#India -Chhattisgarh lawyer, client charged with #sedition walk free #goodnews


SUVOJIT BAGCHI, The Hindu, Raipur  June 28,2013

Advocate from central Chhattisgarh has been slapped with the same charges that of her clients

Rarely in judicial history has an advocate been slapped with the same charges as that of her clients. But such was the case of Rekha Parghaniya – a lawyer and a human rights activist from central Chhattisgarh. She was arrested and charged with sedition and put in the same prison with her client, Rashmi Verma, a middle aged housewife arrested for “excit(ing) disaffection towards the Government.”

Ms. Parghaniya was defending Ms. Verma and her husband Bhola Bag, a contractual worker, who was booked with sedition as well. All three of them were also charged under Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 (CSPSA) for allegedly abetting the outlawed CPI-Maoist. They were acquitted by the district court of Durg on Wednesday.

Bhola Bag and Rashmi Verma were arrested on basis of a statement made by Sarita, an alleged Maoist cadre. She, in her statement to the Sarguja district police, allegedly claimed that she stayed with Mr. Bag and Ms. Verma while working for the underground party. The couple were arrested in February, 2009 and eventually charged under an 1860 Act of Indian Penal Code (IPC) for “excit(ing) disaffection towards the Government” and Section 8/1, 8/3 and 8/5 of CSPSA, 2005 for helping an ‘unlawful organisation.’

“What triggered the arrest of Ms. Parghaniya was the arrest of her husband in Kolkata,” said one of her lawyers, Sadiq Ali. Ms. Parghaniya’s husband, Deepak, was arrested in Kolkata earlier in 2012 for allegedly helping a unit of the Maoists to manufacture small arms. Maoist Central Committee did acknowledge Mr. Parghaniya as one of their “comrades” in a release issued on March 2, 2012. “Ms. Parghaniya was arrested just for being the wife of Mr. Parghaniya whom she last met several years ago,” said Mr. Ali.

A team of CPI (ML)’s women wing, AIPWA visited Ms. Parghaniya in Durg central jail and questioned the arrest. “…incriminating documents seized by the police from Rekha’s house include literature by Bhagat Singh, Marx, Engels and Bertolt Brecht, as well as some folders on the history of the workers’ movement,” said the AIPWA release. “The AIPWA team led by Lakshmi Krishnan was severely interrogated before they were allowed to talk to the women who were projected as big time Maoist guerrillas,” said State secretary of CPI (ML) Brajen Tiwari.

The couple were implicated as Mr. Parghaniya, ostensibly, arranged for some contractual work for Bhola Bag in Bhilai Steel Plant before he left Durg. “Allegedly, they were consolidating the urban network of the Maoists,” said Mr. Ali. While all three were booked by police under same sections of IPC and CSPSA, Ms. Parghaniya was kept out of sedition when charges were finally framed. “Since the permission was not sought by police from home department before slapping 124/A,” said Mr Ali.

The judgment said that the evidences were not sufficient to convict Mr. Bag and Ms. Verma. Ms. Parghaniya was acquitted as the two main witnesses were not present during the seizure, which was the important evidence against her. “Even the investigating officer said there were hardly any incriminating documents, other than few leftist magazines,” said Mr. Ali.

Rekha Parghaniya walked free on Wednesday night and managed to win freedom for her clients as well.

Maoists deny links with Binayak Sen


Raipur, June 13, 2013

Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu 

Human rights activist Binayak Sen during a function in Hyderabad. File photo
The Hindu Human rights activist Binayak Sen during a function in Hyderabad. File photo

Rebels term Shubranshu Choudhury’s book a “pack of lies, half-truths and scattered information”

For the first time, Maoists have denied links with social activist and paediatrician Binayak Sen.

The statement on Tuesday night came in the form of a rare rebuttal of a recent book, Let’s Call Him Vasu by journalist Shubranshu Choudhury. While Mr. Choudhury preferred to “stand by” his book, Dr. Sen said it is a “good development” for him.

Read review of Let’s Call Him Vasu.

Mr. Choudhury has also named other eminent activists of Chhattisgarh, who ostensibly are associated with the Maoists, in his book which deals with the day-to-day life of the rebels in the central Indian forest and the impact of the armed movement on the lives of tribals.

