Kamayani aka kractivist
Nandini Sundar July 04, 2013
On July 5 2011, a Bench of Justice B Sudershan Reddy and Justice SS Nijjar of the Supreme Court delivered what is widely regarded as a landmark judgement, banning Salwa Judum by any name, and disbanding and disarming special police officers (SPOs) who had been responsible, along with security forces, for many human rights violations.
The only activity that the erstwhile SPOs would be permitted was traffic and disaster management, and that too, only if they were innocent of any crimes.
The court ordered that criminal investigations and prosecutions be initiated in Chhattisgarh. Earlier that year, they had also directed that the security forces vacate all schools and ashrams, with the aim of restarting schools in the villages.
The Bench asked the CBI to investigate the March 2011 rapes, murder and arson in Tadmetla and neighbouring villages and subsequent events in which Swami Agnivesh was attacked while trying to deliver relief.
As Justice Reddy (now retired) said in a recent interview, had the Supreme Court’s orders been implemented, perhaps the May 25 attack could have been avoided. However, far from obeying the court, the governments in Chhattisgarh and the Centre have done everything possible to flout the order.
The Union of India attempted to have the order overturned through a review petition, but succeeded only in having it limited to Chhattisgarh. The government of Chhattisgarh responded by renaming all the SPOs, ‘armed auxiliary forces’ with effect from the date of the judgement, and giving them automatic weapons and higher salaries.
Schools are still occupied, no prosecutions have taken place, no victims of the violence perpetrated by Salwa Judum have received any compensation, and the CBI enquiry is still incomplete.
The CBI first visited Tadmetla in January 2012. In February, the Maoists killed one of the former SPOs, Kartam Surya, who had been accused of rape, and whom the state had been staunchly defending inside and outside court.
The SPOs then physically attacked the CBI team. They have now decided to conduct their enquiry out of Jagdalpur. In May this year, the villagers travelled 400 km to depose, including old men and breastfeeding mothers, leaving aside their annual tendu patta earnings.
The state government continues to stall all mention of a joint monitoring committee led by eminent independent persons, which alone can ensure that FIRs are registered, compensation given and some degree of normalcy restored.
In March 2012, the petitioners filed a contempt petition. There have been 13 listings since, but not one hearing. On six occasions, we sat in court but the matter was not heard because other cases before it took up all the time.
The matter was adjourned four times because despite asking and being given a ‘non-miscellaneous day’ by the court, the listing branch of the Supreme Court assigned it to a miscellaneous day. (Tuesdays to Thursdays are non-miscellaneous days, where matters can be heard properly while Mondays and Fridays are frenzied because a large number of fresh matters are considered for admission).
On three occasions, when everything was right — it was a non-miscellaneous day and our turn had come — Chhattisgarh’s counsel bought time on technicalities.
The only people to have benefitted from the Supreme Court litigation so far are the SPOs and the lawyers for the Chhattisgarh government, who have made lakhs in fees for delaying justice to starving adivasis.
Chhattisgarh’s litigation strategy is also to keep filing affidavits with the same data, but under different annexure numbers, in order to mislead the court. On the other hand, the lawyers for the petitioners, Ashok Desai and Nitya Ramakrishnan and their juniors, have put in years of pro-bono work (seven years already and still counting), at considerable personal cost.
Sumita Hazarika as the advocate on record (AOR) has gracefully filed endless affidavits. Our co-petitioner Kartam Joga suffered two-and-a-half years in jail on false charges, before being acquitted earlier this year.
My years of court observation have instilled an enormous respect for the judges whose daily workload involves reading voluminous briefs and listening to a series of complicated matters.
There has to be a system which is less cruel to them, as well as to PIL lawyers and ordinary litigants, such as more reliance on written documents and limited time for arguments, as is the case in other countries.
No litigant from outside Delhi can afford to keep coming for hearings. And no adivasis on their own could afford to fight such battles in the Supreme Court.
The security forces killed 25 innocent villagers, including several children, in two separate attacks — Sarkeguda in June 2012 and Edesmetta in May. The Maoists kidnapped Alex Menon, the district collector of Sukma, in March 2012, and killed 27 Congress leaders and workers in May.
