Dalits denied water in K’pada village

Monday, 09 April 2012  PNS | KENDRAPADA

Dalit ward in Ghagara gram panchayat under Nikirai police limits was denied Government pipe water facility by the sarpanch who took the decision at the behest of her father because many residents of the ward did not cast their votes to her during the recently concluded panchayat elections.

According to police sources, Ghagara sarpanch Banodini Parida did not allow any development work to take place, including connection of a Government-sponsored water pipe line, in a Dalit ward of the panchayat at the behest of her father Balaram Parida. Balaram blocked the pipe water project in the ward for avenging on the residents who did not cast their votes to her daughter.

This led to an altercation between Balaram and a Dalit member of the ward and Balaram Parida made casteist remarks on him besides using filthy language. Later, both Balaram and the Dalit member lodged FIRs against each other at Nikirai police station.

When contacted, Nikirai police station IIC Manashi Patra said she had received two complaints and was conducting an investigation into the alleged matter.

Immediate Release- Conviction of 23 in Odh massacre case in Anand, Gujarat ( with legal documents)


Map of Gujarat showing location of Anand

Map of Gujarat showing location of Anand (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 April 9, 2012

Press Release

The Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) welcomes the decision in Sessions Case Nos 45/2008 (CR No 23/2002) to convict 23 of the 47 accused charge sheeted in the Odh massacre case in Anand, Gujarat. Eighteen of those convicted have been convicted under sections 302, 120B and 149 of the Indian Penal Code and others under section 307, 120 B and 149.

The CJP salutes the courage and resilience of the witness survivors who despite being displaced into towns and villages all over Anand district, deposed in court without fear and ensured that justice was done. The fact that witness protection was provided by the CISF, following the Supreme Court’s directions on a petition filed by the Citizens for Justice and Peace (CJP) and the continued monitoring of the trial by the apex court no doubt ensured this result.

There are lessons to be learnt from this and other post Godhra cases that are systemic –the need for independent investigations which are timely and immediate, the need for a robust witness protection programme and the necessity for the higher judiciary to keep an eye on cases of mob violence.

The CJP recognises the hardship that witness survivors have had to put up with. A few families live in fear in Odh whereas the vast majority live in nearby Bhalej, Dhunagra, Sureli, Anand. Many families live on agricultural lands surrounding Odh where the humiliation of boycott is a reality. Even today water from common water sources is denied to the survivor witnesses. This is the price, the heavy price that those who have stood by the struggle for justice. The CJP appeals to the state government and the administration to abide by its constitutional mandate and ensure genuine rehabilitation and reparation of the survivors of the Odh massacre.

Sentencing of the accused will be pronounced on April 12, 2012.

Advocates Irshad Mansuri and Nasir Shaikh appeared for the survivor witnesses on behalf of CJP.

Teesta Setalvad, Secretary, CJP from Anand

List of Accused Convicted and Sections under which they have been convicted

Vinubhai Bhikabhai Patel, 302, 120 B

Atulbhai Dahyabhai Patel, 302, 120 B

Vijaybhai Ravjibhai Patel, 302, 120 B

Devangbhai Harshadbhai Patel, 307, 120 B, 149

Girishbhai Somabhai Patel, 307, 120 B, 149

Prakashbhai Jassubhai Patel, 307, 120 B, 149

Dilipbhai Vallabhai Patel, 302, 120 B

Harisbhai Vallabhai Patel, 302,120 B

Dilipbhai Somabhai Patel, 307, 120 B, 149

Jayendrabhai Satishbhai Patel, 302, 120 B, 149

Sureshbhai Bhailalbhai Patel, 302,120 B, 149

Arvindbhai Ravjibhai Patel, 302, 120 B, 149

Hemantbhai Sanabhai @Gokulbhai Patel, 302,120 B, 149

Sanatkumar Ranchodbhai Patel, 302,120 B, 149

Manubhai Jethabhai Patel, 302,120 B, 149

Dilipbhai Ranchodbhai Patel, 302,120 B, 149

Poonambhai Laljibhai Patel, 302, 120 B, 149

Dharmeshkumar Nathubhai Patel, 302,120 B, 149

Vinubhai Sanabhai Patel, 302,120 B, 149

Natubhai Mangalbhai Patel, 302,120 B, 149

Praveenbhai Mangalbhai Patel, 302,120 B, 149

Name of Witnesses CR 45/2008 (Formerly CR 23/2002)

