripting a play to be staged in the evening. Talking to these youngsters, we were amazed at their knowledge of the inherent dangers of a nuclear plant in their midst.

The sea shore next to the church was deserted with rows and rows of fiberglass fishing boats beached. The fishermen in the surrounding villages have stopped taking out their boats to protest resumption of work at the nuclear power plant, following betrayal of the Tamil Nadu Chief Minister, Ms. Jayalalitha, who had assured them earlier that her government would not allow work to be resumed till their fears were allayed. Neither former President Mr. Abdul Kalam, nor the technical committee appointed by
the State government, cared to visit the protestors at Idinthakarai to clear their doubts about the safety of the plant, said a group of fishermen at the churchyard.

Even as we were talking to the fishermen in groups, another batch of children was seen in front of the mike. “Amma, Amma, we called you. You have made us orphans. Abdul Kalam, Abdul Kalam, who are you to speak about nuclear safety?” and ended with the slogan “Narayanasamy, Narayanasamy,
you shut your mouth.” These children were not tutored by their elders or leaders of the agitation like Dr. S.P. Udayakumar or Mr. Pushparayan. Women in clusters were busy rolling bidis as they were listening to the various slogans coined by their young ones. The women said they earned Rs. 60 for
rolling 1,000 bidis. As their men stopped fishing, the meager income from rolling bidis kept them going. As we were leaving the churchyard to visit the next village, the children on the mike were getting louder and louder. After asking whether their shrill voice has not fallen on the ears of the Prime Minister, the booming sound of the youngsters could be heard from a distance shouting “We’ll not go, we’ll not go, till the plant is closed, we’ll not go to school.”

On the first day of our visit, we saw a group of fishermen from Chinna Muttam in neighboring Kanyakumari district to express solidarity with the Koodankulam agitators and joined the relay fast for a day. Before leaving, they presented Rs. 125,000, as a token contribution to keep the agitation
going. We could see that it was contributions like this that was keeping the agitation alive and not foreign donations as alleged by the Union government and it’s Minister Narayanasamy.

Between Idinthakarai and Koodankulam we saw a tsunami resettlement township of 450 houses built CASA, a Catholic NGO. The site was chosen by the Tirunelveli district collector in 2006, about 500 meters away from the nuclear plant where work was in full swing. The collector perhaps nursed the sentiments of the protestors and believed the plant would be abandoned at some stage or the other. Otherwise, he would not have chosen the land for a housing colony so close to the nuclear plant. In the unlikely event of the plant getting commissioned, the entire colony of more than 2000 people and their brand new concrete houses will have to be evacuated.

Throughout our two-day visit, we could not find any trace of the agitation being instigated by Mr. Udhayakumar or any other leader. It is a genuine people’s movement. Since the people are not well educated, they sought the help of people like Mr. Udhayakumar to articulate their feelings to the government and to the concerned authorities. By hoisting false cases under all conceivable provisions of law, the government is under the mistaken belief that once he is arrested the protest will die down. Should the police lay its hands on Mr. Udhayakumar, there is every possibility of the hitherto peaceful agitation getting out of hands and turning violence. Just between 10.9.2011 and 23.12.2011, the Police had filed 107 FIRs against 55795 people and “others”. Of this, 6800 people have been charged with “sedition” and/or “waging war against the State,” perhaps the largest ever number in British or independent India for one police station. This is a parody of law. The frequency and manner in which the Police have filed cases against peaceful protestors clearly exposes that the police’s intent never was to uphold the rule of law, but to crush any dissenting voices.

On the day Ms. Jayalalithaa gave the green signal for the nuclear plant, 5,000 police personnel, including an ADGP, were deployed, and tasked with arresting Mr. Udhayakumar. The 7,000-odd people who had assembled at the Lourdes churchyard at Idinthakarai made it clear that only after arresting each one of them, men, women and children, would they allow Mr. Udhayakumar to be arrested. The police was forced to beat a slow retreat.

To avenge their inability to arrest Mr. Udhayakumar, a school run by him and managed by his wife, Meera, in Nagercoil, about 30 km. away, was ransacked, its library and furniture destroyed, and compound wall demolished. Such harassment has only strengthened his resolve to intensify the agitation by all available peaceful means.

Team Members: Sam Rajappa, Dr. Gladston Xavier, Mahadevan, Rajan, Adv. Porkodi

for

Chennai Solidarity Group for Koodankulam Struggle

April 2012

Advocates Blast Canadian Probe of Missing Women


By Sadiya Ansari

WeNews correspondent

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Fifteen organizations last week intensified their opposition to a government inquiry into missing women in Vancouver’s downtown eastside. In an open letter, detractors said they would instead cooperate with a U.N. probe launched in December.

 

VANCOUVER (WOMENSENEWS)—Women’s advocates are strengthening their boycott of an inquiry by the British Columbian government into the disappearance of women in Vancouver’s downtown eastside between 1997 and 2002.

They say they will be working with international investigators instead.

