#India – Does law do justice to the poor & hapless?


draconianlaw

June 9, 2013, The Hindu

MATTHEW ADUKANIL

The powerful are presumed innocent until proved guilty but the indigent citizen under arrest is considered guilty until he is proved innocent

Learned judges toast the majesty of the law. Politicians swear by its sanctity asserting that it will take its due course. But seasoned criminals are thoroughly familiar with its loopholes. They know how to flout the law and yet how to survive by it. But those who have felt the slings and arrows of misapplied law unhesitatingly subscribe to the Dickensian dictum ‘The Law is an ass’. Probably, the highest tribute ever paid to the ass! Law commands respect only from the law-abiding.

One is reminded of two amusing constables in a Shakespearean play. Enforcing the king’s midnight curfew on tramps, they ordered two ruffians, ‘ In the name of His Majesty go home’. Upon their insolent reply that they did not recognise His Majesty, the policemen duly apologised and went their way. Successful execution of the time-tested strategy of questioning law enforcers’ jurisdiction, and going scot-free riding piggyback on technicalities.

Love is not Time’s fool, as Shakespeare said but Law is. The dictum ‘Art is long but life is short’ has its parallel also in law and it would be equally correct to say ‘Law is long but life is short.’ A shrewd and high profile offender of the law can have a long-drawn battle with it and keep it at bay practically all his life. Law is definitely on the side of the powerful criminal since he is presumed innocent until proved guilty but the indigent citizen under arrest is considered guilty until he is proved innocent.

A criminal can keep out of reach of the long arm of the law until he is finally convicted and a series of legal procedures is exhausted. A lawsuit starts in the lowest sessions court, winds its way through the maze of higher level courts and finally reaches the Supreme Court creeping at snail’s pace through numerous speed humps of adjournments, court vacations, appeals, revision hearings, single-judge hearings, Full Bench hearings, presidential pardons, etc.

Meanwhile, criminals who are MPs can contest elections, serve multiple five-year terms and amass colossal fortunes through corrupt practices. The money thus illegally made will more than cover the lawyer’s fees, bribes to those who can help, huge election expenses and still leave behind a tidy fortune. Meanwhile, as the plea for justice is on its pilgrim’s progress to the courts, crucial files disappear from offices, inconvenient witnesses meet with mysterious ends and unsympathetic law enforcers or judges just vanish.

But what happens to the poor villager or tribal who is picked up on trumped up charges at the instance of the well-heeled? It takes months and sometimes years for him to be taken to the magistrate to be enlightened on his crimes, verification of identity, etc.

When some political or business bigwigs are arrested for serious crimes and put behind bars, at once a host of ailments like high BP and kidney and heart problems visit them calling for immediate hospitalisation and quality treatment. The wonder is that with all these ailments they were able to go about their daily business. These health problems seem to be ‘bar-coded’ since they crop up only behind bars. It is a brave new world, indeed!

Crimes taking place in full public glare, caught on cameras and repeatedly beamed by the media for days and weeks need elaborate and long court procedures to establish their veracity and the identity of the perpetrators. We may recall the prolonged trials of Kasab or recently the members of the gang rape of Nirbhaya in a Delhi bus. Or take the case of the seven-year jail term serving Bitty Mohanty who jumped parole, studied for MBA degree and got employed in a bank in a new avatar. A criminal who does not know to exploit to the full the niceties of court procedures had better hang up his boots.

A huge number of police personnel are engaged in VIP security, for Ministers and MPs and, in some cases, even extended family members of MPs. Allegedly about one-third of the MPs in Parliament have criminal backgrounds and several have murder, rape and other serious cases pending against them. Upon seeing this posse of security personnel around them amid crowds, one may be excused if he/she gets a nagging doubt: who is the potential target and who is the perceived threat?

What about protection for women riding alone in buses to their homes at night after work, and farmers exposed daily to the attacks of marauding elephants in forest areas?

(The writer is an assistant college professor. Email: adukanildb@gmail.com)

 

Mass Incarceration USA: How a Broken System Perpetuates Itself


“Wheel about and turn about and do just so. Every time I turn about I jump Jim Crow.” 
— chorus of an 1828 minstrel song

“We have not ended racial caste in America, we have merely redesigned it.”
Michelle AlexanderThe New Jim Crow

Yeah, it’s called mass incarceration. Our jails are filled with black and brown men and women. The number of inmates, primarily people of color, has soared sevenfold in the last three decades, according to Alexander, from 300,000 to more than 2 million, the largest number, by far, in the developed world. Many millions more are on probation or parole. And no matter what their crime, the inmates never get their citizenship back. The stigma of being an ex-felon brands someone for life as a second-class human being.

But even before the ex-felon label is attached, certain people — young men of color, in particular — are targeted as society’s losers by the police, judicial bureaucracy and prison system. They face the possibility of police harassment, invasion of privacy and arrest, often on the smallest pretext possible, pretty much any time they step outside.