Odh Incident Khambolaj Police Station

1. Rafik Khalifa Complainant

2. Majidmiya Muradmiya Malek

3. Mehmudabibi W/o Majidmiya Muradmiya Malek

4. Mohammedkhan Akbarkhan Pathan

5. Safimiya Mohammedmiya Malek

6. Kalumiya Jeevamiya Malek

7. Arifmiya @ Lalmiya Jusab

8. Firozkhan Matbarkhan Pathan

9. Aiyubkhan Kasamkhan Pathan

10. Yasinkhan Mehmudmiya Malek

11. Hussainkhan Hasukhan Pathan

12. Matbarkhan Bhikhankhan Pathan

13. Mehbubmiya @ Kalumiya Hasumiya Shaikh

14. Sikandarmiya Ahmedmiya Malek

15. Yasinkhan Mustufamiya Malek

16. Nabimiya Akbarmiya Malek

17. Ahmedmiya Jeevamiya Malek

18. Kalumiya Mohammedmiya Malek

19. Ruksanabanu W/o Iliyas Nabimiya Malek

20. Merajbibi (PW 109) Rasoolkhan Pathan (injured witness was added)


110228 Arguments SC45_18.1.11_ FINAL

Backgrounder FIR Odh

backgrounder ODH chargesheet(ODE)(small)

backgrounder discrepancy in investigation ODH

backgrounder list of witness in ODH -eng

Immediate Release-Complaint for FIR filed at ACB against Vilasrao Deshmukh & High Court Judges

Vilasrao Deshmukh

Vilasrao Deshmukh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

· Vilasrao does it again, another day, another scam.
· Land meant for housing the dishoused grabbed by the Judges of Bombay High Court.
· Complaint filed for registration of FIR against politician, bureaucrats & judges.

In another case of brazen nexus of the politicians and bureaucrats, it has come forth that the present day Cabinet Minister, Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh in his capacity of Chief Minister, Maharashtra in connivance of Shri CS Sangeetrao-then Collector-Mumbai , Shri SS Zende- the then Collector Mumbai Suburban, Shri RC Joshi-Principal Secretary Dept of Revenue & Forest, Shri Ramanand Tiwari- Principal Secretary Urban Development Department entered into a criminal conspiracy to grab over land that was reserved as Housing of the Dishoused at Bandra. What is more shocking is the fact that this was done to benefit the NyaySagar CHS that had judges of Bombay High Court as its members.

A complaint demanding registration of FIR under section 120-b read with section 13(1)(d) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 is being filed with the office of Director-Anti Corruption Bureau against Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh, Shri CS Sangeetrao, Shri SS Zende, Shri RC Joshi, Shri Ramanand Tiwari, Justice Vijay Chaganlalji Daga, Justice Ajay Manikrao Khanwilkar, Justice Gavai, Justice Ghodeshwar, Justice Sundram Radhakrishnan, Justice Sharad Arvind Bobde, Justice Prasankumar Vinayak Kakde, Justice Rajender Lodha, Justice GD Patil, Justice H. E. Rebello, Justice DK Deshmukh, Justice DB Bhosale, Justice DG Karnik, Justice DY Chandrachud.

In the year 2001, serving judges of Bombay High Court came together and formed a CHS by the name of Nyay Sagar CHS and approached Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh for allotment of government land. They identified Survey No 341(Part) CTS No 629 Bandra East, which at that time was reserved for Housing the Dishoused and thus could not be allocated. To bypass this Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh ordered his subordinates, especially Shri CS Sangeetrao-then Collector-Mumbai , Shri SS Zende- the then Collector Mumbai Suburban, Shri RC Joshi-Principal Secretary Dept of Revenue & Forest, Shri Ramanand Tiwari- Principal Secretary Urban Development Department to change the DP reservation so that the land that was meant for the dishoused could be allocated to the Judges for fulfilling their greed as none of them is staying in the flat as all have been given on rent and are earning atleast rupees one lakh per month as rent.

Further, the Letter of Intent was issued to Nyay Sagar CHS, even before a decision was taken to allot the land, the possession of the land was given to the Society on date 26.3.2003, even though the final decision of allotting the said land to the said society was taken much later on 22.6.2004. More shockingly the Notification asking for suggestions and objections on the proposed change in DP reservation from Housing of the Dishoused to Residential zone on date 16 june 2004 and just six days after it i.e on date 22 june 2004 the final allotment of the land was done, though the time for filing suggestions were open for thirty days more.

Thus the process of change of DP reservation was mere an eye wash to fool the public as the decision to allot the same to the judges was taken much earlier. To do all this the Judges met Shri Vilasrao Deshmukh at his residence in the year 2002, decisions were taken at these meetings, they used their official letter head of being High Court Judge though the purpose for which they were writing was totally personnel, thus it was inappropriate and abuse of official power on the part of the judges.