“Our organizations will dedicate what limited resources we can offer to working with the United Nations to facilitate their investigations and fact-finding processes in order to ensure that Canada is held internationally accountable,” says an April 10  open letter to the inquiry’s commissioner, Wally Oppal, that is signed by 15 organizations.

The inquiry is charged with examining police inaction during a time when many of the missing women were murdered by serial killer Robert Pickton. Many of Pickton’s victims were Aboriginal.

So far the commission, which began in October of last year, has been gathering evidence. Now it is beginning a second phase to create recommendations for the conduct of police investigations.

Robyn Gervais, the only lawyer representing Aboriginal interests quit last month, saying Aboriginal voices were being marginalized by a deference to police officials. Her position since then has been filled by two lawyers.

Harsha Walia works with the Downtown Eastside Women’s Center in Vancouver, one of the groups in the boycott.

‘Police Not Forthcoming’

Walia says the inquiry in Vancouver has been protecting police rather than forcefully examining their conduct. “The police and the authorities have not been forthcoming at all, which negates the point of an inquiry, which is why we are pushing for a U.N. inquiry because we think it will be more independent and more just.”

The Native Women’s Association of Canada, an Ottawa-based advocacy group representing 13 Aboriginal women’s organizations across the country, reports that more than 600 Aboriginal women have gone missing in Canada since 1990. Claudette Dumont-Smith, the group’s executive director, says her organization has brought the broader issue of missing and murdered Aboriginal women across Canada to the United Nations consistently since 2005.

Canada maintains that it has adequately addressed the issue. The government allocated $10 million for the Department of Justice to spend during the past two years. Funding ended in March. The government spent the bulk on police, court and victim services specializing in Aboriginal communities. Since 2007, the government has spent $1 million on services to support the families of missing and murdered women in western provinces.

This year’s federal government budget did not have any new commitments focused on missing and murdered Aboriginal women.

In December, the Native Women’s Association of Canada along with the Feminist Alliance for International Action, an Ottawa-based group focused on international human rights, announced that the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women had initiated an inquiry.

A representative of the U.N. committee has described the inquiry as confidential and has said investigators would seek the Canadian government‘s cooperation.

Women’s rights advocates say they hope a U.N. inquiry will transform a perceived Aboriginal issue into a Canadian issue.

‘Serious Human Rights Issue’

“What I hope for is governments in Canada and for the general public to understand that we have a serious human rights crisis on our hands,” says Shelagh Day, chair of the human rights committee of the Feminist Alliance for International Action. “This requires some serious long-term investment of money, care, respect and attention that it hasn’t gotten yet.”

Day also charges the government with failing to address the severe social disadvantages of Aboriginal women. “Many are living in very harsh conditions. That makes it more difficult for them to escape violence.”

A Department of Justice spokesperson says social issues are addressed through other departments, such as Status of Women Canada, which has directed $1.8 million to the Native Women’s Association of Canada for a three-year project targeting the root causes of violence against Aboriginal women.

Canada is a signatory to CEDAW, a U.N. treaty that requires signing nations to abolish discrimination against women, including the eradication of racial discrimination in the internal affairs of states. The country also has signed an optional protocol that permits a CEDAW committee to conduct an inquiry where grave and systemic violations of the convention are reported. The United States is one of the few nations that has not signed CEDAW.

Dumont-Smith, of the Native Women’s Association of Canada, says she is looking forward to the results of the U.N. inquiry. “I think we will find out that there are gaps in government policies. There is a lot of systemic racism going on supporting the fact that Aboriginal women continue to go missing and are murdered and that the issue is not being addressed in a meaningful manner.”

The Department of Justice responded to these allegations by pointing to a host of funding initiatives by six departments to improve on-reserve living conditions, including physical and mental health care.

One initiative establishes a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to recognize the legacy of residential schools that wrenched Aboriginal children from their families. The “stolen children” schools started in the 19th century and the last one closed in 1996.

http://womensenews.org/story/crime-policylegislation/120417/advocates-blast-canadian-probe-missing-women

Immediate Release-Jaitapur – Death anniversary


Internationally recognized symbol. Deutsch: Ge...

Internationally recognized symbol. Deutsch: Gefahrensymbol für Radioaktivität. Image:Radioactive.svg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  Jaitapur – Road named in Nate in memory of the late Tarbej

18th April 2011, exactly one year ago the people’s expression of anger against the proposed 9900 MW power project at Madban village of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra was on full display. People were continuously protesting from 2005 when the land acquisition was set in motion and against environment clearance granted by the central government. A group of furious women ransacked and burnt papers and furniture at the Nate police station. The tension between the police and the people mounted which culminated in the police firing causing the death of Tarbej Sayekar, a 27 year youth.

The people in the Jaitapur locality observed the first death anniversary of martyr Tarbej Sayekar by observing a bandh and once again opposing the Jaitapur power project. On this occasion, between 3 to 5 in the afternoon, a crowd of about 3000 people gathered together and offered their tributes to martyr Tarbej Sayekar by reading the Koran.

