Report on All India Convention against Sedition and Other Repressive Laws


The convention notes with serious concern that the law used by the British Raj to suppress
the Freedom Movement remains part of our statutes. Its egregious use against all
forms of dissent and protest including peasant activists, environmental movement, women,
dalits, adivasis, minorities highlights how the laws on Sedition [in Section 124 A of the
Indian Penal Code as well as in other Laws in operation such as S 2(O) of the Unlawful
Activities (Prevention) Act or in any state level laws such as Criminal Law Amendment Act
or its equivalent] strike at the heart of democracy by curbing freedom of expression,
assembly and association and thus undermine constitutional democracy. In the name of
curbing ‘disaffection’ towards the government or ‘disloyalty’ to the Indian State, S. 124 A of
the IPC threatens to imprison a person for life, whether such disaffection, hatred or contempt
is created by words spoken or written or by signs or visible representation.
The convention is convinced that it is the legitimate right of every citizen to express his or
her opinion, expose the misdeeds and anti-people policies of the government or to even
disapprove of, express disaffection, question and condemn the present system, and even vent
out opinions which call for transforming State and Society. The convention considers respect
for difference of opinion, perspective or view as being a vital part of our struggle for
strengthening democracy. We, therefore, call for the repeal of S 124 A of the IPC and
dropping 2(o) from the UAPA as well as similar provisions from state level laws.
In view of the documented reports from all over India about the use of the sedition law and in
light of the fact that this law is absolutely incompatible with democracy, we, the participating
human rights organisations, as also concerned citizens across the country including
teachers and academics, independent professionals from the media, medical community,
lawyers, students, social movement activists and other grass roots social and political activists
demand that the Indian parliament immediately take necessary steps to repeal sedition law in
sec. 124A IPC and dropping 2 (o) from the UAPA as well as similar provisions from the state
level laws.
All the constituents members have been campaigning against draconian laws such as AFSPA,
UAPA and others and shall continue to campaign for their repeal. As a consequence of repeal
of sedition (S 124 A IPC, S 2 (o) of UAPA 1967 and Prevention of Seditious Meetings Act
1911 and other similar laws), all persons facing prosecution for offences made under these
provisions/laws should forthwith be dropped and those languishing in prisons should
immediately be released.
The convention declares the launch of an all India campaign against sedition and other
repressive laws.
PARTICIPANT ORGANISATIONS:
1. People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL),
2. People’s Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) Delhi,
3. Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR) (WB),
4. Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights Mumbai (CPDR),
5. Human Rights Alert (Manipur),
6. National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM),
7. New Socialist Initiative,
8. Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF),
9. Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) ,
10. People’s Democratic Front of India (PDFI),
11. Agriculture Workers Union (Karnataka),
12. CHRI,
13. Peoples Union for Civil Rights (PUCR) (Haryana),
14. Asansol Civil Liberties Association (WB),
15. Coordination for Human Rights (COHR) (Manipur),
16. Committee for Peace and Democracy in Manipur (CPDM).

Downlaod full report here

Below Poverty Line (BPL) millionaires in Chhattisgarh, India


Author(s): Alok Prakash Putul, Down to Erath
Date: Jun 30, 2012

Industrial houses use tribals as fronts to amass tribal land in Chhattisgarh

Ram Singh’s neighbours tease him by calling him Crorepati Singh. The 40-year-old Gond tribal from Parsada village in Raipur district of Chhattisgarh has hardly any landholding and depends on the government’s employment guarantee schemes to feed his family. But according to official documents, Singh has recently purchased land worth Rs 1.5 crore from a dozen of tribals in Pusaur tehsil of Raigarh district, 250 km away.

Singh is not the only one who is living this paradoxical life. Government records show seven other people from his village, all living below the poverty line, have also purchased land worth crores of rupees in Pusaur (see ‘Hassle-free acquisition’).

image

Ask them how they managed to buy the land, and they look bewildered. None of them have the slightest idea who they bought the land from, how much it cost, or who paid the money. All they know is that in June 2010, when dauji, the village landlord, took them to Pusaur and asked them to put their thumb impressions on blank documents and plain papers, they could not refuse.

