Koyna oustees face displacement again, thanks to Balganga project


Moreshwarwadi (Maharashtra), May 21, 2012

Meena Menon, The Hindu

Krishna Ganpat More and his family in Moreshwarwadi. Photo: Meena Menon
Krishna Ganpat More and his family in Moreshwarwadi. Photo: Meena Menon

Now we have to move again, but where to go, asks a resident

Krishna Ganpat More came to Pen taluka in 1969 in search of a home after his village was submerged by the Koyna hydroelectric project in Satara district. Little did he know that a few decades later he would face the prospect of leaving this settlement in Moreshwarwadi, which will be submerged by the Balganga river project.

Moreshwarwadi is small settlement of 13 houses on a height and all the families were displaced by the Koyna dam. Most of the people earn a living in Mumbai but More, a former police patil and some other families live here. “When the Koyna dam was built in 1960, we didn’t want to move, they offered us some land in Pandharpur but it was not suitable. I had 12 acres of land and the government paid me Rs. 120 for only three acres, at Rs. 40 an acre. I came here since some of my relatives were around and eight of us bought land as shareholders,” says More. He sold his wife’s jewellery to buy new land here and eight of them own about 29 acres and 22 ghuntas.

Land acquisition notices came for the second time in January to More and the others stating that the government plans to acquire their land for the Balganga project.

The experience of Koyna has left all the families embittered. “We got nothing from the government and we lost everything,” says Radhabai More. “Now we have to move again. Where we are going to move,” she asks. The Koyna project-affected people bought land here but things were not easy for them. There was a conflict between the local Katkaris and Thakurs amid allegations of land grabbing and it was a major issue in those days, according to local activists. Some of the land had to be returned to the tribals after protests.

The prospect of looking for a new home is daunting for the 69-year-old More and others. “The government must give us land for land. I will only go to heaven from here otherwise,” he says. The villagers have filed objections again to the notices of the land acquisition. Of the 307 families settled in this region from Koyna, 13 families in Moreshwarwadi and 75 families in Dawdani village will be displaced, clarified activist Surekha Dalvi.

While these families face a second displacement, landless tribals in Karoti too are worried about their future. Saduram Waghmare from Karoti says the entire village will be submerged. “I grow vegetables on the river bank and sell them for a living. Otherwise we work for daily wages at brick kilns. Most of us are tenant farmers and 80 per cent of the Katkaris in the village are landless,” he says.

The government has no plans to give land for land and there is a rehabilitation plan aimed at providing people with houses. Sandeeep Patil of the Shramik Kranti Sanghatana from Gagode (budruk) village says the government has sent notices to acquire about 13 hectares of private land for rehabilitation purposes in the village. Gagode village, the birthplace of Vinoba Bhave, is a gramdan village and under the Maharashtra Gramdan Act, 1964, land cannot be acquired from a village which is a designated gramdan village like Gagode. There are no individual rights to land here and it is a community resource, he points out.

The Konkan Irrigation Development Corporation (KIDC), which is executing the Balganga project, one of the 68 dams in the Konkan region, is under fire for unjustified cost escalations and for not having a proper rehabilitation plan in place, apart from not securing legal permissions to build a dam. Defending the cost escalation in Balganga, which is now pegged above Rs. 1,000 crore, a senior KIDC official said the cost increased because of controlled blasting at the dam site as opposed to open blasting, which was objected to by local people. Crucially, the flood value or the discharge from the river in a worst case scenario or a one-in-100-year flood was less as per calculations, when the project was first proposed. After the final design was submitted by the State-owned Central Designs Organisation at Nashik, the flood value had doubled and from four gates in the dam, an extra two gates had to be added, plus other features, which hiked the cost, he says.

Himanshu Thakkar of the South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People (SANDRP) asks why the design was not properly done in the first phase. “The cost escalations are happening in so many dams around Mumbai and this looks like a scam. Most of the dams are being built by the same contractor and if these design calculations were done accurately in the first place, the project may have not been viable at the outset. Even mandatory clearances like in-principal approval from the Ministry of Environment and Forests have not been sought for some of these dams,” he pointed out.

While there is no transparency about the rehabilitation plan, the KIDC says 13 villages will be submerged by the Balganga project and the people will be resettled at seven places. Land acquisition for resettlement was under way at five places. The final award for the land was still pending, the official said. But he did not state what price would be paid per hectare to the farmers.

