Missing girl found after being allegedly raped by her abductors for two months #VAW


Press Trust of India | Updated: September 02, 2012

Mathura: A girl from Alwar village in Rajasthan, who had been missing for past two months, has been found after she was allegedly raped and tortured by her two abductors.

According to police, the girl was abducted on June 23 by two boys from her village soon after she arrived in Mathura with a group of women for pilgrimage at Govardhan.

While the ‘Parikrama‘ (circumambulation) was in progress, the two boys – Randip and Narendra – took her to an isolated place and allegedly raped her. For almost two months, she remained in their captivity and was repeatedly raped. She was also allegedly beaten with iron rod if she refused to comply with her abductors.

Fearing arrest, the two boys tried to get rid of the girl on August 17 by sending her off on in Ajmer-bound train.

On reaching Ajmer, the girl narrated her ordeal to the personnel at the Government Railway Police (GRP) station.

A case was immediately registered and then transferred to Govardhan police station in Mathura.

The girl has reunited with her parents and they have demanded immediate arrest of the two accused. The police are on a look out for the two boys.


Basaguda encounter : Killing of innocent adivasis in Chhattisgarh state #mustwatch

English: Adivasi woman and child, Chhattisgarh...

English: Adivasi woman and child, Chhattisgarh, India. Français : Femme et enfant adivasis, Chhattisgarh, Inde. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An all-India fact-finding team of rights activists belonging to the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO) visited the area in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh where 17 adivasis died as a result of firing by CRPF forces on the night of June 28, 2012. The team visited the villages of Sarkeguda, Kottaguda and Rajpenta on July 6 and 7 and elicited information about the events.
About 60 adivasis of these three villages assembled from around 8 pm on June 28 in an open area between Sarkeguda and Kottaguda. Such meetings where decisions have to be taken collectively are usually held during the night since adivasis are busy with work most of the day.
While the meeting was going on, a large contingent of CRPF personnel and CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action, a specialised anti-naxalite guerilla unit of the CRPF) commandos numbering well over a hundred, cordoned off the area. According to the villagers, at about 10 pm there was gunfire without any warning.
It was clear to the fact-finding team that a peaceful gathering of adivasis, none of whom carried any firearms, was surrounded by the CRPF and without any warning fired upon indiscriminately. As a result of this firing, 17 adivasis died.
It was plain slaughter that night near Sarkeguda.

At the end of the day we left the villages and the villagers with the killer forces around them. Not only in Basaguda, many and many villages of central India are now surrounded with these killer forces, paramilitary force, with clear assignment of committing murder.

This attitude of Indian state needs to be condemned from every quarters.

Blasphemy case: Pak imam held for ‘implicating’ Christian girl- #Rimshacase


Islamabad, Sep 2, 2012, (PTI) :

In a new twist to the blasphemy case involving a minor Christian girl, an imam in the Pakistani capital was arrested and remanded to 14-day judicial custody today for allegedly planting pages of the Quran in her bag and using it to implicate her under the controversial law.

Khalid Chishti, the prayer leader of Jamia Aminia mosque in the low-income Mehria Jaffar neighbourhood of Islamabad, was arrested last night after a man testified that he had seen the cleric stuffing pages of the Quran in the bag of the Christian girl named Rimsha Masih.

The bag originally contained only some other papers and ashes.
The witness, Hafiz Muhammad Zubair, recorded a statement against the cleric before a magistrate.

Police subsequently arrested Chishti on the basis of this statement.
Chishti was produced before a judicial magistrate, who sent him to Adiala Jail in Rawalpindi for 14 days.

Police officials said they expected Chishti to be charged under the controversial blasphemy law.

Earlier, Zubair told the media: “When the bag was brought to the mosque, there was nothing in it.    When he (Chishti) was given the bag, he went into the mosque and pulled out two or three pages and added them to the bag.

“I told him what he was doing was wrong. He told me it is evidence against the Christians and a way to get them removed (from the area),” Zubair said.

The incident had occurred while Zubair and some other men were in ‘aitekaf’ (seclusion) in the mosque during the holy Islamic month of Ramzan.

Zubair said a neighbour of Rimsha named Malik Ammad, the complainant in the case, handed over the bag with the pages of the Quran to the police.

Chishti had acknowledged in a television interview last week that he had, during a recent sermon, called for the eviction of all Christians from the neighbourhood if they did not stop their prayer services because “Pakistan is an Islamic country given by Allah.”

