Why I want to ask disturbing questions and say the unsaid- Meena Kandasamy


Last updated on: November 28, 2012 09:34 IST

More than 50 two-wheelers, stylish motorbikes in most cases, and half a dozen four-wheelers met the same fate

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Meena Kandasamy ,REDIFF.COM

‘What happened in Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri district is not merely anti-Dalit caste hatred, but also the most vicious form of sexual oppression of women. Almost every single home was burnt and looted.’‘I still withhold my tears because of the fear that weeping will rob me of my rightful anger, that emotional catharsis will lead to complacence, says poet Meena Kandasamy in this column exclusive to Rediff.comFive days after visiting the ravaged Dalit colonies of Nathamkottai, Kondampatti and Anna Nagar in Tamil Nadu’s Dharmapuri district — where almost every single home was burnt and looted on November 7, 2012 by a thousand-member strong mob of Vanniyars wielding Molotov cocktails and crowbars — I still withhold my tears because of the fear that weeping will rob me of my rightful anger, that emotional catharsis will lead to complacence.The provocation for the organised rampage is attributed to the alleged suicide of Nagaraj, father of Divya, a 20-year-old Vanniyar woman who fell in love with and married 23-year-old Ilavarasan, a Dalit man from Natham.

The local police, keeping their caste sympathies intact are guilty of not just dereliction of duty, but of actually facilitating the violence against the Dalits by failing to check the Vanniyar mob’s free-run of destruction.

Having gloriously performed their caste dharma of being passive bystanders to such horrifying violence, they now seem to have taken their job of policing very seriously: They ferry Dalit children in police vans to their schools and do not fail to ask a thousand impertinent questions to every single visitor who wants to step inside these colonies.

Two weeks after the atrocity, women queue up for lunch at the relief camp in Natham Colony, Dharmapuri

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In a district infamous for its female infanticide and atrocities of untouchability, the Naxalite movement took root in the 1970s fighting such oppression. What followed was a regime of police terror to wipe them out.Palanisamy from Natham colony spoke of the perennial police surveillance of their village because of the Naxalite movement’s deep roots in the area. He blamed the inability of the Dalits to retaliate, or even ward off the Vanniyar attacks, on police repression.“The slightest hint of militancy from our midst would be labelled as Naxalite activity by the State, and we would be silenced as terrorists. The violence inflicted by the Vanniyars will be simply glossed over. Today, we suffer because of the tendency of the State to crush every voice of resistance.”He then recounted how five of the 28 people arrested under POTA (the Prevention of Terrorism Act) following the police encounter of the Naxalite Siva a decade ago, belonged to Natham colony. He describes how in spite of such high alert, the police had worked in connivance with the Vanniyar mob, spreading news of the impending rampage to ensure that the Dalit colonies were evicted.

Today, 21 days after that tragic night, even as the Dalits languish in makeshift shelters and eat at interim relief camps, the state government of Tamil Nadu has failed to take necessary action against the key perpetrators of the violence.

In an evident bid to undermine the extent of their losses, the state government has given the Dalits of these villages a pittance of Rs 50,000 as compensation to everyone whose home was burnt down.

The state government has pegged the overall damage — 144 homes burnt in Natham colony, 90 in Kondampatti and 34 in Anna Nagar — at Rs 3.5 crore (Rs 35 million), while the National SC/ST Commission estimates range at about Rs 7 crore (Rs 70 million). Independent NGO fact-finding missions have come up with figures ranging from Rs 12 crore (Rs 120 million) to Rs 25 crore (Rs 250 million).

Comrade Maariappan's completely ransacked home in Kondampatti. Neither his Communist sympathies, nor his own intercaste marriage many years ago have gone down well with the Vanniyars

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I could write about the absence of grievance redressal, the injustice in granting compensation, the state’s laissez-faireattitude in bringing the culprits to book. Or, I could detail how the State’s systematic annihilation of the radical left in a district once considered Tamil Nadu’s Naxalbari led to the strengthening of caste-based parties and a credo of violence.Each of this deserves our attention. Some of the photographs taken in these villages show how untouched the Dalit colonies have remained for well over two weeks after experiencing the worst kind of organised caste violence.But because I want to write into silences, because I want to ask disturbing questions, because I want to say the unsaid, my anger is directed at the PMK party and the Vanniyar Sangam.Even as the party is being blamed for organising and choreographing this anti-Dalit atrocity, their subsequent statements and unapologetic condemnation of inter-caste love marriages implicates them further in this crime and signals that they are waiting to replicate this model of violence elsewhere too.

Even as (Pattali Makkal Katchi leader ) Dr (S) Ramadoss proudly posits himself as an enemy of love and peddler of unverifiable statistics, one has to pay attention to his statements following the Dharmapuri atrocity. He had the effrontery to claim that Dalit people set fire to their own homes because they were greedy to obtain governmental compensation (‘The mob burnt down only a few houses in the three villages while some other Dalits were encouraged by an official to burn down their own houses, promising them compensation in return.’).

Raju, a scrap-dealer in Kondampatti, shows the losses worth several lakhs of rupees that he has sustained. He was targeted because his son Netaji fell in love with, and married, a classmate belonging to the Vanniyar caste 15 months ago.

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Reasoning that marriages tend to interfere with the education of women, Dr Ramadoss has urged the age of marriage for women to be raised to 21 years.Divya, the Vanniyar woman whose marriage to a Dalit man was used as the pretext for this violence, is 20-years-old.According to the Ramadoss logic she misses the Ramadoss cut-off by a whole twelve months, perhaps a period in which he believes she would have imbibed the miraculous feeling of caste loyalty.Perhaps everybody missed it, but clearly, Dr Ramadoss has insulted the intelligence of women when he sets this arbitrary cut-off age to decide when an adult woman is ready to decide about her marriage.

Women’s groups who were outraged by his comments on chastity a few years ago now maintain a deafening silence over his current statements, exhibiting no desire to call him out on his casteism and misogyny.

