#India- Home Minister’s visit to Raipur hospital costs woman her life #Vaw #WTFnews


By Sahar Khan in Raipur, mailtoday.in

A woman, who was rushed to Ram Krishna Care hospital in Raipur following a massive heart attack, was detained at the hospital gate by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s securitymen.

Her relatives said they struggled to get medical attention for her failing which she died at the gate.

Shinde was in the hospital to visit the people injured in the Maoist attack in the Bastar district on May 25.

The family further alleged that they desperately made phone calls to whosoever possible to explain the medical emergency but they were turned a deaf ear.

Raipur superintendent of police O. P. Pal, however, said no complaint has been lodged yet in this regard. “ There is a clear instruction that no ambulance should be stopped during any VIP visit.

We will look into the issue if any complaint reaches us,” he said.

A local media report quoting the family of the deceased woman said there was no blockage of roads after the minister’s cavalcade reached the hospital but the security personnel denied the entry through the gate.

The hospital management, on the other hand said, since several VIPs are visiting the hospital after the Maoist attack special arrangements have been made to ensure that patients do not suffer.

Director of the hospital, Dr Sandeep Dave said the woman was already dead when brought to the hospital and no complaint was lodged.

In November 2009, kidney patient, S. P. Verma, died during PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to PGIMER hospital in Chandigarh to attend a convocation ceremony.

Verma’s family claimed he was denied timely treatment after securitymen allegedly kept diverting his vehicle.

In July 2011, injured policeman Dharmendra Kumar died at the emergency gate of Hallett Hospital in Kanpur, after being denied entry by the Special Protection Group deployed for Rahul Gandhi, who was to arrive to meet victims of the Kalka Mail derailment.

 

PRESS RELEASE- Fact Finding Report ‘ Guilty Until Proven Innocent’ on Unlawful Police Activities in North Bastar


CHHATTISGARH LOK SWATANTRYA SANGATHAN

(PEOPLES UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES, CHHATTISGARH)

___________________________________________________________________________

                                                                                                                                                                Date 20th May 2013

To: The Editor/ Chief Reporter

PRESS RELEASE: FOR FAVOUR OF PUBLICATION

A team consisting of eminent activists and lawyers went for a fact finding mission organized by PUCL-Chhattisgarh to the Edanar and Malmeta Villages of the Edanar Panchayat, Kanker District and the Anjrel Village of Khadkagaon Panchayat, Narayanpur District of North Bastar, on 18th and 19th April 2013.  The purpose of the mission was to investigate and document the unlawful police activities that were exposed by Edanar villagers during a statewide camp by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) conducted on 12th April, 2013 in Raipur.   The representation by Edanar village focuses mainly on a police rampage that happened in Edanar and Malmeta Villages in which six villagers were assaulted, two families were robbed, and one innocent man was arrested, and remains in jail till date, after being accused of aiding Naxalites.

However, the 23rd January incident is only a small part of a longer history of militarization and unlawful police activities in this region.  In the Edanar Panchayat (P.S. Tadoki), security forces consisting of CRPF and BSF, accompanied by local police and Special Police Officers (SPOs), conduct combing operations twice a month in which homes are looted and villagers are assaulted, threatened, labeled as “Naxalites”, arrested, charged with very serious offences and some of them even killed. In the Khadkagaon Panchayat (P.S. Narayanpur), villagers are routinely terrorized and even evicted from their homes by local SPOs, despite the Supreme Court order declaring SPOs unconstitutional.

The team documented over 20 such incidents of unlawful activities in both panchayats.  The report also examines the legal issues associated with and the overall context in which these violent attacks have occurred.  It gives special importance to the broader impact of the ongoing militarization of the region including the six BSF camps which are already stationed in Kanker, and the pending construction of 22 paramilitary barracks by the Bhilai Steel Plant to protect the functioning of its Raoghat iron ore mine.

The team releases the attached report,  Guilty Until Proven Innocent :  A Fact Finding Report on Unlawful Police Activities in Two Panchayats of North Bastar, Chhattisgarh with the hope that the media would highlight the situation of the people living in these areas, understand the larger political and economic context of the ongoing violence, and strike a well-educated public discourse around the issue.   We strongly urge correspondents to visit the area and write firsthand accounts of the issues faced by the local villagers.

Team members include: Shishir Dikshit (Lawyer, Janhit Legal Center), Lakhan Singh (People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Chhattisgarh), Somdutt Upadhayay (Lawyer, Bilaspur Social Forum), Tathagata Sengupta (People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Chhattisgarh), Samantha Agarwal (Sanhati), Pinki Verma (Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha-Mazdoor Karyakarta Samiti), and Keshav Sori (Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan). The following report has been jointly prepared by the members of the fact finding team.

For further information contact: Adv. Sudha Bharadwaj (9926603877)

Sincerely,

Sudha Bharadwaj

General Secretary, PUCL-Chhattisgarh

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

Chhattisgarh – Letter to NHRC on the denial of rights to political prisoners at Raipur Central Jail


Sanhati

May 8, 2013

by Prashant Rahi

This is to bring to your notice the unrepentant high-handedness of the authorities of the Raipur Central Jail in Chhattisgarh as regards thedenial of fundamental and human rights to two of their under-trialinmates whom I visited there last week, both senior, well-educated citizens of the country.

It was on April 26, 2013 that I visited these two under-trials with due permission from the Jail Superintendent. One of them is called Purnendu Mukherji, a resident of Kolkata (aged 70 years), and the other, Varanasi Subrahmaniam, a resident of Andhra Pradesh (aged 57 years). Both have spent about 3 years in various jails of the country ever since they were shown arrested in Bihar. To the best of my knowledge, they have been framed up in cases related to a violent incident reported some time ago from the Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh, which may have been an outcome of the ongoing civil war in that state between the Maoist-led forces on the one hand and the paramiltary and police forces on the other. These two political prisoners, whom I visited, appear to have been falsely implicated in the case/s related to this incident simply because they were among the alleged Maoist leaders already incarcerated in some other part of the country, and hence vulnerable to be charged by the Chhattisgarh police, hard-pressed as they were to affix the blame for the untoward incident on one civilian suspect or the other. While Purnendu Mukherji’s trial proceedings arew ell underway at the Rajnandgaon District and Sessions Court, Varanasi Subrahmaniam (who was recently transferred early this year to Raipur Central Jail from District Jail, Warangal, AP) has not yet been served any charge-sheet in this matter. The two are charged under various sections of the IPC, such as waging war against the state and sedition as well as the provisions of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2008.

