How mining mafia established a “republic of fear” in Bellary


BANGALORE, June 18, 2012

Sudipto Mondal, The Hindu

An April 2006 image (top) of the Dalmia mines shows a verdant expanse. In the Google Earth image (below) obtained in March 2010, the area is seen ravaged by massive mining.

An April 2006 image (top) of the Dalmia mines shows a verdant expanse. In the Google Earth image (below) obtained in March 2010, the area is seen ravaged by massive mining.

Witnesses who have testified against Janardhan Reddy and his men fear the mining baron’s release from jail

A torrent of calls flooded the CBI unit in Bangalore when T. Pattabhi Ramarao, the CBI judge in distant Hyderabad, granted bail to the jailed mining baron, G. Janardhan Reddy, on May 11.

Many of the frantic calls were from the 300-plus witnesses painstakingly persuaded by the CBI-Bangalore to testify in the case registered against Mr. Reddy’s flagship firm, the Associated Mining Company (AMC).

Download PDF — Dalmia mines: April 2006 and March 2010

Mr. Reddy’s judicial custody at the Parapana Agrahara Central Prison in Bangalore ends on Monday. On the directions of the Andhra Pradesh High Court, he is likely to be re-arrested as soon as he steps out.

Although path-breaking in its detailed evidence-based indictment of Mr. Reddy, the final Lokayukta report on illegal mining had its limitations. By contrast, the CBI’s unique position as a statutory investigative body has enabled it to find the evidence that, it believes, clinches what the Lokayukta could but indicate.

“During the peak of Reddy’s reign over Bellary, some witnesses had been kidnapped, others beaten and almost all intimidated by Reddy and his henchmen,” a CBI officer in Bangalore told The Hindu on condition of anonymity. Their testimonies given under oath before the judge of the Special CBI Court in Bangalore would make it difficult for them to retract their statements. But the CBI’s fear was some of the witnesses may prefer the wrath of the court to the threat of violence. “Our entire case was on the verge of collapse until the Andhra Pradesh High Court stepped in and suspended Pattabhi Ramarao on charges of accepting a bribe of Rs. 5 crore to grant bail to Reddy,” says a CBI Police Inspector.

Lawyers of Reddy remained tight lipped when asked about whether they would launch a fresh attempt to secure the release of the former BJP minister. C.V Nagesh, senior counsel in the case told The Hindu that he is yet to be briefed by the counsel-on-record representing Mr. Reddy.

Speaking to The Hindu, senior CBI officers offered examples of how the mining mafia established a “republic of fear” in Bellary. Many of these details have not been made public before because the court where witnesses deposed and were cross-examined was out-of-bounds for reporters following the violent clash between lawyers and journalists outside the sessions courts here earlier this year — the last time Mr Reddy was produced in an open court.

For example, one key government employee states under oath: “On April 26, 2011 the Range Forest Officer sent me with my colleagues to the Lokayukta Office and asked me to meet U.V. Singh [Indian Forest Officer and chief investigator who compiled the Lokayukta’s illegal mining report]. He asked us how we could issue so many mining permits [to AMC]. We explained [in writing] that there was threat and force from G.J.R. [Reddy] due to which we signed the permits.”

The same witness states that he was summoned on May 9 by Mr. Reddy. [Pooh-poohing the Lokayukta report, Ali Khan, Reddy’s pointsman, allegedly stated: “The government belongs to GJR.” The witness deposed that he was forced, under threat of suspension, into signing a letter stating that U.V. Singh had coerced them into submitting statements against Mr. Reddy. Presently sharing space at the Parapana Agrahara Central Prison in Bangalore with Mr. Janardhan Reddy, the 1984-born Mehfouz Ali Khan is an engineer who became one of Mr. Reddy’s most trusted enforcers.

AMC — a dead mine

In his testimony, an Assistant Engineer of the Mines and Geology Department said Mr. Ali Khan coerced him to issue false stock certificates to the AMC. He yielded, knowing full well that the AMC owned a dead mine in Hospet, Bellary, which had not yielded highquality iron ore for several years. Mr. Reddy used such false certificates to legitimise ore that he had looted from other mines in the region, the CBI alleges.

Kidnapped, tortured

The testimony of the promoter of the mining firm Tiffins Barytes shows how Mr. Reddy’s men used muscle power to take over the operations of other mines.

