Gangs of Wasseypur, Reality v/s Movie #sundayreading #mustshare


 

The Unreality of Wasseypur- by JAVED IQBAL ( unedited version with pics courtesy javed iqbal )

The ending of the film was shown properly,’ Speak unanimous voices, the well-known folklore of Wasseypur, Dhanbad, ‘Gangster Shafiq Khan was really gunned down at the Topchachi petrol pump like it was shown in the first part of the film.’

‘That’s how it’s done in Dhanbad.’

And there are long lists of assassinations and murders in Dhanbad. MLA Gurdas Chaterjee of the Marxist Co-ordination Committee was gunned down on the highway. Superintendent of Police Randhir Verma was murdered by dacoits during a botched bank robbery. Santosen Gupta of the Forward Bloc was gunned down. Mukul Dev of the RJD was murdered. S K Rai, a union leader is murdered. Samin Khan, a gangster, gets bail and leaves court and is shot to death, while still in the custody of the police. Sakel Dev Singh, of the coal mafia is killed at the bypass, his brother who works with him, is killed at Shakti chowk, gunned down by an AK47. Manoj Singh alias Dabloo from Matkuria village, who allegedly terrorized the muslims of Wasseypur was gunned down. Chottna Khan, 18 years old, the son of Shafiq Khan was gunned down. Mohd Irfan a railway contractor was killed by a gang. Najeer Ahmed, a ward commissioner, is murdered. A woman home guard who once shared a love with a police officer, who would eventually take him on after their affair turned bitter, would find the dead body of her cut-up nephew in a well at the Dhanbad Polytechnic.

These are just a few high profile murder cases, say the locals, who on one level shy away from the violence that represented their city and on another level take pride in the knowledge of who was gunning down who at what point.

Wasseypur, now a part of Dhanbad district in Jharkhand, has grown, over the decades from a culture of violence and gang warfare, parts of which are depicted in the film.

The film tells the story of three generations of a family, starting with a backdrop to mining in Dhanbad, with the murder of Shahid Khan in the hands of coal mafia leader Ramadhir Singh, and the revenge promised by his son Sardar Khan (in reality Shafiq Khan), and his sons Faisal Khan (in reality Faheem Khan).

‘There was never any revenge story,’ Said Iqbal (24), the son of Faheem Khan (50), grandson of (Shafiq), sitting in the very room where a rival gang had attacked late at night, and even fired onto a police check post as shown in the opening sequence of the film, ‘My great grandfather died of natural causes, he was never murdered by any Singh. And there was another thing, a twist. I had a grand uncle Hanif, who had wanted my father Faheem dead and who had hired a man called Sagir.’

‘And it’s for the murder of Sagir that my father is in Hazaribagh jail now.’

‘None of this is in the film.’ Continued Iqbal, who adds that the sequence where Sardar Khan would call for the rescue of an abducted woman, fictitious, as well as one-time affair of Sardar Khan’s wife, or the Romeo-Juliet type inter-gang marriages, or the arbitrariness of names of characters such as ‘Perpendicular’ and ‘Definite’. There are instead, Prince Khans and Goodwin Khans.

‘There are two kinds of laws in Dhanbad. There’s the law to arrest for the Faheem Khan Family and there’s the law to investigate for the Singh Mansion.’ Says Iqbal, himself just released on bail for murder, referring to the fact that the Singh family is still at large.

The Violent Landscape of Dhanbad

Dhanbad is an unreal place. A small mining town with extreme poverty and a rich labour history. A small town with a bustling middle class bursting through the one main road. You can expect to be stuck in an hour long traffic jam in Dhanbad over Wasseypur, you can find shopping complexes, or remnants of a burnt truck where four people were killed in police firing last year on the 27th of April, or you can find the dead body of a lawaris young man in a seedy hotel near the bus stop. It’s a city of myths, half-truths, and blatant lies. A city where a man called Suraj Deo Singh is also Suryadev Singh, or A K Rai, is also A K Roy. Now an old mansion of a private mine owner who owned 85 mines lay in ruin while the police still continues to extort money from the poorest who pick off scraps of coal to sell. A district partially affected by Maoists, two blocks – Topchachi and Tundi, have been sights of arrests and ambushes. It’s a town with massive migration, massive amounts of pollution owing to the coal mines, many left abandoned and unfilled, other’s now open-cast, and massive amounts of exploitation by the mafia that literally sells labour across the district border.

Dhanbad is where the Chasnala mining accident took place in December 1975 that claimed over 380 lives. A lake vanished into the mines. No one survived. Kala Patthar was made and still remembered. And in September of 1995, the Gazlitang mining accident claimed 96 lives.

Yet what also followed the mining, were the mafias.

‘There are many gangs here.’ Says a lawyer, ‘If you want to tell the story of Dhanbad, you’d need to spend three months here.’

A lot of gangs simply fight over scraps of urbanization: ‘Agenty’ the term for extortion from private bus services was apparently a cause of conflict between the son of Sardar/Shafiq Khan and another gangster called Babla (this was all denied by the home of Sardar/Shafiq/Faheem Khan). Eventually, Faheem Khan, the son of Sardar/Shafiq Khan allegedly instigated a conflict with a businessman Shabir who refused to be extorted and Shabir found himself, on common ground with Babla. Faheem, however struck, allegedly murdering Wahid Alam, Shabir’s brother, a while after Wahid had organized an attack on his home that left one dead and another injured. And Shabir was allegedly responsible, convicted and now out on bail for the murders of Faheem Khan’s mother, or Shafiq Khan’s widow, the aged Nazama Khatoon, who at one point was a known leader at Wasseypur.

‘The rivalry of Shafiq Khan and Faheem Khan with the ‘Singh Mansion’ is not so much,’ Said the Superintendent of Police RK Dhan, ‘It’s really them fighting themselves.’