Dauji promised me two days of wages, and I agreed,” says Salik Ram, another Gond tribal. Land registry documents show he now owns land worth Rs 74 lakh. His neighbour Vyas Narayan does not even remember the name of the village he went to. He is content with the fact that he could earn some money (which he was reluctant to divulge) and gained the goodwill of dauji.

Quite obviously, none of them are aware that Avantha Group, one of the country’s large business conglomerates, is setting up Korba West Power Co Ltd, with two 600 MW coal-fired thermal power plant units, on the 43.7 hectares (ha) purchased in the names of the eight Gond tribals. The land was bought from hundreds of tribal people of Sarwani, Amlibhouna, Bade Bhandar and Chhote Bhandar villages in Pusaur. The cluster of villages are strategically important, as they are close to the industrial town of Raigarh, and not far from Korba district from where the company would procure coal for its power plant.

image(Left to right) Vyas Narayan, Salik Ram, Budharu Ram are daily wagers. Avantha bought land in their names for power plant (Photos: Alok Putul)

Sources reveal that Avantha Group made the payment for the land. The Gond tribals’ thumb impressions on plain papers give the company the power of attorney to carry out construction work on the land.

If Avantha made the payment, why did it not buy the land in its name?

The land parcels that Avantha Group acquired are owned by tribal people. As per the Chhattisgarh Land Revenue Code, tribal land in the state can neither be sold nor leased out to a non-tribal person without the permission of the district collector. The collector has to give his reasons for granting the permission and must ensure that the displaced people get alternative land or jobs, besides suitable compensation.

To circumvent these safeguards, in what appears to be widespread practice, power companies in this mineral-rich nascent state are enlisting tribal people to act as a front to first buy land from multiple tribal farmers, and then transfer it as one bloc for their projects. This reduces the liability of the company and hastens project implementation. It’s a win-win situation for industries.

For instance, Avantha Group had started constructing its power plant on the tribal land of Pusaur even before it approached the government to acquire 358 ha, including the 43.7 ha tribal land, for its project. Since land acquisition process is time-consuming, this enables Avantha Group to build the plant while the government acquires land, both physically and on paper. This saves time.

image

“Construction on a project cannot begin before the government acquires land and transfers it to the company. But such shortcuts are now in practice in Chhattisgarh due to unholy nexus between industries, land registration officials and ministers,” says Pravin Patel, director of Tribal Welfare Society, a non-profit in Chhattisgarh.

After the formal land acquisition, Avantha Group will have to compensate only eight Gond tribals. Had the government acquired land from the hundreds of tribals from four villages, the company would have to pay compensation to all, besides providing other facilities under the corporate social responsibility. Although the tribals from Pusaur claim they have sold land to Avantha, they do not have documents to prove it or claim any compensation in future.

Ghasia Ram Sidar, a tribal of village Sarwani, says he sold his land under pressure from officers and agents of Korba West Power. Others agreed to sell their land after company officers assured employment in the plant. The tribals of the region hope the company would fulfil their promise, but the company is not obliged to do so. Down To Earth made several attempts to get in touch with Korba West Power Company Limited, but received no response.

When apprised about the fraudulent act of Avantha Group, Tribal Welfare Minister Kedar Kashyap said, “We have directed our officers that this type of corruption will not be tolerated. We investigate such cases as they come to our knowledge.” Revenue Minister Dayal Das Baghel said, “It is a lie that corporate houses are capturing tribal land. Since 2008, we have allowed only two tribals in Raigarh to sell their four hectares of agricultural land to non-tribals. The permission was given under the Chhattisgarh Land Revenue Code. We are serious about the issue.”

If the ministers’ claims are true, how does one explain government land records that show at least 1,981 cases of transfer of tribal land to non-tribals in the past three years across the state.