Pakistan Ulema Council chief Allama Tahir Ashrafi asked the Supreme Court Chief Justice to take suo motu notice of the incident and initiate action against those who had really desecrated the Quran and them blamed the Christian girl for the incident.

Rimsha was arrested on August 16 after an angry mob surrounded a police station and demanded that action be taken against her.

She is currently being held at the high-security Adiala Jail.

Her judicial remand was extended by 14 days last week.

Though an official medical board concluded that Rimsha was aged about 14 years and that her mental development did not correspond to her age, the findings were challenged last week by Rao Abdul Raheem, the lawyer of Rimsha’s accuser.

A district and sessions court, which is hearing Rimsha’s case, is looking into Raheem’s allegations.

Rimsha’s bail hearing is scheduled to be taken up by the same court tomorrow.

The new evidence against the cleric could help defuse the religiously-charged case
against the girl.

The case has prompted concern from Western governments and the Vatican. It has also focused attention once again on Pakistan’s controversial blasphemy law, under which a person can be punished with life in prison or death.

Rights groups have warned that the law is often used to settle personal scores or persecute minorities like Christians.

Maimed by the state, quietly #Torture #Censorship #Kashmir

Amidst a culture of silence and media inattention, torture is easy to find in the security hot zones of India. A new film bares the ugly truth. Freny Manecksha reports. 

“Soldiers got on top of me. One of them chopped my feet with a knife. I could see blood flowing and my feet twitching. … They cut the flesh of my waist. They made me eat all this …”“They pulled my nails out completely and rubbed chilli powder into the wounds.”

“They set the bottom of my legs alight and the fabric stuck to my skin …”

Truly horrific. Macabre descriptions, taken not from some archives of a medieval torture chamber, but from Channel Four’s film – Kashmir: the Torture Trail – that was aired last month. Directed by BAFTA award winner Jezza Neumann and produced by Brian Woods, the film follows Kashmir’s noted human rights lawyer Parvez Imroz, who is documenting torture testimonials of victims at the hands of Indian security forces and police, for the first comprehensive report on use of torture as a repressive weapon in Kashmir.

Recording statements and providing graphic visual images of victims ranging from Firoze, detained under PSA with a head wound, to a girl who was raped by troops, to the shepherd Kalendu Khatana, whose feet were cut off by the Border Security Forces, the film buttresses its point of institutionalised torture, by verification from the government’s own human rights organisation or statements by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International or the United Nations.

India has signed but not yet ratified the UN Convention against Torture. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has been denied permission to visit India. 

The State Human Rights Commission, which has probed Khatana’s claims, found them not only to be true but made the damning observation that it was one of clusters where Indian security forces had hacked away at limbs of suspects so badly that amputation was inevitable. Twenty years after his feet were cut off, Khatana’s wounds fester, as does his claim for compensation.

The film’s promotional video calls it India’s best kept secret, but torture, like the presence of the unmarked graves, has long been an accepted fact in Kashmir – one that has been difficult to document, however.

Parvez Imroz, who has been actively involved with the Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons, and who worked along with the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir on Buried Evidence – the extensive report on unidentified and mass graves, has been speaking out against torture. In the film he declares, “Some people must stand up and say ‘No this is not acceptable. We will campaign against it.”

It was the publication of the WikiLeaks cable last year that brought to light concerns by the international community over the extensive use of torture in India. The dispatches reveal that US diplomats in Delhi were briefed in 2005 by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), which said that out of the 1296 detainees it visited in Kashmir, 681 said they were tortured.

The film also looks at the way the draconian Public Safety Act or preventive detention is used to detain hundreds without trial, and the way in which young street protesters and stone pelters continue to be rounded up and tortured.

Mohamad Junaid, currently studying anthropology in New York and specialising on issues of militarisation and violence , grew up in Kashmir in the nineties. He witnessed and has written about the humiliation of crackdowns, arrests and protest marches. He believes the state uses torture not so much to extract information, but to send messages to the “larger oppressed nation through broken and defiled bodies, to break their national will and determination. This psycho-somatic warfare against Kashmiris is an unconscionable blind spot in the discourses about human rights and justice in the international arena.”

Channel Four’s film comes close on the heel of a campaign by Indian rights activists protesting the use of torture against political prisoners and for reforms on issues related to torture.