The ‘Singh Mansion’ is really a collection of different Singhs who often share public office, especially standing on BJP tickets in contemporary times. They include Suryadev Singh (apparently Ramadhir Singh in the film), Baccha Singh, Ramadhin Singh, Shashi Singh and Khunti Singh. Suryadev was alleged responsible for the murder of one of the biggest mine owners V P Sinha decades ago and he died of natural causes in 1991. The Mansion had called for the banning of the film due to the negative portrayal they had received. Yet it is commonly known that the Singh Mansion had their own conflict with Suresh Singh who was murdered in December last year. The conflict between the Singhs was over the coal mines while it is generally known in Dhanbad that Shafiq Khan and his sons were never involved in the mines.

‘Shashi Singh murdered Suresh Singh, according to many witnesses’ Continues the Superintendent of Police.

Yet at the home of Faheem Khan, in Wasseypur, antagonism against the Singh Mansion exists, as it had become no secret that they were involved in providing assistance to the enemies of the family. Sultan, who lived close to Naya Bazaar was in open conflict with Shafiq and had the support of the Singh Mansion. Shabir who lived a mere ten seconds from Faheem Khan, had the support of the Singh Mansion. And spoken in whispers, the ambition of the Khans, led them onto a direct conflict course with the Singh Mansion.

A Dissenter Amongst The Violence

‘When I was young, a man was hacked up in front of us.’ Says W, a family member of one of the gangs of Dhanbad.

‘In front of you?’

‘Not really in front of me, but we saw the body parts in different bags.’

‘And?’

‘After that all of us were called later to talk to uncle. And uncle, was talking to us about something else, we never gave eye contact, and somehow we pretended nothing had happened. The thing is, Javed Bhai, we really like to keep ourselves different from them, we know how they might use us, for this or that.’

The Man Who Wore Recycled Tires

A frail old man with glasses, sits quietly holding his arms at the ICU in Dhanbad Central Hospital – he can barely speak yet there was a time that his name was synonymous with the name of Dhanbad. A K Rai, was a chemical engineer, turned trade unionist who helped organize a majority of the mine workers on private mines in Dhanbad, who would be elected three times to office – , and would be in open conflict with the state machinery, the coal mafia and the private mine owners who’d dismiss workers on the slightest hint of organizing, or would hire goons to deal violently with the organizers and strikes.

‘We must’ve lost around 25 to 30 comrades in the 70’s.’ Said Comrade Ramlal, once a miner, than an organizer. He sits back to recall a story that started long before liberalization, long before nationalization, long before Naxalbari and the thousands of days of violence.

‘Before 1962, there were two central government collieries that had some wage structure, but there were some 60-65 private collieries where there was no minimum wages system.’

‘Back then, the bosses never even gave money in some of the collieries, they just had booze shops and their own ration shops. The message to the workers was to just work, and take what you get. And the workers were kept in camps, so they won’t run away. And there was no safety, nothing. There were a lot of movements then also, but the workers were often beaten into submission and there were many murders.’

‘It was during this time that A K Rai had come as a chemical engineer in some company. By day he used to work, by night he would teach in a school in one of the nearby villages.’

Strike after strike, beatings after beatings, the workers would even find themselves in a war of attrition with the coal mafia, especially against Suryadev Singh, who had workers killed and would find that the workers could also defend themselves. At one point A K Rai was convinced by the mine workers to stand for election. He would win for the first time in 1967 on an Assembly seat, then in 1969 to the Vidhan Sabha, again in 1972, then in 1977 after being arrested during the Emergency and only started to lose after 1991. The status of the three-time MP and the MLA stayed intact as a minister would be seen around Dhanbad standing in line to pay his electricity bill, or travel by train, standing in general compartment. Even today miners speak of a time in the 1970’s during the apex of the power of the unions and there is a legacy of the work that was done. Just this year, a one-day strike had helped increase the wages for the miners from Rs.17,000 to Rs.21,000 – this from virtual slave labour before unionization. However there are still no signs of health benefits or for pensions.

‘A K Rai, was probably the only minister who said that ministers should not take pensions.’ Said Divan, a colleague, and it was well known that the battle for pensions amongst the miners was never won. Today, an older generation of unionists speak of failures and the inability to combat the cultural hegemony that came with liberalization. Their children work as managers or in the private sector, a growing middle class has controlled elections, and they’ve slowly seen the diminishing of the power of the unions due to mechanization and less prominence of the Bharat Coking Coal Limited, who were the voting bank of A K Rai, who finally lost the elections in a landslide to the widow of a murdered Superintendent of Police in 1991.

There is even a well known story in Dhanbad of the assassins who had gone to kill A K Rai over a decade ago. They found a frail old man, who was elected to office three times, sweeping a party office early in the morning. They saw his shoes, made of recycled tire rubber, his meager demeanor and walked across a shop to confirm who is A K Rai. When they were sure they knew who it was, they entered the office, drank water, turned around and walked away.

‘Something about that man affected them,’ Said Divan, who also says that the board ‘Bihar Colliery Kamgar Union’ on their office, was the only thing about AK Rai and the labour movement visible in the film Gangs of Wasseypur. ‘I think the mind of this filmmaker was also globalized.’ He laughs.

The coal mafia was born the minute the coal started to leave earth with colliery after colliery owned by private individuals with their own private armies who’d all find themselves in conflict with the miners who began to organize themselves, and there seems to be a reason why every man above the age of forty who has lived in Dhanbad all his life seems to know the name of A K Rai, yet his name is even known amongst the youth.

‘There was probably no man who had done so much for the poor in Dhanbad.’ Said 24 year old Iqbal Khan, gangster or student, who would even say: ‘Krantikari.’

Yet the gang war seems to never end, as Shabir who was released from prison on bail still vows for revenge against the family of Faheem Khan, and local newspapers report that Iqbal, who had a ‘supari’ on his name when he was in the 12th, and is now merely 24, promising to continue the fight.

Meanwhile, a quiet old man who shook the earth is living the last of his days at Dhanbad Central Hospital, while the names of the miners who died in Chasnala fade from the memorial built for them.