I live in a vital, racially and ethnically diverse Chicago neighborhood and I watch it happen — racial profiling, the stop-and-frisk game. This is not making my neighborhood safer. It’s wrecking lives at enormous public expense and, of course, like the insane war on terror, creating enemies. We don’t need a justice system based on stereotypes and armed bullying.

“His hearing’s at 1? OK,” I said, “I’ll try to make it.”

This was three days ago. Oh God. It was pretty much the last thing I wanted to do. I knew what had happened. A few days earlier, a young man, Jerry, who is part of a local discussion and support group I’ve gotten involved with called Circles and Ciphers, had gotten arrested . . . for riding his bicycle on the sidewalk.

That’s how it started. Two plainclothes officers stopped him for what legally is known as a petty offense, the equivalent of jaywalking or letting your parking meter expire — and a “crime” committed every day by happy families, children, all sorts of people who want to avoid dangerous street traffic. Jerry, who is a black man, wasn’t simply stopped. He was arrested. After all, he had committed a crime. He was handcuffed, put into the squad car, taken to the local police station.

No one I’ve talked to has any idea what happened to his bike. Was it confiscated? Left at the scene?

He may have been upset by the possibility of losing his bike. He may have been upset by the fact that he was supposed to be starting a new job the following day. In any case, he found himself sitting in handcuffs at the police station. When one of the arresting officers approached him, Jerry allegedly stood up and kicked at the officer, hitting him in the shin. And the petty offense suddenly turned into a felony. He was charged with aggravated assault.

Chicago, crime-ridden city! This is how the statistics swell.

Jerry’s hearing was on Monday. The Circles and Ciphers organizers wanted to get supporters in the courtroom; apparently that can make a difference. I had never done anything quite like this before.

Indeed, the court building is alien territory: the state vs. everyone. I understand the point of metal detectors, airport-style security screenings, and try to have a sense of humor about emptying my pockets, taking off my belt. I tried to maintain the attitude of a citizen: This is my court system. I have a right to be here. But it wasn’t easy. I felt at best warily tolerated and, in fact, unwelcome as a full citizen.

I sat down in the courtroom. When the hearing began, I took a pen and piece of paper out of my pocket and started scribbling notes. Uh-oh. Suddenly the security officer tasked with keeping order in the court gave me an angry stare, pointed at me and shook her head. No notes! I couldn’t believe it, but stuck the Bic pen, dangerous tool, back in my pocket, vowing to check the legality of this restriction later. (There is none.)

The hearing itself lasted all of, maybe, six or seven minutes. A public defender asked the police officer what happened. He explained that the defendant had been arrested for the misdemeanor of riding his bike on the sidewalk, but the judge interrupted him. Riding a bike on the sidewalk is a petty offense, not a misdemeanor, she said. I wasn’t aware there was a category of crime more trivial than a misdemeanor; now I knew. A few questions later — the officer described the alleged assault, testified that he did not require medical attention — and it was all over. Jerry was led from the courtroom. I got up and left.

There’s more to come, of course. Jerry wasn’t released. The case wasn’t thrown out. What hangs in the balance for the young defendant is possible jail time and the lifelong scar of “ex-felon.” To what end? Public safety wasn’t served. No healing took place. Absolutely nothing was accomplished by this elaborate and costly drama except that a broken system perpetuated itself. And Jim Crow won again.

Robert C. Koehler

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is now available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

#India – 17 year old abducted and Gang raped in Delhi #Vaw #Rape


RAPE

STAFF REPORTER, The Hindu . June 3, 2013

All three accused, in their 30s, have been arrested

A 17-year-old girl was allegedly abducted by three men in Nangloi while she was out for a stroll near her house on Saturday evening and gang-raped. All three accused, in their 30s, have been arrested in Delhi.

According to the police, the girl, who lives with her parents, had gone for a walk late on Saturday evening after dinner. As she reached an isolated stretch some distance away from her house, a white car came from behind and intercepted her.

The three men sitting inside asked her to get in. Upon her refusal, they allegedly dragged her inside and drove away. She tried to raise an alarm, but they covered her mouth.

“She was then taken to an empty warehouse in the area, where the three men took turns to rape her. Following this, the unconscious victim was dumped close to the spot from where she was abducted,” said a police officer.

When she regained consciousness, she returned home and narrated her ordeal to her parents. The family then approached the police and a case under Section 376 (D) of the Indian Penal Code and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences ct was registered.

Based on the description of the three accused and the vehicle, the police zeroed in on them and arrested them on Sunday. The car has also been seized.

Keywords: NangloiDelhi rapesexual assault

 

 

Dalits live in fear in Tuticorin village


The Dalits of K. Velayudhapuram village near Kazhugumalai in Tuticorin district are living in fear of violence as they resisted the efforts of a dominant caste to marginalise them, according to A.Marx, writer and convenor of People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR).

Mr.Marx said here on Thursday that after the removal of an “untouchability fence” that separated the residences of Arunthathiyars and Reddiars, a team of human rights activists visited the village to assess the situation. The murder of a Dalit and a statement by Pattali Makkal Katchi founder S.Ramadoss that 40 Dalits were issuing serious threats to the lives of 400 Reddiar families in the village forced them to visit the place, he noted.

