JU students take out first ever street protest in Kolkata to free Soni Sori


Piyush Guha, who was also arrested on charges of sedition and released in 2011, says that the government wants the people on the periphery not to speak, not to think
Ajachi Chakrabarti

Ajachi Chakrabarti

December 13, 2012, TEHELKA

Jadavpur University students take out a protest march to free Soni Sori in Kolkata. Photo: Shankar Sarkar

The campaign to free Soni Sori broke new ground on Wednesday 12 December, with the first street protest for her immediate release being organised at Jadavpur University in Kolkata. It was a small beginning, with fewer than 200 college students and a handful of civil society activists carrying out a march; a turnout blamed by organisers on college exams. “This is only the beginning,” said Madhushree Das, one of the organisers, “and we will continue the protest and plan something big for January, when the students are back on campuses.”

One man, however, was not in the least disheartened with the turnout. Piyush Guha was a tendu leaf businessman in Chhattisgarh with little involvement in politics, when he was arrested along with Binayak Sen and Narayan Sanyal in 2007, and charged with sedition in what became the biggest political trial in recent memory. Jailed in the same Raipur Central Jail where Sori continues to be lodged, Guha was released in 2011 after the Supreme Court granted him bail. “I never imagined so many youths would come to support Soni Sori,” he says of the low turnout. “If there’s anything this era has taught us, it’s that we are on our own. But there is a potential in this crowd for a bigger campaign. Our generation of political leaders either never did anything for us or failed in the attempt, but the young men and women who came today to support a woman they do not know show that there is still humanity in the next generation.”

There are parallels between Guha’s and Sori’s incarcerations. Neither was considered a Maoist by the state establishment, yet both were arrested; a sign that the State is expanding its campaign to silence even the voices on the periphery of the conflict, anyone it considers collaborators or sympathisers, he says. “The government wants the people on the periphery not to speak, not to think.” The parallels breed empathy —reason Guha was at Jadavpur for the rally. “When I was in solitary confinement, my biggest fear was that the people had forgotten us,” he says. “Hearing about the nationwide campaign for our release gave us succour, and the initiation of this campaign will give her hope.”

Guha recounts the horrors of the jail hospital, which denied Sori medical aid as her health deteriorated and proceeded to give her a clean bill of health. “You get nothing in the jail hospital,” he says. “Even though there are nominally three doctors responsible for it, it is actually run by a compounder. No inmate ever gets treatment there. People are afraid to go there, as even minor ailments can become fatal. We saw countless people dying from lack of treatment in front of our eyes. I remember one inmate who committed suicide because he was being denied treatment even when the Raipur Medical College is just across the road.”

The survivor: Piyush Guha

Medical care is available, he says, but at a price. “If you can pay Rs 100, you’ll get an injection. Cough medicine comes for Rs 50. If you can pay Rs 500, you can even be treated at the medical college. Of course, if you are branded a Maoist, you can forget about that.” The entire prison, he says, runs on bribes, with career criminals scouring the local newspapers for news of wealthier people being arrested. “There are a lot of simple village youths in custody on false charges of being Maoists,” he says. “They cannot afford to get even the basic necessities in jail.”

Even release from prison has not been kind to Guha. Prison meant the end of his tendu business, as his partners were unable to sustain it in Chhattisgarh after his arrest. “Economically speaking, I only have my loans,” he says. “Even if my creditors don’t pressure me to return their money, I know it’s at the back of their minds. I’m starting not from zero, but from minus [sic].” He lost both his parents in the course of his arrest, famously not being allowed to attend their last rites, even by the Supreme Court. “The police repeatedly raided my house after my arrest,” he says, “and my wife and parents had to move house three or four times. Eventually, my parents decided to move back to their village, as the police hounding had made living in Kolkata an unsustainable proposition. It was impossible to continue my father’s treatment in the village, and he died of a cardiac arrest two years later.”

Guha, however, insists he has no regrets. “I understand that I faced some personal losses,” he says. “And I do regret those, sometimes. But jail gave me time to think. My years in prison have strengthened my conviction to stand up against injustice. I cannot forget all those unknown people who helped me. I have to stand up for all those other people I don’t know. It is my social obligation.”

I ask him whether he intends to become a full-time activist. “First I need to survive,” he says.

 

ATTN – BOMBAY KI KAHAANI MUMBAI KI ZUBAANI- 14th Dec- 13th Jan 2013 #mustshare


bombay

 

Zindabad!