The State wing of the CPI (Maoist), Dandakaranya Special Zonal Committee (DKSZC), called the book a “pack of lies, half-truths and scattered information.” The release said that “even the disseminated information is distorted… and true lies, especially, the episode on Dr. Binayak Sen and the so-called relationship between Jeet and Mukti [Guha Niogi] and our party.”

The party has also refuted the allegation that it has taken money from Essar Steel as claimed in the book.

Mr. Choudhury has quoted a courier, Anil, of a senior Maoist leader and claimed in his book that Dr. Sen, a respected doctor and social activist, who was arrested for his alleged links with the Maoists, was actually an intermediary between Sabyasachi Panda, erstwhile leader of the Maoists in Orissa, and Narayan Sanyal, a Polit Bureau member of the party.

While Anil told the author that Rs. 50,000 was “collected” by a tendu leaves financier of Bengal, Piyush Guha, to deliver it to Mr. Sanyal for his legal expenses, through Binayak Sen, it is not clear if the money actually passed through the hands of the beleaguered doctor.

“I asked him [Sabyasachi Panda] if he ever got the money back. Piyush had been arrested before he could deliver or return the money, he replied,” Mr. Choudhury wrote in his book. With the DKSZC’s denial of the “Binayak Sen episode,” the controversy involving the doctor and the Maoists took a new turn.

Dr. Sen told The Hindu that he believes Mr. Choudhury is a “promising, young journalist,” and added, “… I have been saying all along what he [Mr. Choudhury] has stated is not true. For me, it is a good development, what I have been saying has been finally confirmed by the other party involved in the alleged transaction.”

Jeet and Mukti Guha Niyogi, the son and daughter of legendary trade union leader Shankar Guha Niyogi, are also named in the book. Mr. Guha Niyogi could not be reached on the phone for his comments.

The rebels, however, have not threatened the senior journalist and the rebuttal is more of a discussion on the praxis of the Maoist movement in India.

DKSZC spokesperon Gudsa Usendi said Mr. Choudhury had not made any “serious attempt” to understand the Maoist movement. “He has claimed to have spent seven years with us but… he has not tried to understand the basic aspects of class war.” However, other than underscoring their objections regarding the claims made about the civilian activists, the release has not clarified why the Maoist leadership is critical about the book.

The allegation seems to be more on how Mr. Choudhury failed to understand the Maoist movement than a point-by-point rebuttal.

The spokesperson is more direct about Mr. Choudhury’s radio broadcasts, which, according to Mr. Usendi, are “baseless.” Media reports suggest that comrade Ramanna alias Ravula Srinivas replaced veteran leader comrade Khosa as DKSZC secretary recently.

According to the release, Mr. Choudhury claimed in a recent radio programme that “Maoists will [now] focus more on violence after a change in the leadership.” Mr. Usendi objected to this observation and said such “imaginary analyses” are “bunkum.”

Alleging that “false propaganda” is often spread against the underground party to negatively influence the people’s movement, the release said “… consciously or unintentionally Mr. Choudhury has become part of it [propaganda machinery].” Mr. Usendi has also denied that there is a “rift” among the senior leaders.

Refuting the allegations, Mr. Choudhury said he stood by his book.

“My book was written on the basis of research conducted within the Maoist dominated areas and after detailed interviews with many Maoists. I stand by what I have written,” he said.

 

