Mumbai Train Blast -Wife of blast accused demands relief #mentaltroture #harassment


Mumbai, dhns, march 12, 2013

Saeedun-Nissa (42), wife of Mohammed Ali, one of the accused of 2006 Mumbai train blasts, has sought medical compensation as well as action against Anti-Terrorist Squad (ATS) officials for allegedly subjecting her to mental torture and harassment.

In a letter addressed to the Mumbai Police Commissioner with copies to the Bombay High Court Chief Justice, Saeedun-Nissa has charged that ATS officials barged in her house at any given hour, abused her and sometimes even physically assaulted her children.

Talking to Deccan Herald, Jamiatul Ulema, (Maharashtra Legal Cell) secretary Gulzar Azmi said that Saeedun-Nissa submitted her complaint to MCOCA Court (Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act) Judge Y D Shinde as well as the High Court Chief Justice and National Commisson for Women and Human Rights Commission,
“We will wait for a month and if no action is taken with regard to her deteriorating health and piling medical bills…then we will move the high court. Saeedun-Nissa has become a high-blood pressure patient because of the continual harassment meted to her by ATS officials and she has named them in her complaint,” Azmi said.

In her letter, Saeedun-Nissa living in Shivaji Nagar slums in Govandi, a north-eastern suburb of Mumbai, recounting the horrors to which she is subjected to she stated, “ My husband a bead-seller was named as an accused only because he had dared to complaint against a video parlour screening pornographic film in neighbourhood.

Police officials know this fact that it is a frame-up but despite this these officials barge into our house and start questioning me whenever a terror attack takes place in any part of the country.  “They are never accompanied by women constables and several times they have slapped my 12-year-old son Sohail in front of my eyes.

The physical assaults and humiliations by these officers have made a diabetic and a high-blood pressure patient.” she alleges. Naming the ATS officials, the victim apart from seeking medical compensation from police has also sought posting of women constables in front of her hut so that her family  gets some respite from ATS officials.

 

‘I was discriminated against because I am Muslim’ #humanrights


 

45

Express news service 

In 2008, a youth was arrested from my neighbourhood in Hubli for alleged links with the Student Islamic Movement of India. He was studying to be a doctor and had no history of indiscipline or run-ins with the law. His family was traumatised, and still is, for he continues to languish in jail. If that could happen to a young, educated Muslim like him, it could happen to me, too, I thought then. Five years later, that passing thought became an ugly reality.

On August 29, 2012, a posse of armed policemen barged into the one-bedroom flat I shared with four other boys in Bangalore. They pretended to be looking for my roommate Shoaib Ahmed Mirza, whom they accused of plotting to assassinate some right-wing Kannada columnists. Ironically, they had picked him up from the locality just a while earlier. In our flat, they slapped his brother, Aijaz Ahmed, abused the other three and suddenly handcuffed me too. I pleaded with them to tell me why they were taking me away. I asked one of the policemen, whom I had spoken to earlier when I was a crime reporter with Deccan Herald, what was going on. All I got was a sarcastic look. The brazen manner in which we were picked up was more like a kidnapping than an arrest. With my pleas unanswered, my mind slid into numbness. I went blank. I could not think. The story of that youth kept replaying in my head.

My first night in the cell was the longest night of my life. We kept pleading with the cops, including the junior-most constables, to not destroy our lives. During our 30 days in police custody, the cops abused us in every way they could. One policeman asked me, “So, you work for a Pakistani newspaper?” I don’t even want to get into the nasty things they said about my faith. I was surprised that unlike the others, I was not physically abused. Outside the prison, though, I was planted as the “mastermind”.

When we — the 15 of us arrested in the so-called assassination plot — were shifted to Bangalore Central Jail, for the first two months we were locked inside a separate barrack, which meant we were denied access to facilities available to other inmates, such as outstation phone calls, the gym and the library. Later, when we were shifted out from there, we could avail these amenities, but it exposed us to taunts from others. The prison authorities used to refer to us as the “bomb case people”, and other inmates seemed to believe them. They’d say in Kannada, “Enu ide iwaradu.” (They must have done something wrong.)

