#India – Kaziranga National Park in Assam flooded


Flood waters have entered Kaziranga National Park forcing animals to take shelter on highlands and Park authorities are on alert to protect the wildlife from deluge and poachers.

The flood waters have entered Burapahar and Bagori ranges of the world heritage site in upper Assam forcing the animals there to take shelter on high platforms built for them, the park sources said.

They are being given the special food sent by Wildlife Trust of India by the authorities with the help from NGOs.

Some of them were also moving towards the highlands in neighbouring Karbi Anglong district, the sources said.

Altogether 125 boats have been kept ready, they said, adding some of them have already been pressed into service for patrolling.

Besides, 45 domesticated elephants of the forest department and neighbouring areas will be used for the purpose.

Special measures to prevent poaching had also been taken with the personnel in the 150 anti-poaching camps on alert.

The elite Assam Forest Protection Force commandos deployed in the Park have been put on round-the-clock patrolling duty along with forest officers, forest guards and home guards.

Poachers attempt to take advantage of the floods to attack the displaced animals or those coming out of the Park looking for shelter on the highlands, the sources said.

Sign boards have also been put up on NH 37 along the Park for vehicles to control their speed in the area to prevent hitting wild animals crossing over to Karbi Anglong hills across the road, they said.

KNP, the 430 sq km habitat of the one-horn Great Indian Rhinoceros and variety of other fauna and flora, had experienced the worst floods last year when over 500 hog deer and variety of wild animals, including one-horned rhinos, were killed.

Meanwhile, Assam government has directed all the 27 districts to take flood management measures and put in place the emergency response system in view of the rise in the water level of Brahmaputra and its tributaries in Dhemaji, Golaghat, Jorhat, Kamrup, Karimganj, Lakhimpur and Tinsukia districts, the sources added

source- ddnews

 

#India – Assam tops 2012 list of custodial deaths in India #Prisonerights


, TNN | Jun 15, 2013,

Assam tops 2012 list of custodial deaths in India

Surprisingly, the NCRB did not record a single case of police custodial death in Assam in 2011.
GUWAHATI: In a major embarrassment for the state, the National Crime Records Bureau(NCRB) figures for last year have listed Assamas having the highest numbers of police custodial deaths. “Last year, 11 persons who were in police remand died in lock-ups in Assam. Though autopsy, case registration and magisterial enquiries were conducted in all the cases, no policemen were chargesheeted or convicted in these cases in 2012,” said the NCRB report.Andhra Pradesh came second in the category with five such cases, followed by Maharashtra with four deaths, as recorded by the national agency. A total of 38 such deaths were recorded in the country last year.

Surprisingly, the NCRB did not record a single case of police custodial death in Assam in 2011. Andhra Pradesh was in first position in 2011 with 11 cases and Madhya Pradesh second. Maharastra stood in the third in 2011 as well.

Assam Police, who are embarrassed and under fire because of the report, have demanded a rechecking of the figure published in the NCRB report. “We are concerned, but we first need to go through the details of every case thoroughly,” said Assam Police chief J N Choudhury.

Concerned about the matter, former police chief Hare Krishna Deka said that Assam Police should take the matter seriously and act promptly. “There should be a thorough study of the cases by the CID, which should prepare a detailed report citing reasons behind the incidents and measures to prevent it. Besides, the top brass of the state police should also make surprise visits to police stations to check any wrong action by police officers on lock-up inmates,” Deka said.

The former DGP added, “Moreover, we need to find out whether or not the magisterial inquiries were completed. These probes and their follow-up actions should be very prompt.”

Earlier this month, the Assam Human Rights Commission (AHRC) ordered a magisterial enquiry into the custodial death of one Palash Baruah at Jorhat Medical College Hospital while he was in judicial custody. Palash was lodged in the Jorhat District Jail.

As per an Asian Centre for Human Rights report, ‘Torture in India 2011′, stated that a total of 14,231 persons, or an average of more than four persons per day, died in police and judicial custody in India between 2001 and 2010
.

 

ATTN DELHI -Protest Demonstration against Killing of Gangaram Koal, Tea Community Workers’ Leader in Assam by Congress Goons


JOIN PROTEST AGAINST

HEINOUS MURDER OF CPI(ML)’S TEA WORKERS’ LEADER GANGARAM KOAL

BY CONGRESS-BACKED GOONS AND TEA-GARDEN MAFIA

12 APRIL (FRIDAY)

11 AM, JANTAR MANTAR

AICCTU 

 

On 25 March, Comrade Gangaram Koal was hacked to death.

Congress-backed goons and the local Congress MLA have been named in the FIR – but are yet to be arrested. On 12 April, protests will be held in Assam as well as nationally, demanding immediate arrest of the accused. Do join the protest in Delhi, after which a memorandum will be submitted via the Resident Commissioner at Assam Bhawan to the Assam Governor.