Nandini Sundar on – Media’s Need for Whipping Boys


Saturday, June 1, 2013

On the Media‘s Need for Whipping Boys

I am sick to death of TV panel discussions which ask whether human rights activists are soft on the Maoists, romanticise the Maoists and so on. Why doesn’t someone ask if our honourable politicians and security experts are soft on police torture and extra judicial killings?
Television is not interested in a serious discussion – all they want are whipping boys. The sight of Arnab Goswami mocking Prof. Haragopal for giving an “academic analysis” was especially nauseating, compounded by his showing off about “Emily Durkheim” (sic!). Why bother to have a panel at all, if only hysterical calls for the army to be sent in to wipe out the Maoists count as ‘analysis’, and every other viewpoint is seen as biased?
The media’s vocabulary is also very limited. I remember a particular excruciating interview with Binayak Sen where he said he “decried” violence and the anchor repeatedly asked him if he “condemned” it. As far as I know, the two words mean roughly the same thing. Nowadays, even before the media asks me, I start shouting “I condemn, I condemn.” I wake up in my sleep shouting “I condemn.” I am scared to use other words to describe complex emotions, because the media is unable to understand anything else.
The only reason why I agree to participate in any television discussions at all or give interviews to the media, is because I have such limited space to express my views. Most of the time the media is completely unconcerned about what happens in places like Bastar, and when there are large scale deaths of civilians, no-one runs non-stop news or panel discussions. Perforce “human rights activists” have to speak in unfavourable circumstances, because that’s the only time when the media is interested in our views; and that too, not because they want to hear us, but because they need a “big fight” to raise their ratings. That’s what is called ‘balance’. One can almost see visible disappointment on the anchor’s part when panelists who should disagree actually agree on many issues.
Since May 25th I have been inundated with calls from journalists asking for my views. But when I want to write, there is little space. A leading national newspaper refused to publish me on the killing of Mahendra Karma, till they had enough pieces which promoted a paramilitary approach. Even when I do get published it is under strict word constraints. I wrote the first opinion piece ever written in the national media on the Salwa Judum in 2006, but was given 800 words, under the fold. In the first year of Salwa Judum, I can count on the fingers of one hand the number of articles on Salwa Judum. I personally met several editors and showed them photographic evidence; and begged TV editors for panel discussions, but no-one was interested. If they had been interested then, perhaps things would not have come to such a pass.
I am unable to write my own book on Salwa Judum because of the court case and all that it takes. I have been wanting to write on it since 2005 because I am, above all, an anthropologist. In any case, my mental space is so clogged by the media noise and the strain of being confined to “opinion pieces” that keep saying the same things because no one is listening, that I can’t write. I am almost glad the IPL has taken over again, and we can all forget about Bastar and the Maoists till the next major attack.
I reproduce below an extract from my article, Emotional Wars, on the public reactions to the death of the 76 CRPF men in April 2010. This was published in Third World Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 4, 2012, pp 1-17:
“Government anger was directed not just at the Maoists but at their alleged ‘sympathizers in civil society’, whose verbal and written criticism of government for violations of the Constitution and fundamental rights, was morally equated with the Maoist act of killing in retaliation for those policies.[i] Within minutes then, given the government’s role as the primary definer of news,[ii] whether the alleged sympathizers had adequately condemned and expiated for the attack, became as critical to the framing of the news as the attack itself.
The largely one-sided government and media outrage – the targeted killings or rapes of ordinary adivasis rarely, if ever, invite direct calls upon the Home Minister to condemn each such incident – easily summon to mind Herman and Chomsky’s distinction between “worthy and unworthy victims” as part of what they call the media ‘propaganda model’.[iii] While news coverage of the worthy is replete with detail, evokes indignation and shock, and invites a follow-up; unworthy victims get limited news space, are referred to in generic terms, and there is little attempt to fix responsibility or trace culpability to the top echelons of the establishment.[iv]…..
…………..In times of civil war, the emotions performed by the state range from the inculcation of fear to a calculated display of indifference to the exhibition of injured feelings, as if it was citizens and not the state who were violating the social contract, and that the social contract consisted of the state’s right to impunity.

1. For example, after a Maoist attack in which 4 men of the Central Industrial Security Force were killed, the Home Ministry put out a statement asking “What is the message that the CPI (Maoist) intends to convey? These are questions that we would like to put not only to the CPI (Maoist) but also to those who speak on their behalf and chastise the government…We think that it is time for all right-thinking citizens who believe in democracy and development to condemn the acts of violence perpetrated by the CPI (Maoist).” Chidambaram slams Maoist sympathizers, Times Now, October 26, 2009, http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2009-10-26/india/28067149_1_maoist-sympathisers-cisf-jawans-chhattisgarh, accessed 12 November 2011
[ii] Hall, S. et al., Policing the Crises: Mugging, the State and Law and Order, London: Macmillan Education Ltd, 1978; Gans, HJ. Deciding What’s News, Northwestern University Press, 2004 (1979).
[iii] Herman, E. S. and Chomsky, N. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of Mass Media, Pantheon Books, 2002, pp 37-86)
[iv] An enquiry was immediately ordered into the Tadmetla attack headed by a former Director General of the Border Security Force, EN Rammohan. He found several lapses in the leadership and functioning of the CRPF, including their failure to adhere to standard operating procedures. However, the commander responsible for this debacle, DIG Nalin Prabhat, while initially transferred, was given a gallantry medal a year later in 2011. Further, the government itself takes no responsibility for orchestrating this mindless war on its own people.