Two weeks ago Amnesty International launched its petition urging the Indian government to stop the use of torture, noting that disadvantaged, marginalised groups including women, dalits, adivasis and suspected members of armed opposition groups are those most commonly abused. The petition begins with an appeal by Nazir Ahmad Sheikh, a Kashmiri from Handwara who was forced by members of 14th Dogra regiment to walk barefoot in the snow and whose feet were also later burnt with a stove.

India has signed but not yet ratified the UN Convention against Torture. At the UN Human Rights meet in Geneva this year India claimed it had a prevention of torture bill pending in Parliament. Activists say it does not comply with standards laid down by the UN Convention. The UN Special Rapporteur on Torture has been denied permission to visit India.

Noted documentary film maker Sanjay Kak who made a film on Kashmir, Jashn-e Azadi(How We Celebrate Freedom) believes that the institutionalisation of torture is because of growing militarisation of ever greater swathes of the country and the general public’s ability to stonily accept its terrible consequences. “At its root is a crisis in the sphere of politics where the art of persuading those who disagree has been replaced by the brutal science of torture.”

The media’s compliance in hiding the story has meant “we have managed to block out the use of torture and custodial killings in Nagaland and Manipur, glossed over its use in Punjab and managed to do that in Kashmir for over two decades. But the rot is beginning to come out in the open.”

The film has evoked strong reactions abroad. Mirza Waheed, whose book The Collaborator fictionalised torture and extra-judicial killings, said online, “Devastating, damning evidence of widespread torture by Indian forces. A sad sad night.”

But in India itself it has been met by and large with a deafening silence. Earlier this year too, there was very little public outcry when adivasi teacher Soni Sori, held in Chhatisgarh on grounds of being a Maoist sympathiser, charged the police of torturing her by pushing stones up her vagina. The case is in the Supreme Court even as a gallantry award was conferred on the police officer concerned. It is only “an overworked set of activists who are trying to keep the hard questions on use of torture alive,” adds Kak.

“The business of torture has become like a contagious disease with the state,” says Kak. “You may initially use it against those you call terrorists, and do it with the implicit and unthinking approval of ordinary people. But then you start using it against those you call separatists, then on Maoists, and then on their sympathisers and next on innocents like Soni Sori who happened to be caught in the crossfire. People will wake up only when one works towards uncovering the endemic and casual use of torture in our police stations and lock ups – against dalits for example who neither want to secede or overthrow the state.”

So can documentaries and films make some kind of impact? Kak, whose Jashn-e Azadifaced hostility and threats says that since the Indian state has to present itself to the world as a democracy – the world’s largest at that – shaming it for its widespread use of torture will work. “The state wears a thick skin, but even the thickest folds of skin have a chink where a needle can make its way through and make the beast jump.”
Freny Manecksha 

13 Aug 2012

Down the memory Lane- #Gujarat #Kashmir


May 23, 2002. I entered the narrow lane that led me to a cluster of houses where nobody lived now.

I had often heard about this place. Constantly. Since that day on the morning of February 28, 2002 when an entire family had been roasted alive in their vehicle as they were fleeing the mobs from their home. I think there was a picture in the newspapers too. It was in Naroda, on the Ahmedabad – Mumbai Highway, that Mr. Modi’s recall of Newton’s third Law saw its macabre mechanism unfold. The news, that about 90 more Muslims had been killed in a locality adjoining this highway took a while longer to reach me, or perhaps a while longer to sink in. It took me further three months and about a couple of thousand more lost lives to decide to come here and see for myself.

And here I was now, with a video camera and a local friend in tow trying to figure what was the best way to get in past a few Gujarat police personnel who wouldn’t let us. There were not many of them, but what were they doing here? The remaining people of Naroda Patiya were now in a refugee camp at Shah Alam Dargah, unwilling to accompany me to their homes here. Some locals, who may have formed the mobs that day, were still out here watching us. Who were the police protecting here?

We hung around a bit thinking of options; burnt a few cigarettes, gulped down a few cups of tea at the roadside ‘chai tipri’ facing the burnt out, vandalized shell of the Naroda Patiya mosque and ended up being surrounded by a small mob of locals. The police gang immediately came over to free us and took us to their post. I do not remember how exactly our informal interrogation went; how it changed its course into an exchange of views about the events of that day, but it did not take us long to fathom that now we were face to face with the people who may have witnessed, have stood by or even participated in the carnage that day. I particularly remember, that when the policeman in charge described to us how a Bajrang Dal leader ‘speared a pregnant lady and drew out her foetus’; his blue eyes actually seemed to shimmer with pride he was unable to hide from us fellow Hindus.