The allotment of land meant for the neediest sections of the society to the most powerful is a clear case where those in power are abusing the power though they are entrusted with the authority for the greater common good. On one hand the slum dwellers in Mumbai are to face evictions and demolitions, decision regarding which are taken by the very same Ministers, Bureaucrats & Judges who get tighter into a nexus and grab the lands that are rightly meant for them but label the slum dwellers as encroachers and illegal while themselves engaging in acts of encroaching over the rights and lives of the poor.

Simpreet Singh Santosh Thorat Amit Maru Akhilesh

Jameela Hyder Imam Hrishikesh Sawant Siraj


Prof. Sarah Hodges on Reproductive Health in colonial India

Prof. Sarah Hodges, University of Warwick, explains her research on “family planning” and reproductive health in colonial India. Her  work  is on the social and cultural history of modern South Asia, specifically the politics of health in colonial and postcolonial India (particularly the Tamil-speaking south). Her  interests lie at the intersection of a number of fields: modern South Asian history, gender studies, anthropology, and the history of science, technology and medicine.

She is  currently at work on a book about the contemporary history of medical garbage in Chennai, India, provisionally titled, Biotrash: The Urban Metabolism of Medical Tourism in India.

Dr Mohan Rao  interviews  Sarah Hodges.


Missouri Republicans Pass Two Anti-Abortion Bills Allowing Employers And Doctors To Deny Women Birth Control


March 31, 2012
By Stephen D. Foster Jr.

Missouri is now the top contender for the title of most insane and most anti-women conservative state in America. On Thursday, Missouri Senate and House Republicans passed two bills that could cripple women’s access to abortion and contraception. One bill allows employers to deny coverage for contraception and abortion services for religious reasons and the other bill gives doctors, nurses, and pharmacists the same power.

According to St. Louis Today:

“The Senate passed a bill that would let employers deny health insurance coverage for birth control for employees who cannot prove a medical need for it.” On the same day, the House “passed a bill that would shield health care workers from participating in anything that conflicts with their conscience.”

In other words, an employer can grill a woman about why she needs contraception, and if she doesn’t give a satisfactory reason, it won’t be covered. And if a woman needs an emergency abortion or is raped and needs an abortion, the medical staff can refuse to help her.

Republican Senator John Lamping and House Republican Tim Jones are the sponsors of the bills. Lamping says “employers today have the right to offer whatever benefits they want,” and that his bill would somehow exempt employers from the new health care laws found in the Affordable Care Act and the new contraception coverage rules set forth by the Obama Administration. Meanwhile, Jones says his legislation is about religious freedom and not the reproductive rights of women.

Jones and Lamping are damned liars. These bills are all about denying women rights over their reproductive health. Lamping’s bill gives employers free reign over what women are doing in their private sex lives. Employers have no right to interfere in what a female employee does with her own body. How exactly is an employee supposed to know if a woman is telling the truth about what the contraceptives are for? Demand a doctor note? Have access to medical records? And what happens if the female employee is lying to protect her own privacy? Will she be wrongly fired for making her own decisions regarding her uterus? That’s exactly why this bill is dangerous. Employers have no right to know what a woman does with her sex organs. It violates the privacy and personal liberty of women and doctor/patient confidentiality.

Jones’ bill is just as dangerous and perhaps even more so. Not only could this bill allow doctors and pharmacists to deny women contraception, it allows doctors and nurses to refuse medical care to women who need an abortion. So if a woman needs an emergency abortion because of a life threatening ectopic pregnancy, medical personnel can turn their collective backs on her while precious time is wasted that could be used to save her life. This bill is a ‘Let Women Die’ bill and Jones knows it.

These bills are being passed under the excuse of religious freedom, but this is clearly not about religious freedom. It’s about eliminating women’s rights and destroying privacy and personal liberty. It’s about the conservative hatred of independent women who make their own choices without the permission of men. Republicans are disgracing Missouri and if these two bills actually become law, the state should henceforth be known among women as ‘Misery’.

Dalits are ‘Missing “from the Indian newsroom

Hindu, Apr, 9
Robin Jeffrey

The media’s failure to recruit Dalits is a betrayal of the constitutional guarantees of equality and fraternity.

There were almost none in 1992, and there are almost none today: Dalits in the newsrooms of India‘s media organisations. Stories from the lives of close to 25 per cent of Indians (Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) are unlikely to be known — much less broadcast or written about.

Unless, of course, the stories are about squalor and violence. An analyst once summed up the treatment of African-American and Hispanic issues in the American media: such people “rarely travel, eat or get married,” if all you knew about them was what you learned from the media.

Is it a calamity that Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are almost completely absent from newspapers and television? Of course it is. It’s a calamity for at least three reasons.

First, it means that the Constitution is not being lived up to. The Constitution promises “equality” and “fraternity.” There’s something deficient about “equality” if a quarter of the population is missing from the Fourth Estate. And it’s hard to fraternise — to practise fraternity — with people who aren’t there.

