Press Release- Jharkhand Officials summoned for child right violations


PRESS NOTE
National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has summoned concerned
officers of Government of Jharkhand to appear before it on 21st May, 2013 for non compliance
with some recommendations of the Commission pertaining to child rights violations in the State.
Ms Mridula Sinha, Principal Secretary, Department of Social Welfare & Women & Child
Development, Government of Jharkhand has been summoned for non-compliance with some of
the recommendations made by the Commission on 8.10.2012 for State level actions, such as, to
tackle the situation of malnutrition, functioning of ICDS Centres, non-availability of pediatric
medicines at AWCs, Observation Homes/Special Homes and issues related to child trafficking.
Shri K. Vidyasagar, Principal Secretary, Department of Health & Medical Education, has
also been summoned for hearing on the same date in the matter of an illegal sterilization surgery
of a 16 year old boy in Kanke Public Health Centre in Ranchi District.
Dr. M. Tamil Vanan, Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP),Khunti has also been
summoned on the same date in the matter of killing of a 17 year old boy by CRPF and Police
jawans under Karra Police Station in Khunti District

 

Making Choices: The Rhetoric and The Reality #Gender #Vaw


By Sanjana Gaind, ultraviolet.in

 This is the third of a series of posts written from the experiences at CREA of implementing a program called “Count Me IN! It’s My Body: Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Young Girls through Sports”. The first and second posts are here. CREA is a feminist human rights organization based in Delhi (www.creaworld.org).

Sanjay: Yeh aapka kaaryakram theek nahin hai. (This programme of yours is not right.)

Me: kyun? (Why?)

Sanjay: Ladkiyon ke sanskaar bigaad raha hai.  (It is corrupting the values of girls.)

Me: Kaisey? (What do you mean?)

Sanjay: Bahar maidan mein khel rahi hai, football ke liye ladai kar rahi aur humarein muhn lag rahi hai. (They are playing outside in the field, fighting for the football with us, and talking back to us.)

Me: In teeno mein se, aapko dikkat kis baat se hai? (Out of these three things, what bothers you the most? 

Sanjay: Sabhi se hai. Humko teeno ki hi aadat nahi hai na. (All three of them. We are not used to such behaviour of girls.)[1]

On any given day, I would argue with him incessantly, making it very clear that the problem is not with the girls but with him. But, that day, I let him have the last word. Not because I had nothing to say to him, but because I felt a great sense of achievement and pride on behalf of the girls who had upset him and had challenged the patriarchal order and structure which is his comfort zone. He is visibly upset with the young girls in his village who have begun to question his authority. There are many other such men and boys in other villages as well, where the girls have begun to occupy and reclaim spaces like public grounds, which have traditionally been seen to be “male-only” spaces. They are angry, upset, and disturbed by this sudden demand for space by the girls.

The increasing number of female bodies in a playground, running, playing, jumping, laughing, and fighting is upsetting norms, challenging controls, and transforming spaces. These are bodies that are meant to be invisible inside and not visible outside in public spaces. These are bodies that are meant to be monitored and controlled inside homes, those four-walled bastions of patriarchy. In this established order, how they choose to dress, choose to roam, choose to express, and choose to interact with others is not their decision. However, now in small and not-so-small ways, these structures of power, of domination and silencing are being challenged. While some men and boys are not very happy with this overt display of female bodies in the field, there are others who are being supportive and encouraging of this trend. Some react angrily, some positively, and some violently.

It is not just the men and boys who are curious about what is happening. When sessions on topics like bodily changes, menstruation, sex, pregnancy, choice, consent, pleasure, rights, and autonomy are held as part of the It’s My Body programme, many mothers accompany their daughters to these meetings to check what is being ‘taught’. The local health workers are keen to participate in sessions on health, hygiene, nutrition, and menstruation. Sessions on sex, sexuality, choice, consent, and pleasure make them uncomfortable. The discomfort is not just at their end.

We also share this anxiety in talking about these issues freely and openly. The fear of backlash and antagonism makes us choose our strategies, messages, mediums and language strategically and carefully. The title of the programme, ‘It’s My Body’, when translated into Hindi— Mera Sharir, Mera Adhikaar, comes across as ‘bold’ or ‘radical’ and there is some hesitation in using it, both on our part as well as that of organisations co-implementing this programme with CREA[2]. The programme is very often projected as a programme on Reproductive Health, and the ‘S’ and ‘R’ in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights are used cautiously. Words like ‘hak’ , ‘adhikaar’, ‘pasand’, ‘anand’ ,’yaunikta’ (right, preference, pleasure, and sexuality) are used selectively and only in certain ‘safe’ settings and spaces. But, what happens, when these conversations are translated into actions outside these constructed ‘safe’ spaces?

When Rashmi (name changed), from Jharkhand, insisted on wearing jeans in the village, her mother pulled her out of the programme. Neha (name changed) has refused to marry the boy her parents chose for her because she doesn’t like the way he looks. Her parents are shocked and unhappy with this new assertion of her right to say ‘NO’. Kavita(name changed ) slapped the boy who grabbed her hand at the tea shop. The first thing that she had to explain to her parents, family, and others was – why was she roaming outside the house in the evening? Sunita, Mamta, and Jyoti (names changed ) come to attend these meetings on their bicycles. Some boys hide behind the trees place thorn traps on the way to puncture their bicycles, so that they can trouble and tease them. As a result, the girls have stopped staying back for volleyball practices in the evening and head home before it gets dark.