I did not mingle much with others. I spent time reading the Quran, that my sister and brother got for me during one of their visits, and taught English and Urdu to two of my co-accused. There were times when I ran out of hope, fearing that I may languish here forever. But then, my innocence reclaimed that hope, and I would feel confident that I would be out soon.

Six months later, on February 25, 2013, I was released. But even before I could get over the police hostilities I had endured, I was told about the the media onslaught during my time in jail. I had been dubbed the “mastermind” of the plot. Some of my former colleagues told me that a senior police officer, who was not even investigating the case, misled journalists that I had joined Deccan Herald with the sole purpose of blowing up the Metro station opposite my office. The media blindly, mindlessly, reproduced his words. Similarly, going by the police’s words, the media said “radical literature” was seized from my office computer. That computer had an Urdu poem about Republic Day, written by Sahir Ludhianvi, a Leftist ideologue, who was part of the Progressive Writer’s Association.

Honestly, after our arrest, I was prepared for such reportage. That I was called a “mastermind”, for example, did not surprise me. But some stories were painfully insensitive. A news channel “broke” the story about my father in Pakistan who “guided” me from there. My father died of a heart attack in 2006. I even have his death certificate. Can you imagine how it feels to deal with such bulls**t? Another news channel said I had Rs 50 crore in my bank. If I had so much money, I would certainly have owned a newspaper.

The way the police and the media reacted to my alleged involvement in the so-called plot has convinced me that there is an institutional bias against Muslims. When you put all the facts together — that I was picked up for simply sharing a room with a suspect, that an Urdu poem on my terminal was interpreted as a fanatical text, that so many other Muslim youths have languished in jails for terror-related cases only to be let off for want of evidence — how can you expect me to feel otherwise?

This is not a new feeling. When I was studying journalism in 2009, I had suggested “media coverage of terror suspects” as the subject of my thesis, which my teacher rejected. At that time, Muhammad Hanif, a doctor from Bangalore, was arrested in Australia on terror charges, which were later proved to be false. There were similar arrests for the Malegaon and Mecca Masjid blasts. The media reports sensationalised such arrests, and engaged in character assassination. It was as if they had taken it upon themselves to prove that the accused were guilty. When Hanif was exonerated, the Australian government issued a public apology to him — something the Indian government has not done for so many similar, wrongful arrests.

The media has reacted in the extreme to me — extremely cruel when I was arrested, and now, extraordinarily supportive after my release. I am inundated with phone calls from journalists, asking for my side of the story. Even though I am disillusioned by the media, I have not lost faith in it. That faith comes from some truly fair reporting, specially in the print media. I want to return to work as a journalist. My father, who used to run an Unani medical store, wanted me to become an Unani doctor, but I was good at languages and social science, and began working as a journalist in the Urdu newspaper Rashtriya Sahara in Dharwad in 2007, while doing a PG diploma in journalism. In 2009, I joined Deccan Herald, where I first covered crime, and then education. Journalism has always been close to my heart. But, I have become sceptical of reportage. I will always think twice before trusting a news story. I want to work on the desk and ensure the accuracy of a story.

I do hope to live a normal life. I am overwhelmed with visitors who have been pouring into my home, welcoming me back, and putting an end to my fear of being stigmatised for life. My ex-colleagues are also in touch with me. Throughout my life, I have never been discriminated as a Muslim. I have always believed that Muslims must stop feeling as if they are victims of the system, and must strive towards educating and empowering themselves. But my six months in jail as an educated, empowered Muslim, paints a contrasting picture — that I was discriminated against because I was Muslim. These are two extremities. And though one positive extreme gives me hope, as does my faith in the judiciary and democracy, the other extreme puts me in despair. I am trying to find a middle ground to this dilemma. I have truly experienced the uncertainty of life. I have reflected a lot on my own life, and if something good has come out of this ordeal, it is that I have emerged a better person. Now, I look at the larger picture of life, and can empathise with others’ sufferings.