Second, a fitting presence in newsrooms, and the varied coverage that it brings, mitigates the resentment of people who are ignored and discriminated against. Recognition of tribulations and achievements combats discrimination. And if meaningful changes do not happen, resentment will bubble up destructively — as it already does in areas of Maoist influence in eastern India. Constant, probing stories about the triumphs and agonies of people on the margins help to effect remedies and turn barriers into bridges.
A section overlooked

Third, genuine media people, who believe in the old New York Times tag about ferreting out “all the news that’s fit to print,” can never be satisfied with producing a newspaper, a magazine or a bulletin that robotically overlooks a quarter of the population (except when there’s violence and squalor of course). Grizzled city editors (city editors are always grizzled) used to pose a single question to self-satisfied reporters at the end of the day: “What REALLY happened out there today, boys and girls?” It ought to flash in lights in every newsroom.

The Dalit absence from the media has been focussed on sporadically since 1996. That’s when Kenneth J. Cooper, the Washington Post correspondent, himself an African-American, tried to find a Dalit media person in New Delhi. Cooper wrote about his failure to do so, and B.N. Uniyal publicised Cooper’s inquiries in the Pioneer. “Suddenly, I realised,” Uniyal wrote, “that in all the 30 years I had worked as a journalist I had never met a fellow journalist who was a Dalit; no, not one.”
Not a single SC, ST

Nothing had changed by the time I published India’s Newspaper Revolution in 2000. Nothing had changed by 2006 when a survey on the 10th anniversary of the Cooper-Uniyal inquiry found not a single SC or ST among more than 300 media decision-makers. And nothing much had changed a year ago when the Tamil journalist, J. Balasubramaniam, wrote a personal account in the Economic and Political Weekly.

Kenneth Cooper, now a media consultant and editor based in Boston, began a distinguished career on the St Louis American, an African-American daily that was commercially successful. If there are similarities between the plight of African-Americans in the past (and present) and Dalits today, then why are there no Dalit-oriented media voices like Ebony or Essence magazines or the old St Louis American or Chicago Defender?

Part of the answer lies in the fact that Dalits lack advantages that Black America enjoyed (though “enjoy” is hardly the right word) even in the 1920s. Most important was a black middle class of shop-owners and professionals. Such people could buy advertisements and put up capital to back a publication. Black America worked in a single language, English, and had networks of churches and their pastors who provided respected leaders, education and connections. Martin Luther King was one of many. Black America was also less divided internally: caste among African Americans was not a problem, though skin tone may have been.

If you’re inclined to say, “Good journalists, regardless of caste, cover stories objectively” or “Quotas and reservations are the bane of modern India — only ability counts,” consider the nationalist experience. Did the old elites who confronted British rule feel they were satisfactorily represented in The Statesman and the Times of India? They didn’t. And The Hindu, Amrita Bazar Patrika, the Hindustan Times, Young India and many others were the result. Babasaheb Ambedkar said it well: “with the press in hand it [is] easy to manufacture great men.”

What might be done to put a Dalit presence into media? Two suggestions. Neither an answer, but both worth considering.
Two suggestions

To begin with, the Editors’ Guild could commit itself to carrying out an annual census of newsroom diversity of the kind that the American Society of News Editors (ASNE) began in 1978. In that year, “people of colour” were 4 per cent of people in U.S. newsrooms, though they were close to 30 per cent of the American population. The target was to reach more than 20 per cent by 2000. They missed the target. In 2011, “minorities” were about 13 per cent of American newsrooms, though they constituted 36 per cent of the U.S. population. (That includes African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans and Asians). The new ASNE target date has been set to 2020.

Such targets in India would be difficult. (Targets, remember. Not “reservations” or “quotas”). Caste is so raw and sensitive. But if major organisations took a lead in conducting and publishing an annual audit of diversity, and included women and Muslims in such an audit, an embarrassment factor would kick in. Lesser organisations might feel obliged to follow or be singled out for ridicule.

A middle class is growing slowly among people at the bottom of India’s pyramid (BOIP). People near the bottom, most of whom are Dalits, need a publication that looks at the world from their perspective — bottom up, not top down. A BOIP middle-class needs a first-class publication — an Ebony or an Essence, two of the glossy magazines of Black America that report achievements as well as outrages.
Classy & different

A slick, view-from-below magazine (English and Hindi) would cover stories from the margins in ways that people at the margins would recognise. And its journalism could be so compelling that others would want to read it for its classiness and its difference. In a tiny, budget-conscious way, the Dalit-focussed publisher, Navayana, already tries to do this in the book trade.