In another press meet, he has claimed that 95 percent of inter-caste love marriages end in failure. In all his benevolence has Dr Ramadoss addressed the issue of breakdown of marriages in general?

A good starting point for him, and the PMK-Vanniyar Sangam combine also, would be to embark on a campaign to scrap the oppressive institution of marriage itself. By preventing all marriages, he can simultaneously prevent their breakdown also!

The completely vandalised two-storey home in Anna Nagar, Dharmapuri. The economic rise of the Dalits, who work in Coimbatore and Bangalore, and their lifetime savings was destroyed by the mobs

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Moreover, Dr Ramadoss has gone ahead and blamed the violence as a direct result of intervention from members of the VCK party who allegedly advised Ilavarasan’s family to not send Divya back to her parents.In saying so, he portrays the entire violence as justifiable anger. Given the gruesome fate that inter-caste couples have faced in Tamil Nadu, Divya’s refusal to go to her parents was the sanest decision.Her return may have allowed fanatics to quench their bloodthirstiness with an honour killing.This is no exaggeration, because the Vanniyar Sangam’s Kaduvetti Guru has repeatedly been broadcasting this message. At a Chitra Pournami event in Mahabalipuram addressing Vanniyar youth, Guru openly exhorted that men of other castes marrying Vanniyar women should be killed.

Even as one bears witness to the inherent anti-Dalit hatred and rage that characterises this speech, it would also serve our interests to read this as a challenge to women’s rights, to women’s sexuality.

After all, neither Guru nor his Vanniyar Sangam, seem to be worried about the virginity, chastity, love affairs or married lives of Vanniyar men.

To enmesh only Vanniyar women within such paranoid, patronising and protectionist discourse and to disrespect their autonomy is nothing but patriarchal control and sexual subjugation.

One is forced to fall back on these age-old terms to articulate the brutal authoritarianism and blatant misogyny because other wordings will deprive us of clarity.

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Sangeet Kumar, from Anna Nagar, Dharmapuri shows the bureau that once held all his educational certificates and all his savings towards his marriage

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In his postmortem analysis of the Dharmapuri violence, Dr Ramadoss called inter-caste ‘love’ marriages, especially those involving women from intermediate castes and Dalit men, as a sham and has accused Dalit organisations of seeking to settle scores with intermediate castes under the pretext of such marriages.‘Dalit men were following women from the Vanniyar community claiming to be in love with them and later duping them.’ He portrays Dalit men as ‘stalkers’ and imagines love to be something that can be forced, constructed, and staged, defeating the fact that love springs from spontaneity and without coercion.One must understand that Dr Ramadoss has not been a vigorous anti-love crusader all his life, and that even now, he is not opposed to the abstract notion of love, but problems arise for such a caste fanatic when love transgresses caste and when it culminates in marriage.A politician who seeks to prevent Vanniyar girls from exercising their right to choose their partners and determine their future, has forfeited all moral rights to talk about the self-determination of Tamils.

Dr Ramadoss is inculcating not merely hatred towards Dalits, but a new kind of Dalit phobia where men of the Dalit community are being painted as menacing hypermasculine warriors on the prowl, waiting to impregnate caste Hindu women.

Truth belongs to another universe, but such talk of ‘groups that dupe our girls in the name of love’ is not a new formula. There is no difference between Dr Ramadoss-Kaduvetti Guru and the language of Hindutva that screams of ‘love jihad’ as a pretext to vilify Muslim men and portray them as anti-social elements.

A fire-ravaged home in Kondampatti, Dharmapuri

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Men who take great affirmation of their masculinity in their rapes of Dalit women, men who maintain respectable silences when the bodies of women secretly transgress the prison of caste, are well aware that the notion of ‘caste purity’ is a myth.That is why, instead of harping on the purity of their castes being destroyed, they seek to portray the women of their castes as victims.This construction of victimhood allows them to ride on a sympathy wave, even as the atmosphere of suspicion enables them to identify their enemy in the public sphere.It is a shame that in a land with a history of self-respect for marriages, such a campaign against inter-caste marriages has gained momentum.

Our collective silence legitimises the false propaganda of caste fanatic groups like the PMK and the Vanniyar Sangam.

Our silence empowers them to preach their hatred and dabble in more anti-Dalit violence. The obvious violence in policing the bodies of women and the restrictions on whom to marry is an affront to women.

There is no guarantee that this scourge of violence will not permeate to other sections of society; already, one reads reports of violence because of marriages between different Dalit castes.

Kongu Vellala Peravai Gounders are also running similar campaigns to wean away youngsters from the path of love, and now, an organisation has been formed to demand the abolition of inter-caste marriages.

The breaking open, looting and burning down of bureaus and lockers has been a trademark of the Vanniyar mob violence in Dharmapuri

 
I believe that Indian women — especially women of the so-called dominant castes who pride themselves in their lineage and proudly flaunt their caste names even as they claim to be progressive — should break their well-guarded silences now.As a members of the civil society, we need to move the task of caste-annihilation to the front and centre of our agenda. Failure to condemn this violence shall expose the casteist hypocrisy of our intellectuals and our feminists.What has happened in Dharmapuri district is not merely anti-Dalit caste hatred, but also the most vicious form of sexual oppression of women.Though these Dalit colonies had nothing in common, they were targeted for the sole reason that each of them were home to inter-caste (Dalit man-Vanniyar woman) couples.

To reduce this merely to an assault that has taken place along caste lines, or to write this off as just an expression of the backward castes feeling jealous about Dalit economic empowerment is to forget the deep-rooted misogyny and patriarchal control that has pervaded this orchestration of hate.

The terror unleashed in Dharmapuri is an open challenge to all progressive movements in India. We cannot realise any dream of social equality until we divorce ourselves from the forces that spread hatred among the people.

We cannot work towards change without declaring where we stand on the issue of caste and women’s rights.