Contact nos: 9968125770, 7838497013, 9560756628

 

On the night of 25th March, Comrade Gangaram Koal, General Secretary of Asom Sangrami Chah Shramik Sangh and member of Assam State Committee of CPI(ML), was brutally assassinated near his home at the Gutibari tea garden in Tinsukia districtComrade Gangaram was a militant and popular leader of the tea community in the Dibrugarh-Tinsukia region, and he had been at the forefront of protests against large-scale corruption in gram panchayat schemes and in the public distribution system.Undoubtedly, he was killed at the behest of the corrupt nexus of panchayat representatives, government officials, and politicians, in particular the Congress MLA from Chabua Raju Sahu whose interests were threatened by his relentless activism.   

Comrade Gangaram Koal’s home adjoins a tea estate in Gutibari in Tinsukia district. He had been returning home at around 8 pm on is motorbike when he was attacked by assailants with an iron rod and hacked to death with machetes. His body was discovered by a tea garden worker soon after.

Comrade Gangaram Koal had led a successful struggle last year to get the licence of a corrupt ration agent cancelled. The raton agent, known to be close to the MLA Raju Sahu, ran a ‘fair price’ shop in which 60% of the consumers proved to be bogus, and the remaining 40% genuine consumers had not got even a fraction of their due rations. Only recently, leaders of the ACMS (the tea garden union affiliated with INTUC) were heard publicly declaring that Comrade Gangaram, who challenged their role as agents of the Congress and the tea industry, should be killed.

The ACMS acts to keep the tea garden workers as a captive vote-bank, and any emerging popular and independent leader from this community is ruthlessly eliminated or terrorized by the tea garden mafia. In 2000, Daniel Topno, a popular student leader from the tea community who contested as an independent MLA candidate and got substantial votes, was killed. In Sonitpur, Lakhikant Kurmi and Narayan Pondel, tea garden activists, survived a life-threatening assault. Not long ago, a close comrade of Gangaram Koal, CPI(ML) activist Shubhrajyoti Bardhan, was attacked twice – once at the Deputy Commissioner’s office where he had gone to raise question of irregularities in PDS, and once more in a village.     

Comrade Gangaram had been the CPI(ML)’s candidate in the Lok Sabha polls from Dibrugarh in 2009, and had twice been CPI(ML)’s MLA candidate from Chabua in 2006 and 2011. His heinous political assassination has sparked off a massive state-wide protest in Assam. It should be noted that CPI(ML) activists have been assaulted just a few months back by goons when they went to the food and civil supplies department to register a complaint against irregularities in the PDS.

The Tarun Gogoi Government of Assam initially ordered a CID enquiry and was adamant against ordering a CBI enquiry as demanded by the powerful mass movement that emerged to demand justice for Gangaram Koal. On March 29th, Assam observed a successful 12-hour Bandh at the call of the CPI(ML), demanding a CBI enquiry into the assassination. Subsequently, the Government has had to concede the demand for a CBI enquiry. However, it is important for the CBI enquiry to be time-bound. Justice delayed is often justice denied, and we can recall that the CBI enquiry into Daniel Topno’s murder is yet to submit its report even after 13 years.

Assassination has been a notorious stock-in-trade for the mafia of industrialists and politicians threatened by trade union movements. Trade Union leaders such as Shankar Guha Niyogi and Darasram Sahu in Chhattisgarh, Datta Samant in Mumbai, Gurudas Chatterjee and Jagdev Sharma in Jharkhand are some of the popular workers’ leaders who were martyred at the behest of the powerful vested interests. Comrade Gangaram’s courageous struggle will be continued by his comrades – because murder never can and never will silence workers’ struggles for their rights and their dreams of an egalitarian world.    

Gujarat’s burden highest ever as ‘debt-free’ as Narendra Modi plans flight to Delhi


, TNN | Apr 6, 2013,

  •  Narandra Modi's Vibrant Gujarat Story: Propaganda vs Fact #mustread
AHMEDABAD: Chief minister Narendra Modi‘s supporters may feel that he has served Gujarat enough and now wants to repay the debt to ‘Bharat Mata‘, but Gujarat’s actual debt has mounted from Rs 45,301 crore in 2001-02, when he first came to power, and is projected to touchRs 1.76 lakh crore by 2013-14, when he plans his flight to New Delhi.As on 31-03-12, the revised estimates of total debt stood at Rs 1,38,978 crore. While two other states -West Bengal (Rs 1,92,100 crore) and Uttar Pradesh (Rs 1,58,400 crore) – have a higher debt, they aren’t claiming they are a “model state”. Besides, if Modi leaves for Delhi after “settling his debt” with Gujarat, he is leaving behind the highest ever per capita debt of Rs 23,163 – if the population is taken at exactly six crore.

