#India- People are being denied entry to their land for cultivation by BSF #Humanrights #livelihood


 

14 January 2013

 

 

To

The Chairman

National Human Rights Commission

Faridkot House

Copernicus Marg

New Delhi-110001

 

Respected Sir,

 

We have come across the diabolical recurrence of torture perpetrated by Border Security Force in the bordering areas of Char Majhardiar Mouza under Police Station- Raninagar, District- Murshidabad resulted in a terrible scare in the minds of the villagers residing there. The villagers had to abide by the various silly norms and rules of Border Security Force and slightest violation resulted into brutal physical assault and harassment of the villagers. It does not seem that this country at all belongs to these people rather it is the atrocious rule of BSF officials with nauseating indulgence from the civil administration. Our attached fact finding report gives details of the situation.

 

The poor marginalized villagers of Char Majhardiar Mouza mostly bear the brunt of BSF torture in the bordering areas whether they are involved with crime or not. The right to life and the right to livelihood of the villagers as enshrined in the Art.21 of the Constitution of India have been grossly violated due to the atrocities and torturous activities carried out by BSF in the name of safeguarding the country though there is widespread smuggling in the porous Indo-Bangladesh border with the blessing of a section of BSF.

 

Hence we seek your urgent intervention in this matter in the following manner:-

  • Secure the life and livelihood of the poor villagers of Char Majhardiar Mouza, District-Murshidabad from the gruesome atrocities inflicted upon them by the Border Security Force.
  • The whimsical and outrageous dictums of BSF must be overruled. 
  • The guilty Border Security Force personnel must be booked under the law for their alleged act of atrocities and torture upon the poor villagers.
  • The victims must be provided adequate compensation and protection.

 

 

Thanking You

Yours truly

 

 

 

 

Kirity Roy

Secretary, MASUM

 

 

 

 

 

 

Name of the victims:- The villagers of villages namely – Char Harudanga, Char Durgapur, Uttar Char Majhardiar, Mahadebpur, Char Banshgara under Char Majhardiar Mouza, Police Station-Raninagar, District-Murshidabad.

 

Name of the Perpetrators: – The involved Border Security Force personnel Harudanga Mini Camp under Kaharpara BSF Camp of Battalion no. 130, Police Station-Raninagar District-Murshidabad & concerned BDO, police and panchayet officials

 

It is revealed through the fact finding that the victims were all farmers under villages namely – Char Harudanga, Char Durgapur, Uttar Char Majhardiar, Mahadebpur, Char Banshgara under Char Majhardiar Mouza, Police Station-Raninagar, District-Murshidabad.

 

It is also revealed during the fact finding that Char Majhardiar Mouza is adjacent to Indo-Bangladesh border. The villagers stated that fencing has been done by the Border Security Force touching the border road through the said Char Majhardiar Mouza leaving 300 acres of cultivation land beyond the fencing towards Indo-Bangladesh border and adjacent to the actual border line of Indo-Bangladesh border. The BSF personnel are posted inside the fencing, but villagers residing under Char Majhardiar Mouza have their respective cultivation lands beyond the fencing. The villagers of Char Majhardiar Mouza stated that crops grown in such cultivation lands remain unguarded and consequently the miscreants from Bangladesh frequently trespass into their cultivation lands and take away the produce of the cultivation lands. The Border Security Force does not provide any protection to them to save the produce of the cultivation lands. Moreover everyday thousands of cattle are being smuggled to Bangladesh in illegal way by the smugglers in connivance with a section of Border Security Force personnel and smugglers have been using the corn-fields of the villagers as their way for transporting the cattle. As a result, the victims could neither harvest nor cultivate crops in the farming lands. The farmers of the area were to bear the loss of field crops daily at the time of illegal activities of the cattle smugglers. The villagers pointed out that Border Security Force should be posted at the actual Indo-Bangladesh border in order to ensure protection to their life and livelihood.  

 

It was also informed that the victims were frequently tortured by the Boarder Security Force personnel if the victims would dare to protest against such atrocious and whimsical activities. Surprisingly enough, the Boarder Security Force authority, the local police stations and other administrative personnel were involved in such illegal activities. The victims were aware of all such activities but they were helpless as there is always a threat from Border Security Force personnel and local police of roping them in false and concocted criminal cases. The victims had to endure all these in fears of perpetrator BSF personnel.  

 

The villagers of Char Majhardiar Mouza since long several times submitted mass petitions against the ongoing atrocities and tortures perpetrated by the BSF personnel upon the innocent villagers before the  District Magistrate, Murshidabad, the DIG-BSF, Murshidabad, higher administrations concerned but no fruitful result yielded till this day. We collected few names and their land details , who are deprived of their right to life and livelihood.

