Media trial and the tale of a terror accused


By Abu Zafar12/3/12, tHE NeWZFIRST

All throughout the course of trial and after he was acquitted of all terror charges, Syed Wasif Haider, a resident of Uttar Pradesh’s Kanpur district, was being termed as a ‘terrorist’ by the media. When the trial by media crossed his tolerance limit, he sued three Hindi dailies thus taking them to court.

Syed Wasif Haider, a graduate in Physics and Mathematics from Chatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University, was arrested on 31 July 2001 for his alleged involvement in a bomb blast that took place on 14 August 2000.

 

Three policemen were injured in the blast caused by a bomb planted in a pressure cooker. After the arrest, the Police claimed that Wasif was a member of Hizbul Mujahidin, an outlawed terror outfit. Subsequently he was charged in different anti national cases at different places.

Later after languishing for about eight years in the jail, he was acquitted of the all the charges by different courts in Kanpur and Delhi by12 August, 2009.

Narrating the entire account of fabrication of cases Wasif told Newzfirst that how the media trial added insult to injury.

“First of all my parents were not able to come out of the trauma of my arrest, this media trial made them further untouchable and disconnected in the society.” says 40 years old Wasif.

Media trials:

A Hindi daily, Amar Ujala, published a story on its city page on 19 December2001, where the newspaper introduced him as terrorist.

The same newspaper published a news story on 11 August 2006 about under-trial ’s demand for some facilities in jail. The newspaper carried a headline ‘Atankion ne jail me suvidhaen maangi, faisla 28 ko’ (Terrorists demand facilities in jail, decision on 28).

Wasif says that according to Uttar Pradesh Jail Manual, graduate prisoners can ask for chair, table and some other facilities for the purpose of study. (But he never got it, as the decision remained pending before fast track court.)

Trial continues after acquittal too!!!

Wasif was acquitted in one of several cases by the additional session judge of Kanpur on 23 April, 2003. Citing that none of the witnesses was able to establish that accused have committed the crime, the Court observed that the prosecution has failed to prove the charges against any of the accused, as such all the accused are entitled for acquittal from the offences for which they have been charged.

On 13 August 2006 the same newspaper Amar Ujala again published a news-story with a headline – ‘Khufiya ki paini nazar, Kanpur me 11 ISI agent’ (Intelligence has a close watch, 11 ISI agents are in Kanpur). Wasif says that the list of ISI agents included his name too.

According to Wasif still such kind of defamatory, fabricated and planned stories are being published regularly.

Distressed by such media-practices, I didn’t find any other way but to sue those publications in the Supreme Court, he says. “All of them have published the news of our acquittal but still the media trial is on.”

He has sent legal notices to other two Hindi dailies Dainik Jagaran and Hindustan Dainik for derogatory reports against him.

Wasif was working as area sales manager in an American company Becton Dickinson, which manufactures medical equipments and was earning handsome salary. But after his acquittal nobody is ready to offer him a job.

The stigma has not even spared her younger daughter, who has to face the taunts at the school because of derogatory media depictions.

Larger questions over media reporting:

This is a serious question; who has given the right to them (media) to pronounce someone as criminal? asks Wasif.

One who knows the basic law is aware that no one can introduce someone as criminal unless he or she is proved guilty by the court of law, he says.

Wasif sent a legal notice to Amar Ujala through his lawyer Irshad Hanid on 30 April this year arguing to publish an apology for aforesaid news-stories and to stop doing the same in future.  “But, they continued to do more than earlier.” says Wasif.

“On last 27 September they published a news regarding terror activities in Kanpur with a headline ‘ye tha mamla’ (This was the case) wherein they included my father Syed Hiader Jafri’s name in the list of terrorists.”

Wasif’s father Syed Hiader Jafri has won several awards for translations including Sahitya Academy award.

“Is media superior to the Court?” asks distressed Wasif. “Even the guidelines of Supreme Court of India say that media should recheck the facts and publish truth.”

He further says that newspapers also write that those who meet ‘us’ terrorists will be investigated by the Police. Then who will be having courage to meet us and get into trouble?

Who has given powers to media to give character certificate, questions Wasif. According to him the Hindi media is more biased and has criminal mindset than others.

“If the Police catch a dog and claim that they have arrested it because it was trained in Pakistan, this Hindi media will publish that news without asking any question.” he says.

 

UK-Rapists And Sex Attackers ‘Should Face Longer Prison Terms’ # Vaw #goodnews


PA/Huffington Post UK  |  Posted: 06/12/2012 0

Rapists and sex attackers should face tougher prison terms according to the Sentencing Council, which points to the psychological and long-term effects victims suffer.

Tactics employed by offenders such as grooming, the targeting of vulnerable victims or abuse of a position of trust should also be taken into account when deciding punishments, as well as new factors such as filming or photographing an attack.

The council said the current guidelines for sexual assault take “too narrow an approach”, and focus too much on the nature of the physical activity done by the offender.

It called for fear and intimidation to be taken into account, so an offence would be more serious if violence was threatened or threatening or violent sexual language was used.

For rape, the new guidelines are designed take a broader approach covering a range of scenarios, and to recognise not just the stereotypical “stranger rapes” but to take into account that most rapes are carried out by someone the victim knows, and that many occur within families.

A tougher maximum sentence of 19 years should be given for “one-off” rapes, a limit currently only available for those who attack the the same victim over a course of time or rape multiple victims.

The council said the review of the guidelines has come about because the nature of offending has changed. There is now a greater understanding of how perpetrators use technology in offences involving indecent images of children and in cases of sexual exploitation and child grooming.

prison

19 years could be given for ‘one-off’ rapes

For child sex offences the council said it wanted to increase the focus on the behaviour of offenders, how children may have been groomed or exploited, and whether offenders abused a position of trust.

It also said factors such as the use of alcohol or drugs to facilitate the offence and the use of gifts or bribes to coerce a victim should be taken into account.

The changes, which are under a 14-week public consultation, are designed to make sure paedophiles, people-traffickers and rapists who operate alone or in gangs are dealt with better in courts in England and Wales.

Sentencing Council member Lord Justice Treacy said: “We’re improving guidance for courts to help them deal with these incredibly complex, sensitive and serious offences.

“The perspective of victims is central to the council’s considerations. We want to ensure sentences reflect everything the victim has been through and what the offender has done.

“We are looking at the whole context, not just the physical offence but also the tactics employed by offenders like grooming activity, the targeting of vulnerable victims or abuse of a position of trust.

“No one wants more people becoming victims, so protecting the public is a vital part of our proposals, whether this is by jailing offenders or through rigorous treatment to stop them reoffending.

“This is a consultation: we want views on this extremely important subject.”

“The guidelines reflect these developments so they cover the ways these crimes are committed today,” the council said.

The guidelines say paedophiles operating in rings or those who abuse a position of trust to create images or videos should be given tougher sentences, and called for changes in the way images are classified to aid investigators.

For exploitation and trafficking offences, the council said it wanted to make sure the “big players” get the longest sentences and only those very low down in any operation would avoid jail.

It said offences involving children were “particularly heinous”, and proposed even those with a low level involvement in such an offence should be jailed.

