UN condemns Iran’s use of ‘stoning’ as ‘capital punishment’


 

London, Oct. 12 (ANI): United Nations human rights officials have condemned Iran‘s use of stoning as a form of capital punishmentamong a number of “deeply troubling” rights violations, many of which are “systemic in nature,” according to a report.

UN Human Rights Council‘s special rapporteur on Iran Ahmed Shaheed also called for an “extensive, impartial and independent investigation into the violence in the weeks and months that followed the presidential election of 2009″, when pro-democracy protesters surged into the streets to denounce the election of president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as bogus and rigged.

Shaheed ‘reiterates his call for the immediate release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience’ in the report, the Daily Express reports.

He claimed that at least 150 journalists have fled Iran since the 2009 elections, and some reports put the number as high as 400.

According to his report, and to the New York-based rights group Committee to Protect Journalists, Iran detained more journalists than any other nation last year, which counted 179 writers, editors and photojournalists jailed in Iran in December last year.Half of them spent time in solitary confinement, 42% were sent into exile in 2010-11, and half were serving sentences ranging from six months to 19 years on charges such as “working with hostile governments”, “propaganda against the state”, and “insulting religious sanctities”, Shaheed wrote.

The document will be the basis for a General Assembly resolution critical of Tehran’s human rights violations, which will probably be voted on in December. (ANI)

Raped’ 15-year-old Dalit girl kills herself #Vaw


 

A teenaged Dalit girl committed suicide by setting herself afire in Gwalior on Wednesday evening. She was allegedly raped by three youths.

Police said the 15-year-old victim hailed from Utila in rural area of the district. She poured kerosene on herself and set herself ablaze at

her house. She received 80% burns and was rushed to the Kamla Raja Hospital where she later died.

The incident has come close on the heels of a similar suicide by a woman in Raisen who had been raped earlier this week. In the latest incident in Gwalior, the victim’s father said his daughter was raped by three youths belonging to the same village.

Police sources said the girl had been taken away by some youths living in the neighbourhood, on false pretext on Tuesday and tried to persuade her to marry one of them.

They allegedly kept her confined and threatened to defame her in the town. The victim was kept confined throughout the night. She returned home the next morning and confided in the mother. Later she set locked self in a room in her house and set herself ablaze.

The deceased’s father said his daughter was raped by three youths, Manish, 18, and two other minors, and this compelled her to take the extreme step. Two of the three accused have been arrested.

Additional SP Raghuvansh Bhadoria said the victim had spent time away from home a day before incident and was scolded by kin after which she committed suicide.

Police have registered a case of rape against three youths for abduction, rape and illegal confinement. (The names of the victim and two of the accused have not been mentioned to protect their identities as they are minors)

Lives lost to rape
*A 35-year-old woman was allegedly abducted and gang raped by unidentified jeep-borne persons when she was going back to her home in Raisen on October 9. She later committed suicide by setting herself afire.

*A 14-year-old girl was raped by seven persons in Datia earlier this month. The accused had shot a video clip and circulated the MMS in the town.

*A two-and-a-half-year-old baby girl was raped by three youths in Ratlam on October 2. The accused were identified as Somesh, Lokendra and Naresh. One of them was victim’s relative.

*A teenaged girl who was missing from her home was later found murdered in Bhopal on October 1. The victim was raped and then kill

 

We walk. For the good earth that is ours


MARCH OF THE LANDLESS

 

They have been waiting 5,000 years. They have marched thousands of miles. They are asking once more. Brijesh Pandey brings back stories from a historic march.

Photographs by Vijay Pandey

Forward march Jan Satyagrahis cross a bridge over the Chambal

LATE ON THE evening of 9 October, the Ministry of Rural Development reached a 10-point agreement with the Jan Satyagraha, the March of the Landless led by the NGO Ekta Parishad. There would be a new law, the government promised, guaranteeing 10 cents (a unit of area) of homestead land to every landless and shelterless poor family.

Agricultural land would be transferred to landless people in economically backward districts. Rigorous implementation of PESA — the Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act — was committed to, with the ministry agreeing to empower gram sabhas as per the authority given to them under the law. A task force on land reforms will soon be constituted — a partnership of government officials and civil society activists — headed by Minister of Rural Development Jairam Ramesh.

Protection and assigning of land belonging to the landless poor and specific groups of deprived people — Dalits, tribals and nomads, for instance — is part of the agreement. So is the guarantee that vulnerable aboriginal groups, without proof of commencement of occupancy of a particular tract of land, will be exempted from furnishing such documentary evidence. The Forest Rights Act will be amended for this purpose.

That agreement brought to resolution the demands, pain and anguish of a year-long march that both crossed and shook the heart of India. It was one year; by another reckoning though, it had been 61 years. The roots of Jan Satyagraha go back to an early summer day in Andhra Pradesh on 18 April 1951. Acharya Vinoba Bhave, devotee of the Mahatma, was on a visit to the then (as now) strife-torn Telangana region. Visiting Pochampalli village, he asked local Dalits (or Harijans as they were then called) why they had taken to brutal violence. He interacted with 40 Dalit families, trying to understand their motivation. They told him of their pain. They had been promised land; if the government delivered on its promise, they would renounce violence.