City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), which is funding the dam, is yet to approve the cost increase from the initial Rs. 488 crore. However, the KIDC official clarified that the dam would not store water till the rehabilitation of villages was completed and so the proposed date of completion — 2014 could be altered accordingly.

Damned lives and statistics


COVER STORY
Damned lives and 
statistics
By Gunjan Sharma, The Week
Story Dated: Monday, May 21, 2012 15:51 hrs IST

The horrid state of mental health care in India 
can drive one insane. Does anyone care?


Anybody out there? A patient at Mental Hospital, Varanasi. Photo by Gunjan Sharma

It is a hot, humid afternoon at Lumbini Park Mental Hospital in Kolkata. About 30 male patients in tattered clothes huddle in a dormitory. The stench from the lavatory  next to it is nauseating. On the next floor, two female patients lie sprawled on the narrow corridor outside a female dormitory.
Things are no different at another state-run hospital in the city, Pavlov Mental Hospital, where about 400 patients share 250 beds. Patients at a severe stage of mental illness are locked up in 4x5ft cells, with an Indian-style closet—they eat sitting next to it. And to kill body lice, says a hospital employee, patients are stripped and sprayed with insecticides meant to kill cockroaches.
The pathetic and horrible condition is compounded by inhumanity: “The funds that come to the hospital for food, clothing and mattresses are siphoned off by the officials. They even take home the bedspreads and curtains,” alleges an employee.
The hospital looks nice from the outside, but it has no rehabilitation facilities to engage patients in vocational training. As a result, even patients who become stable lose their cognitive abilities and succumb to negative symptoms such as withdrawal, lack of concentration, reduced productivity and, eventually, lack of will to live.
“A lot of cosmetic measures have been taken in the past two years to improve the overall look of the compound,” says an official, “but the patients still live in inhuman conditions.”
Mental Hospital, Varanasi, was conceived as a jail in 1809 for criminals with mental illness. Today, only 54 of 290 patients are prisoners, yet the same old colonial rules are followed.
Patients live in stinking barracks. The cells have no fans, even as the temperature soars over 40 degrees Celsius. Patients are forced to sleep on the dirty floor, as there are no beds in most wards. And thanks to the strict adherence to the old ‘jail manual’, patients spend over 17 hours a day in the lockup, without any recreational facilities.
The ‘jail’ authorities thrash the patients if they demand basic facilities, says a patient in the male ward. “We don’t even get sufficient food,” he says.
The hospital has about 300 in-patients and handles as many out-patients a day, but has just two psychiatrists. No nurse, no clinical psychologist, no occupational therapist, no social worker.
“For the 24 years that I have been here, nothing has been done to improve the living conditions of the patients,” says a senior doctor at the hospital.
Be it West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh or Maharashtra, most state-run mental hospitals are in a deplorable state. According to the National Human Rights Commission, there are only 43 government mental hospitals in India, of which hardly half a dozen are in a “livable” condition.
“The NHRC was asked to report on the condition of mental hospitals in the 90s. We brought out our first report in 1999; the condition of most mental hospitals was shocking. Even after a decade, it remains the same,” says P.C. Sharma, member, NHRC. “It shows the government’s attitude towards the mental health care in the country.”
In fact, the NHRC’s reports in 1999 and 2011 look almost identical. Most hospitals lacked, and still lack, even clean water and ventilation. Many hospital buildings are in a dilapidated state, as they were colonial structures, mostly jails.
Take the case of Bangur Institute of Psychiatry, Kolkata. Patients here still live in the same dark, damp, dirty jail cells. Forget rehab activities for the patients. “If a bulb blows, it takes five days to get it replaced,” says a voluntary psychologist at the hospital.
Posing as the daughter of a patient, I ask this social worker whether I should admit him in the hospital. “It is nothing more than a jail,” he says. “It will only deteriorate your father’s condition; it is not for people like you.”
In its 2011 report on the Institute of Psychiatry, Kolkata, NHRC’s then special rapporteur Dr Lakshimidhar Mishra writes: “Around 12 noon I inspected the dining hall of the Institute of Psychiatry. About 10 in-patients were taking lunch which comprised about 100g of rice, 50g of dal (mostly watery), a potato and mixed vegetable curry and a small piece of fish. There was no salad and no other fried vegetable, spinach or fruit.”  The nutritive value of the aforesaid meal is 1,500 cal; a normal human being needs at least 2,500 cal.
Mental Hospital, Indore, hardly looks like a hospital from the outside. The male ward, with a dozen patients, is dusty. The window panes are broken. Lavatories, as expected, are stinking, and many of them in the female wards do not have doors.
In the book Mental Health Care and Human Rights released in 2008, the NHRC notes, “Mental Hospital, Indore, is in a highly deplorable state in almost all aspects of human care. Evidence of chaining patients, clinical abuse and active neglect are seen.” Things are almost the same even today. Quite understandably, hospital superintendent Dr Ramgulam Razdan bars me from talking to patients and staff.
“The new building is under construction and we will shift all the patients in three to four months,” he says. “This building had a thatched roof when I took take charge in 1998. Lack of political will delays reforms.”


