Naroda Case: Kodnani, Bajrangi Get Life Term #Justice

Naroda Case: Kodnani, Bajrangi Get Life Term

Naroda Patiya: Maya Kodnani gets 28 years, Babu Bajrangi jail till death

PTI | AhmedabadAug 31, 2012


A Special Court today awarded life imprisonment to BJP MLA Maya Kodnani, Bajrang Dal leader Babu Bajrangi and 29 other convicts for the 2002 riots here at Naroda Patiya where 97 people were brutally killed.

The Court named Kodnani, a sitting MLA and former Gujarat Minister, as “a kingpin of riots” in Naroda area and sentenced her to 18-year life imprisonment after serving 10 years jail term under IPC Section 326 (voluntary causing grievous hurt by dangerous weapons or means).

Bajrangi, another high profile accused, will have to spend his entire remaining life behind bars, it said and described communal violence as “cancer”.

Seven other convicts were given jail term of 21 years by Additional Principal Judge Jyotsna Yagnik. They will also have to first serve 10-year imprisonment under Section 326.

The remaining 22 convicts were given simple life imprisonment (14 years).

The Court had on Wednesday convicted 32 and acquitted 29 persons in the worst riots case in the aftermath of the Godhra train carnage. It did not pronounce sentence against one accused who is absconding.

“Communal riots are like cancer on Constitutional secularism and the incident in Naroda Patiya was a black chapter in the history of the Indian Constitution,” the Judge observed.

“Acts of communal violence are brutal, inhuman and shameful. It (Naroda) was a clear incident of human rights violation as 97 people were killed brutally within a day which included helpless women, children, aged persons. The climax of this inhuman and brutal act of violence was reflected in murder of an infant, who was 20-day old,” the Court noted.

The Judge accepted that one victim, who was also a witness, was gang raped, but due to lack of evidence, the court has not charged anybody for that offence.

However, the court directed the Gujarat Government to pay Rs 5 lakh as compensation to the victim.

Rejecting the defence theory that the communal violence was a reaction to the Godhra carnage, the court said, “This was a pre-planned conspiracy and it cannot be mitigated just by saying it was a reaction of Godhra train burning incident. Nobody can be allowed to take law into their hands because India is a country that upholds rule of law.”

The Court’s inclination was against awarding death penalty in the case.

“Death penalty brings justice and it is desirable to reduce the crime in the society but this court cannot overlook the global trend prevalent in recent years. By 2009, 139 countries had repealed death sentence and there is a global campaign against death penally and progressive societies are advocating for restricting death penalty and this court believes use of death undermines human dignity.”

Regarding Kodnani, the court observed that she was the “kingpin of entire riots” that took place in Naroda Patiya area. She led the mob and incited them for violence. She abetted and supported the violent mob, it said.

Kodanai, who was MLA of Naroda at the time of riots, was made Minister of State for Women and Child Development in 2007 in the Narendra Modi Government. She had to resign after she was arrested in the case in March 2009.

The three-time legislator, who was considered close to Chief Minister Narendra Modi, is the first woman to be convicted in a post-Godhra riots case. Kodnani, who was present in the court, broke down after she was sentenced.

The massacre had taken place a day after the Godhra train burning incident of February 27, 2002.

On February 28, 2002, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) had called a state-wide bandh to protest against the Godhra train carnage. On that a large crowd gathered in Naroda Patiya area in Ahmedabad and attacked people belonging to minority community, resulting in the death of 97 people and injury to 33 others.