Vinoba asked them how much land they required. The families asked for 80 acres: two acres per household, just enough for a home and a small farm. A rich landowner who was part of the crowd suddenly got up and agreed to donate 100 acres. This was the start of the Bhoodan (Gift of Land) Movement. Vinoba travelled across India, seeking Gandhian-style renunciation and parcels of land that the traditional rich would donate and transfer to the historically deprived. It became the largest such effort in history.

BIHARI SINGH, 65
MADAI KALA, UMARIA DISTRICT, MADHYA PRADESH
‘We have been living inside the forests for ages. Now, the forest ranger wants to throw us out. They deliberately let stray cattle run amok in our fields and destroy our crops. They also beat and threaten us, saying that if we don’t leave on our own, we will be forcibly kicked out’

What happened to that land? How did the story end? Sixty-one years later, on 2 October 2012, birthday of the Mahatma, Sargun Masomait, a 35-year-old tribal woman from Jharkhand, began marching towards New Delhi from Gwalior. She was part of a group of 40,000 people — tribals, Dalits, nomads, nowhere people with no land of their own, the wretched of the Indian earth, out to claim their dignity; or to reclaim it. Sargun’s family received 95 decimals of land ( just short of one acre) as part of the Bhoodan Movement — but she doesn’t know where it is.

“I have 95 decimals of land in my family’s name,” says Sargun, “but I don’t know where it is. I have the papers. I have approached the district collector, the SP and they assure help but do little. For the past five years, I am even paying revenue and getting a receipt for that. When I go to the collector, he says if the receipt is there then the land must also be there. He says he will help, but nothing has happened.”

A mother of two, Sargun is gritty and determined. This is her second march; she was part of a similar struggle in 2007 as well. For the organisers of the march, her story is telling. “Forget giving land to these people,” says Mrityunjay, one of the coordinators of the padyatra, “imagine the powerful landlords even usurp the land given to them by Vinobaji and the State does nothing. How crude can it get?”

The case of Sargun Masomait is symptomatic of what hundreds of thousands of tribals, Dalits and other landless people face all over India. These people are a stark reminder of the limits to notions of development. For them, State oppression is not distant, textbook trauma. Rather, it is an everyday and close-to-the-bone verity. The police officer, the forest ranger, the sub-district official — these are the local tyrants who have helped a neighourhood overlord grab their land.

LAGNI, 55
RAIMUDA, MAHASAMUND DISTRICT, CHHATTISGARH
‘Forty years ago, the government gave us some land for cultivation. However, 10 years ago, the sarpanch and the village mukhiya forcibly evicted us. I have approached the police, tehsildar and collector but nobody listens. In 2007, I had protested in New Delhi but nothing happened’

And why is this land important? It is not necessarily because of its economic value — some of the holdings are too tiny for anything more than subsistence agriculture. Yet, the very ownership of this land, the ability to touch it, and play with the dust in her hands gives Sargun and many like her a sense of dignity and entitlement. These are people and families, remember, that have never owned land, not for 5,000 years of Indian history. That is why it is emotionally empowering for them.

WHAT TRIGGERED the final leg of the Jan Satyagraha, a march of 40,000 people from Gwalior to New Delhi, resolving to cover the 340 km in 27 days? It was a sense of betrayal; the government had once again backed out from long-promised land reforms. The padyatra was led by PV Rajagopal of the Ekta Parishad, who has undertaken four such yatras to Delhi in the past eight years. The padyatra started from the Mela ground in Gwalior, reaching Morena on day three. The frontline was a group of dancing tribals, as dazzling in their presence as the sea of humanity behind them. One side of the highway was engulfed in the green and white flags of the Ekta Parishad.

It was at Baba Devpuri, the scheduled stop for the day after a 12 km walk, that the precision-planning of the yatra became evident. Planned a year in advance, participants of the march were divided into nine groups, named for the great rivers of India — Mahanadi, Chambal, Narmada, Cauvery, Brahmaputra, Betwa, Ganga, Godavari and Saraswati. Each group had a distinct flag, other than the overarching green-and-white banner. Every group of 1,000-2,000 persons had 10-15 cooks, who moved in advance and had food ready at the halt points.

The jan satyagrahis ate only once a day and the meal was around 5 pm. By 7 pm, one side of a 6-7 km stretch of the National Highway resembled a village fair, with tubelights (powered by generators), blaring loudspeakers and people from various tribes enjoying themselves by dancing, singing and just catching up. Ambulances were at hand to attend to the sick. From the other side of the highway, these 40,000 people seemed a happy bunch. Till one started talking to them.