People have been asked to respond to the guidance, which covers 54 “varied offences”, by going to http://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk.

 

Direct Cash Transfer – Socialism, Cash Down #UID #Aadhaar


Its ploy of Aadhar-hinged cash transfer may have won the Congress political points, but will it really be a game-changer?
UTTAM SENGUPTAARINDAM MUKHERJEE, The Outlook Dec 2012

State-Wise

  • 40% of the 22 crore Aadhar numbers are in Andhra Pradesh (4.7 crore) and Maharashtra (4 crore)
  • 20% is what the two politically sensitive, Congress-ruled states account for of the 51 districts where DCT will be rolled out
  • 55 lakh Aadhar numbers in TMC-run West Bengal. BJP-ruled Gujarat (57 lakh) and DMK-ruled Tamil Nadu (69 lakh) are other states with lowest penetration of Aadhar
  • 2.35 crore is the Aadhar number in neediest BIMARU states (Bihar: 20 lakh, Madhya Pradesh: 1.2 crore, Rajasthan: 97 lakh and UP: 98 lakh).
  • 55% of Aadhar numbers have been issued to the voter catchment-friendly age band of
    16-45 years. Those above 66 years, who are needier, account for just 4.3% of numbers issued.

Game Of The Name

  • The Rs 12,000-crore uid scheme remains outside Parliament’s ambit. Some feel Aadhar not following proper rules, procedures.
  • States divided over Aadhar, even Congress-ruled ones. P. Chidambaram’s NPR opposed to its methods, data, objectives.
  • Coverage of Aadhar not complete even in showcase states. Charges of flawed data collections; mismatch of technology.
  • Issues of privacy, security of personal data still shrouds Aadhar. Fate of those who haven’t registered for it unclear.

What Govt Pays Out

  • Rs 4,519 crore scholarships
  • Rs 5,110 crore pensions
  • Rs 1,600 crore Janani Suraksha Yojana
  • Rs 877 crore ASHA

How DCT Will Kick In

  • Only 29 out of 42 subsidy schemes included for now
  • Pensions and scholarships are existing cash subsidies
  • 51 districts from January 1. Next 18 states by April 2013.
  • PDS, health and fertilisers to come in later.

***

Before becoming the chairman of the UIDAI, Nandan Nilekani famously wrote about the need for a national ID system in his book Imagining India. He invoked that immortal statement by Rajiv Gandhi that only 15 paise of every rupee earmarked for the poor actually reaches them. And went on to doff his hat to his son, “In 2007; his (Rajiv’s) son, Rahul, offered his own estimate, saying that now a mere five paise of every rupee spent reaches the poor in some districts.” Well, it’s payback time. One only has to look at the grudging respect the Congress has earned from its political rivals for its Next Big Idea: the plan to ride on Nilekani’s Aadhar card to roll out Direct Cash Transfers (DCT) to the poor in 51 districts—and later nationally. And all within sniffing distance of the fast approaching 2014 polls.

“Technology will no doubt help, but then technology can also make the fair price shops better.”Harsh Mander, Social Activist

There’s no doubt in most observers’ minds that this move to give cash to India’s poor is all about power, politics and winning elections—and not (at least at the moment) about reducing subsidies, eliminating wastage and corruption. Union minister for rural development Jairam Ramesh—who coined the slogan ‘aapka paisa, aapke haath’—lost no time in announcing that Rahul Gandhi would visit the 51 districts (20 per cent of which are in the politically sensitive states of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh) where DCT would be rolled out initially.

Disturbed by the initial negative reaction that it was seeking to buy votes, the government was quick to replace the ‘cash’ in DCT with the more anodyne ‘benefits’. Incidentally, there was no direct mention of cash (or benefits) transfer in the Congress’s 2009 manifesto— apart from the line that, owing to fiscal responsibility, it would work to ensure that “all subsidies reach only the truly needy and poor sections of our society”. The politics is also probably why Nilekani politely declined Outlook’s request for a meeting, saying, “Thanks, but I’m not giving interviews on this.”

Aadhar is being touted as the “magic formula” to enable the “game-changing” DCT. Clubbing the two serves a key purpose—legitimising the Aadhar card, which has morphed from being a mere identity document to a service-delivery engine in a short while despite criticism from bureaucrats, policy experts, activists, even a few state governments. That Aadhar has top political backing is evident from Union finance minister P. Chidambaram making the announcement on DCT just a few days ago. Only last year he had made a scathing attack on Aadhar’s legitimacy, saying it was not following proper procedure and involved issues of security. Remember, the National Identification Authority Bill is yet to be cleared by Parliament, which is supposed to give Aadhar its powers.

“A food security act will do much more for poor people than linking their bank account with UID.”Jean Dreze, Development Economist

Despite all the hype around the move, it’s clearly a cautious one. Some 29 existing welfare schemes will continue to be made available to the existing beneficiaries, only the mode of payment will change. Scholarships and pensions have, after all, always been paid in cash and routed into bank accounts or via post offices and panchayats. Now the payment will have to be linked to Aadhar cards and bank accounts. “This experiment is bound to take many years, if it succeeds at all,” says development economist Jean Dreze. “If the UPA government thinks this is the way to get votes in 2014, it has lost the plot.”

It’s only when the government replaces the growing food, fertiliser and fuel subsidies (see chart) with cash that the “game-changing” idea will face its litmus test. It will not, of course, stop the UPA from going to the polls offering the promise of cash/benefits directly reaching the poor. Supporters of the government’s move also feel that it is time India found an alternative to the age-old public distribution system which is hobbled with leakages and corruption at all levels.


Getting NREGA wages via an Aadhar-enabled ATM in Ranchi

Officials in the PMO say that the Aadhar-enabled payment system would help weed out fake beneficiaries and ghost ration cards. Citing a study by the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP), which holds that integrating Aadhar with welfare schemes is likely to yield a 52 per cent return to the government on that investment, even after all costs are accounted for, the official says, “Surely it makes no sense to spend three rupees to deliver one rupee.” Another key argument in favour of cash transfers is that it empowers the poor with choice.

“The unique 12-digit number has advantages that other ID address proofs do not.”R.S. Sharma, Mission Director, UIDAI

However, there still remains the issue of bank accounts. The last census shows that only 54.4 per cent people in rural areas have bank accounts. Bank branches too are not evenly distributed, with too many of them, say, in the constituency of former finance minister and now President Pranab Mukherjee and too few of them elsewhere. At least some of the rural branches are located too far apart, forcing people to waste several hours commuting and waiting to collect cash, having to forgo daily wages in the bargain.

The government hopes to bridge the gap through “business correspondents” appointed by commercial banks. The banks seem to have taken to the idea because it is more cost-effective than opening a rural branch or maintaining a physical ATM. The correspondents will use hand-held devices to help authenticate the identity of the beneficiary and the credit balance in his bank account. Much of the success of DCT will depend on how this system will work.


