#Gujarat-Dalit Blood Taints Narendra Modi’s Claims


By Anand Teltumbde

08 December, 2012
Countercurrents.org

During the state sponsored carnage of Muslims in 2002, Dalits in Gujarat were unduly defamed having performed the role of foot soldiers of the Hindutva forces. These were stray incidents in Ahmedabad wherein Dalits were spotted in the crowds that attacked Muslims but there were several other instances that surfaced later all over the state in which Dalits had sheltered Muslim families daring the Hindutva marauders. But media in its characteristic way sensationalized the former and completely ignored the latter. Dalits who are always seen with jaundiced eye, became more despicable because of this canard. Intellectuals and commentators waxed eloquent for years thereafter in their stereotypical analyses of what appeared as sinister development without caring for the facts. These highbrow analyses feigning empathy and concern for Dalits only served to deepen hatred for them. In this negativity lay a positive implication that the upper castes and Dalits might henceforth have amicable relations in Gujarat eliminating the possibility of any caste conflict in the future. Mere glance at the facts would show how removed these commonplace notions and intellectual commentaries were from the ground reality in Gujarat.

The recent incident in Thangadh, a small town in Surendranagar district of Gujarat, in which three Dalit youth lost their lives as fallout of a minor clash between them and an upper caste community called Bharwad is a case in point. The clash occurred as a result of an argument over auctioning of stalls at an annual fair organized by the Thangadh municipality. According to newspapers, a Dalit youth was beaten up by the Bharwads on Friday after which the Dalits filed a complaint against them with the Thangadh police station. The following night, the two groups clashed near the police station. The local Police intervened and fired upon the crowd seriously injuring a seventeen-year old boy Pankaj Sumra, who later died in a hospital in Rajkot. News of the death sparked outrage among Dalits in Thangadh who took to the streets demanding that a complaint be filed against police officials responsible for the death. With tension in the town, police officials called in reinforcements. On Sunday afternoon the police again opened fire on the agitating Dalits injuring three Dalit youths. They were rushed to the Rajkot civil hospital where Mehul Rathod, 17, and Prakash Parmar, 21, died. The condition of the third, Chana Vaniya, 25, was critical.

These are the broad facts of the case. The incident is reminiscent of a similar incident that took place in Paramkudi, a taluka place in Ramnathpuram district in distant Tamilnadu poignantly pointing to the pan Indian reality of caste conflict, and that the situation in Gujarat was no different than the atrocity prone Southern Tamilnadu. In Paramkudi, there was a long history of conflict between Pallar, a second most populous Dalit community and the Thevar, the local upper caste community not very dissimilar to Bharwad in the instant case. Other details of these two cases run strikingly similar [see, Author’s report of the fact finding: Killing Pallars To Propitiate Thevars, available online- http://www.countercurrents.org/teltumbde301011.htm.] As in the Thangadh incident, a 16-year old Dalit boy was hacked to death by a group of Thevars on the previous day, in a nearby village. The next day, large number of Dalits gathered at Paramakudi as planned to pay homage to their leader, Emanuel Sekaran, at his memorial on his birth anniversary. Emanuel Sekaran was brutally murdered 54 years ago in a conflict with Muthuramalinga Thevar, the leader of Thevars, whose memorials and anniversaries are patronized by the state. Although Dalits knew about this murder, they had maintained normalcy required for the solemnity of the occasion. However, the unusually huge police posse positioned there indicated that the state had different plans for the day. The plan unfolded into police suddenly opening fire and unleashing brutal atrocities over the day eventually killing in all six Dalits and injuring scores of them.

The similarities between Than and Paramakudi go beyond these incidents. Bharwad community in Gujarat is not highly positioned to be called an upper caste. Traditionally its vocation was shepherding and still it is predominantly pastoral, only a small section of it being agriculturists and significant numbers being farm labourer. They are so backward that a section of them living on the edge of the Gir forest rather are included into Scheduled Tribe. Likewise, Thevars also are not placed high in caste hierarchy and were almost at the lower end of the shudra band. So much so that in colonial times they were classed as the criminal tribes by the colonial rulers. There is a profound lesson contained in these episodes like numerous others that today the conflict of Dalits is not with the well entrenched upper castes, habitually identified with Brahmins by Dalits but with these backward castes, whom they fondly include as their allies in constructing ‘bahujan’. In both cases a teenage Dalit boy is murdered on the previous day (coincidently Saturday) and the police firing takes place on Sunday resulting into a major toll of Dalit lives. The police bias in both the cases is palpable, and is responsible for the bloodshed. Massive Dalit protests that followed these incidents led by social activists and not by the mainstream leaders also was a common feature across both.

In such incidents, the police come out with their own stories to justify their actions. As in Paramakudi, the Police in Thangadh claimed that both sides clashed with sticks and sharp weapons on Saturday and hence they had to intervene. They claimed to have used tear gas shells before a sub-inspector K P Jadeja opened fire. The activists denied it and claimed that Jadeja fired without any warning whatsoever and only at Dalits. Proof of the pudding bears out their version as there was no injury on Bharwad side. Moreover, after the skirmish between two communities the police had suspended the fair and there was no reason for firing at 11.30 in night on people who were returning home. The activists claimed that Jadeja did it only with casteist prejudice against Dalits. On Sunday afternoon, the police claimed that the angry Dalits clashed with Police and hence they had to open fire in self defence. The CID investigation, ordered by the government in response to the massive agitation Dalits proved that it was a pure lie.

Another stratagem common to all such incidents is Police arresting Dalits and slapping cases on them, with serious charges like attempt to murder. In the infamous incident of police gunning down 10 Dalits in Ramabai Nagar in Mumbai in 1997, while the sub inspector Manohar Kadam, whose guilt was variously proved not only in the courts but also by the Gundewar Commission instituted by the Maharashtra government to probe the matter, never went to jail and was rather rewarded with promotions, the Dalit boys who protested against the police firing were harassed for more than a decade fighting cases against them until the court acquitted them. In Thangadh also the Police arrested Dalit boys and slapped serious charges against them. It is only because of the intensity of protest Dalits displayed that the government has relented and released them. Notwithstanding the fact that it is an election year and Narendra Modi would ill afford to displease Dalits by not conceding their reasonable demand, the credit still goes to Rajesh Solanki of the Council for Social Justice (CSJ) for mobilizing people around it in an unprecedented manner.

The Thangadh episode surely refutes the negative characterization of Dalits of Gujarat that they patched up with the rightist forces. It also exposes the hollow claims of Narendra Modi that his regime takes good care of Dalits, Adivasis and even minorities. The matter of Adivasis, who have been Hinduised over the years is well known to people and what his regime did to the Muslims is still getting exposed through courts. Dalits were the only people whose contradictions with the regime had not come so much in limelight, notwithstanding the ongoing struggle of the veteran activist Valjibhai Patel of the CSJ. If one takes a look at the atrocity statistics, the Modi regime only scores average among the states and union territories ranking tenth highest in the list of 35. As per the Crime in India 2011 report, there have been 1063 registered crimes against Dalits in Gujarat in which there were 12 murders and 45 rapes. Modi’s hyperbole about Dalits in Gujarat turns out as hollow as his developmental claims. He will have to account for the blood of Dalits spilled in Gujarat quite like anyone of his ilk elsewhere.