Twenty years have passed since Bombay was rocked by the violent and horrifying days of Dec 92-Jan 93. That violence marked our city severely, and over the last twenty years, so have the processes of globalisation, neo-liberalisation, privatisation. The cosmopolitan spirit of this city too has been regressively replaced with narrowing definitions of its “true residents”. Protests have become more difficult, but the voice of dissent has not died down. We are a loose conglomeration of activists, aca

demics, students, film makers, journalists, artists, individuals and organisations, who have come together in the last few months to speak together for and about the city that we care so much for.

From 14th December 2012 to 13th January 2013 all over the city of Bombay/Mumbai/Bambai, there will be a series of events on both memory and resistance throughout this month. There will be art installations, music on streets, railway platforms and in auditoriums, panel discussions, day long events in many colleges, universities and in various community centres, film screenings, leafleting, discussions and much more.

The schedule of events will be posted here very soon.

If you consider yourself a part of this city, then this campaign is yours. We invite you to join us in this remembrance and in celebration of Bombay, Mumbai, Bambai!

Do consider RSVPing ‘Yes‘ on this Event page in order to express your solidarity even if you’re unable to make it to the 15+ events that are being organised. This will enable your Facebook friends to also learn about the event, as a blurb about the event will be posted on your Facebook wall and they will also be notified about it.

 

PL RSVP ON FACEBOOK PAGE ALSO AND INVITE FRIENDS

https://www.facebook.com/events/353289918100297/

 

DO LIKE OUR FACEBOOK PAGE AND BE UPDATED ABOUT ALL EVENTS

 

https://www.facebook.com/BombayKiKahaniMumbaiKiZubani

 

From the campaign team:

Aawaaz-e-Niswaan
Akshara
Centre for Study of Society and Secularism
Citizens for Justice and Peace
Communalism Combat
Forum Against Oppression of Women
JAPA
Jogeshwari Vikas Manch
Justice and Peace Commission
Lesbians and Bisexuals in Action
Lok Raj Sanghatana
Majlis
Muktiyaan Lok Sanskritik Sanghatana
MYA
National Streets for Performing Artists
Nirbhay Bano Andolan
Rah-e-Haq
Republican Panthers
SAHER
Tata Insititute of Social Sciences
Vacha
Women’s Research and Action Group
Youth for Unity and Voluntary Action
and many individuals.

 

#India- (UAPA) Draconian Law against liberty-quietly amended #Loksabha


From The Indian Express:

The Lok Sabha has quietly amended the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, a dangerous tool in the hands of any government

When two young women were arrested for a Facebook post questioning the shutdown in Mumbai for Bal Thackeray’s funeral, middle-class fury forced the Maharashtra government to drop the case and suspend two police officers.The Centre also issued a set of guidelines to avoid misuse of the controversial Section 66A of the Information Technology Act. However, even as calls for repeal of the “vague” and “wide” provisions of the IT law that are “susceptible to wanton abuse” grew louder, the government silently pushed through much more controversial amendments to the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) in the Lok Sabha, making it further mirror previous draconian laws like POTA and TADA.

The amendments did not merely make this law more stringent; they have made law enforcement agencies less accountable, despite substantial proof of misuse. The government had, in fact, brought in several amendments to give “anti-terror teeth” to the UAPA coinciding with the repeal of POTA in 2004, and more stringent amendments were pushed through in the backdrop of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

The vast scope for the misuse of the amendments to the UAPA has been articulated in the recent citizens’ appeal to members of the Rajya Sabha, issued by the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA), which has been endorsed by several senior civil rights groups, scholars and activists. The appeal has questioned five aspects of the amended law.

The broad definition of person, especially as “an association of persons or a body of individuals, whether incorporated or not” is open to misuse because “this will actually allow agencies and government to create persons beyond that what are recognised by law and any group of friends/ acquaintances can be labelled an association of persons or a body of individuals by the agencies and the government” like a “book reading club to friends who meet every evening at a dhaba may be deemed to be an association of persons or a body of individuals”.

Another major amendment to the law has been to include economic offences within the larger definition of a “terrorist act”. There are two aspects of this amendment that have raised questions. The criminalisation of “production, distribution of high-quality counterfeit currency” is “repetitive” and are already “covered by the equivalent sections 489B, 489C, 489D in the IPC”. The civil rights activists question this amendment, arguing that “when comparable provisions in IPC and terror laws are available for same crimes, the police exercise the option of booking an accused under the terror law because it affords them greater leverage: bail provisions are much more stringent and the accused can be kept in custody for long periods (up to 180 days) without the filing of a chargesheet”.