Mr. Ali Khan and his men forced their way into the leasehold area of Tiffins Barrytes and extracted one lakh tonnes of high-quality ore between January and June 2010, according to a sworn statement by a company employee.

When senior company executive Vinod Jadhav protested, he was kidnapped and tortured at an undisclosed location. His complaints to the police and other authorities yielded no action.

Muscling in

The statement by the owners of the Siddapura Iron Ore Mines further establishes the extent of collusion between bureaucrats and Mr. Reddy, the CBI says. Repeated requests by Shaik Saab, the owner of Siddapura mines, for permission to extract ore from his leasehold area were turned down by forest officials. Meanwhile, Mr. Ali Khan approached him with offers to manage the mine. He promised to get the necessary clearances and in return Mr. Saab gave Mr. Ali Khan a 75 per cent stake in the earnings.

With its implicit threat of violence, it was an offer that Shaik Saab could not refuse. Ironically, Shaik Saab did not even get the 25 per cent that he was entitled to. “I was not even allowed to enter my mine after Ali Khan took over,” he said.

Forced takeover of AMC

The manner in which Reddy and his wife G. Aruna Lakshmi came to be the owners of the Associated Mining Company is a story in itself. In his testimony, K.M. Vishwanath, the former owner of AMC, told the Court he was coerced into handing over all his mining permits to Mr. Reddy. These permits were used by the latter to legitimise ore that he used to allegedly steal from the leasehold area of the Dalmia mines in Hospet. Despite Mr. Vishwanath’s protests against this extortion, Mr. Reddy and his wife Aruna Lakshmi forced themselves in as partners in AMC, the CBI alleges. Mr. Vishwanath and his other partners were subsequently edged out, and Reddy and his wife came to be the sole partners by August 2009.

Two scientific surveys commissioned by the CBI — done by the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) and Singareni Collieries Company Ltd. (SCCL) in April 2012 — corroborate the Lokayukta report’s finding that AMC was a front for illegal mining, and the ore was actually extracted illegally from elsewhere.

Google it

While records with the Forest department, and the department of Mines and Geology state that Dalmia mines are in a state of disuse, satellite enabled images tell a different tale. (See satellite pictures) But the CBI says all the scientific evidence detailed in its chargesheet would have counted for little without the evidence from witnesses in court. A CBI investigator cites the evidence provided by an owner of a firm hired by the AMC to extract and transport ore. He showed investigators the exact spot from where he had extracted 33 lakh tonnes of ore on Mr. Ali Khan’s orders.

The investigators plotted the expanse on government maps. “The site was right in the middle of the Dalmia mines, nowhere near the leasehold area of the AMC,” the investigator told The Hindu.

The Dark Side of upcoming President Pranab Mukherjee


by Jun 18, 2012, The First Post

Team Anna wants Pranab Mukherjee, widely considered a shoo-in for the job of president, investigated for three controversial events that happened during his watch as external affairs minister and defence minister: a rice export deal dating to 2007, the Scorpene submarine deal of 2005, and the Navy War Room leak of the same year.

In the rice export deal, some 20 lakh tonnes were exported to a third country even though the consignments were meant for hungry Africans. In the Scorpene deal, Mukherjee as defence minister declined to order a probe into alleged payoffs. And in the navy war-room leak, the minister apparently claimed that a stolen pen drive had nothing sensitive in it, while the CBI said it contained classified stuff.

While Team Anna has earned universal condemnation for its trigger-happy ways where it has gone after everyone – including the Prime Minister for the coal block allocation policy – the surprise this time is not that it wants Mukherjee investigated, but for what.

AFP

The most important part of Mukherjee’s tenure as cabinet minister in UPA-1 and UPA-2 has not been as defence and external affairs minister, but as finance minister. During his three-and-a-half-year run in the ministry, he has not only driven the Indian economy into the ground, but his ministry has faced serious accusations of impropriety.

Reason: the power wielded by his advisor in the finance ministryOmita Paul. Mukherjee and his office have, among other things, been accused of batting for various corporate interests.