 

Gujarat-Not vegetarianism or dieting, Mr Narendra Modi


Indira Hirway, The Hindu

LOSING TRACK: The growth process in Gujarat has paid limited&#1
APLOSING TRACK: The growth process in Gujarat has paid limited attention to the well-being of the masses. File Photo

Low wage rates, poorly functioning public schemes and patchy access to water and sanitation are the real explanation for Gujarat’s persistent malnutrition

Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi’s remark in an interview to Wall Street Journal that high malnutrition persists in his State because Gujaratis are mostly vegetarian (implying vegetarianism causes malnourishment) and are middle class, and more conscious about their looks and putting on weight than their health, created a furore. What explains Gujarat’s paradox of hunger amid the seeming plenty?

Economic growth and malnutrition do not have a one-to-one relationship. However, if malnutrition persists even after high growth, there can be two sets of reasons: one, people are not aware about the importance of nutrition and/or there are cultural practices that do not allow people to consume nutritious food. For instance, they eat expensive but unhealthy food (Incidentally, there is no evidence to show that vegetarian food causes malnourishment). Two, economic growth does not create large-scale productive employment with decent work conditions i.e. with reasonable wage rate, good working conditions and social protection.

The first reason may have played a marginal role, but empirical evidence suggests that the second reason is important in Gujarat. To start with, in spite of a slightly higher workforce participation rate compared to other States, the quality of employment is extremely poor in Gujarat; with the result that a large part of the workforce does not have enough purchasing power to buy enough food for the household. About 89 per cent of men workers and 98 per cent of women workers in the State are informal workers (the all India figures are 90 and 96 per cent respectively), who usually earn low wages, have poor working conditions and low social protection.

Wage rates

The wage rates of casual and regular workers of both men and women workers in rural and urban areas are very low compared to other States. As per the latest National Sample Survey Office statistics, the daily wage rates of casual men and women workers in rural areas are lower than the corresponding rates in India, with the State ranking 14th (Rs.69) and ninth (Rs.56) in men’s and women’s wage rates respectively among the major 20 States. In the case of urban casual workers’ daily wages, the State ranked seventh (Rs.109) and 14th (Rs.56) for male and female wage rates. In the case of regular rural workers also the State ranked 17th (Rs.152) and ninth (Rs.108) in the male and female wage rates respectively. The corresponding ranks for urban areas are 18th (Rs.205) and 13th (Rs.182) respectively among the major 20 States in India.

In short, in spite of the high growth rate, wages in the State are repressed with the result that most workers do not have the purchasing power to buy adequate nutritious food.

Special schemes

There are problems with the functioning of major special schemes for nutrition. As regards the Public Distribution System (PDS), till recently the State was providing much less than the stipulated 35kg food grains to Below Poverty Line (BPL) households on the ground that the number of BPL households in the State was much larger than what the Centre had estimated and was providing for. The State was not willing to use its own funds to meet the deficit. Several studies including our own study have shown that PDS, Mid-Day Meal and Integrated Child Development Services (particularly for pregnant women and mothers) are not working well in the State. A common observation of these studies is that these schemes work well when there are local organisations putting pressure on local administration. The instructions from the top are not implemented well at the ground level, largely because there is no strong monitoring. And as only a fraction of the State is covered by such organisations, the schemes work well only in limited areas. In other words, the possibility of improved nutrition through these special schemes also is not good.

Water and sanitation

Finally, the recent data of the 2011 Census of Population has shown that Gujarat lags behind many States in providing potable water and safe sanitation, which are critical in transforming food intake into nutrition. The Census shows that about 43 per cent of rural households get water supply at their premises and only 16.7 per cent households, treated tap water. About one fifth of the rural households, mainly women, walk long distances to collect water ­ impacting adversely on their health. In the case of urban areas, the situation is slightly better: 84 per cent households get water at their premises and 69 per cent, treated water.

As regards sanitation, Gujarat has a long way to go. According the 2011 Census, 67 per cent of rural households do not have an access to toilets and more than 65 per cent households defecate in the open, polluting the environment. The State ranks 10th in the use of latrines. Our recent study adds that 70 per cent villages in the State have yet to organise waste collection and disposal, and 78 per cent have yet to put up drainage for managing liquid waste. In the case of urban areas, the State ranks ninth in terms of the use of latrines. As studies have shown, in spite of the efforts made, waste management is a serious problem in most urban centres.

As a result, the incidence of diseases is fairly high: our recent study shows that 44 per cent villages have reported frequent occurrence of jaundice; 30 per cent, malaria, 40 per cent, diarrhoea, and 25 per cent, kidney stones, skin diseases, joint pain, dental problems, etc. In the case of urban areas also there are frequent reports of outbreak of diseases.

In short, the growth process in the State has paid limited attention to the well-being of the masses. It is not surprising therefore that National Family Health Survey 3 has shown that Gujarat not only ranks low in nutrition of women and children but has also performed very poorly in the recent decade. There is a need for the State to take a fresh look at its growth process.

(Dr. Indira Hirway is Director and Professor of Economics at the Center for Development Alternatives, Ahmedabad, and co-author of the State Human Development Report 2004.)

Call for Action ! Send #SoniSori a Postcard #actnow #mustshare


 

 

Soni Sori’s struggle for justice gets solidarity from various parts of the country

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) has launched a solidarity campaign for Soni Sori incarcerated in Raipur jail for the past one year under false charges of being a Maoist engaged in extortion and violence.

In two of the eight cases fabricated against her by the Dantewada police, Soni Sori has already been acquitted. In a third significant case in which she, her husband and her nephew Lingaram Kodopi are all charged and imprisoned,  the key eye witness, Avadhesh Gautam, has given vital testimony on  27th September 2012, confirming that none of these three were present at the incident site.  This corroborates what Soni Sori has been saying all this while, that the Chhattisgarh police have been foisting all these false cases against her and her family, merely in order to harass and punish them for refusing to obey the illegal diktats of the Chhattisgarh police.