Another amendment broadens the scope of action against fund raising for “terror activities”. Now, the raising of funds likely to be used (in full or in part) to commit a terrorist act or for the benefit of terrorists shall be punishable irrespective of whether the funds have been raised from legitimate or illegitimate sources. This is irrespective of whether such funds were actually used to commit a terror act or not. And it is punishable for a term not less than five years, but extendable to life.

The only safeguard is the condition that the accused should know that “such funds are likely to be used… by a terrorist organisation”. The civil rights activists apprehend that this amendment will “practically bring under the possibility of prosecution all transactions, even perfectly legitimate ones, without any remote connection to a terrorist act” because “all that the prosecution needs to show is that the accused had knowledge that such funds could be likely used for terrorist act. While such subjective knowledge may again be difficult to prove, it will no doubt result in the incarceration of accused for long periods without bail”.

While the introduction of several new changes has already made the UAPA exceptionally harsh, the amendment of Section 6 of the law has taken away the little hope for judicial scrutiny to prevent its misuse.

The ban on an organisation under the UAPA, which was earlier limited to a two-year period, has been extended to a five-year period. This means that the government has avoided putting its decision to ban an organisation under the UAPA through the scrutiny of a tribunal headed by a sitting judge of the High Court. For example, the tribunal hearing the ban on the Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI) did not only look into the legality of the government’s decision, but it also helped to record and raise the issue of fabricated evidence in individual cases across states. The government’s logic, that extending the ban to five years is to lower the costs to administer the ban, is flawed because the delay in such a judicial scrutiny would make law enforcement less accountable.

There is enough evidence that scores of young Muslim men were branded members of the banned SIMI and arrested. The terror tag was enough to create an atmosphere of public revulsion and they were guilty till proven innocent. There are cases where these men were unable to manage a lawyer who would defend them because several bar associations had banned their members from representing these “terror suspects”. There are examples where verses of the Quran, religious books and even Urdu literature were shown as incriminating material. There were instances where young men were arrested for “shouting slogans against the government” because they were “angry about the demolition of Babri mosque or Gujarat riots”.

Under the normal procedure of criminal law, these acts would have been inconsequential. But once the police branded them as members of the banned SIMI, it automatically invoked the provisions of the UAPA, magnifying the seriousness of the charges. And even once these men win long and tiring battles in courts and are acquitted after years of imprisonment, the terror taint stays, making it extremely difficult to pick up the pieces of their lives and start afresh.

To understand as to why these stringent amendments to the UAPA are especially dangerous, we need to return to the debate in Parliament when this law was enacted, in 1967. Atal Bihari Vajpayee had called this law a “donkey that had been made to look like a horse” while George Fernandes had “moved an amendment that the period of ban be reduced to one year”. While opposing the UAPA bill, noted parliamentarian Nath Pai had termed it “a measure introduced by a group of men who have lost faith in the people of India”. Nath Pai had addressed the then home minister Y.B. Chavan and asked, “Will the baton of the police be the final guardian of the liberties, freedom and unity of this country? Can we trust the police to be the only fighter for the delicate fabric of our democracy?” Piloo Mody, who represented Godhra in the Lok Sabha, had said that he was “ashamed of the government”. J.B. Kripalani, who had been chairman of the Fundamental Rights sub- committee, had said that “all these repressive laws violate the rule of law”. He had termed the UAPA “superfluous”, one that “may be used by the executive for purposes for which it is not intended”. He had said that he did not question the intentions of the government. “Their intentions are good but it is like putting a sword in the hands of Hanuman. Hanuman may not like to kill, but somehow the sword kills”.

This time, the passage of amendments to the UAPA in the Lok Sabha happened amid the din of a debate over FDI in retail. Unlike the larger consensus over the need to preserve the freedoms on Facebook, there isn’t even a public debate over the UAPA and its misuse, because, in the dominant public discourse, its victims are deemed guilty till proven innocent.

muzamil.jaleel@expressindia.com

PLease click here for critique of draconian laws

http://kractivist.wordpress.com/draconian-laws/

 

Amnesty asks India to abolish #deathpenalty, put moratorium on executions


13 December, 2012 | 13:13

Amnesty asks India to abolish death sentence

Amnesty asks India to abolish death sentence

Amnesty International has asked India to abolish death sentence and put immediate moratorium on execution.