Land scam in the making

As many as 514 new industrial units are coming up in the state, mostly in and around the mineral-rich and tribal-dominated areas, requiring hundreds of thousands of hectares (see map). Seventy of these industrial units are coal-fuelled thermal power plants. They have already signed MoUs with the Chhattisgarh government to produce 60,000 MW of electricity, around one-third of the country’s installed capacity. At least 34 power plants are in the pipeline in Janjgir Champa alone, where 12 per cent of the population are scheduled tribes. Farmers in this well-irrigated, fertile district grow two crops a year.

landAvantha Group started constructing its power plant on tribal land in Pusaur even before seeking government permission

Anand Mishra, a farmer leader from Bilaspur, says if all the incidents of tribal land transfers in the name of non-tribals in Chhattisgarh are investigated, the country’s biggest land scam could be unearthed. Most of the industrialists have purchased land worth crores of rupees in the name of their servants, guards and even unknown tribals and are setting up industries, he alleges.

Take the example of Kerakachar village in Baloda block in Janjgir Champa. Sarda Energy and Minerals Limited has purchased the entire tribal land in the village in the name of only three tribals to build a power plant. One Jaykumar Paraste is the major purchaser. He has bought 24 ha, worth Rs 2.84 crore from 35 tribals. But no one knows the whereabouts of Paraste. Land registry documents show different addresses listed against his name.

Chequered past

Last year, Videocon purchased 28 ha of agricultural land worth Rs 3.36 crore in the tribal villages of Gond and Gadpali in Janjgir Champa district for setting up its 1,200 MW power plant. It bought the land in the name of a youth Bilam Singh Gaur of Kabirdham, Chief Minister Raman Singh’s home district. The MLA from the region belonging to the opposition Congress Party unearthed the land documents, which showed Videocon had also hired Sandeep Kanwar, son of home minister Nanki Ram Kanwar, who is a tribal, as its public relations officer for acquiring tribal land. Sandeep Kanwar bought tribal land in his name, while Videocon made the payment.

The government cancelled the registration of the land bought by Kanwar only after the opposition made a great commotion in the Legislative Assembly. But no criminal action was taken against those involved, nor were other land deals investigated.

Around the same time, at a public hearing for Top Worth Energy Limited in Balbhadrapur village of Raigarh, residents of the village made a disclosure that some agents purchased tribal land in the name of yoga guru Baba Ramdev’s ashram at a minimal rate and transferred it to the said company.

In March this year, 63 similar cases came to light in Bastar, a scheduled area under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution. Following this the divisional commissioner of Bastar cancelled the permission of sale of a few land parcels of tribals. Several other cases are under investigation.

But no one is sure how genuine these investigations are. In Mahasamund district, for instance, the commissioner of the Raipur division in February 2011 ordered an investigation into the sale of 150 tribal land parcels to non-tribals. But no action has been taken in this regard so far.

In February this year, Vinod Vyas, state coordinator for non-profit Social And Judicial Action Group, along with some political organisations, appealed to the divisional commissioner of Bilaspur, R P Jain, to look into the fraudulent transfer of tribal land to non-tribals taking place in Bilaspur. Jain immediately wrote a letter to the district collector who was asked to submit investigation report within 15 days. The collector did not initiate any investigation. Vyas and the other complainants approached the commissioner twice in April. Both the times, Jain wrote to the collector and sought an investigation report within 15 days, but the matter did not progress beyond this.

“The order to investigate and submit a report in 15 days is stuck even after 100 days. Officers just keep writing letters. The government neither wants to investigate nor take action. Its agenda is to discourage the complainants so that business houses can prosper,” Vyas alleges.

Former chief minister of Chhattisgarh, Ajit Jogi, says, “In Raigarh alone land mafia have purchased hundreds of hectares of tribal land in the name of other tribals in the past seven years.

Now industries are functioning there.” He says the owner of the company should be arrested in such fraud cases and government officials involved suspended.

This, however, seems to be a remote possibility in Chhattisgarh, which is experiencing an industrial boom due to its abundant minerals and cheaply available tribal land. The deals remain hassle-free as both the government and industries seem to be hand in glove.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE– Chhattisgarh Govt denies Soni Sori Food and medicines


Press Statement – 20thJune 2012.