Dr Anand Teltumbde is writer and civil rights activist with CPDR, Mumbai

 

India-Palestine Solidarity Takes A Leap Ahead At The Mumbai conference


 

By Bindu Desai

08 December, 2012
Countercurrents.org

Firstly I must thank my friend Rupa for letting me know about this conference! It was held at the University Club House about 3 kms from my home. I was initially intrigued by the flyer of the ‘India Palestine Solidarity Forum’, which included these quotes:

Mahatma Gandhi (1946) :

But in my opinion, they (the Jews) have erred grievously in seeking to impose themselves on Palestine with the aid of America and Britain and now with the aid of naked terrorism. Why should they depend on American money or British arms for forcing themselves on an unwelcome land? Why should they resort to terrorism to make good their forcible landing in Palestine?

Dr Bhim Rao Ambedkar (1949) :

The Zionists are a threat to World Peace

Nelson Mandela ( 1994) :

When the Palestinians are free, our struggle will be complete.

I quickly decided to attend and come December 1, made my way to the meeting hall. Scheduled to open at 10.00 am, I reached a little early. I was surprised to see the gate to the clubhouse building shut and a posse of policemen all around. I went up to the gate and said I was there to attend the conference, a lady signaled to the police to open the gate and I was soon at the meeting hall where only 3 people were sitting. I introduced myself to them. One was a distinguished elderly gentleman Maulana Azhari who was from Malegaon. He nodded vigorously when I mentioned Hemant Karkare’s and Teesta Setalvad’s name. I then went to meet the other 2: former Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat and his wife Niloufer Bhagwat. We started chatting and were puzzled to find only the 4 of us there.

Soon Feroze Mithiborwala, General Secretary of the Forum, joined us and related that he had got a call from the Registrar of the Bombay University, as a letter had been sent to him from the Marine Drive Police station. The Marine Drive police station is in the same vicinity as the Israeli consulate and it appears that there are certain police officers who are beholden to them. The organisers received very good cooperation from the University, but due to the police letter stating that the conference organizers had not been granted the ‘No Objection Certificate’ (NOC) the University would have to withdraw permission. The Registrar made it clear that if the police withdrew the letter, they will let the organizers proceed. Here Husein Dalwai (MP Rajya Sabha) & Additional Commissioner of Police Krishna Prakash supported the organizers. Thus when they finally got the police station to give us the letter, even though the police NOC was not really required. Feroze’s colleagues were awake till 1.30am sorting the NOC matter out. There was also an attempt by a certain rightwing teachers union to book the hall on those very dates, but even that attempt was foiled & dealt with. It seems the Israeli Consulate and their friends had exerted pressure to get the conference cancelled. Amazing how the Israelis monitor any activity that reveals the truth about Palestine.

Chatting with the Bhagwats, I recognized Niloufer’s name from her previous writings. Coming home that evening learnt via the internet that Admiral Bhagwat had protested the promotion of a communal minded officer to his staff and was dismissed by the then Defense Minister George Fernandes. Niloufer Bhagwat has been active for decades in defending the rights of minorities. The Bhagwats are determined and dedicated individuals who take the Constitution of India seriously.

Soon the hall filled. The organizers included Dalit leaders, active among them Kishore Jagtap. Many students from radical Dalit groups attended and the hall was nearly full. Later I read that Feroze and Kishore were detained for a day by the Mumbai police when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was in Mumbai on July 17, 2009. Apparently this was to prevent Feroze and Kishore from organizing a protest of US policies in Asia and elsewhere.

The curtain opened to reveal a ‘brick wall’ symbolizing the ‘Siege of Gaza’ and a banner that had photos of Indian and International leaders and heroes with Yasser Arafat’s photo in the centre. The conference was originally scheduled for 17th November but had to be delayed as the Government of India (GOI)’s bureaucracy moved slowly. The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) was very cooperative; the delay was bureaucratic and not political. Delegates from Pakistan & Iran were not granted Conference visas, though all the other Indian embassies cooperated. One Palestinian delegate Hisham Jamjoun was not allowed to leave Occupied Palestine (Israel) and enter Jordan to catch his flight to India & thus he missed the conference. As it happened the delay was fortunate as the weekend of November 17th Bombay was under lockdown (Bandh) due to the death of Mumbai’s right wing Shiv Sena’s ‘supremo’ Bal Thackeray.

 

Inaugural Session:

Feroze Mithiborwala gave the keynote address. Israel cannot subdue Gaza, he said, and called Israel an apartheid state which should be treated as such & called for the boycott of Apartheid Israel. He also stated that “the Israeli occupation of Palestine, is the central geopolitical crisis of our times & thus its both a moral as well as a political imperative for the Indian & Asian people’s movements to play a decisive role”.

There was a general mood of buoyancy in the audience as the UN resolution upgrading Palestine’s status had recently passed 138 to 9. Feroze rightly remarked that except for the US, Israel, Canada and the Czech Republic the other 5 states included some whose names were insignificant & one did not even know. Rather like Bush’s ‘Coalition of the Willing’ I thought! He declared that the walls that divide us will break one day and that our goal was a free Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital. He was happy to hear from the Palestinian Ambassador to India Adli Sadeq that India had co-sponsored the UN resolution and worked hard to lobby for votes. He felt the fight against Zionism was part of a larger struggle against US and Western Imperialism as well as Manuvad (the laws of Manu that serve to justify caste in India). The Palestinian resistance is the vanguard of the global struggle against Imperialism & Zionism & thus the struggle for the liberation of Palestine is a struggle for the liberation of the world. He also stated that the international scenario is changing rapidly & the Western powers are on the decline, as Asia & the other former colonized nations & continents continue to rise.

He lauded the help given by Dalits and Other Backward Castes to help organize this conference at every level. This is also due to the fact that now the Bahujan ideologues have understood the strategic alliance between Manuwad & Zionism, both of which are fascist religio-supremacist ideologies.

Advocate Niloufer Bhagwat was happy that the conference was being held in Mumbai as the city had always been on the side of the Palestinian people who she noted were determined to find new ways to attain their freedom.

Ambassador Adli Sadeq thanked India for its support for the Palestinian cause from the days of Mahatma Gandhi. He praised the Government of India for acting at the UN in concert with the spirit of the Indian people. He pointed out that Israel was guilty of preemptively bombing Gaza. Palestinians were to be assaulted and then blamed too!

Rabbi Weiss (USA) of the Neturei Karta who are religious Jews opposed to Zionism, declared that Judaism had been hijacked by Zionists into a base materialism. The Commandments of the Torah, clearly say not to steal or kill and Israel does both. He called Israel a “rogue state that had resulted in an endless river of blood”. Jews had flourished in every Arab & Muslim country prior to the formation of Israel and that Jews would not be destroyed no matter what happened to Israel. Israel was an impediment to peace, Zionism a racist & supremacist flawed ideology.

Paul Larudee (USA), one of the founders of the movements to end the siege of Gaza, described how Palestine has been home to people from all over the world through the ages. He declared that Jerusalem belongs to all of us. He urged India to be ‘an honest broker’ as the USA clearly could not be one. He was really enthused & buoyant at the fact that the Palestine solidarity movement was now breaking new ground, in a country as crucial as India.