Unless there is a breakthrough of some kind, there is no prospect of peace. Implementing court orders will not resolve everything but justice goes much further than anything else.
What is surprising is not that adivasis support the Maoists against the police. What is inspiring is how adivasis continue to believe in justice, to send letters to the court, to attend CBI hearings.
Hope is the hardest thing to extinguish in the human heart, and justice is the gossamer thread that binds people to the State.
Nandini Sundar is a litigant in the Salwa Judum case
The views expressed by the author are personal
Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu
Rights activist Binayak Sen has been denied permission to participate in an international seminar on health care in Kathmandu by a Raipur court. Dr. Sen sought permission to visit Kathmandu after confirming his participation to the seminar organisers and hence “the application is not bona fide” the court order said.
Dr. Sen was invited by the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health to speak in an international two-day seminar on providing health care in conflict areas. Anand Grover, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health, told The Hindu that he is “surprised and shocked” by the court’s order. He said the report of the meeting would be presented to the United Nations Human Rights Council.
Hours before his departure on Friday, a court order restricted Dr. Sen from visiting Kathmandu. “It is evident from the application that the applicant has agreed to take part in the programme without the permission of this court. He sought permission on June 28 and accepted the proposal (to visit Kathmandu) on June 21,” Additional Sessions Court judge Alok Kumar Upadhyay said in his order.
“Dr. Sen agreed to attend the meeting (before June 21) before he sought a permission, so that the organisers could send him the accommodation and flight details and he could furnish those in turn (to court) with his application,” said Dr. Sen’s lawyer, S.K. Farhan. The details of accommodation and a copy of the air tickets to and from Kathmandu were attached with the application.
Earlier, the court sought a reply from the police about Dr. Sen’s application, to which Additional SP, Raipur, Lal Umed Singh replied that Dr. Sen’s visit is detrimental to the country’s security.
“Such foreign visits of Dr. Sen consolidate Naxal and Maoist networks. India’s internal security is also compromised,” Mr. Singh stated. “In view of increased Maoist violence, killing of security personnel and prominent political leaders, objection is raised against Dr. Sen’s foreign visit,” Mr. Singh told the court.
Dr. Sen was invited to speak on healthcare delivery and accessibility to people in remote conflict areas, especially focussing Chhattisgarh. His topic was broadly described in the draft agenda as ‘availability, accessibility, acceptability and quality of health facilities, goods and services — duties and responsibilities toward affected populations, obligations of non-discrimination and medical independence, Treatment of parties to the conflict cf. civilians.’ He was supposed to speak on the first day of the seminar alongside health care and human rights activists from Burma, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
Jamshid Gaziyev, Special Procedures Branch, Katherine Footer of John Hopkins School of Public Health and International Committee of the Red Cross will be attending the seminar, according to the draft agenda.
In April 2011, a Chhattisgarh Court directed Dr. Sen to surrender his passport as a bail condition in line with the Supreme Court order. While it is not mandatory to have a passport to travel to Nepal, Dr. Sen needs permission from court for any overseas travel.
Earlier, he was allowed to travel abroad twice — to South Korea in 2011 and United Kingdom in 2012 — and on both occasions the Chhattisgarh court approved the travel.
The circumstances surrounding the alleged suicide of journalist-turned-corporate communications expert Charudatta Deshpande in Bombay last weekend, has exposed the dark underbelly of one of India’s biggest corporates, and the stress, pressure and threats that hacks face when silence is no longer a conscionable option.
Deshpande, 57, had resigned in April as chief of corporate affairs and communications at Tata Steel, having held that job for a little less than a year; he was due to join the PR firm Ad Factors on July 1. He had previously served as general manager, ICICI Bank, and prior to that as senior general manager of Mahindra & Mahindra.
As a journalist, Deshpande had worked at The Daily, The Indian Express, The Economic Times, Business India TV, and theBusiness and Political Observer.
A group of nine friends and colleagues of Charudatta Deshpande (including the president of the Press Club of Bombay) has written to Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry and his predecessor Ratan Tata, urging them to institute a proper inquiry into the death.