As told to Irena Akbar

 

#India- After 6 months in jail as ‘terror suspect’, a journalist returns


Johnson T A : Bangalore, Wed Feb 27 2013, IE
DF

About six months ago, when he appeared in court for the first time after being named by the Bangalore Police in an alleged Lashkar-e-Toiba plot to target local right-wing media personalities, Muthi ur Rehman Siddiqui, 26, a reporter and sub-editor with the Deccan Herald newspaper here, still had the glint of youthful exuberance in his eyes.

But now, the first thing that comes to mind on seeing Siddiqui after his release from prison on Monday, is the disappearance of that enthusiasm from his face. Gone is the glint in his eyes, and in its place is a serious, sad man.

“I always thought the police, media and society at large do not treat terror suspects fairly. That thinking has been reinforced by my experience,” said Siddiqui on Tuesday.

Among 15 youths arrested by the Bangalore Police last August-September from Bangalore, Hubli, Nanded and Hyderabad in an alleged LeT-linked terror plot — that has now been linked to the February 21 twin blasts in Hyderabad — Siddiqui was released on Monday after the NIA, which took over the case, reported no “prosecutable evidence” against him and co-accused Yusuf Nalband, 24.

As the NIA did not name Siddiqui and Nalband, a commerce graduate working in a private firm, in its chargesheet filed on February 20, a special court ordered their release on February 23.

“I feel really relieved that I have been able to come out clean. It is a huge victory for me and the community at large, because this is not one individual’s fight,” said Siddiqui. “People called me the mastermind of the group. If I am the mastermind, then my friends who have been arrested must also be released,” he said.

The arrests were made on the basis of intelligence inputs of contacts between some of the youths and LeT-linked persons in Saudi Arabia. But there was no clear case against Siddiqui. It was alleged that he was providing radical literature and his office computer was seized.

One of five children of a small-time perfume merchant from Hubli, Siddiqui financed his own education, and did not allow the death of his father in 2006 to deter him from obtaining a post-graduate degree in mass communication and pursuing his dream of a career in journalism.

“When I was doing my PG diploma in mass communication, I chose the topic, ‘Media coverage of terrorism suspects’, for my thesis. Unfortunately, my supervisor struck down the topic, saying I may get into trouble. But the subject has always been on my mind. And I saw in prison that people have been stuck there for years, in some cases without a trial,” he said, referring to the continued incarceration of 32 youths arrested from Hubli in 2007.

“I consider myself very fortunate that I have been released after six months. Trial takes about seven to eight years. When you are declared innocent after seven or eight years, it is like a slap on your face. My sympathies were always with terror suspects, and that feeling has become stronger now,” said Siddiqui.

During his time in prison, Siddiqui memorised a significant part of the Quran. “That is one of the positive things this experience has given me,” he said. Siddiqui said he also tried to engage himself constructively by teaching two of his co-accused who are illiterate (Mohammed Sadiq Laskhar, 28 and Mahaboob Bagalkot, 26).

“Initially I was very optimistic that I would get out soon because they had promised me. We waited and waited, but it did not happen,” he said. As time lapsed, he feared that the police may fabricate evidence against him. With charges being brought under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act 1967, the time for incarceration prior to the chargesheet was extended to 180 days.

“The experience has really changed me as a person. When you are kept in confinement, it is very depressing. Now I have a different perspective of the world,” he said.

“I had so much time because there isn’t any responsibility or any work. But it is an advantage in the sense that I had ample time to introspect. I could do some serious introspection about my life, career and the shortcomings in me as a person. I also read a lot,” said Siddiqui.

He has no immediate plans to return to journalism, he wants to spend some time with his family. “I am yet to adjust to this changed environment. I have just returned from an entirely different world,” he said.

Siddiqui hoped that the others accused in the case would also be released soon. “They have resigned themselves to remaining in prison for a while. But the thought is still there each morning, when you wake up, about being free once again,” he said.

Pointing out that DRDO scientist Ajaz Ahmed Mirza, 25, who is also among the arrested, has not been named in the NIA chargesheet, Siddiqui said he expected him to be freed soon.