What the team members found was just the opposite of what Dr.Ramadoss claimed, he said.

A 2-km-long barbed wire fence was erected in 2006 following a decision taken at a kangaroo court. The two shops run by the caste Hindus in the village refused to sell any thing to Dalits, he said.

Sometime after the removal of the fence, a 51-year-old Dalit, Karuppasamy, son of Muthuveeran of the village, was murdered, creating fear among Dalits. Dalits demanded the team members that they should be given adequate police protection to prevent any further attacks, the PUDR convenor said.

The team recommended a probe by the CBCID into the murder of Muthusamy as Dalits in the village had no confidence in the local police who, the said, acted in a biased manner in the past. The team also demanded a police outpost in the village.

Untouchability was practised in the village, and it had been widely reported in media, Mr.Marx said, and added that the village should be announced as “atrocity-prone” under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989.

He also suggested that a monitoring committee should be formed by the district administration to prevent atrocities being committed against Dalits.

The team included Rajni, advocate, Konangi, prominent Tamil writer, and A.Mohammed Shafi of National Confederation Human Rights Organisations, Madurai.

 

Odisha -Group clashes in Gobindapur over Posco


By Express News Service – PARADIP

31st May 2013 12:13 PM

Despite deployment of one platoon of police force, law and order situation worsened in Gobindapur village due to group clash on Thursday. Betel vine demolition drive for proposed Posco steel plant project was affected as tension gripped the village after clashes between two groups of Harijanshai and two youth groups.

According to sources, last week one Samir Das of the village had handed over his betel vine to the administration despite the opposition of villagers in lieu of Rs 1.13 lakh as compensation. Earlier, Das had borrowed Rs 40,000 from another villager Trinath Bhoi to erect betel vine. After Das violated the villagers’ decision, annoyed Bhoi demanded his money back. When Das refused to return the money, Bhoi forcibly tried to extract money from Das leading to clash between two groups.

Nearly 150 Dalit families of the village have been opposing boundary demarcation and trench cutting work for the project. They alleged that the administration had demolished betel vines of nearly 22 Dalit families on the promise of giving new betel vines but nothing has been given as compensation.

“The administration has forcibly acquired our land without paying any compensation. So, we have sought the intervention of the Orissa High Court and Human Rights Commission,’said the villagers.

 

Mumbai- A Forum to Hear complaint against Cops #Goodnews


Authority to be set up at state, district level; recommendations to be binding on force

Sayli Udas Mankikar

MUMBAI: Citizens who have complaints about the high-handedness of policemen, unnecessary detention, physical abuse in custody, rape or sexual harassment or corruption will now have a forum where they can direct their grievances and get their complaints addressed.

To keep a check on severe abuse of authority by the police and secure the rights of citizens under the rule of law, the state has initiated the process of forming a police complaints authority.

“The formation of this authority will lead to a tectonic change in the functioning of the state’s police system. What is important is that the complaints authority can take suo-moto cognisance of the case and even forward a case directly to the DGP for action,” a senior government official said. MUMBAI: Citizens who have complaints about the high-handedness of policemen, unnecessary detention, physical abuse in custody, rape or sexual harassment or corruption will now have a forum where they can direct their grievances and get their complaints addressed.

In a bid to keep a check on severe abuse of authority by the police and secure the rights of citizens under the rule of law, the state government has initiated the process of forming a police complaints authority. This authority will also help release pressure off courts that are burdened by numerous litigations related to police issues.

Formed six years after the Supreme Court’s directive on police reforms in September 2006, the authority will deal with complaints against officers of all ranks. Further, it comes with teeth, as its recommendations against police officials will be binding on the agencies.

The complaints handled by the authority will be of specific in nature and include deaths in police custody, grievous hurt or injuries, rape or attempt to rape, arrest or detention without law and allegations of corruption.

The court has directed the state to form the authority by June 20, 2013.

“The formation of this authority will lead to a tectonic change in the functioning of the state’s police system. What is important is that the complaints authority can take suo-moto cognisance of the case and even forward a case directly to the DGP for action,” a senior government official said.

The state will be setting up a police complaints authority at the state level and the district level. While the state-level authority will look into complaints against officers of the rank of superintendent of police (SP) and above, the district authority will look into those against police officers up to the rank of deputy superintendent of police (DYSP).

A retired judge of the high court or Supreme Court will head the state-level authority and a district judge will chair the district panel. Both judges will be assisted by about three to five full-time members who will be retired civil servants, retired police officers or from the civil society.