In their letter, written in their individual capacities, Charu’s friends claim:
# Charu was being bullied into signing some documents/ bonds on June 29, a day before he took his life.
# Charu was being blamed for “facilitating” a story (in picture, above) in Forbes India and was under enormous pressure to “admit” to his complicity in “leaking” confidential company documents to the media.
# Charu was was under “house arrest” in Jamshedpur and that his cell phones were being tapped.
# Charu was being called and threatened by an unnamed mafia.
In his individual capacity, ICICI executive director Ram Kumar,a well known figure in HR circles, has also written to the Tatas on the “disgraceful” manner in which Deshpande’s services had been terminated, and the “untold pressure and threat at Jamshedpur” in the weeks preceding his death.
The Economic Times reports:
“Ramkumar’s letter, referring to the claims of the people who met Deshpande in the four weeks preceding his death, alleges that he was “confined” for over two weeks at Jamshedpur.”
Amazingly, or perhaps not, nobody from the House of Tatas, who routinely clamber on to the high moral horse, called on Deshpande’s family for three days after the alleged suicide and Ramkumar has alleged in his letter that a PR firm tried to “sully” Deshpande’s name after the death.
On the other hand, ICICI Bank, where Deshpande had worked earlier, has facilitated a job for his son Gaurav, who graduates in two week’s time.
Below is the full text of the letter sent by nine friends of Charudatta Deshpande to Tata Sons chairman emeritus Ratan Tata and Tata Sons chairman Cyrus Mistry, on 30 June 2013:
Dear Mr Tata and Mr Mistry,
We write to you as the collective conscience of a group of friends and former colleagues of Charudatta Deshpande, a former Tata Steel employee, who committed suicide on Friday, June 28, 2013.
From whatever evidence we have gathered until now on the back of conversations with Charudatta in the weeks leading to his demise, and with those who knew him closely, Charu was placed under enormous stress and subjected to harassment by officials at Tata Steel.
Our understanding is it was this harassment that prompted him to commit suicide. This letter is an attempt to bring this episode to your attention and seek your intervention into instituting an urgent and independent inquiry into the matter.
Charu was head of corporate communications at Tata Steel. About a month ago, he resigned from the company. The events leading to his exit are relevant and we would like to place them before you for your consideration.
In April, a few months into his new assignment, Forbes India magazine ran a cover story“Remoulding Tata Steel”. The story is online here onhttp://forbesindia.com/article/boardroom/putting-the-shine-back-into-tata-steel/35049/0.
It attempted to chronicle the challenges facing Tata Steel at a time when a crucial CEO succession drama was unfolding.
The story was based on extensive and independent reporting that lasted more than five months. Soon after it appeared in print though, a distraught Charu got in touch with those of us at Forbes India and alleged officials at Tata Steel were placing the blame on him for “facilitating” a story they thought inimical to their interests.
He added he was subsequently grounded for more than two weeks; that for all practical purposes was “under house arrest” in Jamshedpur; that his phones were being tapped; and that he was being subjected to enormous pressure to “admit” to his complicity in “leaking” confidential company documents to the media.
Many of us have worked in the past at various newsrooms including at the Economic Times where he was a senior editor. We have also known him professionally in his stints as head of corporate communications at organisations such as ICICI Bank, Mahindra & Mahindra and Tata Steel.
We remember him as a thorough professional who placed a premium on the interests of the organizations he worked for. Each one of us can personally vouch that in his interactions with us, he has never behaved irresponsibly or tried to damage the reputation of the firms he represented.
Those of us who were at Forbes India when the story on Tata Steel was being researched are willing to testify on any forum that matters he conducted himself with integrity and responsibility.
What we also know of the events that preceded his death are outlined below.
1. He was in discussions with officials at Adfactors PR, with whom he was negotiating employment prospects. He told them he was being called and threatened repeatedly by a ‘mafia’ – a term he used constantly; and that his cell phone was being tapped.
2. He had informed a friend that he was being bullied into signing some documents/bonds on June 29, a day before he took his life.