As per the security provisions for such so-called high-profile prisoners, my meeting with the two was arranged in the office of the Additional Jail Superintendent, to which neither did my prisoner friends nor I have any objection. However, the mere seriousness of the charges against these prisoners – itself a very common occurrence for the hundreds and thousands of tribals and activists thrown behind bars in that state – cannot be allowed to be made a ground for the denial of their fundamental and human rights. My objections on this count are as follows:

* The jail official, in whose office my two prisoner friends and I were seated during my visit, remained ensconced within earshot of our conversation, and was listening throughout. This violated the stipulated norms for prison visits by family members and friends and legal advisers.

* Other prisoners who worked in the Jail office were also well within earshot.

* In addition, an official in plain clothes, who did not work in the jail, but was very obviously an informer or intelligence official of the very police, who had fabricated the case against my two prisoner friends, seated himself on a chair right next to me, even closer to us than the jail officials and the other prisoners.

Personally, I found such eavesdropping a serious infringement upon my own civil right to converse freely with my friends and ask about their well-being and about the details of the cases foisted upon them. I did raise objections there and then, stressing that agents of the very same state that had foisted the case could not be allowed to overhear our conversation, and that there should be a sufficient distance of a few metres between us and any official or any other person for that matter, such that we could be seen and observed clearly for security reasons, but our conversation could not be heard. Such pleas, however, went unheeded within the premises of the prison with the officials not even batting an eyelid. This may also be perceived as an outright denial to my friends of their right to a free and fair trial. If officials of the state can be allowed to overhear every aspect of the preparations and mutual discussions of the defence side, then how can the accused expect to convey in confidence their defence points and arguments to their visiting lawyers or to friends like me who would coordinate between them and their defence lawyers? This is especially so in the case of these two prisoners who are total strangers to Raipur and Rajnandgaon, and badly need help from friends like me to co-ordinate their legal defence. The few relatives who visit them live hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away, and hence cannot pay regular visits to the jail and court.

The jail officials allowed us only 20 minutes, with all the interruptions and interventions owing to the unwarranted eavesdropping by the jail and police officials and other prisoners.

Among the instances of denial of basic human rights to these two prisoner friends of mine, which were brought to my notice during those 20 minutes, the following are liable to be considered as serious violations:

1. The jail officials refused to let them read a copy of the Jail Manual. It seemed as if the officials did not want to inform the prisoners of the officially laid out rules and regulations along with their own rights and obligations. Not providing copies of the Jail Manual was a common ploy adopted by the authorities to remain unquestioned while putting up a high-handed and arbitrary behaviour. My prisoner friends told me in front of the jail official present that they had been asking for the Jail Manual for several months, yet the official maintained his stoic refusal to comply with their request.

2. In most Jail Manuals, prisoners are said to possess the right to write and receive letters. In this jail, however, I was told by my prisoner friends (with the Jail official silently listening on) that letters sent to them by family members were not delivered. Varanasi Subrahmaniam said that he had once asked for a message to be wired through telegram to his lawyer in Andhra Pradesh, but no such facility was granted. Similarly, speed post facility even at one’s own cost was denied even if the matter concerned some urgent, legal issue. The same prisoner friend of mine further complained that a letter, which he wanted to send to seek some pertinent information under the RTI, 2005, could not be sent due to this high-handed attitude of the officials.

3. An elder brother of Varanasi Subrahmaniam, who visits him once in a month or two, had during his last visit subscribed to the reputed newspaper, The Hindu on the latter’s behalf. However, the jail authorities had neither co-operated nor allowed him to procure copies of this newspaper. Even such innocuous reading material was flatly denied.

4. The usual jail newspaper when circulated into the barracks of these two prisoners would often be found to be heavily censored. Even such news items that did not pose any threat to the maintenance of order in the jail and did not directly impact its security would be invariably cut up. Especially with prisoners, who have been detained for political reasons or those who have certain political inclinations and beliefs, denial of the right to read all that he or she may wish to read from registered newspapers, magazines and books openly available in the market would amount to outright denial of his or her right to information and knowledge.

5. Even serious books that could be food for thought for anyone who may be concerned with the betterment of our society are not allowed as reading material for these two prisoners.

6. Varanasi Subrahmaniam is further not allowed to read in his mother tongue, Telugu.

7. Writing materials such as blank papers and other permissible stationery items are also not provided in the course of normal routine.

8. Apart from the above instances of the denial of fundamental and human rights that seemed part and parcel of the normal manner of administration at this prison, the septuagenarian among the two, Purnendu Mukherji told me that he was suffering from a number of ailments, some of which are quite serious and needed urgent investigation and treatment at an appropriate advanced referral centre outside the state of Chhattisgarh. The ailments he is currently suffering from include chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disease, arthritis, hernia, spinal problems and gastric trouble. A special diet, as may be permissible, was also required for him.

At the end of my visit, I tried to appeal to the Additional Jail Superintendent, who was overseeing my visit, in the hope that my prisoner friends would be accorded human treatment, especially as no crime was yet proven to have been perpetrated by them. However, I soon realized that my appeal fell on deaf ears, and I was left with no option but let this apex watchdog of the state of human rights in our country, as also the world at large,know what transpires within the underbelly of our criminal justice system, namely jails like the one at Raipur.

I urge you to please help restore the rights of the two prisoners whom I visited on April 26.I am forwardinga copy of this letter for the sake of information to the Jail Superintendent, Raipur Central Jail, and to some concerned civil liberties and democratic rights activists in the country.

 

Chhattisgarh PUCL’s Memorandum to the NHRC


To

The Hon’ble Chairman,

National Human Rights Commission

Camp Raipur.

Sub:   Regarding the Human Rights situation in Chhattisgarh – a Note by the         Chhattisgarh PUCL

Sir,

First of all we welcome the fact that the National Human Rights Commission has, in its present sitting at Raipur, not only taken up several extremely serious cases of human rights violations to which the State Government had miserably failed to respond to so far, but has also invited various non-governmental organizations to share their experiences and suggestions.