- See more at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/after-6-months-in-jail-as–terror-suspect–a-journalist-returns/1080262/0#sthash.Z71lgbX1.dpuf

Guilty until proven innocent? #fabricated #illegalarrests #minorityrights


  hoot.org
Siddiqui is, of course, not the first journalist to be implicated in terrorism-related cases, though he is certainly among those whose predicament has not attracted due attention from media colleagues or civil society, says AMMU JOSEPH.
 

A charge-sheet against 12 persons accused of links with banned terrorist organisations and involvement in an alleged plot to kill certain individuals, including a couple of journalists and a publisher, was submitted by the National Investigation Agency to the NIA Special Court in Bangalore on 20 February 2013.  Eleven of the accused have been in custody for nearly six months while one is believed to be out of the country. 

Four of the 15 individuals arrested in August-September 2012 by the Central Crime Branch of the Bangalore Police have not been named in the charge-sheet.  Among them is a young journalist, Muthi-ur-Rehman Siddiqui, who at the time of his arrest was a reporter with Deccan Herald, covering education.

 

The NIA has reportedly stated that the investigation against the four left out of the charge-sheet is still pending, and the possibility of a supplementary charge-sheet naming them has not yet been officially ruled out.  However, the young men’s advocates and families claim that their exclusion from the first charge-sheet indicates that the investigating agency has no evidence against them.  The legal team of the Association for Protection of Civil Rights (APCR) is likely to submit an application for bail for the four who have not been charged with any crime despite months of incarceration. 

 

Siddiqui’s arrest had initially caused a sensation in media circles, especially since police sources (ubiquitous and omniscient as ever) claimed that he was “the mastermind who identified high-profile personalities for assassination by his associates.”  The Times of India, for example, carried a headline stating this clearly premature allegation as fact (“Scribe was mastermind”) even though the story went on to say that people who knew Siddiqui said he was “a soft-spoken person who was serious about journalism and helpful to colleagues,” and “never wore his extremist beliefs, if any, on his sleeve.” 

 

(Other articles and blog posts about media coverage of the involvement of journalists in the case, as accused and/or as targets, are available here:  “Bangalore journo in plot to kill editors, publisher?”;  “Anti-minority bias behind foiled bid on journos?”;  “Police, media and the creature called ‘terrorist’”.)

 

Siddiqui’s situation was among the several triggers that led to a panel discussion titled “The framing of a ‘terrorist’ – Risks and lessons for the media” organised by Media Watch Bengaluru(MWB) in the city on 16 February.  Although the dots drawn by the police to suggest that those detained were linked to Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) and/or Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami (HuJI) did not appear to connect, and even a former chief of RAW questioned the quality of evidence in the case, there was unfortunately little follow-up or independent investigation by the media into what has been described as “one of the most thrilling pre-emptive terror arrests.”

 

Journalists implicated in terror cases

Siddiqui is, of course, not the first journalist to be implicated in terrorism-related cases, though he is certainly among those whose predicament has not attracted due attention from media colleagues or civil society.

KK Shahina, Kerala-based Assistant Editor of Open, is scheduled to appear on 22 February at the sessions court in Somwarpet in Kodagu district, Karnataka, in the first hearing of the two criminal cases booked against her in two separate courts, which will necessitate two trips a month to and from the state. 

 

Already, since July 2011, when she was granted bail by the High Court of Karnataka, she has had to make fortnightly visits to Bangalore to present herself before the investigating officer.  Speaking at the MWB event last Saturday she described the ordeal she has been through since November 2010, when the Karnataka Police charged her under several sections of the Indian Penal Code as well Section 22 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967 – all for doing her job as an investigative journalist then with Tehelka (as described in her recent article, “Prisoner of an image,” and her speech at the 2011 Chameli Devi Jain award ceremony, “I am a Muslim, not a terrorist”). 

 

Despite protests and statements against such harassment by journalists’ organisations (like the Kerala Union of Working Journalists and the International Federation of Journalists) and others, the cases against her seem all set to march on.