The Gujarat government is paying a mind-boggling interest of Rs. 34.50 crore every day. By 2015-16, the debt would mount to Rs 2,07,695 crore as per the state government’s budget estimates. A large chunk of the state’s revenues go towards debt servicing. The state’s total debt was less than Rs 10,000 crore when the BJP first came to power in Gujarat in 1995.

Critics have pointed out that much of the spending is on show-piece infrastructure projects, while overall spending on key areas like health and infrastructure remains low. The debt has mounted despite Gujarat having one of the highest VAT on petrol and also being the one of the few states to have VAT on fertilizers.

The latest CAG report tabled in the assembly last week stated, “As of 31 March 2012, the government had invested Rs 39179 crore in areas where the average return on investment was just 0.27 per cent in last five years while the government paid an interest of 7.75 on its borrowings during the same period.” It said continued use of borrowed funds to fund investment which do not have sufficient returns will lead to an unsustainable financial position.

Bangalore’s xenophobic cops cross the limit #racism


 

Published: Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013, 5:25 IST
By MK Ashoka | Place: Bangalore | Agency: DNA

When 26-year-old Parvez Azhar from Assam, who lives and works in Bangalore, went to Hulimavu police station Monday to file a complaint about losing his marks cards, little did he expect to be abused roundly by the station house officer. Parvez’s fault? Not being able to speak Kannada.

It was third visit of Parvz, an employee in a pharmaceutical company, to the police station to file the complaint about the loss of his final semester marks card of his BSc biotechnology from St John’s College. He lost the marks card while riding his bike to Arakere 10 days ago, and he realised about the loss much later. Since then he was made to go to the police station repeatedly, only to be told that he had get an affidavit detailing how he lost the marks sheets, in order to file the complaint. Parvez was at the station, armed with the affidavit.

“I was trying to tell station head Nagarajaiah that I have got the affidavit done. He did not even bother to look at the affidavit, asking me to bring a letter from the college. As I tried to explain that the college authorities have asked me to come with the FIR, Nagarajaiah asked me whether I knew Kannada,” Parvez told DNA.

Parvez told the cop that he could speak in Kannada a bit and and was learning the language. The policemen asked him for how long was living in Bangalore. The young man told seven years, and this got the policeman’s goat, who began loudly abusing him.

“After abusing me, Nagarajaiah asked me why I could not speak Kannada after staying here for so long, and why i had not tried. He went on to complain that people like me come here to ride their bike wherever wanted and do not even bother to learn Kannada,” Parvez said.

Refusing to entertain Parvez’s affidavit which they had suggested he get done, Nagarajaiah said he would regiser a complaint only if he brought a letter from college.

“Otherwise I could go back to his native in Assam and get and lodge a complaint there, Nagarajaiah told me,” recounts Parvez.

@ashimysore

Assam court moved over woman activist’s disappearance #Vaw


By IANS – GUWAHATI

20th February 2013

  • Two Assam-based NGOs have approached the Gauhati High Court seeking details of the
    Two Assam-based NGOs have approached the Gauhati High Court seeking details of the “disappearance” of a woman rights activist. PTI file photo

Two Assam-based NGOs have approached the Gauhati High Court seeking details of the “disappearance” of a woman rights activist, about whom police claimed that she has joined banned militant outfit ULFA.

Women in Governance (Wing-India) and Women Alliance for Violence Against Women (WAVAW) filed a habeas corpus petition in the court seeking the details Majoni Das, 30, and also asked the United Liberation Front of Asom to make it clear whether Majoni has joined the outfit.

The NGOs claimed Majoni Das’s “disappearance” was one of the many cases of “forced disappearances” that take place in the northeast region.

They demanded the police to step up investigation about the whereabouts of Majoni and disclose the facts.

The woman, a teacher and a rights activist hailing from Demow in Sivasagar district of Assam, left her home to meet the superintendent of police (SP) of Sivasagar district on Feb 10. She was summoned by the police chief. Majoni has remained untraced since then.

“When the family members approached the police the next day, the police informed them that Majoni had joined the ULFA and that she had left for Nagaland,” Bondita Acharya of the Wing-India told reporters here.

The police chief also informed the media the same day that Majoni had joined the militant outfit and circulated her photographs to the media.

“The SP of the district also asked the family members of Majoni Das to go to Nagaland and bring her back. The police claimed that they had proof that Majoni had joined the outfit,” said Acharya while pointing out to the mental harassment on the family members.

“We don’t think that Majoni has joined the outfit. She left home to meet the SP and went missing since then. How can the police ask us to go to Nagaland and find out my sister? Is it not the duty of the police to find out Majoni after we lodged a missing person complaint?,” asked Majoni’s sister, Bharati Hazarika.

“When we approached the police seeking the details of Majoni, the police refused to divulge any details to us,” said Acharya while adding that the NGOs have filed a habeas corpus petition in the Gauhati High court seeking the details of Majoni.