On behalf of the Chhattisgarh PUCL, being the Chhattisgarh State Branch of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, we would like to place on record, along with a copy of “Chhattisgarh me Manav Adhikar ki Haqeekat” – a compilation of our Reports over the past two years (henceforth referred to as our Report), the following note delineating some of the serious aspects of the human rights situation in the state, which we believe require deserve the urgent attention of the National Human Rights Commission:-

Aspects of the Human Rights Situation in Chhattisgarh

1.       Widespread displacement of peasants and adivasis from livelihood resources:-

On account of a large number of MOUs (121 as on 30.03.2011 as per the Chhattisgarh government website) to set up power plants, steel plants and cement plants, as well as the grant of a large number of Prospecting and Mining Leases (already more than 2 lakh acres have been covered under 354 MLs as on 30.03.2011),  a large scale transfer of agricultural lands, commons and other livelihood resources – particularly forest lands and water (both surface and ground water) – is occurring from the peasants and adivasis (who enjoyed these earlier both privately and collectively) to private corporate entities. While this phenomenon is visible all across this mineral rich state, it is particularly acute in the districts of Raigarh, Sarguja, Janjgir-Champa and Korba. This is causing a crisis of livelihood among a vast rural population, intensifying earlier trends of migration to brick kilns, human trafficking and other forms of bondedness.

In carrying out acquisitions of land the State Government is misusing its powers of eminent domain in the name of “Public Purpose” whereas the reports of the CAG of the state clearly indicate that in granting such largesse corruption is occurring on a large scale, and private companies are gaining at considerable loss to the state exchequer. The case of allotment of coal blocks is an example in point where the spirit of the Directive Principles of State Policy is being violated.

The legal provisions designed to protect agriculturists and tribals are being systematically violated, bypassed or turned into an empty formality. This is particularly true of the provisions for mandatory consultation with the Gram Sabha under the “Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas Act” (PESA Act) in the Scheduled Areas. Similarly the provisions for making objections under Section 5A of the Land Acquisition Act are circumvented by misuse of the provisions for urgent acquisition under Section 17 of the Act.  Despite the law being clear that the consent of both owner and occupier are mandatory for entry into private land for mining by a company (other than a government company under the Coal Bearing Areas Acquisition Act), the State acts on behalf of the private company to present the farmers with a fait accompli of having to accept compensation as if in the case of acquisition.

Almost in all affected villages there have been protests, some sporadic and short lived, others more prolonged and determined, but almost all have faced state repression. The leaders of the protests and often large numbers of villagers have been victims of malicious prosecution by powerful corporates in which the local police and administration have been hand-in-glove. The Chhattisgarh PUCL has documented a few such cases of malicious prosecution of farmers’ leaders, trade unionists and environmental activists at Pages 60-65 of its Report. An extreme example of this is the case of the murderous attempt on the life of environmental activist Ramesh Agrawal at Raigarh by persons associated with the Jindal Steel and Power Limited.

2.       Increasing attacks on dalit communities:-

In the aforesaid scenario, as the pressure on land mounts, we find repeated instances of targeted and brutal eviction of dalit families. PUCL has documented at Page 58-60 of our Report one such stark representative case of 34 dalit families of Village Chichour Umariya, district Raigarh brutally evicted from generations-old occupation of forest land (for which forest rights applications were pending) by the dominant caste community. Even more serious in this case was the absolute failure of constitutional mechanisms to bring relief either through a Writ Petition in the High Court or by a complaint to the State Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. Private as well as state violence against dalits has been on the increase. PUCL and other human rights groups had also taken up the case of custodial torture of young dalit workers belonging to Village Lailunga, district Raigarh culminating in the death of one, which is reported at Pages 27-31 of our Report. Despite detailed statements by the victims and their families, neither the enquiry of the DSP under the SC-ST (Prevention of) Atrocities Act nor the Magisterial Enquiry has resulted in any action taken against the culprit private persons or policemen.

3.       Conditions of Industrial workers and Contract teachers (Shikshakarmis):-

Chhattisgarh accounts for the highest number of industrial accidents per lakh of workers in the entire country. In the large and ever increasing number of industrial establishments in the state, the labour laws are violated with impunity, 12 hour work day is the norm and even minimum wages – which are grossly inadequate – are not paid. Even permanent, perennial and core production activity is carried out by contract workers who are not even given statutory proof of employment. Precariousness of employment results in extremely poor unionization. Compliance with the ESI and Provident Fund Acts is poor. Recently in the Ambuja Cement Factory at Village Rawaan, district Baloda Bazar (now a unit of Swiss multinational Holcim), the collapse of fly ash hoppers due to gross negligence in design and maintenance of buildings resulted in the death of five workers literally buried in hot cement ash in a confined space. (A fact finding Report by the Building Wood Workers International, New Trade Union Initiative Federation and local unions is available.)

Nearly 2 lakh Shikshakarmis (contract teachers ostensibly employed by the Panchayati Raj institutions) were on strike recently for their legitimate demands of absorption as regular teachers in the Education Department as in fact mandated by the Right to Education Act and the principle of “equal pay for equal work”. 17 teachers and their family members committed suicide/ died unnatural deaths during the agitation in the course of which tens of thousands of teachers were suspended, dismissed, cane charged and arrested.

4.       Jail deaths:-

Chhattisgarh again tops the states in the proportion of overcrowding in its jails, which house prisoners to the extent of between two and three times their capacity.

The PUCL recently filed RTI applications with regard to deaths in jails and discovered shocking facts. At Page 78-81 of our Report, for instance are the details revealed by Central Jail Bilaspur. We see that:-

a)       All 11 deaths were of undertrials, and three of them were held in preventive detention (151 or 107/116 of the Criminal Procedure Code) when they died in jail.

b)       The caste composition of the 11 dead prisoners was – 7 SC, 1 ST, 2 OBC, 1 Muslim.

c)       6 of them died within a short time of being admitted into jail ( 5 days, 16 days, 3 days, 2           days, 2 days, 8 days) which is indicative of either being admitted with serious injuries or           having being subjected to ill treatment in jail.

d)       One died owing to the barrack roof having collapsed and he having sustained head injuries.

e)       In all cases the nature of illness/ cause of death as per the Medical Officer was “serious”.

The documents obtained from Central Jail Jagdalpur show that deaths due to severe anaemia (3.5 grams or 5.0 grams of Haemoglobin) was the commonest cause. Usually blood transfusion could not be arranged in a timely manner and there is nothing on record to show that any efforts were made to contact the family to find a blood donor.

5.       Violence against women:-

Trafficking of young women for work as domestic servants in the metropolises and also in prostitution has been widely reported from the districts of Jashpur and Sarguja and Advocate Sevati Panna, who is also an active member of the Chhattisgarh PUCL, has conducted meticulous research in exposing the so-called “placement agencies”.

The recent cases that came to light regarding sexual abuse of young adivasi girls in State run Ashrams/ hostels has now also been verified by the National Commission of Protection of Child Rights.