 

#India – Murder and Gang Rape of School Girls in Jharkhand #Vaw #WTFnews


Jharkhand: No arrest yet after murder and gang rape of two school girls, people launch agitation, block highway

Bhaskar News   |  May 31, 2013,
Jharkhand: No arrest yet after murder and gang rape of two school girls, people launch agitation, block highway

Deoghar: These agitating people are demanding arrest of those responsible for the rape and murder to two girl students in the police-lines. They are demanding that postmortem report should be made public, and the Station House Officer of Jasidih police station should be suspended. Girls went missing near the area on last Saturday, and their bodies were found near a pond behind police line on Monday.

The mob managed to close most of the shops in the local market. Some people even pelted stones at a public transport bus. Jasidih Deoghar and Rohini road remained closed for nearly eight hours.

SDM, and CO of the area reached the spot to pacify the people, but no one was willing to hear them.

People had got agitated earlier also on Monday when dead bodies were found. That time police managed to calm down people after giving an assurance to arrest the culprits within 24-hours. But when police failed to live up to the promise, people decided to hit the road again.

CPI (M) leader Birinda Karat met the family members of the victims. She also met agitating people and extended her support to them. She threatened to launch agitation if culprits were not arrested immediately. She claimed that this case is as tragic as Delhi gang rape in which a medical student died after being gang raped in a moving bus.

 

#India – The Bloodstained Karmic Cycle #Peru #Guatemala


PTI
Target of reprisal The late Mahendra Karma, with guards
OPINION
The Bloodstained Karmic Cycle
To end the Maoist conflict, look to Peru and Guatemala
NANDINI SUNDAR in Outlook

Any keen observer of Chhattisgarh could have foreseen Saturday’s deadly Maoist attack at Jeeram Ghat in Bastar, though not perhaps its magnitude. Mahendra Karma’s death was long expected, though politicians like him who flirt with the dark side usually have enough security to keep them safe. With a string of killings of Maoist leaders under its belt, the security establishment thought the Maoists could be written off. However, like insurgents elsewhere, the Maoists scaled back only to strike hard.

Calls for more concerted military action ignore what has actually been happening. In fact, in recent months, the security forces have ratcheted up operations, densely carpeting Maoist strongholds with CRPF camps. On the 46 km stretch between Dornapal and Chintalnar, there are now seven camps, with the latest two, Burkapal and Minpa, having come up in the last fortnight. Overnight, large stretches of forest were cleared in Burkapal, for a helipad on one side and a CRPF camp on the other, and the question of forest clearances for this, or any other security installation, is never even seen as an issue. The biodiverse forests of Bastar—which are national treasures—have been one of the biggest casualties of this war, which rages across trees, roads, transformers, schools and the bodies of men, women and little children.

Sceptical villagers argue that rather than reducing hostilities, the presence of the camps will mean constant skirmishes between the forces and the Maoists, following which the forces will take it out on them. They report that security forces steal chickens from their homes when they are out in the fields; and indeed, with camps close by, even going out to defecate, cultivate or collect fuel wood becomes a hazard, especially for women. In Chintagufa, where several buses are parked to ferry security personnel back and forth, the forces have taken over the primary healthcare centre and the school. The Supreme Court’s orders on keeping off schools mean nothing to them.

We are on a slippery path if we dismiss any citizen, whether a Congress leader or a Gond child, as expendable. The very raison d’etre of a democracy is lost if it thinks that way.

