A missing girl, a known militant story in Manipur


Esha Roy : Imphal, Mon Apr 29 2013, 02:36 hrs
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FP14-year-old Alice (right) with a cousin. File photo

Alice Kamei had been missing for two days when Sundari got the call. What the voice on the other end said about her 14-year-old daughter has turned the world of this family living in Chingphu Kabui village in Manipur‘s Bishnupur district upside down.”It was a call from the RPF (Revolutionary People’s Front). They said that Alice had come to them of her own will,” says Sundari. “They asked to speak to her father. My husband wasn’t home at the time. I asked for my daughter and they said they would call the next day at 6 in the evening. They told us not to go to the police or the media, or we would not hear from her.”

When they talked the next day, the 35-year-old says, both she and Alice were in tears. “I asked her, ‘Don’t you love us, don’t you love your younger brother? Why did you leave?’,” says Sundari, breaking down. According to her, Alice replied that she loved them all very much and “desperately wants to come back”. “‘Please please come and get me. I don’t know where I am but come and get me’,” she told her mother. The phone got disconnected before her father, 45-year-old Chakri Kamei, could speak to her.

That was March 13. The family hasn’t heard from Alice in the 45 days since.

It was at 6 pm, March 10, that the Kameis first had an inkling that something was wrong. They received a call from Grace Reach Academy in Thoubal district of Manipur, a boarding school where both their children studied, asking if Alice had by any chance come home. “I was shocked… They told me they couldn’t find her,” says Sundari.

As the reports filed by the Kakching police station in Thoubal district earlier this month say, Alice and her 15-year-old friend Sanakalbi Khaidem went missing from the school at 11.30 am that day. It was a Sunday and most officials were not present on the campus. The girls were accompanied by a school helper, Elangbam Rojita Devi.

Since then, Rojita (35) and the school cook, 48-year-old Elangbam Thoinu, have been arrested and have reportedly confessed to being “overground workers” of the RPF, the political wing of the banned underground group, the People’s Revolutionary Army. The PLA is an active militant group in Manipur. Police are now hunting for a warden of Alice’s building, who is absconding.

According to the FIR lodged against Thoinu and Rojita, the two reported to 29-year-old Ranjana Devi, known as a child recruiter for the PLA. Police say Thoinu and Rojita had confessed that on March 3, they met Ranjana and two male members of the PLA in Myanmar and were instructed to specifically recruit Alice and Sanatalbi. They were allegedly given Rs 30,000 for the recruitment — Rojita got Rs 20,000.

But as far as tracing the girls goes, there has been no progress. Two weeks ago, the RPF released a statement reiterating that the girls had joined it “of their own free will”.

Chakri Kamei, who has withdrawn his son as well from the boarding school, disputes that. “There is no way that Alice would join a militant group — that too a Hindu Meitei valley group. We are Zeliengrong Nagas. Why would we support their movement?”

The Zeilengrong Naga community has been holding protests for the release of the girls. “We submitted demands to the Home Minister and even President Pranab Mukherjee when he visited Manipur recently,” says Zeilengrong Youth Front president Titus Kamei. “The RPF has told the family they are willing to release Alice if their underground and overground operatives are protected and the police take no action against them. They have said this is the family’s responsibility. How can the family be responsible for police action?” Titus asks.

Thoubal Superintendent of Police A K Jhalajhit, who is in charge of the Alice case, says Manipur militant groups routinely induct children and such cases were difficult to crack. “Most of the children inducted are from poor families. As soon as the militant organisation threatens them, they don’t even report the disappearance. In Alice’s case, three operatives had been placed in a school as scouts,” he says.

Jhalajhit doesn’t blame the school, noting that it is difficult for them to check antecedents of their employees.

The police officer also admits that chances of the abducted children returning home are slim. Most disappear for good.

Alice’s parents hang on to hope. Chakri talks about her daughter’s “big dreams”. The family had scrimped and saved to send their two children to the Thoubal boarding school. The Kameis grow and sell vegetables to sustain themselves.

Alice, a keen sportswoman, wanted to become a national-level archer. A bronze medal and plaque that she won at the 15th International Tribal Archery Competition, held in Vijaywada last year, occupy pride of place in their modest mudcaked thatched hut.

Their Chingphu Kabui village is known for its archers, with a local boy recently selected for an archery competition in Korea. Chakri believes Alice too would have made it to there.

Sundari has now locked up Alice’s notebooks, filled with her neat, precise handwriting, safely in a trunk. Her prized possession was a yellowing, cover-less book on birds.

