#India-Anatomy of a failed State #Haryana #Gurgaon


R. SRINIVASAN, The Hindu Oct 2012

Haryana, the poster boy of India’s reforms story, is in the news for the wrong reasons. — V.V.Krishnan
Haryana, the poster boy of India’s reforms story, is in the news for the wrong reasons. — V.V.Krishnan

The absence of governance in Haryana has managed to unite workers, women, underprivileged and over-privileged alike and brought them out on the streets in protest.

October 17, 2012:

At first glance, Haryana doesn’t appear to be a failed state. If anything, it looks the very opposite. Regardless of which direction you enter the State from — whether from the bustling beehive that is Delhi, or from the lush fields of Punjab, or from the populous towns of Uttar Pradesh, the difference is perceptible.

There is a clear air of affluence, a sense of things being done, money being made. Not just in the futuristic steel and glass skyscrapers of Gurgaon, proudly sporting the names of the world’s biggest corporations, but even in the busy little towns and villages that dot the Delhi-Chandigarh highway. Vehicles of every description clog the streets — heavily-laden monster trucks roar through what appear to be by lanes — and wherever you look, there is some kind of construction activity going on.

So at first glance, Haryana is the poster boy of India growth story. The State is rich; the people are healthy and wealthy and business is booming. And the trickle down theory is clearly working here, because, even though the villages are as dusty and cluttered as any other Indian village, the houses are all pucca, dish antennae sprout from the rooftops, and there are vehicles parked casually everywhere.

GOVERNANCE LAPSE

But first glances — or drive-by glances — never tell the whole story. Behind this façade of apparent success and achievement, Haryana is a text book example of what can happen when governments abdicate from the job of governance.

The State has been in the news several times in the recent past. And every time, for the wrong reason. Three examples suffice. Take the Maruti strike, where a sudden and unexpected outbreak of violence left a senior manager dead, several injured and led to a month-long stoppage of work at India’s largest carmaker, hitherto held up as a model for employer-employee relations in an industrial context.

Then there was the furore over the rising number of incidents of rape in the State, including a flurry when as many as 19 cases were reported in the span of a couple of weeks or so. Or take the massive traffic jams on one of the development showpieces of the State — the Delhi-Gurgaon Expressway — which led to angry protests by commuters and a court-ordered temporary stoppage of toll collection in order to free up traffic.

All three examples, in their own way, highlight the extent to which problems can be either precipitated or exacerbated by the absence of governance.

Attacks on women

Let us first take the astonishing rise in the number of crimes against women. An average of two women are reported raped every day in the State.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s data, the ‘rape index’ — the number of rapes per lakh of women, is 6.11 in the State, placing it seventh in the national roll call of dishonour. Tiny Mizoram leads that list with a rape index of 7.1, but that may well be because the reporting there is much more extensive and accurate.

In a patriarchal society such as Haryana, the true incidence of attacks on women is almost certainly far higher, but does not get reported, for fear of reprisals. The reprisals can be brutal, ranging from retaliatory attacks and even murder, to social ostracism of not just the victim, but her entire family. In the latest incident to hit the headlines, for example, a 13-year-old girl who was gang raped over a period of months by some youths, was promptly expelled from her school

— along with her sisters — when she finally worked up the nerve to complain.

One could argue that this is a societal issue, and one which is common to other States in India as well. Where is the question of governance?

That lies in the way the State responds to such incidents. Accused of failure to protect women, the response of a former chief minister of the state — backed by the all-powerful khap or caste panchayats, which have a very strong role in shaping policy in that State — was to say that women should be married off by the age of 16 — presumably so that they can work off their raging sexual appetites within the safe confines of home and marriage, instead of resorting to getting themselves raped by random thugs!

The State spokesperson for the Congress — the party which rules both in Haryana and the Centre — even said that 90 per cent of all rapes were consensual There have been any number of cases documented by researches, social workers and women’s organisations to demonstrate that the standard response of the authorities when confronted with issues of violence against women is to either ignore it, or try and blame the victim.

It’s not just women. Haryana’s record in protecting other disadvantaged groups of society is abysmal. That includes workers. The Maruti strike exposed the fragile reality behind Haryana’s prosperous industrial façade.

The Gurgaon-Manesar belt is one of India’s major automotive hubs, with several global auto majors being located there. The workers who man these thriving factories often live in abysmal conditions.

Organised trade unions have repeatedly alleged that the State administration and the police actively collude with managements to sabotage the formation of legitimate unions, and that attempts by workers to claim their legitimate rights — enshrined in law and which should be protected by the state — are often brutally suppressed.

Such charges, of course, are always stoutly denied by the government — but have so far not been convincingly disproved. But perhaps nothing illustrates the abdication — as distinct from mere absence — of governance as the so called ‘millennium city’ of Gurgaon.

It stands cheek by jowl with the capital, full of futuristic office blocks and apartments, home to some of the largest and most luxurious shopping malls in India.

It is home to one of the largest IT and ITES clusters outside of Bangalore and the India headquarters of dozens of mega multi-nationals. Its per capita income, at Rs 1, 22, 212 per annum, is the third highest in the country.

But the city stands on a mountain of uncollected garbage; it has a non-existent sewerage system, virtually no public transport, faces a growing water crisis and is powered largely by individual enterprise, since assured power supply is non existent.

Gurgaon’s ills

That is because the State simply vacated the space as infrastructure developer and handed it over to private enterprise. Modern Gurgaon is virtually the brainchild of India’s largest developer DLF, now embroiled in scams of altogether different colour.

But Gurgaon’s ills cannot really be blamed on DLF or the other developers who followed. They did what they had to efficiently — convert a dusty village into a vision of tomorrow, got individuals and businesses to buy into that dream — and moved on. Details such as connecting roads, drains, water, external power, garbage collection and disposal were left to the Government — which was presumably under the impression that that too, had been privatised, and therefore, did nothing about such things!