Of these, the most damaging allegation was the one made by former Sebi whole-time director KM Abraham, who wrote a confidential letter to the Prime Minister in June last year alleging that the market regulator was being pressured by the ministry to “manage” cases involving Reliance, the Sahara Group and the Tayals of the Bank of Rajasthan.

Abraham’s letter, obtained by Firstpost through an RTI query filed with the PMO, makes it clear that the pressure on Sebi Chairman UK Sinha came from “the big man” Pranab Mukherjee and the “lady” Omita Paul.

Abraham wrote: “The admissions of the chairman in his own words about the need to ‘manage’ some of the cases now live in Sebi, about the interest that the Union finance minister has in some of them, the admission that Smt Omita Paul is behind what is happening, the difficulty that he (Sinha) is experiencing in interacting with key ministry officials – suggest to me that Shri Sinha is being pressured to intervene in several cases that are currently being dealt with in Sebi.”

While the Sahara case went decidedly against the group, with Abraham ruling that the group should return all the public money raised by two group companies (the case in now in the Supreme Court after the Satellite Appellate Tribunal ruled in Sebi’s favour), the Tayals were let off the hook by revoking an interim ban on 100 Tayal group entities for violations of various Sebi rules.

 

In the Reliance case, which involves alleged insider trading in the shares of Reliance Petroleum in the run-up to the company’s merger with the flagship, the media had reported that the company wanted to settle the case through a consent order, but the amount offered in settlement was apparently too little.

The charge against Reliance, as Firstpost reported at that time, went thus: a bunch of promoter companies took short-positions in the Reliance Petroleum futures market when they knew the promoters planned to actually sell some of their shares. In short, they knew the market price would fall when Reliance Petro shares were sold, and tried to make money with this prior knowledge by selling in the futures market.

Sebi has since changed consent order rules, but it is understood that the Reliance case can still be decided through a consent order.

Abraham wrote in his letter to the PM: “What I see happening now is a calculated assault on the regulatory framework in Sebi. A message is now spreading that cases against the influential and the powerful might put officers in Sebi to undue risk and scrutiny…This will, in no time, incapacitate the investigative machinery in Sebi. Needless to say, it does not bode well for the safety and integrity of the markets and for investors.”

Team Anna could not only bring up Abraham’s letter for a thorough investigation, but also the alleged interference of Omita Paul in key appointments.

While several key officials who crossed the finance ministry – former Sebi chief CB Bhave and KM Abraham, among them – were denied extensions, Omita Paul is alleged to have had a hand in delaying the appointment of a full-time chairman for the UTI Mutual Fund after the previous incumbent – UK Sinha – was made Sebi chairman.

Reason: she wanted her brother Jitesh Khosla to get the job, despite opposition not only from UTI’s strategic investor T Rowe Price, but also its public sector shareholders (SBI, LIC, Punjab National Bank and Bank of Baroda).

Pranab Mukherjee may be UPA’s most respected trouble-shooter, but his track record needs additional scrutiny.

Team Anna is on the right track, but has flogged the dead horses of Scorpene and rice exports when there are more interesting skeletons to rattle in the outgoing FM’s cupboard.

http://news.biharprabha.com/2012/06/the-dark-side-of-upcoming-president-pranab-mukherjee/

Pranab Mukherjee, the upcoming President of India might enjoy support even in Opposition, but several controversies surround him making him easily vulnerable to the Criminal charges. While no one can Question his honesty, but few past events may hinder his road to Rashtrapati Bhawan.


1. His name appeared in Hawala Scam. An old Report suggests that Mr. Mukherjee’s name was involved among others in getting money through Hawala from Jain Brothers. As per the Jains’ explanations of the diary notations, then External Affairs Minister, Mr  Pranab Mukherjee allegedly got Rs 10 lakhs.


2. According to Dr. Subramanian Swamy he was involved in providing confidential Data used to rig the stock market. The tapping of Finance Minister Mr. Pranab Mukherjee and his close associate in the Ministry, enabled Mr.Robert Vadra the son-in-law of Ms.Sonia Gandhi and Mr. Karthik son of Mr.P.Chidambaram, to use the data thereby collected to manipulate and rig the Mumbai stock market. Earlier these data were directly provided by the then Finance Minister Mr.Chidambaram.