Nov 29 Nilekani and Jairam Ramesh at a DCT conference. (Photograph by Sanjay Rawat)

At a broader level, not many share the government’s optimism about cash transfers as a modern way of disbursing subsidies. “Cash transfer is not a silver bullet for dealing with corruption. The identification of who will receive these transfers is still not clear. The government has been spectacularly unsuccessful in identifying the beneficiaries,” says social activist Harsh Mander. The fact that the government has announced the goal without actually defining the route is a cause for concern. Mander, for one, feels that it is erroneous to think of cash transfer as a substitute for provisioning public good—healthcare, education and food—without first putting a system in place.

The danger in not doing that is because the PDS is associated with the system of minimum support price (MSP) for farmers and price stabilisation which the government ensures. With the government procuring high amounts from farmers for PDS, an alternative use for that grain would need to be found. Likewise, the physical infrastructure of the six-decade-old PDS (thousands of stores all over the country and lakhs of employees) would have to be put to some use.

“The present subsidy system has to change. This is our opportunity, but this might not be the way.”Vijay Mahajan, Social Entrepreneur And CEO, Basix

There would be other issues too, especially regarding prices and supply. Many economists are arguing that a system of cash transfers—as opposed to goods and services—will increase inflation in the economy. Says Vijay Mahajan, social entrepreneur and CEO, Basix, “By direct cash transfers, you are placing a large part of the demand in the hands of the poor while supply is entirely in the hands of the private sector. Unregulated supply led by the private sector could be dangerous as there could be high prices, bad supply and bad services.” Similarly, in healthcare too, there is a possibility of medical services becoming out of reach.

Also, cash transfers will not guarantee that the cash given for a purpose is actually used for it. According to many social activists, experience shows that delivery of food—rather than cash—is more likely to end up as food in children’s stomachs. Too much choice may not be desirable for very poor families—a recent experiment in cash transfers in a Delhi slum met with a mixed reception, with many women (the intended beneficiaries) saying they would prefer to get rations rather than deal with the many demands. Similarly, there have been negative reactions from at least one ‘successful’ pilot project cited by the UPA to claim that it has weeded out fake beneficiaries and reduced consumption, leading to savings.

Crucially, despite all the brouhaha about Aadhar, it is yet to become sanctioned by law, and is by present definition not mandatory. Its coverage is not complete anywhere in the country, even in its own showcase states. There is still confusion over what Aadhar seeks to do. The fact that it wasn’t mandatory and had no services attached to it—like the pan card or the passport had—has discouraged many from getting into it. Nilekani, however, is clear in his thoughts on Aadhar. He had told Outlook last year, “We’re an identity authentication system. We only confirm that X is X. Other people can build applications on top of that.” Sure, conditional cash transfers have worked in other countries. Brazil is a good example. So is Mexico. Cash transfers, therefore, are not necessarily a bad thing. But in a country with so many poor (and poorer infrastructure), it’s not something that can be exclusivised and rushed through without thinking through the enormous consequences.

Establishing (at least in mindspace) a direct link between New Delhi and India’s poor is attractive, particularly when elections are fast approaching. There’s also no denying that the present system of subsidies needs to be majorly improved upon. “This is our opportunity to bring in that change, but this might not be the way,” warns Mahajan. Poll gimmicks, however expedient and catchy, are not always the answer. One has to think of the morning after.


Pro View
Aadhar Will Help Indians Obtain ‘Financial Identity’
GOVINDRAJ ETHIRAJ,Co-authoring a book on Aadhar

The government’s decision to launch cash-based transfers based on Aadhar has drawn some criticism. Some concerns are valid, but it would help to focus on the collateral benefits of both initiatives which, in some ways, could dwarf the original stated purpose.

Aadhar’s primary aim was to create a unique identity for Indian residents, so that the government could deliver benefits and subsidies directly, potentially saving thousands of crores of taxpayers’ money.

But one of UIDAI’s key efforts has been to expand financial inclusion by giving 250 million enrollees (so far) the option of opening bank accounts with data they submitted during enrolment. This would be ancillary to the process of touching the unbanked millions by opening no-frills accounts.

In the last two years, Indian banks added 70 million such accounts. Using Aadhar, identity for these no-frills banking transactions can now be authenticated in real time from anywhere, anytime—think of a Visa/Mastercard system which allows you access to your bank account from any ATM. Banks are already using Aadhar for this.

Now comes cash transfers. RBI figures show only 40 per cent Indians have bank accounts. New accounts with authentication capability will help millions of Indians own active ‘financial identity’. Both Aadhar and cash transfers can kickstart a host of transaction-led services and therefore enhance the consumer economy. I would focus on those outcomes.


CON VIEW
Aadhar Can’t Identify Poor, Only Eliminate Ghost Entities
N.C. SAXENA
NAC Member

Direct cash transfer is a welcome idea as it will reduce dual pricing. But let us not be too euphoric about the scheme as it has many limitations, while bringing a political advantage for the government.

Firstly, the scheme would be used in programmes targeted at the poor where identification would be a huge issue. When you talk about kerosene and fertiliser subsidies but don’t have a methodology to identify the target people, it could become a problem. This cannot be done with Aadhar. It cannot identify the rural poor. It can only eliminate ghost entities. For cash transfer to work, you need to have a good system for identification of the poor.

Also, if cash is given instead of grain, what do you do with the large amount of grains bought from the farmers? If you abolish PDS, you will also have to abolish MSP (minimum support price) as they are two sides of the same coin. In giving cash in lieu of PDS grain, we also need to look at issues like the grain rotting in our godowns and increasing open market prices. Even in healthcare, there could be the issue of doctors and hospitals charging more through tests and services.

Direct cash transfer has worked in a few countries like Belgium and Mexico where the urban population is high. But these countries have a good coverage of bank branches. In India, many rural areas don’t have bank branches. Besides, banks also charge a commission for their services.

 

On The Death Of Bal Thackeray And The Grief Of Athavale


By Dr Anand Teltumbde

05 December, 2012
Countercurrents.org

Ramdas Athawale, who had left all the dealers of Dalit interests in Maharashtra far behind when he managed to sublimate himself straight from a dingy room in the Siddharth Vihar in Wadala to a regality of the Sahyadri, the state guest house in Malabar Hill in 1990 as a cabinet minister of Sharad Pawar, has come full circle from his radical Ambedkarism symbolized by his association with the Dalit Panther to the most anti-Ambedkarian version of Fascism of the late Bal Thackeray. Since he latched his RPI bandwagon to Thackeray’s Shiv Sena-juggernaut, he along with his hangers-on has been awkwardly trying to prove his faithfulness to Matoshree, knowing that his future prospects would be decided there. After all, he was just an alliance partner, but the manner in which he made rounds of Matoshree with grief stricken face, ensuring the television cameras were well focused to show it, was amusing to Dalits. After the ashes of Thackeray’s cremation cooled off, the Shiv Sena violently voiced its claim over the Shivaji Park for constructing the memorial for Thackeray, then relented sensing its impracticability but insisted on the site of cremation be preserved as a holy spot, and Athavale did not utter a word. This self-proclaimed Ambedkar- bhakta should have worried that just within less than a week lakhs of Dalits would pour into the Shivaji Park as every year and the so called ‘holy’ spot could pose a veritable threat to law and order. Athavale should have prevailed upon his partners and ensured that the site was restored as after all it was not legal to keep it beyond the two days for which the specific permission was reportedly given. Instead, on 29 November Ramdas Athavale gave a call to Dalits congregating at the Shivaji Park on 6 December to pay homage to their messiah, Babasaheb Ambedkar, that they should also pay their respects to Bal Thackeray at his cremation site.