There are several question marks and circumscriptions outside of these ‘safe’ settings, where girls feel ‘empowered’, informed, and confident. All our conversations and discussions in these spaces and the choices girls make often have repercussions. What is the kind of resistance they face outside these safe spaces? How do they negotiate with those who are not part of this ‘safe’ space? How do they retain this confidence when they are outside this setting? What are the struggles they face to be a part of this group? Why is it that if something goes wrong, it is the girls who have to back down? Why does the fear of harassment, abuse, and violence hold them back from participating in these collectives?

The fear of the consequences for some of these young girls, who are questioning, challenging, and transforming the established social order, is ever-present. This compels us to reflect on our own strategies. We often ask ourselves whether we should tone down the rhetoric? Or should we let this fight run its own course? How do we make our processes of change more inclusive to include others who serve either as gatekeepers or as allies in this process? Creating exclusive, rights affirming and safe spaces for women and girls is necessary. But is that enough when the application of these rights is in the “real world”?

Sanjana Gaind works at CREA as Program Coordinator – Young Women’s Feminist Leadership. Sanjana is interested in the application of artistic and creative methodologies in activism and development. She has used mediums like theatre, music, art and sports in her work with young girls and women on issues of gender, sexuality and rights.

Big Thank You to Meenu, Shalini, Pooja and Rupsa for the ideas and feedback they shared.


[1] This conversation took place with a 26- year-old man in Jharkhand on 11 March 2013, at an International Women’s Day event that was organised by CREA and Mahila Mandal, as part of CREA’s ‘It’s My Body’ programme. Sanjay [(name changed]) is the captain of the village football team.

[2] It’s My Body- Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Adolescent Girls through Sports, is a programme led by CREA and co-implemented with ten women-led, community-based organisations in rural and urban areas of Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. 

 

Jharkhand – Questions over killing of student in ‘encounter’


GUMLA (JHARKHAND), May 6, 2013

Anumeha Yadav, The Hindu

 

Family grapples with questions over the killing of 17-year-old Naveen by police in ‘encounter’

There had been an employees’ strike at the college since February. Mukesh Sahu, 21, a second-year B.Sc. student, spent the Thursday afternoon in March running errands at Gumla market. As he sat down near the town pond to catch up with his college friends, his phone rang. “Naveen has been shot. The police shot him.” It was his uncle, a couple of years older than him, whose village his brother Naveen had left for that morning.

The next few hours were a blur, Mukesh recalls, as he and his family reached the Gumla police station. The police claimed that Naveen, 17, a student of Class XI, was Rajesh Tiger, an area commander of the breakaway Maoist group, People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI), in Gumla. The police claimed that they had shot him while he was trying to escape with two PLFI members, after extorting Rs.38,000 from an entrepreneur. “Naveen helped to cultivate the small plot of family land after school hours. Classes have been irregular since the strike began at college. That day, he had gone to meet the family of my grandfather’s brother at Pakri Chaura because we needed a putujhaarh (a grass fence) for the farm, and our relatives’ village has more forested land,” Mukesh says.

“We stood in the police station, crying, screaming for hours till it was dark. The police brought Naveen’s body in an auto. I recognised the blue-white shirt he had worn that morning. As more of our relatives gathered, the police called a bus full of policemen. We were scared that they were going to lathi-charge us, so we went back home,” recalls Naveen’s aunt Anita Sahu, 32.

At 6 a.m. the next day, the family reached the government hospital. Four hours later, the police brought Naveen’s body for an autopsy. His family members recall that they watched the police go in with a magistrate and doctors, but were denied entry. A month later, after they got a copy of the autopsy report, the family approached the Gumla district branch of the State Human Rights Commission, but was discouraged by officials there from pursuing the matter. “The officer asked for Rs.2,000 in bribe,” alleges Anita Sahu, who has trained as an auxiliary midwife nurse at the Gumla government hospital.

In April, a friend in Ranchi, 100 km away, helped the family contact Jharkhand Human Rights Movement general secretary Gladson Dungdung, who wrote to the National Human Rights Commission, demanding an inquiry into the alleged encounter. But the family members are still grappling with questions over Naveen’s killing.

“If my son was an area commander, how come the police have no records of him, no photos, no evidence of his links to the PLFI,” asks Naveen’s mother Bhagvanti Devi. Ajay Kumar, director, Wings IT Computer Centre for Education & Solutions, Gumla, shared records with The Hindu , which show that Naveen got admission to a Diploma of Computer Applications on a 60 per cent scholarship in January and attended five of seven classes the previous week.

The First Information Report registered at the Gumla station notes that at 4.30 p.m. on March 21, the Gumla police and Inspector Digvijay Singh of the Raidih police station chased three PLFI men who were trying to escape southwards of Pakri Chaura on a motorcycle, after collecting Rs. 38,000 from Gumla entrepreneur Manoj Sahu. According to the FIR, one of the three men, PLFI commander Rajesh Tiger, fell after being shot; two others escaped with the money. A pistol and an empty shell were recovered from his side.

“On my way to pick my nephew from his tuition classes, I saw a police jeep by the side of the path out of the village. A motorbike was lying by the road. The police were firing on the sides of a man who ran a few metres, his hand on the right side of his chest, then fell and rolled over in the field. His face was covered, and I realised only later that it was Naveen who was on my uncle’s motorbike. There were no other men with him as claimed by the police,” claims Mahesh (name changed), Naveen’s uncle, who then called Mukesh up to inform him of what he had seen. “The local journalist who reported on this came to meet my family and said he did not see any gun or shell near where Naveen’s body lay. The police put it there,” said Mukesh. The police have not yet recorded the statements of either.

More shockingly, the autopsy report records a firearm injury from a long distance, with an entry wound of 0.5 by 0.5 inch on the chest and an exit wound of 1.5 by 1.5 inch on the back. But Naveen’s family say that while there was a bullet wound on the chest, there was no mark on the back. “The family washed Naveen’s body before we cremated him. There are 100 people who can to testify that there was no mark on the back. Why this lie in the report? Did they remove the bullet to remove evidence and then fabricate this?” asks Anita.