 

 

 

(An update: Today, Shahina secured bail from the Somwarpet magistrate Jitendra Nath in Coorg amidst a lot of tension due to protests from hindu fundamentalists. They tried to intimidate her supporters and gheraoed her ‘hindu’ friend and unsuccessfully tried to dissuade him from standing surety for her! Shahina had decided to have two friends – a hindu and a muslim – to stand surety for her and the hindu fundamentalists targeted the hindu friend.

Also, they tried to snatch the camera of a news channel – media one – and get them to delete the recording.  Shahina and her supporters had to leave the area under police escort. While this case is posted to March 30, she is to appear in another case in madikeri on February 26).   

Syed Iftikhar Gilani’s traumatic experience of a decade ago came back to haunt him within hours of the execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru on 9 February. 

Gilani, then Delhi bureau chief of Kashmir Times, was arrested in June 2002.  Despite the lack of proof, he was remanded first to police custody, then judicial custody and finally charged under the Official Secrets Act. If the case had been moved against him, he would have faced a minimum of 14 years in jail. Fortunately for him, an expose in the Indian Express, and follow-up by his family and supporters (including the Delhi Union of Journalists, the Editors’ Guild of India and other media colleagues), established conclusively that the so-called “classified” documents in his possession were reports that were freely available on the Internet.  And so the case against him had to be dropped, albeit seven months after he was detained.

Despite this and despite his track record since then, including an award from theSahityaAkademi, he was again detained and his family (including his children) harassed and intimidated by the Delhi Police just a fortnight ago.

And, of course, there is the ongoing case of Syed Mohammed Ahmad Kazmi, accused of conspiring to bomb an Israeli embassy car in Delhi in February 2012 and finally released on bail in October, after being held in custody for seven months.

In July 2012 a group of senior journalists, academics and activists in Delhi wrote to the editors of The Times of India and Times Now, strongly protesting against stories that were “highly prejudicial to Mr. Syed Kazmi, a journalist himself,” and the apparent “attempt to pass judgement on Mr. Kazmi” through their media outlets.  Unfortunately, that letter – providing details of the offending stories – does not seem to have been published anywhere.

In August-September 2012 the global news agency, Inter Press Service, ran a three-part series by an award-winning investigative journalist (Gareth Porter) titled, “The Delhi Car Bombing: How the Police Built a False Case.” The articles exposed the tactics employed by the Special Cell of the Delhi Police, including the leaking of false confessions and evidence to the news media. 

According to the series, the first wave of leaks to the press about Kazmi’s alleged confessions – suggesting that he had admitted to having participated in the embassy car bomb plot – were timed to generate a wave of sensational articles in March 2012, just before his first bail application.  That manoeuvre apparently prompted the court hearing the bail application to admonish the public prosecutor.  Kazmi himself denounced the “disclosure statements” attributed to him as false, stating in a handwritten petition to the court that the Special Cell had coerced him into providing his signature on blank pages, threatening that his family would face “dire consequences” if he did not do as they directed.

A 200-page report titled “Framed, Damned, Acquitted: Dossiers of a Very Special Cell,” brought out by the Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association, was released in September 2012, coincidentally soon after Muthi-ur-Rehman Siddiqui and others were  arrested by the Bangalore Police.  The detailed report, relying mainly on court documents, chronicles 16 cases in which people arrested as operatives of various terrorist groups were later acquitted by the courts.  Of course, acquittals do not generally make as much news as arrests – so their names are often not cleared in the minds of the public.

At an interaction organised by the Network of Women in Media – Mumbai in February 2003, Syed Iftekhar Gilani made several interesting observations about the media, which are worth revisiting.  Of particular relevance in today’s context is this comment addressed to media colleagues:  “My message to journalist friends is that if they can do it with me, they can do it with you tomorrow. My case should be a wake-up call for all journalists and concerned citizens. I was lucky to be in the capital of the country and have friends who had the reach in the Government to persuade its political leadership to see the facts. I, however, shudder at the fate of the citizens living in small towns who may be wronged by the arms of the Government who are supposed to protect them. Who will speak for them?”

Bangalore is not exactly a small town.  But, as far as Muthi-ur-Rehman Siddiqui and the other young men who have already been in custody for close to six months are concerned, it might as well be.