“The lord is my shepherd” is scribbled on her algebra copy. Alice also had a book of hymns that Sundari now takes out and opens to a psalm, ‘Rescue the Perishing’. They would often sing it together, she says.

 

Roselyn: Idinthakarai activist, anti nuke protester – a victim of Neglect #RIP


A photograph of Roselyn taken on the day of her arrest by Amirtharaj Stephen photograph.

63-year old J. Roselyn, a mother of three from Idinthakarai, was among the 7 women randomly picked up from the Idinthakarai beach on the police crackdown of 10 September 2012. She was jailed in Trichy Women’s prison along with Xavier Ammal, Sundari and Selvi. Even at the time of arrest, she had complained that she was extremely unwell and had been suffering frequent bouts of vomitting, and needed medical attention and diagnosis. These facts were even registered in her records prior to her detention in Trichy prison.

She was not given adequate treatment in the prison hospital, and her requests for medical attention went unheeded.  When bail was granted for the case she was arrested under, the police filed two more cases and prolonged her stay in prison. She was finally released from prison on 30 October, 2012, on condition that she signs her presence at a police station in Madurai. As her condition worsened, it became impossible for her to visit the police station, and she was hospitalised in the Madurai General Hospital.

About 10 days ago, she was moved to Idinthakarai where she died early this morning on Dec 21, 2012 . Mugilan, who informed me about Roslin Amma’s demise said she had a cancer-like ailment, which had already manifested itself before the 10 September protests.

Roslin is a victim of neglect, and the vengeance of a state that views the very holding of a contrary opinion on nuclear power as a crime warranting imprisonment under harsh sections. 63-year old Roslin was accused and jailed under the following sections, including of “Waging War against the Government of India.”

1. Crl OP 15368, Crime No. 70/2012. Offence date: 16.2.2012
Charges: 121 — Waging War. 142, 163,152(a), 241, 242, 500, 508

2. Crl OP 15385, Crime No. 300/2012. Date of Offence: 11.6.2012
Charges: 124A — Sedition. 142, 168, 291

3. Crl OP 15389/2012, Crime No. 349/2012.. Date of Offence: 10.9.2012
147, 145, 163 r/w 144, 222, 252, 255, 294(b), 207, 427 r/w 149

What ails India’s democracy – THE SILENT EMERGENCY


Over two weeks ago, many of you – in fact a group of a hundred women – signed on to an appeal letter addressed to Selvi Jayalalitha, Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu, and the Chairperson of the National Commission on Women, asking that immediate action be taken to release Selvi, Sundari and Xavier Ammal – the three women activists and leaders from Idinthakarai who had been arrested on Sept 10 while carrying out a totally peaceful protest on the beaches near the KKNPP.Press releases were sent out to several newspapers and news channels carrying the names of several eminent women who had added their names to the petition, in addition to scores of other academics, writers, housewives, students and activists from across the country. With the exception of one or two newspapers, the news was ignored/blanked out by media.

Worse still, there has been no acknowledgement of receipt of the letters, let alone the courtesy of a reply, to date.

And just today, when I spoke to Uday Kumar in Idinthakarai – to tell him of our round of visits to party leaders and MPs in Delhi on the issue of Koodankulam and Nuclear Energy, he gave us the shocking news below:

“Four more cases against Xavier Ammal and Sundari slapped today by police.Yesterday morning, bail was ordered by the Madurai High Court on 6 cases against Xavier and Selvi, and 8 cases against Sundari. Evidently, the police filed fresh cases to prevent their release and suppress the Koodankulam movement.

Organise, Agitate. Demand release of the ~100 prisoners, revocation of the thousands of cases, and immediate moratorium on the reactor.”

This is both shocking and frightening. for the last three days a group of us has been doing the rounds in Delhi, meeting MPs from many political parties to raise concerns on Koodankulam, why nuclear energy , and demanding action against the

repression let loose on peaceful protest against KKNPP.Many of them have expressed themselves personally against nuclear Energy. Without exception they have condemned the action as undemocratic, but then hide behind the fact that this is a state subject about which they are helpless to take any action! Unbelievable and shameful.

What recourse do we have as citizens when even Parliament is unable or unwilling to take action on such blatant trampling of a peaceful, totally non violent campaign with all the might of the law against unarmed citizens who were only carrying out their democratic right to raise their concerns against the imposition of a dangerous plant in their midst?