“My suspicion is that this boy was 200 per cent PLFI [man]. If human rights groups interfere with the police work, the PLFI will be never finished from the area,” says Saurav Prasad, one of the three doctors at the government hospital who performed the autopsy.

While the FIR records that Manoj Sahu’s family was being threatened by the PLFI, Mr. Sahu says he received phone calls from Pahadi Cheetah, a splinter group also active in Gumla. “Men who identified themselves as Pahadi Cheetah and who killed my father some years back called my brother Ravi incessantly after March 16, demanding Rs. 1 lakh. We agreed to give Rs.38,000; my older brother sent me to Pakri Chaura with the money, but I did not see the encounter,” he said.

IG CID Anurag Gupta has said the police will inquire into the incident. “From the facts, it seems the boy was a student and did not have any criminal history.”

The PLFI is one of the more than 15 breakaway Maoists groups active in Jharkhand. In March, the Jharkhand police stepped up operations against PLFI leader Dinesh Gop active in Gumla, Simdega and Khunti districts.

 

Letter to President of India- Protect Rights of Indigenous People or Shoot all of them


Jharkhand Human Rights Movement
C/o-Mr. Suleman Odeya, Near Don Bosci ITC Gate, Khorha Toli, Kokar, Ranchi -834001. 0651-3242752 Email: jhrmindia@gmail.com

Ref: JHRM/PI/2013/01 Date: 01/05/2013

To,
His Excellency,
Sri Pranab Mukherjee,
President of India,
Rashtrapati Bhavan,
New Delhi – 110004
India.

Sub: Requesting to protect the rights of the Scheduled Tribes (Indigenous People of India) or to shoot all of them at once rather than excluding, discriminating, exploiting, torturing and making them landless, resourceless and beggars by alienating them from the natural and livelihood resources in the name of growth and development.

Dear Sir,

1. It is extremely painful to state that I come from an Adivasi (tribal) family, who was displaced by an irrigation project without rehabilitation in 1980 and my parents were brutally murdered in 1990. However, I was managed to survive. On 30th April, 2013, you have inaugurated a power project of the Jindal Steel & Power Ltd at Sundarpahari comes under Godda district of Jharkhand. However, it seems that the tribal people were not allowed to put their concerns in front of you. The tribal people of 11 villages had gathered near Sundarpahari to raise their voices against the power project as some of them had already been displaced during the construction of ‘Sundar Dam’ and now they’ll again be displaced by the Jindal’s power project. However, these tribals were detained in Sundarpahari police station instead of hearing their plea. The question here is do they have right to freedom of expression under Article 19 of the Indian Constitution? The police have regularly been coercing the tribals who don’t want to surrender their land to the Jindal Company. According to the Santal Pargana Tenancy Act 1949, the land is non-transferable and non-saleable, whether owned by tribals or non-tribals. But how the tribals land is being bought by the Jindal Company? Is the Jindal Company allowed to violet the rule of law?

2. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India through a writ petition (CIVIL) NO. 180 OF 2011 (Orissa Mining Corporation Vs Ministry of Environment & Forest & Others) has said that the Section 4(d) of the PESA Act 1996 says that every Gram Sabha shall be competent to safeguard and preserve the traditions, customs of the people, their cultural identity, community resources and community mode of dispute resolution. Therefore, Grama Sabha functioning under the Forest Rights Act read with Section 4(d) of PESA Act has an obligation to safeguard and preserve the traditions and customs of the STs and other forest dwellers, their cultural identity, community resources. The Court has ordered the State Government to settle the matter with the Gram Sabha. But is the case of Jindal Company, where is the role of Gram Sabha? Why it has been undermined or put aside? Why did PESA Act 1996 not enforced in this case? Is it because the head of the Jindal Steel & Power Limited is one of the powerful leaders of the Congress Party?

3. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India has also said through a writ petition (CIVIL) NO. 180 OF 2011 (Orissa Mining Corporation Vs Ministry of Environment & Forest & Others) that the Scheduled Tribes have the Religious freedom guaranteed under Articles 25 and 26 of the Constitution. It guarantees them the right to practice and propagate not only matters of faith or belief, but all those rituals and observations which are regarded as integral part of their religion. The Court has ordered to protect and preserve the tribals’ deity. However, in last 65 years of Indian democracy, thousands and thousands of sacred groves, religions places and graveyards of tribals were either submerged in Dams or destroyed in the name of development. These are several sacred groves and religions places of the tribal would be destroyed by the power project of the Jindal Company. However, the question is do the tribals really have the freedom of religion as the Apex Court has stated? Why is Government not upholding the rule of law?

4. The tribal people have already lost more than 23 lakh acres of land in Jharkhand in two ways – i) The major part of tribals’ land were taken away from them in the name of growth and development and ii) the non-tribals who came into the 5th Scheduled Area of Jharkhand for jobs also grabbed a huge portion of the tribal land illegally after earning huge money from the development projects and mining. Though the Article 19 (d) & (e) allows the all citizens to move freely throughout the territory of India and to reside and settle in any part of the territory of India but sub-clause (5) also emphasizes that the state can impose reasonable restrictions on the exercise of any of the rights conferred by the said sub-clauses (d & e) for the protection of the interests of any Scheduled Tribe. However, nothing has been done in this regard to protect the tribal people. Consequently, the population of the non-tribals is multiplying in the Scheduled areas and the tribal population is rapidly declining.