New Delhi, Dec 13/Nationalturk -The international human rights watchdog, Amnesty International has written to Indian President Pranab Mukheree and sought abolishing of death sentence and immediate moratorium on executions.

In the letter, Chief Executive Amnesty International G Ananthapadmanabhan  referred to the recent execution of Ajmal  Kasab, Pakistani gunman, who was caught alive during 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Kasab was executed by Indian authorities in a jail in Pune in Indian city ofMumbaion November 21 year

“Kasab had committed grave and serious offences, and Amnesty had consistently expressed its sympathies and condolence to the victims of his actions and their families. However, by executing him, the Indian state has violated the internationally recognized right to life and has signalled a step away from the regional and global trends towards abolition of the death penalty,” Ananthapadmanabhan said  .

As of today, 140 countries in the world have abolished death penalty in law or practice. Most recently,Mongoliabecame the 140th country to join this group by becoming a state party to the Second Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, aiming at the abolition of the death penalty, on 13 March 2012. In the Asia-Pacific region, 17 countries have abolished the death penalty for all crimes, 10 are abolitionist in practice and one –Fiji– uses the death penalty only for exceptional military crimes.

“Amnesty is concerned about the manner in which Indian authorities carried out Ajmal Kasab’s execution on November 21,” Ananthapadmanabhan said.

He said according to reports, Ajmal Kasab himself was only informed of this rejection on 12 November. “It is unclear whether he was aware of the possibility of seeking a review of your decision. Information about the rejection of the petition for mercy and the date of execution was not made available to the public until after the execution had been carried out. Authorities inIndiahave made public claims that this lack of public announcement and secrecy surrounding the execution were to avoid intervention by human rights activists.”

He said this practice is in contrast to how previous executions have been carried out inIndiaover the past 15 years. “Information regarding the executions of Dhananjoy Chatterjee (2004), and Shankar (1995), for example, was accessible to the public in advance of the execution.”

“Transparency on the use of the death penalty is among the fundamental safeguards of due process that prevent the arbitrary deprivation of life. Making information public with regard to legislation providing for the death penalty as well as its implementation allows for an assessment of whether fair trial and other international standards are being respected. In resolution 2005/59, adopted on 20 April 2005, the UN Commission on Human Rights called upon all states that still maintain the death penalty “to make available to the public information with regard to the imposition of the death penalty and to any scheduled execution,” Ananthapadmanabhan.

He said Amnesty International finds it disappointing that theIndianStatehas chosen to carry out Ajmal Kasab’s execution in this manner, especially as secrecy was not the practice in execution in the country.

Amnesty concerned about nine petitions

Ananthapadmanabhan said Amnesty International is concerned about nine petitions for mercy involving 14 individuals that have been sent to the Ministry of Home Affairs for consideration for a second time, which we understand is usual practice when there is a new minister in office.

On 10 December 2012, Indian Minister of Home Affairs told reporters that he will review the petitions before him after the end of the winter session of Parliament. One of these petitions concerns Mohammad Afzal Guru who was sentenced to death for his alleged involvement in the 2001 Parliament attack.  Mohammad Afzal Guru was tried by a special court under the Prevention of Terrorism Act.

“Amnesty International has found that these trials did not conform withIndia’s obligations under international human rights law. Amnesty opposes death penalty in all cases without exception, regardless of the nature or circumstances of the crime; guilt, innocence or other characteristics of the individual; or the method used by the state to carry out the execution. It opposes it as a violation of the right to life as recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” Ananthapadmanabhan said.

Abolition of death penalty recognized in international law and standards

He said the desirability of the abolition of the death penalty has long been recognized in international law and standards. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), to whichIndiais a State Party and which allows for the use of the death penalty under certain circumstances, clearly states in Article 6.6 that no provision in Article 6 should be invoked “to delay or to prevent the abolition of capital punishment.”

Use of death penalty in India riddled with systematic flaws

“The use of the death penalty inIndiais riddled with systemic flaws. Of particular concern are: the broad definition of “terrorist acts” for which the death penalty can be imposed; insufficient safeguards on arrest; obstacles to confidential communication with counsel; insufficient independence of special courts from executive power; insufficient safeguards for the presumption of innocence; provisions for discretionary closed trials; sweeping provisions to keep secret the identity of witnesses; and limits on the right to review by a higher tribunal,” he said.