So, finally realizing that we were just harmless ‘carnage tourists’ with a camera to convince him with, the police in charge accompanied us down the narrow entry lane of Naroda Patiya to a cluster of houses where nobody lived now. What I remember ten years later about that day is a difficult endeavor for me to put down in words; much like taking a printout of a hazy and grainy video recorded by the eye.

We walked down many narrow lanes, from the highway entry point to its dead-end common boundary wall with the family quarters of Gujarat police personnel. Here it was confirmed to us what we had been told or had read earlier. The besieged residents, especially the women and children, had pleaded with the families of police personnel across this boundary wall to let them through, but only at the end of the day when the carnage was over were the hungry, thirsty, tired and fearful survivors of Naroda Patiya let in and put in vans to be transported to Shah Alam Dargah relief camp.

We crisscrossed the lanes of Naroda Patiya many times while all the time accompanied by a running commentary from the Police men who ‘guided’ us. But the details, which they did not hesitate to divulge, were off course common knowledge to most of us already. I guess, we were mostly trying to corroborate what we had heard from the residents in the refugee camps earlier, or had read about in the newspapers or various human rights reports. When we asked to be taken to the infamous well at the other end of the locality, we were advised not to go there, the place had been sealed up. I do not remember clearly, if we were told that the well had been cemented up. It was at this well most of the bodies were speared, cut up, dumped and burnt.

But except for the constant, excited, remorseless, running commentary provided by our accompanists and for our probing questions, our walk down the empty lanes of Naroda Patiya that day was like walking the eerily silent streets of the other world, something one can only experience in dreams or in the broad day light of a living nightmare. Living nightmare it was, to see homes waiting for its people, rotting cooked food in utensils, half eaten rice and vegetables served in a plate …chapattis turned hard like a cardboard piece cut in round shape and clothes put to dry still hanging on clotheslines. While there was neat order in one lane, in the adjacent one, there were cloths, utensils and household items of every kind strewn about all across. It stood out perhaps as the only evidence that a catastrophic violence had taken place here. No, the houses had not been destroyed, or burnt or pillaged or looted; only people had been vanished here. Maybe I don’t clearly remember now if there were a few looted houses and a few burnt structures here as well. I do not remember this too well perhaps because the memory of burnt out shells of apartments (the image of melted down ceiling fans with twisted blades still vivid in my mind) in the richer parts of Ahmedabad across the river Sabarmati; a river that divides Ahmedabad neatly into haves’ and have not’s, Hindu/Muslim areas, where we stayed in a partially burnt, empty Muslim apartment block, is too powerful a memory to override all other memories of vandalism done elsewhere. The evidence of violence of that day was stark and visible however in the Muslim localities across the highway from Naroda Patiya. Here we were accompanied not by police but by a few young boys from the mob that had surrounded us earlier. Most of the houses here were totally or partially gutted, almost all were looted and vandalized and worst of all, the walls had been smeared with soot and saffron coloured slogans that betrayed my religion.

At Naroda Patiya however, in contrast to what we had seen all over Ahmedabad and in the surrounding villages, after so many months, the only other stark evidence of violence visible here was in the absence of people, absence of children playing in the streets, absence of women at a dripping tap in the corner street. An aching absence; almost too painful to bear or comprehend, of any sound of a human voice, children’s laughter or a bird’s chirp. It was as if people had just vanished into the thin air in mid-activity at the start of a just another normal day.

There was no blood anywhere, but a strange stench; not of rotten or burnt flesh but of putrefied cooked food and uncollected garbage. In some homes, it was like the smell one senses when entering a dark space infested with bats, but this place seemed unusually bright here; almost as if washed by light all over, like a film set just lit up and ready for the shooting to begin. Yes, that was how it looked, like a film set which only needed some people to come in and play their assigned roles of normal looking inhabitants performing their routine chores. It almost appeared as if things had been deliberately left untouched here from the day the carnage took place, like a scene of crime that was still in need of investigators to gather their forensic evidences.