Violence against women takes on an even more serious dimension in conflict areas, where it has been observed internationally and also elsewhere in our country that sexual violence is used as a means to subjugate a population. Even today the affidavits of 99 women alleging rape by SPOs, Salwa Judumm and the security forces, which are filed before the Supreme Court in the Nandini Sundar and Kartam Joga cases (challenging the constitutionality of Salwa Judum) remain to be acted upon.

6.       Large number of adivasi undertrials languishing in Bastar jails:-

There are a large number of poor adivasis languishing in the jails of the Bastar region. A recent estimate of the number of undertrials in three of these jails is as follows

Name of Jail Capacity No. of convicts No. of undertrials
Dantewada 250 4 577
Kanker 65 8 217
Jagdalpur 648 573 1120
Total 963 585 1914
963 Convicts + Undertrials  = 2,499

While we can understand and appreciate the complex conditions under which the courts and jails would be functioning in this region, we are concerned at repeated complaints that a large number of these adivasis are being implicated in serious cases without the concerned magistrate exercising his/her judicial discretion in an independent manner. This has resulted in thousands of ordinary villagers, routinely picked up in searching operations, being incarcerated under serious charges. Once, being implicated in a serious offence, and particularly a “Naxal Offence”, the undertrials are not produced in the courts for long periods of time, on account of there not being “sufficient police guard”. Owing to this the trial does not proceed for years together. Out of economic difficulty and for fear of harassment, family members of the undertrials are unable to visit them in jail. Particularly in situations of physical and mental ailments this makes the undertrials even more vulnerable.

Since “Naxal undertrials” are only kept in Central Jails, owing to overcrowding, many of them of them are transferred to Durg or Raipur Central Jails, where they are even more inaccessible, and too far away to be taken to court regularly. PUCL had been sent a list of 79 undertrials facing trials in Kondagaon who were sent to Durg Jail (more than 300 km away) and who had petitioned the Chief Justice of Chhattisgarh High Court in 2011 regarding their long incarceration without trial. One undertrial from amongst them Sukdas (32 years) died in jail on 1st February 2010.

Most of the adivasi undertrials are dependent on legal aid lawyers. However more often than not, the legal aid lawyers never go to meet the client or seek instructions regarding the case. Often they are careless in their conduct of cases and are amenable to pressures from the police or prosecution. The vast majority of adivasi undertrials speak only adivasi languages i.e. – Gondi, Halbi etc., however it is shocking that even now Courts in the Bastar region do not have official interpreters/ translators and the adivasis are unable to communicate with the Officers of the Court or otherwise effectively intervene in the judicial process.

On 12th January 2011, 379 adivasi undertrials in Dantewada Jail, alleged to be “Naxalites”, went on hunger strike saying that they had been held falsely, their trials were not being conducted and that they be released on bail.

It is unfortunate that the Nirmala Buch Committee, created in the wake of the abduction of Collector Alex Paul Menon, has neither been able to carry out a judicial review of adivasi cases nor conduct a fact finding mission to find out the actual circumstances of arrest of the large number of undertrials.

Another disturbing aspect of the functioning of the criminal justice system in Bastar is that political opponents or other “inconvenient” persons can easily be implicated in “Naxal offences” thus ensuring that they would be put away behind bars for several years. Page 77 of our Report has a list of all the activists of the Communist Party of India, a registered national political party contesting elections, incarcerated including Kartam Joga who was a Petitioner in the Petition filed in the Supreme Court challenging the modus operandi and the atrocities committed by the Salwa Judum, and was acquitted after being in jail for the past 3 years.

7.       Fake encounters and police excesses in the name of the anti- Naxal operations and failure of the constitutional response:-

Page 7-27 of our Report carries extracts of our Fact Finding Report titled “Just a Little Collateral Damage” which concerned four cases of alleged encounters in areas outside the Bastar region, namely Village Ledgidipa, district Mahasamund; Village Kade, district Rajnandgaon; Jamul, district Durg and Village Sawargaon in the bordering district of Maharashtra and which we found clearly to be cases of fake encounters. The Magisterial Enquiries announced in all the cases appear to have been routinely carried out only to support the police versions of events, and despite our finding that in all the cases local persons were vociferous in their allegations, their versions have never been recorded.

Page 31-36 contains the Fact finding Report of the Chhattigarh Bachao Andolan into the murder of a minor girl Meena Khalkho in Sarguja by the police and security forces in July 2011, again claiming her to be a Naxalite. The Judicial Enquiry announced has not even begun, though again, the family members have been brave enough to submit their affidavits. Similarly an investigation into an alleged encounter at Village Harri, district Jashpur, revealed that the police and security forces had manhandled and beaten ordinary villagers and had been rewarded for their “bravery in Naxal encounter”. The unaccounted funds allotted to Naxal affected police stations and to Naxal- affected districts seem to be an incentive to claim Naxal activity even where there is none.

Page 46-52 contains the Fact Finding Report of the Co-ordination of Democratic Rights Organisation into the fake encounter which occurred on 27-28 June 2012 in the clearing between Villages Sarkeguda, Rajpenta and Kottaguda in district Beejapur. The Magistrate conducting the Enquiry turned down the villagers who had come to depose before him. The Notification for Judicial Enquiry signed in November 2012 was notified in December 2012, and this Notification was not even communicated to the concerned villages. It was only when lawyers associated with PUCL contacted the villagers that they came to know of the Judicial Enquiry. The Terms of Reference made to the Judicial Enquiry Commission have, perhaps deliberately, mixed up this obvious case of fake encounter with two other cases of possibly actual encounters in Village Chimlipenta and Village Silger, both of district Sukma on the same day, to which the villagers have objected. Although the villagers have filed affidavits, the Enquiry does not appear to have started in earnest. In the meantime two villagers arrested from the spot of the encounter continue to languish in jail as “Naxals” and the victims of the encounter have had a string of cases put upon them showing them to also have antecedents of “Naxal cases”, and this includes the 12 year old bright student Kaka Rahul.

A case filed in the High Court in regard to the Singavaram fake encounter and demanding a CBI Enquiry remains pending even after about 6 years, while another filed in the Supreme Court in regard to the killings in Village Gompad also remains pending for the past 3 years. Thus, the people of Bastar have continuously been denied constitutional remedies, which has accentuated their alienation.