NO RESPITE FOR SONI SORI.


AIIMS SENDS HER BACK AFTER 5 WEEKS OF TREATMENT.


CG GOVT DENIES HER FOOD AND MEDS ON HER WAY BACK !


Soni Sori continues to be ill-treated at the hands of Chhattisgarh government, after a brief breather during her treatment at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences at New Delhi. She is now back in the Raipur Jail after spending 5 weeks recuperating in AIIMS, and the Chhattisgarh government has made clear its intentions of continuing ill-treatment of her, by denying her food, water and medicines immediately after discharge from AIIMS.

Soni Sori was brought to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences on May 10th at the behest of the Supreme Court which ordered immediate and urgent treatment to be provided to her. Ms. Sori arrived in Delhi visibly weakened due to months of ill-treatment and improper medical treatment by the Chhattisgarh government. She was suffering from the continued impact –of the wounds inflicted on her during the inhuman sexual torture meted out to her in October, 2011 under police custody, which had been allowed to fester untreated in the jail. Consequently, she had grave secondary medical conditions, such as intermittent anal and vaginal bleeding, blisters on skin, difficulty in walking etc. at the time when she was brought to AIIMS

Over the 5 weeks of her treatment in AIIMS, she seemed to have recovered significantly, due to regular and expert medical care provided to her. But immediately after her discharge from AIIMS, Soni Sori has been denied her basic human rights yet again by the Chattisgarh government. Soni Sori’s counsel, Mr. Colin Gonsalves expressed his concern to the Chhattisgarh Government counsel, Mr. Atul Jha about no travel arrangements being made for her return to Chhattisgarh, to which Mr Jha assured Mr Gonsalves that every necessary precaution would be taken including, if need be, return to Raipur by flight (as she had been brought to Delhi). But despite these assurances, Soni Sori was taken to Raipur by train, in a crowded unreserved compartment. In scorching summer heat, Soni Sori was made to stand for most of the 24 hour long train journey from Delhi to Raipur, despite her fragile health condition. With daytime temperatures touching 45 degrees Celsius, she was denied water, kept without food for the whole day and not even given the medicines prescribed to her by the doctors at AIIMS.

It should be recalled that Soni Sori, an adivasi school teacher, had been subjected to brutal physical torture and sexual violence during her custody in the Dantewada police station on the night between 8th and 9th October, 2011.  Her torture had been confirmed by an independent medical examination conducted by the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata, during which stones lodged deep in her private parts had been recovered.  However, the medication prescribed by the NRS hospital had been discontinued by the jail authorities in Raipur Jail soon after her discharge, and Soni Sori had been denied any regular medical attention since the examination conducted by the NRS Hospital in October 2011.  In the absence of regular medical care and attention, Ms. Sori’s condition had steadily worsened, prompting the Supreme Court in June 2012 to order her to be brought to AIIMS in New Delhi for immediate medical treatment.

It was sheer and deliberate negligence on part of the Chhattisgarh Government that led to such deterioration in Soni Sori’s health in the first place, that the Supreme Court had to order immediate medical intervention by AIIMS. The manner in which Soni Sori is being treated after her discharge from AIIMS once again raises serious concerns about the intention of the Chhattisgarh government in ensuring her health and safety.  If her medicines are not administered with regularity, Soni will lose the little gains in health that she had made during her stay at AIIMS.

We urge the Chhattisgarh Government to ensure that Soni Sori’s health makes full recovery, and that the recommendations of the medical team at AIIMS regarding physical rest, nutrition and medication are followed diligently. We would like to remind the Government that undertrial prisoners such as Soni Sori are guaranteed basic human rights by the Indian constitution. Soni Sori has already suffered gravely at the hands of Chhattisgarh authorities, first through direct and malicious torture at the hands of the Chhattisgarh police, and then through apathy and negligence of the Chhattisgarh jail authorities. It is time for state violence against her to end.

For more details contact:

Vani Subramanian, Saheli Delhi – 9891128911

Shalini Gera – 9891176443.