It felt difficult to connect the empty locality with the carnage that had happened here only a few months earlier. For my sense of disbelief to break I must have strongly yearned for this brightly lit, almost undisturbed small and neat looking locality to be connected with all its dead at the moment of their pain to form a complete picture of a gross and criminal violation. When I returned to the Shah Alam Dargah relief camp that evening and told the survivors of Naroda Patiya about my visit to their empty homes, my expectation that they would besiege me with questions about the state of their empty homes was only answered with silence, the same kind of silence that Naroda Patiya had greeted me with. At that moment, I sounded to myself as if I had disbelieved their stories, as if I had accused them of exaggerating their losses to me, as if I had felt deceived or cheated by the apparent serenity of their empty homes.

It was only a year later, on March 23, 2003 when I found myself at Nadimarg in Kashmir, at the site of another massacre that I could connect the blood soaked bodies of the dead on cremation pier with the bright light of their empty homes to form a complete picture of a gross and criminal violation, a carnage. I understood then, the silence of the survivors of Naroda Patiya.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE-1000s from 250 VILLAGES OF 10 DISTRICTS support oustees #mustshare

September 2, 2012 · by of resistance and more · in News Release. ·


On the 8th day of the on going Jal Satyagraha at Ghoghalgaon around 5000 people from 250 villages of 10 districts arrived to extend their solidarity to the Satyagrahis. The daughters of the Satyagrahis tied Rakhsa sutra (security band) to the thousands of people who arrived at the site as a gesture of seeking support & security. 51 Jal satyagrahis continue to stand in water for the 8th day in Ghoghalgaon fighting for their cause in spite of the blisters in their hands & feet.

A huge gathering of the kith & kin of the oustees came together which increased the Confidence & morale of the Satyagrahis. More than 5000 People from more than 250 villages of districts like Khandwa, Indore, Dewas, Burhanpur, Harda, Badwani, Khargone, Bhopal & Dhar gathered on the call of the Oustees in Ghoghalgaon to lend an overwhelming support to the protesting Oustees.
The supporters declared that they would send petition to the Chief Minister through their corresponding Village, Block & District level demanding him to reduce the water level in the dams & rehabilitate the Oustees. Women came in large numbers to Gholghaon in order to support the protesting Oustees. The supporters also declared that if the Government fails to take immediate action they would actively join the struggle with the Jal Satyagrahis.

The ongoing Jal Satyagraha in Ghoghalgaon entered its 8th day. In spite of the hands & feet of the Jal satyagrahis having turned pale & developed blisters, they are strong & determined in their stand. And their morale & confidence level has increased after receiving the support from the wave of women & men supporters who arrived at Ghoghalgaon today. The meeting concluded by offering prayers to Mother Narmada & an oath taken by the supporters as well as Satyagrahis that they would stand together in this fight for the Rights of the common people.

Alok Agarwal

Narmada Bachao Andolan
2, Sai Nagar, Mata Chowk,
Khandwa, Madhya Pradesh -450 001
Telefax : 0733 – 2228318
E-mail : nbakhandwa@gmail.com

HC judge tells abused wife to ‘adjust’ #WTFnews

Justice K Bhaktavatsala cites example of ‘wife-beatingactor Darshan to advise the 28-year-old woman to reconcile with her husband

S Shyam Prasad

Posted On Sunday, September 02, 2012 at

The victim refused to live with her
husband because he beat her

Justice K Bhaktavatsala of the High Courtof Karnataka is clearly cut from a different judicial cloth. Where other judges may well see an abusive marriage as sufficient grounds for granting a divorce, he considers it a moral obligation to play peace-maker in the matrimonial cases that come before him.

On Friday, he went out of his way to counsel a young woman whose stated reason for not living with her husband was that the latter used to beat her.

The 28-year-old woman’s 37-yearold husband had approached the High Court, stating that she had deserted him and taken their two sons. On August 17, both the parties were asked to be present before the court on August 31.

The bench of Justice Bhaktavatsala and Justice BS Indrakalaweretoldthat the woman’s husband used to beat her and had thrown her out of the house. Upon this, Justice Bhaktavatsala said, “Women suffer in all marriages.

You are married with two children and know what it means to suffer as a woman. Why are you still talking about his beatings? I know you have undergone pain. But that is nothing in front of what you undergo as a woman. I have not undergone such pain. But madam (Justice BS Indrakala) has.”

The court asked the woman if her parents were present, at which her father walked up to the bench. The judge remarked, “Ask your father if he has never beaten your mother!” When the woman’s advocate produced photographs showing her swollen face, the court said, “You have to adjust.