3. Immediately after the story appeared, he was in constant touch over the phone with Indrajit Gupta, the founding editor of Forbes India. He confided in Indrajit Gupta and spoke of being confined for over two weeks at Jamshedpur, being harassed after the story appeared in the magazine, was not allowed to travel without permission, and articulated his concerns about his cell phone being tapped. Despite being advised to escalate the matter to higher authorities, including the Tata Headquarters at Bombay House, Charu insisted it would be futile and make things worse for him.
Whatever be the circumstances behind his exit, most of us assumed he would put the setback behind him and move on. However, he alleged the threatening phone calls he got even after exiting he company was causing him a lot of stress.
What transpired after Charu passed away was even more despicable. Even as the news of his demise trickled in on Friday evening, there were concerted attempts made by Tata Steel officials and the PR agency to pass off his death as a heart attack, and not a suicide.
A senior PR official even insisted that he had visited Charu’s residence and confirmed the news of the heart attack, which turned out to be untrue. Some regional papers even hinted he had embezzled funds.
We believe this is an attempt to tarnish the reputation of a senior professional and take the focus away from the root cause behind his untimely death.
Discussions with Charu’s family have revealed he had no personal problems or disputes there. His brother-in-law Mahesh said Charu was extremely disturbed and depressed in the month before he finally quit Tata Steel. Mahesh also spoke of Charu confiding in the family he made a serious mistake in joining Tata Steel.
These apart, he also spoke of having been let down by the company on various counts and not being provided manpower and resources he was promised when he joined.
The Tata group has nurtured a long tradition of practising and upholding the highest standards of ethics and probity in public life. Nothing that we now do can redeem what has happened. But for the sake of justice, we would urge you to institute an inquiry into this matter.
If nothing, it will help bring closure to a traumatic episode for Charu’s family and his circle of friends. Equally importantly, an inquiry of this kind will go a long way to ensure episodes of this kind don’t occur again.
The all of us who have signed on this note would be willing to aid any inquiry process you choose to institute by providing evidence and witnesses with whom Charu had spoken to before his demise.
We trust the both of you will do what is right.
On behalf of
So Modi Ji is now wooing Muslims. Hmm. Interesting!
1)…a slide where, during the riots, he said, “Hinduoon ko apni badaas
2)…a slide where he was in Police Control Room listening to everything and
doing nothing to stop the riots.
4)…a slide where he ridiculed young Muslim boys as being future ‘garage
5)…a slide where he called Muslims with the prefix “Mian” in contempt.
6)…a slide where no Muslim candidate was given ticket in the Assembly
7)…a slide where he refused to put on the Muslim cap, while he puts on
headgears of all other ethnicities and communities in his functions.
… a slide where tens of thousands of Muslims have still not been
rehabilitated even after 10 years of riots.
9)…a slide where ghettos where Muslim were forced to live after riots are
ignored by municipality.
10)…a slide where Modi fought a case in High Court against granting
scholorship to poor Muslim students.
11)…a slide where Maya Kodnani was promoted to Minister of State for Women
& Child Development AFTER she sucessfully conspired to kill 97 Muslims, MOST
of who were Women & Children
The SlideShow without these slides is simply incomplete in order to depict
the LOVE & RESPECT that Modi Ji has for Muslims.
As I opened the Facebook page of Aisha Gazdar to share
Neela Bhagwat’ s classical rendition of Faiz poem, “Bol”
As her page slowly opened, I wondered why
She had removed her Profile Pic
I felt a bolt from blue , I was numb, with a blank stare
The news stared at me
Rights activist Hassam Qadir no more amongst us, He was just 44
My Eyes closed, fervently wishing this to be a bad dream.
I went to a Flashback
My friendship with Pakistan began with Aisha in 2000
My Myths about Pakistan started crumbling ,
thanks to our friendship ,
which happened as we met at a neutral ground in London
Our friendship beyond borders ripened
I was her coordinator in India and loved every bit of it
Hassam also came with her in 2005,
My first reaction was WOW
This is a Marc Zuber look- alike from Pakistan
Kumbh ke bichade bhai ke samaan
His first morning in Mumbai,
This is what we see
He is standing in the Kitchen making his own Tea
Broad shoulders and a broader smile
Behind the Robust Masculine exterior
Lay a Gender Sensitive Man,within
A human rights activist and Lawyer
was a Passionate Fighter
Aisha , the most soft spoken person I have evermet
is a carnation of ‘ Tameez and Tehzeeb.”