5. The Jharkhand Government has signed more than 100 MoUs with National and multi-National companies, who are grabbing the trabals land illegally and the government is facilitating it instead of protection the land rights of tribals. The Jharkhand Government has also proposed for two industrial corridors under the Jharkhand Industrial policy 2012. According to JIP-14 (a) State Govt. will initiate necessary steps to promote / develop two industrial corridors, namely Koderma – Bahragora and Ranchi-Patratu- Ramgarh Road, where the efforts will be made to develop the corridor with 25 KM each side of 4 laning, which means, major part of the land will be handed over to the corporate houses. If that happens then where will the tribal people go? Do they have right to a dignified life?

6. On 5 January, 2011, the Apex Court of India while hearing on an appeal (the special leave petition (Cr) No. 10367 of 2010 Kailas & others Vs State of Maharashtra) said that the tribal people (Scheduled Tribes or Adivasis), the Indigenous People of India but they were slaughtered in large numbers, and the survivors and their descendants were degraded, humiliated, and all kinds of atrocities inflicted on them for centuries. They were deprived of their lands, and pushed into forests and hills where they eke out a miserable existence of poverty, illiteracy, disease, etc. And now efforts are being made by some people to deprive them even of their forest and hill land where they are living, and the forest produce on which they survive. Despite this horrible oppression on them, the tribals of India have generally (though not invariably) retained a higher level of ethics than the non-tribals in our country. They normally do not cheat, tell lies, and do other misdeeds which many non-tribals do. They are generally superior in character to the non-tribals. The Apex Court said that it is time now to undo the historical injustice to them. However, the Indian Government has done nothing to protect them. Instead, it has been facilitating in corporate land grab of the Adivasis (tribals or Indigenous People) of India.

Since, you are the custodian of the tribal people of India, therefore, I demand for following actions:
1. To order for investigation on detention of tribals and land grab by the Jindal Steel & Power Limited in Sundar Pahari and also cancel the Jindal’s power project as it is a severe threat to the existence of the tribal people especially the Primitive tribes (Paharia) of Sundar Pahari.
2. To investigate and cancel all the MoUs signed since 2000 without consent of the Gram Sabha under PESA Act 1996 and also order for withdrawal of the Industrial Police 2012 and order the state administration to return the illegally acquired land of the tribals by the corporate houses.
3. To order for a judicial inquiry in all the cases of illegal land grabbed by the non-Adivasis in the Scheduled areas.
4. To order to stop the corporate to buy land by themselves and order the Government to acquire land under the Santal Pargana Tenancy Act 1949 and Chhotanagpur Tenancy Act 1908 for development projects with the consent of the Gram Sabha under PESA Act 1996.
5. To order the Government to enforce the rule of law i.e. Constitutional provisions, 5th Schedule Area, PESA Act 1996, CNT Act 1908, SPT Act 1949, the Forest Rights Act 2006, etc.

Indeed, it’s necessary to take the above said steps to protect the constitutional, legal and traditional rights of the tribal people. However, if you are unable to protect us, I would humbly request you to gather all the tribal people at a place and shoot them so that you’ll get rid of us and could build this nation on the graveyards of the tribal as per your dream.

The architect of the Modern India Pt. Jwaharlal Nehru’s Temples of Modern India has turned into graveyards of the tribals (Indigenous People of India). Therefore, in the next time whenever and wherever you inaugurate such development project proposed on the tribals’ land, please remembers that you are building this nation on the graveyards of the Indigenous People of India.

I believe you understand my pain, anguish and sorrow. I hope to hear your positive response. I shall be highly obliged to you for the same.

Thanking you.

Yours sincerely,
Gladson Dungdung
General Secretary,
JHRM, Ranchi.

 

#India – Police detain Adivasi protesters as President lays foundation for Jindal power plant


ANUMEHA YADAV,
GODDA (JHARKHAND), May 1, 2013

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Villagers Hopanmai Marandi (left) and Mary Hasda are among those detained at the Sundarpahari police station in Godda, Jharkhand, on Tuesday. Photo: Manob Chowdhury
The HinduVillagers Hopanmai Marandi (left) and Mary Hasda are among those detained at the Sundarpahari police station in Godda, Jharkhand, on Tuesday. Photo: Manob Chowdhury

More than 50 Adivasi farmers, including women, were detained for over six hours on Tuesday at the Sundarpahari police station in Godda, a kilometre from the venue where President Pranab Mukherjee laid the foundation for a thermal power plant to be set up by Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL).

Farmers from 11 villages in the Nimpaniya and Goiarijor blocks said they had gathered at Sundarpahari to oppose land acquisition by JSPL. At 10 a.m. they were detained by the police and kept on the station premises till evening.

“My family lives at Seemaldhap village in Chota Amarpur. More than 200 of us had gathered at Tiril Tola over the last two days because we planned to march to the venue but the police arrested us. I had rice with me for my little daughter but the police kept that away too,” Hopanmai Marandi told this reporter.

“We were already displaced when the Sunder Dam was built. We will not allow ourselves to be moved from our land again,” said another villager Mary Nisha Hasda.

As part of JSPL’s expansion plans in Jharkhand, it had announced the setting up of the 1,320-MW captive power plant in Godda at a cost of Rs. 8,500 crore. The plant will use coal from the Jitpur coal block and water from the Sunder Dam and the Gumani and Jalhara rivers.

JSPL, in a statement, said all land for its projects had been obtained “through the government acquisition route, with consent of the people,” a point the company director and MP Naveen Jindal reiterated at the inauguration ceremony attended by Governor Syed Ahmed, Nishikant Dubey, MP (Godda), and political leaders, including Subodh Kant Sahai, Hemlal Murmu, Devidhan Besra, MP (Rajmahal), senior State officials and pradhans and mukhiyas from seven villages.

