Rhymes for a Reason #Raptivism #Protestmusic #Hiphop


Despite his blingy alias, Ashwini Mishra, also known as A-list, is taking rap back to its political roots, says Richa Kaul Padte

Richa Kaul Padte

15-06-2013, Issue 24 l t

Hip-hop journalist Ashwini Mishra

Hip-hop journalist  Photo:Andrea Fernandes

“It’s so damn fake, we act so holy when We speak of Delhi gangrape, but what of Shopian? Enough of the lies, let me tell you what is true This is how we took the life of Afzal Guru

DRESSED IN a shirt, jeans, and a belt to match, Ashwini Mishra — aka A-List — harks back to a hip-hop culture that predates the ‘bling, bitchez and flowing cash’ of the bootylicious videos MTV has broadcast across the world for over two decades. His progressive and lyrically lucid emceeing is, in Mishra’s words, “taking it back to the streets”. Free styling, recording his own tracks and bringing a vibrant energy to clubs, open-mic nights and protest concerts alike, Mishra is quickly making a name for himself in what he labels ‘hip-hop journalism’.

As a member of , a Mumbai-based collective of poets, musicians, writers and artists, Mishra says his politics is liberal, though listeners of his music may place him much further on the Left in Indian politics today. A commentator for current events — such as the arrest of Shaheen Dhada for her Facebook status questioning the shutdown of Mumbai following the death of Bal Thackeray (“All the cops look at what these kids say/Then they are booked under Section 66A”) and the displacement of Kashmiri Pandits, an event often forgotten even in progressive views around the occupation of Kashmir (“He just wants a place in the valley, where he belongs/But Mr Kaul, your valley is gone”) — Mishra’s ties with JAPA’s network of activists and agitators across the country provide him with inside perspectives that go far beyond what the corporate media’s headlines dictate.

So how did the 28-year-old Bihari “corporate stooge by day” go on to produce one of India’s first hip-hop EPs in 2005? While living in Saudi Arabia, a serendipitous encounter with a Run-DMC cassette led seven-year-old Mishra to become “a hip-hop head” for the rest of his life. “The language, the culture, the aesthetic of hip-hop was just something I fell in love with,” he says. Returning to Kolkata, the city of his birth, Mishra began writing poetry (“In Calcutta, everybody is a poet,” he says, wryly). Poetry soon turned into performance, and growing up at a time when hip-hop was sparking resistance across the globe and artists like Eminem were “[making] it cool to be intricate with your rhyme again”, A-List was born as Mishra worked for his undergraduate degree.

Today, he collaborates with musicians as diverse as Kashmiri producers or The Republican Sena, a group of Dalit poets, artists and writers, and performs his own songs everywhere from “Richie-Rich venues to commie gatherings”. Looking to expand the culture of protest music in the country, Mishra’s work falls on the highly political end of India’s newly formed hip-hop spectrum, which covers everything from artists like Mumbai-based Microphon3 (who use much of the style, ‘swag’ and lingo of American ) to those who seek to be socially conscious, responding to issues such as gender-based violence (Manmeet Kaur, for example), or the treatment of the Muslim community (like the recent single, Native Bappa, from Kerala based hip hop crew Mappila Lahala).

However, rappers like Mishra and MC Kash (a Kashmir-based hip-hop artist who often includes recordings and excerpts from political rallies into his music) take socially conscious rapping to a more significant, interventionist level. Mishra extensively researches issues and participates in protests, demonstrations and public actions for movements he musically engages with, including the Bhopal gas tragedy, the treatment of Soni Sori and various feminist struggles. He is hopeful about making a difference, even in a music industry that is largely commercial and averse to changing the status quo. “Look at any great revolution; it has art linked to it,” he says. “So maybe hip-hop is the art of this era that can drive [change]… And guys like us will keep this thing going. So if you really look, you’ll see us; you’ll hear our music.”

letters@tehelka.com

(Published in Tehelka Magazine, Volume 10 Issue 24, Dated 15 June 2013)

 

#India – Face to Face: Kishore Chandra Deo, Union Mininster for Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj


 

Akash Bisht Delhi

A five-time MP from Araku (ST) constituency of Andhra PradeshKishore Chand Deowas first elected to the Lok Sabha way back in 1977. He also served one term in the Rajya Sabha and was a member of the Congress Working Committee.  He was sworn in as theUnion Minister for Tribal Affairs and Panchayati Raj in 2011 and has also been a chairperson of several important parliamentary committees. In the wake of the cold-blooded murder of tribals in ChhattisgarhHardnews spoke to the veteran politician

 

Q | On May 17, eight tribals, including three children, were killed by the security forces in Ehadsameta in Bijapur district in Bastar region of Chhattisgarh. This comes nearly a year after 17 innocent villagers were killed in cold blood by the security forces in Sarkeguda.

Last year, when it happened in Chhattisgarh, I had raised the matter with the appropriate authorities and had taken it up with the then Union home minister and also written to the state government. I can only say that this is most unfortunate because if innocent tribals start losing their lives in this manner then it will only create more resentment among them. This kind of action will further drive them into the arms of the extremists. I have said time and again that, to understand the reasons for the extremist problems, we have to get to the roots of it. I want to reiterate that the problem in these areas cannot be treated merely as a law and order one. The problems at the grassroots are far deeper. We have recognized the problems and created an Integrated Action Plan (IAP) for selected tribal and backward districts.