 

 

#Delhi-Dial 9818099012 for women-related complaints #mustshare #Vaw


9818099012. This is the mobile number for Sudhir Yadav, the nodal officer appointed to deal with women-related complaints in Delhi. Being the first ever helpline under the direct monitoring of a senior police officer, it means quick results (hopefully).

Source: Deccan Herald

 

Sex worker saves girl from getting into flesh trade #goodnews #Vaw


 

23 Feb 13
Nashik (Maha), Feb 23, 2013 (PTI): \

A 14-year-old girl was rescued by police from a red light area here, thanks to a sex worker.

According to police, the girl’s “uncle”, identified as Vjay Bhika Dive, brought her to the city by promising to buy her new clothes and tried to sell her to a pimp.

But the women who he had approached for selling the girl, instead tipped off the Bhadrakali police, which rushed to the spot, and called the girl’s parents, who are residents of nearby Dindori town.

While the girl was handed over to her parents, Dive was handed over Dindori police for further action.

 

 

Maharashtra Displaced families stage state-wide Dharna against Koyna Dam


Mumbai, Feb 10, 2013, DHNS:

Thousands of dam evictees and project-affected people (PAP) continued their round-the-clock picketing, called Tiyya Andolan, in the interiors of seven districts of Maharashtra demanding the implementation of their long-pending demands.

The protests have been going on since last Monday, in Satara, Sangli, Kolhapur, Solapur, Aurangabad, Raigad and Pune.

Speaking to Deccan Herald from Satara where dharna is going on against the Koyna dam, Jagannath Vibhute of Shramik Mukti Dal (SMD) which is spearheading the state-wide Tiyya Andolan, said: “The state government has sent a message after six days that they will take up the issue of displaced families, people and PAP in the Cabinet meeting to be held this week.

Take for example in Satara where nearly 27,000 families have gathered in Koyna Nagar, around the Koyna Dam, the first major man-made reservoir in post-independence Mahrashtra. Thousands of families were displaced in 1960 and several thousands continue to remain in rootless condition.

They have no place to go. They have become homeless in their own homeland.”
Giving details of other places where the picketing is going on simultaneously, Vibhute said on the border of Sangli and Kolhapur districts, around 500 representatives of dam evictees are carrying out Tiyya Andolan near the base of the Warna Dam.

Similar protests are also being carried out near the Gad Nadi Dam in Ratnagiri district, Teen Vira Dam in Raigad district, Tembhapuri Dam in Aurangabad district and Dhamani Dam in Kolhapur district. Affected people in Azra Tehsil (Kolhapur) and at Pandharpur in Solapur district.

The basic demands of the agitators are: Giving equal rights to the daughters in ancestral property of PAP families, independent status to Gram Panchayat (with 500 or more population), free vocational training, below poverty-line ration cards; disbursing of funds to women self-help groups; grazing land (gairan) for PAP rehabilitation and absorption of Tiger Project PAP families in forest development programmes.

Interestingly, these policy-level demands have been twice sanctioned in the meetings held by Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in 2011 and 2012; but the government for some strange reason has failed to implement it.

According to Vibhute: “Eight months ago the committee appointed by government to look into the issue submitted its recommendations…but the response of the state is just unfathomable. It just refuses to look at the anguish of the people.”

 

Karnataka Govt pact with generic drug seller ‘illegal’


Chethan Kumar Bangalore: Nov 28, 2012 DH News Service

Documents reveal the MoU was signed more than 2 months before the company got licence

The Karnataka government’s agreement with a private firm (Esscubes Medisience Private Limited) to sell and market generic drugs has drawn flak within the ruling BJP and it is alleged that the company was favoured in violation of rules.

Incidentally, the name and address of one of the directors of the company matches with the name and address of a trustee in ‘AASARE Foundation’, a trust with which S A Ramdas, the Minister for Medical Education, has connections.

Although there is no evidence to directly prove that Ramdas used his influence in selecting the company, doubts have cropped up as documents show Shankarananda (No 76, II Cross, Lake Shore Gardens, Thindlu, Vidyaranyapura Post, Bangalore 97) has connections with both the Trust and Esscubes.