Mr. Abdullah Abdullah of Fatah and the International Relations Commission thanked the GOI for sponsoring the UN General Assembly resolution. President Mahmoud Abbas had delayed this move at the UN till after the US presidential election but when Barack Obama’s stance was unchanged, President Abbas went ahead with the resolution. Most people on this earth supported the Palestinian cause. He pitied those who opposed the UN General Assembly resolution. Mr. Abdullah felt that in a unipolar world the US wanted global hegemony. But he differentiated between the policies of the US government and the people of the US, remembering & paying his tribute to Rachel Corrie who was murdered in Gaza. He felt the solidarity movement had to be rebuilt; Palestinians have to get their house in order and consolidate Palestinian unity.

Former Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat felt that super capitalism was the problem with petrodollars used to buttress Western banks.

Songs and Slogans:

A group of singers led by the famed cultural icon, Sambhaji Bhagat came on stage and sang songs in Marathi & Hindi about social issues. One dealt with the colonization of the mind by the US, no need for troops, or physical occupation of a country. They sang with fervour and the audience erupted with loud and enthusiastic slogans:

From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free!

Palestine Zindabad! (Long Live Palestine!)

One Asia! United Asia!

As the hall reverberated with the force of the many voices that shouted in unison the Palestinian delegates were visibly moved. The slogan ‘Palestine Zindabad’ and ‘From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free’ was repeated several times.

A little girl with a ‘hammer’ then proceeded to demolish the Apartheid Wall that besieged Gaza & all of Palestine to loud applause.

At lunch I met several remarkable individuals including Advocate Yusuf Muchala who had been very active with the Srikrishna Commission’s investigations of the 1992-93 massacres of Muslims in Bombay engineered by the Shiv Sena.

Session on the Colonization of Palestine

Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh from Bir Zeit University said there are two responses to discrimination: fight or flight. The Palestinian people were forced to flee in 1948-49 when Israel destroyed 530 towns and villages. Palestinians have a long history of resistance from 1891 till today with 15 major uprisings. The separation ‘wall’ that Israel has built is 767 kms long; 1.5 million trees have been uprooted. 87 % of the district of Bethlehem has been taken over by Israeli settlements. There is apartheid in the distribution of water, in the building of roads, in employment.

Israel is one of the largest supplier of arms to India. It has a well organised system to infiltrate Indian media and supply it with pro-Israeli stories. Bilateral trade was presently $5 billion and is expected to grow rapidly. Professor Mazin was much influenced by Mahatma Gandhi and reiterated that the conflict in Palestine was not a religious one but a struggle of an oppressed people regardless of religion. He was Christian and prior to the formation of Israel Jews, Christians and Muslims lived together without violence. He maintained that peace in Jerusalem is necessary for peace worldwide.

Dr Haider Dukmak, a Palestinian from Lebanon, spoke that in Al Quds (Jerusalem) the Judaisation had begun with stones and was now proceeding with increasing settlements to Judaisation of people. The area around the Al Aqsa mosque was being modified with tunnels being dug and access to the mosque being made increasingly difficult.

Session on Indo-Israeli ties, a betrayal of our anti-colonial legacy

Dr Tasleem Rehmani felt that the recent policies of the GOI were not so much anti-Palestinian but pro-Israeli as economic interests are paramount in this post 1991 unipolar world. Indian political leadership feels that Israel is helpful to them in this regard and in promoting Indo-US ties. A sea change from the days when Yasser Arafat was warmly welcomed by Indira Gandhi, he called her his sister and she had reciprocated those sentiments by calling him her brother. The present government would respond to public pressure, he gave the example of the statement of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) when Gaza was bombed. The MEA statement was full of pieties about both sides needing to show restraint and about peace talks. 2 days later reacting to public sentiment the Minister of External Affairs Salman Khurshid criticized Israel’s use of ‘indiscriminate force’ and reiterated India’s support for Palestinian independence with Jerusalem as its capital.

Dr Suresh Khairnar emphasized that the Palestine issue was not an Islamic issue but a human one. He had been to the Palestinian camps in Lebanon and Syria, so different from the areas of the cities that tourists frequented. The people living in these camps had been forced into exile. On Indira Gandhi he said that though he was jailed by her during the Emergency, he admired her stand on Palestine, her support for their cause never wavered. Dr Khairnar pointed out that Ayatollah Khomeini had also been emphatic in stating that the Palestinian issue was not an Islamic issue but a human one.

S S Yadav, a well known economist affirmed that Dalits were with Palestine as they too were suffering like the Palestinians, their land was taken away, and they too were humiliated and discriminated against.

Maulana Azhari a respected cleric from Malegaon, first addressed the guests from Palestine in Arabic. Switching to Hindi he related how India’s policies had been much appreciated in the Arab world. He was in Misr(Egypt) in the late 60s when Dr Zakir Hussain, President of India was warmly welcomed while General Ayub Khan though from a Muslim country, Pakistan, was not. He stressed that it was the policies followed by India that were respected, not the religions of a nation.

The speakers spoke from their heart, in Arabic, English, Hindi and Marathi. Sometimes translations were not provided but I sensed that our Palestinian guests got the gist of what the speaker was saying.

In the last session we had speakers from various political parties, namely Amil Patel (MLA, Congress), Abu Asim Azmi (MLA, Samajwadi Party), Ramdas Athawale (ex-MP & National President, RPI) & Com. Uday Choudhary (CPI). They all stated that India should once again take a clear position in their support for Palestine.

The next day, December 2nd.

The students set the tone for the second day by their enthusiastic slogans:

Palestine Zindabad!

One Asia, United Asia!

Struggle is our slogan! We will win!

Our wealth is our right! No one is handing it to us!

Before the session started Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh presented Jyoti Badekar and Kishore Jagtap with keffiyehs. They in turn took the keffiyehs and placed them on a small set of bricks adorned with the Palestinian flag and a banner of the India Palestine Solidarity Forum.

A short video was shown that conveyed the reality of Gaza. We were asked not to avert our eyes as for change to occur we had to know what happened repeatedly in Gaza. Jets flew in, bombs exploded, mayhem ensued. The plumes of smoke, the people running helter-skelter, then rescuers trying their best to get the wounded to hospital. Heartbreaking to see those jets deliver their ordinance on an unarmed , defenceless populace, their menacing sounds as they flew in, the loud explosion of bombs, the buildings going up in flames Our Palestinian guest stopped the video halfway stating he did not want us to see maimed and horribly injured children…

Session on the History of the Palestinian Resistance:

Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh had worn a kurta today. He looked very dapper in it! He began his talk with a Namaste and a few words in Hindi which delighted the audience. He told us he was from Beit Sahour near Bethlehem. He related that the first Zionist settlement was established in Palestine in 1880. The first resistance to it took place in 1881. In 1929 women led by Matiel Moghannam protested against British policies in Palestine. The protest was non-violent. Indeed Professor Mazin said Matiel Moghannam was called the Palestinian Gandhi. A more widespread protest took place in the mid-30s. Armed resistance was used. Prof Mazin said that an oppressed people have the right indeed an obligation to resist including armed resistance.

Displaying a chart which detailed the structure of the Palestine Liberation Organization(PLO) he pointed out that the PLO had many wings including Labour, Women, Child Welfare etc.