 

Sl No.

Name of the Petitioner

Mouja

Dag No.

1

Najrul Islam Char Majhardiar

1112, 311

2

Jabiruddin Sheikh Char Majhardiar

314

3

Bahdul Islam Char Majhardiar

1112

4

Iear Char Majhardiar

1112

5

Sahaban Ali Char Majhardiar

712

6

Annatfar Gaji Char Majhardiar

324

7

Khorshed Char Majhardiar

314

8

Sultan Char Majhardiar

314

9

Farid Sheikh Char Majhardiar

 ?

10

Anamul Sheikh Char Majhardiar

1112

11

Rajjak Sheikh Char Majhardiar

1112

12

Ajit Sheikh Char Majhardiar

1112

13

Samirul Sheikh Char Majhardiar

1112

14

Mondal Khalil Char Majhardiar

314

15

Asraful Shekh Char Majhardiar

314

16

Khalilur Rahaman Char Majhardiar

1112

17

Hasan Sheikh Char Majhardiar

1112

18

Mintu Sheikh Char Majhardiar

314

19

Sariful Islam Char Majhardiar

314

20

Aatahar Rahaman Char Majhardiar

314

21

Mojahar Sheikh Char Majhardiar

1112

22

Abubakkar Sheikh Char Majhardiar

1112

23

Badesh Char Majhardiar

314

24

Jahiruddin Sarkar Char Majhardiar

314

25

Najimuddin Sheikh Char Majhardiar

1112

26

Jakir Hussain Char Majhardiar

1112

27

Saidul Sarkar Char Majhardiar

 ?

28

Abdul Bari Char Majhardiar

1112

29

Oaji Sarkar Char Majhardiar

1112

30

Rahul Sarkar Char Majhardiar

314

31

Rabban Sheikh Char Majhardiar

 ?

32

Rahimuddin Sarkar Char Majhardiar

33

Jillar Rahaman Char Majhardiar

314

34

Baidyanath Ghosh Char Majhardiar

1112

35

Nimai Chandra Mondal Char Majhardiar

1107

36

Bablu Kumar Mondal Char Majhardiar

 ?

37

Dilip Kumar Mondal Char Majhardiar

 ?

38

Ajay Kumar Mondal Char Majhardiar

 ?

39

Panchanan Mondal Char Majhardiar

 ?

40

Nantu Shekh Char Majhardiar

 ?

41

Anup Kumar Mondal Char Majhardiar

 ?

42

Biresh Chandra Sarkar Char Majhardiar

1107

43

Boro Mondal Borderpara

 ?

44

Pradip Mondal Borderpara

1907

45

Sadhan Kumar Mondal Borderpara

1108

46

Biswanath Monadal Borderpara

1107

47

Sahadeb Mondal Borderpara

1112

48

Sherjel Islam Borderpara

1107

49

Subhash Chandra Mondal Borderpara

1108

50

Upendranath Mondal Borderpara

51

Uday Mondal Borderpara

1112

52

Mafejul Sheikh Borderpara

1112

53

Babulal Mondal Borderpara

314

54

sanjoy Mondal Borderpara

314

55

Sheikh Majid Borderpara

225

56

Sudershan  Mondal Majhdiar

57

Raycharan Mondal Char Banshgara

225

58

Suren Mondal Char Banshgara

225

59

Hira Mondal Char Banshgara

225

60

Ajahar Sheikh Char Banshgara

314

61

Mithen Mondal Char Banshgara

 ?

62

Paresh Chandra Mondal Majhardiar

 ?

63

Pitambur Mondal Char Borderpara

 ?

64

Eyamulsk Mondal Banshgara

 ?

65

Kuilana Mondal Banshgara

 ?

66

Sujoy Kabiraj Char Banshgara

 ?

67

Mafikul Islam Char Banshgara

 ?

68

Gulam Nabi Azad Uttar Char Majhardiar

 ?

69

Satrughan Mondal Char Majhardiar

 ?

