17-year old who saw his mother raped burnt alive

Teenager burnt alive in Bihar village
A teenager, who was the main witness in his mother’s rape case, was burnt alive in Nawada district Sunday, police said

May 14 15:10:21, 2012

Patna. Agencies

Chintu Kumar, 17, was set on fire Sunday afternoon in Garobigha village under Narhat police station, 150 km from here, a police officer said on condition of anonymity. The nine accused include the five allegedly involved in his mother’s rape.

Shockingly, all the nine accused roamed free a day after they burnt alive the teenager.

“Chintu was expected to appear in court in connection with the rape case,” the officer said.

According to villagers, the accused forcibly entered Chintu’s house in the afternoon and set him on fire.

Chintu’s mother, who was gangraped in 2006 by five men of her village, told IANS over telephone that her only son had been threatened to withdraw the case and not appear as a witness in court.

“The accused repeatedly threatened to burn him alive and finally they did it. Where is the rule of law in Bihar? There is no place for the poor seeking justice,” she said.

The woman added that the rape accused were powerful men with muscle and money power.

“I was told I would be taught a hard lesson if the case against them was not withdrawn. They also told me time and again to shell out Rs.1 crore to police and officials, including the judge. After all, they are rich people, we are poor and weak,” she said.

Ironically, top district officials are reluctant to talk about this shocking incident.

Even those at the police headquarters here say they can say something only after receiving reports from district officials.

However, the opposition Rashtriya Janata Dal, Lok Janshakti Party, Congress and Left parties have condemned the incident and blamed the Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for the deteriorating law and order situation in the state.

“The latest incident has again exposed a total collapse of law and order. Poor people have been targeted by the powerful in Bihar. We will protest against it,” leader of opposition Abdul Bari Siddiqui said.

Opposition leaders are likely to visit the village to meet the victim’s mother and inquire into the case soon.

Cartoons All! Politicians and Self-Seekers

MAY 14, 2012

The uproar over what is being referred to as the ‘Ambedkar cartoon’ in the class XI textbook prepared by NCERT first began over a month ago, that is to say, almost six years after the books have been in circulation, been taught and received high praise for their lively style and a critical pedagogical approach (more on this below).  It was a political party – one of the factions of the Republican Party of India – that decided to kick up a ruckus over ‘the issue’ – that is, the ‘affront’ to Dr Ambedkar that the cartoon in question supposedly constitutes, and the resultant ‘hurt sentiments’ that it has caused. Very soon everyone began to fall in line, and practically every member of our august Parliament was vying with one other to prove that  they were indeed more hurt than their colleagues. One of them, Shri Ram Vilas Paswan has even demanded that the NCERT itself should be dissolved!

Good old Jurgen Habermas – and good old Habermasians  – have always invested a lot in forums like the parliament, that are to them the hallowed institutions of ‘rational-critical discourse’ where through reasoned argument people convince each other. That is how the voice of Reason ultimately prevails in democracies. I have always been suspicious of this claim and have thought that Habermas’ empirical work on the decline (‘structural transformation’) of the public sphere was more insightful than his normative fantasies. Long long ago, his empirical work on the transformation of the public sphere showed that it was the rise of political parties that had actually destroyed all possibilities of ‘rational-critical discourse’, where organized passion in the service of immediate political interests carried the day.

But believe it or not, the text book and the cartoon that is now in the eye of the storm, isnormatively speaking a Habermasian tract. In other words, it invests too much in this fantasy of rational communication. The text below the cartoon (reproduced above) says:

” Cartoonist’s impression of the snail’s pace with which the Constitution was made. Making of the constitution took almost three years . Is the cartoonist commenting on this fact? Why do you think the Constituent Assembly took so long to make the Constitution?”And much as I personally disagree with this  romantic representation of what went on inside the Constituent Assembly, here is what the textbook it self has to say, perhaps as its own answer to the question posed in the text below the cartoon:..

Read more at Kafila

An Urgent Appeal to the Conscience of Nation on Koodankulam

A warning to the TN Govt on Koodankulam

A warning to the TN Govt on Koodankulam (Photo credit: Joe Athialy)


Dear Fellow Citizens of India,

On the occasion of our Parliament, the pinnacle of democratic governance, celebrating its 60th anniversary, our hard earned democracy is being ruthlessly repressed and violently suppressed. Within the accelerated race towards ‘destructive development’ and the generation of nuclear power to fuel such ‘development,’ entirely peaceful mass protests voicing people’s legitimate dissent are brutally put down. The common man, woman and child are unheard. In utter desperation, people at large are surrendering their ‘Voter ID cards,’ the ultimate symbol of ‘people’s power,’ which is the essence of any genuine democracy. Can there be a more ominous way to dissent?