The Women Farmer’s Entitlements Bill, 2011


Agriculture

Agriculture (Photo credit: thegreenpages)

AS INTRODUCED IN THERAJYASABHA
ON THE11THMAY, 2012
Bill No. LVof 2011
THE WOMEN FARMERS’ ENTITLEMENTS BILL, 2011
——————
ARRANGEMENT OF CLAUSES
——————
CHAPTER I
PRELIMINARY
CLAUSES
1. Short title, extent and commencement.
2. Definitions.
CHAPTER II
CERTIFICATION OFWOMANFARMER
3. Certification of Woman Farmer.
4. Acceptance of certificate as evidence.
CHAPTER III
LANDRIGHTS
5. Equal land rights to women farmers.
CHAPTER IV
WATERRIGHTS
6. Equal right to water resources.
7. No discrimination for irrigation purposes.
CHAPTER V
LEGAL ACCESS TO CREDIT AND OTHERAGRICULTURAL INPUTS
8. Entitlement of women farmers to get credits, loans and other financial supports.
CHAPTER VI
FUND FORSUPPORTSERVICES TOWOMENFARMERS
9. Establishment of Fund.
10. Women farmer friendly technology.
11. Market facilities.
12. Training and capacity building.
CHPATER VII
IMPLEMENTATION ANDMONITORINGAUTHORITIES, THEIRRESPONSIBILITIES
13. Responsibilities of Central Government.
14. Responsibilities of State Governments.
15. Responsibilities of local authorities.
16. Women Farmers’ Entitlement Board.
17. District Vigilance Committees.
18. Redressal of grievances.
(i)
CHAPTER VIII
PENALTIES ANDPROCEDURES
CLAUSES
19. Penalty for non-compliance of provisions of this Act.
20. Cognizance of offences.
21. Actions in good faith.
CHAPTER IX
MISCELLANEOUS
22. Overriding effect.
23. Power to give directions.
24. Power of State Government to restrict the application of the Act to certain Areas.
25. Power to remove difficulties.
26. Power of Central Government to make Rules.
27. Rules, regulations and schemes to be laid before Parliament.
(ii)
THE WOMEN FARMERS’ ENTITLEMENTS BILL, 2011

A BILL to provide for the gender specific needs of women farmers, to protect their legitimate needs
and entitlements and to empower them with rights over agricultural land, water
resources and other related right and for other functions relating thereto and for
matters connected therewith.

WHEREASwomen constitute more than fifty per cent of Indian farmers and about sixty
per cent of the workforce in the farming sector; and in view of the increasing feminisation of
agriculture as a result of out-migration of men, entitlements for women farmers are essential
for the future growth and health of agriculture, as well as protection of food security in an era
of climate change;

ANDWHEREASit is necessary to recognize and protect the gender specific needs and
rights of the women by empowering and entitling them with enforceable rights over agricultural
land, water resources, credit and other related rights;
ANDWHEREASthe Married Women’s Property Act, 1874 recognised the wages, earnings
and other property acquired by an married woman in any employment, occupation or trade
carried on by her in her individual capacity as her separate property; the Hindu Succession
(Amendment) Act, 2005 entitled the daughter of a Joint Hindu family governed by the
Mitakshara law, to become a coparcener in her own right in the same manner as the son and
clothes her with the same rights and liabilities in the coparcenary property as she would have
had if she had been a son; the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers
(Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 recognised the rights of forest-dwelling communities
to the forest land and other forest resources;
ANDWHEREASthe Government of India has recognized the special needs of women
farmers by initiating a “Mahila Kisan Shashaktikaran Pariyojana” programme under the
National Rural Livelihood Mission;