RAISE YOUR VOICES, ORGANISE, AGITATE, DEMAND THE RELEASE OF ALL THOSE ARRESTED. AND YES, AN IMMEDIATE MORATORIUM ON THE REACTOR.

In closing, may I add that it this point it does not matter if you personally believe or dont believe in the value or inevitability of Nuclear energy for India. Personally I oppose it totally, but right now we are protesting the sheer brutality , as also the arbitrary and authoritarian manner in which the State has chosen to put down peaceful dissent.

Please raise your voices in and from every forum to which you belong. Write, speak, send messages to the leadership – both national and especially in Tamil Nadu.

I can do no better than to leave you with this inspirational message from Dr Helen Caldicott which I am copying below. Hard hitting and direct. Can she be more clear?!

Greetings to all – in solidarity – and requesting you to pass this on widely – take action as you think fit, we need to be heard.\Lalita Ramdas

Demand Release of PMANE Women activists from Trichy Jail #mustshare


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ACTION ALERT TO DEMAND RELEASE OF XAVIER AMMAL, SELVI AND SUNDARI OF  PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT AGAINST NUCLEAR ENERGY
On 18 October, 2012, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court heard  the bail appeals of 50 villagers from villages around Koodankulam. The  court released 47 villagers, but denied bail to three women — Xavier  Ammal, Selvi and Sundari. The women have already spent nearly two  months in jail, and given the High Court’s rejection, they are  unlikely to return to their families anytime soon. . .unless, we can  prevail on the Government to release them.
All 50 villagers had been arrested on the days following the September  10, 2012, police crackdown. Many of those arrested were not even part  of the protests. Those who were part of the protests were unarmed and  engaged in legitimate, non-violent demonstrations. Charges against  them vary from illegal assembly to shouting obscene slogans, sedition  and waging war against the state.

Send in your endorsement of the below letter to:
lalitagpi@gmail.com or geethv@gmail.com

***************************************************************************

To: Kum Jayalalitha,

Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
Fort St. George, Chennai 600 009

To: Ms Mamta Sharma

National Commission on Women
No. 4, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg
New Delhi-110 002.

Date: Nov 8 2012

Dear Sisters:
We are writing to urge you to facilitate the speedy release of three courageous women — Xavier Ammal, Selvi and Sundari — of Idinthakarai who are currently in the Trichy Women’s Prison. Their alleged crime was an act that most women would commit intuitively, namely acting to  protect their families, their communities and their future generations. Xavier Amma, Selvi and Sundari are strong, though gentle, women who have worked hard to keep their families together by rolling beedis, and selling fish. When the occasion demanded, as it did with the impending  commissioning of the Koodankulam reactors in the face of unanswered questions about its safety post-Fukushima, the women from villages around Koodankulam were galvanised into action. Among those thousands of women, these three have clearly stood out as leaders.

Following the September 10 police crackdown on the dharna by villagers opposed to nuclear energy, the police have arrested many villagers, including those who were in no way part of the protests. Across the board, the FIRs record that the villagers were armed with deadly weapons like “aruval (machetes), knives, sticks and crowbars.” Television footage of the September protests and police action bear testimony to the fact that the protestors were unarmed. Xavier Amma injured her hand after she ran and fell into the sea to escape the baton-wielding police. Both Selvi and Sundari have children that need taking care of. Selvi’s son is epileptic. It is indeed absurd that such women have been arbitrarily accused of sedition and waging war against the state. While releasing tens of others on bail at the same hearing of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, it is unclear as to why only these three have been denied bail.

We, the under-signed, are women from different walks of life who are very concerned at the increasing hostility of the various agencies of the State to democratic dissent, and the particular viciousness with which non-violent protests are being addressed. We are writing to urge  you to kindly act to restore justice by releasing these three women so that they can join their families, and by facilitating the return of a sense of normalcy in the villages around Koodankulam.

Sincerely

283094_366827710061991_927678070_n.jpg377920_366827666728662_996298568_n.jpg

 

Are We Not Alive: Women’s Voices from Kudankulam


English: Construction site of the Koodankulam ...

English: Construction site of the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant Deutsch: Baustelle des Kernkraftwerks Kudankulam (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

August 31, 2012

Guest post by ANITHA. S

As I sit here in my home village of Idinthikara watching the hot sun light up the waves rolling onto the shores, I think of the news that has hit the world today about the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant. All of you must have seen the news that Madras High Court has given the go-ahead for the KKNPP.