Much like the recent anti-corruption upsurge, various actions for social, gender and ecological justice and other struggles in various parts of the country to safeguard people’s rights for their lives, dignity, resources, and livelihoods, the people’s movement in Koodankulam demanding a safe future is facing callous repression from the government and continued apathy from the public at large. Disappointingly, our mainstream media also persists in under-reporting this genuinely populist movement.

People in Idinthakarai village had to end their 14-day long fast this week. It is appalling that nobody from the Tamil Nadu, or Central, Government came to speak to them, and that police strength in the area has been intensified, with every possible intimidating tactic –including taking away the food ration cards of agitating villagers.

We appeal to you in a state of urgency and desperation.

The debate on India’s energy future is far from settled. We will need broader consensus and greater persuasion to ensure that India opts for the safest, most sustainable people-centric energy future.

The reactor project in Koodankulam perpetrates too many unacceptable violations of norms and procedures. The agitating people are peacefully and persistently trying to raise several important questions – both site-specific and generic with regard to nuclear power – through all possible forums. Many independent experts and scientists have already emphasized the various dangers of going ahead with the Koodankulam reactors.

At this critical juncture, we urge realizing a wider consultation is necessary before continuing the large-scale nuclear expansion that this government is already deeply engaged in.

We entreat you to demand that the government immediately stop intimidating and harassing peaceful protesters.

It is imperative that we immediately unite by raising our voices to defend democracy and the ethos of our country. Unacceptable precedents like the outright repression and silencing of the Koodankulam people’s movement will have adverse implications for all future individual and collective struggles.

With best regards,

Prashant Bhushan
Vandana Shiva
Partha Chatterjee
Admiral L. Ramdas
Lalita Ramdas
Surendra Gadekar
Sanghamitra Gadekar
Narayan Desai
Anand Patwardhan
M G Devasahayam
Gnani Sankaran
Achin vanaik
Suvrat Raju
Saraswati Kavula
G Sundar Rajan
Adil Ali
Gabriele Detrech
Ramesh Radhakrishnan
R R Srinivasan
Sudhir Vombatkere
Jatin Desai
Sukla Sen
Vivek Sundara
Ram Puniyani
Shabnam Hashmi
John Dayal
EAS Sharma
Malem Ningthouja Chairperson, Campaign for Peace & Democracy (Manipur)
Aruna Rodrigues
Pushpa Mitra Bhargava
Nagesh Hegde
Sudha S
Meher Engineer
Arati Chokshi
Ujjwala Mhatre
Preeti Sampat
Kabir Khan
G R Vora
Harsh Kapoor
Shri Prakash
Praful Bidwai
Chandra Bhushan Chaudhary
Gowru Chinappa
A K Ramakrishnan
Gita Hariharan
Kavita Krishnan
Indira Chakravarthi
Sajeer Abdul Rahman
Anivar Aravind
Asit Das
Priyamvada Gopal
Kamayani Bali Mahabal
Shankar Sharma
Karuna Raina
Xavier Dias
Nayana Patel
Stan Swamy
Rajeev Bhargav
Ilina Sen
Soumya Dutta
Vivek Monteiro
Madhura Chakraborty
Shonali Sardesai, Senior Social Scientist, World Bank
Jaya Seal Ghosh, Actress
Nirupa Bhanger, Executive Director, The Anchorage
Vijay Bhangar, ITT Bombay
Sandeep pandey
Neeraj Jain



Immediate Release- India: Hold Police to Account for Sexual and Other Assaults- HRW

Human Rights Watch logo Русский: Логотип Хьюма...

Human Rights Watch logo Русский: Логотип Хьюман Райтс Вотч (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

India: Hold Police to Account for Sexual and Other Assaults
Attacks Show Need for Better Government Response

(Mumbai, May 14, 2012) – Indian officials need to immediately open transparent and impartial criminal investigations into recent cases where police have assaulted women, Human Rights Watch said today. Human Rights Watch called on the government of India to overhaul its policies and response to women, children, and transgender people who experience violence. The Indian authorities should protect victims from police intimidation and discrimination, and prevent police interference in investigations and post-assault medical treatment, Human Rights Watch said.