Soni Sori is an ordinary school teacher in Chhattisgarh, who chose to think and act independently and refused to go with either the Maoists or the state security forces.  However, her cries of being only an ordinary school teacher, albeit with an independent mind, have fallen on deaf ears. She was arrested in Delhi on 4th October 2011 and remanded to police custody of Chhattisgarh police on 7th October 2011 for three days. It was during those three days that she was subjected to heinous violence and sexual torture under the orders of the Superintendent of Police Ankit Garg. Ironically, instead of being suspended, SP Ankit Garg was decorated with the President’s Police Medal of Gallantry on the occasion of the Republic Day earlier this year.

While her tormentor was thus feted, Soni Sori was left to deal with the physical and mental trauma of the torture on her own and even visitors from reputed womens’ groups through out the country, who only wanted to offer her solidarity, were refused permission to meet her in jail. But instead of breaking her spirit, the state only managed to break her silence and Soni Sori wrote at length about the degrading treatment she was subjected to. An appeal before the Supreme Court gave her a partial respite and she was sent to Kolkata for a physical examination, where stones were discovered from her private parts proving the terrible torture that she was subjected to. Chhattisgarh government has not relented and did not even provide her the recommended medical treatment.

Soni Sori is a spirited woman and has been on extended hunger strikes in the jail to push for humane treatment of prisoners. On the occasion of the birth Centenary of Shaheed Bhagat Singh a post card campaign has been launched where people from across the country will send her post cards to express their solidarity with her struggle for justice.

It should be recalled that Bhagat Singh also used his incarceration to further his political message and nothing could break his spirit.

WSS calls upon everyone to join in this campaign. Post cards were signed in Delhi, Bhopal and Indore today to launch the campaign and were sent to Soni Sori, Central Jail Raipur, Chhattisgarh 492001

PLEASE SIGN ONLINE PETITION FOR HER RELEASE !!

Inline image 1

 

Change the terminology- Survivors, not victims #VAW # Justice #mustread


 

This we know: On September 9, a 16-year-old Dalit schoolgirl in Dabra village, Hisar was kidnapped, raped and photographed allegedly by a group of upper caste Jat boys. This we know: The girl complains to her father. The photographs are circulated in the village. The father tries to  lodge a complaint, fails, and kills himself nine days after his daughter was raped.

This we know: It takes media outrage, street processions and the threat of job suspensions by the National Commission for the Scheduled Castes before the Haryana police arrest nine of the 12 accused (one is the nephew of the INLD district chief and three are said to have links to the Congress). But even before interrogation can begin, comes news of a copycat rape: another Dalit woman, also gangraped, also filmed, also in Haryana, only this time in Jind district.

The silence in Hisar has an echo in Jind. At the time of writing, the National Commission for Women is yet to rouse itself. Leave alone a visit to Hisar, it has not even bothered with a statement laced with the mandatory clichés of outrage, shock etc.

But more than predictable statements, perhaps the time has come to change the rhetoric of rape. Rape, like murder, is a terrible, heinous crime. But that is just what it is, a crime. Take away the attendant accessories of ‘honour’, ‘humiliation’ and ‘fate worse than death’ and you take away the sting; the motivation behind the continuing rape of vulnerable women.

When Dalit women are targeted for rape by upper caste men, the message is clear: Terrorise an entire community. When the rape of a woman is tied in with a man’s honour (because she is his property), then the motive is not sexual desire — in rape it almost never is — but a desire to subdue those who you believe are beneath you. “There is a lot of tension in villages where Dalits are moving ahead in terms of education and employment,” says Asha Kowtal of the All India Dalit Mahila Adhikar Manch. “You have to see the rape of this girl in the context of caste tensions in the state.”

In a culture where a woman’s honour is tied to notions of her sexual ‘purity’, rape as a weapon will continue to be used to punish her or her brothers, her father, her husband, her community. It is this culture that leads to women agreeing to marrying their rapists or committing suicide after being cast out by their families. It is this culture that led the father of the 16-year-old in Hisar to kill himself. It is this culture that leads young men with a sense of entitlement to believe they can rape and they can photograph but they will not be caught because the women they rape will be too ‘ashamed’ to complain.
These are attitudes that find resonance in the police. A sting operation by Tehelka earlier this year interviewed one officer who said no self-respecting woman would report a rape out of a sense of shame. Those who did were extortionists, he said.

The media’s subtext in reporting sexual assault is not above reproach. Even the most well-intentioned reports swing between voyeurism and syrupy sentimentality. There is an inordinate focus on urban rapes, while those in the hinterland get a cursory paragraph — if at all. Guidelines that rape survivors should not be named subscribe to the notion of stigma. A woman raped is a woman shamed, hence her identity must be protected. Photographs of course are out of the question. But accompanying visuals of helpless women huddled in fear perpetuate the stereotype of how we as a society believe survivors of rape should behave. Even the nomenclature is misplaced: a person who is raped is not a victim. She is a survivor.

Women who have been raped want justice more than sympathy. They want their rapists to be shamed, not have to bear the burden of stigma on themselves. They want rape to be treated as it is: an awful crime. A crime minus the added sting of honour.

– Namita Bhandare is a Delhi-based writer. The views expressed by the author are personal.

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Kelkar Committee Report Uploaded – inviting comments from People #mustshare


PIB- PRESS RELEASE

Kelkar Committee has recommended sharp reduction in subsidies on petroleum, food and fertiliser, which the government said was contrary to its policy of protecting the poor.