When we carried the dead body of democracy and burnt it in the outskirts of our village on Aug15th, 2012, little did we realize that so soon we would witness the real death of democracy. As this last nail is being tightened on our lives, we realize how insignificant has been our voice. But this has only strengthened our vow to be together.

As I think aloud with my friends gathered here rolling beedis and contemplating our future, I wonder who can give clearance without getting the consent of all of us who live so close to the plant. For over 2 decades, we have waited for some form of consultation with us about issues and doubts that have troubled our minds. Apart from generalized assurances with statements like It is Safe and There will be no problems, we have not been given any answers. Are we not still living here and are we not expected to live here? Or do we not exist or have become transparent like the people of Hiroshima who just vanished as they walked along the streets?

As we talk this afternoon with wind blowing over the Neem trees and bending the branches of the Drumstrick tree, it is our minds that are getting loaded-

We realize while cleaning the sardines and mackerels that came into our houses this morning that the Environmental Clearance given for the KKNPP is not appropriate or legal. What study can vouch for the safety of the KKNPP? Has the scientific team who did the study ever asked us about the fishes and other animals that have provided us with life for generations? Do they know the seasonality of the species, the variations in currents and tides, the changes in the seas as seasons change? Do they mention the rich wedge bank offshore that is home to many species that sustain our lives? What have they said about the abundant catch of prawns and lobsters? Who can decide that 45 degree centigrade or 35 degree centigrade is the permissible heat in which life forms will be safe? Will the water not contain substances with radiation? Is there a limit called permissible for radiation? Even children know that in the case of radiation, any dose is overdose.

We look at our homes and the sea avidly- because we are afraid this will all become an Exclusion zone as we have seen in Fukushima and Chernobyl. We might have to go away from here gathering all our belongings. Where will we go and how will we survive? We know of no life away from the sea. Our men are so dependant on the waters of the sea. Away from her, our health will wither, we will become wasters and gamblers not to speak of searching for the wrong kind of jobs. We need to be together to live in peace and harmony. Has any impact study ever mentioned this? Will a bit of money be able to buy us all that living in the community brings ?

Yes, please answer all these questions and we will reconsider our vow to struggle till KKNPP is closed. We suggest that all the  decision makers and technical support personnel connected to KKNPP stay with us in the village for a few days and explain and answer all our questions. Only then can our vow be broken…

[From conversations with Leema Navaras, Chellamma, Fransisca, Mary, Sundari, Annammal, Chinna Thankam, Tamilarasu, Ponnasakkiammal, Paramasithi, Melrit and Xavieramma and the innumerable women gathered in the Samara pandal at Idintakarai village. 
11.08.2012, 15-16.08.2012, 22.08.2012, 31st Aug 2012.]

Anitha.S ( anithasharma2007@gmailcom).

Mobile phone based report for Community Radio from Idinthakarai, Kudankulam


March 22, 2012, at Kafila.org

by ponni

Recording of a report by Sundari from Idinthakarai, the village in Kudankulam where many are on fast unto death and 15000 people have gathered in protest of the Nucelar Plant. Sundari is a long time local activist in the region who has been part of the struggle against the Nuclear plant.

Police have cracked down on the village and there is now a complete blockade. Journalists are not being allowed at all. This is an effort to get news out regularly. This recording has been made possible by the efforts of activists who work with enabling reporting for community radio through mobile phones. These broadcast and others that will follow, will be sent to community radio networks within Tamilnadu and around the country. Please spread the news. A translation is available below.

Sundari reports from Idinthakarai here.

I am calling from Idinthakarai. Can I speak now?

My name is Sundari. I am from Idinthakarai. We have been in a protest against the Nuclear Plant since the past 219 days. Till now, we have not caused any nuisance to the government or the public. We are holding a Peaceful Protest. The Chief Minister told us that she will stand by the people. When Manmohan Singh declared that he will open the nuclear plant, she said that the wishes o the local people is what matters to her. She closed the plant saying it is against the wishes of the people. Now suddenly, in a completely unexpected manner, has brought it the paramilitary and police. We are being tortured as much as the people in Sri Lanka must have been. There is no water. They have stopped the electricity connection to our village. Even milk packets have not been allowed in for the children. They are not allowing any journalists inside. They are not allowing anyone from the nearby villages to come in. No one is being allowed out of the village. All forms of transport have been stopped, including buses. Any people who come to help us are being arrested immediately. They sent the police and told us to ask Udayakumar to surrender. They are forcing us to make him surrender. They are threatening us with harm and say they can do what they want and there is nothing we can do about it. Here we are, women,

Read fulla rticle at Kafila