Hassam was a True Punjabi from Lahore in every sense of word
His jokes and crackling laughter, still echoes
He forgot his Black Sandals
Every time I talked with Aisha and him
We laughed and said
‘Tuhade chittar taan aithe hi reg gaye, ki kariye “
( Your sandals are still here, what to do ? )
( Please take care Amitabh Bachchan does not take them !!)
Left behind Memories , Jokes, Vaccum
A pair of large sandals
sitting in a drawer
with hopeless anticipation ……
A pair of large sandals
befitting a towering personality
If you agree with the following Text and wish to be one of the signatories of this letter, please send your signature (Name, Profession , City/State) at firstname.lastname@example.org by 12 PM tomorrow (2nd July 13).
Dear Mr. Bhagat,
At the very outset, let us make it clear that we are not fans of your regressive fiction. Therefore, we write to you not as crazy fans but as Indian Muslim youth, who felt utterly patronized, insulted and hurt after reading your article, ‘Letter from an Indian Muslim Youth’ . You might have not realized this, but in pretending to render “a strong modern Indian Muslim voice’’ to the youth and the Muslim community at large, you have ripped them of their agency. You have reaffirmed stereotypes that many in the community have been fighting against. Heard of the Muslim god and his flock?
Sir, one does not need a name like Ahmed or Saeed or Mirza, or even be a Muslim to show one’s genuine concern for the community. One just needs to see beyond one’s own prejudice and biases. Believe us, this disgusting piece of your writing made us more nauseous than any of your (or Madhu Kishwar’s) love-verses to Modi. Your article is nothing but an extension of the thought process that anything Muslim is backward and regressive. Since you have assigned to yourself the task of bearing the moral burden of the community, would you care to explain what a ‘Muslim cap’ is?
We agree with you when you say political leaders make promises that go empty post elections. And that there are Muslims who have achieved much without any ‘’cap-wearing politician’’ helping them. But who is this leader that you are suggesting; one who would understand ‘’the desire’’ of the Muslim youth ‘’to come up in life’’ and ‘’inspire us to do better’’? Is it by any chance the mass murderer, Narendra Modi?
You know what hurts? That people pretend to care for you when they don’t. When in fact they use you to grind their own axe. How cleverly you turn everything that the Muslim youth face today – “being frisked with greater attentiveness, denied renting an apartment” – into a product of the community’s inherent backwardness, as if it bears no relation to the increasing communalization of our polity and society.
What makes you think that the ‘cap’ wallahs exercise a great deal of influence within the community? Interestingly, one particular party has been lately seeking a lot of photo-ops with precisely these kinds of community leaders. Make no mistake Mr. Writer. They don’t.
“Because of you”, you write castigating an imagined Muslim leadership, “people feel we vote in a herd.” Now, isn’t that really clever, Mr. Bhagat. People feel we vote in a herd because certain parties never tire of screaming hoarse about ‘minority appeasement’ and ‘vote banks’, even though, any psephologist or political scientist, or even an ordinary Muslim youth at Chai dukaan will tell you that Muslims vote just like any other community does: according to a mix of factors: local, national but above all, keeping in mind who will preserve their interests best. And their interests do tend to include the safety of life and livelihood.
We are sorry, Mr. Bhagat, but the ‘’democratic republic’’ you talk of is not so democratic. If it were so, Afzal Guru wouldn’t have been executed to ‘’satisfy the collective conscience of the nation’’. Muslim youth would not have fallen prey to minority witch-hunting, and their killers not decorated with gallantry awards. Adivasis in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa would not have been ripped of their fundamental rights to live with dignity. Dalit poets would not have been falsely charged under sedition laws.
Loving one’s nation is well and good, but being blinded by patriotism is not. Why do Indian Muslims always have to prove their allegiance to India? Why can’t they also be critical of their country?