Human rights and social activists in India are gathering on May 14, 2012, in SataraMaharashtra state, to peacefully protest the police assault and subsequent treatment of a pregnant sex worker. On the eve of the protest, the organizers learned that the police intended to invoke powers to prevent public disorder under the Bombay Police Act, 1951 to try to prevent the peaceful protest from taking place. In a joint letter with 50 national and international organizations and individual activists, Human Rights Watch urged the Indian prime minister toensure that police officers are held accountable and to create a high-level task force to advise the government on implementing policies, programs, and practices for addressing gender-based violence.

“The state’s response to women who experience violence is often characterized by delay, denial, discrimination, and disregard for women’s dignity,” said Aruna Kashyap, Asia researcher on women’s rights at Human Rights Watch. “The system needs an urgent, substantial overhaul and officials who fail to carry out their duty or engage in discrimination againstthose who experience violence should face consequences.”

Two recent cases of violence involve Anu Mokal and Anjana Ghadge, sex workers who were beaten by the police, and Soni Sori, a tribal woman and government teacher from Chhattisgarh state who was arrested and accused of being a Maoist supporter, and then allegedly tortured and sexually assaulted in police custody. These two cases, which occurred in totally different contexts, underscore the urgent need for independent oversight of the police and the need to eliminate police interference in post-assault healthcare.

On April 2 Mokal and Ghadge, both sex workers, were physically assaulted by a police officer on the street in Satara, and then arrested. Mokal, who was pregnant at the time, told Human Rights Watch that although police officers took her to see a doctor at the civil hospital in Satara, they then refused to allow her to have the medication prescribed by the doctor.A few days after being released from custody, Mokal had a miscarriage.

According to local activists, there is no evidence that the state authorities have taken even the initial step necessary to open a criminal investigation against the police officer accused of beating the women – that is the registration of a first information report (FIR). Neither Mokal nor Ghadge have received copies of an FIR, to which they are entitled under Indian law. In fact, Mokal told Human Rights Watch she has come under pressure to withdraw her complaints. Indian authorities should immediately put in place measures to protect Mokal from retaliation or intimidation to withdraw her complaint. They should consult on appropriate measures with her, the activists who have been supporting her, and her lawyers, said Human Rights Watch.

“That a pregnant woman may have miscarried as the result of a reported police beating is particularly shocking,” K. Srinath Reddy, chairperson of the High-Level Expert Group on Universal Health Coverage and a signatory to the joint letter, said to Human Rights Watch. “‘Janani Suraksha’ [Safe Motherhood] is a goal of our national health mission and if a pregnant woman has indeed been attacked by a protector of law, it is not only a violation of law, human rights, and personal dignity but an affront to public health.”

Soni Sori alleges that police in Chhattisgarh state sexually assaulted her while she was in custody and pressured her to implicate others of being Maoist sympathizers after her arrest inOctober 2011. According to her lawyers, police interfered with the medical examination and prevented her from getting access to appropriate treatment, and she did not receive adequate follow-up care while she was housed in the Raipur jail. According to media reports, no criminal investigation has been initiated against any police officer in her case.

In their joint letter to Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh, groups cited the government’s failure to implement the recommendations of several governmental and expert advisory bodies that address gender-based violence. For instance, in 2011 the Planning Commission Working Group on Women’s Agency and Empowerment recommended that the government consider setting up one-stop crisis centers providing shelter, police, legal, medical, and counseling services to victims of violence. Similarly, the High-Level Expert Group on Universal Health Coverage and the Working Group on the National Rural Health Mission recommended taking a stronger health system response to gender-based violence.

“It’s appalling that one arm of the government spends millions on women’s health while another can assault and harm women’s health without facing justice,” said Kashyap. “Indiacannot boast about its commitment to women’s health unless it adopts a zero-tolerance policy towards police violence and supports women who dare to stand up to it.”

Human Rights Watch and other groups urged the Indian government to set up a high-level task force to advise the government on an appropriate multi-faceted response to violence, including victim and witness protection. The task force should assist the government in developing protocols and standards for how to respond to violence against women and children, especially sexual assault; to prevent discrimination and improper police interference; and to ensure perpetrators are identified and held accountable. The letter called on the government to ensure that vulnerable groups, in particular sex workers, those living with HIV, people with disabilities, people from transgender communities, and those reporting sexual assault by the police, can access appropriate medical treatment without police interference and in a nondiscriminatory manner.