Simplistic morality plays may be good for the trps, but will not address the real issues. The Maoist ambush came bar­ely a week after an equally terrible attack by the security forces, again during an area domination exercise, on the villagers of Edesmetta in Bijapur, who were celebrating Beeja Pandum, the seed sowing festival. Eight villagers, including four children, were killed, while severely injured villagers were given medical aid only a day later after local media coverage. The Beeja Pandum is one of the most important festivals of the adivasi calendar. The only glimpse that non-adivasis get is when they are stopped at roadside blocks placed by women and children, and they assume it is just for some easy money. But the ritual significance is that anyone crossing the village during Beeja Pandum must be fined for taking the seed away with them. The equivalent of what happened there would be the police opening fire on a garba dance during Navratri in Ahmedabad, saying the presence of so many people at one place was suspicious. Yet, there has been little national outrage around Edesmetta. For once, the government has promised compensation, but as one CRPF jawan said about the 2010 killing of 76 CRPF personnel, “Nothing can recompense the loss of a loved one.” The adivasis have loved ones too. Unlike the CRPF, they did not even sign up to fight. If what happened in Edesmetta can be dismissed as “collateral damage”, then why not apply the same logic to Saturday’s ambush, where Mahendra Karma was the main target? This is, after all, a war. But once we dismiss any citizen, whether a Congress pradesh president or a Gond child, as expendable, we are on a slippery path. In particular, a democracy that holds this stand loses its raison d’etre.

As in Tadmetla March 2011 (where security forces burnt 300 homes, raped and killed), Sarkeguda June 2012 (where they shot dead 17 villagers during their Beeja Pandum last year) and Edesmetta 2013, the Chhattisgarh government has ordered a judicial inquiry into the Jeeram Ghat ambush. But since the Congress knows well what this means, they have preferred to enlist the NIA. Given a list of 537 killings by Salwa Judum and security forces, the state government has ordered magisterial inquiries into eight cases since 2008, of which seven are still pending!

The Chhattisgarh police claims it need SPOs for intelligence gathering, refusing to disband them as the Supreme Court ordered. But what kind of intelligence are they getting if they claim Edesmetta was a Maoist gathering, and could not predict the Jeeram ambush? Instead, the fortification of SPOs with better guns and more money as the renamed ‘Armed Auxiliary Forces’ only increases alienation.

Even if they support massive human rights violations, politicians are not combatants. The same is true for unarmed villagers who may support the Maoists ideologically. An attack on party leaders engaged in electoral rallies must be strongly condemned, and the Maoist’s expanding hit list is truly reprehensible. However, it is only partially true to say that what happened is an attack on democracy. In a democracy, someone like Karma would have been jailed long ago. Even when confronted with evidence of his personal involvement in the Salwa Judum atrocities, quite apart from a CBI FIR for his role in a major tree-felling scam, the Congress chose to retain Karma in the party. And despite declaring Naxalism the country’s gravest security threat, never once has the prime minister felt the need to visit the area himself to find out why people support them, or console grieving adivasis.

Under the Constitution of India, chief minister Raman Singh and the Union home ministry, who are as responsible for the Salwa Judum as Karma, should also be held accountable. At least 644 villages were affected, over a thousand people killed, hundreds raped, and some 1,50,000 displaced. Small children were bashed to death or thrown into ponds; old people who could not run away were burnt alive. Yet there has been no prosecution or compensation, despite the Supreme Court’s repea­ted orders. Indeed, there is a danger that, with Karma gone, the uncomfortable questions regarding official culpability for Salwa Judum will be closed. The Constitution and democracy are not terms of expedie­ncy, as the Congress and BJP seem to think—they embody difficult moral principles which must guide our collective behavior.

To respond with even more force now would be a grave mistake, for insurgencies thrive on government excesses. The combing operations under way must take great care to see that ordinary villagers are not harassed. It is unlikely that anyone will countenance calls for peace talks now, as the war has become a prestige issue on both sides. But eventually, there is no alternative to negotiations. If a country like the US with its military might could get bogged down in Vietnam and Afghanistan, what makes us think we can succeed militarily? A far better model would be the Latin American countries, like Peru and Guatemala, with similar histories of guerrilla war and exploitation of indigenous people which resolved their conflicts through Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. If FARC and the Colombian government can come to an agreement on land reforms after 30 years, what prevents a democracy like India?