Exploitation is one of the biggest problems staring at tribal populations in these areas. The threat of mining is severe. If we talk about development then the UPA believes in inclusive growth and it means that the process of development should take along people from the poorest, exploited and marginalized sections of society.

Recently, I came to know about the exploitation of tribals in Mahan Coal Fields (Singrauli) in Madhya Pradesh. I got feedback from the locals that the district administration and main functionaries of panchayats have been manipulated by private miners. I am told that merely 15-20 people of the gram sabha had passed contrived resolutions. This was against the directions from the panchayati raj ministry that the gram sabha meetings have to be video recorded. It also goes against the directions of the tribal affairs ministry that community rights have to be recognized. A contrived gram sabha not allowing community rights to the tribals goes against every constitutional provision. This is the first time I was hearing that tribal communities do not want their rights. This is their mainstay and basic source of their livelihood; that is why I sent guidelines and circulars defining what community rights and resources mean. Thus, when such situations arise, you have such unfortunate events like what happened in Chhattisgarh.

Probably, it’s one of those incidents where force was used to tame the people, but this will only polarize people against the State. After all, the State has to gain the sympathy of the people and they have to realize and recognize their rights. The security forces have to be within the perimeters of the existing laws and if you keep flouting laws and conventions then this is what it will result in. This is very sad.

Q | It has been reported that the post-mortems of the dead tribals were being conducted in the open.

It is not only gory, it is inhuman and this is not the way you deal with your own citizens. Health and law and order are under the jurisdiction of the state government. This doesn’t mean that I am trying to play politics; these things have happened under Congress governments too. I have not spared my own party governments and chief ministers. This is not a party matter and is above politics. These situations, when they develop, become a threat to our nation’s security. It is beyond party matters. The states will have to take up the responsibilities and security forces have to restrain themselves when it comes to dealing with innocent people.

It’s no excuse to say that they were being used as human shields and hence they massacred them. Why were they being used as human shields? You have to go into the causes for that. Once you understand that then you can get to the root of the problem. I have discussed this with the present home minister and he understands this very well. He was totally in agreement with me that this is not the way to handle such situations. I will again be writing to the chief ministers, the home minister and environment and forests ministry. If mining clearances are given without the consent of tribals then you will only be antagonizing them. 

Q |There were protests and anger after the gangrape of a young girl in Delhi, but not many spoke about Soni Sori and how she was tortured and sexually assaulted by the Chhattisgarh police.

I was the one who took up her case. It was raised in the Rajya Sabha by an MP. There was an instance when AIIMS refused to admit her despite a court order. I ensured that she was admitted to the hospital and given proper treatment. We need to create awareness among people about their rights.

 

Q | There are reports that Operation Green Hunt is still being pursued by security forces.

If there are any such reports then I will take it up with the appropriate authorities. I am not opposing that certain operations need to be carried out in certain areas, but there has to be some cause. Going around in a trigger-happy mood and shooting innocent people is not the way to go about it.

 

Q |What role do these gram sabhas and panchayats play in tribal areas? Recent reports suggest that there has been an increase of 25 per cent in centrally sponsored schemes but India still ranks very low in the Human Development Index. The scenario is worse in tribal areas.

They play a very vital role in these impoverished regions and if gram sabhas are allowed to play their role, they will do it. The problem is similar to what I mentioned earlier in Mahan Coal Fields. The tribals wanted to file claims under the Forest Rights Act but their claims were not accepted by the local authorities. If you want to empower people, gram sabhasmust be held regularly. I have sent circulars and they need to be video recorded. Video recording is no big deal today and there are cameras available everywhere. Twenty years back they could have said that it is a utopian idea, but that is not the case now. This is to prevent contrived gram sabha resolutions; if people are allowed to play their roles, half of our problems will be solved.

Panchayati raj is a state subject and every state has its own Panchayati Raj Act. My job is to raise awareness, issue guidelines and monitor. Officially, guidelines have been issued. For instance, they need to hold four gram sabhas every year. I would be happy if they have 40, but they have to be genuine. If the state governments do not comply then there is very little that one can do. This year we have launched the Rajiv Gandhi Panchayati Raj Sashakti karan Abhiyan (RGPSA); this is demand-driven. The annual budget allocation for the panchayati raj ministry is Rs 300-350 crore. I have got Rs 6,200 crore from the Planning Commission for the Five Year Plan under RGPSA. That makes it close to Rs 500 crore annually. The Union ministry for rural development has agreed to give one per cent of its annual allocation because most of their schemes have to be implemented and channelized through the gram panchayats. It may be only one per cent for the rural development minister, but for me it is nearly Rs 1,000 crore, as his annual budget is Rs 99,000 crore per annum. So, in total, it makes Rs 1,500 crore a year which is substantial as compared to what I was getting earlier.

I am ready to give funds to strengthen the panchayati raj infrastructure. I have put some conditions and they have to comply with provisions of the 73rd and 74th amendments of the Constitution. First, they will have to hold elections within six months as prescribed by the Constitution. Then, they will have to devolve their funds, functions and functionaries and hold gram sabhas regularly. I have evolved this marking system where I will be marking them according to these constitutional provisions. States that will comply will get funds accordingly, and since all state governments want funds, so, I think. I will be able to convince them.