AMARNATH, 40
SALKA, SURGUJA DISTRICT, CHHATTISGARH
‘One of Asia’s biggest power plants is to come up in our village. Last year, district officials sent a proposal through the gram sabha for acquiring our land. We said no. Then they made people from other villages sit in our place at the gram sabha. They are trying to illegally usurp our land’

Ram Kishore Baheliya was one such person. Released from jail just two days before the start of the march, Baheliya, 55, lives in Mahorba village in Satna district of Madhya Pradesh, and is a worried man. “I have all the documents, sir. But the forest ranger is not willing to let me stay there,” he says. “I have been staying in that area for the past 40 years, but now they want to throw me out. They don’t give me a patta (deed) and instead say that my community, the Baheliyas, are a criminal tribe. We are not criminals but no one is listening to us.” Weird, Britishera pseudo-ethnography not only frequently throws such people into jail, it has tribals, who have been living in a forest for centuries, cruelly evicted from their homes in the name of forest conservation.

Shatrughan Khairwar, 30, belongs to the Khairwar tribe. For centuries, their ancestors cut Khair wood, but under the forest rules now they can’t cut trees, therefore they have shifted to cultivation. Shatrughan’s family, along with 38 others, has been living in the forestland of Nawan Ganv of Mahasamund district, Chhattisgarh, for 40-50 years. “When we asked the forest ranger about the patta (deed) of our land,” Shatrughan remembers, “he asked us to come with him to the forest. He said the patwari would be coming to give us the patta. That particular place had several trees cut. He told us if we told senior officers that we had cut these trees, it would be proof of the fact that we had been living in the area for long. He also made us sign some document. Now for the past few years, we have been fighting court cases as they have booked us for cutting trees in the forest.”

AT 6 AM in the morning, there was a buzz among the yatris. Today is a special day, as instead of the regular 12 km, they would have to walk 20 km, to make sure that they cross the Chambal bridge. People were getting ready, bathing, drinking tea and preparing themselves for the marathon. By 7 am, dal nayaks (people who are in charge of 100 people) started calling out names of those in their cohort. By 7.30 am, the yatra was on its feet, as it were, and ready to advance. One couldn’t but admire the tenacity and spirit. There was a decent police bandobast on the other side of the highway to ensure traffic was not disturbed. Senior police officers of the area had already reached the spot and were interacting with the organisers. The police was full of praise for the way satyagrahis had behaved all along. A senior police officer sighed, “If only all political rallies went like this. We only have to take care of the traffic.”

DHANALAKSHMI, 23
SARAIKADDU, MADURAI DISTRICT, TAMIL NADU
‘We were living in the forests for a long time but we were kicked out. Now we are forced to live very close to where the municipal corporation dumps waste. That area is unsuitable for living. We are working as bonded labourers in a mango orchard. We want our land back’

At around 9 am, the rally started for its destination of Mania police station in a very smooth, orderly fashion. Forty thousand people had camped overnight, but when they left, not a trace of litter remained. As the mercury rose, the water tanks assigned to each group made their mandatory rounds and people rushed to fill their plastic bottles. As the marchers reached the Chambal bridge, the dal nayaks started talking about the historical significance of the location. Walking briskly, with several members of his family and village, was Bisahu Ram Gond, 55. He, along with 70-75 families, had been living in the forest region since the 1960s but is threatened with eviction as his house fell just outside Barnawapara tiger sanctuary in Chhattisgarh, he said. Now the government intended to relocate villagers inside the tiger sanctuary to the land hitherto occupied by Bisahu and the others.

It was illogical, and obviously has made Bisahu angry: “We have been tilling that land for the past 50 plus years. False cases were slapped on us; we were made to run from pillar to post before we could feel settled. And now all of a sudden, the government has decided that these Adivasis are less important than Adivasis inside the sanctuary. Who does these kinds of things?”

Somebody else had a similar question. Bhagwan Ram Sirdar belonged to Mahora- Sarastal village in Chhattisgarh. He had been named in an FIR on charges of attempting to destroy the register of the sarpanch. His crime, he said, was that he raised his voice against “unfair tactics” on the part of a nearby IFFCO power plant. According to Bhagwan Ram, “These people, in connivance with the sarpanch and local administration, were forging signatures of most of the villagers. When I protested against this, an FIR was lodged against me, alleging that I tried to tear the register of the sarpanch, which had all the signatures. What is shocking is that in a meeting called by a senior administrative officer, they were openly asking villagers to take some money and settle the issue. Is this how you want to grab our lands?”

FOR MANY of the marchers, the struggle was an old and gruelling one. Memories of the march of 2007 were strong and even after the agreement with Jairam Ramesh, there is only cautious optimism. A majority of the Adivasis and Dalits TEHELKA spoke to were quite clear that they are pitched in for a long battle with the government. If New Delhi backtracks, as it did in 2007, they will again march to Delhi. Rajagopal, who has been at the forefront of several such agitations, is wary of the government’s sincerity, and with reason.

Rajaji, as he is known among his followers, has undertaken four such marches since 2004. Each time, the UPA government promised to look into his demands, only to ditch him. It was in 2004 that he first met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, along with Nirmala Deshpande and the late Arjun Singh, and explained to him the urgency of land reforms. Nothing came out of that meeting. In 2006, they again marched to Delhi and told the government that they would return in 2007, but with 25,000 people. The pressure seemed to work. In 2007, the government announced the National Lands Reform Committee and the National Land Reform Council, with the prime minister as chair and Rajagopal as a member. The Forest Act too was finalised.