Superintendent of Police Ajay Linda, however, denied anyone had been detained. “There was overcrowding at the venue because so many villagers wanted to attend the inauguration function. Then some of them stayed back at the police station which is only a km away,” he said on the phone.

Away from the police station, hundreds of policemen and home guards carrying sticks walked around villages. “Only the families in Bangali Tola agreed to sell land to the company, the rest of us have refused. The police have been coming to the village regularly now. All land around this village is my land. Its yield lasts us the whole year; we will not give up this land,” said a woman in Kalhajhar’s Charai Tola.

“My father is in the Nimpaniya panchayat samiti. My family and other 30-35 families from my village are ready to sell our land. How else will we move to cities?” said Sujit Kumar, who is home during a break from his training at an industrial training institute.

Godda lies in the Santhal Pargana region of Jharkhand. All land transactions are governed by the Santhal Pargana Tenancy Act (SPTA) and most of the land is non-transferable and non-saleable, whether owned by tribals or non-tribals. “Because of the Santhal rebellion against the British in 1855 in which 30,000 Santhals died fighting to protect their land, only land classified as Gair Majurwa Khaas (GMK) or land listed as non-agricultural land owned by the government can be transferred. The rest of the transfers — except those made as gifts to relatives etc. — are illegal. It is not possible that a power plant will be built only on GMK land. Despite these norms, officials continue to alienate tribals from land,” said Ramesh Sharan, economist at Ranchi University.

FOUNDATION LAID

President Pranab Mukherjee, on Tuesday, laid the foundation for Jindal Steel and Power’s (JSPL) 1,320 -MW thermal power plant at Godda district. The captive power plant, with an estimated cost of Rs.8,500 crore, will use coal from the Jitpur coal block and water from the Sunder Dam, Gumani and Jalhara river. It will be the first mega power project in Santhal Pargana region in the state’s eastern region, and is expected to provide direct and indirect employment to 20,000 people.

“I expect this power plant will meet the electricity needs of rural areas that face a shortage of 33 per cent. This is a coal-producing region and the needs of the villagers from around here must be met on priority,” said Mr. Mukherjee addressing the public after laying the foundation

 

Dayamani Barla Selected For Cultural Survival’s Ellen L. Lutz Indigenous Rights Award #tribalrights #womenrights


 

By Cultural Survival

29 April, 2013
Countercurrents.org

(April 29, 2013). Grassroots Indigenous rights heroes too often go unrecognized. Yet their efforts to promote the rights of their peoples and protect their traditions, languages, and resources are critical to cultural survival. On April 23, 2013 in recognition of her work with Adavasi (Indigenous) communities in India, Dayamani Barla was chosen by Cultural Survival, an Indigenous Peoples rights organization, as the winner of the 2013 Ellen L. Lutz Indigenous Rights Award.

“Cultural Survival is honored to present Dayamani Barla, an Indigenous human rights activist and journalist from the Munda tribe in the Indian state of Jharkhand, with the 2013 Ellen L. Lutz (ELL) Indigenous Rights Award,” says Cultural Survival Executive Director Suzanne Benally. Barla has been on the forefront of people’s movements against corporate and government-led land grabs and other injustices that threaten the survival, dignity, and livelihoods of Indigenous Peoples. “This prize is presented in recognition of outstanding human rights work, dedicated leadership for Indigenous Peoples rights, and a deep life commitment to protecting, sustaining, and revitalizing Indigenous cultures, lands, and languages,” says Benally. Barla was chosen from close to 60 nominees by a distinguished panel of Indigenous leaders.

The prize honors the memory of the late Ellen L. Lutz (1955-2010), who was a renowned human rights lawyer and former executive director of Cultural Survival (2004-2010). Ellen transformed Cultural Survival by strongly emphasizing human rights and advocacy.

Coming from a humble background where she worked as a domestic servant to fund her education, Barla is the first tribal journalist from her state and is considered as the “voice of Jharkhand” for her powerful storytelling, community organizing, and writings. “Barla has been a trailblazer on many fronts, charting new waters as an Indigenous woman to ensure the voices and perspectives of Adivasi people are heard by the larger mainstream society,” says her nominator Terry Odendahl, executive director and CEO of Global Greengrants Fund. As one of the first female Adivasi journalists in India, she has won many awards, including the Counter Media Award for Rural Journalism and the National Foundation for India Fellowship. She is an outspoken critic against the racism and persecution that Adivasi communities face.

Together with her colleagues from the Adivasi Moolvasi Astitva Raksha Manch (Platform of Indigenous Adivasi People to Defend their Existence), Barla has prevented ArcelorMittal, a global mining giant, from plundering the rich natural resources of Jharkhand. The proposed steel plant would have seized 12,000 acres of land and displaced 40 villages, additionally harming the surrounding ecosystems and by extension the livelihoods and survival of Indigenous communities.

Barla has also been involved in people’s mobilizations against the Koel Karo dam project. This struggle is considered one of the longest and most successful anti-dam movements in India, and is rooted in the highly mobilized Munda Indigenous community.

Barla’s steadfast commitment to the people’s democratic and constitutional rights to assemble and dissent has attracted the wrath of corrupt government and corporate actors, who are pushing for rapid industrialization and economic globalization that disenfranchises Indigenous communities. From October 18 to December 21, 2012 she was jailed by the Jharkhand government under a litany of charges ranging from leading peaceful protests against fertile farmland acquisition in Nagri to demanding job cards for rural poor in Angada block under a national employment guarantee scheme. “Dayamani’s jailing was a reminder to civil rights activists across the nation of the unfriendly role the Jharkhand state is taking towards drivers of democratic change,” says Odendahl. Recently she has been leading anti-land acquisition struggles, along with farmers of Nagdi, whose precious fertile agricultural land has been allocated for the construction of business, law, and information technology schools in Jharkhand. In a letter written from her jail cell, Barla reflected that the “looters of the state have become well-wishers in the eyes of the government.”