That is why people who owned apartments worth crores and drove vehicles worth lakhs had to abandon both to take to the streets to protest the lack of access to cross the road, which meant they had to use the PPP-built highway — and pay toll in the process — to cross the street!

That is the enduring irony of what is arguably India’s most successful post-reform State. The absence of governance has managed to unite workers, women, underprivileged and over-privileged alike and brought them out on the streets in protest. The outcome of the protests would depend on whether those who rule us realise that power, unfortunately, does not come divorced from responsibility.

#India-Koodankulam Children Cannot be Treated as Criminals: NCPCR #childrights #justice


Nityanand Jayaraman

17 October, 2012.

CHENNAI — Two children — Rishita, 14, and Postine, 12, — and one adult — Mrs. Malar — from Idinthakarai deposed before the panel of the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights at a public hearing held in Theyagaraya Hall, TNagar, Chennai, today. The deponent referred to the report of the Justice Kolse Patil fact finding committee on the police violence following the September 10 peaceful gathering on the Idinthkarai beach. It was pointed out that the Patil report endorsed the claims of local people that:

a) the police had unleashed violence on people, including children
b) at least 4 juveniles had been arrested, of whom at least 3 faced charges of sedition and waging war
c) an atmosphere of fear was prevalent in the area that was preventing children from enjoying a life of normalcy.

The children who deposed articulately in the poetic Tamil of South Tamil Nadu said that they feared for their future, their parent’s safety and were also afraid of stepping out of their homes for fear of police harassment. The children said that they are unable to focus on their studies as they are traumatised by the happenings of September 10 and later, and because they are fearful of police harassment of their friends and family.

The panel was requested to send a team to visit the area and assess the “atmosphere of fear” prevalent in the area, and to see how children have been affected and their rights violated. The panel was also requested to issue directions in the instance of the four children who were arrested, detained in the Palayamkottai Juvenile Home, and charged with heinous crimes including attempted murder, sedition and waging war against the state. It was pointed out that at least one student — Kishen — had missed his examinations for want of sufficient attendance due to the 10 day detention caused by the police. In a written affidavit signed by Kishen, which was handed to the committee, Kishen had stated that the illegal arrest not only lost him valuable time, but it also has prevented him from sitting in his examinations and has resulted in a waste of fees paid for the year.

The panel made the following key observations:

  1.   It was not empowered to make any recommendations on the desirability, or not, of nuclear power.
  2.   It was not averse to the idea of constituting a committee to visit the protest areas and assess the atmosphere of fear and speak to children.
  3.   It was not averse to the proposal of recommending counsellors to advise children traumatised by the ongoing protests.
  4.   It was equivocal in declaring that children in such situations of political conflict cannot be treated as criminals. Referring to the state of children in areas like Orissa, where communities are protesting against steel FDI of Posco, the panel said that children in these areas need to be seen as persons in need of support and counseling, and not as criminals.

One member of the panel proposed that a copy of the Kolse Patil Committee report be forwarded to the Government of Tamil Nadu for their comments.

The Girl Who Changed Pakistan: #Malala Yousafzai #mustread


by Oct 22, 2012

Shehrbano Taseer takes an insider’s look at the 15-year-old girl who may finally turn the tide on extremism.

The teenage girls chatted to each other and their teachers as the school bus rattled along the country road. Students from a girls’ high school in Swat, they had just finished a term paper, and their joy was evident as they broke into another Pashto song. About a mile outside the city of Mingora, two men flagged down and boarded the bus, one of them pulling out a gun. “Which one of you is Malala Yousafzai?” he demanded. No one spoke—some out of loyalty, others out of fear. But, unconsciously, their eyes turned to Malala. “That’s the one,” the gunman said, looking the 15-year-old girl in the face and pulling the trigger twice, shooting her in the head and neck. He fired twice more, wounding two other girls, and then both men fled the scene.
Over the screams and tears of the girls, a teacher instructed the bus driver to drive to a local hospital a few miles away. She stared in horror at Malala’s body, bleeding profusely and slumped unconscious in her friend’s lap, then closed her eyes and started to pray.

As of this writing, Malala fights for her life at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, England. Her would-be killers have not yet been caught. But it’s clear who bears responsibility. And in the days since the Oct. 9 assault on her, sadness, fury, and indignation have swept the world.

For months a team of Taliban sharpshooters studied the daily route that Malala took to school, and, once the attack was done, the Tehrik-e-Taliban in Pakistan gleefully claimed responsibility, saying Malala was an American spy who idolized the “black devil Obama.” She had spoken against the Taliban, they falsely said, and vowed to shoot her again, should she survive.

The power of ignorance is frightening. My father, Salmaan Taseer, was murdered last January after he stood up for Aasia Noreen, a voiceless, forgotten Christian woman who had been sentenced to death for allegedly committing blasphemy. My father, the governor of Punjab province at the time, believed that our country’s blasphemy laws had been misused; that far too frequently, they were taken advantage of to settle scores and personal vendettas.

In the days before my father’s murder, fanatics had called for a fatwa against him and had burned him in effigy at large demonstrations. His confessed shooter, a 26-year-old man named Mumtaz Qadri, said he had been encouraged to kill my father after hearing a sermon by a cleric, who, frothing at the mouth, screeched to 150 swaying men to kill my father, the “blasphemer.” Qadri, a police guard, had been assigned to protect my father. Instead, on the afternoon of Jan. 4, my brother Shehryar’s 25th birthday, he killed my father, firing 27 bullets into his back as he walked home.

My father, one of the first members of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party, was frequently imprisoned and tortured for his unwavering belief in freedom and democracy under the harsh dictatorship of Gen. Zia ul Haq.

But in later life, as he spoke against the blasphemy laws, his views were distorted to suggest—wrongly—that he had spoken against Prophet Muhammad—just as Malala’s views were twisted by both her Taliban attackers and opportunistic politicians peddling poisonous falsehoods for their own gain.