Shri Kolse Patil ex High Court judge; Smt Vaishali Patil, activist against nuclear project; MLA Rajan Salvi, Jamat-e-islam’s Abdul Faroqui and Mohammed Kazi; Shri Gopal Dhukand; President of the Machimar Kruti Samithi and a local leader, Shri Ahmjed Borkar; Mansur Solkar, Satyajit Chauhan and other persons were present on the occasion.

Inspite of the High Court having decided as illegal the externment order by the collector of Ratnagiri against important activists and leaders, the police of Ratnagiri have started the process of issuing an order of externment to Smt Vaishali Patil under the Mumbai Police Act 1956. The final order is awaited. The people against the nuclear project see this act of police as unjustified and have become aggressive on this issue. Even today ex judge Kolse Patil and Vaishali Patil were served notice u/s 149 of the Crpc Before attending the function. Kolse Patil said the best tribute to Tarbej would be the closure of the nuclear plant and to fight for it  to make it come true.Smt Vaishali Patil expressed her confidence that the death of Tarbej will not go in vain. The Father of the deceased Shri Sattar Latif Sayekar thanked all those organizations, institutions, political parties, MLAs and representatives who visited and offered their condolences and helped his family during the last one year. However, he also condemned the insensitivity of the present government for neither visiting his family nor helping them financially.

Shri Ahmjad Borkar, the leader of the fisherfolks gathered together on the Jaitapur – Nate road, the place of sacrifice of Tarbej and offered community prayers amidst the recitation of kuran. The people of Jaitapur and Nate walked in a procession with the name plate of Tarbej and christened the Jaitapur-Nate road as Tarbaj Soyekar Road. The women present could not control their tears, while the silent youth held high placards that read “Not let your death go in vain”. This was their way of paying their tributes to Tarbej.

The protests in Jaitapur against the pro- posed nuclear power project took an ugly turn on Monday with the death of a protester in a police firing.

The victim was part of a mob that had attacked a police station in the district and set it on fire.

Around eight policemen were also injured in the incident.Home minister R.R. Patil said that there is also an apprehension that villagers had decamped with police arms during the attack on the police station.

The incident also affected the business of the legisla- tive Assembly, which was adjourned for the day after pandemonium over the police firing in Jaitapur.

According to Mr Patil, a group of protesters attacked the Nate police station in Jaitapur and set it on fire. In defence, the police fired rounds in the air to disperse the aggressive mob.

A man identified as Tarbej Sahakar died in the police firing, Mr R.R Patil said.

“The police had to open fire as last resort. A deputy superintendent of police and some constables have also been injured in the stone pelting by the protest- ers,” Mr Patil said.

The home minister admit-

ted that the situation in Jaitapur has been since Union environment and for- est minister Jairam Ramesh stated that there was no need to re-think over the nuclear project in the dis- trict.

“People from nearby vil- lages had gathered together to stage a demonstration at the project site. Therefore, most policemen were deployed at the site to avoid any untoward incident.

Only five policemen were present at the police station when it was attacked,” Mr Patil said.

However, Mr Patil’s state- ment drew angry criticism from the Opposition. The Opposition MLAs accused the government of not tak- ing the protests seriously, and the House had to be adjourned for 10 minutes.

Earlier, Shiv Sena leader Ramdas Kadam had raised the issue in the legislative council. However, industry minister Narayan Rane had claimed that there was no casualty. “Around 100 to 130 workers of a political party tried to enter the pro- ject site. When the police tried to stop them, the party workers pelted stones, which is why the police had to resort to cane charge and later also fire few rounds in the air. But nobody was dead or injured in the police firing,” Mr Rane said.

Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project is a proposed 9900 MW power project of Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) at Madban village of Ratnagiri district in Maharashtra. If built, it would be the largest nuclear power generating station in the world by net electrical power rating.

 

On December 6, 2010 agreement was signed for the construction of first set of two third-generation European Pressurized Reactors and the supply of nuclear fuel for 25 years in the presence of French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

 

French nuclear engineering firm Areva S.A. and Indian state-owned nuclear operator Nuclear Power Corporation of India signed this multi billion valued agreement of about $9.3 billion. This is a general framework agreement along with agreement on ‘Protection of Confidentiality of Technical Data and Information Relating to Nuclear Power Corporation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy’ was also signed.

 

Debate about the nuclear power project at Jaitapur is ongoing on various levels. Environmental effects of nuclear power and geological issues have been raised by anti nuclear activists. Many protests have been carried out by local people against the proposed nuclear power plant. On December 4, 2010, protests became violent when over 1500 people were detained from among thousands of protesters, who included environmentalists and local villagers. On April 18, 2011, one man was shot and killed by police and eight were injured after protests turned violent.

Citigroup Shareholders Reject Executive Pay Plan


BY JESSICA SILVER-GREENBERG AND NELSON D. SCHWARTZ, NY Times, April 17.2012

In a stinging rebuke, Citigroupshareholders rebuffed on Tuesday the bank’s $15 million pay package for its chief executive, Vikram S. Pandit, marking the first time that stock owners have united in opposition to outsized compensation at a financial giant.