The selection of the ELL Award recipient is based on the following criteria: the Indigenous activist’s work is primarily at the grassroots level directly in Indigenous communities, and/or expands from there into advocacy at the state and international level; leadership is recognized by the communities that it represents; the activist works towards promoting and advancing Indigenous/human rights and this work reflects his or her compassion, dedication, and personal sacrifice to his or her people, communities, and Indigenous Peoples; and the award will raise the profile of the recipient’s work, advancing the activist’s efforts and helping to safeguard his or her well-being. “Dayamani is an example of a selfless and courageous activist, who powerfully demonstrates how Indigenous women play a crucial role in safeguarding the rights of their communities, while also protecting the rights of nature,” says Odendahl.

The Award recognizes individuals for sustained and significant efforts to protect and advance the rights of Indigenous Peoples, often at great personal risk. The ELL Award views “grassroots” leaders as those rooted in local efforts, where positive change is created through community or citizen participation in the issues that affect them. Through recognizing these individual leaders, the Award seeks to inspire other Indigenous people to take extraordinary actions to protect the world’s cultural diversity.

This year’s ELL Award, which comes with a $10,000 cash prize, brings critical attention to the undemocratic attitude of the Jharkhand state towards social activists, as well as honoring and celebrating the critical work of an Indigenous human rights defender who has fought brave struggles for the greater good of Adivasi communities in the state of Jharkhand and beyond. Barla will be presented with the award at a ceremony on May 23 at the Museum of the American Indian in New York.

Cultural Survival is a global leader in the fight to protect Indigenous lands, languages, and cultures around the world. In partnership with Indigenous Peoples, we advocate for Indigenous communities whose rights, cultures, and dignity are under threat. For more information go to www.cs.org

Contact: Suzanne Benally, Executive Director, 617-441-5400 x 16 sbenally@cs.org
Agnes Portalewska, Communications Manager, 617-441-5410 x14 agnes@cs.org

 

Ta(l)king sex beyond English #sexuality


By Meenu Pandey

This is the second of a series of posts written from the experiences at CREA of implementing a program called “Count Me IN! It’s My Body: Advancing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Young Girls through Sports”. CREA is a feminist human rights organization based in Delhi (www.creaworld.org).

 (Take fifteen seconds for each of these words.)

Think of one regional language word each for the following: Consent. Assumption. Choice. Pleasure. Agency.

These are some of the words which form the foundation of the world of sexual rights. How many did you get?

How does one talk of sexuality? How does one express desire and consent? How does one articulate violation? What do we call the body parts, what do we call ourselves? How do we claim identities or demand space and rights on sexuality? In societies where conversations about sex are silenced, how do we talk about our everyday lives, which are as much about sexual boundaries and norms as they are about the politics of caste, religion, gender, class and so much more besides.

Working on sexuality in local languages is not only crucial but radical. It is radical because it dispels the myth that most of sexuality work happens in the ‘English world’. It is also radical because it demonstrates that no cultures are devoid of sexuality. This means, saying that “we don’t have the language to talk of sexuality” isn’t correct. A friend from Meem[i], Lebanon, berating the mainstream western understanding around the ‘Middle East’ and sexuality, said recently to me, “it’s not that we don’t talk of sexuality, it could be that we just don’t call it sexuality.”

Also, the concept of sexuality isn’t unpacked in a uniform way everywhere. Different meanings are made of it in different contexts. A group of young girls we work with from Jharkhand, when asked what what they understood by sexuality, said in unison,“sexuality means what we like and don’t like in all aspects of life.”

There are many terms, words and connotations that find space in a regional language, but not in English. Hindi offers the space for many terms that connote a cultural construct – such as Hijra. There is no equivalent term in English for Hijra – the only word that comes closest is ‘transgender’, an unsatisfactory translation. Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai’s work[ii]brings together diverse texts that uncover stories of same-sex desire and gender diversity, spanning centuries of the subcontinent’s history and numerous linguistic traditions. Non-English speaking people have not needed English to claim and articulate their realities. Their lives are lived, and desires expressed in a manner they find appropriate for themselves.

In its initial phase of work, sexual rights activists in India were constantly told that poverty was a far more pressing issue than sexuality. These activists brought forth an understanding of  intersectionality as a perspective to do any work related to human rights. This perspective also sheds light on access to language in which work is done and the need to work in different local languages is something that became clear fairly earlier on. Since most of the activists who began this work were themselves urban and English speaking, their work would be inaccessible, possibly culturally-alien, if it remained only in the realm of English.  Sexuality is a deeply cultural thing – in terms of its specific taboos, the controls, the ways in which it is allowed to be expressed, the breaking of norms, articulation of experiences which are different, naming desire. In India, how can these multilayered cultural manifestations ever be fully expressed in English, without losing its richness?

A few friends decided to say words which we used for our nether regions. Cunt was one of the most used. We felt very empowered, smugly so. At some point one of us said, but what are the non-english words? We came up with a few, choot being one of them. None of us appropriated a single one of those words for ourselves or our amorous moments. We were empowered in English. Elsewhere, we were as good as people who didn’t/couldn’t say cunt.[iii]

One of the challenges of working in Hindi is that sexualised words often also used as slang, and are therefore considered obscene, or are stigmatised. It could feel less personalised. But what is it really that makes us uncomfortable? Could it be that for the English speaking people, our language of thinking limits our expressions around sexuality?