Another important thing is that I am not thrusting these funds for any specific purpose. One state may say that they have sufficient panchayat ghars and they don’t want money for that but they want money to pay salaries. I have asked them to give me plans and, based on the requirements, I plan to give them the money. The Union communications ministry has promised that they will give broadband connections to 2,46,000 panchayats in the country by 2014. In fact, they have already done it for 50,000 panchayats. In remote and tribal areas, where there is no power, we will have solar systems. So, the states that need money for computers or solar equipment, I will give them money. We have four software systems that many states are using and six more software systems have been developed and people are being trained. Once the training is over then the state governments will have 10 software systems to use. There will be social accounting and e-governance, and everything that is going on in these panchayats will be documented. This will help us monitor these schemes and take them forward. 

Q | Which are the states that are doing well?

There are certain states that have been doing well but nobody has devolved all the 29 items that are in Schedule 5 of the Constitution. Some states comply with 12, some with 14. States like Kerala, West Bengal, Odisha and Karnataka have been doing very well. In the last couple of years, Haryana has been lagging behind, but now it is performing well. I have started a trend of giving awards for the best performing states. Now, we are also giving awards to specific panchayats for good practices. All this is to sensitize them and give them incentives to make them aware. Recently, there was a Commonwealth Conference for local bodies in Uganda. Unfortunately, the ministry of external affairs made the urban development ministry as the nodal ministry, although the Commonwealth was keen that we participate. I wanted to send some panchayati raj representatives to the conference to give them a sense of empowerment.

 

Q |What about states that are performing below your expectations?

We have not made a list of that. Jharkhand is one such state that hasn’t had elections in 12 years; they had elections when Arjun Munda came to power. The elected representatives are there but what will they do if you don’t give them any funds or devolve any functions? I had written to the chief minister and had gone to Ranchi. Ultimately, the call has to be taken by them.

Another example is Jammu and Kashmir. They had elections after 12 years, but no functions have been given to these elected representatives. No funds are given to them for whatever reasons. They said that because of Article 370 they are not bound by the 73rd and 74thamendments. I said fine, they must be having a Panchayati Raj Act of their own so they should devolve powers according to that. That is not happening. In my state, Andhra Pradesh, there have been no elections in the last two years — hence, there are nopanchayats. So, whom do you talk to? I have been writing to them and there is a constitutional requirement that they have to do it in six months. Besides, this is a Congress-ruled state.  

Q | In north India, panchayats are feudal in nature and Dalits and minorities have no say in them. Similarly, in tribal areas, tribals have no say and local bodies are easily bought off by big business and multinationals. How do you counter this?

Gram sabhas have a special role to play in these areas under statutory provisions within the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act. This was enacted by the central government in 1996. Fifteen years have passed, but, unfortunately, out of the nine scheduled states, only three have made rules. Six have not even done this and they have made their own rules. According to PESA all state governments have to amend their Panchayati Raj Act to see that they are compliant with PESA, but they have not done so. According to PESA, gram sabhas will not be in the panchayat level, but it will be held in every habitation. This is a clarification that I have sent to all state governments of the scheduled states.

Ultimately, they have to take the call. By empowering the gram sabha, we can give the people the role, however indirect it may be, to partake in the process of governance and development. This is one way to draw tribals into the mainstream and to make them feel that they are part of governance. This should get them out of these threats of taking to extremist ways.

In the scheduled areas, even if multinationals buy the panchayats, they cannot enter since there are constitutional provisions and safeguards under Article 244 and the Fifth Schedule. Constitutional safeguards and provisions cannot be overridden by resolutions of gram sabhas or panchayats and even by the devious methods deployed by the state government to flagrantly and blatantly overcome constitutional safeguards. This is totally illegal.

Governors have special powers, so I have written to governors of all scheduled states. I received a reply from the governor of Chhattisgarh. I have written to the governor of Odisha arguing that constitutional provisions have been totally violated in the case of Vedanta. It is a scheduled area and Vedanta is a private company which has no locus standi there. I have written to the governor of Andhra Pradesh who chose to abdicate his powers and rights and I had to take other action.

If you take the case of the Orissa Mining Corporation which is registered under the Companies Act, 1956, these are corporations that can’t take land in Schedule 5 areas. Irrespective of that provision they give land on lease to private companies like Vedanta. This is completely against the provisions of the Constitution. In recent times, there have been a number of cases where shares have been disinvested in such companies. Article 244 of the Constitution can only be amended by Parliament in the manner prescribed in Article 368 of the Constitution. Hence, by disinvesting and taking this surreptitious route, are they not subverting constitutional provisions and bypassing the authority of Parliament?

I have sent a letter based on the Supreme Court ruling on Vedanta. The Supreme Court, in its order, has mentioned about Article 144 (1), but they have not gone deep into the matter. Probably, the counsel who was arguing this case didn’t raise this. The counsel was from the ministry of environment and forests. By the time I became minister, it was too late for the tribal affairs to get involved in this case. But I did raise a lot of hue and cry and I saw to it that an affidavit from my ministry went to the Attorney General who gave it to the Supreme Court. That is the reason why they have made my ministry the nodal authority for looking at the Forests Rights Act and PESA compliances in the Vedanta case.