(The writer, a professor of sociology at Delhi University, was a co-petitioner in a case that resulted in the Supreme Court’s 2011 ban on the Salwa Judum.)

 

Press Release – Statement on the unprecedented detention of CDRO team by police


Sanhati

May 29, 2013

We strongly condemn the absolutely arbitrary and unprecedented action of the Jharkhand police administration in detaining eight members of a CDRO (Coordination of Democratic Rights Organizations) fact-finding team while they were addressing a press conference in Ranchi. The team had just returned from a fact-finding mission to Chatra, where ten members of the CPI(Maoist) had been supposedly killed in a long gun battle with the TPC, a splinter group actively supported by the state government, in March 2013. However, at that time, there were local media reports that the CPI(Maoist) members had been poisoned and then shot to death in a false encounter. The fact-finding team, consisting of members from PUCL Jharkhand, APDR West Bengal and PUDR Delhi, had gone to investigate the veracity of these reports and the circumstances behind the incident. They were in the process of addressing the press and releasing their report while officials of the Jharkhand police, accompanied by a large number of policemen came and picked them up without providing any explanation.

The audaciousness of the act, committed in presence of the assembled press, clearly shows the scant respect for democracy and democratic procedures which the Jharkhand police has. The members of the team, including a woman, were detained in the Kotwali police station for a long time till they were released late in the evening. The police maintained that they had just been picked up for finding information, although it is unclear what information the former were seeking which could only be obtained by picking them up from the venue of a press conference using a posse of armed policemen. This is clearly a tactic of intimidation by the Jharkhand government to dissuade future fact-finding teams from visiting sites of incidents where the state government, or groups supported by the state government, are complicit in criminal activities. However, it is incredible that such a thing can happen in broad daylight and in open view of the public and press. We unequivocally condemn this blatant attack on the activities of democratic rights organizations and the attempt to muzzle them in order to hide the criminal complicity of the state government in encounter killings and other illegal activities.

 

#RIP- The Grand Old Lady of Indian Womens Movement, Vina Mazumdar – No More #Womenrights


vina

 

Noted academic and a leading figure of India’s women’s movement, Dr Vina Mazumdar, died early today after a brief illness.

86-year old Mazumdar was suffering from a tumour in her lungs, her family said. She is survived by three daughters and a son. A strong votary of increased women’s representation in Parliament and legislature, Mazumdar was the secretary of the Committee on the Status of Women in India that brought out the first report on the condition of women in the country, ‘Towards Equality’, in 1974. The report became a turning point both for women’s studies and the women’s movement in India.

She was the founding Director of the Centre for Women’s Development Studies (CWDS), an autonomous organisation under the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), where she remained a National Research Professor till the end. Born in 1927 in a middle-class Bengali household in Kolkata, she did her schooling in the city and studied in Banaras Hindu University and Calcutta University, before going to Oxford in 1947, soon after independence. She went back to Oxford University later and received her D.Phil in 1962. She taught in Patna and Berhampur Universities, joined the University Grants Commission Secretariat and also remained a Fellow of the Indian Institute of Advanced Studies, Shimla.

Later she became Director, Programme of Women’s Studies, Indian Council of Social Science Research from 1975 to 1980.

Her memoir, Memories of a Rolling Stone, speaks of her liberal upbringing, Kolkata of 1940s, activism and policy making of 60s and 70s, her rebellious daughters and singer- husband Shankar.

Among her known students in Patna University are BJP leader Yashwant Sinha and former Foreign Secretary Muchkund Dubey, while CPI(M) leaders, Prakash Karat, Brinda Karat and Sitaram Yechury were very close to her.

 

Statement Condemning the Maoist Politics of Murder in Chhattisgarh


Statement Condemning the Maoist Politics of Murder in Chhattisgarh!

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the horrific massacre of leaders
and workers of the Congress Party and the security forces accompanying
them, carried out by the CPI(Maoist) in Chhattisgarh on Saturday. We
also wish to express our deepest condolences to the families of all
those killed in the convoy of Congressmen returning from an election
rally at Sukma in Bastar district.