One would think the nightmare and brutality of the Zia regime ended when the tyrant’s aircraft fell out of the skies in 1988 and he was killed. We were so wrong.

 

What the attack on Malala makes clear is that this is really a battle over education. A repressive mindset has been allowed to flourish in Pakistan because of the madrassa system set up by power-hungry clerics. It’s a deeply rooted indoctrination, and it sickens me to see ancient religious traditions undermined by a harsher form of religion barely a generation old. These madrassa, or religious schools headed by clerics, are the breeding ground of Islamic radicalism. The clerics don’t teach critical thinking. Instead, they disseminate hate. These clerics are raising merchants of hatred who believe in a very right-wing and radical Islam, to hail people like Osama bin Laden and Mumtaz Qadri as heroes. They train children how to use guns and bombs, and how not to live but to die.

Since my father’s murder, I have often wondered if Qadri would have killed him had he known my father’s actual views and not what they had been twisted into by media anchors and clerics on a hysterical witch hunt. Maybe if he had listened to what my father really said, Pakistan would not have lost its bravest man and I my center of gravity.

After his bloody deed, Qadri was hailed as a hero by right-wingers and fanatics. In a loathsome display in front of the court where he was to be tried, hundreds of lawyers charged with upholding justice instead showered the murderer with rose petals in praise of him taking a sacred life.

But terrorism bears within it the seeds of its own destruction. What schools with a good syllabus can offer is the timeless and universal appeal of critical thinking. This is what the Taliban are most afraid of. Critical thinking has the power to defuse terrorism; it is an internal liberation that jihadism simply cannot offer.

This time, with the attack on Malala, what is different—and encouraging—is the outpouring of support in Pakistan for this young girl. We cannot, and we will not, take any more madness.

Malala was only 11 when she started blogging entries from her diary for the Urdu-language website of the BBC. Her nom de plume was Gul Makai, meaning cornflower in Pashto and the name of the heroine of many local folk stories. A star student with olive skin, bushy eyebrows, and intense brown eyes, Malala wrote about life under Taliban rule: how she hid her schoolbooks under her shawl and how she kept reading even after the Taliban outlawed school for girls. In an entry from January 2009 she wrote: “Today our teacher told us not to wear colorful dress that might make Taliban angry.” She wrote about walking past the headless bodies of those who had defied the radicals, and about a boy named Anis, who, brainwashed by the Taliban, blew himself up at a security checkpoint. He was 16 years old.

Encouraged by her father, Ziauddin, a schoolmaster, Malala quickly became known as she spoke out on the right to an education. Ziauddin had two sons also, but he told friends it was his daughter who had a unique spark. She wanted to study medicine, but he persuaded her that when the time came she should enter politics so she might help create a more progressive society—at the heart of which was education for all. In Pakistan, 25 million children are out of school, and the country has the lowest youth literacy rate in the world.

 

“I hope you won’t laugh at me,” Ziauddin wrote in an email to Adam Ellick, an American filmmaker, after Ellick had stayed with the family in Swat for several months. “Can I dream for her to be the youngest to clench a Nobel award for education?”

In the film that Ellick made for The New York Times in 2009, the bond between Ziauddin and his daughter is evident as is his pride in his young daughter’s accomplishment. “When I saw her for the first time, a very newborn child, and I looked into her eyes, I fell in love with her,” Ziauddin says at one point in the film, beaming. “Believe me, I love her.” (Her mother, a homemaker who speaks only Pashto, is also supportive of Malala’s work; she wasn’t depicted in Ellick’s film for cultural reasons.)

At the time, the Taliban had swept through Swat, banning girls’ education and attacking hundreds of schools in the province. But Ziauddin—who, in addition to running a school, is also a poet, a social activist, and head of the National Peace Council in Swat—defied the Taliban by refusing to cancel classes, despite continued death threats. “They were so violently challenged,” says Ellick, who is still close to the family.

As Ziauddin explained his motivation at one point: “Islam teaches us that getting an education is compulsory for every girl and wife, for every woman and man. This is the teaching of the holy Prophet,” he said. “Education is a light and ignorance is a darkness, and we must go from darkness into light.”

Ziauddin “has given Malala a love, strength, and confidence that’s rare,” agrees Samar Minallah Khan, a Pakistani journalist and filmmaker who knows the family. “She has an incredible spirit and a mind of her own because of the confidence he has given her.”

In three short years, Malala became the chairperson of the District Child Assembly in Swat, was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu, was the runner-up of the International Children’s Peace Prize, and won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. More recently she started to organize the Malala Education Foundation, a fund to ensure poor girls from Swat could go to school.

Sharing her father’s eloquent and determined advocacy made Malala a powerful symbol of resistance to Taliban ideology.

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown said the attack had given rise to a children’s movement, with children proudly wearing “I am Malala” T-shirts and defiantly asserting their rights. “Young people are seeing through the hypocrisy of … their leaders [who] deny millions of girls and boys the opportunity to rise,” Brown said in an email. “For one Malala shot and silenced, there are now thousands of younger Malalas who cannot be kept quiet.”

Ziauddin is reportedly shattered by the attack on his daughter and unable to speak, yet he plans on returning to Pakistan once her treatment is complete. He wants to return to their work on education with renewed commitment and strength. He told Ellick: “If all of us die fighting, we will still not leave this work.”

In order to operate, the Taliban need the acceptance—or submission—of the population. A Gallup poll conducted two years ago shows that only 4 percent of Pakistan’s 180-plus million population views the Taliban in a positive light. But the TTP, as they are known, have capitalized on the mounting anti-Americanism spurred by civilian casualties of U.S. drone strikes. Keen to cultivate favorable public opinion, Mullah Omar, the spiritual leader of the Taliban, issued a “new code of conduct” in 2010 that banned suicide bombings against civilians, burning down schools, and cutting off ears, lips, and tongues. On the Web, the TTP rallied against drone strikes, condemned attacks on shrines, hospitals, schools, and marketplaces. In practice, however, the code was spottily enforced and did not necessarily mean a gentler insurgency. Critics claim that any changes were cosmetic—a tactical shift in preparation for a long-term fight.