A society organised around confinement within castes, regimentation of female sexuality and mindless violence to counter every transgression will eventually make all of us prisoners if we do not stand up to dismantle its oppressive restrictions soon enough.

Meena Kandasamy is a poet, writer and activist.

     

Jaitapur Nuclear Power Project- Nuclear Devastation


The Jaitapur Project, dianuke.org

The plan by Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd (NPCIL) to establish two nuclear reactors in Jaitapur in Maharashtra was first publicly announced in September 2005, just two months after the United States-India nuclear cooperation deal was inked.[i] In 2003, two years before the deal was conceived, NPCIL had commissioned a feasibility study in the Jaitapur region.[ii]

The project, originally for two 1,000 MW reactors, was modified in February 2006, when India and France signed an agreement on nuclear cooperation and declared their intention to establish a “nuclear power park” in Jaitapur, consisting of six units of European Pressurised Reactors (EPRs) of 1,650 MW each.[iii]

Jaitapur is planned to be the biggest nuclear power station in the world, even larger than Japan’s Kashiwkazi-Kariwa plant. The reactors are to be designed and built by the largely state-owned French nuclear energy company, Areva. Ever since 2006, Areva has figured in connection with the proposed nuclear park in Jaitapur.

Even before the 45-member Nuclear Suppliers’ Group agreed in September 2008 to make a special exception for India in the global nuclear trade regime in keeping with the US-India deal, New Delhi had started dangling the carrot of lucrative nuclear reactor business worth $270 billion before the international nuclear industry in the form of “nuclear power parks” in coastal areas.[iv] This was done without any clearance from the Reserve Bank of India, without an engineering or technical assessment of the suppliers, and without a transparent, broad-based study of or planning for nuclear expansion on such a massive scale.

There was no evaluation of the relevance of the nuclear reactors for the country’s energy security. NPCIL did not invite global tenders for them. Yet, it short-listed Areva’s EPRs, along with Westinghouse Electric Company’s AP1000 series of reactors, General Electric-Hitachi’s ABWR reactor series, and Russian atomic energy agency Rosatom’s VVER 1,000 reactors.[v]

On its part, France has been more than eager to exploit the lucrative nuclear market emerging in India. Not only it had not condemned India for its nuclear tests of 1998[vi], it promised India access to sensitive enrichment and reprocessing technologies and offered assured fuel supplies.[vii]

In anticipation of the NSG clearance, pre-project activities started by mid-2006 and a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between NPCIL and the Government of Maharashtra in September 2006.[viii]NPCIL’s camp office appeared near Madban village in early 2007.[ix] Within a month of the NSG clearance in September 2008, India and France entered into a framework nuclear agreement.[x] Prime Minister Manmohan Singh was invited as the chief guest at the French National Day in 2009.[xi]

The agreement for the first two of the six EPRs between Areva and NPCIL was signed in December 2010 during French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s India visit.[xii] This event was also marked by a hastily granted clearance for the project by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.[xiii]

Current status:

  • The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board is yet to give clearance to the reactor design
  • Environmental clearance is conditional
  • In the first phase, two reactors are to be built between 2012 and 2018.
  • Union cabinet has to approve financial issues
  • A powerful movement against the project has emerged.
  • Seventy local self-government representatives of 10 villages have resigned en masse
  • Liability remains a concern for Areva[xiv]

 

Courtesy: CNDP Report on Jaitapur: http://www.cndpindia.org/download.php?view.66

Notes:

[i] Meena Menon, “Critical Mass”, Frontline, 27:12 :: Jun. 05-18, 2010   http://www.frontlineonnet.com/fl2712/stories/20100618271204100.htm

[ii] “French N-tech firms eyeing India”, Times of India, May 18, 2008,  http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1536108.cms

[iii] “Advantage India: French Nuclear Deal”, Times of India, Feb 20, 2006, http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Advantage-India-French-nuclear-deal-/articleshow/1421908.cms

[iv] Raman, J Sri, “The US-India Nuclear Deal: on year later”, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, October 1, 2009. http://www.thebulletin.org/web-edition/features/the-us-india-nuclear-deal-one-year-later

[v] “Nuclear Power short-lists 4 suppliers for Reactor” Business Line, August 18, 2008 http://www.thehindubusinessline.com/2008/08/18/stories/2008081851400100.htm

[vi] “Trade, nuclear power tops Sarkozy’s India wish list” France 24, Dec 05, 2010

http://www.france24.com/en/20101204-india-france-trade-nuclear-power-deals-top-india-wish-list-sarkozy

[vii] “France, Russia ensure uninterrupted fuel supply to Indian rectors”, Globalsecurity.org,,Sept 17, 2008

http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/library/news/india/2008/india-080917-irna01.htm

[viii] “In India the Nuclear Stampede Begins”, Asia Times Online, Nov 22, 2006. http://www.atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/HK22Df01.html

[ix] “Work begins for nuclear plant in Maharashtra”, Earth Times, May 3, 2007 http://www.earthtimes.org/articles/show/58714.html

[x] “India, France ink landmark agreement”  Rediff News, September 30, 2008. http://www.rediff.com/news/2008/sep/30ndeal3.htm

[xi] “PM Gets rare honour as Chief Guest on French Day” Indian Express, July 14, 2009.  http://www.indianexpress.com/news/PM-gets-rare-honour-as-Chief-Guest-on-French-Day/489092/

[xii] “India to get 2 nuclear reactors” Deccan Herald, Dec 06, 2010.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/118500/india-get-2-nuclear-reactors.html

[xiii] “Jaitapur power plant gets environmental clearance”, NDTV, Nov 28, 2010

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/jaitapur-power-plant-gets-environmental-clearance-69147

[xiv] “Jaitapur n-reactors flagged off but liability concerns remain” Indian Express, Dec 7, 2010. http://www.indianexpress.com/news/jaitapur-nreactors-flagged-off-but-liability-concerns-remain/721283/

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Gujarat- Open letter to all political parties 38 demands to end #VAW


·
Open letter to  BJP, Congress, GPP, CPI, CPI (M), SUCI (C), SP, BSP, Janta Dal (United), Sadbhavana Manch, etc. re:  38 demands to end ‘Violence Against Women’ by Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan)
·      Looking for serious debate not the rhetoric. – Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan)
Date: 28 November 2012

To,
The President, Working Committee Members and Office bearers

Sub: With reference to 2012 State Assembly Election in Gujarat, declare/announce clarification and organise public discussion about the programme of your party on the Women’s Rights to live in a society free from violence

Madam/Sir,

This letter comes to you, all the candidates and other political parties who are in fray for the 2012 Gujarat State Assembly Election.