Ram Narayan Kumar- A born Human Rights Activist


Aug 31, 1956- June 28, 2009

Ram Narayan Kumar, former director of SAFHR’s South Asian Orientation Course in Human Rights and Peace Studies, was the full time Director of the Understanding Impunity project.Kumar had been involved with human rights and democracy issues in the region since 1975 when he was imprisoned for 19 months for his vocal opposition to Indira Gandhi‘s Emergency regime that lasted till March 1977. Kumar’s work for justice and accountability in Punjab is widely recognized. A founder member of the Committee for Information and Initiative on Punjab, which petitioned the Supreme Court in April 1995 for a comprehensive investigation on the matter of police abductions resulting in the secret cremations in Punjab, Kumar is the lead author of Reduced to Ashes

For almost a quarter of a century, he championed Sikh rights in Punjab through investigative journalism, historical research and uncompromising fight for State accountability. His landmark publication, Reduced to Ashes : TheInsurgency and Human Rights in Punjab, (SAFHR, 2003), which he co-author  dwith colleagues on the Coordination Committee for Disappearances in Punjab (CCDP), of whihc I was a part as well for a year, is a meticulous documentation of over 600 cases of human rights abuse in Punjab. It led to charges being filed against police officials, but more importantly, it raised awareness of abuses in Punjab across the world. He is also the author of Sikh Unrest and the Indian State: Politics, personalities and historical retrospective (Ajanta Publications, New Delhi, 1997); The Sikh Struggle: Origin, Evolution and Present Phase (Chanakya Publications, Delhi, 1991) and [Terror in Punjab] Terror in Punjab : Narratives, Knowledge and Truth (Shipra Publications, Delhi, 2008).

Ram played a major role in all aspects of the movement for accountability in Punjab. For example, he worked with Jaswant Singh Khalra in exposing mass cremations of victims of disappearances and killings, he spearheaded the People’s Commission on Human Rights Violations as well as the Committee for Coordination on Disappearances in Punjab, and he contributed to all major litigation such as the petition to bring charges against KPS Gill for his role in Khalra’s murder and the Punjab mass cremations case.

“A forthright critic of state repression in Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, Northeast India, Nepal and other parts of the subcontinent, Kumar was a deeply committed fighter for human rights and accountability. Kumar’s work through SAFHR on impunity in the region was based not only on meticulous research and sharp insights, but also on profound empathy, compassion and an unwavering passion for social justice.“—Tapan Kumar Bose, South Asia Forum for Human Rights & Sushil Pyakurel, Accountability Watch Committee, Nepal.


Join his facebook page here-

Documentary by  RamNnarayan Kumar, investigating the 50000 plus sikh members who have been mudered by the indian government in the genocide killing fields of punjab. note recently indian government have offered minimal compensation to some of the victims as an admission of guilt by no justice

A short clip of Interveiw with Ram Narayn Kumar on illegal cremations and Jaswant Singh Khalra


Goodwill Hunting – #NarendraModi


By Amit Sengupta, in Kindle Magazine

This is the memory which moves in the darkness of the corridors and ravaged inner spaces of life and architecture, like a burnt family picture, or the three birds in flight on the ‘drawing room’ wall. Or like the books stacked in a corner, neatly arranged, because the handsome father with spectacles on, his refined face was also a poet, a scholar and a trade unionist. You can still see the mother, and you know that he was a good man, that she will never forget his presence, that his absence stalks her like the sound of a cracked mirror, falling onto the ground, the sound of silence reminding you of glass.

Her daughter told me the story. She described it in graphic detail, as if she has written down everything in an invisible diary inside her mind. The wounds were so fresh in 2002 that even memory seemed impossible; it almost was like a documentary with its raw footage painstakingly edited, sound becoming silence, and the story becoming a silent movie where every still and moving image has already crossed the crossing. I saw it in her eyes, the story of her mother perhaps: the story of a massacre in bright daylight.


Her father pleaded with the mob. The police commissioner dropped in. He knew so well, the inevitable consequences of this predictable moment. But the top cop, he chose to ignore it, wilfully, deliberately, systematically. All the neighbours were now huddled in their house. Her father made several desperate phone calls, across the political spectrum, perhaps also called the local political and police establishment. He was a former Congress MP, an influential person. No response. It was as if there was nobody on the other end. The line was dead.