He described how in the 1987 Intifada 12 children were taken to a nearby valley where Israeli soldiers broke their arms and legs. They left one child’s leg unbroken so he could walk to the nearest village and get help. “To exist is to resist” he said. All simple acts of day to day life like farming, going to school, as well as arguing with soldiers, climbing the ‘separation wall’, sitting in front of a bulldozer constituted such acts. He told us that an activist who had founded the International Solidarity Movement was not allowed to come to India by Israeli authorities. Professor Mazin, though holding an American passport could not go to Jerusalem while an American Jew could go anywhere in Palestine. He urged us not to get disheartened by the inaction of governments. People change first, governments are the last to change he declared.

Basel Mansour (Palestine) displayed a map of Palestine which showed us how relentlessly Israel had expropriated Palestinian land. He spoke about the wall and settlements which are illegal according to International law. The wall isolates 29 Palestinian areas and takes 13% of the 5600 square kms that form the West Bank. When the wall on the border with Jordan is completed 37% of the land will be stolen as settlements grow.

There are officially 300 Israeli check points in the West Bank. In some areas additional check points are erected every 100 meters and these are not included in the total of 300. A hundred kilometers of roads have been constructed in the West Bank for exclusive use by settlers. The wall cuts villages in half, and destroys the local economy. Non-violent resistance is an imperative as the Israeli military is very strong. He continued” We try to keep them ‘busy’ by creative non-violent resistance. In Bil’in with international support creative acts occur every week with different themes. For instance one week we put mirrors in front of the soldiers so it appeared as though they were carrying our protest signs. We have tied ourselves to olive trees, used as a float a model of the Marmara (the ship on its way to help Gaza which was stormed by the Israeli soldiers resulting in many deaths). We have played tennis using a tear gas canister as a ‘ball’. We have used cyber media. Our protest has been partially successful in that some of the wall around Bil’in has been removed, the land reclaimed. We bring diversity of ideas to our protest. Some Israelis also support us. We use Israeli law though we do not trust their legal system. We use it to show how the system functions. We have been called the new ‘Gandhians’ because of our non-violent resistance. The Israeli military has used many weapons and ways to deter us: nightly raids, burning houses and farms, collective punishment, arresting people including children.”

Maysoum (Palestine) began with leading us in cheering: Palestine Zindabad! Yasser Arafat Zindabad! She spoke about those imprisoned by Israel, at present 4700 individuals; 185 under the age of 18; 470 from Gaza, 534 from the West bank. 200 have spent more than 20 years in prison. Prison thouh functions as a ‘university’ where prisoners learn of the history of the area, the many past struggles, the ideas with which to confront Israel etc. Apartheid exists in prison between Palestinian and Israeli detainees. Hamas and Fatah prisoners are also segregated. Since 1967 800,000 Palestinians have been jailed by Israel. Upon release prisoners are often deported, they cannot visit their families, not many countries want them as they are considered ‘dangerous’. She moved many in the audience to tears when she said she could see in our eyes the love we had for Palestine and she therefore felt that she was in Palestine!

Saeed Yaqin (Palestine) whose village was destroyed by Israel in 1984 said that yesterday he felt he had a home again in India. He was clearly touched by the warmth and affection of the attendees to the conference. He remarked on the ‘order’ in Israel’s ideology, “ to kill our smile, our people, our livelihood”. He warned that all religious sites in Palestine were in a precarious state due to Israeli neglect and their policies. The ‘Bantustans’ in Palestine were worse than in South Africa…

Vida Warde, a Palestinian who lives in Beirut spoke eloquently about the “Right of Return” & said that one day soon, all the millions of Palestinian refugees will march back home & brave the Israeli bullets, but will never give up their struggle & soon one day, Palestine will be free.

There was also ceremony where all the international delegates were feted with well crafted mementoes as a token of our affection & respect. The words inscribed herein stated the following.

“We the people of India hereby honour your commitment & sacrifice for the cause of the liberation of Palestine. This is our common struggle against imperialism, Zionism & all forms of racism, oppression & exploitation. It is only then that we will achieve our common human ideal of a just & peaceful world”.

The house all rightly feted both, Feroze Mithiborwala with the title ‘Ibn-Palestine’ or the ‘Son of Palestine’ & Kishore Jagtap with ‘Bharat Gaurav’ or ‘Pride of India’. The house was up on its feet for both these organizers, who have succeeded in laying the foundations for the Palestinian movement in this generation.

I left the conference deeply impressed by the efforts of the organizers, the large and attentive audience, the passion and sincerity of the speakers. May the bond that Dalits and other oppressed minorities in India feel for the Palestinian people grow from strength to strength as both struggle to create a just society. Their identification with the Palestinian cause should act as a brake on the GOI’s headlong rush for closer ties with the Zionist state.

The degree to which Israel and its allies watch any dissent from their policies is sobering. Looking up Paul Larudee and Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh’s name on Google I was astonished by the vitriol that pro Zionist groups had poured on them. But these efforts to defame brave individuals who are not afraid of opposing unjust laws fail. Though the Mumbai meet was ignored by the English media, its message will spread by other creative means & the message has travelled & wide.

The indomitable spirit of the Palestinian people will prevail! They will succeed in their efforts to be treated as equals with the right to full citizenship, freedom for their land, with Jerusalem as its capital. It is a dream we all share and will work for from Bethlehem to Bombay!

 

Orissa – CDRO Statement on the arrests of Samgram Mohanty and Kailash Mandal


December 6, 2012

CDRO strongly condemns and refutes the official versions touted by the Odisha police regarding the recent arrests of Sangram Mohanty and Kailash Mandal from Berhampur town on 5th December 2012. Both have been shown as Maoists and the police claim to have recovered arms, literature and other items from their possession.

The facts are otherwise. Sangram Mohanty, a thirty year old engineer turned businessman was busy in a motor repairing garage on 5th December in Berhampur town. When returning home in the morning, he was intercepted by plain clothed policemen in a Bolero jeep and hustled into the vehicle. This was corroborated by a local butcher who was a witness to the interception. Mohanty was first taken to the Reserve Police Barrack near Berhampur town and then, in another vehicle, transported to Mohana PS in Gajpati district, not far from the area where the recent fake encounter had taken place. His advocate was refused permission to meet him and late at night he was produced with his face covered before a first class judicial magistrate at R Udaigiri. After production, he was taken to judicial custody where he has started his hunger strike protesting his arrest. Although the magistrate reprimanded the police for covering Mohanty’s face, his bail petition was rejected as the magistrate claimed that it went beyond his purview.

It is necessary to add that Sangram Mohanty is the son of Dandapani Mohanty, convenor of Jan Adhikar Manch who has twice acted as interlocutor for securing the release from the Maoists, the collector of Malkangiri in 2011 and two Italian tourists abducted in 2012. He has been legally fighting for 657 persons lodged in 19 districts who have been arrested as Maoists by the police. He and his family have been repeatedly threatened and intimidated by the police over the last two years. His house was ransacked and raided by the police in 2010 and false cases were foisted under UAPA in February 2012. Most recently, he and his family have been receiving threats after his public condemnation of the fake encounter. Sangram Mohanty’s arrest is clearly a way of intimidating Mr Mohanty and his family.