“Police have also refused to inform us as to why Majoni was summoned by the SP. The police claimed that they are aware that Majoni will join the militant outfit and leave for its camps in Myanmar through Nagaland – in that case, was it not the duty of the police to stop her from joining the outfit?” said Acharya.

“The family is worried as they about 10 years back lost their son Diganta Das in a similar mysterious disappearance case. The question arises whether police are responsible for the sudden disappearance of Majoni or was it her choice?” she said

 

IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Missing Mystery of Majoni Das #AFSPA


 

PRESS RELEASE

MISSING MYSTERY OF MAJONI DAS

Organized by Women in Governance (WinG)-India, Women Alliance on Violence Against Women and Family members of Majoni Das

20th February 2013 at Gauri Sadan, Guwahati

We will not allow Majoni to be the next in the list of   those disappeared from custody mysteriously in this region. The family members have the right to know the whereabouts  and safety of their daughter. The Police should provide the information.  – Bondita Acharya , WinG-India

Guwahati Feb. 20, 2013 Enforced disappearances have been a very severe and a common human rights issue especially in North East India. The special powers entrusted upon the armed police and Police administration either by AFSPA or other draconian laws like UAPA has led to severe violation of human rights  of common people resulting into disappearances, extrajudicial killings, mental harassment, rape as well as sexual assault.

Majoni Das, a woman activist, teacher, writer from Sibsagar has been a victim of enforced disappearance in suspicion of having links with insurgent groups. Majoni Das, D/O Mr. Dimbeswar Das aged 30 was an active member women movement Nari Adhikar Suraksha Samiti (NASS) and also involved with fortnightly news paper namely AMI. Due to the poor financial condition of the family she was working with Purva Bharati Educational Trust, Jorhat for last 13 months as a warden of the hostel run by Purva Bharati Educational Trust, Jorhat Assam. On 6th February 2013 she went to her parent’s home at Demow, Sibsagar district, Assam to attend some family function. When she reached home local police sent messages to her several times to come over to Sibsagar SP office. She informed her colleagues about the calls and sounded very worried and tensed. On 8th February Pritam Das police officer of Nitai Pukhuri outpost along with a lady police officer came to their house to detain her. At that time she was not at home and then they left a message for her to come over to SP office in Sibsagar. On 9pm at that night she informed two of her neighbors that she would visit the SP office the next day. On 10th February morning around 9 am she left home to meet SP of Sibsagar district and since then she is missing.

 

Later FIR was filed in Jorhat PS by the Purva Bharati Educational Trust and in Demow PS by family members. Meanwhile the family and hostel authority made several visits to the SP office in Sivsagar requesting police to trace Majoni. SP informed that Majoni has joined the underground armed group United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA) and left for Nagaland. Police also instructed the father of Majoni to visit Nagaland and trace her.

 

Police is not revealing any information about her; the reason why police wanted her to report to the SP office is not clear and they are giving different sorts of answers which is making the case complex. Meanwhile in an attempt to gain public support, police reported the case to media branding the she has joined ULFA and left home on her way to Myanmar via Nagaland. Family is worried about her whereabouts as in several such missing cases earlier the missing person was found dead or involuntary disappeared.

 

The question arises whether Police administration is responsible for the sudden disappearance of Majoni Das or was it her choice? The answer is still a mystery. But whatever be the answer it should be backed by certain evidences which needs to be transparent to the family members.

 

We urge the following demands :

 

1.      Police should immediately disclose information on whereabouts of Majoni Das and         present her to the family members.

2.      Police should step up the investigation and provide updated information about the process of investigation.

3.      Put an immediate end to the continuous harassment of the family members by the police officials.

4.      Effective protection to the members of the family of Majoni Das.

5.      Immediate action against the senior police officials of the Sibsagar district for their negligence of duty to disclose the whereabouts of Majoni Das.

6.      Immediate action against the senior police officials of the Sibsagar district who pressurised the family members to talk to members of Underground Group and also to go to Mon district of Nagaland to trace Majoni Das.

7.      Ensure legal support to the family members for the case.

8.      Ensure the safety of all colleagues and associates of Majoni Das during the  follow up.

9.      Police (Superintendent of Police of Sibsagar District) should provide explanation for calling Majoni Das repeatedly to his office without proper notice.

10.  As Majoni Das belongs to SC community, the FIR should be changed under the provision of SC/ST PoA Act.

 

Bondita Acharya  and Anjuman Ara Begum ,  WinG-India Phone: 98643233379954082155

Bharati Hazarika , sister of  of Majoni Das-7896065140


 

 

 

Anjuman Ara Begum

Guwahati, Assam, India

Phone: +91-9954082155 (M)
Skype: anjumanarabegum

 

 

#India- Air attacks in Mizoram, 1966 – our dirty, little secret


19 FEB, 2013,  ABHEEK BARMAN,ET BUREAU

The original villages, crops and granaries were destroyed to deny wandering insurgents shelter and food.