When it was all over, she came down. The mother. Alive. Among the survivors. They shut her eyes, as she crossed burnt bodies, hacked limbs, scattered skulls, bloodied faces, broken bangles, torn clothes, distorted, blackened bodies, viscous, vicious layers of blood, on the walls, on the floor, on the doors. She moved in a haze, choked, her eyes shut. But she saw everything, and she knew that Ehsan Jafri, too, among 69 others, were butchered in a public spectacle which only barbarians could indulge, in the brutish spectacles of the medieval past. She later told a court: ‘Mob dragged my husband, stripped him and chopped off his limbs before burning him alive.” She came down from the first floor in the evening, when finally the police arrived. On the verandah she saw the mutilated bodies of her neighbour, Kasambhai’s wife and his pregnant daughter-in-law – she was slashed in the abdomen with a sword.


For Zakia Jafri, this walk from eternity into the dead-end of barbarism, through blood and gore and dead bodies, remains a memory, which is like a long insomnia, a silent wail in the dark, saline waters choked inside the eyes, all hopes crushed and massacred in this moment of ravaged revelation. In the eerie, suffocated silence of the lambs, in tyrant sociopath Narendra Modi’s Hindutva laboratory of State sponsored mass murders; there is not the remotest possibility of any Sadbhavana, nor truth and reconciliation, not the remotest trace of justice. At its purest moment of Nazi ethnic cleansing, it’s like the SS and Gestapo in saffron colours, eternally flexing muscles, pumping chests, literally, sinking, sinking, drinking the blood of its own people. Like the blood smashed on the walls of Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad.


No one lives here anymore. Except Kasam Allahnoor Mansoori, 68, who walks through the grass, and looks inside the window from where Ehsan Jafri would gaze outside, a book in hand. Mansoori lives here like the shadow of a memory which touches him everyday like the grass touches the heat and the twilight. He knows the feeling of this twilight zone, its inner meaning, the absence of presence. His wife, a son, a daughter, three daughters-in-law and six grandchildren were among the 69 butchered by the Hindutva mob under state patronage.


Don’t ask him the meaning of ‘Sadbhavna Mission’, and all the spirits of the loved ones will move into his ravaged home in a long silent procession. Between home and the world, can we see this procession, of people, human beings, and those six grandchildren? If children are the faces of god, than who is Modi’s god? Who is Modi’s anti-god? What is the religion of barbarism and bestiality?


It’s in a to and fro loop, this bitter memory of bitterness and angst and anger, layered into multiple layers of injustices and unfreedoms, moving from the burnt out Best Bakery in Baroda with burnt bodies of people who were alive, to the long film of brutality which Bilquis Bano saw with her own eyes, her own body, like Kausar Bi in Naroda Patiya, and others in Juhapura, Panchmahal, Dahod.


Tough, resilient Bilquis. She and her husband fought till the end. I touched the hand of her little child once. The child smiled. Perhaps the most sublime smile I have ever seen.


Also, the first deaths by fire, inside Coach S-6, Godhra. Some of the dead were reportedly found in the middle of the coach. Why? The doors are not locked from outside. Why didn’t they rush to the door?


And why were the dead bodies brought to Ahmedabad in a public display? And who planned and executed Operation Gujarat Genocide on February 28, 2002, like seismologists look at a map pinned on a drawing board, pointing out the minutest details of the faultlines beyond the epicentre?


Mass murder as an electoral trump card. Hum paanch hamaare pachees! First, a mass murder in full public view. Then, painting an entire community with the brush soaked in blood, hounding them, pushing them to the wall, pissing on their wounds, humiliating and degrading them, wilfully blocking justice, while patronising and protecting the murderers of the Sangh Parivar, calling the vast refugee Shah Alam camp with thousands of homeless and brutalised, orphaned and ravaged, as nothing but a baby producing factory. Sadbhavna?