“We came back celebrating,” says Rajagopal. But little did he realise that well begun was only half done. The promised pace of work started slackening. He kept writing to the prime minister but without effective response. In 2010, Rajagopal led 12,500 members on a yatra from Gwalior to Ramlila Maidan in Delhi and then Parliament. “I wrote to the prime minister,” he said, “that if bureaucrats had to look into everything, then what was the point of the Land Reform Council? You have promised us land reforms in front of 25,000 people, and I think you have lost your moral right to be in power.”

Fed up with the delaying tactics of the government, Rajagopal and Ekta Parishad announced that they would start a one-year march from Kanyakumari on 2 October 2011, and march to Delhi with 1,00,000 people. They travelled thousands of kilometres to reach Gwalior on 28 September 2012. Meanwhile, with the appointment of Jairam Ramesh, as the Minister of Rural Development, things began to move. He met Rajagopal in January 2012 in Raipur and promised to energise the Land Reforms Council, which hadn’t met once since its creation in 2007.

“On explicit assurance from Jairam Ramesh, I ended my yatra 10 days early and met the prime minister on 25 September,” says Rajagopal, “for four days we met daily and discussed the whole agreement, drafted it, redrafted it, changed the commas and full stops, improved the grammar. Till the 29th, everything was all right. Jairam attended almost all the meetings. On 29 September, the meeting ended, the document went to the press and we just had to sign. Then all of a sudden I got a call from Jairam saying, ‘I am sorry but I can’t sign the document. There is pressure from the top.’

THREE DAYS into the renewed march, the Ekta Parishad again heard from Jairam. Could they meet once more on 8 October? It was another false dawn. Two days later, however, an agreement was reached. The government was keen to avoid a gathering of the dispossessed in Delhi and a public relations disaster of the type that accompanied the Anna Hazare and Baba Ramdev protests. It was also conscious of wanting to present politically correct credentials. As Manish Tewari, spokesperson of the Congress, said, “The Congress party has always put forward the interests of the agrarian community and the downtrodden. The present Land Acquisition Bill, which is under consideration, aims to balance social justice with economic development. And if somebody has a grievance, the UPA government is extremely sensitive to such issues.”

However, some of Rajagopal’s associates are already talking of a broader, more expansive agenda. According to Ulka Mahajan of the Sarvahara Jan Andolan, “We are working against a system that believes in grabbing land from the landless for SEZs, for the Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor and petrochemical complexes. We fought for 20 years to get the Forest Rights Act. A change in system is required. With one rally, it is not going to happen. The need is to immediately stop alienation of land from the oppressed class, the Dalits and the Adivasis. To do that, all that the government needs to do is to implement the existing land reforms legislation: the Land Ceiling Act, Tenancy Act, Tribal Land Restoration Act.”

As retired bureaucrat and social activist EAS Sarma emphasised it, it was only the pressure of marching throngs that scared and moved the government. “The land records are in a mess,” he said, “there are many tenants whose land rights are not recognised and therefore they cannot get bank loans. There are millions of farmers who are cultivating on government land but do not have land pattas. The government should survey that land and divide it up among the landless in the presence of villagers.”

That is more than what even Jairam Ramesh and, in fact, the UPA government can perhaps promise. Nevertheless, the dispossessed have almost reached the gates of the capital — the deal concluded as they neared Agra. Depending on how one saw it, they had waited a few thousand years, 60 years or eight years (since the Ekta Parishad began the current round of agitations). They were and are not willing to wait any longer.

Brijesh Pandey is a Special Correspondent with Tehelka.
brijesh@tehelka.com

 

Press Release- Release Narayan Sanyal


October 11, 2012

Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations, CDRO, condemns the  move by Jharkhand police to prevent Narayan Sanyal from coming out of  jail. Narayan Sanyal is a senior politbureau member of CPI (Maoist) who  was granted bail in all three cases against him. On 8th October, 2012 SP Hazaribagh accompanied by an Inspector arrived at Hazaribagh Central  Jail to search his cell claiming they had information that he was in  possession of a mobile phone inside the jail premises. Subsequently,  they claimed to have discovered a mobile phone and used this excuse to  keep him incarcerated. Narayan Sanyal was arrested in December 2005 by  the Chattisgarh police but he was officially shown as having been  arrested by Andhra Pradesh police. He was then implicated along with  Binayak Sen and Piyush Guha in the notorious fabricated case.

The manner in which police and prosecutor are deliberately preventing CPI(Maoist) leaders from being released on bail—by either re-arresting  them under preventive detention as in Sushil Roy’s case in 2011, and/or  foisting trumped up case as has been done against Narayan Sanyal—clearly makes a mockery of the government claim that we live under Rule of Law. Surely, if a person is granted bail, then it stands to reason that  he/she should be released too. What the latest instance yet again  reveals is how police and agencies work to subvert the criminal justice  system and holds the judiciary in contempt.

While CDRO is moving the NHRC against such blatant violation of  judicial orders we urge all democratic minded people to note this new  trend which is accelerating the process of lawlessness that has come to  characterise the conduct of Indian police and agencies.