 

PRESS RELEASE- Repression of people affected by Kharak Dam in Madhya Pradesh


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 
REPORT ON THE REPRESSION OF THE PEOPLE AFFECTED BY KHARAK DAM IN VILLAGE CHAUKHAND, DISTRICT KHARGONE, MADHYA PRADESH on 26th May 2013
 
TERROR IN THE VILLAGE:
 
At around 10.30 in the morning of the 26th of May 2013, a cavalcade of four large police vans filled with around 150 male and female police personnel, and several cars and jeeps and a large machine for work on the dam-site headed by Shri Jitendra Singh, SDM, Bhagwanpura arrived at Village Choukhand, which is a village on the dam site of the Kharak dam proposed to be built on Kharak river in District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh. These villagers, all adivasis, Bhils and Bhilalas, as well as those of the accompanying villages had been resisting the construction of the Kharak dam, until they are rehabilitated and resettled, and their claims are justly settled. On that morning, as the cavalcade stopped at the village, many adivasi villagers went up to the administration to talk to them about the dam, and find out the reason for the police presence. The SDM was the first to emerge from his car, however he did not talk to the people or respond to their queries in any manner. The police force got down thereafter and grouped themselves in a single file. The SDM then ordered that the villagers should be arrested and put into the vans. At this, the police brutally lathi-charged the villagers. The villagers were chased all through the village. Those in their houses were not spared as the police personnel and the SDM himself went from house to house, dragging out people. Even the small children and any others who pleaded with the administration to talk to them were not spared. Women and small children, as also school going children were brutally beaten up. During the lathi charge, the police typically held the villagers close and then hit them on their heads with their lathis. As per the villagers, the skulls of a number of villagers who were then arrested, were cracked open. Women were also brutally beaten by the male policemen, lathis inserted into their clothes, and their clothes pulled, torn and dishevelled.  Many of the male police were carrying bottles of liquor, and they would alternately take swigs of the liquor, shout and beat the villagers. Many of the female police were also drunk. As per the reports of the villagers, the SDM himself donned khakhi uniform and a hat and lathi-charged the villagers along with the police.  A large number of men and women were arrested and taken to Bhagwanpura and from there onwards to Kharone where they were reportedly placed in judicial custody, after reportedly being charged under S.151 and 353 of the IPC.
Some of incidents narrated which showed the brutality of the police are as follows:
  • Muliram s/o Bhadada, a youth from the village studying in Bhopal, beseeched the SDM saying Please do not beat us, please talk to our people. On hearing this, the police flung him on the ground saying how did you dare say this, and beating him mercilessly and dragging him on the ground, took him to the thana where he was arrested.
  • Even visitors to the village were not spared. Nathu bhai from village Bhulwania who was visiting his daughter in Chaukhand was picked up and arrested, as was Geetabai from village Khapada who was visiting her relatives in Chaukhand, and who was dragged out of her host’s house and arrested.
  • Banchabai of village Chaukhand who was inside her house with her two small children and a third suckling infant at her breast, was also hounded out of her house by the police, beaten and arrested.
  • Tudpiabai Gangaram’s two young daughters Kalibai aged 9 years and Phulbai aged 13 years, who began to cry and cling to their father Gangaram who had been hit on the head in their presence and was being taken away by the police, were also brutally beaten up by the police with lathis. By the time of the night meeting, neither of the girls had spoken or eaten anything, one had not got up from her bed, and apart from the physical hurt and inflammation of their bodies, both of them were in deep trauma.


THE DAM AND THE LAND:
The Kharak dam is an irrigation project proposed to be built on the Kharak river at the border of Districts Khargone and Badwani in Madhya Pradesh. The project is slated to affect 7 villages of Districts Khargone and Badwani, namely, Juna Bilwa, Kaniapani and Choukhand in District Khargone, and villages Kamat, Kaniapani,  Julwania and Muvasia in District Badwani. The dam is yet to receive either statutory forest clearance under S.2 of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 or environment clearance under provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Yet work on the dam has been illegally started this year by the State Government. Challenged by the adivasis, it stopped two months ago, but was resumed once more after the police action on the 26th of May 2013.
Acquisition for the project commenced in 2011 and 2012, and in July 2012, S.12 notices dated 27.07.2012 were given to some villagers, for payment of compensation under the Land Acquisition Act. However they were not given any copies of the awards which would allow them to challenge the award through references under S.18 of the LA Act in the courts. The people were told that they would be given their compensation in three installments, and if they did not take the money, they would have to forego it, and further they would be jailed and kept in jail, until the project was completed. Thus they were forced to take the compensation in an oppressive manner. These families of Choukhand and the other affected villages of District Khargone were compensated at the rate of Rs. 40,000 per acre, although reportedly, the Collector’s guideline for the village is Rs. 1,60,000 per acre for un-irrigated land and is Rs. 3,20,000 per acre for irrigated land. The actual market rates in voluntary sales are much higher. Much of this land is irrigated, which had been ignored while assessing compensation.
However around 150 families from the three Khargone villages including Village Chaukhand, who cultivated land through a common cooperative society since 1969 (through common patta dated 10.03.1969 and renewed by pavti dated 27.06.94) and whose cooperative society was disbanded in the late 90’s cultivate individual portions of these revenue lands, without title. The cultivators of the Khargone villages who are cultivating revenue lands without title have also been denied any form of compensation or rehabilitation, and were in fact told that they were not entitled for any rehabilitation. Many of the families who cultivated patta land in Village Chaukhand and the other Khargone villages also do not have their names inscribed on the pattas as Khatedars, as the land records were old, have not been updated, and does not reflect the actual cultivation status on the ground. These families were also denied any form of compensation. Persistent demands for the just settlement of their claims has not been met by the district administration.
All the four affected villages of District Badwani are under reserved forest, and the villagers there are cultivating forest land. The residents of the four villages of Badwani affected by the Kharak dam who cultivate forest lands and hold pattas for cultivation of forest land under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, and some of whose claims under the 2006 Act are also pending, were excluded from any form of compensation and rehabilitation, and have been expressly told that the Government is not required to give them any compensation.
The villagers in this area had united under the aegis of the Jagrut Adivasi Dalit Sangathan and had been agitating their issues for the last six months, and in the last two months stopped all work on the dam, until the issues related to settlement of land claims, compensation, rehabilitation, and grant of alternative land was settled. Leading activist of the organization, Ms. Madhuri Krishnaswamy  had been jailed ten 10 days ago in a case related to denial of health and birthing facilities for Adivasi women in Badwani, and is presently detained in Khargone jail. Evidently, the district administration of Khargone has found the moment and the absence of Madhuri opportune for cracking down on the Kharak dam affected adivasis.
The main findings of the team are as follows:
 