The high-level task force should operate in a transparent and consultative manner, tapping into local and international good practices and expertise, Human Rights Watch said.

To read more, including Mokal’s first-hand account of police abuse, please see below.

For more Human Rights Watch reporting on women’s rights in India, please visit:

       The March 2007 letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh regarding Sexual Assault Case in Police Custody: http://www.hrw.org/news/2012/03/07/india-letter-prime-minister-manmohan-singh-regarding-sexual-assault-case-police-cust

       The September 2010 report, “Dignity on Trial: India’s Need for Sound Standards for Conducting and Interpreting Forensic Examinations of Rape Survivors”:http://www.hrw.org/reports/2010/09/06/dignity-trial-0

For more information, please contact:


Case of Anu Mokal and Anjana Ghadge
On April 2, 2012, Anu Mokal and Anjana Ghadge were going to a hospital to visit a friend who had recently given birth, when they walked past police vans. Mokal told Human Rights Watch that one of the officers called Ghadge over and without any warning began to beat her as the other police officers watched. According to Mokal, when she tried to intervene and told the police officer that he should not hit Ghadge, an elderly woman, the police officer then turned on her and began to hit her.

Mokal said she pleaded with the officer to stop beating her: “When I fell on the floor and tried holding his leg begging him to stop because I was pregnant, he pushed me away and kicked me.” Mokal said that she and Ghadge were then taken to the police lock-up and falsely accused of soliciting for sex work in a public place, an offence under Indian law.

Mokal said the police took her to the civil hospital in Satara that night.

“I showed the doctor the blue-black marks on my body and told her I was pregnant,” she said.

The doctor wrote out a prescription for medication, but according to Mokal, when she asked one of the police officers who had escorted her there if she could purchase the medication, he took the prescription and ordered her back into the police van. The officers took her back to the police lock-up. Mokal was never handed the prescription back and no immediate medical treatment was provided to her.

Before producing her in court the following day, Mokal said that police station officers and staff dressed in civilian clothes approached her and apologized on behalf of their “saab” (sir) and pressured her not to complain against him “because they were all together and nothing would happen to him.” She also told Human Rights Watch that they told her not to bring this up in court when she was produced.

Mokal and Ghadge appeared in court the next day, were fined 1,200 rupees (US$22) each and then released. Since she was in pain and wanted medication, Mokal went to the Satara civil hospital again with local activists soon after she was released. Mokal’s hospital records, which Human Rights Watch has seen, document that she sustained “contusion” and prescribe pain medication and antibiotics.

Within a couple of days of returning home Mokal began to experience bleeding and miscarried, she told Human Rights Watch.

Mokal and Ghadge submitted a written petition of complaint to the Satara police superintendent soon after they were assaulted.

Mokal was admitted to the hospital in Satara following her miscarriage, and in the initial few days she was there, she said an unknown young woman, dressed in jeans and wearing a full face veil that only revealed her eyes, came to her and asked her what action she was planning to take. Mokal says she told the woman that she “would pursue the case and go up to Delhi if needed.” She also says that the woman asked her to drop the case for money. Mokal says she refused to take any money and the woman left.

After the intervention of local activists, a police officer came and took Mokal’s statement while she was in the hospital, while Ghadge gave a statement to the police on May 12, two days before a planned public protest in Satara.

However, even though police have taken statements by Mokal and Ghadge, and despite inquiries from local activists, it appears as if a “first information report” (FIR) was never registered against the police. Under Indian law, complainants have the right to receive a copy of the FIR as soon as it is registered, and neither Mokal and Ghadge nor any of those assisting them have been provided with a copy.

Case of Soni Sori

Chhattisgarh police arrested and accused Soni Sori, a tribal teacher, of being a sympathizer of Maoist rebels. She alleged that police sexually assaulted and tortured her while she was detained in Chhattisgarh police custody in October 2011. She has since been charged, is on trial for several alleged offences and was in the Raipur jail.

Soni Sori’s lawyers sought an order from the Supreme Court of India, granted on October 20, 2011, for her to have an independent medical examination and treatment. Soni Suri was examined and treated at a Kolkata hospital but she claims that she has not been allowed access to the follow-up medical treatment as prescribed by the hospital while she has been in Raipur jail.

On May 2, almost six months after the first order, the Supreme Court of India issued another order, directing the Chhattisgarh police to take Soni Sori to New Delhi for follow-up medical treatment, where she is now. To date the Chhattisgarh state government has yet to register any FIR and investigate the allegations of torture.