The fortnight starting from November 25 to December 10 is International Fortnight observance on ‘Violence Against Women’.

In a women’s meeting held as part of campaign against violence at Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan) on the issue of Gujarat State 2012 election, a detailed discussion followed on issues of public accountability required in the present political discourse as Gujarat goes to polls shortly which we will take it up with all the political parties and candidates as well.

Right now, we are sending you the charter of our demands to stop violence against women in Gujarat. We seek a public debate as well as public disclosure about all the measures taken by your party and affiliated organisations to ensure that the violence on women that manifests in various ways is curbed.

The last decade has witnessed increasing violence against women in Gujarat in various forms – sex selection, rape incidents especially of minor girls, domestic violence, harassment at work place, sexual discrimination and harassment. Lack of adequate political discourse and government’s inaction on these incidents only points to the apathy by political organisations which otherwise make tall claims of development in ‘Swarnim Gujarat’.

The statistics below raises questions on the issues of status of women:

1.      According to 2011 Census, there are 4,54,396 girls fewer as compared to boys in the population age group of 0 to 6 years.

2.      According to the Gujarat State Police department figures from 2001 to 2008, 1,05,166 cases were registered for violence against women.

3.      In 2008, a total of 359 rape cases, i.e. a rape case every day was registered in Gujarat according to police records.

4.      Cases of mental and physical harassment doubled, from 3191 to 6093, from 2001 to 2008, indicating that on an average 17 women each day had to go to police with this complaint.

5.      If the numbers of women who do not officially record their complaint is to be accounted, it paints a very grim situation. Various studies and surveys point out that 40-60% of women suffer domestic violence in their own homes.

Under these circumstances, women in Gujarat demand to know what concrete steps are being taken by your party to address this situation.
We are tired of the rhetoric of promises and assurances. We demand details of what concrete steps will be initiated in matters of policy, amending existing laws, new regulations as well as requisite budget allocations to address the low status of women in Gujarat.

We demand that all parties make public the provisions in the constitution of your party and allied organisations to initiate disciplinary action against your party members/office bearers if they were to found practising violence against women in any form. In case no such provision exists, provide clarification for their absence, and if the provisions exist, make public the actions taken in past or details of violations within your rank and file.

Following is the list of our demands to check violence against women in the state:

(1) A toll free, 24-hour help-line (like 108) with a common number should be set up in the State so that any woman facing violence or fearing the incidence of violence could call this help-line to gain necessary and immediate support.

Demands for preventing sex selection and declining sex ratio in Gujarat

(2) The government should focus on effective implementation of the PCPNDT Act and not just rhetoric of ‘save the girl child’.

(3)  In order to book the offenders and collect adequate evidence against them special teams trained should be developed under the Crime Branch.

(4)  Create a system for the district level committee to make them accountable to people’s groups.

(5)  Specific targets of action taken should be set for the District and State committees.

(6)  Functioning of the District and State committees should be reviewed every six months.

For Prevention of Sexual Harassment at work place and Educational Institution, we demand

In order that women and girls avail their right to work and education freely without fear and threat, implement the Supreme Court Guide lines in the WRIT PETITION (CRIMINAL) NOS. 666-70 OF 1992, VISHAKHA & ORS. Vs. STATE OF RAJASTHAN & ORS.

(7)   The State Government should set up Committees for dealing with sexual harassment of women at all work places and educational institutions as per the Supreme Court guidelines provided in the Vishakha Judgment.

(8)   Do you have a committee against sexual harassment in your party and the allied organisations to stop the sexual harassment of the women activist of your party? If ‘no’, explain why and if ‘yes’, declare their names and addresses.

(9)   Declare name and addresses of all the members of the committees.

(10)     The Committee should be formed in all institutions of local government including the Gram Panchayats and publicised widely. The phone numbers and addresses of the committee members should be publicly available.

(11)     Protocols for the functioning of prevention of sexual harassment committee should be formed, including a stipulated time period for completing the inquiry and resources allocated for their effective implementation.

(12)     In all Government offices and grant in-aid institutions, a minimum of Rs. 5,000 per year be allocated to each Committee to enable awareness, education and investigation in to complaints and for holding regular meetings of the committee members.

(13)     Organise training for the members of the committee and administrators of the educational institutions.

For Effective Enquiry in Cases of Rape for the safety and justice for the victim, we demand

(14) Inquiry into cases of rape be carried out by an Officer at the level of a Deputy Superintendent of Police. A district level monitoring mechanism to review cases of violence against women should be established.

(15) The victim should have the right to have a female companion or representative of women’s organisation of her choice to accompany her right from the time of recording of the initial statements to the Court proceedings.

(16) In each District government hospital, a separate room be allocated for medical check ups of victims of sexual violence. Female staff trained in such cases should carry out the medical check-ups.

(17) The victim should be allowed to stay in a place of her choice and necessary police protection be provided to the victim.

(18) The victim should be provided trauma counselling and healing support by trained counsellors. A panel of such experts should be created and names be circulated to all police stations.

(19) To enable the victims to continue her fight for justice and be able to leave a life of dignity, rehabilitation packages including monetary compensation should be declared. Victim compensation boards should be activated.