The PUCL received by post in the year 2011 a letter from a journalist in Bastar enclosing a list of 135 villagers alleged to be killed during Operation Green Hunt between January 2009 and April 2010. Many of the incidents narrated could be correlated with newspaper reports and some news of protests by villagers. However, we have not been able, through our own investigation, to verify these serious allegations, mainly because there has been a denial of physical access to the entire Bastar division to concerned citizens from other parts of Chhattisgarh or India over the past 3-4 years. This denial has been systematic – whether to an All India Women‘s Team who were trying to meet women who had filed complaints of rape against SPOs (November 2009); or to Medha Patkar, Sandeep Pandey and other members of the NAPM who were going to join activist Himanshu Kumar in a public hearing in Dantewada to which the Union Home Minister had been invited; or to a team of Gandhians who were on a Peace March (May 2010) including Shri Banwarilal Sharma and Swami Agnivesh who subsequently made efforts for talks with the Maoists. The modus operandi of such denial has been through the mobilization of SPOs and Salwa Judum camp inmates who have organized demonstrations and brickbatted the teams. Individual researchers, lawyers, film makers and journalists have been detained, intimidated or otherwise ―persuaded to leave Dantewada. Even the CBI has not been spared. The acts of burning of the huts of adivasis in Morpalli, Tadmetla and Timmapuram, in regard to which the Supreme Court had, in the course of the Salwa Judum case directed CBI Enquiry, could not be carried out by the CBI, as per their application in the Court, owing to an attack by Chhattisgarh Auxiliary Force (into which the SPOs have been absorbed)!

8.       The civil war in Bastar is creating a grave humanitarian crisis:-

The districts of the erstwhile Bastar division in Southern Chhattisgarh are now undisputedly the arena of a civil war and also the region where Operation Green Hunt, as it is still referred to by the police and security forces in Chhattisgarh despite denials by the Union Home Minster, is been carried out with the greatest ferocity. The already heavy deployment of security forces is being continuously reinforced, now the Army has a training camp here and even helicopters of the AIF are being pressed into service. Almost every day there are reports of ambushes and land mine blasts by Naxalites killing security forces; and reports of searching and area domination exercises by security forces with considerable number of Naxalites being killed in encounters and also a very large number of arrests. SPOs and police

informers who are being recruited in hundreds are being targeted by Naxalites.

What is of great concern are the repeated reports and complaints of thousands of adivasis fleeing these areas in several waves since 2005. Indeed at page 39-46 of our Report is a joint write-up of different human rights groups including PUCL into the serious conditions of internally displaced adivasis in Andhra Pradesh. The recommendation of the NHRC in the Enquiry conducted on the directions of the Supreme Court in the Salwa Judum Case, that the displaced villagers be rehabilitated back in their villages, has not been acted upon at all by the State. On the contrary, those NGOs which were trying to assist such resettlement were severely victimized. The  Ashram of Himanshu Kumar, who is also one of the Vice Presidents of the Chhattisgarh PUCL, was demolished and two activists associated with him – Koparam Kunjam and Sukhnath Oyami – active in rehabilitating the adivasis of 10-15, were arrested under the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act. Sukhnath was finally acquitted after several years in jail and Kopa Kunjam had to obtain bail from the Supreme Court. The Sarkeguda village was also one such rehabilitated village. Indeed it appears that apart from the counter insurgency strategy of clearing the villages to bring the adivasis to roadside camps, there is a ground clearing motive, possibly connected with mining since 7443 hectares of land in Kanker,  Narayanpur and Dantewada alone have been given out in prospecting leases to various private companies as per the Government website.

Another issue of grave concern is that with the withdrawal of educational and health services of the State as well as ration shops from the so-called “Naxal” stronghold areas, into which a large proportion of the population has fled, a situation has arisen in which several lakh adivasis have been automatically “outlawed”. This population is being deprived of basic needs. Anti Naxal operations in this area could result in a virtual genocide and killings of unarmed civilians and non-combatants on a large scale. Additionally the State programme of bringing children to study in roadside hostels and ashrams and separating them from their families is repeating the “historical mistakes” committed by the Australian government on its indigenous peoples for which the Australian Prime Minister recently rendered a public apology.

The democratic voices in Chhattisgarh have been repeatedly demanding that the way to de-escalate violence in the Bastar region would be to rehabilitate people in their villages, restore the civil administration and whole heartedly comply with the Forest Rights Act and PESA Act to give the adivasis of the area substantial rights. Decisions to carry out large scale mining and set up industries in that area can only be effective if carried out with a genuine consultation with the people and by winning their confidence.

(Sudha Bharadwaj)

General Secretary,

Chhattisgarh PUCL.

 

#Chattisgarh policeman arrested for allegedly trying to marry minor girl in UP #Vaw #WTFnews


 

Press Trust of India | Updated: April 15, 2013 

 

Senior UP policeman arrested for allegedly trying to marry minor girl

Chandauli (Uttar Pradesh): A senior police official was today arrested for allegedly trying to marry a minor girl in Balua area of Chandauli in Uttar Pradesh, police said.

Pradyumn Kumar Yadav (45), posted as DSP in Raipur (Chhattisgarh), was arrested during his bid to tie the knot with a 13-year-old girl at a temple in Uttarigaon village in the district, Superintendent of Police Sharad Sachan said.

The arrest was made after villagers informed the police about the act of Mr Yadav.

NHRC has not given clean chit to Chhattisgarh Govt on Soni Sori as reported in Media


RAIPUR, April 15, 2013

NHRC gives clean chit to Chhattisgarh Government on Soni Sori

SUVOJIT BAGCHI, The Hindu

  While various national women’s organisations decried an attempt to make Soni Sori, the tribal school teacher accused of acting as a courier between Essar Steel and outlawed Maoists, undergo a “psychiatric evaluation” as a “sinister ploy” by the Chhattisgarh government, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has given a clean chit to the State government on the treatment meted out to the tribal school teacher. Last week, Ms. Sori informed the NHRC members that she has been “treated better” over the last few months, the NHRC claimed in a press statement.

Several national women’s organisations in Delhi decried psychiatric examination conducted on Ms. Sori recently in Jagdalpur jail where she is currently lodged. In a joint statement, seven women’s organisations said that in December 2012, a team of National Commission of Women (NCW) conducted a jail visit here and met Ms. Sori in custody.