Kelkar Committee Report Uploaded on Finance Ministry Website to Invite Comments from all Sections of the People

On August 6, 2012, the Union Finance MinisterShri P.Chidambaram  had made a statement on the economic situation and on the policy measures that were under consideration of the Government. Referring to the fiscal situation, the Finance Minister had said:

“We intend to unveil, shortly, a path of fiscal consolidation. I would like to make it clear         that the burden of fiscal correction must be shared, fairly and equitably, by different    classes of stakeholders. The poor must be protected and others must bear their fair share         of the burden. Obviously, adjustments must be made both on the revenue side and on the   expenditure side. We have asked Dr. Vijay Kelkar, Dr. IndiraRajaraman and Dr. Sanjiv         Misra to assist the Government in formulating the path of fiscal consolidation and we             expect that the work will be completed in a few weeks.”

The aforesaid Kelkar Committee submitted its report on September 3, 2012.

The Committee has reached certain conclusions and has made a number of recommendations.

The main conclusion of the report is that “We cannot over-emphasize the need and the urgency of fiscal consolidation.”

The report is under consideration of the Government and the Government has not yet taken a view on the report or on any of the recommendations.

 

                   The Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, ShriArvind Mayaram said that some recommendations appear contrary to the declared objective of the Government of ‘sustained and inclusive growth’. He said that the Government is of the view that in a developing country where a significant proportion of the population is poor, a certain level of subsidies is necessary and unavoidable, and measures must be taken to protect the poor and vulnerable sections of the society. It is in this view that the Government has reiterated its intention to implement the promise of food security for all, he added. The Secretary Shri Mayaram further said while taking a final view on the various recommendations of the report, the Government will bear in mind that the goal is to achieve high growth, inclusive development, and economic and social justice for all.

                             The Secretary, Department of Economic Affairs, ShriArvind  Mayaram said that the Government welcomes an informed debate on the report submitted by the Kelkar Committee. Hence, this report is being uploaded on the website of the Ministry of Finance atwww.finmin.nic.in, he informed. Shri Mayaramsaid that the Government invites all sections of the people to send their comments to the email address: feedbackonkelkar-mof@nic.in.

 

 MEANWHILE LATEST NEWS REPORTS SAYS

29 SEP, 2012, , ET BUREAU– The government appears to have developed cold feet over implementing Kelkar panel’s recommendations to slash subsidies drastically at a time when it is facing backlash for raising diesel prices and capping subsidised cooking cylinders.
The report, which has been put out for public comments, warns that India is on the edge of a fiscal precipice. A senior finance ministry official has said that the report has not been accepted so far and that some of the panel’s recommendations run contrary to the government’s larger objectives.

“Some recommendations appear contrary to the declared objective of the government of ‘sustained and inclusive’ growth,” Arvind Mayaram, secretary in thedepartment of economic affairs said, adding, “The government is of the view that in a developing country, where a significant proportion of population is poor, a certain level of subsidies is necessary and unavoidable, and measures must be taken to protect the poor and vulnerable section of the society.”

Mayaram said the government is yet to take a call on the report which calls for abolition of subsidy on diesel by next year and on cooking gas by 2014-15, suggestions that the government has indicated will be difficult to accept. “While taking a final view on the various recommendations of the report, the government will bear in mind that the goal is to achieve high growth, inclusive development, and economic and social justice for all,” Mayaram added.

Kelkar Panel has issued a grim warning on India's fiscal deficitKelkar Panel has issued a grim warning on India's fiscal deficit

The committee had submitted its report on September 3, before the government unleashed the recent reforms that sparked a stock market rally and led to appreciation of the rupee. “The Indian economy is presently poised on the edge of a fiscal precipice, making corrective measures aimed at speedy fiscal consolidation an imperative necessity if serious adverse consequences stemming from this situation are to be averted in an efficient and timely manner,” the committee has said.

If no corrective measures are taken, India can face a crisis worse than the one in 1991, the committee has said. It has also cautioned that the deficit for the current fiscal can widen to 6.1% of the GDP against the budgeted 5.1%, but the government does not seem to agree with the grim prognosis.

Mayaram said the government is committed to keeping itsfiscal deficit target as close to its target even as the fiscal deficit in the first five months of 2012-13 has touched 65.7% of that budgeted for the entire fiscal. The panel has suggested that the government should eliminate half of the per unit diesel subsidy by the end of this fiscal and the rest over 2013-14. The subsidy on cooking gas should be reduced by 25% this year and completely eliminated over the next two years, it has said. In the case of kerosene, it has said that the objective should be to reduce the subsidy by one-thirds by 2014-15.

Jury Recommendations: PEOPLE’S HEARING ON FABRICATED CASES #mustread


 

PEOPLE’S HEARING ON FABRICATED CASES
September 28-29, Constitution Club of India, New Delhi

JURY RECOMMENDATIONS

DSC04362 300x168 Jury Recommendations: PEOPLES HEARING ON FABRICATED CASES

The role of the Indian state in fabricating cases of sedition and terrorism to implicate tens of thousands of innocent citizens across India has been thoroughly exposed in testimony after testimony presented at the People’s Hearing on Fabricated Cases.

It has been established beyond doubt that the Indian police and investigative agencies have for years run a systematic campaign to brutalize citizens by way of punishing them for defending their homeland, farms and communities, or for simply belonging to a certain community that is labeled as a whole as being involved in terrorism.

That the Indian judiciary has for the large part been complicit in giving the police a free pass in this evil endeavor has only extended the ambit of misery that has incarcerated innocents for years, devastating lives and families.

It is clear that the nefarious activities of the police and the state in general need to be checked and held accountable for their illegal fabrication of cases.

It is now recommended by the jury of the People’s Hearing that the civil society groups, activists, and solidarity groups that work with the victims of fabricated cases and their families begin documenting in detail each such case around the country so that a single resource base is created to aid concerted action as well as to spread awareness.

It is recommended that the various civil action groups that are engaged in the human rights campaigns take a lead in preparing such exhaustive documentation.

jury 1 300x225 Jury Recommendations: PEOPLES HEARING ON FABRICATED CASESIt is recommended that the campaigns explore the establishment of a legal support mechanism for the victims of fabricated cases so that they are supported throughout the life of their cases in pursuing a legal defense. Also, the campaigns need to explore the possibility of bringing class actions suits and criminal law suits before the higher courts to plug the loopholes in the criminal jurisprudence system that lead to the fabrications.