He urged Indian government to commute all death sentences to terms of imprisonment and halt plans to carry out further executions, and establish an official moratorium on executions as the first step to abolishing the death penalty.

“Wherever mercy petitions have been rejected, respect the practice of promptly informing the individual, his/ her lawyers, his/ her family, of the decision, reasons for the decision, and proposed date of execution, as well as the public, of any scheduled execution,” added Amnesty chief executive.

Write your comments and thoughts below

Faiz Ahmad / NationalTurk India News

 

 

#India- #State #Oppression-Shramik Adivasi Sanghatana activists may be the next target


.
If any lessons are to be learned from Binyak Sen and  Sunilam’s conviction on the face off of cooked up charges by trial court of Chhatisgarh and Madhya Pradesh respectively, and many more activists languishing in various jails across the country , it is  clear indication of  state’s intentions: cut the activism against system from beneath; not to  stop just at implicating the activists in the false cases, but  convict  them as well. It also shows that media’s fight against corrupt-system encircled within the boundaries of Delhi; do not have enough TRP support to go across the country.
                      We (Anurag, Shamim) along with our Adivasi activists, may be the next state target: during the course of Shramik Adivasi Sangathan (SAS) and Samajwadi Jan Parishad‘s fight against nexus of politicians and bureaucrats; we have been booked under a dozen false cases (A total of five dozen cases on 300 Adivasis and activists). Of these, the trial in the two cases of dacoity, kidnapping and attempted murder may begin within next two months at Harda session’s court in M.P.
In one of the case there are charges against us (Anurag, Shamim, and Sanjay) that we instigated 23 adivasis, to abduct a Forest Range Officer and two of his subordinates attempted murder and dacoity on them.
In this particular case in 2009, Shamim’s regular and Anurag’s anticipatory bail was rejected by session judge of Harda District Court on the grounds that the we have been engaged in anti-national activities and it is an  onset  of Naxalism; Shamim was in jail for 23 days. Whereas the fact of the matter is that  in this incident  the innocent adivasis were brutally attacked by the forest ranger ,with the butt of his rifle .The Adivasi activists had fractured arms  and jaw; the investigation in our counter FIR is not yet begun.
            Though, the perpetual victimization of SAS has drawn the attention of Supreme Court: the SC in the matter of SAS v/s state of MPhas ordered setting up a Grievance Redressal authority in each of the three districts of SAS work area, which is yet to come up.
But, given the above background, we need to take the trials of our cases seriously. This will necessitate generating a lot of finances for the purpose of Xeroxing, obtaining certified copies, lawyer’s fees and travelling. An adivasi travelling from his village to the court requires a minimum of Rs.150/- per trip and he loses out on the labour wages for two days. We have many petitions pending at Jabalpur High Court that have been already eating up a lot of our resources.
   In last 25 years of activism we have observed that the fine tradition of urban groups supporting grassroots activists has been dying gradually; the days of obligatory support from lawyers; journalists and progressive friends are on the decline. The fight against corruption cannot be built without reviving the traditional support system. May we appeal to all our friends, well wishers who wish to sustain this struggle for justice and   extend monetary contributions? Please Write back at sasbetul@yahoo.com/, shamim@tiss.edu
Anurag       Shamim    Mangal Singh        Rajendra            Babloo

 

If you copy a girls photo and send her on a cake you will be behind bars #66A #WTFnews


In trouble for sending photo of cake to a girl

Mid-Day.com | Updated: December 10, 2012

ThaneA case of unrequited love has proved costly for an Ulhasnagar youth who sent the object of his affection a birthday cake with her photograph printed on the top. The girl’s irate parents registered an FIR against the youth under the IT Act for stealing their daughter’s photograph from a social networking website.According to the police, the incident happened on August 26, when 20-year-old Vimal Kalani (name changed) a resident near Swami Shanti Prakash Ashram, Ulhasnagar-5 received a cake box at home. Kalani’s family members were surprised, as they had not ordered for any cake.

However, on opening the box, they were shocked to see the cake. Kalani could not explain why her photograph was on the cake or who had sent it.

After a family discussion, Kalani’s father approached the nearby Hill Line police station, where police registered a formal complaint and started investigating.

The police discovered that the cake had been purchased from Ribbons and Balloons cake shop near Gol Maidan, Ulhasnagar-1, and was sent through the shop’s home delivery service. Employees told the police that the boy who ordered the cake had sent the girl’s photograph through the e-mail ID ‘jagdishp.12@gmail.com’.