Can we afford the delay?
At least 10 crore people suffer from mental illness in India. About one crore need hospitalisation. There are just 43 government mental hospitals, most of them in a pitiable condition. There are only 4,000 psychiatrists in the country; 70 per cent of them practise in private hospitals in urban areas.
There is a severe shortage of paramedics, too. In 2008, according to an NHRC report, a single psychiatrist was found manning the 331-bed hospital in Varanasi. There were no sanctioned posts of general medicine officer, clinical psychologist, psychiatry social worker, occupational therapist, dietician and nurses. Four years down the line, all that the hospital has got is an additional psychiatrist.
Furthermore, over 30 per cent posts of psychiatric nurses are lying vacant in most mental hospitals across the country. Besides, there is a severe shortage of grade D staff, who are responsible for the day-to-day care of the hospitals and patients. And at most of these hospitals, electroconvulsive therapy is still given without anaesthesia, as there are no anaesthetists available.
“The problem,” Mishra says, “is in the attitude of authorities managing these hospitals. Most of the hospitals in India are not managed by psychiatrists. So they don’t understand the complexities of mental health care.”
For instance, Mental Hospital, Varanasi, is managed by Dr K.K. Singh, an ENT surgeon. There are physicians and even gynaecologists who are in charge of mental hospitals. “These doctors don’t understand the intricacies of a psychiatric illnesses and the comprehensive care the patients require,” says a psychiatrist working in a state-run mental hospital in UP.

Calculation gone wrong
In 2010-11, the Central budget allocation for the mental health programme was just Rs103 crore—less than 1 per cent of the total health expenditure. According to the World Health Organisation, about 10 per cent of any country’s population suffers from some form of psychiatric disorder at any given time. And one in every four persons suffers from some mental disorder at some point of time in life.
Even if we consider that a conservative 7 per cent of India’s population suffers from some mental disorder at a given time, it amounts to about 8 crore people. “That means we have a budget of Rs13 per mentally-ill patient per year, when at least Rs500 per patient per month is required to provide at least basic medicines, food and shelter,” says Tapas Ray, founder of Sevac, a Kolkata-based NGO.
A senior officer, who has worked in the Mental Health Cell of the Union ministry of health and family welfare, says mental health has never been a priority of the government. The District Mental Health Programme, introduced in 1982, remained on paper till 1996, when the government finally launched it in 27 districts across the country with a budget of Rs27 crore. Today, the programme has managed to cover just 123 districts, with 40 per cent posts lying vacant.
The problem is not shortage of funds, says a senior ministry official; there are times when the states return the money, as they couldn’t utilise it, he adds. “There should be a close monitoring of mental hospitals. But unfortunately, there is no manpower to do even that. We do have the Central Mental Health Authority, but its members have not met for the past three years. There is similar official apathy at the state level, too.”
The Comptroller and Auditor-General slammed the previous V.S. Achuthanandan government in Kerala for not utilising Rs4.07 crore of the alloted Rs9.98 crore. That, in a state where prevalence of mental disorders is almost three times the national average.