“While the NCW report of the visit is still pending, a stray remark made by NCW member Shamina Shafiq, that Ms. Sori needed psychological counselling seems to have provided the Chhattisgarh government the pretext to carry out a full-fledged psychiatric evaluation on her, with the potential of declaring her mentally unsound,” the organisations said in a joint statement. Annie Raja, general secretary of National Federation of Indian Women, who was also part of the NCW team visiting the jail, pointed out that Ms. Shafiq’s remark was not an opinion shared by the entire team and hence, does not have the legitimacy of a formal observation. Hence, in a letter to Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, the organisations demanded quashing of further proceedings in “psychiatric evaluation” and initiate steps to redress Ms. Sori’s genuine grievances of “sexual torture and ill-treatment.”

Another statement issued by the NHRC a day after the statement made by the women’s organisation, however, gave a clean chit to the Chhattisgarh government. The NHRC sent a two-member team to Jagdalpur jail on April 10 to “meet her to know her condition.”

“Ms. Sori informed the team that she has been treated better since the NHRC’s last visit,” the statement said. The Commission expressed “hope that the jail authorities would continue to give proper treatment to Ms. Sori.” A.G. Balakrishnan, chief of the Commission Justice, read out the statement here.

While the NHRC’s maiden ‘full commission’ in Chhattisgarh ended in a damp squib on Friday, the Commission took up certain matters and asked the government for a follow-up report. For example, in the case of 7,000 allegedly fake hysterectomies under the Centre’s insurance scheme Rashtriya Sam Vikas Yojana (RSVY), the Commission has asked the State government for a detailed report within a month. Hysterectomies, or removal of the uterus, have been carried out in 169 hospitals in Chhattisgarh to claim money under RSVY, according to the Commission’s press statement.

In two cases of fake encounters, mentioned in the press statement, the Commission recommended a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to the next of kin of the deceased. Those killed in separate police encounters are Kunjami Joga of Kurtrem village of Dantewada and a Naxalite named Ramesh Barumana for “violation of human rights”. Compensation has also been recommended in cases of custodial killing of 25-year-old trial prisoner Kunjami Kosa and Santosh Dahriya. The State government “gracefully agreed” to pay compensation in all the cases, said the statement.


  • NHRC had sent a two-member team to Jagdalpur jail to know Sori’s condition
  • ‘Sori informed that she has been treated better since the NHRC’s last visit

    SONISORICOLLAGE

There is no “clean chit” to the Chhattisgarh government.

On 28 July 2012, Soni Sori wrote a letter to the Supreme Court Judge saying that she is being subjected to humiliating treatment inside the Raipur jail:

“Your Honour, at this time, I am in great mental turmoil and suffering.
1. I am being made to sit naked on the ground.
2. I am suffering from hunger
3. Each part of my body is touched as I am searched.
I am being labelled as a “traitor” and “naxalite” and tortured. My clothes, soap, detergent have all been confiscated and all kinds of accusations are heaped upon me. All my belongings are searched after I am taken for a hearing.”

This formed the basis of an NHRC complaint, and it was to investigate this complaint that the NHRC visited Soni Sori in the Raipur Central Jail on 19 Nov 2012.  The visiting NHRC team confirmed that Soni Sori was being mistreated inside the jail.  The NHRC’s summary page says:

“The report of the Commission’s team shows that there are grounds to believe that Soni Sori has on several occasions beensingled out for harsh and humiliating ill-treatment. Even as a prisoner, she has a right to personal dignity and the right not to be subjected to physical or psychological abuse. It appears that these rights have sometimes been violated. The Commission expects the Government of Chhattisgarh to ensure that the traumatic ordeals and the odious practices to which Soni Sori has been subjected more than once are immediately stopped and do not recur.”

 

The visiting NHRC team reportedly reprimanded the Raipur jail staff, following which Soni has reported, that these daily harassments stopped.
Subsequently, Soni Sori was shifted out of the Raipur Central Jail on 24 Jan 2013 and taken to Jadgalpur Central Jail.  Now, on 10 April 2013, another 2 member team of the NHRC visited Soni Sori in Jagdalpur Jail and inquired whether the mistreatment of which she had complained was continuing, and she has reportedly told them (as she has told us) that she is no longer being singled out for harassment on a daily basis inside the jail.
This is hardly a clean chit to the Chhattisgarh Government!  The findings of the Commission still remain – and the findings are that Soni Sori was being subjected to “traumatic ordeals and odious practices” inside the Raipur Central Jail. Just because the ill-treatment stopped after a reprimand doesn’t erase the fact that gross ill-treatment existed at all!
As has  been pointed out earlier — the NHRC is NOT looking into the complaint of sexual torture in police custody — that complaint is before the Supreme Court (and has been stuck there forever).  To my knowledge, the complaint of this unnecessary “psychiatric evaluation” has also not been made before the NHRC (since the focus was on getting the NCW to move). So the NHRC has validated the limited complaint that was before it — of mistreatment inside Raipur Jail –and has NOT given the govt a clean chit.  This would be like giving a wife-beater a clean chit for every day that he does not beat his wife.
[That the NHRC has not done more -- like take punitive action against jail staff, order compensation for Soni Sori etc. -- are of course issues that still need to be taken up with the NHRC.]

 

Press Release- NHRC recommends 20 lakhs as monetary relief to the victims of human rights violations in Chhattisgarh


NHRC concludes its two day Camp Sitting at Raipur; Recommends 20 lakhs as monetary relief to the victims of human rights violations

New Delhi, April, 12, 2013, NHRC PR

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) today concluded its two day camp sitting at Raipur, Chattisgarh. On the opening day i.e. 11.04.2013, the Commission took up 27 cases for hearing in the Full Commission and Division Bench Sittings. Six cases were closed after satisfactory replies from the State Government. The Commission recommended about rupees 20 lakhs as monetary relief in different cases of human rights violations.

In a case in which it was alleged that 7000 hysterectomies – uterus removal surgeries had been carried out by unscrupulous doctors in 169 hospitals in Chattisgarh, to claim money under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY), the Commission has asked the State Government to submit a detailed report within four weeks. The Health Secretary informed that the licenses of nine doctors in Raipur have already been suspended to carry out such operations. On being asked whether the State Government has made an inquiry about such incidents in other parts of the State, the Chief Secretary assured the Commission that random checking would be made in other districts of the State and if any case of unethical practice is found, stringent action would be taken against the offenders.

In the matter of malnutrition of children and pregnant woman, the Commission has asked the State Govt. to monitor the situation and make efforts to ensure that cases of malnutrition are minimized in the State.