There is nothing in your case to argue on merits. Have you read about actor Darshan. He spent 30 days in jail after beating his wife. But they are living
together now.”

The case was to be heard again in the afternoon, but was adjourned to a later date.

Delhi University bans rallies after molestation

, TNN | Sep 2, 2012,

NEW DELHIDelhi University decided to crack down on rallies and demonstrations on the campus after a complaint of molestation during one such event on Friday reached vice-chancellor Dinesh Singh on Saturday. In a terse, one-line order, the proctor imposed a “ban” which is being seen by large sections of the university community as undemocratic.

“In the light of the reported incident of eve-teasing and disturbing harmony in the campus during the student rallies, the university has decided to ban all rallies and demonstrations of any kind within the Delhi University campus till further notice,” said the order.

The complaint was made by an Indraprastha College student. At an interaction with the V-C on Saturday, other students from the college also raised the issue. The student was travelling by rickshaw near the Arts Faculty when she was molested, allegedly by some participants of the rally organized by National Students’ Union of India (NSUI) though the organization has denied that the miscreants were their members.

The “ban” has raised the hackles of both students and teachers. “I condemn the molestation and demand an investigation into it. I also condemn the ban and this behaviour of the university. It is shameful and undemocratic,” said Amar Deo Sharma, president, Delhi University Teachers’ Association (DUTA).

The student bodies seemed to be united in their opposition to the ban. Both Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) and All India Students’ Associaion (AISA) declared it undemocratic and asked why campus security can’t be more effective. “The fact is that the administration is inefficient when it come to these situations. Why couldn’t they identify the culprits and take action against them?” asked Sunny Kumar, general secretary, Delhi state, AISA. Rohit Chahal ofABVP wondered why footage from cameras placed on the campus and videos taken by guards and onlookers couldn’t be used to identify the molesters. “the university authorities are running away from their responsibilities. They should’ve taken action only against the culprits,” fumed Chahal.

NSUI denied that the molesters were part of its throng. Its spokesman Amrish Ranjan Pandey said: “Whoever has done it, has done it to ruin our image. We want them punished too.” He condemned the ban.

Apparently, ABVP is planning an “all women” rally on Monday in North Campus to protest against the molestation. And they might even be successful. The police point out – and highly-placed sources in the university agree – that the university has no jurisdiction over the roads. “The students have a right to protest on public roads as long as they do not compromise the law and order situation and have the required permissions. The university restriction is applicable only within the university and respective college premises,” says DCP (north) Sindhu Pillai. “We are trying to build pressure. Security is a great concern and many students have asked us to control these rallies,” said a source.

At the meeting with the VC, the students had said they “wanted such rallies banned”. Prof. Dinesh Singh had said in response that he was trying to work with the police to do exactly that. “I met the police last week and I will meet them again. We want to ban these rallies too,” he had said.

The victim had complained to her college but didn’t go to the police. The case was forwarded to them by the proctor on Saturday. “We have received the DU complaint. This is a serious allegation and we are contacting the victim concerned. We will definitely lodge a case if the girl is ready to file an FIR. We assure her that her safety will be our concern,” said Pillai.

Delhi Police will also be stepping up its presence in North Campus. Besides deploying women cops on bikes, more policemen in plainclothes will be posted outside prominent colleges from Monday. “This is the third incident of criminal instigation ever since the university elections were announced,” said Pillai. “Hence, the hostels too will be well-covered.”

(With inputs from Dwaipayan Ghosh)

1 Democratic protest and 8,000 Sedition cases. Is India a free country?



The protest over the nuclear plant in Koodankulam has claimed the livelihood of thousands, with bogus charges filed and restrictions on their occupation, reportsSoumik Mukherjee, Tehelka

Protest trail (left) Children at the Tirunelveli Collectorate; Villagers burn a coffin representing democracy, on 15 August

Photos: Amirtharaj Stephen

IDINTHAKARAI, A small coastal village in Tamil Nadu’s Tirunelveli district, overlooks a horizon dotted with windmills. The village is populated by small-time fishermen eking out a modest living. But, according to the register at the Kudankulam police station, this village is the country’s most notorious place. People here are waging a war against the nation. They are all seditious. This is the first time, in the history of this country, that 8,000 cases of sedition and waging a war against the nation have been registered, at a single police station.

However, a visit to Idinthakarai dispels this myth of sedition. The village, at the brink of a soon-to-be functional 2,000 MW nuclear plant, is definitely waging a war. Not against the State, though, but for its right to a nuclear disaster-free future.