The shareholder vote, which comes amid a rising national debate over income inequality, suggests that anger over pay for chief executives has spread from Occupy Wall Street to wealthy institutional investors like pension fund and mutual fundmanagers. About 55 percent of the shareholders voting were against the plan, which laid out compensation for the bank’s five top executives, including Mr. Pandit.

“C.E.O.’s deserve good pay but there’s good pay and there’s obscene pay,” said Brian Wenzinger, a principal at Aronson Johnson Ortiz, a Philadelphia money management company that voted against the pay package. Mr. Wenzinger’s firm owns more than 5 million shares of Citigroup.

While the vote at Tuesday’s annual meeting in Dallas is not binding, it serves as a warning shot to other banks that have increased the pay of their top executives this year despite middling performance.

After the vote, Richard D. Parsons, who is retiring as Citigroup chairman, said that he takes the vote seriously and Citi’s board will carefully consider it.

Mike Mayo, an analyst with Credit Agricole Securities, said: “This is a milestone for corporate America. When shareholders speak up about issues on which they’ve been complacent, it’s definitely a wake-up call. The only question is what took so long?”

Shareholders rarely vote against compensation plans. The votes are part of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul that mandates that public companies include “say on pay” votes for shareholders to express opinions about compensation. Last year, only 2 percent of compensation plans were voted against, according to ISS Proxy Advisory Services. In some instances, boards responded by reducing executives’ pay.

In Citigroup’s case, ISS itself recommended that shareholders vote against the pay proposal, citing concerns that the compensation package lacked “rigorous goals to incentivize improvement in shareholder value.” At Tuesday’s meeting, 75 percent of the shareholders voted.

Excessive pay has been a long-running problem at Citigroup, dating to well before Mr. Pandit became chief executive in 2007, analysts said. Citigroup has had the worst stock price performance among large banks over the last decade but ranked among the highest in terms of compensation for top executives, Mr. Mayo said.

Citi shares closed at $35.08 Tuesday, up 3.18 percent amid a market rally. Citigroup shares remain down more than 80 percent since the financial crisis.

Last year, Mr. Pandit’s compensation included a $1.67 million salary and a $5.3 million cash bonus. In addition, he received a retention package valued at $40 million, to be awarded through 2015. In 2009 and 2010, as Mr. Pandit struggled to pull the bank back from the brink, he accepted only a $1 annual salary.

Still, investors say that it is too soon for the bank to start giving out generous pay packages again. “The company has been flatlining,” said Mike McCauley, a senior officer at the Florida State Board of Administration, which voted its 6.4 million shares against the plan. “The plan put forth reveals a disconnect between pay and performance.”

Calpers, the California state pension fund, also voted against the plan. The issue was whether pay was linked to performance and whether those targets were spelled out and sustainable over the long term, said Anne Simpson, director of corporate governance for Calpers, which owns 9.7 million Citigroup shares.

“Citi was found wanting on both,” she said. “If you reward them for focusing on high-risk, short-term profits, that’s what you get, and that’s how the financial crisis caught fire.”

Not all institutional investors are unhappy. Bill Ackman, the head of Pershing Square Capital Management, which owns more than 26 million shares, said he thinks that “Vikram Pandit is doing an excellent job and the bank has made tremendous progress during his tenure.”

Noting that Mr. Pandit received just $1 a year in 2009 and 2010, Mr. Ackman called the current package “an appropriate level of compensation.”

In justifying the pay package, the company noted in its proxy filing that Citigroup net income was $11.1 billion in 2011, up 4 percent from 2010 and that it paid back the federal government billions in bailout loans and deferred cash awards to “limit incentives to take imprudent or excessive risks.”

Even as Citigroup’s earnings and capital cushion have improved, the bank has struggled to make up for lackluster revenue. Citi was dealt a further blow in March when the Federal Reserve rejected the bank’s proposal to buy back shares and increase its dividend. While Citi intends to submit a revised plan to the central bank this year, shareholders say that with a quarterly dividend of one cent, Citi’s top executives shouldn’t be rewarded.

“Citigroup was terribly managed and whatever could be done wrong, they did wrong,” said David Dreman, whose money management firm owns about $400,000 worth of Citigroup shares. While many of those mistakes predated Mr. Pandit, he said, it was way too early to start handing out generous pay packages. “Shareholders have finally done something constructive on the whole C.E.O. pay problem,” he said.

Mr. Pandit’s compensation is higher than some more successful rivals, according to proxy filings. Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chief executive of Goldman Sachs, received $3 million less than Mr. Pandit’s $15 million, while James P. Gorman, the chief of Morgan Stanley, had a pay package of $10.5 million.

Still, disapprovals are rare. Last year, shareholders at 42 companies — out of more than 3,000 firms — voted against pay plans. In one of the most visible renunciations, shareholders atHewlett-Packard, which has struggled with lackluster returns, voted against the pay for the technology company’s top executives, including the chief executive, Meg Whitman.

Companies should brace for more shareholder denunciations, said James D. C. Barrall, an executive compensation lawyer at Latham & Watkins. The nation’s other major banks have their annual meetings in the coming weeks.