In the case of gang rape of 11 minor tribal girls by the teacher and chowkidar of a Govt. tribal hostel in Narharpur in Kanker district, the Commission was informed that all the victims have been paid a compensation of Rs. Two lakhs each from the CM’s Relief Fund and a number of steps have been taken for their rehabilitation. The Commission was informed of the preventive steps taken by the State Govt. to curb such incidents. These include restrictions on the entry of men in girls hostels. If needed to enter, men would be accompanied by a female staff. Monthly medical check-ups are carried out on all residents. The Commission has asked the State Govt. to submit a detailed report about the steps taken by the State Government for rehabilitation of the victim girls so that they could be considered by the Commission for adoption by other states.

In another case of gang rape of minor girl in the Govt. run Amandula Tribal Hostel in Balod District, the Commission has asked the State Govt. to pay compensation of Rs. 1,25,000 in addition to Rs. 25,000 already paid to the victim under the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules. The Commission has also asked the State to bear cost of her school/college education and her rehabilitation.

In the case of death of 25 year old under trial prisoner Kunjami Kosa who was lodged in the Central Jail, Jagdalpur, the Commission held the jail authorities responsible for not providing proper medical treatment to the deceased prisoner and recommended to the State Government to pay Rs. Three lakhs as monetary relief to the next of kin of the deceased for violation of his human rights.

In a case of medical negligence in the tubectomy operation of a woman, named Sunita Bai Kashyap in the Govt. Hospital in Kawardha town, the Commission has directed the State Govt. to pay compensation of Rs.2.5 lakhs in addition to the compensation of Rs. 50000 already paid to the next of kin of the deceased. A bundle of cotton gauze, left in the stomach of the victim during the surgery conducted by an ENT specialist, caused infection which led to her death.

In the matter of torture of Soni Sori in police custody, the Commission had sent its two member team to Jagdalpur Jail on 10.04.2013 to meet her to know her condition. Soni Sori informed the team that she has been treated better since the NHRC’s last visit. The Commission has expressed the hope that jail authorities would continue to give proper treatment to Soni Sori in the jail.

The Commission also took up the case of custodial death of one Santosh Dahriya, an accused of kidnapping and raping a minor girl. The victim died due to alleged torture during police custody in Raipur on 19/2/2012. Upon consideration of the reports, the Commission was of the view that it is a case of gross violation of human rights of a jail inmate – violation of the most precious human right i.e.right to life. The Commission found it to be a fit case for granting monetary relief to the next of kin of the deceased. The State Govt. gracefully agreed to comply with the recommendation, if any made by the Commission to grant monetary relief in the case. Accordingly, the Commission recommended to the State Government to pay Rs. Three lakhs as monetary relief to the next of kin of the deceased Santosh Dahriya.

In the cases of death in police action taken up in sitting of the Division Bench, the Commission was not satisfied with the reports submitted by the SP, SIB, Police Headquarters, Raipur in the matter of alleged killing of seventeen tribals including four women in an alleged encounter between a group of naxalites and a police party on 08.01.2009 near village Singaram in Dantewada district. The Commission observed that there were several serious shortcomings in the police investigation, coupled with the evidence of autopsies, they raised serious doubts about the encounter. The Commission directed the DGP, Chattisgarh to seek an explanation of the officer who conducted investigation in the case. The DGP has assured the Commission to get the matter investigated thoroughly and submit a detailed report.

In the case of death of Kunjami Joga in an alleged fake encounter in Kurtrem, Dantewada, the Commission held that the victim was an innocent villager who was killed, perhaps not intentionally, by the police and therefore it would be appropriate for the State to offer some relief to the next of the kin of the deceased. In response to the Show Cause Notice issued by the Commission, the Chief Secretary submitted that the State would abide by the recommendations made by the Commission for award of monetary relief in the matter. Hence, the Commission recommended monetary relief of Rs. Five Lakhs to the next of kin of the deceased.

In the case of death of a naxalite Ramesh Barumana during encounter with police on 13.5.2009, the Commission on consideration of the reports received from concerned authorities, found it to not to be a genuine encounter and had issued notice to the Govt. of Chattisgarh to show cause as to why it should not recommend monetary relief to the next of kin of the deceased. The State Govt. gracefully agreed that recommendations of the Commission would be carried out by them. Accordingly, the Commission recommended to the State Government to pay Rs. Five lakhs as monetary relief to the next of kin of the deceased.

On the concluding day of the camp sitting, the Commission had an interaction with non-governmental organizations. The points raised by them include harassment of human rights defenders, non-registration or delay in registration of FIR, lack of care of mentally challenged people, non-adherence to the guidelines of the NHRC in the matters of custodial violence and extra judicial killings, delay in issue of caste certificates to tribals etc.

After meeting NGOs, the Commission held discussions with the senior officers of the State Government including the Chief Secretary, DGP, Secretaries of various departments, DMs, SPs and other senior civil, police and jail officers on points raised by the NGOs and on the following issues:

Strategy of the State Government to combat naxalism in the state; Atrocities committed on tribals in districts of Bastar and Dantewada by Police, security forces and Salwa Judum; Relief and rehabilitation of tribal victims of violence by security forces and naxalites; PDS system in the State; Prison Reforms including over-crowding in jails; Human Rights Education at State Level; Indignity to women – practice of witchcraft; Pre-conception & Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques (Prohibition of Sex Selection) (PCPNDT) Act; Silicosis; Leprosy; Intimation about deaths in police/judicial custody within 24 hours of occurrence; Intimation about death in police encounter; Intimation about death in State Government Homes/Juvenile Homes/Probation Homes; Timely submission of the legible copies of the reports by the authorities; Delay in submission of compliance reports; Non-registration of FIR by the police in time.

The Chief Secretary presented the stand of the State Government on these issues and assured to look into the issues raised by the Commission and take necessary steps to comply with the recommendations of the Commission.

Before the meetings in Raipur, on 9th and 10th April, 2013, a seven member delegation of the National Human Rights Commission comprising Hon’ble Members Justice Shri B.C. Patel and Shri Satyabrata Pal, Smt. S. Jalaja, Spl. Rapporteur, NHRC, Shri A.K. Parashar, Joint Registrar (Law), Shri Pupul Dutta Prasad, SSP, Shri Khwaja A. Hafeez, Assistant Registrar (Law) and Shri Rajveer, Inspector visited Dantewada and a relief camp near Dantewada to assess the relief and rehabilitation measures undertaken by the State Government for the affected persons.The delegation met the inmates of the camp to know about their living condition in the camps. The inmates of the camp expressed satisfaction over the facilities being given to them in the camps. They requested the delegation to impress upon the State Government to take steps to check naxalism in the state so that they could return to their houses. The delegation also visited Aastha Gurukul Vidyala, a residential school in the Education City where free quality education is being provided to children of families affected by naxal violence in the State. The delegation also visited Ajeevika Mahavidyalaya/Livelihood College, Dantewada, where students from Primary to Graduate level are provided vocational training in different disciplines. The delegation also met the NGOs who raised issues like lack of education and health facilities, lack of development of roads and bridges, lack of protection from naxalites to the people working for the betterment of masses. The delegation also met the senior officers who gave an overview of the situation in the area and the work being done by the State Government to improve situation in the area.