So what do you do with babies? Throw them into a furnace? Or, inside a gas chamber?
Or simply put kerosene in their mouths, with a lighted matchstick inside? So how many new ways of hacking, burning, raping and butchering became the final experiments with truth in Modi’s Gujarat? Ask Kausar Bi. She will tell you how it feels.


Or ask Zakia Jafri. Waiting for justice, as long as she is alive. The smell of death lingering in the air, like burnt books of a poet whom she loved.


Kannada actor Arjun arrested for harassing wife #VAW



BANGALORE: Kannada film actor Arjun was today arrested for allegedly harassing his wife both physically and mentally for the past several months, police said.

34 year-old Arjun, married to Latashri for the past 11 years and has two daughters, was arrested on a complaint from his wife, they said.

Arjun had been allegedly harassing his wife both physically and mentally for the past several months under the influence of alcohol and unable to bear his torture, she had been staying with her parents for the past three months.

Last night, Arjun came to his father-in-law’s house allegedly in a drunken state and had a quarrel with the security guard, verbally abusing him and also Latashri.

The actor was produced before a local court and has been remanded to judicial custody.


Saffron vs Saffron: 200 RSS workers attack BJP office in Indore


HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Indore/Bhopal, August 29, 2012

In what proved to be a major embarrassment for the party, about 200 Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) workers attacked the Bharatiya Janata Party office in Indore on Tuesday night. For the RSS, the attack was to “teach the errant BJP a lesson”, but the BJP was at a loss to even react, not to  mention lodging a complaint.
A local RSS leader said, “If a child starts eating mud, what will the mother do? She will not watch quietly, she will slap the child. And that is what the RSS has done.” It turned out that the ‘parent’ was angry with the ‘child’ over the transfer of a police officer credited with acting against a criminal.

On Tuesday night, the Sangh workers barged into the BJP party office at Jaora compound and ransacked the three-storey office. The few office staffers and party workers who were present either hid or ran away. Angry RSS workers raised slogans against state industries minister Kailash
Vijayvargiya and MLA Ramesh Mendola and burnt chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s effigy.

Meanwhile, BJP leaders, including state president Prabhat Jha, chose to keep mum on the issue, given the sensitivity of the matter. This line of action, or rather inaction, was decided at a series of meetings held at the CM’s residence in Bhopal. Indore city unit president Shankar Lalwani was called to Bhopal to explain the situation. Apart from the CM, Jha and state BJP general secretary (organisation) Arvind Menon were also present at the meetings.

“This is an unfortunate incident. It is our internal matter. We briefed the CM about it,” Lalwani told HT
RSS workers, however, continued to be vocal. “It’s about peace and order. Goonda elements are dominating. What happened was a reaction to the same,” said RSS’ Malwa Prant Sanghchalak Laxman Rao Nawathe.
Why RSS is angry?

The RSS is angry over additional SP Rakesh Singh’s transfer around a month ago. Singh had booked Manoj Parmar, a criminal, who had earlier accused BJP MLA Sudarshan Gupta and Sangh Seva Pramukh, Indore Mahanagar, Gopal Goyal, among others, of shooting at him while he was taking part in a religious procession on July 23. Parmar is supposed to have acted at the behest of state industries minister Kailash Vijayvargiya and MLA Ramesh Mendola.


No one should be executed. Not even #AjmalKasab #deathpenalty


source-Amnesty Blog

I was woken up yesterday morning by my phone beeping. A text message from Shashikumar, Amnesty India’s programme director: “Supreme Court likely to confirm Ajmal Kasab’s death sentence today”. No surprises there. The death penalty is on the statute books and there was little doubt that the Supreme Court would decide to apply it in this case.