Bank of America, whose shares have also struggled, could be the next bank to feel shareholders’ wrath when it holds its annual meeting May 9, executive compensation consultants said. Its chief executive, Brian T. Moynihan, received $7 million for 2011, down from $10 million the previous year.

“There could be a real disconnect between pay and performance at Bank of America,” said Frank Glassner, a partner with Meridian Compensation Partners, an executive consulting firm.

Minister stops fresh Vedanta bid to mine Niyamgiri hills


NEW DELHI, ET, 18TH April: Environment and forests minister Jayanthi Natarajan nixed yet another attempt by Vedanta to get Niyamgiri bauxite mines in Odisha that Rahul Gandhi had stood up against, saving the Congress and its scion some blushes.

On Tuesday, she ordered that the preliminary nod given by her ministry to the expansion of Vedanta’s aluminium refinery, which the company had claimed would source 150 million tonnes of bauxite from Niyamgiri mines in Lanjigarh, be held in abeyance which effectively puts the project on hold.

The environment ministry had earlier cancelled the forest clearance to Vedanta for mining Niyamgiri hills for violation of green norms and hauled up the company for expanding the linked aluminium refinery without mandatory environmental clearance. It asked the company to file an application afresh for the expansion of the refinery. Vedanta went to the Supreme Court against the ban on mining.

Alongside, the company filed a fresh application for expansion of the aluminium refinery. But without a word on the existing rigmarole over Niyamgiri mines, the company said it would source 150 million tonnes of bauxite from the Lanjigarh mines.

Disregarding the fact that the ministry had rejected Vedanta’s bid for Lanjigarh mines, the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) division of the ministry gave preliminary nod to the project asking it to go ahead and hold a public hearing on the project based on the EIA report. The report of the company too did not mention, as required, that the claimed source of raw material was bound in legal disputes.

Sources said Natarajan stepped in when informed and put the preliminary nod given by her officers to Vedanta on hold. The public hearing now stands cancelled till the ministry takes a final view on the case.

The EIA report of Vedanta accessed by TOI reads, “Orissa Mining Corporation will ensure supply of bauxite, which is main raw material for the alumina refinery, to the tune of 150 million tonnes from Lanjigarh bauxite deposit located in Niyamgiri hill ranges and other deposits around the plant.”

Interestingly, the company, as per its own documents, had got the scientific and environmental data generated for the assessment report even before the terms for gathering such data had been set by the government. The studies normally are carried out only after the environment ministry informs the project developer about the scope of such research.

The assessment report is put before the affected people in public hearings as per green laws. Approval in the public hearings and addressing concerns raised is essential for all projects. The Orissa government had put out the date for Vedanta’s public hearing based on these flawed reports.

And Now ‘Operation Hakka’


EPW, Vol XLVII No.16 April 21, 2012

Take away Maad from the Maoists, but with profits taking precedence over people the movement will not die.

We do not think that Union Home Minister P Chidambaram is so naïve as to believe the narrative of the counter-insurgency camp that last month the central and state forces stormed the “red citadel” of Abujmaad (Maad) in Chhattisgarh as part of their Operation Hakka (“Hakka” apparently means a hunt for wild animals in the local dialect. So much for the sensitivity of the security forces). That is what the corporate media propagated. But going by the US Counter-insurgency Guide issued by Washington in January 2009 – which has been the doctrine of the Armed Forces of the Philippines in its counter-insurgency strategy against the Moro National Liberation Front and the New People’s Army, and is now being adopted in India against the Maoists – while identifying and striking the centres of gravity of an armed guerrilla movement at its core, the operation must be made to appear deceptive by another component of its grand design, namely, a psychological war (“psy-war”) conducted through the media. The unthinking and corporate-controlled media in India is ideal for this purpose. Apart from Aman Sethi’s report in The Hindu (“Chasing Shadows in Abujmaad”, 10 April 2012), free and ­independent reporting on last month’s paramilitary foray into Maad has been hard to come by.

What does one make of the media reports claiming to be from “Inside the Red Citadel”? The security forces were armed with the best of weapons, “Swedish Carl Gustav rocket launchers and C-90 rifles, and satellite phones”; “flat plateau regions were identified where helicopters could land and the Air Force kept on alert – just in case”. Claims of having “busted a major arms factory at Hikonar” and of the unearthing of Maoist “literature on making rocket launchers and on hunting down choppers”, as also the “drills” the Maoists have devised to “successfully thwart an aerial attack” surely make for spicy ingredients in the psywar conducted through a pliant media. But what will happen to the claim of the security forces of having arrested 13 Maoists, if it subsequently turns out that those apprehended are ordinary villagers? Narayanpur Superintendent of Police (SP) Mayank Srivastava seems to have inadvertently exposed what the security forces actually do when they go on such forays when he boasted about the forces having demolished some schools run by the Maoists’ Janatana Sarkar. Of course, in his view, this is what needs to be done, for these are centres for the “easy brainwashing of tribals”. In sharp contrast, Aman Sethi’s independent reporting, to an extent, seems to corroborate some of the claims of human rights violations of ordinary villagers (non-combatants) by the security forces which were made by a 30 March report of the Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist).