3. According to Dr. Subramanian Swamy,  Mr.Mukherjee has been a long time money launderer for Ms. Sonia Gandhi. His frequent trips to Chittarajan Park, New Delhi, over the last two decades was to arrange for money transfers for Ms.Sonia Gandhi through hawala operators.

Hasan Ali was a conduit for Mr.Pranab Mukherjee—athrough Ms.Sonia Gandhi, Political Secretary Mr.Ahmed Patel MP. Mr.Patel has met Mr.Hasan Ali many times according to the interrogation records with the Maharashtra Police.


4. Mukherjee was a Minister in Indira Gandhi’s Cabinet during the infamous Emergency and was held by many to be personally responsible for some of the excesses. He was summoned before the Shah Commission but followed Mrs. Gandhi’s lead in refusing to resign before it. A police case was registered against him which was withdrawn when Mrs. Gandhi returned to power.


5. S. Gurumurthy and Arun Shourie exposed how Pranab Mukerjee, the then Finance Minister of India helped Reliance Industries against Bombay Dyeing through differential taxation by influencing the Income Tax Department in textile industry. As a result Bombay Dyeing was almost decimated.

6. Mukherjee was involved in handling Taslima Nasreen’s house arrest in Delhi, as the Foreign Minister. Dealing with a situation involving her expulsion for Kolkata, anger from Islamic radicals, and her protection in a safehouse, Mukherjee received criticism for actions leading to Nasreen’s eventual departure from India in March 2008.

7. He has also been accused of threatening banks if they invest in Gujarat by sending the Income Tax Department sleuths after them, a state governed by the Bharatiya Janata Party

 

UN launches new tool to protect people with mental health conditions


16-June-2012
The United Nations health agency on Friday launched a new tool to help countries protect the rights and dignity of people with mental health conditions and stop abuses against them.
NEW YORK : The Quality Rights Tool Kit is designed to ensure that quality of care and human rights standards are put in place in mental health and social care facilities around the world, the World Health Organization (WHO) said in a news release.“Poor quality services and human rights violations in mental health and social care facilities are still an everyday occurrence in many places, especially in low- and middle-income countries,” said the Director of WHO’s Department of Mental Healthand Substance Abuse, Shekar Saxena.“Decrepit buildings, overcrowding and unhygienic living conditions are a reality for many people living in psychiatric institutions,” Saxena added. “In many facilities, people are exposed to violence, abuse, harmful treatment and neglect. Many are locked up against their will, overmedicated, put in seclusion cells or restrained, sometimes for years.”The Tool Kit is based on the International Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the 2006 treaty that seeks to ensure that persons with disabilities enjoy the same human rights as everyone else.

It establishes key standards that need to be met in all facilities, including the need for living conditions to be safe and hygienic and the social environment to be conducive to recovery; the provision of evidence-based care for their mental and physical health condition, on the basis of free and informed consent; and reporting and halting all inhuman treatment.

“The Tool Kit has been developed with major inputs from people from civil society organizations which specialize in mental and psychosocial disabilities, as well as other mental health and human rights experts, which is why it is so comprehensive and practical,” said Michelle Funk, who led the WHO team which developed theTool Kit.

“It can be applied in low-, middle- and high-resource settings. It is unique because it can be implemented in both inpatient and outpatient facilities and allows for a comparison between mental health and general health care services,” Funk added.

Along with setting up standards, the Tool Kit provides specific guidance on how to conduct a comprehensive assessment of services, how to report findings and make appropriate recommendations to improve quality of care and human rights at the health facility and at national level. It is part of a larger WHO QualityRights project to improve the quality of mental health care and human rights conditions in mental health and social care facilities.

Indian Photo-Journalist, Tarun Sehrawat, Dies at 22 #Tehelka


June 18,2012

The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ), and its affiliates and partners in the South Asia Media Solidarity Network (SAMSN), are deeply grieved at the death on June 15 of photo-journalist Tarun Sehrawat, after he contracted multiple infections on assignment in the Abujmarh region of India’s Chhattisgarh state.

 

Sehrawat was on assignment with the weekly news and current affairs magazine Tehelka and with his colleague, reporter Tusha Mittal, spent a week early in May in the thickly forested area, believed to be among the main operational bases of the Maoist insurgency that has been active in parts of Chhattisgarh and neighbouring states in recent years.