Asish Gupta Kranti Chaitanya (Co-ordinators CDRO)

Member Organizations: Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR,  Punjab), Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC), Association  for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal), Bandi Mukti  Committee (West Bengal), Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights  (CPDR, Mumbai), Coordination for Human Rights (COHR, Manipur), Human  Rights Forum (HRF, Andhra), Lokshahi Hak Sangathana (LHS, Maharashtra),  Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS, Assam), Naga Peoples Movement for  Human Rights (NPMHR), Organisation for Protection of Democratic Rights  (OPDR, Andhra), Peoples Committee for Human Rights (PCHR, Jammu and  Kashmir), Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka), Peoples Union for  Civil Liberties (PUCL) Chhattisgarh, PUCL Jharkhand, PUCL Nagpur, PUCL  Rajasthan, ,PUCL Tamilnadu, Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR,  Delhi), Peoples Union for Human Rights (PUHR, Haryana), Assansol Civil  Rights Association (West Bengal).

Koodankulam Documents: Prashant Bhushan’s Note in the Supreme Court


CIVIL JURISDICTION

SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION (C) NO. 27335 OF 2012

In the matter of:

G Sundarrajan …Petitioner

Versus

Union of India & Ors …Respondents

Along with SLP(C) 29121 of 2012 and WP(C) 407/2012

SHORT NOTE ON BEHALF OF THE PETITIONER

Implementation of Safety Measures

  1. The Government of India appointed a Task Force after the Fukushima disaster to review the safety of Indian NPPs and suggest measures to ensure their safety. The said Task Force studied the KKNPP and recommended certain safety measures as per their interim report dated 11.05.2011 (Annexure R/1 of AERB affidavit, pages 37-61). The said report was placed before the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB), and AERB gave a final report on 31.08.2011 wherein all the recommendations of the Task Force regarding the KKNPP were incorporated and approved for final implementation. Annexure-VIII of the said AERB report relates to those very 17 safety measures. (Annexure P2 of SLP, pages 22-24). Thereafter various communications were exchanged between NPCIL (the plant operator) and AERB wherein there was no dispute that the measures need to be implemented to ensure safety. NPCIL repeatedly told AERB for several months (even till May 2012) that it would implement these 17 safety measures by October-November 2012. (pages 229-231, 311 of the AERB affidavit).
  2. Petitioner herein filed a writ petition in the HC (no.8262) with a prayer that all the 17 measures must be implemented before fuel loading or commissioning of the plant. AERB on 05.06.2012 filed an affidavit stating that it would grant further clearances only after ensuring implementation of the safety measures (para 13(c) of Annexure P2 of SLP, pages 25-35). The statement of the cousel for AERB to this effect was recorded in the longer judgment of the High Court dated 31.08.2012 (para 26.2 of the long judgment). AERB counsel clearly told the HC that these 17 measures (recorded at Annexure-VIII of the AERB report) would have to be implemented before AERB gives any further clearance.
  3. However, on 10.08.2012, AERB gave initial fuel-loading clearance even before 11 of these safety recommendations had been implemented (Annexure P3 of SLP, pages 36-39). Hence petitioner filed the writ petition in HC (out of which the instant SLP has arisen) seeking implementation of these measures before commissioning of the KKNPP (Annexure P4 of SLP, pages 40-46). AERB therein filed an affidavit that NPCIL has given them a fresh schedule stating that implementation of the remaining 11 critical safety measures would take 6 months to 2 years (Annexure P6 of SLP, pages 54-61). Therefore, though it was decided that these recommendations would be implemented before the commissioning as is clear from the earlier schedule of implementation finalised by NPCIL and AERB, NPCIL has not made any progress on the same, but still wants to commission the nuclear plant immediately.
  4. Unfortunately, the AERB that works under the Department of Atomic Energy (as AERB Chairperson reports to the DAE Secretary) has accepted the same. This is not surprising because the regulator is subordinate and reports to whom it is supposed to regulate. The lack of independence of AERB has been severly criticised by several experts including from within the establishment, as well as the CAG (Pages 82-91 of the SLP). This is also in violation of the Convention on Nuclear Safety (to which India is a party) which mandates independence of the nuclear safety regualtor.
  5. Thus, it is clear that NPCIL and AERB are taking chances with safety putting to grave risk the health and life of millions of people, in their hurry to commission the nuclear plant under political pressure. The fact that both the Task Force and the AERB had categorically stated that these 17 measures have to be implemented means that these measures are necessary. Otherwise why would they suggest measures that cost quite a lot of money, energy and time to implement, unless they would have felt that they are necessary. The accident or natural event which these measures seek to mitigate can occur at any time (either in the first 2 years or thereafter). Therefore, precautionary principle needs to be invoked to direct the NPCIL to implement these measures before commissioning the nuclear plant. Even the implementation of these 17 measures would not be sufficient to ensure safety of the plant, and a thorough safety review involving independent experts would be required.