(20)  Ensure that cases of rape are settled as quickly as possible, at the most within one year.

(21) In cases of rape of tribal and Dalit women and girls, Clause (1) (12) of the Prevention of Atrocities on SC & ST Act – 1989 be applied compulsorily as well.

(22) Cases of rape and sexual violence which are recorded by the Nationally and Internationally known Human Rights organisations but are not registered in the Police station. In all such cases, complaint must be registered and judicial procedure must begin even the case of death of the victim.

 For Protection of Women against Domestic Violence Act, 2005.

Non-allocation of adequate resources for implementation of the Act and lack of the infrastructure required to be put in place under PWDVA-2005 are the most critical issues coming in the way of its effective implementation.

We demand

(23)   A minimum of Rs. 5 crore be allocated on an annual basis for effective and efficient implementation of the PWDVA.

(24)   Appointment of a full time Protection Officer (PO) at the level of each judicial Magistrate First Class or Metropolitan Court.

(25)   Infrastructure support and assistance to the PO for performing her / his duties. Also linking all Multi purpose Women’s Centers with Protection Officers.

(26)   Provision for a minimum of two shelter homes in each district.

(27)   Capacity building of key stakeholders at all levels, specially the Judiciary and the police.

(28)   Appointment of Service provider organisations and counsellors.

(29)   Take policy measures to create awareness about the law to enable its utilization.

(30)   A special Cell to oversee the entire implementation machinery and mechanisms of the PWDVA and to facilitate inter departmental and inter ministerial coordination should be set up under the Chairpersonship of Secretary, DWCD at the State and the Collector at the district level.

For Prevent all forms of Violence against Women, we demand

(31)   A toll free, 24-hour help-line (Like 108) with a common number should be set up in the State so that any woman facing violence or fearing the incidence of violence could call this help-line to gain necessary and immediate support.

(32)   A Committee should be set up to review the incidence of violence against women and victim servicing by the State. The Committee should conduct a review every three months and make its findings and recommendations public.

(33)   Institute Special, Fast Track Courts to deal with the cases of Violence against women.

(34)   Women victims should be able to nominate lawyers of their choice under Free Legal Aid.

(35)   Police, Medical staff, shelter homes should be sensitised on the issue of VAW and their behaviour with women.

(36)   In case of negligence of duty or destruction of evidence by Police and other Government officials’, judicial action should be initiated against them along with Departmental action.

(37)   50% of the officials and employees in the department to look after law and order should be women.

(38)   Improve the quality of Free Legal Aid services and allocate adequate resources for effective availability of these to victims.

We expect your immediate response for the above-mentioned demands. We will send further important demands on other issues in future.

Trupti Shah
Rita Choksi
Deepali Ghelani
Sunanda Tayde
Reshma Vohra
Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan)

_________________________________________________________________
         Sahiyar (Stree Sangathan)
         (O) G-3 , Shivanjali Flats, Near Navjeevan, Ajawa Road, Vadodara – 390 019.
        (R) 37, Patrakar Colony, Tandalja Road, Post-Akota, Vadodara – 390 020.
    GUJARAT, INDIA
        Phone NoSahiyar (Stree Sangathan) (O) + 91-265-2513482 / (R) 2320399
        Email No:  sahiyar@gmail.com
        (Personal) trupti.vadodara@gmail.com

Opposition criticizes UPA’s plan to use Aadhaar for cash transfers


200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

BJP, CPM say the UID system is not ready and is yet to be approved by the Parliament
Anuja
           First Published: Wed, Nov 28 2012. Livemint.com
New Delhi: A day after the Congress party staked claim to the United Progressive Alliance government’s direct cash transfer programme that seeks to use the Aadhaar number, opposition parties, including the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Communist Party of India (Marxist), or CPM, and activists on Wednesday criticized the move on the grounds that while such transfers will not reduce instances of corruption, the bid to use unique-identity number comes when a proposed law for it is yet to be approved by the government.
“Parliament has not yet passed the UID (unique identification) Bill, but sitting in the Congress office, they said that they will enforce UID,” Brinda Karat, politburo member of the CPM said, referring to a media briefing by finance minister P. Chidambaram and rural development minister Jairam Ramesh held on Monday. “The CPM demands that till the Bill is not debated in the Parliament, this linkage between UID and other schemes should not be made.”
Chidambaram said on Tuesday that the government would directly transfer benefits of 29 welfare schemes to the beneficiaries in 51 districts. While it would start with a pilot programme in January, the initiative will be extended to 18 states from April next year. Subsidies related to food and fertilizers are excluded from the initial list.
Speaking at the event on Tuesday, BJP spokesperson Prakash Javadekar said that while the move was “politically motivated”, the system was not yet ready for it.
“They (the government) are bringing a new word by saying cash transfer, but the framework for it is not yet ready, the scheme is not yet ready… We (the BJP) will raise this issue in Parliament,” he said.
Rights activists, too, criticized the move.
Aruna Roy, social activist and member of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council that sets the government’s social agenda, said technology alone will not be able to reduce corruption. “Corruption is just an excuse,” she said, adding that the UID scheme should not be linked with other programmes.

 

 

 

Pakistan test-fires nuclear-capable ballistic missile


AFP | Nov 28, 2012,

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Wednesday test-fired anuclear-capable ballistic missile with a range of 1,300 kilometres (800 miles), the military said.

The military described the Hatf V Ghauri missileas a liquid fuel missile, which can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads.

It was Pakistan’s eighth missile test so far this year and comes two months after its last test of a Hatf-VII with a range of 700 kilometres.

Five of those tests were conducted within a few weeks after India in April successfully test fired the Agni V, which can deliver a one-tonne nuclear warhead anywhere in China, marking a major advance in its military capabilities.

India and Pakistan have fought three wars — two over the disputed Himalayan territory of Kashmir — and have routinely carried out missile tests since both demonstrated nuclear weapons capability in 1998.