The assault on Malala seemed a departure from Mullah Omar’s “charm offensive”—a desperate but well-known attempt to spread fear. Even among those who had supported the TTP’s ideological goals in the past, there was revulsion at the attack on the little girl. “The shooting could be an attempt to show that they are still active,” says author and analyst Zahid Hussain. “They want to send a message.”

Instead of being chastised by the popular outrage both in Pakistan and in the West, the Taliban has responded by threatening local journalists who have covered the attack on Malala. The TTP has even threatened cricketer-turned-politician Imran Khan, claiming he is a liberal and therefore an infidel. The threats surprised many since “Taliban Khan”—as many refer to him—is perceived as an apologist for the extremists. In fact, in the days after the attack on Malala, Khan was strongly criticized for not taking a more forceful stance on her shooting. (Khan said he could not speak too openly against the Taliban because that could imperil the lives of his supporters in the north.)

“Pakistan has arrived at its with-us-or-against-us moment,” Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the son of the president, told Newsweek by email. The 24-year-old Bhutto Zardari succeeded his mother, Benazir Bhutto, as chairman of Pakistan’s ruling party after her assassination in 2007. (The family believes that the Taliban killed her, though an al Qaeda commander initially claimed responsibility.)

Even as Malala fights for her life, people continue to twist her views and words to suit their own incendiary narrative. Samia Raheel Qazi, herself a mother and a senior figure in Pakistan’s largest religious party, Jamaat-e-Islami, posted an image of Malala, her father, and the late U.S. envoy Richard Holbrooke on Twitter, adding a caption that falsely claimed that Malala had attended “a meeting with American military officers.”

In Pakistan such character assassinations and conspiracy theories are unfortunately not uncommon—and they benefit the Taliban’s odious campaign. “Liberals would like to believe this is a turning point for Pakistan,” says journalist Najam Sethi. “That’s what they thought when a Swati girl was publicly flogged by the Taliban in 2009.” Pakistanis were at first outraged, but the anti-Taliban consensus soon evaporated, he recalls. Sethi believes that upcoming Pakistan elections will further politicize the attack. “The government will make the right noises but fall in line with exigencies of party politics. No general or civilian will risk precipitous action.”

Pakistan’s government is funding Malala’s treatment and will present her with a national award for courage. It has also promised jobs to the family members of the other two girls who were shot. But many fear that—despite the arrest of almost 200 people—the investigation into the attack will conclude as most investigations do: with a failure to prosecute those responsible. Our antiterrorism courts have a shoddy record of convictions. The judiciary and law-enforcement agencies clearly lack both the will and the means to bring perpetrators to justice. “If we do capture the terrorists who attacked Malala, I do hope they are brought to justice,” says the government spokesman, Bhutto Zardari. But sounding less than convinced, he cautions in the same email: “This is a war zone. Just as NATO or the U.S. will not capture every terrorist in Afghanistan we cannot capture every terrorist in Pakistan.”

Malala’s English teacher, who is close to the family, clicks his tongue when asked if he believes the attackers will get caught and punished. “I don’t think so at all,” he says. “When have they ever?”

There is talk now in Pakistan of further military sweeps of militant strongholds. But it is clear that the solution cannot be purely military. The government must address the root causes of terrorism as Malala argued. “If the new generation is not given pens, they will be given guns by the terrorists,” she said before she was shot. “We must raise our voice.”

#DayaniBarla’s arrest: Civil society condemns Jharkhand Govt.’s vindictive move


Newzfirst

RANCHI – The arrest of noted social activist Dayamani Barla has drawn sharp condemnation from across the civil society. Meanwhile, accusing Jharkhand Government of carrying out vindictive move against the social activist, various social and rights group have started campaigning for her release amidst the festive season of Durga Puja.

The Jharkhand Police arrested Barla the very day after she was granted bail by a JMFC court in a six-year old case. Now Police has charged her with scores of cases  in connection with causing obstruction to the construction of state-run institutions at Nagri village, 20 kms from here.

Barla has been leading the agitation against ongoing forceful land acquisition by the state government to build the Indian Institute of Management and National University for Study and Research in Law (NUSRL) campuses.

The bail application would be heard by the Court on 29 October.

“Government has hatched a conspiracy to keep Barla behind the bars for a long period; it is very evident by the way Police is functioning. They will slap more cases once against Barla once she gets the bail.” says senior journalist and social activist Faisal Anurag.

From the day she began fighting against the corporate giant Mittal, she has become the enemy of the all political parties and governments. The current Chief Minister, being a Dalaal (broker) of corporate companies, is hell-bent to sabotage the voice of activists, says Anurag.

“I met her in the prison yesterday. She is confident and determined to fight and face the consequences.” he said.

Barla was at the forefront of the agitation against Arcelor Mittal’s proposed steel plant in the state. The $8.9 million project spread over 12,000 acres would have displaced almost 70,000 people from 45 villages.

Gladson Dungdung, another noted activist and a member of Planning Commission of India also sees a conspiracy behind the arrest of Barla. “This is a conspiracy by the Government and arbitrary move by the police.”

He also said that the Government wants her to be in prison until the construction of proposed Law and Management campuses is over at Nagri, where agricultural land is being acquired done forcefully.

“If the Government is in impression that Barla’s arrest would weaken the people’s movement, it’s a fallacy.” he adds.

Several other social activists from across the country have condemned the arrest of Barla. They have demanded government to release Barla immediately and to withdraw all the cases against her.