In this work in Hindi, creating new language, and sometimes modifying the existing language becomes crucial to convey meaning.[iv] In the latest edition of the annual Hindi journal on sexual and reproductive health and rights, Reproductive Health Matters (RHM), themed Abortion and Rights, we wanted to highlight the element of ‘right to choice’ for termination of pregnancy.[v] The popular hindi term, garbh paat seemed stigmatised at one level and on further research, it was clear that its literal translation means miscarriage. To keep the right to choice about one’s body and life inextricably linked to induced abortion, we chose to use a lesser used but thought provoking term, garbh samaapan (termination of pregnancy). Such experiments in translation and creation of a new language to talk about sexuality and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), keeps our work political.

Another crucial point is about the kind of hindi scholarship around sexuality being created. Is it influenced by the assumption that theory is for English-speakers, while practice is for non-English speakers? This despite the interconnections between practice and theory, and the influence our everyday worlds and their construction have on theory. The diversity in resources available on sexuality in English isn’t the same as that in Hindi. We felt the need for Hindi RHM, a peer reviewed journal, precisely because such theoretical scholarship was not available for Hindi speaking activists. The Institutes on Sexuality, Gender and Rights in Hindi have as much reading and engaging with theory as the English Institutes.

Sometimes popularising certain English terms may make more sense. The term Intersex in Hindi would be antarlingi. Not only does this term in Hindi have no resonance in colloquial Hindi, it is a highly sanskritised way of using language, which we are, very consciously, trying to move away from. The words sex, transgender, surrogate, sex work are some more of such examples.

As part of our sports and SRHR program, It’s My Body, we produced resources for young girls. We wanted to steer clear of the producing material which looks like SRHR outcomes – HIV transmission and menstruation. We realised that we need to think about the kind of language we want to use. We wanted to talk not only of menstrual cycle, but how young girls should have information around their bodies. We wanted to not only talk of how to have safe sex, but that young people should be able to decide who they want to have sex with, when and also have the knowledge, confidence and agency to be able to say yes, no as well as maybe. We decided to use words like sahmati, poorv-anumaan, chaahat, chunaav, haan, naa, pasand –the language used in the work with the groups of young girls. We designed them in a way so girls can keep them hidden, if they needed to; to take out and discuss and read with peers when they felt comfortable.

A conversation on language and sexuality is incomplete without thinking about who is creating the Hindi scholarship in the sexuality world. The people who live in both ‘English and Hindi worlds’ are different from people who live in ‘Hindi worlds’. If we are clear that practitioners are also capable of creating scholarship (as we should be!), a larger objective of creating Hindi scholarship on sexuality must be to put this work in the hands of people for whom English is not the first language. That will alter the canvas of negotiating the language of sexuality.

Meenu Pandey works as the Program Coordinator – Global South Knowledge Resources at CREA. She works on creating scholarship in Hindi on gender and sexuality. She is the co-editor of Close, Too Close: The Tranquebar book of Queer Erotica.

Big thank you to S. Vinita for thinking this through with me and Sanjana and Vrinda for their very useful feedback.

[ii] Same-Sex Love in India, Readings from Literature and History: Edited: Ruth Vanita, Saleem Kidwai, Macmillan 2000

[iii] An old conversation between a group of  English speaking friends.

[iv] This blogpost focuses on Hindi as a language but the arguments are relevant for any regional language.

[v] Reproductive Health Matters (RHM) is an independent charity, producing in-depth publications on reproductive and sexual health and rights for an international, multi-disciplinary audience. http://www.rhmjournal.org.uk/ CREA has collaborated with RHM since 2005 to bring out annual editions of the journal in Hindi.

source-

http://ultraviolet.in/2013/04/24/talking-sex-beyond-english/

 

#India -Free lawyer’ service helps tribals branded Maoists in Jharkhand #goodnews


naxalites

, TNN | Apr 15, 2013,

RANCHI: A group of young lawyers in Ranchi has decided to take up, gratis, cases of thousands of tribals branded as Maoists and shoved into jails across Jharkhand every year.
The lawyers, who have named their organizationJharkhand Organization for Human Rights(JOHAR), have initiated a survey to pick out such cases and offer them free legal consultation. And just so that the tribals are aware that they need not pay for seeking judicial assistance, the lawyers have named their endeavour “muft mein wakil”.

“Despite options of free legal aid offered by the government and agencies like district legal services authority, tribals often don’t get these facilities because they are afraid to approach them. Also, they are not much aware of the law,” says Gopi Nath Ghosh, who is associated with the endeavour.

Human rights violation is a mounting problem in Jharkhand’s tribal areas which sees many innocent people being labelled as Maoists and subsequently prosecuted. NGOs working in the area say that the number of such cases increases whenever there is a security operation in the region.

For instance, 13 people were framed as Maoists in the 2001 Topchanchi massacre in which 13 Jharkhand armed police officers were killed. After they had spent many years in jail, they were finally acquitted by the Dhanbad district court in May last year.

Curiously, nobody is really sure about the exact number of such cases where tribals are unfairly branded as rebels. A Christian missionary, Father Stain Swami, who works for the rights of tribals, had filed an RTI application with the state government in 2011 to seek accurate figures. He says that the total number of such cases could be around 6000 or even more.

With most tribals not even fully literate — let alone being aware of complex legal formalities — help from the lawyers is being hailed as a welcome step for them. Although till now, the lawyers have identified only about a dozen cases, the momentum, says advocate Anup Agarwal, convener of JOHAR, would pick up once their survey is complete.

Incidentally, one of the cases in which the lawyer group has already started providing free assistance is the high-profile Jeetan Marandi case. Jeetan Marandi was accused of masterminding the Chilkhari massacre in 2007 in which former chief minister Babu Lal Marandi’s son Anup was killed. The subordinate court had pronounced capital punishment but the Jharkhand high court not only reversed the judgment but also acquitted him of the charges.