A nuclear plant, located only a few kilometres away from the villages, threatens the very existence of the people in Koodankulam. Fishing, their principal means of livelihood, is facing extinction.

“If anything, this has only trivialised the gravity of the charges of sedition,” says SP Udayakumar, the leader of People’s Movement against Nuclear Energy (PMANE). “We led a democratic and nonviolent protest here for over a year and they charged 8,000 people with sedition. If we are seditious, then the Atomic Energy Research Board (AERB), which has been named by the CAG for irregularities in the nuclear policy, is committing a bigger crime by playing with millions of lives,” he says. Apart from sedition cases, criminal cases have been lodged against as many as 66,000 people in the past year.

Most of the sedition cases were lodged on three occasions. During a sit-in at the plant premises in October 2011, the Koodankulam police, after using violent means to ward off the protesters, lodged as many as 3,000 cases. In November 2011, more cases were filed when fishermen from the neighbouring villages staged a peaceful demonstration by the sea. The last mass registration of sedition cases occurred recently, on Independence Day this year. As a sign of protest, villagers in the surrounding areas of the plant refused to hoist the national flag. They put up black flags instead. The district administration deemed the protest seditious, nevertheless. “A few thousand more cases of waging war against the nation were lodged that day,” informs Pushparayan Victoria, a colleague of Udaykumar’s.

Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan rubbishes the cases, even calling them ‘absurd’. “The SC, in a verdict in 1962, said that only an act of overthrowing the State qualifies as sedition. This is just an instance of a peaceful movement being suppressed by these false cases,” he says.

Interestingly, the Tirunelveli Police backtracked on all their previous atrocities. Superintendent of Police Vijayendra Bidari says that police never dealt with the protesters in an ‘undemocratic manner.’ “The numbers that are doing the rounds are false,” says Bidari. “We have named only 20 people or so in the FIRs,” he says. Since most of the names were registered under ‘others’, the entire village is under the threat of a judicial trial now. “We are working on the chargesheets and we have enough evidence against some of these people, which will be produced in the court,” Bidari asserts.

People who have found jobs abroad claim they have been denied their passports because of the sedition charges

Civil society from all over the country have protested against the State’s treatment of a peaceful movement. Khurram Pervez, a civil society activist from Kashmir, says, “It’s nothing new. The state of India monopolises violence. Any voice of dissent, in Kashmir, Northeast or Koodankulam, is sedition in its eyes. We were shocked to see that people from a small village are being charged with sedition because of protesting against a nuclear plant.”

As a result of the cases, people in Kudankulam are being denied their basic rights. “No new passports are being issued; in fact, some of the passports that arrived have been called back,” informs Victoria. Even though the Tirunelveli Police claims they cleared all the passport applications, TEHELKA found that no passports have been issued to people in the village, who applied in the past one year. “I have secured a job in Saudi Arabia. My agent assured me of a visa too, but I’ve been waiting for the passport for the past one year,” says Joihar, 24. “My name is not there in any FIR, but I’m facing the brunt,” he says. It is the same situation with many youngsters in Koodankulam, and family members rue this denial of opportunity to go abroad and add to the collective income.

The small-scale fishing industry, which has been going through turmoil over the past year because of the protest, is no longer profitable. “The prawn season is over and we caught nothing this year as the breeding area was declared a ‘restricted land’ by the plant authority,” says Francis Leon, a villager in Koodankulam. “The fishermen are now living off a meagre income by making bidis,” he says. The movement is being run by the locals, for which they are sacrificing their personal lives. “The government alleges that our struggle is being funded by the Catholic churchrun NGOs, but in reality, people are funding their own movement,” says Udayakumar.

Rosari, a housewife in her 50s, seconds the sentiment. “This economic stalemate has ruined our lives in the past year. We can’t send our children to school. We’ve stopped celebrating festivals,” she says. “The plant is our nemesis; it will slowly kill all the nearby villages just like it happened in Kalapakkam. Now there is no fish to catch,” says 38-year-old Belsi.

Now, the residents are waiting for Madras High Court’s verdict. “The protest has lost a bit of its sheen, because people had to carry on with their lives. But as soon as the verdict is out, which will be definitely against us, we will start afresh,” says Amrithraj, a documentary photographer, who has been recording the movement since the very beginning.