After referring to the Cyber Crime cell, police found that a boy identified as Jagdish Patil, who was in love with Kalani, had sent the cake. Police said that Patil and Kalani were students at the same college.

On December 6, police registered an FIR against Patil. “We have booked a Jagdish Patil under Section 66 (A) of the IT Act, 2000, for using the girl’s photo without authorisation. We are currently looking for his residential address,” said an officer from Hill Line police station.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Eleven tribal women political prisoners observe hunger strike #protest


IN ORDER THAT THE DEAF GOVERNMENT HEAR, 11 TRIBAL WOMEN PRISONERS OBSERVE A DAY OF HUNGER STIKE!*

 

On 13th December 2012, eleven tribal women political prisoners will be observing a one day hunger strike for the implementation of various demands including the central demand that the Gadchiroli district prison be opened despite over two years since its completed construction.

The series of atrocities by the Maharashtra government goes unabated, without any rectification despite numerous democratic protests and hunger stikes. Hence, during the winter session of the State legislative at Nagpur we are observing a one day long hunger strike for the deaf government to hear.

In the press note issued by the tribal women political prisoners they have made their position clear. It has been over two years since the construction of the Gadchiroli district prison and news of its opening within a few months has been published in the newspapers. The post of Guardian Minister of our Gadchiroli district is with Hon’ble Shri. R. R. Patil and affairs related to the prison are also handled by his (home) departed. Nevertheless there has been a failure to start functioning of the Gadchiroli prison despite over two years having lapsed. The newspapers have also carried news that materials worth almost Rs. 40 lacs have been stolen from the premises. If not the government, this question is of great value for us because by imprisoning us at Nagpur and other prisons our relations with our families and lawyers have been totally cut off. Besides, our constitutional right to be produced before the court during trial has been violated since the last 23 months causing us severe mental disturbance. We urge our guardian minister R. R. Patil to consider this grave situation and declare the Gadchiroli prison be opened within a fixed time.

On 1st April 2012, while replying to a question raised by Shobhatai Fadnavis of the Bharatiya Janata Party, State Home minister R. R. Patil informed the Legislative Council that the government has decided to investigate the cases of tribal youth imprisoned at the Nagpur prison. However it has been over a year and a half without any action in this regard. It would mean that the home minister made this empty promise only to silence the opposition. The arrests of innocents, like us has begun under his patronage ever since he has become the gadchiroli district guardian minister. On one hand, he has declared that he will not tolerate injustice on innocents to gather the sympathy of tribals and on the other; a cruel repression is being unleashed against the tribals. We call upon him to end this mockery and declare in this legislative session whether a commission for investigation has been appointed as promised.

Likewise since January 2011, the production of the Gadchiroli undertrials before the session’s court has come to a complete halt. There had been an attempt to conduct trials through video conferencing. However due to regular technical problems it never functioned smoothly. And now since March 2012, this mechanism too has come to an end. It is the total violation of the constitutional right of an undertrial not to be produced before the trial court. Our demands are not excessive. We merely demand that the government fulfill its minimum obligations of producing us before the court and that our endless trials be conducted speedily. The Union minister Jairam Ramesh has declared the central government has decided to conduct trials of tribals by setting up fast track courts. R. R. Patil too caught to and upheld this declaration. However rather than making new declarations the Maharashtra government ought to try to ensure the regular and speedy functioning of existing courts, so as to clear obstacles of us approaching them.

The practice of re-arresting persons acquitted after a prolonged legal battle has become the rule. The police do not show the intelligence to arrest the person in a new case when in prison or when in police custody. However after the person is acquitted and released, the police have the ‘wisdom’ to re-arrest the person at the gate. The police by dutifully doing this to inflate the number of arrests without any consideration of the violations of the prisoners human rights. This practice of re-arrest is shameful for a ‘democratic’ government. Hence we call upon the home minister to immediately put and end to this practice of re-arrest.

The home minister very well knows that all the charges leveled on us are false. Hence the government has employed a policy to conduct trials at snails pace, totally end the production of undertrials in court and the practice of re-arrest- all steps undertaken to make us rot in prison for maximum possible time. To keep illiterate and poor tribal youth away from justice and to see to it that they only get delayed justice is a violation of our constitutionally guaranteed human rights. Hence we take this opportunity to humbly appeal to all democratic and justice loving people and the peoples’ representatives to raise their voices in our support.