#India Tarique Quasmi’s Letter addressed to the People Sent from the Lucknow #Prison #Torture


Dated: 22nd September 2012, Sanhati.com

Salaam!
We are also humans. We are patriotic citizens and innocents who have been forcefully trapped in unholy plots and charged with terrorist cases. Today we are so distressed due to the never-ending torture that we are even considering commitment of suicide. Inhuman treatment is being meted out on us by the jail authorities which has depressed us so much that suicide seems to be the only option left to us.

Each of us here has been thrown behind bars in a somewhat similar manner. We have been illegally abducted from our houses, markets, fields, or streets, kept in illegal custody, made part of manufactured stories by violent means, and then after many days shown arrested with illegal materials in possession, from places like Barabanki, Lucknow, Unnav and others.

We have been miserably tortured in ‘high security’ wards. The torture continues even today in the form of intentional communal remarks.

Snapshots from 2008-09
Continuously locked in a moist, dark and dull cell measuring just 8 by 12 ft, we were never allowed to move out for even a minute. On 13th of June 2008, Friday we were beaten up with leather hunters and lathis, our bodies torn and broken down. The holy Quran was made unholy; its pages were torn and thrown in the toilet. All our clothes, bedsheets, books were confiscated. In fact, in the initial days itself restrictions were imposed in this regard – only 2 pairs of clothes, a lungi, a towel and not more than two underwears were allowed.

Troubled so much, we sat on a long hunger strike whereby we completely boycotted food in protest. Then from 27th January 2009 onwards we were let open for half an hour every day in a small verandah surrounded by walls so high that sunlight disappeared after 12 noon, let alone even a single trace of greenery. From December 2011 onwards after many requests our stay in the verandah was extended to an hour.

It must be brought to your notice that, keeping in sync with the prison manual, on the jail register we were always shown freely moving like other co-prisoners. But as said earlier, were always continuously locked in the small cell. Due to this people had started falling ill here. Whereas some have gone in to depression, others’ memory has been affected. Some others have started losing their vision.

Many years have passed since the magistrate responsible for jail investigation last stepped into the ‘High Security’ ward. High officials and authorities are not brought to this side to prevent us from complaining. Our requests are not forwarded to the authorities so that we remain deprived of human rights.

As per Supreme court guidelines, any under trial must not be kept in isolation when imprisoned. Even the convicted must be kept in isolation for not more than three months. Why are we being subject to illegal, inhuman and criminal behaviour when we are citizens framed under a plot?

Friends, in a situation marked by shortsightedness of authorities, inaccessibility to higher officials, delay in decisions regarding cases and unavailability of medicines, many of us are depressed. This has led to frustration and restlessness amongst us and we have been forced to consider the validity and scope of suicide. This question about suicide is often raised to me during our conversations. How and what does one explain to such people? When they go out in fresh air for whatever little time they are let free during the day, they request for medical care and plead for their life. They are mocked at and told that even if they commit suicide or die otherwise, it would get covered up. They are openly told that they can complaint to whoever they like.

My heart is shaken seeing the helplessness of my co-prisoners and my own self here. Are we in an Indian jail or a British jail? Are we living in a secular state or a communal one?

We request you to help us. Actions taken on government dictates or with the help of authorities and courts, that are against human rights can be put to an end.

For the strength and success of this nation, please be kind and pay attention to helpless lives sobbing and crying in this hearth full of hatred. Because it is justice that gives strength to the nation and the State.

By
Mohd. Tarique Quasmi
Prisoner
High Security Cell
C Block District Jail
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Released by RIHAI MANCH, Lucknow
Contact- 0941501266, 09415254919, 09452800752,

Immediate Release- Deep concern expressed against Strategic lawsuit against Dr. Sunilam & Dayamani Barla


 

 

 

Press Release

Citizen groups express deep concern against Strategic lawsuit against public participation against Dr. Sunilam & Dayamani Barla

Oct. 22, 2012, New Delhi: Imprisonment of Dr Sunilam, a socialist politician from Madhya Pradesh has been received with a sense of deep concern and dismay as part of a trend to silence voices of public interest by misleading the judiciary to save vested interests. Dr Sunilam has been part of Indian People’s Movement against WTO and anti-corruption movement in the country.

At a meeting convened by Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) over 20 citizen groups and peoples movements, the facts and circumstances related to the conviction and life imprisonment of Dr Sunilam were examined and future action in this regard was planned.

A meeting of eminent citizens and peoples’ movements is planned on October 28, 2012. In a related development, a solidarity meeting is planned in Hyderabad on October 26 at the office of National Alliance Alliance of Peoples’ Movements.

Former legislator and President of Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, Dr Sunilam led Kisan Andolans. On 12 January, 1998 which was a black day for the farmers’ movement of our country, the State Government under the leadership of Digvijay Singh brutally crushed the non-violent farmers’ movement using the state police. Under a big conspiracy, Digvijay Singh misused the State Police that fired bullets and 24 farmers were martyred. In this incident, 150 farmers were injured due to bullet fire.

The farmers of the district Betul had given a memorandum to circle office on 12 December, 1997. In this memorandum they demanded compensation for their damaged crops. But their effort remained unheeded. Again on 18 December 1997 they submitted another memorandum with a short notice, otherwise they would start a big movement for their agricultural losses. Due to inactive conduct of Government officials, the farmers were bound to form “Kisan Sangharsh Samity”. With the formation of this outfit, thousand farmers started indefinite protest (Dharna) against the oppressive Congress regime, in Tehsil Compound.