The killing of senior state Congress leaders and their cadre is
particularly barbaric and reprehensible as they had, in the course of
the Maoist ambush, become captives or had surrendered voluntarily.
This is tantamount to cold-blooded murder of prisoners in custody, an
act that goes against all norms even in a state of civil or
international war. The targeting of a political party in this fashion
by the Maoists is also highly disturbing.

The latest Maoist action will only invite even more state repression
in the area that might as well swell the numbers of CPI(Maoists). If
that is the case then this politics is as evil as that it claims to be
fighting against and should be shunned by all those who stand for
democratic norms in political struggles for peace with justice.

We call upon the state and central governments to exercise great
restraint in their response to the Maoist atrocity.  It is high time
the spiral of violence in the tribal belt of Chhattisgarh be stopped
as it has already claimed innumerable lives.

Abha Dev Habib, Associate Professor, Miranda House, DU

Apoorvanand, Professor, Delhi University

Anivar Arvind, IT Engineer, Bangalore

Arshad Ajmal, Social activist, Patna

Dilip Simeon, Academic, New Delhi

Jagadish, Trade Unionist , Bangalore

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human Rights Activist, Mumbai

Kavita Srivastava, PUCL, Rajasthan

Satya Sivaraman, Journalist, New Delhi

Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD, Delhi

Vinod Raina , Educationist, Delhi

Also Endorsed by .

Arati Choksi, PUCL, Karnataka, Bangalor

Reetika Khera, Associate Professor, IIT Delhi

Dr Sunil Kaul, Public Health Activist,

Dheeraj, Coordinator, The Right to Food Campaign

Biraj Patnaik, Social Scientist with the Right to Food Campaign

Trideep, Advocate, Delhi High Court and Supreme Court,

Sachin Kumar Jain, Journalist and Writer with Vikas Samwaad

Radha Holla, Public Health Activist, Breast Feeding Promotion Network of India

Gurjeet Singh, Right to Food Activist, Ranchi, Jharkhand

Father Jothi, SJ, Social Activist, West Bengal

Prem Krishan Sharma, President, PUCL, Rajasthan, Jaipur

Radha Kant Saxena, VP pUCL, Rajasthan, Jaipur

DL Tripathi, VP, PUCL Rajasthan, Ajmer

Anant Bhatnagar, Organising Secretary, PUCL Rajasthan, Ajmer

Sawai Singh, Rajasthan Smagra Sewa Sangh, Jaipur

Endorsed, also by

Harsh Mander, Director Centre for Equity Studies

RAjinder Sachar, EX Chief Justice Delhi and Sikkim High Court

Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM convenor

Aruna Roy,Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh, Lal Singh, Bhanwar Meghwanshi,
Narayan Singh

Shail Mayaram, Senior Fellow,CSDS. , Ps change wars to the singular if you can

Anjali Bhardwaj, NCPRI National Convenor

Vidya bhushan Rawat, Social Activist

Suman Sahai, Gene Campaign

Saito Basumatry, People’s ForumAssam

Sejal Dhand, Anna Adhikar Suraksha Manch

 

Mix-up cloud on tribal deaths – Cops unable to establish Maoist link of Bastar casualties


JAIDEEP HARDIKAR, The TTellegraph
Edakmetta villagers after the anti-Maoist operation. T-News Bhadrachalam

Nagpur, May 19: Eight tribals, including three children, were killed by security forces in what was supposed to be an anti-Maoist operation on the intervening night of Friday-Saturday in Chhattisgarh’s restive south Bastar.

Senior police officers today admitted, but refused to be quoted, that those killed in Bijapur’s Edakmetta village had no links with the CPI (Maoist). Yesterday, police had first let out information that they killed a Maoist while losing a COBRA jawan in the operation. The death of the tribal villagers started trickling in late on Saturday evening.

“Three of the eight were children aged 10, 12 and 15. We know civilians have been killed but we don’t know whose bullets got them,” said a senior police officer of Bijapur. It is not clear if the eight were killed in indiscriminate police firing as claimed by the villagers or were caught in a crossfire between the security forces and the Maoists.