Yours faithfully,

Undertrial prisoners,

Saguna Pungati (Raji Reddy)- sd/-

Sunanda Bhovate- sd/-

Date: 8.12.12

Place: Nagpur Central Prison, Nagpur.

 

* This is a rough translation of the press note sent by the prisoners in marathi.

 

#India- Over 1 lakh children malnourished in Bastar #RIP #Indiashining


 

Raipur, Dec 12 – The Chhattisgarh Government today admitted that over 1 lakh children are suffering from malnutrition in the tribal-dominated Bastar region.

In a written reply to a question of Kuldeep Singh Juneja (Congress) in the Legislative Assembly, Women and Child Development Minister Lata Usendi said 1,15,093 children are suffering from malnutrition in Bastar division comprising seven districts as of December 2012.

Of these, 31,034 children are severely malnourished, while 84,059 fall in the category of average malnutrition, she said.

The highest number of malnourished kids are in Bastar district (35,034), followed by Kanker (27,482), Kondagaon (17,308), Dantewada (10,871), Bijapur (10,083), Sukma (8,811) and Narayanpur (5,504), Usendi said.

The Minister, however, denied any death due to malnutrition from 2008 till now in the Naxal-affected region in Central Chhattisgarh. PTI

 

#India- #Acid attacks: the warped face of love #Vaw


Illustration: Rishabh Arora

It was probably just another day for techie J Vinodini as she walked home in Karaikal in South India at 10.30 pm on November 14 with a friend. Seconds later, life as she knew it would change irrevocably. A crazed stalker, a construction worker she had turned down and who had been stalking her since, accosted her and flung acid into her face.

She lies in hospital, with 40 percent burns, “severe burns to the head, chest, hands and stomach,” according to the news report. Apart from the disfigurement, she has also lost vision in both eyes. Numerous surgeries will be needed to reconstruct her face to some semblance of what it was before the attack. When acid hits the skin, the initial sensation is that of icy coldness. An instant later, the burning begins as it eats through skin, cartilage, hair, and even bone, depending on the concentration. Within seconds, the acid can burn and destroy body tissues on contact. Skin, hair, cartilage and bones dissolve, the nose becomes a hole, the vapours burn the respiratory and the digestive tracts, fingers get fused together, gaping holes can remain where eyes once were and the ears get damaged. The lungs can fill up with fluid which can often be fatal.

If a victim survives, she spends a lifetime undergoing reconstructive surgeries, being a social recluse with loss of vision and also, because of her appearance, loss of a normal life with a family and a job. I say ‘she’ because a majority of acid attack victims are women. The incidents seem to be on the increase. In Mumbai, my city, in January this year, IT firm employee Aarti Thakur was attacked by a person, hired by her spurned lover, who flung acid at her in public at the Goregaon railway station, burning her face, chest and arms. Shockingly, this was not the first time she had been attacked. Her face had been slashed by attackers on two previous incidents.

In early November this year, filmmaker Jerrit John went to physiotherapist Aryanka Hosbetkar’s home and flung a chemical into her face in the presence of her friends and mother. It was not the first time he had attacked her either, according to newspaper reports. In a previous incident, he had caught her head and banged it against a wall. She had refused to file a complaint against him because she was terrified of his temper. Jerrit was finally apprehended in a lodge on the outskirts of Mumbai. He stated after being arrested, “I wanted to destroy her future.” What shocked everyone, was that this was “someone like us, someone I knew,” as a friend stated, in disbelief.

Someone like us; not someone from a socio-economic section distinct from us, the educated middle class, as the popular perception goes. Someone like us; someone we knew. Arti Shrivastav was attacked by the District Collector’s son, Abhinav Misra, in January 2000, when she was just 18. In 2009, Abhinav was sentenced to 10-year imprisonment with a Rs 5 lakh fine. In 2011, he was out on bail. He went on to do his MBA, got married and had a family. A district collector’s son: someone like us. A boy from a decent family with educated parents.

Shirin Juwaley, founder of the NGO Palash, was attacked by her own husband – someone like us. There isn’t a particular type of attacker but there is one kind of victim: a woman, a girl. More often than not, a girl who has rejected sexual advances, declarations of love, who refuses to get into a relationship with the perpetrator, who has turned down an offer of marriage. A woman who must be put in her place, a girl who would never be able to get married or lead a normal life because she had the temerity to reject the perpetrator.