1.    The dam construction work is proceeding completely illegally, without the mandatory prior clearance under S.2 of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, and environmental clearance under provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The State Government must immediately stop all work on the project, and also discharge all tenders for the project.
2.    There was no provocation, or use of any form of verbal or physical violence by the villagers on the 26th of May 2013. The villagers tried to talk to the officers about their problems but were repulsed. On the other hand, the administration and police deliberately planned a crack-down on the villagers in order to intimidate and terrorize the villagers and break their struggle for their rights. They came prepared for this purpose and executed their plan. The use of force on the villagers who were asking for the protection and grant of their legal rights is completely unjustified.
3.    The majority of the villagers have been willfully excluded from the compensation process, and their bonafide claims and legal rights on the revenue and forest land have not been considered.
4.    Thus, villagers cultivating government revenue lands without titles since 1984 have not been considered as Bhumiswamis under the provisions of Madhya Pradesh Krishi Prayojan Ke Liye Upyog Ki Rahi Dakhal Rahit Bhoomi Par Bhoomiswami Adhikaron Ka Pradan Kiya Jana (Vishesh Upabandh) Adhiniyam, 1984, under which all persons in cultivation of government land on 2nd October 1984 were deemed Bhumiswamis under the Act. They have also not been considered for grant of Bhumiswami status for being in possession of government land, under notifications of the State Government in 1998, 2000, and 2002, for change of use of charnoi land to agricultural land.
5.    Claims under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 of many villagers cultivating forest lands are pending or are yet to be considered. No cognizance has also been taken of the families who have already received pattas under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Ousting of the adivasis before their claims are settled, or alienation of their forest land rights due to the project since the grant of land rights under the 2006 Act is not alienable under the Act, is in violation of Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
6.    Even those who have been compensated for their titled lands have been badly shortchanged, and compensation for their rich, black cotton soils, has been given at absurdly low rates and in a completely arbitrary manner, at rates which are only a fraction of the Government rates for the village and the market rates in the area. None of the villagers were able to file references under S.18 of the LA Act, in the district Courts to challenge the low rates of compensation, within 5 weeks time limit after receiving S.12 notices in July 2012. However, since they have not been given copies of the land awards as required as per judgment of the Supreme Court, this can still be done.
7.    There was no updating of the land records and settlement of claims even for the titled land despite demand by the villagers, resulting in numerous disputes in the village and among families.
8.    The State Government has not applied the State or National R&R Policy to the area or made any provision for the grant of alternative entitlements under any R&R scheme for the affected tribal population, despite ILO norms requiring land replacement for adivasis facing forced displacement.
9.    The State Government must immediately discharge the adivasi men and women from jail, remove the cases against them, punish the police and administration officials responsible for the unjustified use of force, apologize to the adivasis and also give them damages.
10.     The State Government must speak to the adivasis and their organization, and meet the bonafide, lawful and just demands of the villagers for settlement of claims, compensation and R&R.
 
Team
A team of three persons Ms. Chittaroopa Palit, Dharamdas Lohare, social activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan and Ms. Santoshi, student visited Village Chaukhand on the night of the 26th of May. Around 100 villagers gathered in a meeting at 10.30 at night in which they related the events of the day, and the back-ground of the issue. Police vans could be seen moving to and fro even during the meeting. The Adivasi villagers were very disturbed by the repression which had taken place, but were valiant, and said that they understood that the struggle for just settlement of their claims and for grant of alternative land was going to be a long haul, and they were prepared to fight for their rights. The names of the villagers who shared the events which forms the basis of this report are as follows:
1. Tudpiabai Gangaram, 2. Vairaiyabai Sakharam, 3. Karewtbai Jagdish, 4. Saklibai Chunnilal, 5. Nirma d/o Gampulal (student class XII), 6. Archana d/o Dinesh (student Class XI), 7. Kalibai Gangaram aged 9 years, 8. Kamlabai Masriya, 9. Gyanibai Sikram, 10. Kalibai Kalarsigh, 11. Vestabai Esram, 12. Shivram Tersingh, 13. Bhikla Ramlal, 14. Vimla Dhulsingh, 15. Ramdas Chattarsingh, 16. Champalal Mangilal.
 