The state police continued its oppressive attitude towards farmers but on January 9, 1998 around 75000 farmers marched in Betul protested peacefully. The District Magistrate of Betul came forward and proposed compensation of only Rs. 400 per acre. This little amount was too insufficient to hurt the farmers’ sentiments. Again agitated farmers were on the crossroad and on 11th January, 1998 they siege the Multai Tehsil and all 450 villages of this tehsil. It was a historical Bandh, while police administration tried hard to maintain normal traffic. Farmers opposed the intervention of police authorities. In a response police and Congress hooligans fired few buses and in conspiracy police charged some farmer leaders for this arson. On 12th January 1998, farmer’s leader Dr. Sunilam decided to enter in Tehsil but the state police had already ordered to shoot farmers Dr. Sunilam reached Tehsil office and requested again and again to stop such firing but police authority did not heed his request. They were acting on the order of their Chief Minister Digvijay Singh. The whole drama was to annihilate Dr. Sunilam. He was arrested, beaten brutally by police and faced all kind of police torture.

Madhya Pradesh Government had lodged 66 cases on 250 farmers along with their leader Dr. Sunilam. Additional Session Court of Multai will give the verdict in three cases on 18th October, 2012. Today, 14 years have been passed.

Dr. Sunilam is a socialist brave heart farmer leader and a courageous friend of the toiling masses. His struggle for the Madhya Pradesh farmers is a significant struggle after independence. Both, the Congress and the BJP (prominent national parties) came into power and showed their negligence about this Multai incident.

Despite an adversarial State government, in 1998, Dr Sunilam won the legislative assembly seat of Multai, by a margin of 50% votes. He contested this seat as an independent candidate from farmers’ community. He won the Multai assembly seat in 2003, with 60% of polled votes as a candidate of Samajwadi Party. He was made the leader of the Samajwadi Party in the Madhya Pradesh Assembly. Formerly he was the National Secretary of Samajwadi Party.

Taking note of Dr Sunilam’s background, the appeal for supporting him merits endorsement of all the concerned citizens who love democracy and cherish citizen’s liberty.

The meeting also discussed the case of Dayamani Barla who is a journalist turned anti-displacement, tribal, woman activist from Jharkhand as part of a similar trend to harass public interest persons. She was granted bail by a local court of Ranchi on October 18, 2012. But she was arrested again when friends and colleagues of Dayamani reached jail to receive her, they were told that she is been arrested in the Nagari case and can’t be let off. She was sent to Jail on October 16, 2012 in fourteen days judicial custody, after she surrendered before the court in a matter of April 25, 2006. Six year ago, she was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code including Section 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapon), for participating in a protest demonstration, which blocked the road, demanding job cards for rural laborers under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act. She availed bail in to the matter at that time from the concerned police station and the matter was almost closed one. This not the first time when she is intimidated or harassed but the government is leaving no chance to target her. The recent intimidation and arrest is due to her leading a restless, successful and mostly peaceful (except once when police opened fire on villagers) struggle against the acquisition of fertile land at Nagari, a village situated at few kilometers from the state capital and where government wants to build IIM, IIT and National Law School. The government is desperately trying to crush the movement, by hook or crook.

It is not a matter of Dr Sunlam and Dayamani Barla alone. Harassment of activists on fake pretexts and conviction in fabricated cases has become a trend that merits the response of the sane legal, social and political minds to defang the bite of the strategic lawsuit against public participation.  

For Details: Ramesh Kr. Sharma, INSAF-Indian Social Action Forum, New Delhi-110016, Ph: 011-26517814, 65663958,9818111562. Gopal Krishna, Mb: 9818089660.

 

#India-That Seditious Mango Man #draconianlaws #mustread


 

 | 19 OCTOBER 2012  | , By Gautam Patel at http://www.prisonerofagenda.com/

The sedition law in India is outdated, ineffective and abused; it needs to go, and citing the ‘Maoist/Naxalite problem’ is no answer.

FDI in Retail :: Wal-Mart this

Government, government about to fall

Who’s the most seditious of us all?

A few weeks ago, a young cartoonist, Aseem Trivedi, was arrested on grounds of ‘sedition’. He was later granted bail by the Bombay High Court and, in short order, became the focal point of protests against the sedition law. Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, it was said, is a relic of the British Raj, ‘outdated’ and has no place in modern society. Some pointed out that few countries today have such a law, and no comparable democracy does. It was abolished in England some years ago, and in the USA has been much diluted by courts.

The Curious Case of Binayak Sen by Dilip D'Souza

Trivedi isn’t the only one to have faced this law. Dr Binayak Sen was actually convicted under it, and as my friend Dilip D’Souza points out in his new book, The Curious Case of Binayak Sen, that judgement is wholly incorrect. The book isn’t a biography of Dr Sen, or even a legal polemic about the decision — it doesn’t claim to be either. What it does, and does with brilliant concision and accuracy, is demonstrate how hollow the case against Sen was.

The charge of sedition was central to Dr Sen’s case. He was accused of being a Maoist, and the evidence for this was, chiefly, that he carried three letters from a person in jail to persons outside — a charge of sedition based on, as D’Souza says, “being a glorified postman”.1 The case against Trivedi is that his cartoons — which are scathing but not terribly funny, and, despite the government’s silly attempt to block and ban are still available on the Internet — criticise, mock and deride the government. In both cases, the accusations are of having acted against the government and this is equated with the “state”. In neither case was there any evidence of incitement to violence. Were Anna Hazare and the India Against Corruption movement not “exciting disaffection” towards “the government”? D’Souza asks. Alarmingly, he then emphasizes his point by quoting from one of my articles of July 2011, and then says this:

“This writer certainly sounds contemptuous of his lawfully established government: it is in fact how he wants to sound. He wants to ‘excite disaffection towards the government’. So has this writer committed sedition? Can he be charged with it?”

I certainly hope not.

And this is the heart of the problem. The ‘government’ is not the ‘state’; the government is the party that is presently voted into power and which runs the administration. The state is the nation, and the concepts of statehood, nationality and national identity cannot be conflated with the government. Governments come and go, though some stick on like limpets when they ought to have gone a long time ago. The state remains, and endures; and the state endures not because of any particular government, but despite it. The preamble to our Constitution opens with the words, “We, the people of India”, not “We, the people presently governed by [insert name of political party]”. And sedition is in the section of the Penal Code that deals with offences against the State; it is no offence to criticize a political party or an administration.