 

Storage of Spent Fuel

  1. Under the 1988 agreement between India and erstwhile USSR, radioactive waste (spent fuel) was to be transported back to USSR. This was completely reversed when India and Russia signed an agreement in 1998 under which radioactive waste would be retained in India (paras 60-61 of the long HC judgment). NPCIL has clearly stated that it would be storing the nuclear waste at the KKNPP site for at least 7 years. However, it appears from the documents no proper arrangements have been made and no solution to its storage has been found. NPCIL and AERB have not decided on any site where it would be permanently stored or buried.
  2. The problem of nuclear waste is a severe problem across the world to which no sustainable solution has been found, as is clear from the judgment of the US Court of Appeals dated 8th June 2012 wherein Rules made by US Nuclear Regulatory Commission regarding storage of spent fuel were struck down since they were not preceded by an environment impact study. The problem of nuclear waste particularly acute in a densely populated country like India. Also since burying the radioactive waste in the ground can poison the soil and groundwater, therefore this is an extremely serious issue that has escaped the Indian nuclear establishment that has found no solution so far. Therefore a thorough review of safety of the reactor and spent fuel storage involving independent experts is required.

Environmental Clearance

  1. The plant had received a vague environmental clearance way back in 1989 from MoEF with meaningless conditions (except that the change in sea temperature must not exceed 5 degree celsius) (Pages 139-142 of SLP No. 29121). Thereafter EIA notification under the Environment Protection Act came into force in 1994 that mandates a thorough EIA in a prescribed manner along with a public hearing, based on which environment clearance has to be given. Under the EIA notification, those projects where all clearances including NOC from State PCBs had not been obtained, required a fresh environmental clearance from MoEF in accordance with the said notification (explanation 8 of the EIA notification 1994, page 83 of SLP 29121). It is admitted position that NPCIL applied for consent from TNPCB on 2001 and was given consent only in 2004 (Page 85 of SLP 29121, para 65). Therefore, KKNPP was covered by the said EIA notification of 1994 and required a fresh clearance.
  2. Apart from the above, enormous changes had been made in the plant from what was originally envisaged and therefore a fresh clearance had to be obtained as EIA notification of 1994 clearly states that an expansion or modernisation (or what is likely to increase pollution load) would require fresh environmental clearance from MoEF (page 81 of SLP 29121). Here, spent fuel storage has been planned which was not there in the original plan on which 1989 clearance was based. Also, as per earlier plan the fresh water requirement was being met through a river dam but now NPCIL would be meeting this requirement through sea-water. For this purpose 4 big desalination plants have been constructed. Thirdly the reactor design was changed as new reactor types which were only developed in 2006 are being installed. This ought to have been sent to MoEF for a fresh examination. Apart from this, the law as it stands today states that an environment clearance is valid for 5 years for the start of operation or construction (page 81 of the SLP 29121). Here it is an admitted fact that construction only started in 2002 (Page 164, 172 of SLP 29121). Hence the 1989 clearance must be treated as lapsed.
  3. Apart from the above, NPCIL had decided to alter the sea-water temperature increase condition without referring it to MoEF. The only categorical condition in 1989 clearance was temperature change must not increase by 5 degrees celsius since it affects marine life hugely. NPCIL unilaterally changed it to a 40% higher figure i.e. 7 degrees celsius (page 89 of SLP 29121). Violation of an essential condition would ipso facto make the 1989 clearance void. Despite all of the above, the current environment minister in interviews to several channels and papers has stated that KKNPP is fully environmentally safe and the clearance was for 7 degrees increase. Therefore, a fresh environmental clearance would be required after a thorough environmental impact assessment after conducting a proper public hearing as per law. This must be done with the involvement of independent experts.

 

Accident Liability

  1. This is the subject matter of the writ petition no. 407/12 filed by CPIL, Common Cause and others seeking a direction that KKNPP would be governed by law of the land with respect to the civil liability in case of an accident, irrespective of any agreement or underataking of the Government. Though the Government claims that KKNPP is 100% safe, yet the Russian reactor manufacturer company does not trust its own reactor and has refused to share any part of civil liability in case of an accident due to defect in the reactor. Government of India (to appease that Russian company and Russian Government) has signed an agreement with Russia stating that in case of an accident the public exchequer or the tax payers would foot the bill (that might run into lakhs of crores of rupees) while the Russians would be indemnified.
  2. The same is contrary to the “polluter pays principle” (that states that public exchequer cannot pay for the faults of industry that causes any accident) and the “absolute liability principle” (that states that liability of an hazardous industry is absolute without any exceptions, fault or limits). Both these principles have been recognised as part of the law of the land under Article 21 of the Constitution. Government of India got Nuclear Liability Act passed that channels the liability to the nuclear operator (NPCIL) and limits it to Rs. 1500 crores. It also states that the operator would have right to recourse against the reactor supplier in case of an fault in the equipment (page 52 of WP). Even this extremely minimal liability of supplier has been undone by the Government by having an agreement with Russia that shifts the burden onto Indian national exchequer. Not only the same is contrary to law (any contract opposed to law or public policy is void), but also severly compromises the safety of the plant. Nuclear equipments are expensive and even minor safety additions can easily exceed the maximum liability amount of Rs 1500 crores as per the Act. If even this minimal liability is made exempt then the supplier would have no incentive to install and work upon safety features of the reactor. That is why as per earlier agreement Russia had to supply a seamless plant, but now they have supplied a plant with joints and welds, that costs less and may affect safety of the reactor and result in radiation leaks.