Spinelessness Around

Bal Thackeray’s death in the fullest sense culminated his interesting life. His public life of some five decades was interspersed with instances of our collective timidity and hypocrisy but the spectacle his death created in a way has confirmed our spinelessness and cowardly character as a nation. The manner in which almost all people in media showered praises on his persona and paid eulogy to his legacy was nauseatingly bad. One might take shelter under the saying de mortuis nil nisi bonum (speak well of the dead or not at all) but it is a lie. It is our innate character to willingly buckle before power that drives us to such sheepish behavior. None from the millions who filled the crowds in Mumbai on 18 November or the liberals who exhibited their intellect in media asked a simple question what exactly has been the contribution of this man to the human kind, except for his chosen cronies and goons. Rather, he has been responsible for the deaths and devastation of several innocent lives over five long decades. He has not even benefitted Marathi manoos in any which way and rather has lowered his stature as petty and mean-minded species. Marathi people had certain image because of contributions of the stalwarts during the colonial times, particularly the likes of Jotiba Phule, who pioneered the social revolution in the country and Babasaheb Ambedkar, who advanced it to the new highs. Bal Thackeray completely destroyed it and made him rather look sectarian and xenophobic.

Few mustered courage and reminded people how Bal Thackeray played up identities: Marathi against south Indians, Gujaratis, UP’ites, Biharis, Bangladeshis, and of course Muslims from time to time, to build up his personal power and wealth. He exploited general frustration of the working class with their crisis ridden lives, split them along their regional identities and pitched them against each other to the glee of their exploiters. His proximity to the industrialists and businessmen, the film industry big wigs, hobnobbing with political nobility was insinuated by some courageous people. But none spoke about his primal intrigues against Dalits, the Marathi Dalits. On the contrary, he was projected by some as being against castes and in implications pro-Dalits. The truth is that he had been as unscrupulous in making use of castes as he has been in any other matter with his hatred for Ambedkar and Ambedkarite Dalits.

Parasitic Birth of Sena

The main prowess of Bal Thackeray was that he accurately knew what would appeal to the majority of people at various times. Perhaps this trait came naturally to him as a cartoonist. In the general context of struggles for reorganization of states on linguistic basis and in a special context of synchronization of the interests of a small section of the Marathi-speaking entrepreneurs and the larger section of the middle class and the working class in Greater Bombay, a movement for a state of Marathi speaking people had erupted as ‘Samyukta Maharashtra movement’. It was led by the communists and socialists like SM Joshi, SA Dange, PK Atre, with quixotic slogan of ‘samyukta maharashtra, samajvadi maharashtra’ (United Maharashtra, Socialist Maharashtra), in which Bal Thackeray’s father, Prabodhankar Thackeray was also an important participant. Shiv Sena may be considered as an illegitimate child of this Samyukta Maharashtra movement. Piggybacking on the Marathi sentiments built up during the Samyukta Maharashtra movement, he and his brother Shrikant had launched a Marathi cartoon weekly, ‘Marmik’ in August 1960 at the hands of Yashvantrao Chavvan. Although Marmik did not propound any specific political ideology, it consistently criticized Nehru and Dange for toeing the Soviet line and derided the Mulslims. The border issue between Maharashtra and Karnataka resulting from the formation of the Maharashtra state, its ignorance by the center and its extension of the injustice on Marathi people became the cause célèbre for Marmik. Within five years, Marmik became extremely popular among Marathi people. Riding on this popularity, and with the visible support of the ruling Congress Party (important Congress leaders like Sharad Pawar being present at its foundation function) the Shiv Sena was founded as a political party on June 21, 1966, with Marmik as its mouth piece. The Shiv Sena projected the issue of South Indians grabbing jobs in Mumbai and effectively began to split the working class endearing itself to the industrialists and political class. In its very first Dusshera rally on October 30, 1966, which was addressed by the then important Congress leader Ramrao Adik, the Shiv Sena mob had attacked and burnt South Indian shops and restaurants with impunity. The next year they burned the office of the CPI led Girni Kamgar Union that clearly revealed active patronage of the Congress to the rise of the Shiv Sena in Bombay politics. At that time, the Shiv Sena acted as the private militia of the Maharashtra Congress chieftains like Vasantrao Naik and Vasantdada Patil (who would later help it get ensconced in the BMC), who wanted to finish working class movement to please their clientele in industrialists of Bombay. The next major action was the cowardly murder of the popular and militant Communist trade union activist and sitting MLA, Com. Krishna Desai in June 1970 by the Shiv Sena, which firmly established it as the outfit to be feared. Thackeray skillfully capitalized on this fear and grew into a Frankenstein that would cast its evil shadow on Maharashtra for next five decades, quite like Indira Gandhi’s Bhindranwale or Osama Bin Laden of the USA but unlike them, not fully out of the Congress shadow.

Wicked Casteist Strategy

The next big threat to the ruling Congress emerged in the form of the Dalit panthers, founded in 1972, both as a challenge to the injustice of the social system and as a rebellion against the then moribund and directionless Republican Party of India (RPI). The Panthers began by taking up both caste and class issues and also launched a campaign to expose the regressive aspects of some Hindu religious tenets. Dalit panthers posed potentially bigger threat than that of the communists. It had not only threatened the Congress applecart of cooptation of Dalits launched in the previous decade but also portended revolt of the organic proletariat of the country. The Dalit Panther asked Dalits not to support the then RPI leaders who were backing Congress candidate Ramrao Adik, also supported by the Shiv Sena, for a by-election for Mumbai South-Central Lok Sabha seat. With an alibi of objecting to certain speeches made by Panther leaders about Hindu deities, the Shiv Sena unleashed riots against Dalits in the Worli BDD chawls in Mumbai in January 1974, which spread to other areas of the city and continued for a week. A Dalit Panther activist Bhagwat Jadhav was brutally killed by the Shiv Sena activities, marking the beginning of the anti-Dalit feud of the Shiv Sena against the Dalit community. Interestingly, Adik was defeated by CPI’s Roza Deshpande, daughter of the communist leader S A Dange.

Shiv Sena’s sparking off Worli riots was to neutralize the threat of the Dalit Panther at the behest of its benefactor, the Congress. The Congress could have never done it on its own because that could boomerang on it by antagonizing large sections of Dalits. For the Shiv Sena, that was no consideration. On the contrary, it would serve its incipient strategy to isolate the Ambedkarite Dalits as it knew they would never be its supporters. By projecting them to be Hindu haters, it hoped to consolidate all others including the non-Ambedkarite Dalits that supplied its adherents. Nobody had gone until then to the extent of identifying people along sub caste lines as Bal Thackeray did. In that sense he was not only casteist that any way all politicians are, but also super-casteist. This strategy paid him rich dividends in terms of consolidating all other castes, creating a sense of psychological elevation among other Dalit sub-castes as belonging to a party of high caste Hindus. The deliberate projection of himself in the saffron attire with other Hindu markers also indicated that he was a spirited Hindu and in corollary believed in castes.