The original villages, crops and granaries were destroyed to deny wandering insurgents shelter and food.
One month and four days after becoming prime minister of IndiaIndira Gandhi was faced with a problem familiar to her father, Jawaharlal Nehru: an insurgency in the north east. On February 28, 1966, the Mizo National Army (MNA) revolted against India and fighting broke out across the region. In response, the Indian state did two unprecedented things.

By March 2, the MNA had overrun the Aizawl treasury and armoury and was at the headquarters of theAssam Rifles. It had also captured several smaller towns south of Aizawl. The military tried to ferry troops and weapons by helicopter, but was driven away by MNA snipers.

So, at 11:30 am on March 5, the air force attacked Aizawl with heavy machine gun fire. On March 6, the attack intensified, and incendiary bombs were dropped. This killed innocents and completely destroyed the four largest areas of the city: Republic Veng, Hmeichche Veng, Dawrpui Veng and Chhinga Veng.

Locals left their homes and fled into the hills in panic. The MNA melted away into surrounding gorges, forests and hills, to camps in Burma and the then East Pakistan. The air force strafed Aizawl and other areas till March 13. One local told a human rights committee set up by Khasi legislators GG Swell and Rev Nichols Roy that, “There were two types of planes which flew over Aizawl — good planes and angry planes. The good planes were those which flew comparatively slowly and did not spit out fire or smoke; the angry planes were those which escaped to a distance before the sound of their coming could be heard and who spat out smoke and fire.”

This was the first— and only — time that the air force has been used to attack Indians in India. It cleared Aizawl and other cities of the MNA, but did not finish off the insurgency, which would last for another 20 years. Till the 1980s, the Indian military stoutly denied the use of air attacks in Mizoram in 1966.

By 1967, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act was in force in the area that is now Mizoram. That year, the eastern military brass, led by the then Lt General Maneckshaw, and government decided to implement the second terrible thing it did in Mizoram. This was called ‘regrouping of villages.’

At the that time, there was one road coming south from Silchar in Assam, that traveled all the way down to where the state’s limits ended. To the east and west of this road were vast tracts of forests, hills and ravines, dotted with hundreds of villages.The military plan was to gather villagers from all over, and cluster them along the side of this road. These new, so-called Protected and Progressive Villages (PPVs), were nothing but concentration camps, minus gas chambers. The movement was supposed to be voluntary — people in some far off hamlet were supposed to jump with joy when told to give up their land, crops and homes to trek hundreds of miles and live behind barbed wire. Actually, the military told villagers to take what they could carry on their backs, and burn everything else down. Elders signed ‘consent’ papers at gunpoint.

In every case, villagers refused to move. When they were coerced to march, they would refuse to burn down their properties. Then, the military officer and his men would torch the whole place down. They would march in a column guarded by the military, to their designated PPV.

Life here was tough: each resident was numbered and tagged, going and coming was strictly regulated and rations were meagre. In the PPVs’ confines, tribal conventions broke down. In the scramble for scarce resources, theft, murder and alcoholism became widespread.

The regrouping destroyed the Mizos’ practice of jhum, or shifting cultivation. There was little land inside the PPVs and their original jhum areas had been left far behind in the interiors. Farm output fell off a cliff. Mizoram suffered from near-famine conditions, supplemented by what little the military could provide, for the next three years.

Why were the villagers herded into the PPVs? The military reckoned that keeping villagers under their eyes would keep them from sheltering insurgents or joining the MNA. The original villages, crops and granaries were destroyed to deny wandering insurgents shelter and food.

These ideas were picked up by our officers from the colonial British playbook. The British had regrouped villages during the Boer war in the early 20th century, in Malaya, where they interned Chinese in special camps and in Kenya where villages were uprooted to crush the Mau Mau revolt.

The British could get away with all this because they were inflicting pain on a subject population. The Indian establishment had no such fig leaf: it was giving grief to its own citizens.

The scale of the Mizoram regrouping was awesome. Out of 764 villages, 516 were evacuated and squeezed into 110 PPVs. Only 138 villages were left untouched. In the Aizawl area, about 95% of the rural population was herded into PPVs. No Russian gulag or German concentration camp had hosted such a large chunk of the local population.

The first PPVs were dismantled in 1971, but the last ones continued for another eight years. The MNA revolt ended in 1986. No government has expressed regret for the bombing and regrouping.

 

Arindam Chaudhuri, the IIPM has sued The Caravan- and fight is on #Censorship


Arindam ChaudhuriSilchar

FEBRUARY 15, 2013

Given below is the text of a press release put out by THE CARAVAN magazine in 2011. This was first published in Kafila on 22 June 2011 and is being republished today for all those who may be interested in following up on the defamation case filed against The Caravan for a profile of Arindam Chaudhuri. The Supreme Court had stayed the case in August 2011.