The Karnataka State Co-operative Consumers Federation Limited (KSCCF), a wing of the State government, entered into an agreement with Esscubes for sale and marketing of Generic Drugs on March 10 this year.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties was aimed at executing the government’s novel initiative of providing generic drugs, which are a lot more affordable than drugs available in the market to the lower and middle-income groups.

However, documents with Deccan Herald show that the said company was chosen to market and sell the drugs in just a month and eight days after the Registrar of Companies, Karnataka gave the Certificate of Incorporation.

The Certificate of Incorporation for Esscubes with corporate identity number ‘U36912KA201PTC062395’ was given on February 2, 2012 and the MoU between the company and the KSFCC was signed on March 10.

Further, documents from the office of the assistant drugs controller reveal that the company was accorded the licence to carry out such business on May 2, 2012, suggesting that it was allowed to market and sell drugs even before it had the licence to do so.

Well-placed sources in the government said that the methods followed in selection of the company and the execution of the agreement were not as per the prescribed laws and suspected that there could be a role of influential persons in striking such a deal.

Sarvabhouma Bagali, a BJP MLA told Deccan Herald: “There is enough proof to show that the company was selected in an unfair manner and I will raise this issue in the Assembly.”
Repeated attempts to contact Ramdas were futile.

The company, violating the rules of the Memorandum of Understanding with KSCCF, had entered into a sub-lease agreement with KIMS, Hubli.

 

Christy Friedgram Industries (CFI), involved in ICDS SCAM


Tom Flynn, CFI Executive Director

Tom Flynn, CFI Executive Director (Photo credit: Marty Stone)

Ex-staff spill the beans on Christy’s cheat code

Nandini Chandrashekar, Bangalore, Apr 5, 2012, DHNS :

Christy Friedgram Industries (CFI), the company under investigation by the Lokayukta police for fraudulent practices in the supply of supplementary nutritional food to anganwadis under the Integrated Child Development Scheme, seemed to have an elaborate system of deception in place.

Former employees of CFI approached Deccan Herald and shed light on some of the bad practices adopted by the company, a downright violation of the norms.

The officials of the Department of Women and Child Development have consistently said that CFI was not hired as a contractor for food supply in violation of Supreme Court directives, but they were merely into capacity building.

The capacity building meant the setting up of 137 Mahila Supplementary Nutrition Production and Training Centres (MSPTCs) at the taluk level all over the State.

These centres are supposed to produce the nutritional food and package them according to requirements for supply to anganwadis, to be fed to children, pregnant and lactating mothers.

A former employee of CFI – who was active in the recruitment of women for the MSPTCs – says they were instructed not to hire women who were educated.

The logic behind this was simple. In accordance with the Supreme Court directives, the State government – in its agreement with CFI – had stated that the company apart from getting paid for the raw material it supplied to the MSPTC, would be paid a profit of Rs 1 per kg of food supplied. The rest of the profit that was accrued had to be shared among the members of the MSPTC.

Hiring uneducated women and semi-literate women ensured that no one understood the account details, the indents of supply or any of the accounting they would have to look into; what the turnover of their unit was, which ran into several crores of rupees annually. All the profits were going directly to CFI and the employees of the MSPTC were blissfully unaware.

“Each of the MSPTCs had a staff member of CFI overlooking all financial details and transactions. The President, Vice President and Treasurer were women who had no clue what was happening. They signed on documents when they were told to and some of the women gave their thumb impressions.

Their job merely was to load and unload the food material, mix the different items and package the food. They were paid a salary for this job. Beyond this, they did not know anything,” the former employee said. Members who usually number around 22 in these centres have absolutely no medical facilities and even miss out on incentives. If they miss one day of work, their salary is deducted, the ex-staffer added.

Not only were the women uneducated, there were also instructions to the employees that the location of the MSPTCs had to be in a remote area. “Our superiors insisted that the place we choose has to be as far as possible and located in villages rather than in taluk headquarters.

Only later did we understand that this was so, so that the place is not accessible easily for inspections by government officials,” the ex-employee said.