The Ambedkar Hater

He never gave up an opportunity to insult Ambedkar, and batter Ambedkarite Dalits. In the agitation for renaming the Marathwada University at Aurangabad after Babasaheb Ambedkar, the Shiv Sena had a dubious distinction of being the only political party that consistently opposed it. Bal Thackeray had ridiculed Dalit demand saying, “.. people do not have flour at home and they demand university.” On July 27, 1978, the state assembly had adopted a unanimous resolution to rename the university. It provoked large-scale protests all over Marathwada accompanied by mass progroms against Dalits affecting some 1200 to 9000 villages in the region, rendering about 5000 people homeless. Beatings and rapes of women occurred, and one local activist Pochiram Kamble was burned to death. While the violence was instigated mainly by feudal landed interests in the Congress, supported by upper-caste zealots in the then Janata Party, the Shiv Sena, even though confined to Mumbai-Thane belt in those days, had vehemently opposed it. On November 25, 1993, Gautam Waghmare, a Dalit Panther youth from Nanded, committed self-immolation to press the issue of renaming. His martyrdom, denigrated by Bal Thackeray calling him a bevada (a drunkard), triggered off massive wave of demonstrations of Dalits and Left organizations in every district. The Shiv Sena, capitalizing on its consistent and most vocal opposition to the renaming of the Marathwada University, by then had reached Marathwada with its shakhas set up everywhere. It tried to hold back the tide with a Marathwada Bandh opposing the renaming, but this time it evoked little response. The state government could have easily implemented its renaming resolution respecting enormous sacrifice of Dalits over the 16-years long struggle but instead it announced on January 14, 1994 mere addition of “Babasaheb Ambedkar” before Marathwada University for its truncated half, the other half being renamed as a “Swamy Ramanand Tirth University” to be set up at Nanded. Thanks to the compromise of Ramdas Athavale, who was then a cabinet minister in the Sharad Pawar government, this glorious struggle of Dalits ended in a pyrrhic victory for Dalits and a reward for the reactionary elements. Nonetheless, the Shiv Sena would not even tolerate Ambedkar’s name to pollute the university. It denounced the decision with a violent statewide bandh call, but this time it failed in inciting riots.

As the Shiv Sena spanned out of its Mumbai-Thane stronghold, its main plank was battering the Ambedkarite Dalits, which gave expression to the latent hatred of the caste-Hindu folks in rural Maharashtra that was building up because of the cultural assertion and educational progress of Ambedkarite Dalits. By appealing to such base instincts of the backward rural folks Shiv Sena created its formidable constituency in Maharashtra. It did not have competition from any political party as none could openly discard their Dalit base they strenuously cultivated. The Shiv Sena’s strategy of isolating Ambedkarite (or navbauddha, as Thackeray called them) Dalits consolidated other Dalits as well as the OBCs. From the mid-eighties, the Shiv Sena began to incite a series of assaults and atrocities on Dalits, particularly in the rural areas of Marathwada and Vidarbha regions. The struggle for fallow lands has been one of the main economic agendas of Ambedkarite Dalits since 1953 when they had their first satyagraha under BS Waghmare in Marathwada at the instance of Babasaheb Ambedkar himself. In 1960s, they had revived this agenda and had a massive nationwide struggle for land under Dadasaheb Gaikwad. Many such lands were under cultivation by Dalits. The Shiv Sena opposed their encroachments on fallow lands, going to the extent of destroying their crops and attacking their hutments. A few Dalits, mostly agricultural labourers or marginal peasants were even killed in these attacks. On August 11, 1991, carnage took place in Gothala village in Ahmadpur taluka of Latur district in which two Mahar brothers were beaten to death in a mob attack. The most harrowing example was the murder of Ambadas Savane, who was stoned to death by the people belonging to Shiv Sena. When the Shiv Sena in coalition with the BJP formed the government, one of its first decisions was to summarily withdraw over 1100 cases of atrocities on Dalits in Marathwada. Interestingly, here also, Ramdas Athavale had played a role in compromising Dalit interests.

The aspect of Bal Thackeray’s character as the Ambedkar hater came to limelight in the Riddles controversy in 1987. The Maharashtra government had undertaken the project to publish complete writings and speeches of Babasaheb Ambedkar and as a part of the project it brought out a volume that contained Ambedkar’s hitherto unpublished work, “Riddles in Hinduism”. This text was highly critical of brahmanical Hinduism and pointed out its theological inconsistencies. The Shiv Sena opposed it as an intolerable insult to Hindu religion and Hindu deities and demanded a ban on its publication. The Congress government easily obliged suspending the publication. In protest, Dalits, uniting across all the factions, held one of Mumbai’s largest demonstrations ever at the Shivaji Park in November 1987 and demanded the reversal of the government decision. The government conceded defeat and published the text. Provoked by the Dalits show of strength, the Shiv Sena called for a rally in January 1988. It issued an advertisement entitled “An Insult to Hindu religion” which contained the statement clearly alluding to the impurity of Dalits. It said, “Only those Hindus who have unadulterated blood in them should join the morcha.” The following week both Dalits and Sainiks took to the streets. Sainiks organized public burnings of the book and engaged in violent clashes with Dalits. During a massive morcha of Dalits to Mantralaya on February 5, 1988, led by Prakash Ambedkar, some irate youth caused some damage to the hutatma (martyrs) memorial, which the Shiv Sena had erected at Flora Fountain Square. In response, Chhagan Bhujbal, who was one of the close confidante of Bal Thackeray then, performed a religious purification ceremony of the damaged structure by sprinkling go mutra (cow’s urine). Although the Shiv Sena had to be satisfied with a redundant footnote by the government to the Chapter, it’s very act of coming out in opposition of Ambedkar and his followers endeared itself to the majority of caste Hindus and OBCs, who always reared hatred for them but could not express it. This was the true face of Bal Thackeray vis-à-vis Ambedkarite Dalits and even Babasaheb Ambedkar.

Shiv Sena’s vicious role in the Ramabai Ambedkar Nagar massacre and its cover up is too well known to be recounted. On July 11, 1997, noticing the bust of Ambedkar in Ramabai Nagar desecrated by some miscreants, the Dalits in the colony came out on the road in protest. Nothing unusual had happened beyond the rasto rako they resorted to, to express their anger. However, picking up the opportunity, a petty sub-inspector Manohar Kadam, who had reached there with his state reserve police force, suddenly ordered firing on innocent people with purely malicious intent and mercilessly gunned down ten Dalits and wounded over thirty others. The Shiv Sena-BJP government and its police then launched a shameless campaign to justify the brutal act and protect Manohar Kadam with a fabricated LPG tanker story with a doctored videograph. The Gundewar Commission, instituted by the government in response to persistent agitation of Dalits, to investigate into the incident, exposed the lie of the government and castigated Kadam in no uncertain terms. Justice Gundewar expressed indignation in his report of December 1998 saying, “.. the lapses on part of Kadam are so glaring and fatal that they can hardly be accepted. He has exposed himself in more than one way and I do not think that such an officer should continue to be in police service.”

The entire history of Shiv Sena is replete with such instances that reveal the inveterate hatred for Ambedkar and Ambedkarite Dalits in the mind of Bal Thackeray.