 

Caught between fate 
and faith


With the medical system in a mess and awareness about mental disorders lacking, faith healers and quacks are making hay. According to a study by Dr Shiv Gautam, former superintendent of Mental Hospital, Jaipur, 68 per cent of mentally ill people are taken to faith healers before a psychiatrist.
“The reason, besides superstition, is that most general medicine doctors fail to diagnose psychiatric illness,” says Gautam. Apparently, psychiatry is not a separate subject in the MBBS curriculum, and there are just 11-12 lectures on the stream.
“Moreover, there are hardly 250 postgraduation seats in psychiatry, and most of the pass-outs opt for jobs abroad,” says Dr Sunil Mittal, director, Cosmos Institute of Mental Health and Behavioural Sciences, Delhi. “In fact, there are more Indian psychiatrists in the US than in India.”
Many patients initially consult a general physician during the onset of a mental disorder, and if that doctor fails to diagnose the problem correctly, generally the next option is faith healing, which, professionals say, is hogwash. “A mentally ill patient displays symptoms which superstitious people believe are paranormal,” says Gautam. “Such patients are tortured, chained and used for extracting money from their families.”
Take the case of Hema. Until a few months ago, the postgraduate in English used to call herself Mrs Sonu Nigam, assuming to be the Bollywood singer’s wife. A clear case of schizophrenia. But, her family took her to Datar Sharif dargah near Ahmedabad. They believed an evil spirit was at play. She spent a year there, chained, pained. And it was only when her condition deteriorated to an extent that incontinence set in, her family brought her to Gautam. “In 15 days, Hema started improving and, now a month later, she is normal,” he says.
Businessman Sanjay of New Delhi, however, is still awaiting emancipation. Four years ago, he was diagnosed with mild mania. He was put on medication and his condition improved. But as soon as Sanjay stopped medication, the symptoms returned. Then, his father took him to Narhar Sharif dargah in Jhunjhunu district, Rajasthan.
“For three months, I have been chained here. I want to go back home and meet my doctor, but my father is not allowing me,” he says. “My father has been convinced by people here that I can go only when I get orders from the dargah.” Taking me to be a patient’s relative, Sanjay offers heart-felt advice: “Never bring anyone, under whatever circumstance, to the dargah.”
In the case of disorders like hysteria, a patient has a tendency to do whatever is suggested. Faith healers take advantage of it. Their sidekicks keep performing certain actions in front of the patient, who is likely to imitate the actions. The faith healers call this paishi or arzi, a process in which God talks to patients and heals them.
Some others, especially schizophrenics, are treated cruelly. Some are whipped or caned, some are made to inhale smoke from burnt chilli, some have chilli paste smeared into their eyes and some get branded with red hot coins. “I recently got a patient whose burn was just 2mm away from his windpipe,” says Gautam.
Despite laws banning the practice, many dargahs and temples keep patients chained. Some, for a lifetime. In 2001, a fire at a dargah in a coastal village, Erawadi, in Ramanathapuram district of Tamil Nadu charred to death 26 mental patients, who could not escape the blaze as they were chained.
Soon after the incident, the Supreme Court directed the Centre to conduct an all-India survey to identify registered and unregistered asylums. The court also ordered that each state government should establish at least one mental health hospital. But even today, states like Haryana still do not have a government mental hospital.

The unwanted


Thanks to official sloth and societal apathy, families of mentally ill people are increasingly opting for the easy way out: ‘dumping’.
A recent shocker came from Thrissur district in Kerala, where an illegal ‘asylum’ was busted. Thirty-five men and six boys from across India were rescued from inhuman conditions. Apparently, it was the stench from their unwashed bodies and excreta that made neighbours alert the health department.
As officials raided the asylum, they found naked and chained inmates, who had been dumped there by their families after paying the asylum owner. Some were found crawling in their excreta, some even consuming it. Their bodies bore marks of torture, and some had surgical scars on their backs, prompting allegations that the asylum had links with kidney thieves. Of 78 patients entered in the register, only 41 were found during the raid.
An even more shocking trend is of patients getting dumped in jungles, especially in the forest reserves of south India. Families, mostly from the north, pay lorry drivers to ‘drop’ these hapless victims, including children and women, in the forest ranges. Social activists in reserves such as Wayanad and Bandipur say drivers rape the female victims before dumping them at the mercy of nature.
“Before we term the families as ‘cruel’, we must look at what forces them to take such extreme steps,” says social activist Murugan S., who has lost count of the number of mentally ill people he has rescued from streets, railway stations and bus-stands across Kerala. And, finally, he concludes with what has become clichéd in Indian society: “The system needs a holistic change.”
with S. Neeraj Krishna

In Memoriam: Prof. Leela Dube (1923-2012)


Leela Dube

Renowned anthropologist and feminist scholar Leela Dube passed away at her residence in Delhi on 20 th May. She was 89. Fondly called Leeladee, Prof. Dube was one of the pioneers of feminist scholarship in India

By Vibhuti Patel

With the passing away of Professor Leela Dube, we have lost a stalwart who broadened the discipline of anthropology by introducing the insights of women’s studies and enriched women’s studies as a discipline by bringing in the technical expertise of an anthropologist.