Chittaroopa Palit                                                     Khandwa, 28th May 2013
Dharamdas Lohare
Santoshi

 

Kolkata- Cops ban ‘law-violating’ rallies in heart of city


May 26, 2013, TNN

KOLKATA: In a meeting with all political parties in the state, Kolkata Police commissioner Surajit Kar Purakayastha on Saturday announced that law-violation programmes will no longer be allowed in the city.

Opposition parties, particularly the CPM and the BJP, which have planned such programmes on May 31 and June 1, called the decision “undemocratic”.

Though the police chief cited reasons such as lack of infrastructure and the harassment caused to people, it was clear that the government wants to avoid trouble ahead of the crucial panchayat polls in the state. It was during a law-violation programme in April that SFI leader Sudipta Gupta lost his life while being hauled to the Presidency jail. Recently, a law-violation programme by the SUCI led to chaos in central parts of Kolkata. A sub-inspector was seriously injured in the violence that broke out.

According to Purakayastha, Kolkata Police does not have “adequate” infrastructure to handle law-violation programmes during which political workers are found to jostle with the police before being overpowered and herded into waiting buses to be taken to the lock-up. In most cases, the police have to use force to bring the situation under control. Though the Kolkata Police possesses water cannons and other crowd-control equipment, none of these have ever been brought to use during such programmes.

The commissioner, however, said that the ban is temporary and will be in place till the police build up adequate infrastructure. He didn’t make clear what the government has in mind so far as augmenting the police force is concerned.

“We met representatives of all major political parties and requested them to not to organize law-violation programmes,” Purakayastha said. He did not clarify whether there would be any amendment in the present law. When asked whether it a request or an order, the commissioner said that it was an instruction from the city police. In addition to the ban on law violation, the Kolkata Police also renewed its ban on the holding political meetings at Metro channel. “For long, we have been requesting political parties not to organize any programme at Metro channel as this disrupts the normal movement of traffic in the heart of the city. Today, we once again reminded all political parties about the existing ban in the Metro channel,” a senior police officer said. Sources in the police, however, said that officers were working as per instructions from the ‘top’.

The decision resulted in severe criticism from Opposition parties. “Firstly, these are not called ‘law-violation’ programmes. Members of responsible political parties simply ‘court arrest’ when the government fails to protect the interest of citizens. When they police says that it can’t handle such programmes, one wonders what it will do against people who break the law and try to get away. No wonder, the law and order situation in the state is in a mess. This is not a police decision. It is a decision taken by the state government to curb the rights of people,” said CPM leader Md Salim.

State BJP president Rahul Sinha said that the government is gradually trying to implement an ‘undeclared emergency’. “It wants to choke the Opposition‘s voice. We shall hold our programme as per schedule,” he said. West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Pradip Bhattacharya also said that his party wouldn’t abide by such instructions.

 

Police of Murshidabad planfully attacking activists of MASUM


25 May 2013

 

To

The Chairman

National Human Rights Commission

Faridkot House

Copernicus Marg

New Delhi

 

Respected Sir

 

 

 

I want to draw your attention on incidents of consecutive threatening on our District Human Rights Monitor; Mr. Azimuddin Sarkar, a resident of Village- Bardhanpur, Post Office- Murddpur, Police Station- Raninagar, District- Murshidabad. Previously, I made a complaint regarding attacks by anti social elements on the aide of local police from Raninagar Police Station of Murshidabad district on 14th October 2012, when his elder brother’ house became attacked and looted. Though, I made request for his and his family’s security and safety, but now it is evident that it was not heeded.