 

Disaster Management

  1. The Government, in its hurry to commission the plant and in disregard for safety requirements, has not even complied with the statutory guidelines framed by the National Disaster Management Authority (chaired by PM himself) regarding nuclear safety. Under the said guidelines, TN government had to set up State level and district level Disaster Management Authorities to deal with nuclear accidents, train officials, set up infrastructure and earmark hospitals to deal with a nuclear accident, but the same has not been done.
  2. Apart from that, as per safety standards, every nuclear plant has to have an ‘exclusion zone’ of 1.6 km radius where no person can reside. At least 4,000 people live in the “Exclusion Zone” today. A 450-tenement tsunami rehabilitation colony stands less than 1 km from the plant. Parts of it are 800 metres away from the reactor domes, and even closer to the station’s boundary wall. Besides the exclusion zone, there must be a ‘sterlised zone’ of at least 10 kms (some standards put it to 16 kms) where at the most 5000 people (some standards put it at 3000) can reside. More than 40,000 people live within a 5-km radius of the plant, including the 20,000-plus population each of Koodankulam and Idinthakarai. Unfortunately, all this has been ignored by the Government and AERB.
  3. AERB has also ignored its own rule that prohibits fuel-loading until an off-site emergency preparedness drill is completed in all villages within a 16-km radius jointly by NPCIL, the district administration, state government and the National Disaster Management Authority. This involves full evacuation procedures, with prior warning, identification of routes, commandeering of vehicles, and clear instructions to the public. The same has not been done at all.
  4. It is therefore clear that KKNPP suffers from several serious issues that need to be resolved before the plant can be commissioned. Lakhs of people living the vicinity of the plant are bound to be apprehensive in such a situation. Instead of dealing with these issues and addressing the concerns in a meaningful way, the Government has launched a wave of repression and has slapped 8000 sedition cases against the peaceful protestors.

 

Date: October 04, 2012                                                                    Prashant Bhushan

(Counsel for the Petitioner)

 

Fact Finding Report: Gang Rape of Dalit Girl , Haryana #vaw


Fact Finding Report: Gang Rape of Dalit Girl by Dominant Caste Youth and Suicide of Girl’s Father- Dabra Village, Hisar, Haryana

October 11, 2012

That the Hindus most often succeed in pulling down Untouchables is largely due to many causes. The Hindu has the Police and the Magistracy on his side. In a quarrel between the Untouchables and the Hindus the Untouchables will never get protection from the Police or justice from the Magistrate. The Police and the Magistracy are Hindus, and they love their class more than their duty. But the chief weapon in the armoury of the Hindus is economic power they possess over the poor Untouchables living in the village.
—Dr. B.R. Ambedkar in 1943

On 1st October 2012, National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR) facilitated a fact- finding visit to Dabra Village of Hisar District in Haryana where a Dalit man committed suicide after his minor girl was gang raped by the dominant caste youths.

The fact-finding team comprised Seema Misra Adv., MARG; Adv. Ambalika; Dr. Ajitha WSS ; Ms. Pradnya Deshpande, PUCL; Ms. Sunitha Thakore, Jagori; Mr. Sanjeev Kumar, Delhi Forum; Ms. Asha Kowtal, General Secretary of AIDMAM; Ms. Sumati, JNU; Ms. Abirami, NDMJ; Ms. Savitha, State Secretary, AIDMAM-Haryana; Mr. Rajesh, State Secretary, NDMJ-Haryana .

The team members met the Victim, the family members of the victim, civil society Committee and SP of Hisar.

The key findings of the fact-finding team are:
1. Dabra Village, Police Station – Sadar Hisar, is just around 15 Kms. from District Hisar Head quarter. The common opinion amongst the civil society groups; the people of Daabra and the SP was that the accused were known bad elements. It is surprising that they were not under the radar of the police or any preventive measures were taken.

2. A committee consisting of 21 members including activists, local leaders, 2 advocates has been formed to support the rape survivor by providing legal assistance and monitoring the case till its conclusion to ensure that she gets justice.

3. The victim has been provided 24-hour security by the police and 2 lady constables from 8am to 8pm and two male constables outside the house at night. Inspite of this the fact finding team feels that there is likelihood of the family being pressurized into settling the matter. The family and neighbors of the family revealed that well known local politicians had come to tell them that it was a matter of the village and should be resolved in the village. They also said that outsiders and media should not be allowed to discuss this case. We were also informed that some days ago the some people belonging to the Jat community had broken cameras of a well known television channel’s crew who came to cover this incident.

4. The arrest of the accused was a result of brave and insistent protests of the Dalits group and Women’s group of the village who refused to cremate the body till the immediate arrest of the accused.

5. Dalit’s of this village are still under fear. The relatives of the rape survivor said that after the incident many people had stopped sending their daughters to school even in the village and the older girls to college in Hisar.