When I read The Caravan‘s cover story on Arindam Chaudhuri some months ago, I wondered when he was suing them. And he’s done it! While a court injunction has made The Caravanremove the story from their wesbite, you can read it thanks to Google cache. No wonder Chaudhuri’s sued Google India as well! Given below is the full text of the press release put out byThe Caravan. Unlike when Chaudhuri took on bloggers in 2005, I’m glad it is an organisation with the resources to fight the case and take him head on – not to say that requires some spine as well. After you’re done reading the release below, entertain yourself with all the Arindam jokes on Twitter.  

IIPM’s Rs500-million lawsuit against The Caravan
In response to our February profile of Arindam Chaudhuri, the IIPM has sued The Caravan.

Here’s why we’re fighting the suit.

The Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM), whose director, Arindam Chaudhuri, was the subject of the cover story of our February 2011 issue, has filed a lawsuit against The Caravan, citing “grave harassment and injury”. The article, titled “Sweet Smell of Success: How Arindam Chaudhuri Made a Fortune Off the Aspirations—and Insecurities—of India’s Middle Classes”, was written by Siddhartha Deb, a contributing editor at The Caravan and an accomplished writer and university professor based in New York. Deb’s profile of Arindam Chaudhuri, which shows how Chaudhuri built an image for himself and how he runs his educational institution, has been critically praised for both its thorough reporting and its spirit of evenhandedness. In the weeks that followed its initial publication, in print and on The Caravan’s website, the extensive article was widely referenced, commented on, and shared by readers.

The suit against The Caravan, which seeks huge damages, has been filed not in Delhi, where both the IIPM and the magazine’s publisher, Delhi Press, are based, but 2,200 km away in Silchar, Assam, 300 km from Guwahati, Assam’s capital. The IIPM filed the case at the Court of Civil Judge in Silchar district, through one Kishorendu Gupta, who operates Gupta Electrical Engineers in a Silchar suburb, and is the first plaintiff. IIPM is the second plaintiff.

In addition to The Caravan and its proprietors, the suit charges Siddhartha Deb, Penguin (the publisher of the upcoming book by Deb in which the article is a chapter), and Google India (which, the suit alleges, has been “publishing, distributing, giving coverage, circulating, blogging the defamatory, libelous and slanderous articles”).

The civil court in Silchar granted the IIPM a preliminary injunction, enjoining Delhi Press to remove the article in question from their website, ex-parte, without any pre-hearing notice.

Kishorendu Gupta is a commissioned agent who works for the IIPM on a contractual basis. Although Gupta is called a counselor, a contract between Gupta and IIPM shows Gupta is a recruitment agent who has commercial interest and is paid for his service on a commission basis. IIPM’s contract with Gupta states:

“for number of students enrolled between 1 to 24, the compensation would be 75,000 per student …[and] for anyone who crosses the 25 students mark, the compensation would be 90,000 per student…[and] for anyone who crosses the 50 student mark, the compensation would be 1,25,000 per student” (From the agreement submitted by the plaintiffs in the court).

It is learnt that the IIPM has filed similar lawsuits against certain other publishers, also in Silchar, Assam, rather than in Delhi.

In 2005, the IIPM filed a case against Rashmi Bansal, a blogger and editor of Just Another Magazine (JAM), who published an article in print and online questioning many of the claims made by the IIPM in its brochures and advertisements, which highlighted that the IIPM had not been accredited by any Indian agency such as AICTE, UGC or under other state acts. The IIPM filed a case against Bansal from Silchar, Assam, even though she runs a small independent outfit based in Mumbai. The IIPM managed to get an ex-parte order from the court, forcing Bansal to remove the article from the website. The IIPM also filed for damages.

In 2009, Careers360 magazine, published by Maheshwar Peri, who is also the publisher of Outlook magazine, carried an article titled “IIPM – Best only in claims?” investigating the authenticity of many of the claims made by the IIPM in their advertisements. The magazine’s investigation revealed that the IIPM claimed that its students were eligible for MBA degrees from IMI, Belgium, but that NVAO, the accreditation organisation of Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium), did not recognise IMI. Also it reported that following a local agitation against the opening of a new campus in Dehradun, the state government of Uttarakhand had asked the Uttarakhand Technical University to conduct an enquiry on the activities of the IIPM, with which IIPM did not co-operate. The investigations revealed that IIPM could not in any circumstances award valid MBA/BBA degrees or conduct such courses in the state of Uttarakhand. The IIPM, again, filed a case against the magazine and the publisher in Silchar, and obtained ex-parte restraint against them. The IIPM also filed a criminal case against Maheshwar Peri from Uttarakhand, which was subsequently quashed by the High Court. The cases against Rashmi Bansal and Careers360 are both still underway at the Silchar courts, as the IIPM seems to be interested in dragging the matter out now that their purpose has been served by obtaining interim restraints.