Such a publication would need to be run by a trust, and some of the capital would need to come from a Dalit middle-class itself. But the corpus of the trust could be built from donations from people-of-goodwill from all backgrounds and from one-off contributions from governments. Rs. 100 crore would make a realistic target — a mere $20 million, the cost of a couple of mid-priced battle-tanks or a small slice of 2G spectrum.

What about television? For about a year-and-a-half before I first came to India in 1967, I wrote a daily television column for a small-town newspaper in western Canada. I watched a lot of U.S. and Canadian television. There were no Black people on TV. When I came back to North America in 1970, Flip Wilson, an African-American comedian, had a popular TV show. Something dramatic had happened. Thirty-eight years later, the U.S. elected a Black President.

Are there any Dalits anchoring a programme or going regularly to camera on a major Indian television channel? My contacts tell me there aren’t. It will be a big moment when that changes — and a daunting burden on the person who breaks that barrier.

Achieving “equality” and “fraternity” in India may be harder even than the path that African Americans have had to follow. There are more divisions, fewer resources and huge disparities. But until there is diversity on television screens and printed pages, the promises of the Constitution will be unfulfilled, unthinking prejudice will persist and simmering resentment will grow. Media diversity is a matter of national self-interest as well as justice.

(Robin Jeffrey is Visiting Research Professor, Institute of South Asian Studies and Asia Research Institute National University of Singapore. The article is based on the Rajendra Mathur Memorial Lecture delivered in New Delhi on 31 March, 2012.)

Indian court finds Gujarat rioters guilty of killings

BBC  News- 9th April

A court in India has found 23 people guilty of killing Muslims in religious riots in Gujarat state 10 years ago.

Twenty-three other defendants were acquitted and one other died during the trial. Most of the defendants were Hindus.

They were accused of burning 23 Muslims to death in a house where they had taken shelter from rioting mobs.

More than 1,000 people, mostly Muslims, died when riots erupted after a train fire killed 60 Hindu pilgrims in 2002.

It was one of India’s worst outbreaks of religious violence in recent years.

Muslims were blamed for starting the train fire, and Hindu mobs eager for revenge went on the rampage through Muslim neighbourhoods in towns and villages across Gujarat in three days of violence following the incident.
‘Ode Massacre’

The case refers to killings that took place in Ode village on 1 March, 2002 a few days after the Godhra train deaths.

A mob of around 2,000 people went through the village targeting Muslim homes and killed 23 Muslims, mostly women and children, who had taken shelter in one house.

The Ode massacre is the third verdict out of 10 key incidents that took place during the riots that is being probed by an independent Special Investigating Team (SIT) set up in 2008 after a Supreme Court directive.

The 47 accused were charged with murder, conspiracy, rioting, unlawful assembly, attempt to murder and destruction of evidence by the SIT.

Sentencing is expected to be announced later this week.

In November 2011, a court sentenced 31 people for burning to death 33 Muslims near Sardarpura village in Gujarat.

Last February a special court in the state found 31 people guilty of setting fire to the passenger train in the town of Godhra. It acquitted 63 other people of conspiracy and murder.

Gujarat’s authorities have been accused of not doing enough to stop the riots.

Rally for Nonadanga prevented, more than hundred arrested in Kolkata

April 9th, 2012

A rally demanding rehabilitation for evicted people in Nonadanga and release of the arrested protesters was to be held today at 1 pm at college square in Kolkata. Police prevented the rally to start even and arrested 50 men, 36 women and 7 children accompanying their mothers. They were taken away by 5 prison vans. The rest of the protesters started sit-in there in college square, in front of the Vidyasagar statue.



Sanhati strongly condemns the detentions of seven activists, including three of its members, and the earlier detention of approximately 70 residents of the Nonadanga slum, who were conducting a peaceful demonstration at Ruby junction in protest against the eviction of hundreds of families in the Nonadanga colony in Kolkata. The arrests follow the brutal attack by the police on a rally by the evicted families at the same location on April 4th, during which several women and children were severely injured. Moreover, the arrests occured when police suddenly declared the demonstration to be illegal despite the fact that the organizers had obtained prior permission from the local police station. This turn of events amounts to a gross violation of the constitutionally guaranteed rights of the people to democratic dissent and protest.

Residents of Nonadanga were protesting against evictions from their homes on March 30th. The land in Nonadanga, which is very close to a major intersection on the E M Bypass, is a prime target of real estate developers and the current state government aims to evict the “encroachers” and make it available for “beautification”. Incidentally, Nonadanga is where slum dwellers, who were evicted from various canal banks of Kolkata, have been resettled over the past five years and hence the use of the term “encroachers” amounts to slander. In addition to putting on display the TMC government’s connivance with real estate developers, yesterday’s arrests and the clampdown on protests is part of the disturbing trend of the current government’s intolerance of dissent and the general deterioration of the democratic rights situation in West Bengal.