Sonali Mukherjee, an acid attack victim from Jharkhand, recently brought the topic into the limelight when she demanded justice or be permitted to end her life. Her case was taken up by the media and reconstructive surgery was offered to her. She had been through as many as 22 surgeries in the nine years since the attack and this was the first of many surgeries she would now undergo at a multi specialty hospital in a bid to get a face as close to normal as possible. Not only did Sonali lose her face in the acid attack that happened when she was barely 17, she also lost her vision. Her crime? She rejected the sexual advances of the perpetrators.

Acid attacks are not just used as a weapon of revenge by obsessive or jilted lovers; they’re also, more horrifically, being used as social controls to make women adhere to a code of conduct decreed by the self declared custodians of our morals. In August this year, posters from an organisation called the Jharkhand Mukti Sangh warned college girls of acid attacks if they wore jeans and tops. Also in August, a pro-Al-Qaeda group in Kashmir pinned notices in mosques in Shopian district warning women that their faces would be disfigured with acid if they were seen unveiled in public.

Interestingly, for the first time ever, acid attacks have got a standalone provision under the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The proposal is that two sections — 326A (hurt by acid attack) and 326B (attempt to throw or administer acid) — be added to the IPC Section 326. This is a non-bailable offence. If this law is passed, the attacker could be jailed for anything between 10 years to life with a fine of Rs 10 lakhs under Section 326 A (with the fine being given to the victim) and from five to seven years imprisonment with a fine for imprisonment under Section 326B. Acid attacks had no separate law so far. The sale of acid, even more horrifically, is still unregulated, with no checks in place. Anyone intending to disfigure someone’s face can procure a bottle of acid from the local kirana store. Anyone who had committed an acid attack could get out on bail and lead a regular life.

There are no exact statistics available for the number of acid attacks annually in India, none that I could find despite extensive googling. All I found was this: “There is no official statistics for India, but a study conducted by Cornell University in January 2011 said there were 153 attacks reported in the media from 1999 to 2010.” These are women who are not even a statistic, women whose lives, dreams, hopes and aspirations have melted away with their flesh, who are condemned to live lives worse than death.

We could learn from Bangladesh which introduced the death penalty for acid attacks in 2002, along with strict laws controlling the storage, transport and sale of acids. And most importantly, we need to bring up our boys to realise that women are not commodities, to learn to accept rejection, to know that they have no right to disfigure a woman in a warped display of “if I can’t have her, no one else will” or to “teach her a lesson.” The only lesson here is that a young girl’s life can be ruined for as little as a few rupees and that ruin, is a blot on our collective conscience.

- Kiran Mnaral – (The views expressed in this column are the writer’s own)

 

#India- Bombay HC -‘Something is wrong somewhere’ #Vaw #Acidattack


xourtesy- rishabh arrora illustration -tehelka

By , TNN | Dec 13, 2012,

MUMBAI: Referring to the recent attack on a Kandivli woman with an insecticide spray, the Bombay high court on Wednesday lamented the general lack of fear of the law-and-order machinery, saying “something is seriously wrong somewhere”.
A division bench of Justices V M Kanade and P D Kode made the observation as it heard a suo motu public interest litigation (PIL) on safety and security of women. The PIL was taken up a little after the same bench confirmed the death sentence of two persons for raping and killing aBPO employee in Pune in 2007.Expressing concern over the assault on a woman in Kandivli, the high court wondered what causes such attacks. “Something is seriously wrong somewhere. There was a time… (when) the presence of even a single constable was sufficient to deter (criminals). Now, nobody is afraid,” said Justice Kanade.

A neighbour burnt the face of 23-year-old housewife Shraddha Langde on Tuesday morning by pressing open an insecticide spray at her and then clicking a lighter in front of it.

At the previous hearing of the PIL on Monday, the high court took note of the increasing cases of eve-teasing and of instances where people attempting to protect women were assaulted, even murdered.

On Wednesday, public prosecutor Revati Mohite-Dere submitted that the Supreme Court, while dealing with the issue of eve-teasing on November 30, had laid down guidelines for states and union territories to follow. “Until legislation on the issue is introduced, the apex court has set out measures to curb eve-teasing,” she said. In their order, the high court judges said that, in view of the SC guidelines, “it is not necessary for this (high) court to again lay down further guidelines”.

On the subject of providing security to women, the court will hear the state at the next hearing on December 19 or after the Christmas vacation. The government has been asked, if possible, to file a reply.