It is requested that the National Human Rights Commission and the state human rights commissions be pressured to create special cells devoted exclusively to dealing with fabricated cases on sedition and terrorism.

It is recommended that the government be pressured to bring action against police officers who are established to have forged evidences and fabricated such cases of terrorism and sedition against innocent citizens.

It is also recommended that the campaigns work towards taking the issue of fabricated cases of sedition and terrorism to international civil rights forums, and evaluate the application of the various international protocols that relate to the practice of war.

It is recommended that campaigns be launched to seek the repeal of the dubious seditious and terror laws that are grossly misused and abused by security agencies to implicate innocent people in fabricated cases.

It is recommended that the civil action groups for human rights establish a framework for healthcare related protocols that allow for a role of the ICRC and the Indian Red Cross as well as evolve a code of medical neutrality in armed conflict.

It is recommended that a campaign be launched into holding the state to account for the disappearances of individuals as well as the extrajudicial killings in fake encounters. Campaigns also need to build a strong action against custodial deaths.

Justice Rajinder Sachar
Saba Naqui
Dr. Ram Puniyani
Dr. Binayak Sen
Ajit Shahi

 

‘Mass Movements with Conviction Seldom Die’- SP Udayakumar #protest


Tehelka Magazine, Vol 9, Issue 40, Dated 06 Oct 2012

AS WORK at the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project kickstarts with the loading of fuel, SP Udayakumar, Coordinator of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) and the brain behind the anti-nuke struggle, finds himself on the run. Following a warrant for his arrest, the 53-year-old Udayakumar has been forced to shift base from the St Lourdes Matha Church in Idinthakarai to Koothankuli, where more than 200 volunteers guard him day and night. In a candid interview, the antinuke activist tells Jeemon Jacob why PMANE will continue its struggle and why he cannot rule out the possibility of entering politics.

SP Udayakumar
SP Udayakumar

EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW

Loading of fuel is in progress at the Koodankulam plant. Do you feel that you are on the verge of a losing battle?
Our struggle will not end tomorrow, it will go on forever. We have been protesting against the Koodankulam Nuclear Power Project (KKNPP) since 1989 and have intensified the protest in the last 406 days. It’s true that KKNPP has started loading fuel at its plants violating all safety norms, but now, the Supreme Court has also raised the question of safety. When we started our struggle, we knew that our path would not be easy. Today, there are more than 10,000 people in Idinthakarai sitting in protest. Another 8,000 are protesting in Koothankuli. There are other villages protesting too. It has become a mass movement and mass movements with conviction seldom die.

But, what’s the point in protesting after the nuclear plant becomes operational?
We have reached a point of no return. Over the last 10 days, police has unleashed terror in our villages. They raided our homes, arresting women and children and registering sedition cases against thousands of people. They did not even spare the old and the handicapped. Around 350 cases have been registered against two lakh people in the coastal areas. “With SP Udayakumar, Pushparayan Victoria and 400 others,” they can even register cases against the unborn. People within a 7 km radius have been accused in at least half a dozen criminal cases. What crimes have we done? Is it a crime to sit and fast when you have grievances? We are fighting for a larger cause.

There are rumours that you are going to fight Lok Sabha election on a DMK ticket.
That’s a joke. For me, People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) is not a shortcut to politics. I did not join PMANE to become a leader. I live in Nagercoil, 35 km from Koodankulam with my family. I joined the Koodankulam struggle, as I believe that nuclear power endangers the lives of people. We have collectively taken a decision and stuck to it. As of now, I’ve no intentions of contesting elections. A section of our people wanted the anti-nuke movement to take a political turn, as we were ditched by all political parties. But I’ve strong reservations against it. We have no political colour and are driven by a cause. I wanted PMANE to remain like that. But it’s not my decision that will decide the course of our struggle.

Do you miss Idinthakarai?
I do. It was my second home for more than a year. I know everyone in that village. When I told them about my decision to surrender to the police, the women wept and the men lifted me, put me in a boat and brought me to Koothankuli. Their love and affection touched me. When I first came to Idinthakarai in 2004, I never thought the place was going to make my destiny.

How’s your life in Koothankuli?
I’ve put on weight. I’m sleeping and eating better. They take care of me well. This village is one of the toughest and most daring villages on the coast. I’m safe here.

Jeemon Jacob is Bureau Chief, South with Tehelka. 
jeemonj@gmail.com

IMMEDIATE RELEASE-Brutality of the state exposed on Fabricated Cases


MEDIA RELEASE: 29 September, New Delhi

BRUTALITY OF THE STATE EXPOSED ON FABRICATED CASES: JURY CALLS FOR SPECIAL LEGAL SUPPORT MECHANISM FOR VICTIMS

DSC04362 300x168 BRUTALITY OF THE STATE EXPOSED ON FABRICATED CASES: JURY CALLS FOR SPECIAL LEGAL SUPPORT MECHANISM FOR VICTIMSNew Delhi: ‘It has been established beyond doubt that the Indian police and investigative agencies have for years run a systematic campaign to brutalize citizens by way of punishing them for defending their homeland, farms and communities, or for simply belonging to a certain community that is labeled as being involved in terrorism’ said the interim jury recommendations at a two day peoples hearing on fabricated cases at the Constitution Club. Jury members included Justice Rajinder Sachar Dr. Ram Puniyani, Dr. Binayak Sen and journalists Saba Naqvi and Ajit Shahi.

The depositions from across the country thoroughly exposed the role of the Indian state in fabricating cases of sedition and terrorism to implicate tens of thousands of innocent citizens across India.

The Jury also noted that ‘the Indian judiciary has for the large part been complicit in giving the police a free pass in this evil endeavor. This has only extended the ambit of misery that has incarcerated innocents for years, devastating lives and families’.