In another instance, Kailash Mandal, a tribal and cultivator was picked up by the police on 2nd December in the evening from the bus stop at Berhampur town where Mandal had come for business. Mandal’s father contacted Dandapani Mohanty the following day and the latter sent SMSes to all officials in Odisha in connection with Mandal’s disappearance. Coincidentally, Mandal too was produced with Mohanty on the night of 5th/6th at R. Udaigiri.

CDRO demands:

* Immediate and unconditional release of Sangram Mohanty and Kailash Mandal.
* Action against the police for keeping Mandal in illegal detention for over three days, for arresting Mohanty and Mandal without procedure, for producing them with their faces covered, and for refusing permission to Mohanty’s lawyer from meeting him.
* Immediate end of harassment to Dandapani Mohanty and his family from the state forces.

Asish Gupta & Kranthi Chaitanya
Co-ordinator, CDRO

 

Goa ‘beats’ Karnataka in illegal mining


Goa ‘beats’ Karnataka in illegal mining
By Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN  and PTI | Dec 8, 2012,

The apex court’s high-powered environment panel said that the illegal mining was carried out allegedly with the “tacit” approval of the previous Digambar Kamat government.

NEW DELHI: Rampant illegal iron ore mining in Goa, which has devastated the state, is much larger than the illegal mining in Karnataka, and the Union ministry of environment and forests granted green clearances to 162 mines near national parks and sanctuaries in breach of Supreme Court orders, a report by the CEC (central empowered committee) said.

The apex court’s high-powered environment panel also said that the illegal mining was carried out allegedly with the “tacit” approval of the previous Digambar Kamat government.

The report was presented on Friday by amicus curiae A D N Rao before a bench of Justices Aftab Alam, K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar.

The bench issued notices to the Union and state government seeking their response to the report, which said, “A very large number of mining leases were being operated by persons other than the lessees and in flagrant violation of the provisions of mining law and in all probability with the tacit approval of the state government.”

The report said that the state experiences plenty of rainfall, which washes the sediments of iron ore mining to the rivers, choking and irreversibly damaging the sensitive Zuari and Mandovi estuaries complex, said to be the largest in the country.

The CEC said that during 2006-2011, 39.56 million tonnes of illegal iron ore was exported from the state.

“The bulk of the mining leases are in the forests or natural vegetation and consequently mining has take a heavy toll on Goa’s natural vegetation and wildlife,” the environment panel said through member secretary M K Jiwrajka.

“The environmental clearances granted by the Ministry of Environment & Forests, (MoEF) for the 19 mining leases located within the wildlife sanctuaries and for another 23 mining leases located within a distance of upto 1 km from the boundaries of nearby national parks / sanctuaries being in violation of this Court’s orders dated. The mining operations in such mining leases may be prohibited,” the report said.

The 124-page report was placed before a three judge bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam which would consider its findings and recommendation in the next date of hearing.

Taking note of the Justice M B Shah Commission report which estimated a whopping Rs.35,000 crore loss to the exchequer due to illegal mining in the last 12 years, the bench had halted mining operations in all the 90 mines in Goa.

It had also asked the CEC to submit its report on the illegal mining in the state within four weeks.

The committee in its report said that on the line of Karnataka, Goa also prepare a reclamation and rehabilitation (R&R) plan and the apex court should examine the environmental clearances given to the mining leases.

“Goa may be directed to immediately notify comprehensive Rules to regulate the storage, transportation and shipment of mineral,” the report said adding “Till such comprehensive Rules are put in place, the resumption of mining operations may be not be permitted.”

The CEC said that mining operation be allowed only after Environment Impact Assessment is done and reclamation and rehabilitation (R&R) plan is prepared.

“The mining operation may be allowed to be resumed in Goa by the mining leases not found to be involved in any illegalities only after (a) the Macro Level IA study report of the ICFRE is received by this Court and decision regarding Taluka wise ceiling on permissible annual production from all the mining leases is taken (b) the survey and demarcation of the mining leases by the team constituted by this Court is completed and (c) the R&R Plans are prepared,” the report said.

The Committee also recommended that additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Bangalore may be directed to verify that the mining operations will not have adverse impact on the flora, fauna or wildlife habitat and the status of the forest areas have correctly been stated by the companies for seeking environmental clearances.

“This court may consider taking a decision regarding validity of such environmental clearances after considering the recommendations of the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife, the report of chief conservator of forests Bangalore and other information / details. Till then the such environmental clearances may be directed to be held in abeyance,” the report said.

The CEC filed its report in compliance of the Supreme Court direction which passed the order on a PIL filed by an NGO, Goa Foundation, seeking probe in the illegal mining activities in the state.

The state government had on September 10 temporarily suspended all mining operations till October 2012, but the petitioner alleged that suspension did not affect the trade as the private companies are transporting the ores from mines.

The court is already seized of the illegal mining cases in Karnataka where, after halting all mining activities for more than year, it had on September 3 allowed operations in only 18 mines out of more than 100 mines where the irregularities were minimum.

 

Is protesting at a public meeting curbing #FOE #FOS ?


Dec 8, 2012–A big hue and cry has been been rasied among activists after the walkout  from the Sixth Justice VM Tarkunde Memorial Lecture because Shri Nandan Manohar Nilekani was chosen to deliver it on November 23, 2012.
When the lecture was announced many of us were stunned at the fact that how could PUCL be associated with an event wherein Nandan Nilekani  has been given a platform to speak.  All human righst activists involved in say no to uid campaign, wrote individually to PUCL to cancel the event and PUCL  came up with the following a public statement which said
We had issued a statement where we made explicit that our opposition to UDIAI has not changed nor our continuing to oppose the UID project. We had also spoken to and followed by writing to the organisers informing our stand on UIDAI, that selection of a person like Mr. Nilekani is  contradictory to the very ideals that Justice Tarkunde’s  work and persona reflected, and therefore the demand for calling off the lecture as also that we did not want to be associated with the event. The organisers had also accepted our request and agreed not to associate PUCL with the event .
 As event was not cancelled, but PUCL had disassociated , the civil liberteis activists at the public meeting on Nov 23rd 2012 ,decided to walk out to show their protest the Read the report here
There after, there has been many email exchanges which are reproduced below
Clarification by PUCL
Dear friends,
I have been forwarded a news item “Why civil liberties activists walked out from Nandan Nilekani ‘s lecture” in which it is stated that those who walked out included “N.D.Pancholi, President, People’s Union For civil liberties (PUCL) Delhi” amongst others. It is entirely incorrect. I did not walk out in protest from the multipurpose hall where the lecture was being held. I had come out from the hall when I heard some noises outside and had some discussion with the protestors. I am one of the members of the Tarkunde Memorial Foundation. It is also not correct, as stated in the report, that “organisers rushed and tried to take back the papers”. It is also incorrect that the organisers termed the silent and peacerful distribution of the Statement as “trouble”. If some participants in the audience felt disturbed while the said activists were distributing statement, and made some remarks, organisers have nothing to do with it. Please make necessary corrections in your report and publish my clarification..
Thanking you,
N.D.Pancholi
Usha Ramanathan who was at the meeting and walked out responded

It is indeed true that Mr Pancholi did not walk out. He came out with the organisers who also anxiously came out of the hall because of the walk out.