There is one interesting aspect of police behaviour that ­recurs in the Maoist version of events – after severely beating an ordinary villager, the police gave him/her some money, and if the person refused to take the money, he or she was thrashed once again. This must be seen as part of a more ­recent trend wherein the repressive apparatus of the Indian state is made to participate in social welfare programmes to convey an image of social service – Chidambaram’s “winning hearts and minds”. In the “Inte­grated Action Plan (IAP) to ­develop Maoist-affected areas”, the district SPs now play an ­important role as part of the introduction of an element of ­deception as regards Operation Green Hunt (OGH). The ­increasing say of the police at the district level in the construction of roads and buildings under the IAP will surely make easier the task of the state’s armed forces. And, the media through its role in the psy-war will then use this portrayal of the police as a developmental partner to manipulate public opinion in favour of OGH.

Coming back to Maad, is it really the Red Citadel that it is being made out to be? Is it really the main “base area” of the Maoists where the top-ranking leaders of the movement have taken shelter? In 2001, Punjabi writer Satnam spent time with the Maoist guerrillas in Maad and wrote about them in Jangalnama (Penguin, 2010). Gautam Navlakha (along with Jan Myrdal) visited this “guerrilla zone” and wrote about life in the region “Days and Nights in the Maoist Heartland” (EPW, 17 April 2010). They found the guerrillas alongside the people engaged in such activity as agriculture, education and healthcare. The guerrillas have harnessed the “collective energy of the people in improving their material conditions”. But now what? In all likelihood, with the completion of the security forces’ initial foray into Maad, the process of setting up paramilitary camps there will begin. Like elsewhere, whether in the rest of Dandakaranya or in Jangalmahal, paramilitary personnel will then pick on ordinary civilians (non-combatants). Let us not make any bones about it – the ordinary adivasis of Maad and the rest of Dandakaranya, backed by the Maoists, are fighting for their rights toJal, Jangal aur Zamin against the Indian state and its corporate backers who want to appropriate these resources. Profits-over-people is what the whole business is all about.

SIT clean chit is wrong. DGP told me Modi said let Muslims die. – Sreekumar


By R. B. Sreekumar, Former DGP, Gujarat

 Newzfirst,  April 17, 2012

On April 11, a metropolitan magistrate in Ahmedabad disclosed that a Special Investigative Team (SIT) set up by the Supreme Court has found no evidence that on the night before the anti-Muslim violence began in Gujarat on February 28, 2002, Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi told his top police brass they should not stop Hindu mobs from killing Muslims. Modi’s supporters welcomed the magisterial pronouncement as a vindication of their long-held view on Modi’s innocence.

The allegation against Modi relates to a meeting he held with then Gujarat Director-General of Police, K. Chakravarthy, and other top police officers at his official residence in Gandhinagar on the night of February 27, 2002. As we know, earlier that morning, 59 people were burnt to death after two coaches of Sabarmati Express caught fire near Godhra railway station in an area adjacent to a Muslim locality.

Many among those who died in the train fire were kar sevaks, or volunteers, of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) coming back from Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh where they had participated in a VHP event around its campaign to build a Ram temple. Within hours of the fire, the VHP called a state-wide protest the next day, February 28. Modi called that night’s meeting to discuss the law and order preparation.

Headed by former Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) director R. K. Raghavan, the SIT spoke to the various police officers who were present at Modi’s meeting that night to investigate the charge. It was widely reported in the news that the SIT based its conclusion that Modi did not tell his police officers to allow the VHP mobs to kill Muslims on denials from the police officers who attended Modi’s meeting. Then DGP Chakravarthy, too, reportedly told the SIT that the allegations are false and that Modi did not order the police to stand by while the Muslims are killed.

This is simply not true. As far back as 2004, I had formally written to a judicial commission that investigated the killings of Muslims, disclosing that the then DGP Chakravarthy had told me that at the meeting at his home on the night of February 27, 2002, Modi instructed the police officers to allow the Hindus to kill Muslims.

Here are the facts of the case.

As an Indian Police Service (IPS) officer of the Gujarat cadre, I was posted as Additional Director-General of Police (Intelligence) with the State Intelligence Branch (SIB) from April 9, 2002 to September 18, 2002. During my tenure, I sent numerous reports to the DGP and to the state government about the culpability of the Sangh Parivar – the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and its affiliates – in the (1) Genocide of Muslims, (2) Subversion of the criminal justice system, and (3) denial and delay of the justice delivery system to the survivors of the violence.

The Central Election Commission postponed the 2002 assembly elections on the basis of my letter to that detailed the extent and intensity of the violence. Its order of August 16, 2002 acknowledged this. Further, I submitted nine affidavits running into 660 pages to the Justice Nanavati Commission that probed the violence. Four affidavits were submitted while I was still serving and five after I retired in February 2007. The state government never challenged the contents of those affidavits. I provided the copies of those affidavits to Mr. Raghavan’s SIT, too.