Degenerate Dalit Leaders

Bal Thackeray’s allegorical statements ridiculing Ambedkar, his dismissive references to Ambedkarite Dalits in his lumpen language, irritatingly condoned as ‘thakri’ style, his indirect opposition to the poor slum dwellers and patronizing support to money bags, to be surely construed as anti-Dalits, are legion. But the politics of Dalits has degenerated to such an extent that it does not have much to do with such things. Dalit politicians have grasped the essence of politics as maximizing their wealth and power, which today have become two sides of the same coin. They do not need a priori people behind them. In the neoliberal era, people also value wealth and power. The only requirement for these leaders is to maintain their identities as leader of Dalits, which has been made easy with the iconization of Ambedkar. If you have money, you can attract people, you can engage them to do your propaganda, you can flood the walls with your wall-paintings, put up huge hoardings projecting yourself, flood news papers with your paid-news, influence television channels to project yourselves, and create general impression such that people will perceive you as a ‘big man’ and listen to your rubbish. Politics, in general, is reduced to this base process in the prevailing system. If you have desire, capability, extension motivation and enough intelligence to genuinely serve people but no money, nobody will look at you. This being the state of politics, there is nothing much to speak about politicians in general and Dalit politicians in particular, as the latter are expected to sell much cheaper than others in the political mandi. Anyone can call the tune by paying a penny to these pipers! It is therefore that Namdeo Dhasal, onetime fiery panther dreaming of a revolution wrote a book-length paean to Mrs Gandhi, ‘priyadarshini’ (his worst poem) in 1976 and eventually found shelter in Thackeray’s den; another self-appointed sarsenapati of a non-existent Sena, Jogendra Kawade, showered praises to Narendra Modi and desperately tried to be seen in Thackeray’s funeral; and lastly Ramdas Athavale, who has outsmarted all others in political brokering along with his gang of Mahatekars and Dangales, onetime well meaning fellows, landing at the feet of Thackerays.

Athavale, whose only qualification to the leadership is his third rate poetic chants of Ambedkar, had shamelessly ignored that Thackeray had never left an opportunity to insult Ambedkar and batter his followers. Thackeray had called Ambedkar a stooge of Nizam; likened Ambedkar to a pumpkin with a spectacle; sheltered the foul mouthed Shiv Sena leader Anand Dighe who mockingly insinuated doubt on the character of Bhimabai, Ambedkar’s mother, while explaining how he became Ambedkar from his original name ‘Sapkal’; tried to institute a custom of celebrating the demolition of the Babri masjid as ‘manav mukti din’ on 6 December, the day considered by millions of Dalits as the sad day and as late as in recent year, dismissed the idea of the proposed memorial for Ambedkar on the site of Indu Mills, instead insisting that the land should be given to the memorial for Jagannath Shankar Sheth. Interestingly, he had once insulted Athavale himself famously calling him as a parasite risen over the ass of Sharad Pawar. But what is shame before the prospects of pelf and power!

Dr Anand Teltumbde is a writer and a civil rights activist with CPDR, Mumbai. E-mail: tanandraj@gmail.com

 

Aadhaar-obsessed Indian Government should check ground reality #UID


200 px

200 px (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

NOVEMBER 30, 2012, http://www.taxindiaonline.com/
By TIOL Edit Team
THE Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh has put the Government in fast gear on the grandiose project for direct cash transfers (DCT) to beneficiaries of various subsidy-centric and other welfare schemes.
He exuded over-confidence the other day while addressing the first meeting of the National Committee on Direct Cash Transfers (NCDCT).
Dr. Singh stated: “Direct Cash Transfers, which are now becoming possible through the innovative use of technology and the spread of modern banking across the country, open the doors for eliminating waste, cutting down leakages and targeting beneficiaries better. We have a chance to ensure that every Rupee spent by the government is spent truly well and goes to those who truly deserve it.”
He should moderate over-confidence with ground realities, provide answers on ticklish and contentious implementation issues.
He should also direct the Government to simultaneously pursue other options to reduce subsidy leakages and thus make DCT a triple medicine o ensure that benefits reach targeted segments of population, reign in corruption in delivery system and reduce expenditure and fiscal deficit.
Take the case of fertilizer subsidy. A cost-benefit study of Aadhar project undertaken by National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (NIPFP) at the behest of Planning Commission has projected a modest saving of 7% in fertilizer subsidy scheme through DCT.
Savings many times more than estimated 7% can be achieved simply by re-engineering fertilizer subsidy mechanism by weeding out fiscal bias for certain nutrients such as nitrogen and products such as ordinary prilled urea. It would not cost Government anything to bring urea under nutrient-based subsidy scheme!
The Government can easily save a few thousand crore rupees by ordering mandatory production and use of coated urea and urea super-granules and by promoting use of nitrates-based nitrogenous fertilizers that cause lesser losses of nitrogen through air, runs-offs and seepages in the crop field.
A truly nutrient-based and product-neutral subsidy scheme, coupled with mass popularization of drip irrigation should not only cut subsidy bill by half but also ensure efficient use of irrigation water. This is the key to food security and sustainable agriculture.
UPA Government should not neglect such options and create an impression that aadhar is the magic wand for inclusive growth and expenditure reforms. It must decide whether it would cash subsidy to land owners or to the share-cropper (the actual farmer) or to both.
The Government should also disclose whether and how often it would revise cash subsidy taking into account the increase in global prices of fertilizer and raw materials and rapid depreciation of rupee.
Such concerns are equally relevant to kerosene and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) that are primarily derived from imported crude. Would aadhar card-enabled DCT provide for automatic increase or decrease in fuel subsidies to reflect global price and forex changes?
And the acid test for the Government would be food subsidy. Would the Government automatically increase DCT/per person to reflect the regular increase in food procurement prices and the resulting rise in open market prices?
Would Aadhar mechanism have built-in mechanism to capture the inflation-caused swings in the number of potential beneficiaries especially who live on the threshold of dubious poverty line?
Yet another issue that can’t be pushed under the carpet is the urgent need to make the definition of poverty realistic and provide for inflation-indexing of poverty line.
As for implementation issues, a country bedeviled with power shortages and frequent breakdown of servers and telecom link can make aadhar-enabled electronic banking a pain in the neck for poorest of the poor.
When banking terminals at times fail in public sector banks in Delhi for hours, what is the guarantee that they would function in villages where power is supplied only for 6-8 hours as per the rural electrification norms.
There also many other challenges on the DCT road. The Government must list all concerns and disclose how it would resolve them. Credible and wholesome communication on Aadhar should replace government hand-outs to the media.
NIPFP study should have factored in all concerns and challenges before coming out with goody-goody projections.
The study claims: “We find that substantial benefits would accrue to the government by integrating Aadhaar with schemes such as PDS, MNREGS, fertiliser and LPG subsidies, as well as housing, education and health programmes. The benefits arise from the reduction in leakages that occur due to identification and authentication issues. Our analysis takes into account the costs of developing and maintaining Aadhaar, and of integrating Aadhaar with the schemes over the next ten years. Even after taking all costs into account, and making mod- est assumptions about leakages, of about 7-12 percent of the value of the transfer/subsidy, we find that the Aadhaar project would yield an internal rate of return in real terms of 52.85 percent to the government.”
The Government should commission a fresh study that should factor in all hidden and unrecognized costs of Aadhar-enabled DCT.