As for the rest, it is indeed true that the orgainsers did take back the papers that had been quietly passed around. May be Mr Pancholi did not see it happening, but others amongst us did, and Mr Riain Karanjawala, who is among the organisers, did not deny it when he was confronted, by Vrinda Grover, with this illiberal act. It is also true that it was a member of the organisers’ team that termed what had happened as `trouble’. This too was hotly contested on the steps of the multipurpose hall where the meeeting was being held. And, as Vrinda pointed out, if what had happened could be termed trouble — viz., handing out papers that would set out the dangers of a project that was being promoted on the platform that had been provided to the one marketing the project; and the walk out that was intended to indicate that this is not a compliant citizenry which has no civil liberties consciousness –the that was what Justice Tarkunde had been doing all his life!

May be Mr Pancholi objects to the young props of the organisers who acted as if we posed a threat to the meeting as being thought of as part of the `organisers’. There is, however, no question that they were acting on behalf of the organisers. There is also no question that Mr Riain Karanjawala came out to take over from his young team. Mr Pancholi was there. Mr Pancholi may also recall that he said to us to give him the papers that we said was being confiscated in the room, and that he would ensure that they were distributed; and Mr Karanjawala silenced him with unwonted vigour. It is also a fact that Mr Karanjawala made disgruntled murmurs that he had never wanted PUCL as part of the Tarkunde lecture but that Justcie Sachar had prevailed on him, and, his tone made unmistakable, he, Mr Karanjawala regretted the error.

Mr Pancholi was part of the meeting that decided to invite Mr Nandan Nilekani. We know that Mr Pancholi is a member of the PUCL, and that he has been opposed to the UID project. However, it seems he may not have been fully cognisant of Mr Nilekani’s connection with the UID project. So, he ended up being a part of the inviting team. That he walked out of the hall of course does not mean that he was part of our walk out. He was walking out to see what was happening; and something certainly was, outside the hall, on the steps. And that included words exchanged about `trouble’, about PUCL, about taking back papers that had been circulated, about free expression, and about Justice Tarkunde not belonging to any particular set of people, not his family, not PUCL, but the wider community of people who have held him in high esteem through these years of his work and beyond.

The again on Dec 3rd 2012, Mr Pancholi responded
This is with reference to the comments made by Usha on my clarification which I sent in reply to a news item “Why civil liberties activists walked out from Nandan Nilekani’s lecture” published on a website ‘Kractivist’.
When I said to Vrinda to hand me over the pamphlets so that I could ensure that the same were properly distributed, she replied that she had no pamphlets as the same were distributed and were in turn snatched away from the participants by some youngmen. I told her that the civil liberties activists should have informed the organisers or me beforehand of their intentions of distributing the pamphlets. Had they disclosed such intention, some way could have been found out without disturbing the lecture. It is her misconception to say that Mr. Karanjwala silenced me.
Earlier Shri Sandeep Singh (of Citizens Forum For Civil Liberties) had come alongwith some activists at the auditorium almost one hour before the start of the lecture and on my enquiry he had assured me that to his knowledge there was no plan of making any protest or disturbing the lecture.
During the midst of the lecture when the audience is attentive to the speaker, if some activists, suddenly and without informing the organizers, start distributing the pamphlets, the same certainly cannot be called peaceful and silent distribution. It disturbs the speaker as well as the listeners. I stick to my statement made in my clarification that organizers of the lecture are not involved as alleged for taking back the said pamphlets or making any remark ‘trouble’ as alleged.
I am doubtful of UID project but I am not averse to listening opposite point of view. Listening other point s of views helps me in making my perceptions clearer, and enables me to correct myself if I am in error.
The moment Tarkunde Memorial Foundation announced the lecture, the demands were being made from a section of the civil liberties activists that lecture should be ‘called off’. This demand was continued to be made even after PUCL declared its non-association with the event. Statements made by Usha and PUCL also emphasized this demand. I am at a loss to understand as to how civil liberties activists can ask any other organization to call off the lecture simply because they do not agree with the views of the speaker! Is there any place in the ‘civil liberties consciousness’ for tolerance and to listen to opposite point of view peacefully?
The finaly reply by Usha Ramanathan and Vrinda Grover, both who were at the meeting, received today is below
There is little point that i can see in going round and round our memories of 23rd November. I think what had to be said has been said.
Except — Mr Pancholi now considers those who had a problem with Mr Nilekani being given a civil liberties platform undemocratic! That seems somewhat naive and ingenuous.
Since November 2009, we have been trying to get Mr Nilekani to answer some basic questions, and we have met with surliness as a response, each time. On 28 September, 2010, a statement issued by 17 eminent citizens raised questions that remain unanswered till today. (I am attaching the statement with this mail; this is the `pamphlet’ to which Mr Pancholi alludes.) Among the signatories are Kannabiran and Kavita and Aruna Roy, all members of PUCL. Kannabiran had also been advocating civil disobedience, if that was the only way to stop this project. The UID project, and its implications for civil liberties, was presented at the PUCL National Convention last year (2011), as was the problem with the sullen silence that had been the consistent response to our questions. Read the Parliamentary Standing Committee report on the Bill that was to give stautory status to the UIDAI, and it is peppered with evidence of recalcitrance on the part of Mr Nilekani and his team to answer questions. There has been overt hostility towards those raising the questions.
Mr Nilekani has had more than his share of talks and lectures where he has marketed the project. He has been heard — many times — and it is a consequence of this that we are now aware that the project projection is full of half-truths and lies.
We have no desire to storm around preventing Mr Nilekani from speaking; in fact, some of us have gone to hear him speak many times, seeking information, and clarity. That we have been disappointed each time is another matter; and that, needless to say, is an extreme understatement.
Our objection was to providing Mr Nilekani a civil liberties platform. After all, when someone is to be invited to speak at the Justice Tarkunde Memorial Lecture, the least we are entitled to expect is that the speaker should not be heading, and marketing, a project that poses a threat to civil liberties! I would have thought that we need to make sure that the platform is not used for promoting anti-civil liberties policies and action! If those inviting him had not studied the project, or had not heard him, or were not aware that he had anything to do with the project, it was, doubtless, irresponsibility on their part to have invited him in ignorance of his policy and his politics.
What made it worse was that this was a `lecture’. If it had been a debate, Mr Nilekani could have been asked to answer all those questions he has been sidestepping and refusing to answer through these three years. Of course, it can safely be hypothesised that Mr Nilekani may then have turned down the invitation, for he has not shown a penchant to being challenged.
This is a project that is not governed by law; and, literally, lawless. It is a project that was marketed as `voluntary’ and has now become mandatory, immediately for the poor to be extended over time to everyone. It is intended to converge data, facilitating tagging, tracking, profiling,and placing people under surveillance. It is a project that demands that that state and corporations be allowed to use biometrics as markers of identity; so, fingerprints and iris scans are to be the norm, and we are to be rendered choiceless in this use of the bosy as a marker. The individual is to be transparent to the state and to the corporation. Biometrics was used in the defence industry, but it was through its expansion into civilian spaces that its profit-through-proliferation is sought to be achieved. The companies involved in the project, including such ones as L1 Identity Solutions and Accenture have relationships with Homeland Security and the CIA. All this, and more, is known. Mr Nilekani’s task is to make this universal and ubiquitous. And he is to be given a civil liberties platform to sell the project, and those who object are undemocratic? These are strange times indeed.
The right to free expression does not require anyone to take permission to exercise the right. Isn’t that the civil liberties perspective? This was a silent and peacable passing around of a statement that would help people understand what the issues are. It is the snatching back of the papers that constitute an act of disruption, surely!!
Thanks for providing the space to have this exchange. With this, i rest my case. It is plain that what time there is needs to be dedicated to spreading understanding about the UID project. Clearly, what has been done has not been quite enough.
warm regards
 Usha ramanathan and Vrinda Grover
Cover photo
BELOW IS THE STATEMENT BY EMINENT PEOPLE ON WHY WE OPPOSE UID