In recent incident, the house of Mr. Azimuddin Sarkar was attacked yesterday; 24.5.2013, but this time not by the anti- socials but the police only. Just now, I have received information that a posse of 8 police persons; all were in civil attire, not in their uniforms, attacked his house, ransacked, looted and broke open all the doors of his household, while he was not present to his home. The said police persons were identified by his son; Mr. Faruk Kamran and other eye witnesses of his neighborhood as Mr. Ajoy Pal; Sub Inspector of Raninagar and Mr. Swarup Biswas; Sub Inspector of same police station. They even informed that all others can be identified by them if produced. This atrocious and heinous act of police aggression started at 11 pm on the date and continued for next one hour. On that time, Mr. Azimuddin Sarkar was on his way to home from our office. It was reported that the police personnel came by a vehicle with registration number WB- 24 K- 7678. They forcibly entered his home by breaking the tin made entry gate and subsequently broke open the door of the room, where his wife Ms. Nazma Sarkar was fast asleep. They were astonished and shocked by the sudden presence of police and their door breaking noises. The police party asked for Mr. Azimuddin Sarkar, while the family said that he was out of home and would be back, it made the police berserk and furious, they broke open every doors of the house in search of Mr. Sarkar. In between, while one of the son asked the justification of their forcible entry, Mr. Ajoy Pal said if you ask questions, I will fire you. The police party was without any female staff, and while questioned over their looting spree by Ms. Nazma Sarkar, they hold her hands and tried to unclothe her. The daughter of Mr. Sarkar; Ms. Safinaj Nasreen, who happen to be a student of a prestigious college at Kolkata, was forcibly lifted from her bed and asked her to stand. In the melee, the police party threatened to kill another son of Mr. Sarkar; Mr. Tarik Kamran. During this incident, the police party looted, one gold bangle and one necklace from Mr. Nazma Sarkar, one gold neck chain from Ms. Safinaj, two used mobile phones and Rs. 35000 by breaking a steel almirah, the money was meant for purchase of a portion of parental land property. During the loot, the police devastated all the wooden furniture and two bicycles. The police during their destruction and looting spree, threaten the whole family by making several warnings the gist of their threats was that ask Mr. Sarkar to not teach us human rights, we can frame you in fake charges and thereafter will bash you to death and warned against making any complaints to any authorities. There are few witnesses who saw all the happenings but failed to protest due to the demonic behavior of the police party. The witnesses are: Mr. Anarul Islam; son of Late Bainuddin Sarkar, Mr. Ataur Rahaman, Ms. Selina Bibi; wife of Mr. Alamgir Seikh and Mr. Alamgirh Seikh and others.

Our experience in Murshidabad district draw us to conclude that the police and local anti socials are working in unison to check the initiatives taken to establish human rights environment. They have taken measures to intimidate, defame and threat our district level activists in three consecutive occasions in recent past, i.e, Mr. Ajimuddin Sarkar, Mr. Safikul Islam and Mr. Gopen Chandra Sharma. All the details are with the National Human Rights Commission and major international agencies has voiced their anguis over the recent attacks on MASUM’s human rights defenders at Murshidabad district.    

 

This is not an isolated incident, rather the local police- administration- BSF- anti- socials of the area are continuously trying to create hurdles to the activities on protection and promotion of human rights. In this regard I have made several complaints to you whenever such attacks were perpetrated on our activists, but till date no visible actions have been taken, which in other hand encouraged the errant.

 

As the district police of Murshidabad, concurrently trying to diminish the human rights endeavors to shield their involvements in corrupt and atrocious deeds, which is contravene of legal guarantees of the citizenry, has started an all out attacks on our activities and activists, and devoid of any human rights practice must be cautioned and suggested for more prudence by your Commssion.

 

In this context, I demand for:-

 

1.    Immediate intervention over the issue and guarantee of ultimate safety and security of Mr. Azimuddin Sarkar and his family 

2.    Protection of Mr. Sarkar according to the International Conventions on Human Rights Defenders

3.    The criminal acts of Mr. Ajoy Pal and Mr. Swarup Biswas with other police personnel must be investigated by an independent agency and subsequent booking in appropriate sections of penal provision

4.    Mr. Azimuddin Sarkar must duly compensated for the financial loss, he incurred due to police loot and defamation and disrepute caused by raiding his residence in midnight

 

 

Sincerely Yours

 

 

(Kirity Roy)

Secretary


Kirity Roy
Secretary
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
(MASUM)
&
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
40A, Barabagan Lane (4th Floor)
Balaji Place
Shibtala
Srirampur
Hooghly
PIN- 712203
Tele-Fax – +91-33-26220843
Phone- +91-33-26220844 / 0845
e. mail : kirityroy@gmail.com
Web: www.masum.org.in

 

When Cops Rape … and Nothing Happens #Vaw


Police officers who sexually assault women rarely face the consequences of their actions. How can that be changed?
May 23, 2013  |

 

When 20-year-old Sarah Smith got into an accident with a motorcyclist in 2008, it was nothing but bad news—she was driving with a suspended license. It got worse. When police showed up, officer Adam Skweres took Smith aside and implied that he could either make it look like the accident was her fault or give the other party a ticket. It depended on whether she’d agree to perform unspecified sexual favors. Skweres also threatened that if she told anyone, he’d “make sure you never walk, talk, or speak again,” and looked at his gun. That scared her enough that she immediately reported what he’d done to the police, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Another four years passed before the department arrested Skweres and suspended him without pay, and then only because he tried to rape a woman while on duty. By that time, Smith had moved out of the city for fear of running into him again. Three other women told stories similar to Smith’s, and on March 11 Skewers pleaded guilty to bribery, indecent assault, and other charges.

Stories of cops propositioning, harassing, and sexually assaulting women turn up every week around the country. February 18 saw the arrest of Houston officer Victor Chris for allegedly telling two women he would tear up their traffic tickets in exchange for sexual favors, according to the Houston Chronicle. Police chargedSergio Alvarez, an officer from West Sacramento, California, on February 25 with allegedly kidnapping and raping six women while on duty. On March 1, Denver cop Hector Paez got eight years in prison for driving a woman he’d arrested to a secluded spot and forcing her to perform oral sex.