At one level it put me in touch with my deeply held conviction (that I share with Amnesty International) “The death penalty is the ultimate denial of human rights. It is the premeditated and cold-blooded killing of a human being by the state. It violates the right to life as proclaimed in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

For more information, please see Amnesty International’s Position paper on the death penalty

But it also brought up for me the horrors of the 26/11 atrocity and with it an anxiety. I remembered the many conversations with friends where “But if we don’t have the death penalty how will we deal with Kasab?” was considered the ultimate argument in favour of the death penalty. Can I find a way of staying with my conviction and articulating it without in any way diminishing the anguish and outrage that the atrocity rightfully evokes? Without somewhere in my heart finding reasons to explain the actions and motivations of Kasab, his murderous band of terrorists and their masters in Pakistan?

Arriving at work, I took heart in the fact that the Times of India chose yesterday (of all days!) to carry aninterview with the retired chief justice of the Delhi High court Justice AP Shah. “Public opinion in India can no longer ignore the global movement in favour of abolition of the death penalty.” He went on to say, “It’s time we accepted that capital punishment neither has any deterrent effect, nor can it be counted as a preventive measure. The criterion of rarest of rare cases hasn’t resulted in any satisfactory solution. The Supreme Court’s attempt to regulate capital punishment has been unsuccessful on its own terms. Courts and governments worldwide have tried and failed to lay down satisfactory and clear criteria eliminating arbitrariness, subjectivity and inconsistency from the death penalty.”

As human beings, we may sometimes harbour beliefs that are not backed by evidence or fact. But even in the eyes of those who believe that the death penalty does serve as a deterrent, it would be hard to imagine Kasab and his companions – hard core terrorists brainwashed into hatred and trained in mass murder – being deterred by the thought that they would be executed if caught.

The debate on the death penalty in India is an old one. I was surprised to find that, although they articulated their position in different ways, both Gandhi and Ambedkar opposed it on principles that applied to all cases without exception, regardless of the nature of the crime or the characteristics of the offender.

Gandhi: “I cannot in all conscience agree to anyone being sent to the gallows…God alone can take life because he alone gives it.”

Ambedkar: “This country by and large believes in the principle of non-violence. It has been its ancient tradition, and although people may not be following it in actual practice, they certainly adhere to the principle of non-violence as a moral mandate which they ought to observe as far as they possibly can and I think that having regard to this fact, the proper thing for this country to do is to abolish the death sentence altogether.”

So why do we still have the death penalty? Apart from the (false) claims of its deterrent effect, perhaps it is the notion that without the death penalty, we as a nation will not be able to respond to monstrous crimes and crimes against the nation. It is clearly the “enormity of the crime”, to quote the Supreme Court, that staggers the mind and sends it in the pursuit of a “fitting response”, and nothing short of the ultimate seems to be appropriate. To many of our fellow citizens, to even suggest anything less than the death penalty for Kasab seems to somehow diminish the horror and take away from the enormity of his crimes.
But what can a decent human being (or indeed a society, a nation) do in response to such horror that would not be an affront to her own decency? That would not turn our very human desire for revenge into the mirror image of a terrorist’s willingness to kill? That would not let our response be driven by our fear of being seen as irresolute?

If we hang Kasab we will not deter future terrorists. If we hang Kasab we will not prevent future acts of terrorism. If we hang Kasab we will not give a fitting response to an enormous crime. If we hang Kasab, we will merely apply a provision in our law books that ought not to be there in the first place.
Imprison Kasab for the full duration of his life. Abolish the death penalty.

Bangalore Police arrest journalist, 10 others for suspected terror links


PTI, Aug 30/8/2012

In a major operation, Bangalore Police have arrested 11 persons with suspected links to terror outfits Lashkar-e-Taiba and HuJI and claimed to have foiled their plot to target MPs, MLAs and mediapersons in Karnataka.

A foreign made 7.65 mm pistol, seven rounds of ammunition and other gadgets were seized from the arrested, City Police Commissioner Jyotiprakash Mirji told reporters along with DGP L.R. Pachau.

The arrested included a journalist of an English daily, police sources said.