We urge all democratic minded people to demand the immediate and unconditional release of all the detainees with annulment of all charges, adequate and proper compensation and rehabilitation for the evicted families, and suitable punishment of all the police personnel responsible for the brutal lathicharge on April 4th.


Appeal for a Peoples Paper- ” Janta Ka Aaina”

Dear all,

Many of you probably know or know of advocate Shakil Ahmed and his work. For those who don’t, Shakil is a human rights activist and secretary of Nirbhay Bano Andolan (NBA), a group that has been working towards making the state government more accountable to its citizens.He was born and raised in a slum in Wadala and has been working in the area relentlessly. Among many of his incredible achievements, he was one of the main crusaders for the implementation of the Shrikrishna
Commission Report, the Gundewar Commission Report, got a municipal school started in the slum and himself founded a pre-primary school for the children of the basti.

Two years ago, he started publishing a newspaper called “Janta Ka Aaina” avilabal  at aainanews.blogspot.in. The paper, that highlights injustice in society, corruption and so on, has been surviving on donations since its conception. He
manages to bring out 1,500 copies for each publication at a cost of Rs 7,000. While 50 copies are sold off the stands, the rest are sent to people who subscribe to the paper.

Currently, he is falling short of money to his paper going. Several political parties have come ahead and made offers for paid news just before the elections. Of course, he has rejected them.

Under these circumstances, he could really do with your help. If you like, you could help him in the following ways:

1) Give suggestions on a revenue model.

2) Volunteer to write stories for the paper. Of course, he won’t be
able to pay.

3) Subscribe to the paper. It will cost you only Rs 100 annually.

4) Donate as much as you can and feel appropriate.

5) Sponsor one or two or several issues.

You could write to him directly to  shakilnba@gmail.com or call him on 99699-25602/ shabnam 8898546574

My name is NOT red

By Deepak Tiwari Story Dated: Saturday, March 31, 2012, The week


Case #1: Ulihatu, Jharkhand
Schoolgirls Juliana Purti, Jasmani and Magdali Mundu were picked up by the Jharkhand Police on October 30, 2010. The girls had stayed over at Juliana’s relative’s house after watching a hockey match. The police nabbed the relative on suspicion of being a Naxal sympathiser. The girls spent three months in jail for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
Juliana now studies in class 9 at Saint Mary’s School, Muruhu, 30km from Ranchi. She refuses to talk about the nightmare in jail and smiles rarely. She stays near the school, sharing a room with seven others. Her teachers showed her school records to the police to convince them that the girl was indeed a teenager. The police accused them of forging records.
Incidentally, Juliana comes from the same village as Birsa Munda, the legendary tribal who fought the British.
Case #2: Ganjam, Orissa
Auphira Badmajhi, a BSc. student of Khallikote Government College, was jailed under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967, and sections of the Indian Penal Code. His only fault was that he was at home on vacation when the paramilitary raided his village. Auphira thought his English speaking skills would help the security forces interact better with the villagers. But it made the forces suspicious of him. He spent 10 months in jail, despite his college certifying that he had 90 per cent attendance and was a meritorious student.
Case #3: Ranchi, Jharkhand
Jeetan Marandi spent three years in jail for being the namesake of a wanted Naxal. Through his Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikash Andolan, Jeetan highlighted human rights issues and fought forcible land acquisition in Jharkhand. He was jailed because his namesake was accused in a Naxal attack which killed 20 people, including Anup Marandi, son of former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi, in October 2007.
On appeal, the courts absolved Jeetan of all charges. He was to be released on December 15, 2011, when the government filed fresh cases against him.