A well known figure in Indian Sociological Society in the 70s, Leeladee was responsible for introducing women’s studies concerns in mainstream sociology. She played a crucial role in the 1984 World Sociological Congress in which women activists and women’s studies scholars played a dominant role through the Research Committee Women in Society (RC 32). Leeladee chaired a panel on “Declining Sex Ratio in India”, in which Dr. Ilina Sen gave a historical overview of deficit of women in India throughout history of Census of India. Prof. Vina Mazumdar passionately spoke on the finding of towards Equality Report and I spoke on “Sex Selective Abortions-An Abuse of Scientific Techniques of Amniocentesis”.

Leeladee summed up the session with her insightful comments on the tradition of son preference in India. Her greatness lay in synthesizing complex concerns and providing an analytical framework in a lucid and convincing way. In a debate on sex selective abortions carried out in EPW during 1982-1986, her contribution was immense and her predictions about direct relationship of deficit of women and increased violence against women has proved to be true in the subsequent years.

Due to team efforts of women’s studies scholars like Prof. Leela Dube, RC 32 got institutionalized in World Sociological Congress. She invited many activists for the 12thInternational Congress of Anthropological and Ethnological SciencesZagreberstwhile Yugoslavia, in 1988 to present paper on “Codification of Customary Laws into Family Laws in Asia”. In the Congress, Leedadee’s speech on feminist anthropologist Eleanor Leacock provided new insights into departure of the feminist anthropologists from its colonial legacy of “Big brother watching you”. The power relations between the North and the South in construction of knowledge and the hegemonic presence of ETICapproach in academics were questioned by Leacock as well as Leeladee who propagated “dialogical approach” in anthropological and ethnographic research.

I respected her from a distance. I was too awe-struck to go close to her but always appreciated her sharp, witty comments during academic sessions and tea and lunch breaks at innumerable seminars, workshops and at Indian Association of Women’s Studies Conferences held every two years. She was appreciative of our campaign against sex selection. During 1981 and 1991, I got to listen to her speeches, deliberations and arguments as I used to be one of the rapporteurs in most of the programmes in women’s studies held in Mumbai and Delhi.

leela dube, Indian feminism, feminist scholars

Clockwise: Vina Mazumdar, Hanna Papanek, Gail Omvedt, Neera Desai and Leela Dube in Segovia, Spain, July 1990. Photo Courtesy: Vibhuti Patel

Each time I heard her, I got more motivated to read her papers and later on her books. Her work on Lakshadweep island’s matrilineal Muslim community-Matriliny and Islam: Religion and society in the Laccadives (1969)- was an eye-opener so was her deconstruction of polyandry in Himalayan tribes in the context of women’s workload of collection of fuel, fodder, water, looking after livestock and kitchen gardening in mountainous terrain, resulting into high maternal mortality and adverse sex ratio. She showed interconnections between factors responsible for social construction of women’s sexuality, fertility and labour, rooted in the political economy.

Her highly celebrated book Anthropological Explorations in Gender: Intersecting Fields(2001) is a landmark contribution in feminist anthropology in India. It examines gender, kinship and culture by sourcing a variety of distinct and unconventional materials such as folk tales, folk songs, proverbs, legends, myths to construct ethnographic profile of feminist thoughts. She provides a nuanced understanding on socialization of girl child in a patriarchal family, “seed and soil” theory propagated by Hindu scriptures and epics symbolizing domination-subordination power relationship between men and women.

Her meticulously researched piece ‘On the Construction of Gender: Hindu Girls in Patrilineal India‘ in the Economic and Political Weekly (1988), was used by women’s groups for study circles and training programmes. The volume Women, Work, and Family (1990) in the series on Women and Households, Structures and Strategies, co-edited by Leela Dube and Rajni Palriwala was extremely useful in teaching women’s studies in Economics, Sociology, Geography, Social Work and Governance courses. Her book, Women and Kinship: Comparative Perspectives on Gender in South and South-East Asia (1997) argued that kinship systems provide an important context in which gender relations are located in personal and public arena.