The Caravan’s profile of Arindam Chaudhuri was the most thorough article published to date on the subject. The 10,000-word story was the result of several months of work by Siddhartha Deb, whose exhaustive reporting included interviews with Arindam Chaudhuri himself and several of his close associates who spoke openly about the IIPM and its critics, coverage of Chaudhuri’s public functions, and an account of considerable time spent on the IIPM campus. The piece is distinguished by both its detailed research and its refined literary style.

The Caravan intends to fight this suit because we believe that we must defend the right of journalists to report on controversial subjects or persons without undue fear of legal intimidation from powerful entities or organisations that seek to insulate themselves from criticism. Delhi Press, the publisher of The Caravan and many popular titles like SaritaWoman’s Era,Grihshobha and Mukta, has time and again been at the forefront of defending the right to freedom of speech and freedom of press during its 70 years of publishing history. On account of the bold anti-authoritarian and anti-religious obscurantist articles published in its leading socio-political magazine in Hindi, Sarita, the group has successfully fought all attempts of legal intimidation over the years.

If the IIPM can demonstrate that any errors of fact have been made, The Caravan will print a correction in the magazine as well as on its website. But the vast majority of the “falsehoods” cited in the legal suit are not based on matters of fact, and the objections merely reflect the discomfort of the IIPM with the language employed to describe the facts.

The Civil Court at Silchar, in its order granting the injunction against the magazine, has noted:

“Defendants had written article making false imputations against IIPM Institute with false and concocted facts only to cause damage to the reputations, Goodwill, education activities of IIPM institute. The said magazine carries and morphid image of Mr. Arindam Choudhury-Dean of the Centre for Economic Research and Advance studies of IIPM saying him as a magician/soothsayer in an attempt to portray him as a trickster and falsely stated that Mr. Arindam Choudhury has a reputation as a fraud, scamster and ‘Jhony come lately’ in order to malign and defame the dean of IIPM and create a negative public image of Mr. Arindam Choudhury”.

In their petition, the plaintiffs have raised an objection to the article’s statement that placements had always been a pressing problem for the IIPM graduates. They have also raised an exception to the author’s claim, based on interviews with Arindam Chaudhuri himself, that almost 90 percent of Planman employees, including faculty members, have been former graduates of the IIPM.

The author had raised questions about the revenue and size of the company to Arindam Chaudhuri and his associates, but these went unanswered. The article states this, along with the fact that while the IIPM spent over 300 million on advertising in 2006, it paid no income tax that year or the previous.

The sum and substance of the petition is that The Caravan has published a false, incorrect, defamatory and libelous article and has made false imputations against the IIPM, which, the petition says, the author and editors of The Caravan knew to be false, and that these were made with the intention to defame the IIPM institute as well as its councilors like Kishorendu Gupta. While we reserve our right to respond to the allegations during the course of legal proceedings, it is interesting to note the following charges in particular:

“The magazine carries a morphed image of Mr. Arindam Chaudhari, Dean Centre for Economic Research and Advance Studies of IIPM, showing him as a magician/soothsayer in a manner which clearly is an attempt to portray him as a trickster.”“The present campus at Satbari is also not in the city’s outskirts nor the road leading to it is dusty. Moreover, the works “proprietor”, “small”, “run of the mill”, “outskirts of Delhi” and “the road is dusty” have been used by the Defendants with the aim to malign and defame the heads of IIPM as well as the IIPM institute.”

As stated before, The Caravan as a respectable publication stands by what has been published, which is a true and accurate account of the IIPM as experienced by the author. But the suit that has been filed leads us to believe that the IIPM does not appear to have any desire to correct the record: instead it aims to prevent any publication of material that paints the IIPM in a light it does not approve of.

The suit, in order to substantiate the charges, offers a long list of students, rent receipts from the Indian Tuberculosis Society, an agreement with Plaintiff No 1 Kishorendu Gupta, which runs into 25 clauses of commercial nature, and various newspaper cuttings.

Freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right in this country, and various higher courts have consistently upheld this important fundamental right of individuals and publications.

The Caravan will continue to keep its readers updated with the proceedings in the court so that they know the truth about both the veracity of the statements made in the article and the arguments of the IIPM and Kishorendu Gupta. For the benefit of the public, news of the court proceedings will be published by Delhi Press in its 30 magazines in nine languages, which together have a readership of over 30 million people.