 

#India -an Appeal From Tribal Activist Himanshu Kumar: On Atrocities, Self Reflection


An Appeal From Tribal Activist Himanshu Kumar: On Atrocities, Self Reflection And More

Posted on: June 2, 2013
-Youth ki Awaaz

Translated from Hindi by Akhil Kumar

Self-Reflection Fast: How should India Behave With Its Tribal Population

Dear friends,

A large number of army troops are being sent to the tribal areas to establish peace.

Whereas past experience tells us that the entry of the army troops in tribal territory has never decreased unrest but escalated it instead.

For a long time now, the tribal people have faced oppression from the government. And if any one of them asks for justice against this oppression, they are branded as Naxalites and tortured again. The government has thus closed all doors of Justice for them.

Soni Sori, Linga Kodopi and Binayak Sen were a victim of government tyranny because they raised their voice against this injustice. We know that the educated and prosperous urban class of India does not see anything wrong with sending the army in large numbers to tribal areas in order to occupy the resources of the indigenous people.

Also, there are talks of using force to suppress the dissatisfaction caused by displacement due to this plunder of resources. But if India keeps killing its citizens like this, it will result in the moral degradation of the Indian community that holds power.

India will have to think, as a nation, on how should it behave with its native inhabitants.

Do we approve of occupying the lands of the tribal community on gun point? Do we believe that we can bring peace to the country after burning their villages, driving them out of their homes and occupying their land?

If once we get habituated to doing injustice to our own citizen, wouldn’t it make way for us to do it to everyone else tomorrow? Today, we will attack the tribals, then we’ll kill Dalits and go on to kill our villagers and then, one day, we will find ourselves surrounded by enemies that we created ourselves.

Hence, we need to review our behavior towards the tribal people as soon as possible.

It is my humble effort that we use this opportunity to ponder on this issue that how should the tribal people of this country be treated. To self introspect on this issue, I am sitting on an indefinite hunger strike from 1st June and I hope that you, wherever you are, will also introspect on it.

This is not just a question of the tribals but a question for all those who want to build a better society, where everyone gets justice because it is impossible to even think of peace without justice.

Please do visit Jantar Mantar if possible, we will be pleased.

Yours
Himanshu kumar
Jantar Mantar, New Delhi

09013893955
vcadantewada@gmail.com

 

Soni Sori gets bail in one more case #Goodnews #Vaw


SUVOJIT BAGCHI, The Hindu , may 30, 2013

An activist protest demanding release of Soni Sori. She got a bail in one of hte eight cases on Thursday by a Chhattisgarh court. File photo
The HinduAn activist protest demanding release of Soni Sori. She got a bail in one of hte eight cases on Thursday by a Chhattisgarh court. File photo

There are close to 2,000 cases in which tribal people have been languishing in jail since two to seven years. Tribal schoolteacher Soni Sori has been granted bail by a court in one of the eight cases filed against her.

Tribal schoolteacher Soni Sori has been granted bail by a court in south Chhattisgarh in one of the eight cases filed against her.

She has already been acquitted in six cases, her lawyer K.K. Dubey told The Hindu.

A charge sheet was filed against Ms. Sori and others in December 2010 at the Bacheli court for allegedly torching vehicles in Nerli, near Dantewada.

Recently, she was awarded bail in the case.

“She could not be acquitted like in other cases as the witnesses did not appear,” said Mr. Dubey.

Earlier this month, Ms. Sori and her relative, activist-journalist Lingaram Kodopi, were acquitted in the Avdesh Gautam case.

They were accused of planning and executing an attack on a local Congress leader and contractor Avdesh Gautam in which two persons were killed. Thirteen other co-accused, including Congress leader Vijay Sodi, CPI leader Lala Ram Kunjam and a panchayat member of Dantewada, Sannuram Mandawi, were also acquitted and released for want of evidence by a Dantewada court.

The only case pending against Ms. Sori and Mr. Kodopi is the controversial Essar Steel case. They have been accused of arranging “protection money” on behalf of the company to Maoists. The main accused, D.V.C.S Verma, general manager at an Essar steel plant, and B.K. Lala, Essar contractor, were arrested for allegedly disbursing the money.

While Ms. Sori and Mr. Kodopi are in jail, like thousands of undertrial tribal people of south Chhattisgarh, Mr. Verma and Mr. Lala had been granted bail.

The charge sheet has been presented to Dantewada district and sessions judge Anita Dehariya. Charges will be framed by the court sometime in June.

“I hope after this bail and previous acquittal it will not be a problem to get a speedy trial and hopefully acquittal in all cases,” said Mr. Dubey.

While Ms. Sori and Mr. Kodopi’s cases were defended by a team of lawyers and monitored by the press, national and international rights groups, there are close to 2,000 cases in which tribal people have been languishing in jail since two to seven years.

“I once tried to put the number of cases together and it was over 600 only in the Dantewada court. It must have crossed 800 now,” said senior advocate Ashok Jain. Majority of these tribal people do not speak any other language than Gondi, have little or no money to pay a fee, have no national or international rights group to defend their cases and have been booked for allegedly participating in Naxal activities.

In private conversation, top bureaucrats, politicians and lawyers acknowledge that a majority of these cases do not merit a trial in higher courts. “This is a tragedy for a democracy,” said Mr. Jain.