Section 124-A does not make this distinction explicitly. It says:

“Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India …”

The crucial parts here, of course, are the phrase “the government by law established” and the words hatredcontempt, and disaffection. Does the phrase refer to the party in administration, or does it refer to the nation and the state? Do the words include mere criticism as well? If it refers to a particular party or this or that government, and every form of criticism, then we have a very real problem, because most of us would then be in jail for a very long time. The most critical problem is that read literally the section runs into a head-on collision with Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(2) of the Constitution which deal with freedom of speech. Article 19(2) places limits on the right of free speech; but it does not use the word sedition. If the right to free speech cannot be curtailed on the ground that it is seditious, then making it an offence violates the right to free speech.

The conflict between the section and the constitutional guarantee of free speech was resolved by a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court in 1962 in Kedar Nath Singh v State of Bihar, in which the constitutionality of S.124-A was challenged.2 Written with exceptional clarity, the Supreme Court judgement traces the long and convoluted history of the law, and the constitutional provisions in relation to free speech. There are many previous cases of relevance to both aspects: the trial of Tilak for instance, and the cases involving free speech. The Court saw that if mere criticism of administration constituted an offence, then the section was clearly unconstitutional. It analysed the three ‘explanations’ that appear below the section, and held that to resolve the conflict, the sedition law must be read to mean that mere criticism, however strongly worded, of administrative or other actions of the Government do not constitute sedition unless they incite violence against the state; and that a “Government established by law” is not the same as the administration. Therefore, to constitute an offence, the words must go beyond mere criticism of a particular party in power; they must attack the state and they must also incite or advocate violence. That, the court said, is the only way to balance both the section and the constitutional guarantee of free speech.

This is not the arcane stuff of law courts. This is a very real and material distinction, one that is vital to the protection of one of our fundamental freedoms. It is also one overlooked by the trial court’s judgement in Binayak Sen’s case and the authorities who arrested Trivedi. Their literal readings mean that everyone, from Arvind Kejriwal to the leader of the Opposition in Parliament and, indeed, the gentleman on television every night, Mr Arnab Goswami, are potentially guilty of ‘sedition’. Many of us are outraged by the antics of our political masters. Yet, we continue to believe in our state, and we do so despite its current administration, not because of it.

Five decades after the Supreme Court decision in Kedar Nath, it is time for Section 124-A to go? In 2010, when England abolished its law on sedition, the Justice Minister said that:

“Sedition and seditious and defamatory libel are arcane offences from a bygone era when freedom of expression wasn’t seen as the right it is today. Freedom of speech is now seen as the touchstone of democracy, and the ability of individuals to criticise the state is crucial to maintaining freedom. The existence of these obsolete offences in this country had been used by other countries as justification for the retention of similar laws which have been actively used to suppress political dissent and restrict press freedom.”

That is as true of India today as it was in England then. Even our own politicians,from Nehru in 1951 to Veerappa Moily in 2011, have said it has no place in our legal polity. You may or may not agree with Arundhati Roy’s views on Kashmir, but to respond by charging her with sedition is worse than an act of cowardice; unfortunately, stupidity is not a punishable offence.

But India also has this peculiar problem of armed insurgencies in vast areas within its borders, what we call the “Naxalite problem”. Whatever its causes and roots, it is an armed insurrection, and it is not directed at a particular administration, but every administration that functions in the name of India. It is undoubtedly subversive of an established order and incites rebellion. But the problem is far too complex, and the retention of the sedition law has not in any way solved it. It has only been misused in the very manner that England’s justice minister spoke of.

Take out the sedition law; is there not still sufficient strength in the law to punish those guilty of murder and armed attacks, whatever the colour of their political beliefs? Why should we continue to risk these assaults on our constitutional freedoms, risks that are not hypothetical, but are very, very real?

The Kedar Nath judgement quotes from Near v Minnesota, a 1931 US case widely regarded as the first great free press case.3 In the context of free speech and sedition, Near v Minnesota in turn quotes James Madison, the propounder of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, and its Bill of Rights advocating the constitutional guarantees of free speech.

“In every State, probable in the Union, the press has exerted a freedom in canvassing the merits and measures of public men of every description which has not been confined to the strict limits of the common law. On this footing the freedom of the press has stood; on this footing it yet stands. … It has accordingly been decided by the practice of the States, that it is better to leave a few of its noxious branches to their luxuriant growth, than, by pruning them away, to injure the vigour of those yielding the proper fruits. …Had ‘Sedition Acts,’ forbidding every publication that might bring the constituted agents into contempt or disrepute, or that might excite the hatred of the people against the authors of unjust or pernicious measures, been uniformly enforced against the press, might not the United States have been languishing at this day under the infirmities of a sickly Confederation? Might they not, possibly, be miserable colonies, groaning under a foreign yoke?

We so easily forget what we must most remember: Our nation’s Independence too was fought for and won by acts that all constituted sedition.

  1. D’Souza, Dilip; The Curious Case of Binayak Senpg 147 
  2. Kedar Nath Singh v State of Bihar, AIR 1962 SC 955 
  3. Near v Minnesota, 283 US 597 

 

#India-Bhopal gas tragedy: #DowChemical may finally be held accountable #justice #goodnews


(http://www.downtoearth.org.in)

bhopal
Moyna-Madhya Pradesh High Court lifts stay that prevented company from being summoned

The Madhya Pradesh High Court has finally lifted a seven-year-old stay that prevented summoning of Dow Chemical in the ongoing criminal case in connection with the Bhopal gas tragedy. Dow Chemical is now the owner of Union Carbide, responsible for the gas tragedy in 1984.

The stay was granted by the high court in March 2005 after Dow Chemical International Private Limited (DCIPL) filed an appeal in response to a January 6, 2005 notice of chief judicial magistrate (CJM) of Bhopal, Anil Kumar Gupta. He had issued a showcause notice to Dow, stating, “It would not be proper to pass an order on fixing criminal and civil liability on Dow… without listening to the opposite party”.