Bijapur district collector Mohammad Jazim Abdul Haq told local reporters a mandatory magisterial inquiry into the incident has been ordered and “some civilians may have been killed”. In Raipur, chief minister Raman Singh announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh each to the families of the deceased.

The CRPF’s Combat Battalion for Resolution Action (COBRA), Chhattisgarh Armed Force and district police had started combing the area following a tip-off on the heavy presence of Maoists, sources said.

The troops came under attack a little after Friday midnight, killing the COBRA jawan. This led the forces to retaliate, yesterday’s police statement said.

“But the intelligence input might not have been reliable. Sometimes they are planted so that the operation takes place and the Maoists can take advantage of the unrest that follows,” the officer said.

Edakmetta villagers told journalists today that they had congregated for Beej Pandum, a festival announcing the beginning of the farming season, when they heard the firing. The villagers assemble late in the evening for the rituals that run late into the night.

More than 20 villagers had been missing since that night. The eight bodies were found yesterday morning, but all through the day the forces would not let journalists enter Edakmetta. Some people are still missing, the villagers said.

The police today shifted the bodies to Gangaloor, 20km from Edakmetta, for post-mortem amid protests from villagers who refused to take back the bodies.

The district police said the raid followed intelligence reports about Maoists holding a meeting in the village. They said the ambush, in which one of their jawans died, lent credence to the presence of rebels in Edakmetta. The police also claimed that they had recovered some weapons from the spot.

The villagers told journalists that the COBRA jawan was killed in the cross-fire of the security forces. The forces, they told journalists, had encircled them and fired indiscriminately.

Last year, in the same district, security forces were accused of killing 17 villagers mistaking them for Maoists. Former high court judge V.K. Agrawal is probing the incident. Agrawal will also probe Friday’s killings.

 

Silent genocide- Kerala health model has failed in tribal heartland


STAFF REPORTER

: Ekbal

B. Ekbal says the Kerala health model has failed in tribal heartland.

B. Ekbal says the Kerala health model has failed in tribal heartland.

B. Ekbal, public health activist and neurosurgeon, who headed a six-member medical expert team appointed by the Communist Party of India (Marxist) to study the health problems faced by the tribal people of Attappady, has said that “what the team saw in this tribal heartland is silent genocide.”

The team has been sent to study the problems and suggest remedial measures as 48 tribal infants died of malnutrition during the past 16 months in the hill region.

Addressing presspersons here on Tuesday, he said: “The tribal population is facing extinction in Attappady. If the government does not intervene to stop this genocide, it will remain a black mark on Kerala society.”

He said such a grave situation had not developed suddenly, but over many years. So no particular government or political party was to blame.  Everybody was responsible for this deteriorating situation.

He said the medical team, during its two-day visit to the tribal hamlets, found that 99 per cent of the tribal women were anaemic. Almost all tribal children were malnourished.

Dr. Ekbal said the Kerala health model had failed in Attappady. He would no more speak about the model, which claimed that the State had achieved health standards on a par with those of some developed nations. But in Attappady, the health standards were much below the average health indicators of India. The infant mortality rate in Attappady was 66 per 1,000 births as against the national average of 40.

He said intervening in the health sector alone would be insufficient to address the grave situation in the tribal area. An integrated approach covering other sectors too was required.

He urged Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to appoint a young, dynamic IAS officer to coordinate the works of various departments in Attappady to implement the various special packages announced by the government.

No coordination

He said that what one could see was total anarchy in Attappady. There was no coordination among the various departments and the three grama panchayats to take urgent steps to provide relief in this emergency situation.

He said that tribal people were supplied the Matta variety of rice through ration shops, which they did not eat. They should be supplied their traditional food. Thus, there should be structural changes in the rationing system. Nutritious food such as milk, egg and bananas should be directly supplied to the Anganwadis. Accredited social health activists, Anganwadi workers and Integrated Child Development Scheme promoters should be given reorientation training to take up new challenges in Attappady.

The Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme should be restarted in Attappady to provide employment to the tribal population. The tribal people should be brought back to their traditional agriculture, which had ensured food security to them.

The Right to Forest Act should be implemented in Attappady to provide land to landless people. It was only in Kerala that the Act had not been implemented.