In my fourth affidavit submitted to the Nanavati Commission in September 2004, I narrated the revelation DGP Chakravarthy made to me about Modi’s meeting with senior officers on February 27, 2002, at his residence in Gandhinagar, the state capital. Chakravarthy informed me that at the meeting, the chief minister directed the officers that the revengefulness of the Hindus, aggrieved by the Godhra train fire, should be given a free play and the police should not act against the Hindus.

To validate my testimony, I offered to undergo a narco-analysis test or the brain fingerprinting test or the polygraph test anywhere in India. But neither the SIT nor the Nanavati Commission took action on my information. Perhaps because then they would have had to also run the tests on the police officers who attended Modi’s meeting that night, and that would without doubt have incriminated Modi.

Earlier, my third affidavit had given verbatim details of the Home Department’s attempt in August 2002 to tutor me to support the government in my cross examination at the Nanavati Commission. I also submitted to the Commission and the SIT the audiotapes of the tutoring session. But they did not initiate action against the officials who attempted to intimidate me into committing perjury, acts punishable under Sections 193, 509 and 153(a) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

I also submitted to SIT a copy of the register that I had maintained in which I had meticulously written down all the illegal verbal orders that various authorities, from the chief minister to the DGP, had given to me with the objective of preventing me from revealing the truth to the Nanavati Commission and also to force me to illegally send false reports, tap phones and organise fake encounters of Muslims.

The Home Department and the DGP committed a culpable offence under Section 166 of the IPC by failing to initiate remedial measures on my intelligence assessment reports, which led to the denial of justice to the victims of the 2002 violence. It must be said that the Supreme Court has passed many remarks on the illegal role of the Modi government in the many cases related to the anti-Muslim violence of 2002.

In April 2004, the Supreme Court said the Gujarat Administration had acted as Emperor Nero during the violence, working to save the culprits of the killing of the innocent people. Later, the Supreme Court ordered a reinvestigation into some 2,000 cases that the Gujarat Police had illegally closed. It transferred the trials of two cases outside Maharashtra (both of which led to the conviction of the accused), and entrusted one riot case investigation to the CBI.

The Supreme Court constituted the SIT to reinvestigate nine major case of the violence. This included the case brought against Modi and 62 others by Zakia Jafri, the widow of former Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who a mob burnt to death with three dozen others in his house. Last month, Supreme Court Justices Aftab Alam and Ranjana Desai entrusted retired Supreme Court judge H. S. Bedi with a full inquiry into the fake encounter cases of Gujarat. Had the Gujarat Government acted on my intelligence assessment reports and initiated remedial measures the higher judiciary would not have needed to pass such strictures at this stage.

The SIT also did not act on my many suggestions.

I had suggested that the SIT should record the statements of Uttar Pradesh policemen accompanying the kar sevaks who were killed in the train fire. But the SIT did not do so perhaps because such testimonies would have upset the conspiracy theories Modi and then Deputy Prime Minister Lal Krishna Advani floated on February 27 about the Muslims’ involvement in the Godhra fire. Even the case papers of the Godhra incident do not indicate any evidence that early.

I had also suggested that officials of the Intelligence Bureau (IB), and Central paramilitary forces and the Indian Army be questioned as they had a lot of information on the violence and the nature and quality of the response of the state police to distress calls from the violence-affected. Lastly, I had suggested that the SIT probe the misuse of government funds for undermining public lawsuits.

On the whole, the SIT travelled on the road map given to it by the Gujarat government in investigating the 2002 anti-Muslim violence cases and Zakia Jafri’s complaint against Modi and 62 others. Consequently, the SIT practically became a ‘B’ team of Gujarat Police cleverly building a defence for Modi and his collaborators in planning and executing the massacre of Muslims in 2002 and their extensive subversion of the criminal justice system.

That is why the victims were not surprised with the SIT’s closure report on Zakia Jafri’s complaint. From the beginning, the SIT was solely dependent on Gujarat Police in its investigations of the cases before it. SIT chief Raghavan did not care to verify the statements of the complainants, leave alone those of the witnesses.

Let us remember that the SIT arrested only two police inspectors for the Gujarat killings. It kept the complicity levels of police officers and executive magistrates as low as possible, so that the senior officers and political leaders – from the Deputy Superintendents of Police to the chief minister – were immune from prosecution.

In view of the SIT’s partisan line, I propose that a team of criminal lawyers and seasoned police officers should examine its closure report and analyse its mechanics of appreciation of the evidence. Such a team should also critically study the merit of the evidence the SIT presented to the magistrate and thereafter give an independent opinion. The civil society should wide circulate and discuss this expert opinion so that the common citizens are made aware of the bias in the SIT report.

Full story here

Free six other activists imprisoned for their participation in the Nonadanga anti-eviction struggle!


COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
185/3 Fourth Floor, Zakir Nagar, New Delhi-110025
Press Release
17 April 2012

Free six other activists imprisoned for their participation in the Nonadanga anti-eviction struggle!