ANDWHEREASIndia is a party to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of
Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), 1979 which calls for elimination of all forms of
discrimination of women by ensuring equal access to agricultural credit and loans, marketing
facilities, appropriate technology and equal treatment in land and agrarian reform as well as
in land resettlement schemes;
ANDWHEREAS the Fourth World Conference on Women in September, 1995, in which
India participated, called for legislative and administrative reforms to give women equal
rights with men to economic resources, including access to ownership and control over land
and other properties, credit, inheritance, natural resources, and appropriate new technology,
etc. as embodied in the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action;
ANDWHEREASit is considered necessary to implement the decisions in so far as they
relate to the women farmers’ entitlements under Article 253 of the Constitution of India.
BEit enacted by Parliament in the Sixty-Second Year of the Republic of India as
follows:—
CHAPTER I
PRELIMINARY
1. (1) This Act may be called the Women Farmers’ Entitlements Act, 2011.
(2) It extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir.
(3) It shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification
in the Official Gazette, appoint.
2.In this Act, unless the context otherwise requires—
(a) “agriculture” means and includes, all activities related to cultivation of
crops, animal husbandary, poultry, livestock rearing, apiculture, gardening, fishing,
aquaculture, sericulture, vermiculture, horticulture, floriculture, agro-forestry, or any
other farming activity carried out through self-employment, tenurial cultivation, share
cropping, or other types of cultivation including shifting cultivation, collection, use
and sale of minor or non-timber forest produce by virtue of ownership rights or
usufructory rights;
(b) “agricultural activity” means any activity related to agriculture;
(c) “farmer” means any person who is, individually or jointly with any other
person,—
(i) engaged in agriculture directly or through the supervision of others; or
(ii) contributes to conservation or preservation of agriculture related
varieties or seeds or breeds of farm animals; or
(iii) contributes through traditional knowledge to any type of innovation,
conservation or to propagation of new agricultural varieties or to agricultural
cultivation methods or practices or to the practice of crop-livestock integrated
farming system; or
(iv) promotes agro-processing, and value-addition to primary products.

Download the full bill below

women farmers bill 2012_English

Dalits meet SC panel on Jats’ wage rule


English: House of Dalit

English: House of Dalit (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I P Singh, TNN Jun 18, 2012,

PHAGWARA: Dalit residents of Mahan Singh Wala village in Sangrur district working as farm labourers have approached the Punjab Scheduled Caste Commission after jats not only passed a resolution imposing wages for various menial jobs but also warned them of social boycott if the rules are breached.

The resolution, which reeks of caste-based discrimination, has been passed under the name of the village panchayat. Pamphlets spelling out the rules have been pasted on the walls in the village.

A delegation of dalits led by Dalit Dastaan Virodhi Andolan patron Jai Singh met Punjab SC Commission member Dalip Singh Pandhi here on Sunday. “The commission will issue a notice to Sangrur deputy commissioner seeking a detailed report on the issue. Prima facie it is an objectionable act violating various provisions of the Constitution and a suitable action would be taken soon,” Pandhi told TOI.

Daily wages of women labourers have been fixed at rates lower than men and 10 hours’ work a day has been set for the fair sex. It has also been mandated that if some seeri (permanent labour working for a family for generations) works outside the village, he would face social boycott and will not be given any help during crisis. Even if a seeri meets with an accident or suffers from poisonous inhalation while spraying pesticide/insecticide, he wouldn’t be given any compensation.

“If a seeri is employed on a monthly basis, he would be paid a minimum Rs 5,000 and maximum Rs 6,000 wage and would have to stay at the farmer’s place in the night till the employer wishes,” a condition reads.

Wages for paddy transplantation has been fixed at Rs 1,500 per acre. Notably, even the migrant labourers are charging Rs 2,500 to 3,000 per acre due to shortage of workers.

The resolution points out that that if there is a death in the family of a laagi (lower caste people who do petty jobs), he/she can collect milk door to door but no farmer (read Jat) would take milk to his/her house.

Jai Singh, who led the delegation, said that this resolution was not only seeking to perpetuate caste-based bias but was also a desperate attempt to keep the wages under strict control by using social and economic domination.

Former village Sarpanch Pal Singh and current panchayat member Sukhwinder Singh said this resolution was passed by a group of land owners, and not the elected panchayat.

When contacted, Mahan Singh Wala Numberdar Gurdeep Singh, one of the members who scripted the resolution, admitted that this has been implemented in the village. He revealed that in the neighbouring Khokhar village, such a rule has been enforced.

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