6. The community people informed us that the village panchayat met on 20th Sept said that outsiders and media will not be allowed to intervene in this case. The panchayat will take the required actions. They said that outsiders were ruining the atmosphere of the village. The SP, DDPO were present in the panchayat meeting.

7. The rape survivor is 16 and half years old and is a bright girl interested in further studies. She informed the team that her favourite subjects were Economics and Sanskrit.

About Dabra Village
Dabra Village is located about 15 Kms of Hisar District Head quarter.It is populated with more than 6,000 people, comprising about 800 Jat households, 150 Chamar households, 150 Dhanuk households, 10 Nai households, 5 Valmiki households, 8 Baniya households, 10 Khati households, 6 Lohar households and other communities. The Chamar community is largely economically dependent on the Jat population in their village for their regular livelihood based on farming.

About the incident:
1. On 9th September when the Dalit girl namely XYZ (16) D/o Kishan, belonging to Scheduled Caste (Chamar) community, r/o Dabra village, Hisar, was on her way to her uncle’s house , she had been kidnapped by around 8 dominant caste youths to a nearby field situated on Tosham road. A youth gave her some tablets and later seven persons raped her while the other five were guarding the area. Due to fear the girl didn’t disclose this matter to her family members on the same day.

2. On 18th September, 9 days after the incident, the victim XYZ revealed this unpleasant incident to her mother after her mother continuously enquired why she was so subdued and quiet. Her mother who then informed her husband Krishan, a labourer. Krishan raised the issue with the elders of the village who then started questioning the boys allegedly involved in the incident. The accused allegedly threatened the family that they would make the girl’s objectionable pictures public if the matter was reported to the police. Apprehending public humiliation, Krishan allegedly consumed poison and died on 18th September.

3. An FIR has been registered under section 376-G, 506 IPC and u/s 3(1)(x), 3(1)(xii), 3(2)(v) SC & ST (PoA) Act against accused Sonu, Ajay, Pawan and Vikas, residents of Dabra village and eight other unknown persons.

4. As the police officials did not arrest any accused till 21st September, the angered residents of Dabra village who on 22nd September staged a protest demanding the immediate arrest of all the accused. It was only after assurances by Deputy Commissioner Amit Kumar Aggarwal and SP Mr. Sateesh Balan did the protesters allow the body of the girl’s father to be taken for post-mortem. The body was cremated at his native village on 23rd August 2012.

5. Till now the police department has arrested 11 accused. The family informed us that a cheque of Rs. 65,000/- was received . We were informed, by SP that Police Security has been provided to the victims and it will be continued until needed. The Administration has assured free education till she completes her higher studies and also assured job. SP informed us that a Child Psychologist visits the victim regularly and is providing counselling. The accused have been arrested through the active support of the villagers including a few people fromJat community.

Our Demands
We urge you to make use of your good office to initiate intervention to provide justice and protect the Dalit victim. Hence forth, we pray that;

1. Charge sheet should be filed immediately as per S. 167 CrPC and Rule 7 (2) of SC/ST (PoA) Rules 1995.

2. Ensure that the relief and compensation money is put in a bank account in the rape survivor’s name or in a fixed deposit to be used after she becomes an adult.

3. Proper Compensation of Rs. 3,00,000 /- be paid to the rape survivor. as per Rule 12(4) r/w Annexure I S.NO.10, 12, 20 of SC/ST (POA) Rules 1995. [3(1)(x) – 60,000, 3(1)(xii) – 1,20,000 and 3(ii)(v) – 1,20,000 ]

4. The case be tried in the courts set Exclusive Special Court to be set up for Speedy Trial.

5. An experienced criminal lawyer be appointed as special public prosecutor for this case as provided under the SC/ST (POA) Act.

6. The rape survivor be provided a legal counsel of choice to her throughout the trial as per the decision of the Supreme Court in Delhi Domestic Workers Case.

7. Ensure that a conducive atmosphere is created in the court while the rape survivor is deposing so that she can do so without fear and pressure. During examination and cross examination of the girl in court a screen is provided so that she does not have to see the accused.

8. That the economic support promised by the administration to the family that is job for the brother and higher education and job for the rape surviour be given. Besides this to provide rehabilitation to the family as per their wishes.

9. Take steps to ensure the girl’s security so that she is able to attend school regularly as per her wishes.

10.Take all necessary steps to ensure that the family is not pressurise into a compromise . The National Commission for Women should appoint an observer for the trial.

11. Provide adequate protection to the victim’s family and prevent from appraisal.

12. TA/DA to be given to the victim as per Rule 11 of SC/ST (PoA) Rules 1995.

13. As the number of rape cases in Haryana are increasing day to day the State and the police must take proactive steps to create an atmosphere and environment to ensure that girls and women are safe. One suggestion is creating awareness and spreading the message, through posters, wall writings and radio and television messages that any sexual harassment and assault on women will is an offence and strict action will be taken.

14. To establish State level SC/ST commission in Haryana

15. NHRC should conduct a Haryana State level public hearing and include the cases of violence against Dalit women to depose before the jury.

Source: Sanhati