STATEMENT

(issued by17 eminent persons (list appended) at a press conference held in Delhi on 28 September, 2010)

The project that proposes to give every resident  a `unique identity number’ is a  matter of great concern for those working on issues of food security, NREGA, migration, technology, decentralisation, constitutionalism, civil liberties and human rights. The process of setting up the Authority has resulted in very little, if any, discussion about this project and its effects and fallout. The documents on the UIDAI website, and a recent draft law (the National Identification Authority Bill, which is also on the website) do not provide answers to the many questions that are being raised in the public domain. This project is intended to collect demographic data about all residents in the country. It is said that it will impact on the PDS and NREGA programmes, and plug leakages and save the government large sums of money. It would, however, seem that even basic procedures have not been followed before launching on such a massive project.

Before it goes any further, we consider it imperative that the following be done:

  • Do a feasibility study: There are claims made in relation to the project, about what it can do for PDS and NREGA, for instance, which does not reflect any understanding of the situation of the situation on the ground.  The project documents do not say what other effects the project may have,  including its potential to be intrusive and violative of privacy, who may handle the data (there will be multiple persons involved in entering, maintaining and using the data), who may be able to have access to the data and similar other questions.
  • Do a cost-benefit analysis: It is reported that the UIDAI estimates the project will costs  Rs 45,000 crores to the exchequer in the next 4 years. This does not seem to include the costs that will be incurred by Registrars, Enrollers, internal systems costs that the PDs system will have to budget if it is to be able to use the UID, the estimated cost to the end user and to the number holder.
  • In a system such as this, a mere statement that the UIDAI will deal with the security of the data is obviously insufficient. How does the UIDAI propose to deal with data theft?  If this security cannot be reasonably guaranteed, the wisdom of holding such data in a central registry may need to be reviewed.
  • The involvement of firms such as Ernst & Young and Accenture raise further questions about who will have access to the data, and what that means to the people of India.
  • Constitutionality of this project, including in the matter of privacy, the relationship between the state and the people, security and other fundamental rights.

Questions have been raised which have not been addressed so far, including those about –

  • Undemocratic process: UIDAI was set-up via a GoI notification as an attached office of the Planning Commission without any discussion or debate in the Parliament or civil society. In the year and a half of its inception, the Authority has signed MoUs with virtually all states and UTs, LIC, Petroleum Ministry and many banks. In July, the Authority circulated the draft NIA Bill (to achieve statutory status); the window for public feedback was two weeks. Despite widespread feedback and calls for making all feedback public, the Authority has not made feedback available. Further in direct contravention to the process of public feedback, the NIA Bill was listed for introduction in the Lok Sabha 2010 monsoon session
  • Privacy (It is only now that the DoPT is said to be working on a draft of a privacy law, but nothing is out for discussion even yet)
  • Surveillance: where this technology, and the existence of the UID number, and its working, could result in increasing the potential for surveillance
  • Profiling
  • Tracking
  • Convergence, by which those with access to state power, as well as companies, could collate information about each individual with the help of the UID number.

National IDs have been abandoned in the US, Australia and the newly-elected British government. The reasons have predominantly been:  costs and privacy. If it is too expensive for the US with a population of 308 million, and the UK with 61 million people, and Australia with 21 million people, it is being asked why India thinks it can prioritise its spending in this direction. In the UK, the Home Secretary explained that they were abandoning the project because it would otherwise be `intrusive bullying’ by the state, and that the government intended to be the `servant’ of the people, and not their `master’. Is there a lesson in it for us? In the late nineties, the Supreme Court of Philippines struck down the President’s Executive Order A.O 308 which instituted a biometric based national ID system calling it unconstitutional on two grounds – the overreach of the executive over the legislative powers of the congress and invasion of privacy. The same is applicable in India – UIDAI has been constituted on the basis of a GoI notification and there is a fundamental risk to civil liberties with the convergence of UID, NATGRID etc.

The UIDAI is still at the stage of conducting pilot studies. The biometric pilot study has reportedly already thrown up problems especially among the poor whose fingerprints are not stable, and whose iris scans suffer from malnourishment related cataract and among whom the incidence of corneal scars is often found. The project is clearly still in its inception. The project should be halted before it goes any further and the prelude to the project be attended to, the public informed and consulted, and the wisdom of the project determined. The Draft Bill too needs to be publicly debated. This is a project that could change the status of the people in this country, with effects on our security and constitutional rights, and a consideration of all aspects of the project should be undertaken with this in mind.

We, therefore, ask that:

  • The project be halted
  • A feasibility study be done covering all aspects of this issue
  • Experts be tasked with studying its constitutionality
  • The law on privacy be urgently worked on (this will affect matters way beyond the UID project)
  • A cost : benefit analysis be done
  • A public, informed debate be conducted before any such major change be brought in.

This Statement was issued to the Press on 28th September, 2010 in New Delhi

List of signatories to the Statement on the UID

Justice VR Krishna Iyer, Retired Judge, Supreme Court of India    satgamaya@dataone.in

Prof Romila Thapar, Historian    romila.thapar@gmail.com

K.G.Kannabiran, Senior Civil Liberties Lawyer       kg.kannabiran@gmail.com

Kavita Srivastava, PUCL and Right to Food Campaign      <kavisriv@gmail.com>

Aruna Roy, MKKS, Rajasthan     <arunaroy@gmail.com>

Nikhil Dey, MKKS, Rajasthan     <nikhildey@gmail.com>

S.R.Sankaran, Retired Secretary, Government of India

Deep Joshi, Independent Consultant     <deepjoshi97@gmail.com>

Upendra Baxi, Jurist and ex-Vice Chancellor of Universities of Surat and Delhi   BaxiUpendra@aol.com

Uma Chakravarthi, Historian     <umafam@gmail.com>

Shohini Ghosh, Teacher and Film Maker   <shohini.ghosh@gmail.com>

Amar Kanwar, Film Maker    <amarkanwar@gmail.com>

Bezwada Wilson, Safai Karamchari Andolan     <skandolan@gmail.com>

Trilochan Sastry, IIMB, and Association for Democratic Reforms    trilochans@iimb.ernet.in

Prof. Jagdeep Chhokar, ex- IIMA, and Association for Democratic Reforms     <jchhokar@gmail.com

Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD      <shabnamhashmi@gmail.com>

Justice A.P.Shah, Retired Chief Justice of High Court of Delhi     ajitprakashshah@gmail.com

Coventry honour killing victim Surjit Athwal remembered #Vaw


Surjit Kaur Athwal

THE ‘honour killing‘ of a Coventry mum has been remembered at a memorial service at the House of Commons.