These lives have been caught in the crossfire between the Maoists and the state. Certain sections of the government and bureaucracy conveniently tag them as collateral damage and scoff at the idea of compensating them for their suffering. But what does the law have to say about it? In the Naxal belt, the laws are many and their interpretation varied (see list on page 43).
The central laws and state-specific laws were framed to give the police adequate powers to maintain internal security and deal effectively with insurgents. The problem lies in the interpretation. For example, the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 (CSPSA) allows the police to arrest people committing “an unlawful act by words spoken or written or by signs or by visible representation or otherwise”.
The interpretation of “unlawful” has led to the arrest and imprisonment, without trial, and, in many cases, without any charges, of hundreds of innocent villagers, social and human rights activists, teachers and journalists in the poorly connected and poorly developed Naxal belt. Rajendra Kumar Sail, former president, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Chhattisgarh, equated these laws with the colonial Rowlatt Act. He said they work on the principle of “no dalil, no vakil, no appeal [No plea, no lawyer, no appeal].”
On March 29, a Delhi trial court absolved high-profile Naxal leader Kobad Ghandy of terror charges. The judgment came after a protracted legal battle. Despite being a popular doctor and having innumerable well-wishers in India and abroad, Binayak Sen had to spend two years in jail. The fate of the nameless faces can only be imagined.
An example is Junash Pradhan, 45, chairperson, Daringbadi block panchayat samiti, Kandhamal, Orissa, who was arrested on January 9. He was charged with involvement in a landmine blast, but actually his crime was speaking out for innocent tribals who were arrested for being Maoist supporters.
Said Narendra Mohanty, convener, Banvasi Surakshya Parishad: “Junash had organised a protest against the local police on May 5, 2011, to protest the killing of innocent tribals. It seems he was arrested and tortured to prevent him from contesting in the panchayat elections.”
Mohanty himself stands accused in another landmine blast case in Kandhamal. He has left the district, and came to Bhubaneswar secretly to meet THE WEEK. He said the case was foisted on him as his organisation helped tribals fight exploitation.
In an appeal before the National Human Rights Commission, Mohanty said Junash had no criminal links or involvement with banned organisations. “Since 2008, he has been a government nominee on a sub-division level forest rights committee,” he said. “He has never owned a gun, yet the police framed him in a landmine blast case.”
The police maintain that Junash is a hardcore Naxal involved in the landmine blast that killed three policemen near Kotagarh on January 5. He is charged under sections 120(b), 121, 121(a), 307, 302, 324, 326, 124(a) and 34 of the Indian Penal Code, sections 3 and 4 of the Explosive Substances Act, 1908, sections 25 and 27 of the Arms Act, 1959, and sections 16, 20 and 38 of the UAPA. The court may or may not find merit in these charges, but until then it is going to be a long wait for Junash.
Orissa Director General of Police Manmohan Praharaj said that while the UAPA was a strong law, there were checks to prevent its misuse. However, activists say most cases registered under such acts do not stand in court.
Village women Beko Bhime and Kunjam Ramwati of Mudbedi in south Bastar were charged under CSPSA and spent 15 months in jail before being acquitted. Madvi Joga, Mukka Hunga, Suknath, Muchaki Joga, Makdam Lakma, Uika Bhima and Banjam Bhima were arrested in 2008 for allegedly maintaining contact with Naxals and possessing Maoist literature and detonators. They were released on February 12, as the police could not establish their case.
Acquittals hardly compensate for the time they spent in jail. Most victims do not seek compensation for fear of being harassed again. But the tide is turning. Orissa High Court lawyer Pratima Das, 28, was accused of being a Naxal sympathiser and was jailed from August 13, 2008, to November 17, 2010, when the trial court acquitted her. She has moved court seeking ∃20 lakh as compensation for unjust imprisonment and the failure of the state to protect her life, liberty and livelihood.
The access to justice is also an issue in the Naxal belt. Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram said there was a need to probe the reports about private companies paying protection money to the Maoists. Essar Steel was one such company mentioned in Chhattisgarh and arrests were made in this case. Essar General Manager D.V.C.S. Varma, an accused in the case, has been granted bail.
Vijay Sori, 38, master trainer of Rahul Gandhi Youth Brigade in Chhattisgarh and Dantewada district president of Kisan Congress, spent nearly two years in Bastar Jail, waiting for his bail plea to be heard in the Supreme Court. He was arrested along with 32 others on trumped up charges of murder of a local contractor on July 8, 2010. Many accused in the case were released for lack of evidence.
In an undated letter addressed to his wife and smuggled out of prison, Vijay had written that a high-profile legal team made all the difference. In the Essar case the executives had paid off the Naxals and were in the wrong, but they got bail. Innocents like Vijay languished in jail because their defence was poor.
Another arrest that has got media attention was that of Soni Sori (not related to Vijay Sori). A teacher and a panchayat member, she was accused in the Essar case and was charged under CSPSA. It was alleged that she had passed on the protection money to the Naxals. Recently, it was reported that she was tortured in custody by stuffing stones in her vagina and anus. Her family, too, was hounded to break her.
Kopa Kunjam’s case is another litany of abuse. A social activist, he had worked for Unicef and various agencies in Bastar through the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram in Dantewada. He was a district resource person of Mitanin, a rural health programme designed by Binayak Sen.