In an interview to The Hindu earlier this week, Chief Minister Raman Singh acknowledged that a “huge number of cases” were pending in various district courts.

 

Soni Sori, Kodopi acquitted of murder charges #Goodnews #Justice


SUVOJIT BAGCHI, May 1, 2013

Soni Sori, the tribal school teacher accused of acting as a courier between Essar Steel and the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist), and Lingaram Kodopi, the activist-journalist trained in Delhi, have been acquitted in one more crucial case by Dantewada court.

The case filed in 2010 by Dantewada police alleged that Ms Sori and Lingaram Kodopi are among several others involved in planning and executing an attack on local Congress leader, Avdesh Singh Gautam, in which two persons were killed.

15 others, including activists of various mainstream political parties, who were booked with Ms Sori were also acquitted. Congress leader Vijay Sodi, CPI leader Lala Ram Kunjam and a Panchayat member of Dantewada, Sannuram Mandawi are among the accused who got acquitted on Wednesday.

Soni Sori has now been acquitted in six out of eight cases filed against her.

A FIR filed in Kuakonda police station in Dantewada court said that on 7 July, 2010 midnight, more than 150 Maoist soldiers attacked local Congress leader and contractor Avdesh Singh Gautam’s house. Mr Gautam’s brother in law, Sanjay Singh and house attendant Dharmendra were killed, while his son and a guard were injured.

17 accused, including Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi, were present at the scene of crime, said Mr Gautam, according to the FIR. On basis of available evidences and witness’ statements several charges were brought against the accused under Indian Penal Code, Arms Act and Explosive Substance Act which includes criminal conspiracy, rioting, arson causing death, and attempt to murder, besides a host of other allegations.

“Due to lack of enough and proper evidence additional sessions Judge Anita Dehariya acquitted Soni Sori, Lingaram Kodopi and others,” said Ms Sori’s lawyer in Dantewada K K Dubey on phone.

In February, this year, Ms. Sori was acquitted in two other cases. One in which, she was accused to have opened fire and used explosives to blow up vehicles of Essar Steel. In another, she was accused of firing on police near Essar Beneficiation Plant in Kirandul. “Witnesses could not confirm her involvement,” Mr. Dubey told The Hindu earlier. Last year, Ms. Sori was acquitted in two more cases.

Two more cases against Ms Sori are still in court. One of the allegations, pending in Bacheli court, accused Ms Sori of torching several vehicles. In the other case – the most crucial one – pending in Dantewada court, it is alleged that Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi were planning to hand over “protection money” from Essar Steel to the Maoists. D.V.C.S. Verma, the general manager at an Essar steel plant, and B.K. Lala, one of Essar’s contractors, were arrested in the same case, allegedly for disbursing money. According to police, Mr. Kodopi and Ms. Sori were carrying the money to the rebels. While Ms Sori and Mr Kodopi are languishing in jail, like thousands of tribal under trials (UTs) of south Chhattisgarh, two of their co-accused, Mr Verma and Mr Lala, got bail soon within months after the arrest.

90 per cent cases against tribals are concocted

Ashok Jain, a senior lawyer of Dantewada, representing some of the accused, who got acquitted with Ms Sori, said Wednesday’s judgement proves how tribals are detained under “false charges.”

“These tribals are detained under completely concocted charges, at least most of them. Their families get ruined as they spend several years as undertrials. Whenever the cases are followed well, like the case of Soni Sori, the accused gets acquitted,” Mr Jain said.

A battery of lawyers representing the high profile case of Ms Sori and other accused feel, while the case of Soni Sori or Dr Binayak Sen got enough “attention from all quarters,” cases of thousands of undertrial tribals are getting “absolutely no attention from media or civil society.”

“Most of these cases are so flimsy that higher courts may not even admit those or the accused will get bail within hours of admission. But lack of financial and people’s support, keep these tribals behind bars for years,” said one of the lawyers. “How can a poor tribal be arrested for just being a resident of an area controlled by the Maoists or sharing a lunch with the rebels, possibly under duress,” said another lawyer.

Ms Sori’s lawyers, however, sounded optimistic and said they have moved a bail petition in Chhattisgarh High Court. “I hope, Ms Sori and others will get bail soon after this acquittal in a crucial case,” said Mr Dubey.

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.]

 

Indian Army –Magic Formula to have beautiful and successful daughters ? #WTFad #AFSPA #Kashmir #Manipur


Dear Indians

Do you want a daughter ? No of course not, why will you want a girl child , she is such a burden and a son will only carry on the family name etc etc… blah blah.

Oh No  !  you dont want to have a  girl child !!!

Well  in shillong specifically and allover india generally, the  Indian army  is giving the incentive, to have a girl child. Wow, this advertisement will go a long way in balancing child sex ratio ?  and it might also give impetus to the ‘ Laadli Campaign, which is in deep shit for now, 42% girls dropped from Laadli scheme over 2 years

army

So above in the advertisement you see—  PRIYANKA  Chopra, Gul Panag, Preity zinta,  Anushka  Sharma , Celina Jaitley , Simmi Garewal,  Amrita singh, Chitrangadha , Sakshi Tanwar, and it says -’If you want to have beautiful and successful daughters  join INDIAN ARMY”,.