Mr. Mirji said all the arrests were made by CCB police on Wednesday in Hubli in northern Karnataka and Bangalore after gathering intelligence inputs for several days.

He denied reports about involvement of Uttar Pradesh police in the operation.

“It was a meticolously planned operation by CCB. The arrested had links with banned outfits like LeT and HUJI,” Mr. Mirji said but refused to share further details remarking “in the interest of the security, case and investigations no more details can be shared at this stage“.

The arrested, all aged below 30, planned to target MPs, MLAs and prominent journalists, he said.

He said cases under IPC sections 120 B (criminal conspiracy), 153A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion), 307 (attempt to murder), 379 (theft) and under Unlawful Activities Prevention Act and Arms Act have been registered against the arrested.

Initial reports had said the four suspected Indian Mujahideen activists involved in the 2010 Chinnaswamy stadium blast case were picked up by police.


I am not LEFT, I am not RIGHT… I am not HINDU, I am not MUSLIM… I am just a Journalist.

My Case: Let the Jury decide

By Syed Hassan Kazim in


This time I am not going to write about any particular incident and events surrounding it. Because in a journalist’s life, there comes a time when he has to clarify regarding his own belief , principles, ideas and his own prism through which he sees the things happening around him. After writing for a considerable period of time, he is confronted with an avalanche of questions, and attacked from all sides, left, right and the centre. So please bear with me this time, while I write about my understanding of certain things while standing like a culprit in the ‘’ Janta ki Adalat’’ aka, the jury of the masses.


In a short journalistic career of 5 years, I have been attacked from each and every side, from many people because some think that I am an advocate of Islamism, which I am totally not. I hate the radicalism prevailing in my own religion as much as I hate the orthodoxy prevailing in the other. The rightists think that I am leftist and the leftists think that I am a rightist. If I write against the crimes of Narendra ‘’ Milesovic’’ Modi,  I am branded as the sympathizer of Al Qaeda. If I pen down something against Al Qaeda and other radicalists and ‘’Lashkars’’ then I am regarded as a ‘’secularist’’.


If I speak against the American, Saudi and Israeli bullying tactics against Iran, I am accused of acting as a Shiahaving a sectarian outlook. Despite agreeing to the fact that Bashar Al Asad is an autocrat and can go to any extent to save his regime, if I write against the way American, Saudi and Turkish backed terrorist groups, most of them, Al Qaeda sponsored and trying to create mayhem in Syria , I am branded as some sort of an Iranian agent and most of the people start reminding me about my opposition to the way the uprising in Bahrain was suppressed. Some people try to compare the situation in Syria and Bahrain despite knowing the fact that in Bahrain, America never wanted a regime change while in Syria, US is hell bent on a regime change as per its own choice for the survival of Israel, America’s biggest and most favoured stooge and ally in the Middle East.


Back home, If I speak against the policies of the Congress led UPA and the Congress as a whole, I am accused by the supporters of the Congress as someone who doesn’t know about the way Indian democracy and politics work. Some Congress people even tried to portray me as a sympathizer of Anna, despite knowing the fact that I have been in a great disagreement with Anna’s and his team’s way. If I write against Anna and Ramdev, I am accused of being an agent of Congress who is up there to defame the two ‘’ pious’’ people. Even I am asked that ‘’ you , the Muslims only think about the welfare of your own people, no matter in which part of the world they reside and do not give an iota of attention to the condition and welfare of your fellow Indian citizens’’, as if Anna and Ramdev are the sole spokesmen of the Indian masses. If I ask why Anna becomes silent whenever he is asked to condemn Modi , I am reminded to understand the pros and cons and the limitations of Anna and his movement. I cannot understand where the so called ‘’limitations’’ go when Anna praises Modi on his so called development, and Ramdev shares a dais with the mass murderer of Gujarat?