The Caravan Editors and Publishers

PRESS RELEASE- Notice to BIHAR Govt and CRPF to vacate the Hospital premises within a month


Notice to BIHAR Govt and CRPF u/s sec 3(2) of Forest Rights Act 2006

to vacate the Hospital premises within a month

Thousands of women, children and men in Adhoura Block, Distt Kaimur, protested against the illegal occupation of hospital by para military force over a decade, thus denying the basic facilities to the people of this area. The notice was served to all the departments to seriously implement the spirit of FRA and to start all the development work that does not exist in the hilly terrain of Kaimur region. This notice was served by the ” Forest Rights Committee” elected under the FRA. Till date there is not even a single village that is connected by the road in this region. The Block headquarter Adhoura too does not have roads. The forest people of this region have focused on the issue of development to start with the implementation of FRA.

On 9th feb 2013, thousands of women, children and men assembled under the banner of Kaimur Mukti Morcha, National Forum of Forest People and Forest workers and launched a massive struggle against the government of Bihar for not implementing FRA in this region. The rally was organized that started from Dr. Viniyan Ashram at 12PM that first went to Block premises where recently STF Bihar has been in illegal occupation in the hall of Block where the training of anganwadi workers take place. The notice to vacate the premises was sticked on the wall of the block conference hall where STF jawans were camping. The mass rally than proceeded towards police station ADhoura, the station officer was nervous to see the massive gathering and came out of the police station to welcome the rally. He allowed women to stick the notice demanding the hospital and schools premises to be vacated by the para military forces and the state forces. The photos are attached. The mass rally than proceeded towards the old premises of hospital that virtually has no facility and is in ruined condition. The notice as also pasted there too.
The kafila of women than proceeded to the forest range office where seeing so many women the forest staff fled from the range office. Women sticked the notice there. It was announced by the people that the forest range office now belongs to forest rights committee and they will form federation of these committees and open their office in the range office as none of the forest staff is working for conservation of forest. They are involved in loot of the forest resources. After pasting the notice the rally proceeded towards Block office and asked the BDO to inform the District Magistrate that they want their Act to be implemented within a month and start all the development work in a month period. They also announced that all the forces camping in the school, hospital and block premises should vacate the premises within a month.

After sticking notices to all the departments the mass rally proceeded towards the new hospital premises that is situated on the main approach road to Adhoura, where the CRPF is camping. The Station officer immediately came with the local police force and tried to stop the rally by saying that no one in allowed to enter the ” prohibited area” where CRPF is camping. The FRC postholders said that they were not going to prohibited area rather they are going to their hospital to vacate it from illegal occupants. The protesters also argued that the only approach road to a very backward area cannot by prohibited area and if it is so than SO, PS Adhoura should give in writing. The station officer had to allow the rally to proceed ahead. . Just 100mt before the hospital, the road was blocked by CRPF jawans who were in posture to attack the rally. Their postures were condemned by the protestors since their demand was a legal demand and move of CRPF jawans were uncalled for. Sensing the commotion the Station officer urged the protestors to stop there and present their memorandum and allowed a delegation to stick the notice to vacate the premises on the gate of camp of CRPF. Around 20 women escorted by the SO and local police, with shouting slogans went and pasted the notice on the gate of hospital and proclaimed that if the hospital premises is not vacated within a month than the hospital will be taken over by the people. They also said that they will continue their dharna till the hospital services are resumed in this area.

The mass rally was converted into a big mass meeting at the Birsa Chowk in Adhoura block where many leaders of Kaimur Mukti Morcha, NFFPFW and FRC representatives gave ultimatum to Bihar government to seriously implement all the legislation that is geared towards the development of the local tribal and forest people. Ashok chowdhury, Gen.Sect NFFPFW said that if the hospital and other development activities are not resumed in Adhoura block within a month they will raise this issue with the Parliamentary Committee, the loksabha speaker being the MP of this Constituency. He also said that the anti people behavior of para military forces will be reported to the Home ministry. The speakers also said that now they will talk to the political representative rather than talking to officials who are totally insensitive to whole of this issue.

BDO while addressing the public gathering said they will soon send these demands to the district officials and promised to arrange a high level meeting on implemenation of the Act by end of february.

This action by the FRC’s brought lot of confidence among the local people especially women. There were lot of rumor spread by the dalals of CRPF, police and feudals that the protestors will be taught lesson, they will be shot at and they will arrested etc. But the paramilitary forces, police were speechless in front of women power and they were on the back foot rather than being offensive. The mass rally and the public meeting was very well organized and disciplined. Moreover this move got a popular support by the entire civil society of the Distt Kaimur and created a deep impact. We are quite sure that within a month the para military forces will certainly vacate the hospital premises, so as the schools and block conference hall that is in possession of these forces. There is now SC ruling also that no schools, hospitals and public building should be provided to forces.


NFFPFW / Human Rights Law Centre
c/o Sh. Vinod Kesari, Near Sarita Printing Press,
Tagore Nagar
Robertsganj,
District Sonbhadra 231216
Uttar Pradesh
Tel : 91-9415233583, 05444-222473
Email : romasnb@gmail.com

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