The CJM order came after the Central Bureau of Investigation filed a chargesheet against Union Carbide in 1987. This is the only criminal case registered [1] in India against the owners of the Bhopal pesticide factory.

In its order on October 19, the bench headed by Justice G S Solanki dismissed the petition stating that it is for the trial court to decide whether Union Carbide has ceased to exist following merger with Dow Chemical or if it still exists as a legal entity. The order states, “The question with respect to merger of Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) in the Dow Chemical Company, USA and whether UCC still survives as a separate legal entity are open for determination before the trial court.” The high court further observed the trial court had issued notice to Dow Chemical well within its jurisdiction.

Expressing relief over the progress in the case, Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal Group for Information and Action said it is a big step towards making Union Carbide face trial in India, which has been absconding for over two decades now. In February 2004, Bhopal Group for Information and Action had filed an appeal in the CJM court of Bhopal, asking that Dow Chemical USA be summoned to clarify why it cannot produce its own subsidiary UCC before the Bhopal court in the ongoing criminal case. The company was declared an absconder in 1992 [2] and has officially denied any responsibility for the 1984 disaster. Dhingra also cautioned that the company may file an appeal against the order in the Supreme Court.

U.S Court halts execution of John Ferguson #Deathpenalty #mentallyill #takeaction #florida


CRIMINAL JUSTICE

 A federal court put the execution of John Ferguson, who is convicted of killing eight people in a 1970s murder spree, on hold and scheduled arguments for Friday on whether he is, as he contends, insane.</p><br /><br />
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A federal court put the executionof John Ferguson, who is convicted of killing eight people in a 1970s murder spree, on hold and scheduled arguments for Friday on whether he is, as he contends, insane.

MIAMI HERALD STAFF

A federal court on Saturday put the execution of John Ferguson on hold and scheduled arguments for Friday on whether he is, as he contends, insane.

Ferguson, convicted of killing eight people in a 1970s murder spree, had been scheduled to be put to death Tuesday.

Saturday’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Daniel T.K. Hurley in Miami came just three days after the state Supreme Court upheld a lower-court ruling that Ferguson was sane and eligible to be executed.

Ferguson’s lawyers said that he suffers from paranoid schizophrenia and labors under the delusion that he is the “Prince of God.”

“We are pleased that Judge Hurley has stayed the execution of Mr. Ferguson and has concluded that the important constitutional issues raised by Mr. Ferguson’s habeas petition merit full consideration,” Ferguson’s attorney, Chris Handman, said in a news release.

“In order for the state to execute him, Mr. Ferguson must have a rational understanding of the reason for, and effect of, his execution. A man who thinks he is the immortal Prince of God and who believes he is incarcerated because of a Communist plot quite clearly has no rational understanding of the effect of his looming execution and the reason for it.”

The court scheduled three hours of oral arguments in the case for Friday.

Ferguson was convicted of the July 1977 murders of six in Carol City during a home-invasion robbery. At the time, it was the worst mass murder in Dade history.

Ferguson, now 64, also was convicted separately of murdering Belinda Worley, a 17-year-old Hialeah High School senior, and Brian Glenfeldt, 17, in January 1978.

Ferguson was also convicted of attempted murder in the robbery of another couple at a lover’s lane. He was a suspect, but never charged, with the brutal robbery-slaying of an elderly couple at a Miami motel.

Defense attorneys have maintained for decades that Ferguson is severely mentally ill and his execution would be “cruel and unusual punishment.”

He has been on death row since 1978.

PLEASE SIGN PETITION BELOW

#India- FM radio stations under scanner #Censorship #FOE #FOS


FM radio stations under govt's scanner

The government is planning to set up a facility that will monitor the programme content that is broadcast on FM Radio stations during the 12th Five year plan. Information and Broadcasting secretary Uday Kumar Varma said there was a need to monitor radio content as nearly 800 more FM channels are likely to come up in the next couple of years.

Speaking at a function at the Electronic Media Monitoring Centre (EMMC) here, he said, “The whole world of monitoring of radio content is still to be handled and addressed in a meaningful manner. We do have a mechanism but I think we need to keep that mechanism evolving. With 800 plus FM channels expected to come in next one to three years, there will be quite a handful that will need to be addressed”.

He said private channels in the coming days would get permission to broadcast news which makes the need to monitor content important. “They will begin with AIR news but local news in any case, they may be allowed to generate and broadcast and that would have several manifestations which will need to be monitored,” Varma said.

Later speaking to PTI, Ranjana Dev Sarmah, Director EMMC said the content monitoring body was planning to expand its operations to include radio content and increase the number of television channels. “During the 12th five year plan period, we intend to set up the mechanism to monitor radio content as per the I&B ministry’s instructions,” Sarmah said.

“We also plan to increase the number of TV channels which are monitored from the current 300 to upto 1200 in the coming days,” he said. The EMMC is a department under the I&B ministry which monitors TV content round-the-clock and reports violations of rules and also carries out analysis. Earlier in his speech, the I&B secretary said EMMC was presently confined to satellite transmission but with the onset of digitisation of cable services, new technologies could be looked in to to see what content goes into the cable viewers’ homes.

Varma said that analysis of television content was another challenge that faced the EMMC. “It is good to know which channel is transmitting what kind of programme….which channel is the one which actually uses maximum time for advertisements on may be weekly basis or half yearly basis,” he said. “What kind of rural reporting the channels actually resort to in terms of their overall time devoted to matters which relate to the villages of India or developmental dimensions of the country…may be women, may be children or may be physically challenged and then there are sensitive analysis from the political point of view,” Varma added.

Secretary I&B said that the EMMC could set up its own Research and Analysis Wing which could be known as EMMC – RAW.

Agency/Source
Press Trust Of India