However, his wife Aparna Marandi is now in Dumka Jail on allegations of being a Maoist. No lawyer was ready to assist her until JOHAR lawyers Ahmed Raja and Anup Agarwal stepped in to take up her case.

 

#India- Wages for dead show Rs 55,000 cr loot in NREGA scheme #scam


Wages for dead show `55,000cr loot

New Delhi, DNA, April 6: The corpse of Bengali Singh was burned to ash atop a funeral pyre in 2006.Five years later, the dead man was recorded as being paid under the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) to dig a canal in Bishanpur in Godda district of Jharkhand.

Officials in his village and the surrounding region used at least 500 identities, including those of a physically-challenged child and a 94-year-old blind man, to fake work logs and to steal wages, according to police reports.

District administrators and village heads across the country have used tactics such as ghost workers, fake projects and over-billing to embezzle about Rs55,000 crore from the world’s largest workfare initiative, an investigation by Bloomberg News shows. Only 42-56% of the employment reported by the jobs programme is confirmed by data from the national sample survey office, a joint study by Princeton University and the Paris School of Economics shows. That suggests that about half the work is genuine. 

The Union rural development ministry also estimates 30% of the Rs1.8-lakh crore spent nationally since the programme began has been lost through graft.
Embezzlement remains an intractable issue in the rural employment push, said D H Pai Panandiker, president of the RPG Foundation, an economic research group.
“The bulk of the spending is a complete waste of money.”
Bloomberg compiled hundreds of pages of police documents and interviewed dozens of people from January through March across three states to examine the looting in the flagship welfare programme.
The police are probing more than 2,000 cases of corruption spanning 100 projects in just one district of Jharkhand.
They include funds for a well to be used by only one landowner and payments toward an irrigation canal that was never constructed. Dry eart h covers the area where the channel was supposed to be.
At least 60% of the expenditure in Jharkhand under the NREGA has been pilfered, said Nishikant Dubey, a BJP MP from Godda. That amounts to more than Rs630 crore in the last fiscal alone.
“It’s happening everywhere.” I keep telling my officials that this is money for the poor. So, please don’t steal from it, but they don’t listen,” he said.
About 30% of India’s 16.8 crore rural households have been provided with employment under the initiative each year since 2008. 
The scam in Godda used fake job cards to claim wages for imaginary labour, according to the police report.
One of the identities stolen was of 94-year-old Akal Sah, who is deaf and blind and uses a stick to walk.
The records of the jobs programme have Sah spending eight hours a day for a week in 2011, shovelling earth from a pit. One of his co-workers was a physically-challenged eight-year-old child, Suvitha Devi. Frail and malnourished, Dev i struggles to lift her right arm or speak clearly after a bout of meningitis at an early age.
The police accused Ghulam Rasool and his wife, Zubeida Khatoon, the village headwoman, of orchestrating the fraud in Bishanpur.
Post-office workers created the job cards and a village secretary and a computer operator also aided the scam, according to the charges.
The charge sheet says the pair ordered postal staff to withdraw money in the name of dead or fake workers. False finger and thumbprints were used in payment receipts to enable the fraud. -Bloomberg


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Angry Jeetan Marandi vows to continue stir for poor


JEETAN

 Mukesh Ranjan | Ranchi |  Pioneer, April 1, 2013

Aggravated after his release from the jail after five years, Jeetan Marandi is all set to expedite his movement for the cause of the release of thousands of innocent tribal people lodged in various jails on the pretext of being Naxals.

Jeetan, a prime suspect of the Chilkhari massacre in which Anup Marandi, son of the former Chief Minister Babulal Marandi along with other 17 other people got killed, awarded death sentence by a Giridih Court, was released from Birsa Munda Central Jail on Thursday.

“I am not happy even after my release, as thousands of poor and tribal people are still lodged in jails without any substantial charges against them. My acquittal has exposed the intention of the suppressive Governments at the Centre and in the State,” said Jeetan.

“Had I not been acquitted, the intention of the Government would not have been clear,” added Jeetan. “They are trying to keep me away from my wife and son and have put my wife in the jail with a four-year child with her,” he alleged.

He was arrested allegedly because his name resembled to a Maoist Jeetan Marandi for whom cops had been looking for. There had been wide range of agitations across the country after Jeetan’s arrest on April 5, 2008.

Even Human Rights activist Binayak Sen came in open support of Jeetan Marandi terming the death sentence to the tribal artist as unlawful. An artiste and a tribal rights activist, Jeetan was well known for utilising the power of music to speak against government atrocities on the common man, especially tribals.

He was speaking to the media persons during a felicitation ceremony organised, by Jeetan Marandi Rihai Manch, after his release from the jail at Namkom Bagicha in Ranchi. Jeetan is to be felicitated in Giridih on Sunday.

Jeetan, who also narrated the police atrocities he had to go thorough while he was in jail and looked determined to work for the cause of over 6000 tribal and 10,000 other  people lodged in jail under Crime Control Act. He also accused the State and the Central Governments of conspiring against him to put in the jail to suppress the voice of the poor and downtrodden.

As the Government wants to label Jeetan’s family as a sympathiser of the CPI (Maoists), it has imposed a false case against his wife Aparana Marandi along with her four-year child in jail a few months back. The kid has not even seen his father’s face,” said Central Committee member of the Marxist Co-ordination Committee Sushanto Bhattacharya.

17 people got killed on the spot at Chilkhari on October 26, 2007 while 12 got injured in the massacre. Two more people died later during investigations. During a cultural programme at Chilkhari, a few unidentified persons started firing indiscriminately on the crowd present at the function.

Jeetan and other three were convicted under section 143,342,379,149,120B, 30, 149, Copyright Licencing Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act along with 302.