Now , Indians this  is your  chance dont let ti go away.. RUSSSSHHH TO INDIAN ARMY,  if you want to have BEAUTIFUL daughters who will become a hit  Bollywood  or television actresses, and will make you PROUD and will  add to the great  HONOR  of your family, ie   if they save themselves from honor killing.!

Also all women in the ad are BEAUTIFUL as per what is  ingrained in our brains. The super-skinny, super-tall, and amazingly gorgueous figure; The Super-Models and Actresses.The  certain typecast images fed on physical appearances and . If you don’t fit into those notions, you feel terrible – that’s why people are unhappy about their bodies. This advertisement further promotes, the fact  that to succeeed you need to have a hour glass figure ?. How do you define beauty ? Who said “big” isn’t beautiful? Who said curves aren’t sexy?
Who told you to change who you are, loosing the weight that you’ve gained so far. For me Tuntun, Manorama  all were beautiful also. beauty has nothing to do with your body but your innerself , your personality as a whole. For me Sheetal Sathe, Soni Sori, Aparna Marandi, Irom Sharmila are all BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE, and SUCCESSFUL as well.

 The Fact that  whether you will  have a daughter or son THE MANS SPERM WILL DECIDE, if  you have a daughter, she has to decide her life and what’s success for her ?

This  sexist  advertisement further strengthens  the stereotypes feminist have been fighting.  Women are human being and not relationships , think about them outisde their roles as  daughters mothers and sisters. Valourising women as  daughters, sisters, , mothers, bhabhi, dadi and Nani.  Today women are screaming at top of their voice-- ” I am not your  Mother, Wife, Sister or daughter . I am a PERSON.  So this ad, adds to all the sexists ads which are defining every woman by her relationship to another person rather than as a person in her own right; and that relationship (by implication if not stated overtly) is usually with a man. The self-sacrificing mother who bravely sends her son to war; the devoted sister who pampers her brother, the obedient daughter who makes her  PARENTS  proud, as stated in the ad . Women are  fed up being boxed into traditional roles. They are angry at being told what to wear, how to behave and lead their lives.  Respect women”, we tell our sons, “for they are all someone’s mother, sister or daughter.” Aha,,,,, yes…..  But the childless woman;  and a  woman whose husband is no more or whose  father has died and has no brother to ‘protect her honour’ — well, she’s fair game, isn’t she?  This is the kind of logic we perpetuate when we glorify a woman by her relationship rather than as a person.

I wonder if all these ‘ SUCCESSFUL DAUGHTERS’  have given their permission to be on the Advertisement and if they agree

and gulpanag tweets says so,

About the join army ‘ad’.Whether in jest or not,I have no problem with it.I owe 100% of what I am to my AF upbringing. Proud of it. @rwac48

— Gul Panag (@GulPanag) April 14, 2013

I wonder,   if all of them are  proud of  The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act . which is to-date the single most direct instrument violating the democratic rights of the people of the North East and of Jammu and Kashmir. The Act is implemented when an area is declared ‘disturbed’ by either the central or the state government. Since 2 November 2000, she has been on hunger strike to demand that the Indian government repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act, 1958 (AFSPA), which she blames for violence in Manipur and other parts of northeast India. Having refused food and water for more than 500 weeks, she has been called “the world’s longest hunger striker”.

What is  rationale for  keeping AFSPA ,  thinking that security persons who rape innocent women should enjoy impunity in the name of national security? For whose security was the law enacted, for that of the country or of the criminals in uniform? Whenever some change is suggested in the Act the army seems to oppose it and the civilian government buckles under its pressure. For Eg , when the Jeevan Commission appointed to inquire into the alleged rape and murder of 30-year old Manorama Devi of Imphal in Manipur arrested by the Assam Rifles suggested  AFSPA should be repealed ,the  Government did not even publish the report.

Do you all know of woman called Manorma ?  In 2004, the women of Manipur held a protest after the brutal murder of Thangjam Manorama who was taken into custody from her home by the Assam Rifles under suspicion of having links with rebels. Her bullet ridden body was found a few kilometres away from her home, bearing signs of torture. Twelve Manipuri women came out naked, holding a banner saying ‘Indian Army Rape Us’ to protest against the paramilitary forces of the Assam Rifles demanding justice and taking a stand against the many rapes of other girls. Despite the curfew imposed, the protests by the women continued as they wanted the men responsible to be punished

One of the major rape cases in the history of Kashmir and indeed whole of India is the Kunan Poshpora mass rape incident. A village in northern Kashmir’s Kupwara district, Kunan Poshpora, on February 23, 1991 witnessed incidents of alleged mass rape of 20 women by the Army troops in one night. The incident drew the attention of national and international media. However this was soon forgotten and the womenfolk of the village landed in unending troubles. Women who deserved the respect and honor of the society, were not secure anymore form the cruel face of the armed forces and since that incident, numerous other cases of rape and enforced disappearances have come to fore in the last three decades. Another case which shook the region was the 2009 Shopian rape and murder case which resulted in protests rocking the whole Valley and several families lost their loved ones in the agitation.