The co-edited volume Visibility and Power: Essays on Women in Society and Development by Leela Dube, Eleanor Leacock and Shirley Ardener (OUP 1986) provided international perspective on the anthropology of women in the context of socio-political setting of India, Iran, Malaysia, Brazil, and Yugoslavia.

After Prof. Iravati Karve, Prof. Leela Dube was the only scholar who made a path-breaking contribution in anthropology with gender sensitivity in India. Leeladee made a mammoth contribution in bringing academic credibility to women’s studies through her scholarly endeavours.

Vibhuti Patel is active in the women’s movement in India since 1972 and currently teaching at SNDT women’s University, Mumbai.

Featured Photo by: Mukul Dube

Appeal for support–Anti Nuke Activist in Coma


by Kamayani Bali Mahabal on Tuesday, 22 May 2012

My friend and anti nuke activist Satish ( 31) , was found unconscious on 11th may , at vasai rd highway and has been in coma since then.He ahs got 2 blood clots in his  brain and has been is admittedin surana hospital, Mumbai. He is in coma and ventitalator , his wife a translator has akreadys pent Rs 2.5 lakh and they need  Rs 4.5 lakh more

 

Satish is a writer and activist and is unemployed . Though not belonging to any particular organisation, he was engaged with various human rights issues. He participated in Anti-Nuke Jaitapur yatra and actively engaged with anti-nuke campaign in mumbai. He was also involved with airport slum dwellers in their struggle against eviction by the airport authority and in campaigning for adequate rehabilitation.

 

I thank my Facebook friends for coming forward and supporting him, but we still need more financial help

 

If there are any suggestiiosn where we can raise money, please message me. We are trying some trusts also, but the fact he is not BPL is coming in the way, hence individual appeals

 

Those intersted to help him please email me at kamayani@ymail.com.  I will send details.

Let me tell you a story of this place Naxalbari


A capella version of Naxalbari at the poetry open mic that won the first prize, recently . A cappella music  (Italian for “in the manner of the chapel”  )is vocal music or singing without instrumental accompaniment, or a piece intended to be performed in this way.

This song speaks of the Naxal areas in and around Chattisgarh and how messed up things are for the tribal community with both the police forces and the naxalities exploiting and murdering them.

The song refers to soni sori, custodial torture and rape, Dr Binayak Sen, Anna Hazare and Irom Sharmila  among many others.
The song is sung by  Ashwini Mishra  a.k.a A-List has been a rap artist and performer since 2004 . Since then, he has performed on a number of platforms such as the St. Xaviers and Bhowanipore college fests in Kolkata as well hosted and performed at a number of hip hop shows in club BED.More recently, he opened for Zero and Parikrama at the MICA collegest fest- MICANVAS back in 2008 and has been performing at open mics across Mumbai over 2010. He performed as one half of rapper-drummer duo “Various Artists” at Concert By The Bay in January 2012.
Currently he is working on his second album as a follow up to his 2006 underground EP, “I can’t lose” which was launched in Kolkata.

A-List represents a conscious approach to hip hop, using the music to talk bout more than just nightclubs, alcohol references and skimpily clad women. This is reality rap.

 

For updates on more music/videos, follow

http://www.facebook.com/alistrap
http://www.twitter.com/alistrap
http://www.reverbnation.com/indianemcee

WSS Statement- condemning assault on women undertrials in Mumbai


Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS), condemns the assault on three women under-trials, Angela Sontakey, 42, Sushma Ramteke, 22, and Jyoti Chorghe,19, in the Mumbai District Women’s Prison in Byculla.

On March 31 they witnessed an assault upon some other inmates by the prison staff. When they tried to intervene, they too were attacked by the staff. The jail authorities responded to their subsequent demand for an apology by sending them into solitary confinement, without any medical assistance before or after the confinement.

In addition to the assault, the women have complained that there have been attempts to block their access to books, and to classes held in the prison by non-government groups. Their books that included Mahatma Gandhi‘s biography and a pamphlet on prison rights have been confiscated, in complete violation of their basic rights as under-trials. They claim that they are being targeted as they have consistently raised their voice against practices of corruption rampant in the jail, and on various problems faced by the prisoners including access to nutritional food. They have also referred to an atmosphere of fear and terror of jail authorities among the prisoners. A complaint has been filed by their lawyers demanding action against the staff responsible for the assault, and to look into their demand for wholesome food for all prisoners. 