Protest trail People gather from sea and land to protest against the nuclear plant

THE PROTESTERS believe the irregularities being unearthed every day in nuclear policies will strengthen the cause and solidify the movement. In an RTI reply, the National Disaster Management Authority recently revealed that India does not have a policy on spreading public awareness about a possible nuclear disaster. “It can only deal with a disaster after it has taken place. The State is playing with its subjects in the name of development,” says Udayakumar.

Till the Koodankulam nuclear power plant gears up for its operation, the villagers find themselves in a stalemate. “There is no more faith in the state government too,” says Udayakumar. “Jayalalithaa supported us as the leader of Opposition but now that she is in power, nothing is being done,” he says. There is no support from nearby states like Kerala either. “They want 500 MW of electricity from this plant, but forget that in case of a disaster, they are susceptible in an equal measure,” he says.

Curiously enough, two windmills from the Tamil Nadu Energy Department Agency stand in the premises of the plant. Does the administration know that this grid alone produces 3,500 MW electricity from the windmills, almost twice as much as the much-hyped nuclear plant?

Soumik Mukherjee is a Photo Correspondent with Tehelka.


Arrest Imminent for Indian Cartoonist and Blogger Aseem Trivedi by MUMBAI POLICE #FOE #FOS



Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI) has learned that an arrest warrant has been issued for Indian cartoonist Aseem Trivedi.  He is at this moment participating in a late-night demonstration in New Delhi protesting the warrant put out for his arrest. Trivedi is this year’s winner of the prestigious CRNI Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning to be given at the annual convention of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists in Washington, DC on September 15th.  It is not known what exactly the terms of the warrant are.  However, what is known is that Trivedi has been unfairly accused by enemies of his anticorruption campaign of demeaning the government of India through his cartoons.  Trivedi is also a primary organizer of Save Your Voice, a free speech campaign lobbying all levels of Indian government to stop unwarranted censorship of Internet sites.

Trivedi, and many others, have been deeply involved in an anticorruption movement in India over the last year.  Recently, the leader of that movement, Anna Hazare, in a controversial and sudden move, declared that he was forming a political party.  This act separated Hazare from many elements of the nongovernmental anticorruption movement that he founded and led.  Trivedi is one of the heir apparents of the movement.

Cartoonists Rights Network International deplores this move on the part of the Indian government to arrest Mr. Trivedi.  Aseem should be recognized as a hero in India for his selfless efforts and the risks he has taken to expose government corruption and the Indian government’s lack of transparency.  Aseem Trivedi is at special risk as it is common for some of India’s political parties to unleash “goon squads” of armed thugs as political enforcers who beat and sometimes even kill individuals who are perceived as threats to the status quo.  We call on the Indian government to protect Mr. Trivedi and others in his movement who are clearly in danger of this kind of retribution.

When reached for comment CRNI Executive Director Robert Russell said, “That a government moves to arrest an anticorruption free speech advocate on what are sure to be revealed as flimsy grounds speaks volumes for the inability or unwillingness of the Indian government to evenhandedly administer its own Constitution.”

You can learn more about Aseem Trivedi from our two previous news alerts titled In India the Enemies of Free Speech Find a “Symbolic” Means to Attack Cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, and,CRNI Announces Winners of the 2012 Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award – Ali Ferzat and Aseem Trivedi.


As Aseem lives in Delhi, he reached his home town on the next day (31 Aug). A big crowd (about 400 friends) was present at the time when Aseem reached his home. Aseem with his 200 supporters reached to local police station (Gangaghat Police Station) . They said that ‘raising our voice in not a crime and if it is, everyone who is present at the police station is a criminal and we should be arrested’. Crowd was also angry because the Mumbai  police team  disappeared at the time of protest.  They demanded an apology from Mumbai police and asked them  to register a case against those police personal who harassed Aseem’s father. The inspector could not locate/contact the police team which was said to be a team from Mumbai Police.

Now Aseem is in his home with family. His family is feeling humiliated. I have forwarded this message to ACP of Mumbai Police, Mr. Vishwas Nagre Patil, but he has not responded to my message till the time this email has been written. You can also talk to him on his mobile no +91-9773005555. I would recommend you to take his version on the issue.

 We are still waiting for Mumbai Police at Aseem’s home as we don’t want police to come in our absence and humiliate Aseem’s parents. We want final words from both the police, i.e. local and Mumbai police.

Save Your Voice
Mo: 07499219770

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Protest to Arrest

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September 2012
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