Defence analysts say India’s strategic priorit

 

Roaring back at Shiv Sena in Tiger’s absence


 

Jyoti Punwani Date: 28 November 2012
Subject: DNA

For the first time in Mumbai, policemen — and a magistrate — have been punished for having acted according to the Shiv Sena’s diktats.

Until now, there never was any question of the men in khaki, who are supposed to uphold the law, ever disobeying the commands of the Shiv Sena. The reason was simple – the police held Bal Thackeray as their leader. “We are Shiv sainiks under our uniform,” was what some policemen proudly told Muslims appealing for help in May 1984, when Mumbai saw its first major Hindu-Muslim riot after Independence.

They weren’t the exception. As the commissioner of police (CP) during the ’84 riots discovered, his entire force was acting under the Sena’s command. In an internal circular that was leaked to the press, CP Julio Rebeiro asked: “I want to know who is ruling this city — the administration or the Shiv Sena? When orders were given clearly to use force and beat the Shiv sainiks who are going around ordering shops to close, the local police failed to do so.”

How could they? Just days before the riots, the police had been asked by Thackeray, at a rally held at Chowpatty, not to arrest people “who are fighting traitors”. To this day, the Mumbai police have followed his advice, which was repeated by him in an editorial in Saamna during the ’93 riots. Those riots were the most striking example of the police’s regard for the supremo. His followers were allowed to go berserk against those whom they considered “traitors”. The police considered them so too — many Muslims told the Justice BN Srikrishna Commission that probed the riots that when they turned to the police for help, they were told to “go to Pakistan”. Most complaints that actually identified Shiv sainiks as assailants were closed as “true, but undetected”.

In keeping with their force’s tradition, the Palghar police acted at the behest of a Sena mob, arresting two girls who had questioned the shutdown of Mumbai over Thackeray’s death, and charging them with having outraged religious sentiments. Their Facebook post, said police officer Ramdas Shinde, had “hurt the sentiments of a particular group, the Shiv sainiks”. And, as Sena Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut, defending the police action put it: “Balasaheb is our God.”

Until now, the police have never faced action for dancing to the Shiv Sena’s tune. Over the last 13 years that the Congress-NCP has wielded power in the state, no chief minister (CM) or home minister has taken effective action against  the 31 policemen indicted by Justice Srikrishna. No cop was punished for allowing Shiv sainiks to destroy the Singhania Hospital in Thane after Sena chief of Thane Anand Dighe’s death there, or to run riot over the desecration of Meenatai Thackeray’s statue at Shivaji Park. Raj Thackeray’s men, all ex-Shiv sainiks, assaulted helpless North Indians in full view of TV cameras. The media was as outraged then as it is now.

So how come this time, the police were punished?
Could it be the criticism of their actions by two central ministers? But the Union home minister, who waxed eloquent on TV about his relationship with Bal Thackeray, has said nothing. Could it be that this CM, unlike his home minister RR Patil, is a stickler for the law? But then he wouldn’t have given Raj Thackeray an audience immediately after the latter’s men went around vandalising octroi nakas, nor would he have shunted CP Arup Patnaik two days after the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief made this demand at a rally held without police permission.

Perhaps the answer lies in the two girls’ courage to speak up, and the widespread support they received. Or in the fact that in the absence of  the ‘Tiger’, the Shiv Sena can actually be taken on.

 

 

NDTV’s The Big Fight took on the abortion debate and botched it


How to abort a debate

Posted on November 28, 2012 by Editor, http://blog.thehoot.org/

Ammu Joseph

A fortnight after news about Savita Halappanavar’s tragic, untimely and probably avoidable death in a hospital in Ireland caught the attention of the media in India and elsewhere, NDTV’s The Big Fight took on the abortion debate and botched it.

The title of the show – “Abortion debate: Pro-life or pro-choice?” – and anchor Vikram Chandra’s opening remarks, using terminology reflecting the terms of the debate in the U.S.A. rather than in India, set the tone for an ill-informed discussion that had little to do with the realities on the ground in this country.

The choice of panellists further skewed the picture.  By including conservative representatives of the Roman Catholic Church and Islam on the six-member panel, the stage was all set for the big fight, but one that is largely irrelevant in an avowedly secular nation which legislated a Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act over four decades ago.

With both the representatives of the medical profession on the panel attached to corporate hospitals in the capital, the discussion did not take into account the reproductive health, experiences and concerns of poor women, or even lower middle class women, in rural or urban areas.

The “pro-choice” view was represented on the panel (via video) by an articulate young woman with strong opinions but no apparent locus standi other than that of any lay woman in the studio audience.  Dr. Meenakshi Sahuta’s attempts to explain the need for abortion services were often cut off by interruptions.

The only member of the panel who could have provided an informed perspective on the issue (Dr. Sabu George) barely got a word in edgeways, with the anchor allowing the discussion to be dominated by a belligerent Fr. Dominic Emmanuel, an obfuscating Dr. Puneet Bedi and a relatively lightweight Nethra Raghuraman.

Another problem with the debate was its conflation of abortion with sex-selective abortion without any serious attempt to clarify the complex histories and arguments that distinguish the two issues, which are governed by separate laws for a reason (the latter by the Pre-Conception and Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act).  To his credit, Sabu George – who has campaigned long and hard against sex determination tests leading to the selective abortion of female foetuses, but argues for a liberal abortion law – did try, but his subtle points were more or less lost in the din.

One wonders how these panels are assembled.  Were neither of the editors nor any of the contributors to the 2007 book, “Abortion in India:  Ground Realities,” available – in Delhi or via video?  Did anyone involved in planning the programme come across informative and insightful, not to mention relatively recent, articles such as this one,  “Abortion as a Feminist Issue,” and try to get the Delhi-based writer to participate in the debate?  How about the director of the National Rural Health Mission, who has been quoted as saying that abortion-related deaths (approximately 4600 annually) contribute to eight per cent of all maternal deaths in India?  Or a member of the committee constituted in 2006 to recommend amendments to the MTP Act?