 

ATTN -Call 09266802178 to demand repeal of Sedition Law


Support the campaign of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) to repeal the draconian SEDITION LAW created by the British to stifle India’s freedom movement.

Today, the law is used in democratic India by the government to suppress criticism and crush dissent in violation of our Fundamental Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression, including the Right to Dissent.

We need your support to spread the campaign, so please urge everyone you know to call 09266802178 and pledge their support in demanding the repeal of this anti-democratic law.

 

Farooq Versus The State #Film #TISS


Hari Masjid, Wadala, Mumbai, was the scene of a brutal police attack on January 10, 1993. Though Farooq Mhapkar was one of the casualties of indiscriminate police firing, he was charged as a rioter. Farooq versus The State is the story of Farooq’s protracted legal battle against an unyielding State in pursuit of justice.

Through this case, the film seeks to explore how justice was delayed and denied to the victims and survivors of the 1992-93 communal violence.

Hindi/English with English subtitles, 26 mins, Directed by K.P. Jayasankar and Anjali Monteiro

#MaritalRape and the Indian legal scenario #mustshare #Vaw


marital-rape-poster
Priyanka Rath seeks to bring out the laws regarding rape in India while concentrating on the position of marital rape and its recognition as an offence by the system and the attitude of the society and the judiciary towards marital rape.

Marital Raperefers to unwanted intercourse by a man with his wife obtained by force, threat of force, or physical violence, or when she is unable to give consent. Marital rape could be by the use of force only, a battering rape or a sadistic/obsessive rape. It is a non-consensual act of violent perversion by a husband against the wife where she is physically and sexually abused.

Approximations have quoted that every 6 hours; a young married woman is burnt or beaten to death, or driven to suicide from emotional abuse by her husband. The UN Population Fund states that more than 2/3rds of married women in India, aged between 15 to 49 have been beaten, raped or forced to provide sex. In 2005, 6787 cases were recorded of women murdered by their husbands or their husbands’ families. 56% of Indian women believed occasional wife-beating to be justified.

Historically, “Raptus”, the generic term of rape was to imply violent theft, applied to both property and person. It was synonymous with abduction and a woman’s abduction or sexual molestation, was merely the theft of a woman against the consent of her guardian or those with legal power over her. The harm, ironically, was treated as a wrong against her father or husband, women being wholly owned subsidiaries.

The marital rape exemption can be traced to statements by Sir Mathew Hale, Chief Justice in England, during the 1600s. He wrote, “The husband cannot be guilty of a rape committed by himself upon his lawful wife, for by their mutual matrimonial consent and contract, the wife hath given herself in kind unto the husband, whom she cannot retract.”

Not surprisingly, thus, married women were never the subject of rape laws. Laws bestowed an absolute immunity on the husband in respect of his wife, solely on the basis of the marital relation. The revolution started with women activists in America raising their voices in the 1970s for elimination of marital rape exemption clause and extension of guarantee of equal protection to women.

In the present day, studies indicate that between 10 and 14% of married women are raped by their husbands: the incidents of marital rape soars to 1/3rd to ½ among clinical samples of battered women. Sexual assault by one’s spouse accounts for approximately 25% of rapes committed. Women who became prime targets for marital rape are those who attempt to flee. Criminal charges of sexual assault may be triggered by other acts, which may include genital contact with the mouth or anus or the insertion of objects into the vagina or the anus, all without the consent of the victim. It is a conscious process of intimidation and assertion of the superiority of men over women.

Advancing well into the timeline, marital rape is not an offence in India. Despite amendments, law commissions and new legislations, one of the most humiliating and debilitating acts is not an offence in India. A look at the options a woman has to protect herself in a marriage, tells us that the legislations have been either non-existent or obscure and everything has just depended on the interpretation by Courts.

Section 375, the provision of rape in the Indian Penal Code (IPC), has echoing very archaic sentiments, mentioned as its exception clause- “Sexual intercourse by  man with his own wife, the wife not being under 15 years of age, is not rape.” Section 376 of IPC provides punishment for rape. According to the section, the rapist should be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than 7 years but which may extend to life or for a term extending up to 10 years and shall also be liable to fine unless the woman raped is his own wife, and is not under 12 years of age, in which case, he shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 2 years with fine or with both.

This section in dealing with sexual assault, in a very narrow purview lays down that, an offence of rape within marital bonds stands only if the wife be less than 12 years of age, if she be between 12 to 16 years, an offence is committed, however, less serious, attracting milder punishment. Once, the age crosses 16, there is no legal protection accorded to the wife, in direct contravention of human rights regulations.

How can the same law provide for the legal age of consent for marriage to be 18 while protecting form sexual abuse, only those up to the age of 16? Beyond the age of 16, there is no remedy the woman has.

The wife’s role has traditionally been understood as submissive, docile and that of a homemaker. Sex has been treated as obligatory in a marriage and also taboo. Atleast the discussion openly of it, hence, the awareness remains dismal. Economic independence, a dream for many Indian women still is an undeniably important factor for being heard and respected. With the women being fed the bitter medicine of being “good wives”, to quietly serve and not wash dirty linen in public, even counseling remains inaccessible.

Legislators use results of research studies as an excuse against making marital rape an offence, which indicates that many survivors of marital rape, report flash back, sexual dysfunction, emotional pain, even years out of the violence and worse, they sometimes continue living with the abuser. For these reasons, even the latest report of the Law Commission has preferred to adhere to its earlier opinion of non-recognition of “rape within the bonds of marriage” as such a provision may amount top excessive interference wit the marital relationship.

A marriage is a bond of trust and that of affection. A husband exercising sexual superiority, by getting it on demand and through any means possible, is not part of the institution. Surprisingly, this is not, as yet, in any law book in India.

The very definition of rape (section 375 of IPC) demands change. The narrow definition has been criticized by Indian and international women’s and children organizations, who insist that including oral sex, sodomy and penetration by foreign objects within the meaning of rape would not have been inconsistent with nay constitutional provisions, natural justice  or equity. Even international law now says that rape may be accepted a s the “sexual penetration, not just penal penetration, but also threatening, forceful, coercive use of force against the victim, or the penetration by any object, however slight.” Article 2 of the Declaration of the Elimination of Violence against Women includes marital rape explicitly in the definition of violence against women. Emphasis on these provisions is not meant to tantalize, but to give the victim and not the criminal, the benefit of doubt.

Marital rape is illegal in 18 American States, 3 Australian States, New Zealand, Canada, Israel, France, Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Soviet Union, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Rape in any form is an act of utter humiliation, degradation and violation rather than an outdated concept of penile/vaginal penetration. Restricting an understanding of rape reaffirms the view that rapists treat rape as sex and not violence and hence, condone such behaviour.