On 8th April 2012, a large police force arrested 69 persons from the Nonadanga area of East Kolkata when they were protesting against the eviction of hundreds of people, many of whom were forced to migrate and set up their abodes in that area after the Aila natural disaster. Among the protesters were those who fell victims to this eviction drive initiated by the Mamata Banerjee-led government — men, women and children, as also some activists belonging to different democratic organizations, who thought it just to stand by the side of the victims and join their struggle for rehabilitation. In late evening, all but seven persons were released on PR bond. Among those arrested were Debolina Chakrabarti, Debjani Ghosh, Abhignan Sarkar, Prof. Partha Sarathi Roy, Dr. Siddhartha Gupta, Babun Chattopadhyay and Shamik Chankraborti.

They were produced in court next day and all were remanded to police custody till 12th April. On 12th when they were produced, all of them were sent to jail custody till 21st April in the Nonadanga case. Surprisingly, in the evening when lawyers on the side of the accused have left or were about to leave, the CID put up papers in a secretive manner for the police remand of Debolina Chakrabarti in three other cases — two of which are old and allegedly connected with incidents that supposedly took place in Nandigram and Bishnupur. The magistrate granted the prayer without listening to the response from the side of lawyers who stood by the accused. When it became known, there were protests from the side of other prisoners who took the stand that Debolina should not be taken for police remand and that they would not leave the court for jail unless all seven were taken together. Their resistance continued for some time until Debolina was forcibly taken alone by the CID in a police car to Bhabani Bhawan for interrogation. The other six prisoners were sent to Alipur Central Jail.

Debolina was tagged in a murder case under UAPA.

The story behind the Nandigram case is this. According to the police, one letter allegedly written some years ago by one ‘Debu’ to one Madhusudan Mandal, an alleged Maoist leader (now in jail) during the previous regime when the Nandigram movement was on. The police, without furnishing any evidence, alleged that this ‘Debu’ was none other than Debolina Chakrabarti. One wonders why a person allegedly having links with some underground organization should use one’s own nickname? Should the use of this name, if at all, itself not mean that this so-called ‘Debu’ could only be someone else and not this Debolina Chakrabarti? There is no evidence whatsoever with the police to establish that the said person ‘Debu’ is Debolina. Debolina had been with the people’s movement for quite some years, functioning openly and participating in various mass movements that took place from time to time. She was never arrested earlier. Now she has been picked up during her participation in the Nonadanga anti-displacement movement and tagged in that earlier case for which charge-sheets had already been submitted.

The fact is that the police under the previous Buddhadev-led regime issued threats to arrest her under the draconian UAPA. But protests from different quarters as also hunger strikes started by her and other activists at College Square thwarted such attempts. The new government under Mamata Banerjee – undoubtedly threatening to surpass the brutality and vindictiveness of the CPI(M)-led government – picked up the torn shoes left by her predecessor and completed the process by booking her under this draconian act.

Who is this Debolina Chakrabarti, whom Mamata Banerjee is unable to face politically and whom she has now sent to prison? Debolina was a student of the International Relations Department of Jadavpur University. She left her studies to carry on democratic movements and stood by the side of the people. She was associated with the Singur anti-land grab movement that had prepared the ground for Mamata to come to power. When the people of Nanigram raised their voice against the formation of SEZs and Chemical hubs under the notorious Salem industrial group, she went there and took part in the people’s heroic struggle launched by the Bhumi Ucched Protirodh Committee (BUPC) against displacement from their land and habitats and was also instrumental in forming the Matangini Mahila Samiti (MMS). The MMS was a women’s forum that fought against patriarchy, against consumption of liquor, against CPM hermads, and was associated with the day-to-day struggles against all onslaughts carried out by Lakshman Seth-Binoy Konar-Sushanta Ghosh-Ashok Pattanayak-Tapan-Sukur-Naba Samanta group. In this struggle, the TMC, CPI and other political forces played their part within the BUPC.

After coming to power, Mamata Banerjee turned her heat against the ongoing peoples’ movements and initiated a slander and intimidation campaign by denouncing the Matangini Mahila Samiti as a ‘satanic brigade’. The police as usual described Debolina as a ‘Maoist’ who could be detained, tortured, humiliated and made a prisoner at will. Such a person has now been booked under the UAPA in a most heinous manner. It is crystal clear that the intelligence officials would subject Debolina to brutal mental and physical torture and send her to prison to languish there for as many years as possible. Should we allow such injustice to be done by this vindictive, cruel and anti-people chief minister of West Bengal? Debolina has started a hunger strike to protest against the unjust incarceration and slapping of UAPA on her. We appeal to all justice-loving and freedom-loving people of the country to raise their voice against the imposition of the UAPA on her on cooked-up charges and demand the unconditional release of Debolina Chakrabarti and six other prisoners arrested for standing in solidarity with the people of Nonadanga and raising their voices against injustice.

SAR Geelani
Working President

Amit Bhattacharyya
Secretary General

Rona Wilson
Secretary, Public Relations