 

Their account of life in an area that remains for the most part beyond the media gaze was published in the print edition of the magazine dated May 12.

 

Both Sehrawat and Mittal came down with severe infections and fevers at about the same time. Mittal recovered after two weeks under intensive care but Sehrawat was hit by a combination of jaundice, typhoid and malaria, and had slipped into a coma. He regained consciousness early in June, but suffered a severe cerebral haemorrhage on June 10. He died on June 15 aged 22, the cause of death identified as cerebral malaria.

 

Tarun Sehrawat’s portfolio of pictures from his final assignment in Abujmarh can be viewed here.

 

In mourning the loss of a dedicated young professional, the IFJ urges the news industry to pay heed to the imperatives of care and preparation, when assigning reporters to areas of potential safety risk and health hazard.

 

“We urge renewed attention to the code evolved by the International News Safety Institute and widely endorsed by news industry managements”.

 

Titled “Surviving the Story”, the code observes by way of preface, that the “preservation of life and safety is paramount”.

 

“Staff and freelancers equally should be made aware”, it goes on, “that unwarranted risks in pursuit of a story are unacceptable and strongly discouraged. News organisations are urged to consider safety first, before competitive advantage, for journalists in hostile environments.”

 

The safety code requires that “assignments to war and other danger zones must be voluntary and only involve experienced news gatherers and those under their direct supervision.”

 

Employers are responsible under the code, for providing “efficient safety equipment and medical and health safeguards appropriate to the threat to all staff and freelancers assigned to hazardous locations”.

 

“We appreciate that Tarun Sehrawat and his colleague volunteered for this assignment and that the Tehelka team took all decisions in good faith and the belief that an important public interest was served in getting the story out of a region that few media persons venture into”, said the IFJ Asia-Pacific.

 

“We urge that in future, all such decisions be made after due deliberation over the risks and the consequences involved”.

 

For further information contact IFJ Asia-Pacific on +612 9333 0950

 

The IFJ represents more than 600,000 journalists in 131 countries

 

Find the IFJ on Twitter: @ifjasiapacific

 

Find the IFJ on Facebook: www.facebook.com/IFJAsiaPacific 

A law that enables- #Disability


English: A collection of pictograms. Three of ...

June 18, 2012, Editorial , The Hindu

The National Advisory Council‘s suggestions for strengthening the draft law on the Rights of Persons With Disabilities (PWD) is a potentially far-reaching intervention. The step is in sync with the recent notification of a separate Department for Disabilities in the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, which was announced in the President’s 2012 address to Parliament. Ever since India ratified the United Nations Convention on the rights of PWDs in 2007, the formulation of a comprehensive law became imperative and these two developments suggest things are finally moving ahead.

Currently, there are four separate pieces of legislation pertaining to India’s disabled population. The earliest, the 1987 Mental Health Act, predates the discourse on affirmative action for the disabled in India and, to that extent, the status of mental illness as a disability remains ambiguous. Then, there is a separate law that deals with the creation of qualified and trained personnel for the provision of rehabilitation and education services for this segment of the population. The third, the PWD Act of 1995, is underpinned by an emphasis on anti-discrimination and guarantees of equal opportunities. Although the latter was envisaged as a comprehensive law, it did not address fully the conditions of persons with other equally severe disabling conditions. Hence the 1999 Act for people with autism, cerebral palsy, mental retardation and multiple disabilities.

It is hardly surprising that these four laws in themselves have not mitigated the sense of apathy and bureaucratic red tape that hamper the creation of an enabling environment. The mechanisms and procedures involved are riddled with duplication and inconsistencies, as evidenced by the evolving case law over questions of jurisdiction and interpretation of different laws. More than a billion people around the world experience one or another form of disability, according to the World Health Organisation and World Bank 2011 report.

On other estimates, about 10 per cent of the population in developing countries is disabled. By any reckoning, India’s numbers would be much larger than what governments are prepared to acknowledge, given the detrimental influences of poverty, illiteracy and poor health on disability. It follows that stepping up investments in health and education is one of the important ways of preventing disabilities and mitigating their impact over the long term. Requiring service providers to furnish a declaration of conformity with the relevant laws is the other means to ensure accountability and effective enforcement. An umbrella legislation will go a long way in altering the present state of affairs.

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