“Police sexual misconduct is common, and anyone who maintains it isn’t doesn’t get it,” says retired Seattle police chief Norm Stamper, author of the book Breaking Rank.

Since no one is investing resources in learning how many victims are out there, we’re left with estimates and news accounts. As part of a 2008 study, former police officer Tim Maher, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, asked 20 police chiefs whether police sexual misconduct was a problem; 18 responded in the affirmative. The 13 chiefs willing to offer estimates thought an average of 19 percent of cops were involved—if correct, that translates to more than 150,000 police officers nationwide. An informal effort by the Cato Institute in 2010 to track the number of police sexual-misconduct cases just in news stories counted 618 complaints nationwide that year, 354 of which involved forcible nonconsensual sexual activity like sexual assault or sexual battery.

The news steadily filtering in from around the country has forced police leaders nationally to take notice. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women funded the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to develop a guide for police chiefs, issued in 2011, that encourages them to adopt specific policies in their departments to prevent police sexual misconduct. The DOJ funded the report after noting “recurring accusations of sexual offenses implicating law enforcement officers.”

Two years later, the IACP can’t tell whether its recommendations are making any difference.

No one keeps data on the number of victims of police sexual abuse, and the IACP says it can’t track the number of police departments that have adopted its recommendations. “We think there’s a good-faith effort by police departments out there to be more accountable,” says the IACP’s John Firman. But how would the IACP know, given that there’s no data on the number of victims or departments with such policies? Replies Firman, “Well, we could say the opposite—we don’t see a groundswell from people who are protesting their police departments for this kind of activity.”

If there’s no pushback, one reason may be that the victims fear retaliation. “Women are terrified and won’t come forward,” says Diane Wetendorf, an author and advocate who has worked with victims for many years. Even in cases that don’t involve cops, only about a third of rapes and less than half of sexual assaults are ever reported, according to a 2004 DOJ study. The number of women reporting sex crimes involving cops likely is far lower. “Can you imagine how much harder it is to report abuse by a police officer?” asks New York City civil-rights attorney Andrea Ritchie, co-coordinator of Streetwise and Safe, a program trying to change the city’s policing practices toward LGBTQ youth of color. One tactic of abusive cops makes that especially true—extorting sexual favors from women who fear they could be charged with a crime, in exchange for leniency. Victims think that if they report what happened, their favorable treatment will disappear.

Advocates say only a radical shift—stronger federal laws that force better oversight of local police departments—will prevent more cases like Sarah Smith’s. Ritchie, for example, wants to see the federal 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act—which established “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by prison and jail staff—expanded to apply to anyone in police custody, not just those in lockups.

States also need to communicate with each other about cops who have been fired or allowed to resign for sexual misconduct. That’s not happening now—only 34 states contribute to the National Decertification Index, first implemented in 2000. That database holds the names of officers who have lost their certification for any type of misbehavior, including sexual misconduct, which allows police departments that are hiring to screen out bad-apple candidates. But without a national database to which all states contribute, the decertification system nationally will never work as it should. “It’s just nuts that we haven’t come together as a society on this,” says Roger Goldman, a law professor at the Saint Louis School University School of Law who’s an expert on police-licensing laws and has worked for 30 years to convince states to contribute to the database.

Maher thinks it’s time to create a mandatory federal database. In 1996, in fact, Senator Ben Nelson and Representative Harry Johnston, both Democrats, introduced bills to create a national registry of officers whose certification had been revoked. Both bills died in committee, in part because opponents said there was a lack of evidence that unfit officers were moving between states, notes Goldman in a 2001 paper in the St. Louis University Law Journal. That was the last attempt of its kind.

Advocates like Wetendorf think the only way to change the boys-will-be-boys police culture is to hire more women cops. Today women represent about 13 percent of the force, and that figure is growing at less than half a percent per year, according to the IACP. A report last year from the Rand Corporation said police departments appear to be doing too little to recruit women into the force. It also found that police hiring tests may be biased against women and that police culture may be marginalizing and discriminating against woman officers. Meanwhile, female officers continue to file discrimination and sexual-harassment lawsuits and are winning the majority of them, according to the IACP.

Activists have tried to draw attention to the issue in international forums, says Ritchie. In December 2007, 38 organizations submitted a report to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination documenting ongoing incidents of police sexual assault and harassment. They made the case that the federal government’s failure to address the issue violates its obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The groups submitted similar reports to two other U.N. committees.

Local grassroots groups also continue to organize. After a woman accused two Chicago officers of sexually assaulting her in March 2011, the group Campaign Against Police Sexual Assault held demonstrations in support of her during the subsequent court hearings. In Oregon, the group Portland Copwatch monitors and documents incidents of local cops involved in sexual harassment and assault. And Ritchie says that after years of talking to New York City’s police department about the issue, the department has finally told her it’s open to a conversation about developing a specific sexual misconduct policy—which is particularly important in a city where young women are summarily stopped and frisked by male cops.

Without those efforts and more, what Stamper says is needed—“a profound, radical change in policing”—isn’t likely. And thousands of abusive cops will continue to intimidate and take advantage of women they’re supposed to protect