Saba Naqvi emphasized that the civil society groups, activists, and solidarity groups that work with the victims of fabricated cases and their families begin documenting in detail each such case around the country so that a single resource base is created to aid concerted action as well as to spread awareness.

jury 1 300x225 BRUTALITY OF THE STATE EXPOSED ON FABRICATED CASES: JURY CALLS FOR SPECIAL LEGAL SUPPORT MECHANISM FOR VICTIMSDr. Binayak Sen recommended that the campaigns explore the establishment of a legal support mechanism for the victims of fabricated cases so that they are supported throughout the life of their cases in pursuing a legal defense. He also added that the campaigns need to explore the possibility of bringing class actions suits and criminal law suits before the higher courts to plug the loopholes in the criminal jurisprudence system that lead to the fabrications.

Civil society groups at the meeting will ensure that National Human Rights Commission and the state human rights commissions be pressured to create special cells devoted exclusively to dealing with fabricated cases on sedition and terrorism.

The public hearing also recommended that the government be pressured to bring action against police officers who are established to have forged evidences and fabricated such cases of terrorism and sedition against innocent citizens.

It is also recommended that the campaigns work towards taking the issue of fabricated cases of sedition and terrorism to international civil rights forums, and evaluate the application of the various international protocols that relate to the practice of war.

On the second day of the peoples hearing depositions were made on behalf of Kerala politician Abdul Nasser Maudany by former MP Sebastian Paul and Omar Mukhtar, the eldest son of Maudany. Suresh Velamanoor from the Dalit Human Rights Movement (DHRM) spoke about how the Kerala police branded his organization as a terrorist outfit.

Anjum Habib from the Muslim Khwateen Markaz ( Muslim Womens Organisation) in Kashmir spoke about how she was falsely implicated under POTA and spent five years in Tihar Jail. Neena Ningombam and Babloo Loitongbam from Manipur spoke about tragic cases of more than 1500 young people who were killed in extra judicial encounters. Ningombam spoke about the loss of her husband in a fake encounter and her continuing struggle for justice not just for herself but hundreds of young widows in Manipur.

The final jury recommendations and report of the meeting will soon be released by the organizers.

………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………
For more information contact:

Wilfred D Costa- 011-26517814. Email: willyindia@gmail.com
P T George – 011-26560133. Email: ihpindia@gmail.com
Sajeed K. –08891163485 Email: sajeedacl@gmail.com

Nuking peaceful protests: democracy is at stake in Koodankulam


 

Praful Bidwai at http://www.dianuke.org/

Even zealous supporters of nuclear power should logically concede three things to their opponents. First, after Fukushima, it’s natural for people everywhere to be deeply sceptical of the claimed safety of nuclear power, and for governments to phase out atomic programmes, as is happening in countries like Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and now Japan.

Second, nuclear power, like all technologies, should be promoted democratically, with the consent of the people living in the vicinity, and with scrupulous regard for civil liberties. And third, safety must be paramount in reactor construction and operation, with strict adherence to norms and full compliance with the rules laid down by an independent safety authority.

The way the Indian government has dealt with the opponents of the Koodankulam nuclear reactors being built in Tamil Nadu violates all three red lines. Rather than treat such opposition as natural, logical and an indication of citizens’ engagement with the world, the Department of Atomic Energy and its subsidiary Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd see it as a pathological condition to be cured by psychiatrists from the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bangalore.

The government has all along demonised Koodankulam’s opponents. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, no less, vilified them as inspired by “foreign-funded” NGOs without citing an iota of evidence. The government even deported a German tourist living in a Rs200-a-day room, alleging he was “masterminding” and financing the agitation. This week, it summarily deported three Japanese activists who were planning to visit Koodankulam. All this shows official disconnect with reality. Globally, nuclear power was in retreat even before Fukushima. The number of operating reactors peaked 10 years ago, and their installed capacity has been falling since 2010. Nuclear’s share of global power generation has declined from its peak (17 percent) to about 11 percent.

Post-Fukushima, the global nuclear industry faces its worst-ever credibility crisis. With increasingly adverse public opinion, and rising reactor costs (which have tripled over a decade), it’ll probably go into terminal decline. Jeff Immelt of General Electric, one of the world’s largest suppliers of atomic equipment says, nuclear power is “really hard to justify”. However, India continues its Nuclear March of Folly and has unleashed savage repression against anti-nuclear protesters. Hundreds of FIRs have been lodged against several thousands of people in Koodankulam (according to one estimate, an incredible 55,000 people), and many are charged with sedition and waging war against the state – for organising protests without a single violent incident.

It’s hard to think of another occasion, including the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, or the 1992 Babri demolition, where the state has charged so many people with such grave offences. On September 10, the police launched a vicious lathi and tear-gas attack on peaceful protesters although they were obstructing nobody’s movement. The police literally drove many agitators into the sea, molested women, arrested scores and looted their houses. Police firing killed a fisherman.

A fact-finding team led by Justice BG Kolse-Patil and senior journalist Kalpana Sharma describes the Koodankulam situation as a “reign of terror”, marked by “extreme and totally unjustified” use of force, physical abuse, vindictive detention of 56 people, including juveniles, and targeting of women. Such thug-like police behaviour, it says, “has no place in a country that calls itself democratic”. Yet, repression of movements against destructive projects is becoming part of a deplorable pattern in India. No socially desirable project can be built on the ashes of citizens. This in and of itself is a strong reason to oppose the Koodankulam reactors.

Manmohan Singh last year suspended work at Koodankulam and promised to allay people’s apprehensions regarding safety. But he had no intention of doing so. The sarkari experts he appointed didn’t even bother to meet the people’s representatives or answer their queries about the site’s vulnerability to tsunamis, volcanic activity and earthquakes. People’s fears grew as NPCIL refused to share relevant information with them, including the Site Evaluation and the Safety Analysis Reports. Despite a Right to Information request, a legal petition and a parliament question, NPCIL failed to disclose the text of an Indo-Russian intergovernmental agreement, which reportedly absolves the reactors’ supplier of any liability for an accident.