The importance of consent for every individual decision cannot be over emphasized. A woman can protect her right to life and liberty, but not her body, within her marriage, which is just ironical. Women so far have had recourse only to section 498-A of the IPC, dealing with cruelty, to protect themselves against “perverse sexual conduct by the husband”. But, where is the standard of measure or interpretation for the courts, of ‘perversion’ or ‘unnatural’, the definitions within intimate spousal relations? Is excessive demand for sex perverse? Isn’t consent a sine qua non? Is marriage a license to rape? There is no answer, because the judiciary and the legislature have been silent.

The 172nd Law Commission report had made the following recommendations for substantial change in the law with regard to rape.

  1. ‘Rape’ should be replaced by the term ‘sexual assault’.
  2. ‘Sexual intercourse as contained in section 375 of IPC should include all forms of penetration such as penile/vaginal, penile/oral, finger/vaginal, finger/anal and object/vaginal.
  3. In the light of Sakshi v. Union of India and Others [2004 (5) SCC 518], ‘sexual assault on any part of the body should be construed as rape.
  4. Rape laws should be made gender neutral as custodial rape of young boys has been neglected by law.
  5. A new offence, namely section 376E with the title ‘unlawful sexual conduct’ should be created.
  6. Section 509 of the IPC was also sought to be amended, providing higher punishment where the offence set out in the said section is committed with sexual intent.
  7. Marital rape: explanation (2) of section 375 of IPC should be deleted. Forced sexual intercourse by a husband with his wife should be treated equally as an offence just as any physical violence by a husband against the wife is treated as an offence. On the same reasoning, section 376 A was to be deleted.
  8. Under the Indian Evidence Act (IEA), when alleged that a victim consented to the sexual act and it is denied, the court shall presume it to be so.

The much awaited Domestic Violence Act, 2005 (DVA) has also been a disappointment. It has provided civil remedies to what the provision of cruelty already gave criminal remedies, while keeping the status of the matter of marital rape in continuing disregard. Section 3 of the Domestic Violence Act, amongst other things in the definition of domestic violence, has included any act causing harm, injury, anything endangering health, life, etc., … mental, physical, or sexual.

It condones sexual abuse in a domestic relationship of marriage or a live-in, only if it is life threatening or grievously hurtful. It is not about the freedom of decision of a woman’s wants. It is about the fundamental design of the marital institution that despite being married, she retains and individual status, where she doesn’t need to concede to every physical overture even though it is only be her husband. Honour and dignity remains with an individual, irrespective of marital status.

Section 122 of the Indian Evidence Act prevents communication during marriage from being disclosed in court except when one married partner is being persecuted for n offence against the other. Since, marital rape is not an offence, the evidence is inadmissible, although relevant, unless it is a prosecution for battery, or some related physical or mental abuse under the provision of cruelty. Setting out to prove the offence of marital rape in court, combining the provisions of the DVA and IPC will be a nearly impossible task.

The trouble is, it has been accepted that a marital relationship is practically sacrosanct. Rather than, making the wife worship the husband’s every whim, especially sexual, it is supposed to thrive n mutual respect and trust. It is much more traumatic being a victim of rape by someone known, a family member, and worse to have to cohabit with him. How can the law ignore such a huge violation of a fundamental right of freedom of any married woman, the right to her body, to protect her from any abuse?

As a final piece of argument to show the pressing need for protection of woman, here are some effects a rape victim may have to live with,-

  • Physical injuries to vaginal and anal areas, lacerations, bruising.
  • Anxiety, shock, depression and suicidal thoughts.
  • Gynecological effects including miscarriage, stillbirths, bladder infections, STDs and infertility.
  • Long drawn symptoms like insomnia, eating disorders, sexual dysfunction, and negative self image.

Marriage does not thrive on sex and the fear of frivolous litigation should not stop protection from being offered to those caught in abusive traps, where they are denigrated to the status of chattel. Apart form judicial awakening; we primarily require generation of awareness. Men are the perpetrators of this crime. ‘Educating boys and men to view women as valuable partners in life, in the development of society and the attainment of peace are just as important as taking legal steps protect women’s human rights’, says the UN. Men have the social, economic, moral, political, religious and social responsibility to combat all forms of gender discrimination.

In a country rife with misconceptions of rape, deeply ingrained cultural and religious stereotypes, and changing social values, globalization has to fast alter the letter of law.

source-http://www.indialawjournal.com/

#India-Criminal recognition to #maritalrape in India is long overdue #Vaw


marital-rape-poster

Madhavi Rajadhyaksha, TNN Dec 4, 2012, 10.26PM IST

 

MUMBAI: A case in a Delhi court this week has put the spotlight on a crucial lacuna in the criminal justice system in India. Marital rape is not recognised under the Indian Penal Code.

The missing link was highlighted yet again in a case where a Delhi court acquitted a man of charges of raping his wife on the premise that having sexual relations with a spouse, even if forcibly, did not amount to ‘marital rape‘. India has taken some significant steps in fighting marital violence in recent years, but criminal recognition for forced sex in marriages is still long over due. The first positive step was taken when the Domestic Violence Act, 2005 was passed wherein a woman could file a civil case for separation from her spouse.

Section 376 (A) deals with marital rape only when it is with regard to judicially separated partners. It takes humungous effort for a victim of rape to lodge a complaint, especially within a marriage and the offence is believed to be widely under-reported in any case. Such cases suffer due to the lack of awareness in many quarters that forced sex under any circumstances is a violation. The patriarchal culture of Indian society often works to further detriment to invalidate such claims. For those who muster the courage, it would help if the system was a little more sensitised and the offence didn’t fall in a legal vacuum. Currently, victims can lodge a complaint of marital discord or domestic violence.

Over 104 countries have laws to protect victims against marital rape according to the United Nations and it is perhaps time India at least recognise the offence as a crime in its penal code. It remains to be seen whether the amendment to the criminal procedure code which is currently underway offers any true respite in this matter. Criminalisation is after all only the first step to justice. We still have a long way to go to address further issues of counselling, rehabilitation and shelter to such victims. Unwanted pregnancies arising out of such rapes too need addressing.

 

UK- acknowledges unethical practices of Indian-owned Vedanta Resources


English: An ethnic Wife of Dhaneshwaran from t...

English: An ethnic Wife of Dhaneshwaran from the Kutia Kondh tribal group in Orissa, India. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Vedanta Resources Plc

 

Posted in Parliament Early Day Motions

 

That this House notes the unethical practices of Indian-owned Vedanta Resources and its subsidiaries, including the destruction of the homes, culture and livelihood of the Kond Adivasi tribal people and the devastating environmental impact of the companies’ activities;

 

Welcomes recently announced investigations by the Indian Minister of Environment and Forests and the Chief Secretary of the Indian state of Odisha into the rights of the Dongria Kondh affected by plans for a bauxite mine;

 

Recognises and supports the rights of indigenous peoples and tribal groups;

 

Welcomes the decision of Dutch pensions firm PGGM to sell its shares in the company because Vedanta has made `insufficient improvements with regard to human rights and the environment’;

 

Further notes that Vedanta Resources and its subsidiaries are on the Norwegian government’s list of banned companies and that the Church of England, Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Marlborough Ethical Fund and Millfield House Foundation have sold their shares in the company; and believes that plans for mining on sacred land should be ended forthwith.

 

 

 

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