What about members of the several organisations in Delhi (and elsewhere) working on women’s and health rights issues, including reproductive health and rights, who could have contributed perspectives based on the real-life experiences of women who are not the “socialites” who, according to Dr. Bedi, choose to have abortions to avoid a delivery date that clashes with “a family wedding” or “an Alaskan cruise holiday?”

Fr. Dominic rudely and repeatedly interrupted Nethra Raghuraman with exclamations about her “bizarre arguments.”  However, the really bizarre contributions came from elsewhere.  His own were too predictable to qualify.  But Dr. Bedi began his analysis of the MTP Act with the statement that “abortion is not legal in this country, medical termination of pregnancy is.”  At one stage Maulana Syed Kalbe Rushaid Rizvi, who seemed to be in broad agreement with Fr. Dominic’s stand, appeared to be arguing against abortion even in the case of a pregnancy caused by rape.  I could have heard wrong but I think he not only said that being raped does not give anyone the right to take a life, but actually went on to ask how a raped woman would be able to fight a court case without a child to prove that the crime took place.

The fact is that despite being among the first countries to legalise induced abortion, India has a disgracefully high abortion-related death rate, mainly thanks to the prevalence of unsafe abortions, which is clearly linked to the non-availability or lack of accessibility of safe abortion services.  The country recorded 6.5 million abortions in 2008, of which two-thirds or 66% were deemed unsafe.  Instead of debating the reasons for these appalling figures and what can be done about them, the recent big fight on abortion was mostly sound and fury signifying next to nothing.

 

Appeal for Funds for Koodankulam #mustshare


 

November 2012


Dear Friends:
The 
recent people’s struggle against the Koodankulam nuclear power plant has entered its 16th month. Over the last year, numerous people have been arrested, jailed and released on bail. Many breadwinners from indigent families, particularly from Koodankulam and Vairavikinaru, are still in jail. Supporting the families with rations, keeping them going, and fighting the legal cases filed by
the police against villagers costs money. The Government wants to bury the campaign under a mountain of cases. More than 250 cases against more than 150,000 people, including cases of sedition and waging war against 10,000 or more, have been filed. We are looking to be prepared. The lawyers helping us are doing it pro-bono, and sometimes even chipping in with the costs of filing and travel. We wish to keep it pro-bono, but we would like to thank them for their solidarity by ensuring that at least the legal expenses are covered.

This appeal is being put out in consultation with the struggle committee in Idinthakarai. The funds raised will be administered by the Chennai Solidarity Group and Samarthan Trust based on requests from the struggle committee on various legal needs. Samarthan is a Bengaluru-based registered Trust which supports, among other things, community-based envirnomental justice struggles.

We request you to contribute generously to the struggle. Send in your contributions (Domestic Indian rupee contributions only. No foreign remittances, please):
a) By cheque: A crossed personal cheque to “Samarthan Trust”. Please write “For legal expenses”
on reverse. The cheque may be sent to: Samarthan Trust, 139/9 Domlur Layout, Opp. Trinity Golf
Links Apartments, Bengaluru 560 071.

b) Direct transfer: Savings Bank A/c Name: Samarthan Trust.
Savings Bank Account No: 57004051652
IFSC Code: SBTR0000428
Bank Name/Address: STATE BANK OF TRAVANCORE, COX TOWN, BANGALORE-560005.

In either case, send a confirmation note to: chennaisolidarity@gmail.com with the following details:
a) Your Name. Address/Phone Number/Email
b) Amount Deposited.
c) Cheque or Direct Transfer.

For more information, email: chennaisolidarity@gmail.com

This is an appeal on behalf of the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy by:
Admiral L. Ramdas/Lalita Ramdas, CNDP, Raigad, Maharashtra
M.J. Vijayan, Program for Social Action, New Delhi
Praful Bidwai/Achin Vanaik, CNDP, New Delhi
Sanjeev Kumar, Delhi Forum, New Delhi
Neeraj Jain, Lokayat, Pune
P.K. Sundaram, www.dianuke.org, New Delhi
E. Deenadayalan, Samarthan Trust, Bengaluru
V. Geetha/Nityanand Jayaraman, Chennai Solidarity Group, Chennai

Gujarat cops used AK-47 on Dalits, says top officer


AK-47 with milled receiver and wood furniture.

AK-47 with milled receiver and wood furniture. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 Nov 28, 2012 Parimal Dabhi 

 

The Gujarat Police used an AK-47 assault rifle among other weapons during a protest by some Dalits in Thangadh town of Surendranagar district on September 22-23, according to a police affidavit submitted to a court. Three Dalits, including two 17-year-olds, were killed in the incident.

 

 

The affidavit, a copy of which is with The Indian Express, says that the weapons used included “revolver, (.303) rifle, carbine gun and AK-47”. Superintendent of Police R S Bhagora submitted the affidavit while opposing the anticipatory bail petition of one of the four accused police officers in the case, Kuldipsinh Jadeja. All the accused are absconding.

 

 

The affidavit, dated November 6, says the motive behind the police firing was “hatred” and “prejudice” against Dalits. It adds that the weapons have been recovered and sent to the Forensic Science Laboratory for evidence.

 

 

Confirming this, IGP, CID (crime), Anil Pratham, who is supervising the probe, told The Indian Express: “We have sent the recovered weapons to FSL to ascertain if they were fired from or not and if so, how many shots were fired… We cannot say right now if the AK-47s were fired from or not till the FSL reports come in.” While he declined to say how many AK-47s had been sent, he admitted that there was more than one.

 

 

DGP Chitranjan Singh confirmed the use of at least one AK-47 in the incident. “The commando of SP Harikrishna Patel fired from his AK-47, probably some eight or nine rounds,” he told The Indian Express.

 

 

 

Fukushima–Hopes of Home Fade Among Japan’s Displaced


AIZU-WAKAMATSU JOURNAL

Ko Sasaki for The New York Times

The community center of a temporary housing complex in Aizu-Wakamatsu, where some fled after last year’s nuclear disaster.