The party whose path you are treading has had Indian Muslims pass through too many Sita-like ordeals of fire, Agni Pariksha. You may have the privilege to turn a blind eye to the post-Babri Masjid Demolition violence, the Gujarat pogrom, but many others don’t. How then do you think a leader who doesn’t even have the integrity to apologize for his complicity in the Gujarat pogrom represent Muslim youth’s aspirations for ‘’scientific way of thinking, entrepreneurship, empowerment, progress’’ and above all, ‘’personal freedoms’’? And just by the way, have you heard of the word, ‘Justice’?
Name Profession City (State)
1. Rafiul Alom Rahman, Student, Delhi University, Delhi
2. Mahtab Alam, Civil Rights Activist and Journalist, Delhi
3. Javid Parsa, Student, Maulana Azad National Urdu University, Hyderabad
4. Zulaikha Jabeen, Researcher and Activist, Raipur, Chhattisgarh
5. Shahnawaz Malik, Journalist, Delhi
6. Abdullah A Rahman, Student, TISS Tuljapur
7. Abu Zafar, Journalist, Delhi
8. Mahtab Azad, Development Consultant, Araria (Bihar)
9. Ali Amir, Student, TISS Mumbai
10. Gauhar Iqbal, Eauntropneur, Delhi
At a fundamental level, Mandela and peace journalists share an understanding of the importance of language. One key tenant of peace journalism is that the words we as journalists use matter—that they can either soothe or inflame passions. Mandela might have gone one step further, noting not only journalists’ responsibility to choose their words carefully, but also their duty to use language in a way that bridges divides and brings people together. Mandela said, “Without language, we cannot talk to people and understand them. One cannot share their hopes and aspirations, learn their history, appreciate their poetry and savor their songs. I again realize that we are not different people with separate language; we are one people with different tongues.” (http://africa.waccglobal.org/what%20is%20peace%20journalism_.pdf )
Another value peace journalists share with Mandela is a commitment to ongoing dialogue, like the kind begun under Mandela’s post-apartheid Peace and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa. The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory is continuing that work today, offering “a non-partisan platform for public discourse on important social issues…that contribute to policy decision-making.” (nelsonmandela.org) Peace journalists, of course, can provide this platform, but not just to those in power. We seek to give a voice to all parties, with a special emphasis on giving voice to the voiceless.
I hope Mr. Mandela would be proud of the work that one group of peace reporters just concluded in Lebanon. These reporters told the stories of Syrian refugees living in Beirut in a way that demystified the stereotypes about these individuals while fostering a dialogue within Lebanese society about how to accommodate and protect 440,000 refugees.
Many of Mandela’s principles not only align with peace journalism, but also lay out a blueprint for successful peace journalists.
This blueprint for peace journalists can be found, succinctly, in the UN’s written declaration of July 18th as Nelson Mandela International Day. The UN declaration “recognizes Nelson Mandela’s values and his dedication to the service of humanity, in the fields of conflict resolution, race relations, the promotion and protection of human rights, reconciliation, gender equality and the rights of children and other vulnerable groups, as well as the uplifting of poor and underdeveloped communities. It acknowledges his contribution to the struggle for democracy internationally and the promotion of a culture of peace throughout the world.” (masterpeace.org).
This statement is not only Mandela’s legacy, it is his charge to all of us, but especially to those of us who subscribe to the notion that we as journalists have a higher responsibility. This means that we must study and understand conflict resolution, and apply that knowledge to balanced reporting that gives proportionate voice to those who seek peace rather than exclusively to those who rattle the sabers of violence. Mandela’s legacy charges peace journalists with facilitating meaningful dialogues on race, and empowering those in our society who are marginalized (women, children, and the poor). This means that along with peace journalism, we should practice development journalism, using our platforms to focus attention on societal problems and solutions.
Most of all, this legacy charges journalists with putting the spotlight on the Nelson Mandelas in each society—those who seek peace and reconciliation. Mandela’s statement during his 1964 trial is a testimony to the positive power of language, and to journalism’s responsibility to give voice to those who seek a peaceful path. Mandela told the court, “I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” (transcend.org)