Brahmin sperm in high demand among childless couples # WTFnews

Mansi Choksi & Sharmila Ganesan Ram, TNN | May 13, 2012

MUMBAI: Dr Aniruddh Malpani, an infertility expert in Mumbai, often invokes playwright George Bernard Shaw‘s conversation with French actress Sarah Bernhardt when inundated with elitist requests from couples seeking sperm donors. “Just think Monsieur… a child with my looks and your brains!” Bernhardt is said to have told Shaw. To which he had famously quipped, “But Madam, what if he is born with my looks and your brains?”

In India, it’s well known that couples shopping for sperm demand both looks and brains. What isn’t so well known, despite being fairly commonplace, is a more outrageous request: caste-based sperm. Three years ago, Dr Saurav Kumar, a Patna gynaecologist, created a furore when he told a newspaper that childless couples insisted on knowing the caste of sperm donors. But while one may be tempted to assume that caste biases are entrenched only in states likeBihar, the city’s infertility experts insist otherwise.

Dilip Patil, founding president of Trivector, an infertility solutions firm, says there is a definite preference for Brahim donors in Mumbai.Even among Muslims, couples want to know whether the donor is Sunni or Shiite,” he says. “However, going by Indian Council of Medical Research guidelines, we reveal only the religion of the donor, not the caste.”

Patil, who dismisses requests about caste as “byproducts of the Indian mindset”, happily obliged varying queries about educational and professional backgrounds, extra-curricular preferences and linguistic skills until a woman perched on stilettos tick-tocked into his clinic with a bizarre request a few months ago. “A Page 3 personality walked in with a strange chart in her hand. There was a list of Bollwyood actors such as John Abraham and Emraan Hashmi and each of them was graded as A+, A, B+ and so on. She asked my staff if there were donors in these graded categories and insisted that she was ready to pay anything. We told her that we could not accept such demands; this was not a clinic for designer babies,” says Patil, who was on the medical research team for the recent film on sperm donation called Vicky Donor.

Perhaps the designer baby syndrome is inspired in elite sperm shoppers by what happens abroad, where, says Dr Malpani, couples have the option of going through a whole “shopping catalogue” with details of various sperm donors. In India, however, the donor remains anonymous. All that couples are told is that it is “a young, healthy and fertile physical match”. Yet, they persist. “They want to match the primary characteristics such as height, skin and colour with their husband. Mostly, they want someone who is taller and a shade fairer than their husband,” says Malpani, who points out that this may be a “very consumeristic” approach.

While most couples are concerned about medical history of the donor (Patil’s clinic produces the medical history of three generations of the donor’s family), skin colour is another priority. “Certain communities prefer a fair-skinned donor,” says Dr Pai, adding that couples want them to find the closest skin, hair and eye colour match. During his fellowship in a semen bank in Australia around ten years ago, he had observed that they would bear the race of the donor in mind as the physical characteristics could differ depending on this. Similarly, in India, where the physical features of people from the North-East may differ from other regions, “we have to isolate donors based on these considerations”, he says.

While in a majority of cases, it is the gynaecologists who contact sperm banks and request for semen samples based on the client’s height, skin and hair colour preferences, some high-flying couples, especially NRIs, visit the sperm bank personally in their desperation. Infertility specialist Dr Arun Patil, partner at Medilabs, a leading sperm bank, says that around ten per cent of his clients, who come from a higher socio-economic strata, are curious about the donor’s background. Among these are people who ask for “the name of the college the donor went to” and tend to favour prestigious institutions such as IIT and IIM. Then there are also those who leave their photograph at the sperm bank so that the doctor can find the closest match.

In 2008, when Dilip Patil tried to popularise the concept of sperm donation in India through an awareness booth at IIT’s annual Mood Indigo festival, it was, he says, “an anti-climax”. “The students were so shy that they changed their lanes while passing by the stall,” he says. Patil, whose real-life anecdotes about convincing people to donate sperm made it to Vicky Donor, says that he used references about sperm donation in ancient mythology, props and money (Rs 500 per sample) to convert donors.

The success of the film, says Patil, has vindicated Mumbai’s community of sperm donors. One indication is in the increasing number of walk-in donations. “We had a 43-year-old father who was keen to donate his sperm. We told him he was too old to be a donor,” says Patil, “so he sent his son the next day.”


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