If I write against the massacres of Rohingyas Muslim community in Burma, I am again branded as an Islamist who is always up there to defend Islam and support Muslims. But I think it as my duty as a human being to raise my voice against the injustices being done, no matter against whom. I regard it as my duty to speak against Burmese regime and the criminal silence of Aang Sang Sui Kyi as well as the forceful conversion of the Hindus to Islam in Pakistan.  It sometimes becomes irritating to see the same people who accuse me of being sympathetic to everything which are associated with Muslims, becoming silent and expressionless when I write against the injustices done against the people of other faith residing in the Muslim countries. I think that somehow they prefer to ignore my writings which can break their self created stereotypes regarding me and my views.


As a concerned Indian citizen, if I write against the human rights violations in Kashmir, I am branded as some sort of a sympathizer of the separatist forces and an anti- national; traitor, as if an Indian has no right to speak against the excesses of the security forces.


The list is long but just to sum up, I would like to request my friends to start looking at me as a journalist first, and everything else later.  I do not want to impose my religious ideology on others. I will speak and write against the injustices and tyrannies, no matter they are done against anyone, at whichever place or country. After all, the thing which suffers and matters most is the humanity and humane values.  The blood of a single innocent human being is equal to the blood of entire humanity and everyone in his own capacity and rights should speak against the tyrants and unjust system. It’s our duty as human beings which we cannot forget or ignore.


In an age of post modernization, no one owes any explanation to anyone about what he believes, but this write up is just an effort, so that people can understand my writings in the right perspective. Hope my effort won’t go in vain and I will stand vindicated in the ultimate analysis.

Barzilian Supreme Court Judge Overturns Suspension of Belo Monte Dam #badnews #protest

Brazilian Supreme Court Caves to Executive Pressure

Brasilia, Brazil – August 29 – The Brazilian Supreme Court has overturned the suspension of the Belo Monte Dam, caving to pressure from President Dilma Rousseff’s administration without giving appropriate consideration to the indigenous rights implications of the case, human rights groups said today. The case illustrates the Brazilian judiciary’s alarming lack of independence, when powerful interests are at stake.

On August 27th the Chief Justice of the Brazilian Supreme Court Carlos Ayres Britto unilaterally overturned an August 14th ruling by a regional federal court (TRF-1) to suspend construction of the controversial Belo Monte Dam. The suspension was based on illegalities in the 2005 congressional authorization of the project due to the absence of prior consultations with affected indigenous peoples, as required by the federal constitution and ILO Convention 169.

“This unfortunate decision doesn’t invalidate the TRF1’s judgment that the project is unconstitutional,” said Atossa Soltani, Executive Director of Amazon Watch. “This is a failure of the judiciary to stand up to entrenched interests and the power of a politically motivated executive branch that wants the Belo Monte Dam to move forward at all costs.”

The Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office is expected to appeal Britto’s decision and demand a review by the full Supreme Court. Yesterday’s decision was also not a judgment of the merits of the case and the Supreme Court may still uphold the decision that suspended this highly controversial Amazon dam project.

Justice Britto was reported to have received multiple Ministers and other government representatives in recent days who argued against the suspension of Belo Monte and long overdue consultations with indigenous peoples. Despite repeated requests, he was unwilling to meet with representatives of indigenous communities affected by the project, prior to issuing his decision on Monday.

“This case is emblematic of a seriously flawed legal system, where bureaucracy and political interventions allow for systematic violations of human rights and environmental law,” said Brent Millikan, Amazon Program Director at International Rivers. “There is an urgent need to judge the merits of over a dozen lawsuits against Belo Monte that are still awaiting their day in court.”

Justice Britto’s decision was made in response to a complaint filed by the Attorney General’s office (AGU), in which the central argument was that the regional court’s decision conflicted with a previous Supreme Court ruling in 2007. However, the prior Supreme Court decision actually recognized that the Brazilian Congress’ authorization of Belo Monte – in the absence of prior consultations with indigenous peoples – was flawed. Instead of canceling Belo Monte altogether, the previous ruling ordered that an environmental impact study and consultations with indigenous peoples be completed in order for the Congress to reach a decision on whether the project should move forward.