This puts a disturbing question-mark over the official claim that the reactors are safe, and accidents are all but impossible. If so, why is the supplier evading liability? That brings us to the third factor mentioned above: NPCIL’s non-compliance with safety protocols, and the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board’s approval for fuel-loading in breach of the own norms. This is a grim story. Last year, following Fukushima, the AERB set up under state orders a task force to suggest improvements in reactor safety. This made 17 recommendations, pertaining to freshwater and power backup, improved sensors and instrumentation, etc.

The Koodankulam plant is not compliant with as many as 11 of the 17. The AERB first told the Madras High Court that it wouldn’t permit fuel-loading unless full compliance was established. But within four days, it made an about-turn – probably under pressure from the government. As the comptroller and accountant general has established in a recent report, the AERB lacks independence and is totally subservient to the government. On August 10, it permitted NPCIL to start fuel loading. NPCIL has since been loading live nuclear fuel into the first reactor. This is wrong and dangerous, and shows reckless disregard for safety procedures.

The AERB is guilty of yet more safety violations. Its own rules say there must be absolutely no population in the “exclusion zone” covering a 1.6km radius from the plant, and that the population in the 5km area must be under 20,000. Now, as anyone who has been to Koodankulam will testify, a a tsunami rehabilitation colony, with 450 tenements, stands less than 1km from the plant. At least 40,000 people live within a 5km radius. The AERB, supposedly the public’s nuclear watchdog, has turned a blind eye to this. Equally disgraceful is its failure to enforce another rule which stipulates that no fuel-loading be permitted until an off-site emergency preparedness drill is completed within a 16km radius under the joint supervision of NPCIL, the district administration, the state government and the National Disaster Management Authority.

This involves full evacuation procedures, with prior warning, identification of routes, commandeering of vehicles, and clear instructions to the public. No such drill was ever conducted. And yet, the AERB cleared initial fuel-loading. This amounts to playing with the public’s life.

India is loath to move away from nuclear power although the world is abandoning it rapidly. The transition is fastest in the OECD countries, which account for 70 percent of the world’s 429 reactors. There are just two reactors under construction in the West. Both are mired in safety problems, long delays and 130 percent-plus cost overruns. Even France, which gets 80 percent of its electricity from atomic reactors – a fact the global nuclear industry repeats as if that were clinching proof of its own safety and reliability – will reduce its nuclear dependence to 50 percent by 2025.

As nuclear declines, global investment in clean, flexible renewable sources like wind and solar has grossed $1 trillion since 2004. Their costs are falling dramatically. Renewables are the future.

The writer, a former newspaper editor, is a researcher and peace and human-rights activist based in Delhi. Email: prafulbidwai1 @yahoo.co.in

 

Activist ‘surrenders’ before court to highlight pollution of lake #mustread #ganapati


SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT, The Hindu, Sept 25, Salem

Says immersion of Vinayaka idols has polluted the Mookeneri Lake

Moral responsibility:V. Piyush Sethia (right), an environmentalist, came to Salem court to surrender on Monday.- Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

Moral responsibility:V. Piyush Sethia (right), an environmentalist, came to Salem court to surrender on Monday.- Photo: E. Lakshmi Narayanan

Taking moral responsibility that he was not able to save the picturesque Mookeneri Lake, here, from a bunch of polluters, who immersed idols of Lord Vinayaka, made of plaster of Paris and toxic dyes in it, a Salem-based environmentalist V. Piyush Sethia, Convener, Salem Citizens’ Forum, which resurrected the lake into a throbbing water spread that was once a PWD’s cesspool, ‘surrendered’ before a Salem judicial court here on Monday.

The activist’s ‘surrender,’ with no case pending against him in any police station in this particular issue, had caught the Judicial Magistrate No. 4 N. Vijayalakshmi and a host of lawyers and litigant public, unawares. After going through his petition, which claimed that he ‘surrendered,’ since, as a responsible member of Salem Citizens’ Forum, he had failed to keep his promise given to stakeholders at the time of rejuvenation that the lake would not be ‘abused’ for purpose other than water holding and ayacut use.

Perplexed, the Magistrate after seeking his explanation told the petitioner’s lawyer P. Mayan that she had to consult legal experts and senior colleagues before deciding the fate of his ‘surrender petition.’ “But later in the evening the Magistrate had dismissed the petition itself pointing out that it had enclosed no supportive documents such as FIR or any specific complaint filed against the petitioner in this regard,” Mr. Mayan said.

Talking to The Hindu, Sethia said despite knowing well in advance that chemical-coated idols would be immersed in the lake, he failed in his duty as a responsible citizen to stop it.

“As the Forum’s convener I could not also stop the massive pollution that the immersion caused to the lake, illegal under the provisions of Air and Water Act of Environment Protection Act 1986 and Tamil Nadu Public Property Damages Act. I construed it as negligence on my part, which is an abetment to crime. Hence I surrendered,” he said.

He further said the City Police had permitted the immersion of idols – all made of plaster of Paris and toxic dyes in the lake. “We gave the Police Commissioner a petition against the immersion of such toxic coated idols. He assured us of ‘rule of law.’ Believing him, we did not take the matter to Collector, PWD and Tamil Nadu Pollution Control Board to stop it,” he said. He and others were not against the immersion of idols that are made of clay and natural dyes.

Painful sight

It was a painful sight to see the water spread of Mookeneri Lake, now home to rare water birds, fish and exotic plants, and a much sought-after tourist spot, turning poisonous. “We in the Forum are developing many lakes under private-public partnership. But all our concerted efforts go waste when such environmental vandalism goes on unchecked,” he said.

He has decided to approach City Police to register a case against him – again for abetment to a crime.

 

 


  • Piyush Sethia was involved in the restoration of Mookaneri Lake
  • Vinayaka Idols made of plaster of Paris and toxic dyes were immersed in the lake recently

     

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