By 
Published: November 25, 2012

AIZU-WAKAMATSU, Japan — As cold northerly winds sprinkle the first snow on the mountains surrounding this medieval city, those who fled here after last year’s Fukushima nuclear disaster are losing hope that they will ever return to their old homes.

Ko Sasaki for The New York Times

Cleanup in Kawauchi, a village in Fukushima Prefecture. In Okuma, decontamination efforts have been slow to reduce radiation dosages.

The mayor of Okuma, a town near the Fukushima Daiichi plant that was hastily evacuated when a huge earthquake and tsunami crippled the reactors’ cooling systems on March 11, 2011, has vowed to lead residents back home as soon as radiation levels are low enough. But the slow pace of the government’s cleanup efforts, and the risk of another leak from the plant’s reactors, forced local officials to admit in September that it might be at least a decade before the town could be resettled.

A growing number of evacuees from Okuma have become pessimistic about ever living there again. At a temporary housing complex here in Aizu-Wakamatsu, a city 60 miles west of the plant, the mostly elderly residents say they do not have that much time or energy left to rebuild their town.

Many said they preferred plans that got them out of temporary housing but helped them maintain the friendships and communal bonds built over a lifetime, like rebuilding the town farther away from the plant.

“I was one of those who kept saying, ‘We will go back, we will go back!’ ” said Toshiko Iida, 78, who fled her rice farm three miles south of the plant. “Now, they are saying it will be years before we can go back. I’ll be dead then.”

Such feelings of resignation are shared by many of the 159,000 people who fled their towns after the earthquake and tsunami caused a triple meltdown at the Fukushima plant, spewing radiation over a wide area of northeastern Japan in the worst nuclear accident since the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl, in what was then the Soviet Union.

After first being reassured by the authorities that the accident was not so bad, then encouraged as the government began its costly decontamination effort, many evacuees are finally accepting that it may take decades, perhaps generations, before their town could be restored to anything like it was before the disaster.

“We all want to go back, but we have to face the obvious,” said Koichi Soga, 75, a retired carpenter who once worked on reactor buildings at the plant. “Look at the Soviet Union. They are still not back, right?”

Such sentiments have led to a very public loss of hope by the 11,350 displaced residents of Okuma, one of nine communities within 12 miles of the stricken plant that were evacuated.

After living in school gymnasiums and other shelters for about a month, Okuma’s town hall officials and about 4,300 of its residents relocated to temporary sites in Aizu-Wakamatsu, with most of the rest scattered as far as Tokyo, about 140 miles away. The mayor, Toshitsuna Watanabe, immediately began drawing up plans for returning to Okuma that called for a group to resettle a small corner of the town where radiation levels were relatively low. The settlers would then slowly expand the livable areas, decontaminating one street or building at a time, like colonists reclaiming a post-apocalyptic wilderness.

Last fall, the plan won de facto approval when Okuma residents re-elected Mr. Watanabe over a challenger who had called for building a new town at a safer location. Hopes were still high early this year when the Environmental Ministry began a decontamination program, with a budget of $4.8 billion for 2012 alone, that employed a small army of workers to scrape away top soil, denude trees and scrub down buildings in Okuma and other evacuated communities.

But the ministry said this summer that an experimental effort to decontaminate a 42-acre area in Okuma had failed to reduce radiation dosages by as much as had been hoped, leading officials to declare most of the town uninhabitable for at least another five years. That forced Okuma’s officials to change the target date of their “road map” for repopulating the town to 2022, instead of 2014.

“People are giving up because we have been hit by negative news after negative news,” said Mr. Watanabe, 65, who set up a temporary town hall in a former girls’ high school on a corner of Aizu-Wakamatsu’s six-century-old castle. “Keeping our road map is the only way to hold onto hope, and prevent the town from disappearing.”

The New York Times

Okuma’s town hall officials and about 4,300 of its residents relocated to temporary sites in Aizu-Wakamatsu.

World Twitter Logo.

Mr. Watanabe admits that his plan has a dwindling number of adherents. In response to a questionnaire sent to Okuma’s evacuees by the town hall in September, only 11 percent of the 3,424 households that responded said they wanted to go back, while 45.6 percent said they had no intention of ever returning, mostly because of radiation fears.

Hopes for a return took another blow in early November, when Environmental Ministry officials told Mr. Watanabe that they planned to build as many as nine temporary storage facilities in Okuma for dirt and other debris from the cleanup. Many evacuees said they did not want to go back if their town was to be used as a dumping ground for radioactive refuse.

At the temporary housing site, where prefabricated apartments stood in rows like barracks on a former soccer field, many evacuees said they had been allowed to return to their homes in Okuma wearing hazmat suits and masks on tightly monitored, one-hour visits to retrieve some belongings. Many said that as the months passed, it was becoming more difficult emotionally to think about spending the time and energy to rebuild.

“My house has become a playground for mice,” said Hiroko Izumi, 85, adding, “Every time I go back, it feels less and less like my home.”

Many others said the town needed to move fast to keep its relatively small number of working-age residents, who were already beginning to find jobs and start new lives in places like Aizu-Wakamatsu.

“If too much time passes, Okuma could just disappear,” said Harue Soga, 63, a health care worker.

For those who do not want to move back, Okuma drew up an alternative plan in September that calls for building a new town on vacant land safely outside the evacuation zone around the plant. The new town — including a town hall, fire and police stations and housing — would be built within five years.

Mr. Watanabe admits that he is now among a minority of former residents who are still determined to go back to the original Okuma. He describes an almost spiritual attachment to the land where his family has grown rice for at least 19 generations, and that holds the family graves that Confucian tradition forbids him to abandon.

“We have been living there for 1,000 years,” he said. “I have promised myself that one day, I will again eat my own rice grown on my ancestral farm.”