 

We at WSS believe that issues of custodial treatment are of the utmost importance and that prison authorities must not abuse the power they have over prisoners.

 

Angela Sontakey, Sushma Ramteke, and Jyoti Chorghe completed one year in jail on May 16th. In response to their consistent agitation for the rights of the inmates of the Women’s Prison we at WSS demand

 

  • ·        A thorough investigation, and suitable punishment of those found guilty, in the incidents of assault upon all the women prisoners, including  Angela Sontakey, Sushma Ramteke, and Jyoti Chorghe, housed in the Mumbai District  Women’s Prison in Byculla.

 

  • ·        An investigation of the issues raised by these women such as the routine corruption in prison administration as well as the demands of bribes for access to resources and medical treatment.

 

  • ·        Provision of healthy, hygienic and nutritious food, apart from other basic amenities, to all women prisoners, as stipulated by law.

 

  • ·        Immediate halt to the use of ‘Solitary confinement’ – a provision in the jail manual meant to be used to punish or control errant prisoners – as a method of punishing under-trials or prisoners demanding their basic and legitimate rights.


Contact email id: againstsexualviolence@gmail.com 


_________________________________________________________________


Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is a non-funded effort started in November 2009, to put an end to the violence perpetrated upon our bodies and societies. We are a nationwide network of women from diverse political and social movements comprising of women’s organizations, mass organizations, civil liberty organizations, student and youth organizations, mass movements and individuals. We unequivocally condemn state repression and sexual violence on women by any perpetrator (s).

Celebrating 100 years of Faiz and Manto- at TISS, Mumbai


Inline image 1– M

Dear  Friends,

It is a nice co-incidence that this year (2012) is the birth centenary of two of the greatest creative writers that twentieth century has produced  – Faiz Ahmed Faiz and Saadat Hasan Manto. It is worth remembering that these writers lived and worked through turbulent and difficult times personally as well as socially, politically. Although the times have changed and the challenges have taken a new form, the relevance of the ideas and values that these people worked and stood for are worth revisiting. Hence we thought it would be a good idea if we could organize something to not only remember and underscore the relevance of those dreams and ideas shared by these people but also to expose and acquaint ourselves with the several such thinkers and romantics who dreamt of a better world.

It is not just an exercise in celebration of their uniqueness but also committing ourselves to the struggle for a more equal world, to rework the world in favor of the ‘wretched of the earth’.

We are well aware that this exercise maybe found lacking in its direct relationship with the core business of education, but as Anthony O’Hear says, engaging with the sphere of literature and art is integral to the idea of ‘education for goodness in a changing world’.


Please join us for the following
सबसे खतरनाक होता हैं, मुर्दा शांति से भर जाना
ना होना तड़प का, सब कुछ सहन कर जाना
घर से निकलना काम पर, काम से घर आ जाना
सबसे खतरनाक होता हैं हमारे सपनो का मर जाना

– अवतार सिंह पाश 

…eager to hear many more such great pieces tomorrow.
The process of unearthing such writers and reliving their thoughts will begin with sharing what each one of us know and hold dear.
Please bring in pieces that inspire you (any language) and share them.
Poetry Reading Session
Date: 22 May (Tuesday) 2012
Time: 6:30 – 8:00 pm
Venue: Quadrangle, TISS Campus, Deonar
ALL ARE INVITED
1. Poetry Reading – 22 May, 6.30-8.00 PM, Quadrangle, TISS Campus (Opposite Deonar bus depot, Chembur)
Poems with social or political relevance in any language would be welcome.
2. A Talk on Faiz Ahmed Faiz  – 26 May, 6:00 – 7:30 pm, Common Room, TISS Campus (Opposite Deonar bus depot, Chembur)
SpeakerProf. Zaheer Ali


3. Screening of Kali Shalwar, the film based on Manto’s story by the same title followed by a discussion.
30 May, 6 PM, Common room, TISS Campus 
(Opposite Deonar bus depot, Chembur)

Please call – 08237680474 or             09911118081       for further details.
in solidarity
Manish Jain, Nandini Manjrekar, Saqib Khan, Yogender Dutt and Vivek Vellanki

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