One of the arguments in the AGU complaint is that the suspension of Belo Monte would cause social and economic chaos if some 14,000 workers were dismissed. There is no mention of the social, economic, and environmental havoc that the construction of Belo Monte is wreaking on the region, nor the fact that when dam construction is completed in a few years, some 40,000 workers are scheduled to be fired.

This decision sets a terrible precedent for Belo Monte and the dozens of dam projects planned for the Brazilian Amazon,” said Raul Silva Telles do Vale, Associate Coordinator for Policy and Law with the Social-Environmental Institute. “It indicates that consultations with indigenous peoples can be carried out in any manner – including after Congressional authorization of a project or after an environmental impact study has been carried out. It also means that consultations aren’t required for dam projects that don’t directly flood indigenous lands, denying what are in fact disastrous impacts on downstream communities.”

CONTACT: Conservation Groups

Brent Millikan, +55 61 8153 7009,
Caroline Bennett, 1 415 487 9600,

Letter to the Chief Minister of Gujarat Mr. Narendra Modi on Malnutrition

Rohit Prajapati, Dr. Trupti Shah, and Dr. Nandini Manjrekar
C/o 37 Patrakar Colony,
Tandalja Road, Post: Akota,
Vadodara 390 020, Gujarat
Phone/Fax No: +91-265-2320399
By Fax and Email
30 August 2012

Shri Narendrabhai Modi
The Chief Minister of Gujarat
Government of Gujarat
1st Block, 5th Floor, New Sachivalaya,
Gandhinagar – 382 010.

Subject: Malnutrition in Gujarat: Your statement to the Wall Street Journal.

Dear Shri Modi,

In an interview to the Wall Street Journal you, the Chief Minister of Gujarat, made a statement on the issue of malnutrition in the state that “Gujarat is by and large a vegetarian state. And secondly, Gujarat is also a middle-class state. The middle-class is more beauty conscious than health conscious that is a challenge. If a mother tells her daughter to have milk, they’ll have a fight. She’ll tell her mother, ‘I won’t drink milk. I’ll get fat’.”

We would like to know whether this statement was based on any research study that examined whether malnutrition in Gujarat is related to lifestyle issues. We ask you to share the findings of this study with the people of Gujarat since available data portrays a grim scenario. The Human Development Report of 2011 indicates that  Gujarat is the worst among the high per-capita states in the country in fighting malnutrition, even lower than the ‘less developed’ states of Orissa, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Assam. 44.6% of children in Gujarat below the age of 5 suffer from malnutrition, 41% are underweight, and nearly 70% are anaemic. More than half the women in Gujarat (55%) also suffer from anaemia.

We hope that you are making such a statement based on some study done either by you or by your government or by any reputed institute or scholars. We request you to share the copy of such study because we are absolutely in disagreement with you on this issue.

Malnutrition is directly related to issues of livelihood and well-being, which are the foremost indicators of development, which you as Chief Minister take credit for having spearheaded in the state of Gujarat. You and your government has to take responsibility for the factors that have led to these appalling statistics —  where almost half the children do not even have access to milk — through pursuing a development model in aggressive promotion of privatisation and consequent immiseration of the poor. It is shocking that you should attribute this to the state being largely ‘middle-class’ and vegetarian and obsession with body image among girls. These statements are not only completely lacking in fact but also reflects an amazing callousness and trivialisation of the real issues of the people in the state you govern, especially women and girls, for whom access to livelihoods, education, healthcare and survival itself is a matter of everyday struggle.

In the absence of any substantive data that indicates otherwise, it is morally incumbent on you as Chief Minister, to apologise to the people, and especially women and girls of the state, for the disrespect you have shown them by making these trivial statements on such a grave issue.

Rohit Prajapati

Trupti Shah

Nandini Manjrekar

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