He vehemently opposed Salwa Judum, the state sponsored militia, and helped victims of Salwa Judum violence in more than 60 villages. He was picked up on December 10, 2010, with a young Human Rights Law Network lawyer, Alban Topo. Kunjam was sent to jail, while Topo was freed. He was charged with the abduction and murder of a Salwa Judum worker in Dantewada.
“When [social activist] Medha Patkar came to meet me in jail, the jailer told her that I did not want to meet her. He made me sign me some paper,” said Kunjam. “I was brutally beaten and suffered serious injuries on my chest, back and leg.” The Supreme Court granted him bail after 22 months in jail. In Dantewada jail, Kunjam organised a hunger strike of inmates demanding that cases of undertrials be heard within six months and parole be given to undertrials to attend funerals in their families. The Vanvasi Chetna Ashram was demolished last year by the police, as it was a base for social activists and journalists covering Bastar.
The police are also allegedly targeting journalists, activists and lawyers who work in the locality. The cops’ ire is that these people pass on information to the media at large, leading to negative publicity.
Amarnath Pandey, a PUCL member and practising advocate in Ambikapur, Chhattisgarh, filed lawsuits in an encounter killing and a custodial rape case. Within months he was implicated in a case and charged with sedition. “These cases were forged to threaten me for acting against the state,” he said. “I fight for ordinary people who are [tagged as being] Maoists.”
Sources said the police in the Naxal belt now file the names of activists in Naxal violence cases in remote areas. As nobody knows about it, the ‘accused’ are later declared absconders. “Later when they want to pressure these people, the FIRs come out of the cold storage,” said Sail. “Branding someone as a Naxal and then discrediting them using the available draconian acts have become a common police tactic.” He said the conviction rate of cases under these laws was less than 1 per cent.
Advocate Sudha Vyas of the Bilaspur High Court said more than 1,000 people were rotting in Chhattisgarh jails on charges of being Naxals or Naxal sympathisers. Ram Niwas, additional director-general, Naxal operations, Chhattisgarh, said CSPSA was specifically made to counter Naxals. “It is used only where we are sure that a person is directly involved in Naxal activity,” he said. “We are the worst hit by Naxal violence and we are here to protect both ordinary people and the security forces.” Official figures about victims are obviously much lower than what the activists quote.
Claims and counter-claims aside, the ordinary citizen is caught between the police hammer and the Maoist anvil. Shivdayal Tomar, a contractor, said nobody wanted to work in south Bastar region. “It is impossible to live in a rural area without giving and taking support from people around,” he said. “If a Naxal demands food, the villager cannot refuse. If he gives food, the police jail him for being a Naxal sympathiser.”
An example is the case of Puranchand Meher, a tailor from Indagaon on the Chhattisgarh-Orissa border, who was arrested under UAPA clauses meant for those who “disrupt the sovereignty and territorial integrity of India”. Meher’s crime was that he stitched 20 trousers and five shirts from 35m of olive colour cloth given to him by a customer. A tailor from Raipur and two cloth merchants from Bilaspur have spent months in jail under CSPCA for selling camouflage cloth to a person whom the police claim is an active Maoist. How would a tailor know who is a Naxal and who is not?
Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason to the arrests, activists said. Prominent human rights activist Sashibhushan Pathak said there were instances in Jharkhand where the paramilitary arrested only salwar-kameez wearing women from a village, while ignoring the sari clad.
In Jharkhand, Father Stan Swamy said, “Between January 2010 and January 2011, 341 people were arrested under UAPA on trumped up charges.” He alleged that there were 6,000 innocent tribals in Jharkhand jails branded as Naxal sympathisers. “If you speak against forced displacement of tribals or against police atrocities, you will be branded a Naxal,” he said.
Gladson Dungdung, the young general secretary of Jharkhand Human Rights Movement, was branded a Naxal for opposing Operation Green Hunt. But he was subsequently nominated to the Planning Commission as a member from the social sector!
Inspector General R.K. Mallick, spokesman, Jharkhand Police, said the special laws were never used to target anyone. “We realise, in a democracy, there is a space for an alternative viewpoint and we try our best not to interfere in that,” he said. “We know people who are declared sympathisers of Naxals, but we have not touched them.” He, however, said the police would not spare anyone who provided arms, communication equipment or logistical support to the Naxals.
Reports from Andhra Pradesh show that the misuse of laws is not restricted to the northern reaches of the Naxal belt. Pittala Srisailam, 35, editor of online television Musi TV and co-convener of Telangana Journalists Forum, was arrested on December 4 and was tortured for 30 hours. Only on December 5 did the state accept that he was in custody. He was charged under the Andhra Pradesh Public Security Act, 1992, for being a Naxal courier.
Even worse is the case of Sripathi Tirupathi Goud, 35, a toddy tapper. He and his fellow tappers were out collecting toddy from a palm grove when Naxals approached them and asked for money. They refused. The police came to know about this and questioned them about the Naxals and the conversation. Soon after this, 18 trucks were burnt at a sand quarry nearby. The police nabbed Goud and his friends and tortured them, accusing them of arson at the behest of the Naxals. Goud was sent to jail three times and it took seven years for the case to end because of lack of evidence.
with Lalita Iyer

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April 2012
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