Some  more cases of rape and sexual assault against personnel of the Army and central forces in Kashmir:

Case against Harbhajan Singh and Gurtej Singh

May 15, 1994: Rashtriya Rifles men entered the house of a couple and took the husband to Qazigund Hospital. When he returned the next morning, his wife told him she had been gangraped. A case of rape an other charges was filed at Qazigund police station. Responding to an RTI application, the home department said it sought sanction on January 23, 2006, to prosecute the Army men and have not yet got it. In a 2009 affidavit in the high court, the defence ministry said the state was informed that both accused, Nk Harbajan Singh and Rfn Gurtej Singh, had been tried by a summary general court-martial for rape, sentenced to rigorous imprisonment for 10 years and dismissed from service. “A retrial for the same offence will be in contravention to Article 20 (2) of the Constitution,” it argued.

Case Against Major Arora

January 3, 1997: A family comprising a 60-year-old, his two daughters and a grandson were preparing to go to bed at Manzgam, Kokernag, when some soldiers allegedly broke in. They were allegedly led by Major Arora of 5 Rashtriya Rifles. “He slapped me and dragged my younger sister (then 16) into a room and raped her,” the elder daughter told The Indian Express recently. The elder daughter’s husband had joined the Hizbul Mujahideen and the local army unit would often raid her father’s house. The day of the alleged rape, the Army allegedly picked up the father, who remains untraced 15 years on. The younger sister is now married with children, the elder one said, while her own husband surrendered  to the army, divorced her and remarried.

The police registered a case of rape at Anantnag and the government sought the defence ministry’s sanction to prosecute the officer. In an affidavit in the J&K High Court on June 5, 2009, then defence secretary Ajay Tirkey said the ministry received the request in December 2006 and it is “under consideration in army headquarters/Ministry of Defence”. On January 10, 2012, the ministry, responding to an RTI query, said permission was denied on April 21, 2007. “There were a number of inconsistencies in the statements of witnesses… The lady was forced to lodge a false allegation by anti-national elements,” the MoD said.

Case against Major Aman Yadav

December 5, 1999: Army men led by Major Aman Yadav of 28 Rashtriya Rifles, along with a few counter-insurgents, raided a house at Norpora, Kitter Dhaji, in Rafiabad. The officer allegedly raped a housewife, whose husband wasn’t home, while his men allegedly robbed the house. The family later left the village.

On January 4, 2000, based on a complaint by the victim’s husband, Panzala police lodged an FIR, one of the charges being rape. In an affidavit to the high court on June 5, 2009, then defence secretary Tirkey said the ministry received the request for sanction in January 2009 and “the case is under consideration in Army headquarters/Ministry of Defence”. In response to a separate RTI query, the MoD said sanction was denied on September 23, 2010. It has argued the allegations are “baseless and framed with mala fide intentions to put army on the defensive” Intriguingly, the ministry has cited it as a case of torture leading to death. Calling the allegations “mala fide” was effectively an indictment of J&K police, for it was on the basis of the police probe’s outcome that sanction was denied. There was, however, no follow-up government action. In response to an RTI application, police said they closed the case on August 19, 2011, having declared the accused “untraced”.

Case against Captain Ravinder Singh Tewatia

February 14, 2000: Captain Ravinder Singh Tewatia and three special police officials allegedly entered a house at night in Nowgam, Banihal. Captain Tewatia and one of the SPOs allegedly raped a mother and her daughter in separate rooms. A case of rape was filed in the Banihal police station. Two chargesheets were prepared for house trespass, assault, wrongful restraint and rape, and submitted to the Banihal chief judicial magistrate’s court on April 1, 2000.According to information gathered by rights group International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice through RTI applications, the case was split between a court-martial and criminal courts (in Banihal, Ramban and Jammu). The court-martial found Tewatia guilty of rape, sentenced him to seven years of imprisonment and dismissed him from service. He challenged the findings on October 1, 2000. On December, 31, 2002, the high court set aside the court-martial’s ruling. In 2003, the defence ministry filed a letter patent appeal in the high court, where it is pending. The state government didn’t challenge the high court order.

Rape case against  BSF Personnel

April 18, 2002: Personnel of the BSF’s 58 Battalion allegedly gangraped a 17-year-old in front of her mother, relatives and neighbours, all held hostage at gunpoint in Kullar, Pahalgam. Some 15 or 16 men in a BSF patrol party, passing through their village, had been beating up the girl’s uncle and she had tried to rescue him. A medical examination confirmed rape, while then BSF inspector general (Kashmir Frontiers) G S Gill, too, conceded that BSF personnel had committed rape. The girl identified three men at a parade. The same day, a case of rape was registered at Pahalgam police station. The police say that they submitted a chargesheet before the chief judicial magistrate in Anantnag. There hasn’t been any progress since.

Case against Major Rehman Hussain

November 6, 2004: Troops of 30 RR raided the home of a horsecart driver at Badhra Payeen village in Handwara at night. The man’s younger brother said, “The officer went into my brother’s room and pushed him out.” “He dragged my daughter (then 10) into the kitchen,” the wife of the targeted man this correspondent, adding the officer left and returned after an hour. This time, the woman alleged, she was raped in the kitchen.

The police registered a rape case and the district administration ordered a magisterial inquiry. The Army invoked the AFSPA . The accused officer, Major Rehman Hussain, was tried by a general court martial, which absolved him of rape. He was, however, found “guilty of using criminal force with the intent of outraging the modesty” of the 10-year-old girl and dismissed from service. But he challenged the decision in court and returned to service.