The 14th anniversary of the disappearance of Surjit Kaur Athwal was marked at the event hosted by MP Stephen Timms – which called for a public inquiry into the issue of so-called honour killings and ‘outsourced’ killings affecting British citizens.

Mum-of-two Surjit disappeared after going with her mother-in-law, Bachan Athwal, to a family wedding in India in December 1998.

Her body was never found, but her mother-in-law apparently boasted to relatives she had arranged for her to be strangled and dumped in a river – after Surjit had an affair with a colleague and said she wanted a divorce.

For years, Surjit’s death was concealed by her husband, Sukhdave Athwal, and her mother-in-law, but the pair were finally convicted of her murder at the Old Bailey in 2007 after a tireless campaign by Surjit’s Coventry family for justice.

It was a landmark case, the first in UK legal history, of an outsourced honour killing being criminally prosecuted in the UK against people who plot a murder, while the actual killing is carried out abroad.

The people who actually carried out the murder have never been caught.

Surjit’s brother, Jagdeesh Singh Dhillon, from Coventry, still campaigns for police and politicians to do more about honour killings in the Asian community.

At Wednesday’s event, he called for the British Government to press the Indian Government to bring Surjit’s outstanding murderers in Panjab to justice, and has requested a follow-up meeting with the Foreign Secretary.

He said: “Just as we have benefited from major public enquiries following Stephen Lawrence‘s racist murder, we need to have a comprehensive public enquiry which brings out the multiple and vital lessons thrown up by outsourced honour killing cases like Surjit’s and others.

“These are publicly important issues for government action, police action and community action. Victims continue to suffer because of a lack of coherence, communication and co-ordination on these devastating cases.

“In states like India and Pakistan, there is horrifying police collusion in these vicious acts of murder.

“For example, 100 females are murdered across the Indian state on a daily basis.”

The event was attended by more than 100 representatives from women’s campaign groups, the Metropolitan Police, Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, and was organised by Surjit’s daughter Pavanpreet Ahmed.

Speakers included DCI Clive Driscoll who led the investigation on Surjit’s case

Read More http://www.coventrytelegraph.net/news/coventry-news/2012/12/07/coventry-honour-killing-victim-surjit-athwal-remembered-92746-32378155/#ixzz2ERMNrdnb

 

Brother beheads Sister forfor ‘dishonouring’ family in Kolkata #honorkilling #Vaw


TNN | Dec 8, 2012, 03.47 AM IST

KOLKATA: In the first honour killing in Kolkata in decades, a 29-year-old youth dragged his sister out on the street and cut off her head with one stroke of the sword in Ayubnagar locality of Nadial, barely 13km from the city centre, on Friday.

Scores of residents looked on in horror as Mehtab Alam walked to a police station with the head in his left hand and the sword in his right, dripping blood all along the way.

At 11am, the duty officer at Nadial police station jumped to his feet in horror as he saw a young man walk in with the macabre exhibits. Before he could find the words to alert his colleagues, Mehtab put the sword and the head on his table, pulled up a chair and told him that he was ready to be arrested for murdering his sister, 22-year-old Nilofar Bibi. He told the duty officer to “seize the head as evidence”, say sources.

Even as deputy commissioner-port division Mehboob Rehman rushed to the scene of crime, where Nilofar’s headless body lay in a pool of blood, Mehtab told the numbed police officers that he had killed his sister for “running off with a lover and dishonouring the family”, say sources. Nilofar was married for eight years and had two children. It was “immoral” for her to live with her former paramour, Firoz Hossain, Mehtab apparently told police.

Firoz escaped because he wasn’t home. “I’d have killed him, too,” Mehtab told police. He had even attacked Firoz’s sister-in-lawSaboo, who tried to save Nilofar. Saboo’s right arm is nearly severed and she is battling for life in hospital, said joint commissioner-crime Pallab Kanti Ghosh.

Nilofar married Akbar of Pachura, Rabindranagar, when she was 14. They have a son aged six and a daughter, four. On November 28, she ran away from her in-laws’ home, alleging that she was being harassed and tortured by Akbar’s brother. On November 30, she disappeared from her paternal home, too. Nilofar’s father lodged a missing person’s diary at Nadial police station. In a few days, Mehtab came to know that she was with Firoz, with whom she had an affair before marriage, say police.

 

Gujarat: Govt accused of manipulating youth employment data



DNA, Ahmedabad, 8 December 2012

Ahmedabad: Gujarat government’s tall claim of providing employment to 65,000 youth under ‘Swami Vivekananda Youth Employment Week’ have been contradicted by its won reply to a RTI plea filed on issue.

Jyoti Karmachari Mandal (JKM), the organisation that filed the plea seeking details of Rojgar Melas held in state, has accused the state government of manipulating figures to mislead people.

They alleged that state government’s reply showed that beneficiaries were given employment letters and not appointment letters as claimed, with no signature by the appointing industry. As per labour laws, an employee should be provided appointment letter and not employment letter.

The reply also suggested that name of many beneficiaries had been repeated not once but as much as three times. In Ahmedabad, 4,370 were recruited under ‘Rojgar Mela’ but all on apprentice, with no legal benefits to the beneficiary.

Member of Documentation and Study Centre for Action, Trupti Shah said, “A look at the list of beneficiaries from Vadodara would indicate that out of the 3,534 candidates appointed for the post of apprentice, there were not more than 2,700 actual beneficiaries, while the names of rest 752 beneficiaries (21.27%) were repeated/duplicate.”

A total of Rs 1.87 crore was spent for holding 489 such meets. It was found that quality of job of 37.07% of the beneficiaries was not actual employment as 11,172 (30.4%) are on apprentice and 2,452 (6.67%) are trainees, who do not receive salaries but stipend. Also, the stipend paid is too less than the salaries.

Some of the candidates whose name had cropped up in the list claimed that they had no idea as to how their name had appeared on the list of beneficiaries of ‘rojgar mela’.

In Anand, 2,464 candidates were provided jobs and 621 of them were given the job of school co-ordinator. Though they were promised a salary of Rs 4,500-5,000 per month, they actually received 3,100-3,500.

 

Tripura Opposes Direct Cash Transfer #AAdhaar #UID


AGARTALA | DEC 07, 2012, Outlook
Tripura today opposed Centre’s plan for direct cash transfer to the bank accounts of the customers of fair price shop for giving subsidy on the plea that it would cripple the existing Public Distribution System (PDS).

“I have written a letter to the Union Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution Minister K V Thomas to withdraw the proposal for direct subsidy cash transfer and also clarify in detail how the new system would help the poor,” state Food and Civil Supply minister Manik De said.

The new system would be introduced in 51 districts of the country and the four districts of Tripura were also included among them.

De said the state government has received a communication from the Centre that all the card holders of ration shops should make their bank accounts for transferring the cash subsidy.

“It is difficult to get new bank accounts within January and also include their Aadhar (UID) numbers and send it to the Centre. In rural areas the banks are inadequate in number. The new system would leave us into inconveniences”, he told reporters.