The Commission has organized this camp sitting as part of a series of such sessions in different parts of the country, to take up important cases with the State. In the past, the NHRC has held Camp Sittings in U.P., Bihar, Bengaluru (for four southern States of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu), Odisha, Gujarat, Assam and Meghalaya.

Public hearings on various issues relating to atrocities and problems faced by Scheduled Castes have also been held in various parts of the country. So far, such Public Hearings have been held in the States of Odisha, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan and Maharashtra.

#Chattisgarh Explain ‘unnecessary’ hysterectomy surgeries: NHRC #Vaw #Womenrights



Press Trust of India, 12/04/2013

Raipur: The NHRC has directed the Chhattisgarh government to submit a report within a month over the allegations that 7,000 ‘unnecessary’ hysterectomy surgeries were conducted in the state by some doctors, just to claim money under a health insurance scheme. “There are allegations that 7,000 hysterectomies – uterus removal surgeries – had been conducted by unscrupulous doctors in 169 hospitals of Chhattisgarh, to claim money under the Rashtriya Swasthya Bima Yojna (RSBY),” National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) chairperson Justice KG Balakrishnan said on Friday.
“The commission has asked the state government to submit a detailed report within four weeks,” he said. He was addressing a press conference after the conclusion of the NHRC’s two-day camp at Raipur. “The government has informed that the licenses of nine doctors in Raipur have already been suspended for carrying out such operation,” the former Chief Justice of India added.
As per media reports, the surgeries were conducted over the past two-and-a half years. During its two-day camp, the NHRC took up 27 different cases for hearing in the Full Commission and Division Bench Sittings comprising seven members. Out of these, six cases were closed after satisfactory replies by the state government.
The commission has recommended about Rs 20 lakh as monetary relief in different cases of human rights violations. In a case of alleged killing of 17 tribals, including four women, in an alleged encounter between ultras and a police party on January 8, 2009 near village Singaram in Dantewada district, the commission said it was “unsatisfied” with the report submitted by the police. It asked the Director General of Police (DGP) to seek an explanation of the officer who carried out the probe. “The commission was not satisfied with the reports submitted by the SP, SIB, police headquarters in the matter.. It observed that there were several serious shortcomings in the police investigation, coupled with the evidence of autopsies.. they raised serious doubt about the encounter,” Balakrishnan said.
“The DGP has been directed to seek an explanation of the officer who conducted investigation in the case,” he added. In the matter of torture of Soni Sori in police custody, he said, “A two-member team of the commission had met Sori on Thursday to know about her condition. She has informed that she has been treated better since the NHRC’s last visit.” Sori, a tribal teacher, has been languishing in jail on charges of being a Maoist sympathiser and acting as a conduit to extort money for banned CPI (Maoist) from the Essar group.
In the alleged gangrape of eleven minor tribal girls in a government-run residential school in Narharpur area in Kanker by a teacher and a watchman, the commission asked the government to submit a detailed report about the steps taken for the rehabilitation of the victims, so that such measures could be considered by the commission for adoption by other states, he said.

 

PRESS RELEASE–When criminal negligence passes for ‘Industrial Accident’


3 February 2013

 

PRESS STATEMENT

 

When criminal negligence passes for ‘Industrial Accident

PUDR expresses grave shock and demands action against those responsible for the industrial accident at the Ambuja-Holcim cement plant near Raipur, Chhattisgarh, on 31 January 2013, in which 5 workers have been killed. The names of the workers who died are Roshan Verma and Poshan Verma, apprentice (both apprentices from village Arjuni), Suresh Shukla and Kamleshwar Singh (both permanent workers, from Ambuja Colony and village Bhadrapaali respectively), and Durgesh (a contract worker from village Saiha). The accident which occurred between 10.30 a.m. and11a.m., took place when the fly-ash hopper situated on the fifth floor collapsed, and crashed through four floors below. Eyewitnesses report that the air was thick with dust for hours. According to reports the cause of the accident was that the hopper was overloaded beyond capacity – while the capacity of the hopper was 170 tonnes it had been loaded with a weight of 300 tonnes. Moreover, the hopper was in a rundown condition and known to be unsafe. Despite this it appears that the management not only continued to operate the hopper, but overloaded it, and did not have any safety measures to deal with fire or officials equipped or trained to carry out rescue after the accident. Trained personnel had to be called from the nearby cement plant of Ultratech to carry out rescue operations.  The Ambuja-Holcim company officials had in fact compounded the problem by pouring water on the fly ash making it set and making it difficult to remove the dead and injured from under the debris. The workers who had rushed to help were all ordered to go away. Moreover the family members of those killed were not permitted to go to the spot, nor were they shown the bodies of the deceased. Journalists were also not permitted inside the plant after the accident. The Collector and the Superintendent of Police who had reached the plant after the accident, also refused to answer calls or throw light on the matter. Agitated villagers of Arjuni and Bhadrapaali who had gathered at the gates were lathi-charged and dispersed. It is a matter of concern that the entire effort of the management and local civil and police administration appears to be to hush up the incident and not affix responsibility for it. As even the broad details of this case and PUDR’s recent investigation and report on the conditions of cement workers in Chattisgarh (Working Against Odds: Conditions of Workers in the Cement Industry in Chattisgarh, 2012) shows this accident was a direct consequence of the complete absence of safety measures in the plant, the lack of maintenance and the common practice of exposing workers to extremely hazardous work without any protection, preparation or rescue plan amounts to criminal neglect. This ‘accident’ was thus waiting to happen, and the culpability of the company Ambuja-Holcim, which has a 9.44% of the market share in the industry and ranks third amongst the top 10 cement manufacturers in India, is clearly indicated.

PUDR demands immediate independent investigation into this industrial accident at the Ambuja Holcim plant, indictment and criminal prosecution of the guilty including the company for its criminal neglect of safety measures. PUDR also demands that adequate and appropriate compensation be paid to the family members of all the workers killed in the accident or adversely affected by it in any manner.

Asish Gupta,D Manjit

SecretariesPUDR