Even the  comments by apex court few days back while hearing PILs filed by families of victims of alleged fake encounters in Manipur, are a stinging rebuke of the lack of political will on revoking laws like the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA). In this instance, the government’s response to the damning report of the SC-appointed committee set up to probe six such cases in Manipur was that it agreed that such fake encounters should not take place. But mere “taking note” will not do any more. The government must speedily act to revoke this black law from wherever it is in effect, be it the north-east or Jammu and Kashmir. Blanket immunity for security forces has led to murder, rape and other crimes. And when the legal framework vests such crimes with impunity, it vitiates the basic principles of democracy and the rule of law that are necessary for the citizens of these areas to feel part of the national mainstream.

The  Court  also sharply brought attention to another vital fact: keeping these laws, and thereby maintaining an unnatural state where the armed forces are seen as the primary representatives of government, mutates the whole political, democratic system itself.

Now after  getting a glimpse of AFSPA, what the supreme court of india says of Indian army ?

I wonder  if you  all are still proud of Indian Army

This sexist  advertisement should be immediately removed,

It will be great if  women part of the advertisement ask to do so.

best

Kamayani Bali Mahabal

Not proud of Indian Army

Not a Proud Indian

A Person  , A  Feminist and a  Human Rights Activist

April 15th, 2013

 

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.

 

Two views of the crowd in Chhattisgarh’s jails


Ashutosh Bhardwaj : Jagdalpur, Mon Apr 08 2013, Tehelka
FPTribals of a Bastar village in a rally for prisoners’ rights.

Chhattisgarh‘s jails remain among the country’s most crowded, a finding that comes amid allegations from Maoists and activists that the government is unnecessarily keeping Bastar tribals prisoner after having promised to release them. The government, for its part, has denied it ever made such a promise, and stressed any decision on release is the prerogative of courts.For every 100 prisoners it has the capacity to accommodate, Chhattisgarh actually has 256, according to the latest National Crime Records Bureau figures (till 2011). This is called occupancy rate. Chhattisgarh’s rate has gone up from 237 in 2010, then the highest for the country. Its 256 for 2011 puts it behind only Andaman & Nicobar Islands (500) and Lakshadweep (362), both of which have few prisons.

Maoists last week organised a “prisoners’ rights week” by tribals in interior villages of Bastar, accusing the government of going back on an agreement to expedite the release of their comrades and innocent villagers in exchange for Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon’s freedom nearly a year ago.

The government set up a “high-powered committee to review all cases” in which investigation and prosecution was pending. In the year since, the only release has been of Raipur-based Raja Dhruva, 22, on May 9, 2012. He was accused of violating the Excise Act.

“We never promised to release anyone. The agreement was to review pending cases,” says government spokesperson N Baijendra Kumar. “The committee has met many times, made many recommendations. These are in courts; they have to decide.”

DGP Ramniwas dismissed the Maoist allegations as propaganda and said the committee has recommended the release of over 60 undertrials and “it is for the courts to decide”. The government did refrain from opposing the bail of some top Maoist leaders whose release had been demanded. The bail pleas were, however, rejected in court.

In a state that topped Maoist-related violence in the last decade, and one with a large tribal population, most inmates lodged in Bastar jails under Maoist cases are indeed tribals.

In Jagdalpur Central Jail, of 546 prisoners accused of being Maoists or Maoist supporters, 512 are tribals, 53 of them women. This is according to the response to an RTI application by activist Swami Agnivesh. In Dantewada jail, the response said, 372 tribals are among 377 prisoners being held under such cases. In Kanker jail, tribals account for 134 out of 144.

Many such cases end in acquittal for lack of evidence. All 10 tribals accused in the Tadmetla incident, in which 76 cops had been killed in 2010, were acquitted recently. Soni Sori, accused of being a Maoist supporter, was acquitted in four of seven cases.

Activist Himanshu Kumar alleges “a systematic elimination of tribals” by booking them under false charges. Prison officials say the high tribal count is natural. “Maoists recruit their lower level members, Dalam and Sangham, from locals, mostly tribals. It’s the top Maoist leaders who are exploiting innocent tribals,” DG (Jail) Giridhari Nayak says.

The highest number of undertrials booked on Maoist-related charges are in Jagdalpur jail. How its 581 convicts (total inmates 1,638; capacity 629) are treated is the subject of another debate. The department terms it the “industrial jail” for the goods it produces; Maoists claim tribal convicts are forced to “work like cattle”.

The jail promotes weaving, carpentry, and metal and woodwork, the daily wages being Rs 15 for skilled labour and Rs 12 for unskilled. In 2011, its products were worth Rs 87 lakh. “Tihar jail with 5,000 convicts registered production of Rs 4 crore. If you consider production per convict, my jail will rank among the best in the country,” says superintendent Rajendra Gaikwad.

“It has become a sort of industrial jail. They can be absorbed in the society after their release,” says DG Nayak.

In a March 23 statement, Maoist leader Ganesh Uike said, “Jail officers make prisoners work as bonded labourers… several do not work, but their accounts get credited and the money goes to officers.” The department says Rs 75 lakh was given in 2011, half of which went to the families of their victims.

Arun Sarkar, 44, convicted of murdering his wife, is the jail accountant. “I learnt typing and computers here,” he says. Lingaram Kodapi, an accused in Essar-Maoist payoff case, too is lodged here. In letters he has written from jail, and which have surfaced, he has alleged torture by jail officials.