70

Najrul Islam Char Majhardiar

314

71

Nilkanta Mondal Char Majhardiar

314

72

Rahimuddin Sarkar Char Majhardiar

314

73

Krishna Mondal Char Majhardiar

314

74

Abubakkar Sheikh Char Majhardiar

597

75

Mojaffar Sheikh Char Majhardiar

597

76

Rabban Sheikh Char Majhardiar

82/83/79/314/1112

77

Inamul Sheikh Char Majhardiar

314

78

Ramjan Sheikh Char Majhardiar

314

79

Amir Sheikh Char Majhardiar

223

80

Jamshed Char Majhardiar

314

81

Khalek Sheikh Char Majhardiar

228

82

Mojid Sheikh Char Majhardiar

223

83

Mojid Molla Char Majhardiar

83/312

84

Jiten Mondal Char Majhardiar

314

85

Abul Kalam Char Majhardiar

206, 207

86

Jan Mohammad Char Majhardiar

314

87

Anuar Uddin Sheikh Char Majhardiar

314

88

Abul Sheikh Char Majhardiar

314

89

Iear Mohammad Char Majhardiar

112/314

90

Hemanta Mondal Char Majhardiar

314/01

91

Sahaban Ali Char Majhardiar

1112/314

92

Khalilur Rahaman Char Majhardiar

314

93

Khalil Mondal Char Majhardiar

224

94

Sheikh Majid Char Majhardiar

2,283,141,112

95

Jalaluddin Sheikh Char Majhardiar

1112

96

Khalek Sefatulla Char Majhardiar

83


Kirity Roy
Secretary
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
(MASUM)
&
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
40A, Barabagan Lane (4th Floor)
Balaji Place
Shibtala
Srirampur
Hooghly
PIN- 712203
Tele-Fax – +91-33-26220843
Phone- +91-33-26220844 / 0845
e. mail : kirityroy@gmail.com
Web: www.masum.org.in

 

 

#India- Odisha has jeopardized agriculture to favour industry: CAG draft report , Finally its official


Author(s): T N Vijayalakshmi, downtoearth
Date: Jan 24, 2013

State went on MoU signing spree without considering food security and livelihood of people

Projects such as the POSCO steel plant in Jagatsinghpur district and Vedanta's bauxite mining proposal in Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi have been stiffly opposed by local people, including affected tribals and forest dwellers (Photo by Sayantan Bera)  Projects such as the POSCO steel plant in Jagatsinghpur district and Vedanta’s bauxite mining proposal in Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi have been stiffly opposed by local people, including affected tribals and forest dwellers (Photo by Sayantan Bera)

The Odisha government has committed the state’s natural resources like land and water to industries without bearing in mind agricultural needs, says a draft report of the Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG).

CAG has sought views of the state government before finalising its performance audit report—Commitment made in memorandums of understanding (MoUs) for setting up of industries in the state and acquisition/allotment of land thereof—that has slammed the Naveen Patnaik government.

Land, water and minerals being finite and scarce resources, its need-based allotment to different promoters of industries is required to be made keeping in mind the requirement in future, says the report. “The natural resources are not factors of production (only) for industrial growth but also for agriculture production on which the food security of the country rests, and these also had impact on sustainability of environment and sustenance of livelihood of citizen,” the draft copy, which is in possession of Down To Earth, says.

No assessment of availability of natural resources

Auditors have gone through scores of MoUs, minutes of government records, recorded views of departments and existing policies before observing that the state government has not made attempts to assess availability of natural resources prior to allowing industrial projects.

As many as 93 MoUs were signed by the state government with private promoters between 2001 and 2012 for setting up industries.
By March 2012, 35,793.498 acres of land (one acre equals 0.4 ha), which includes 25,012.345 acres of acquired private land and 10,781.153 of government land, was allotted to 54 companies under MoUs, 34 of which relate to the steel sector.

“But no policy or guidelines for assessing the need as well as other inputs like land, water and minerals, attracting entrepreneurs to the state through open competitive bidding, signing of MoUs with promoter companies for setting up industries in the state was formulated,” the draft performance report says.

CAG has invoked clause 9.11 of Industry Policy Resolution 2007, saying “all efforts should be made to avoid (allocation of) double cropped agricultural land and minimize R&R requirement.”

It was noticed that in 49 MoUs, commitment for providing 59,333.601 acres of land was made without any exercise to scrutinise the land category (whether agriculture, irrigated or double cropped)and no consultations were held with other departments like Revenue and Disaster Management, Water Resource, Agriculture department and district collectors. “This is indicative of the fact that the department has signed MoUs with promoter of industries and made commitments without assessing the actual availability of land, water and minerals,” the report says.

On minerals, the report says “it was noticed from minutes of 12 High Level Clearance Authority meeting held on January 27, 2010 that as against availability of 1,805.81 tonnes of total bauxite in the state, the department in different MoUs had already committed for supplying 74.61 tonnes of bauxite per annum for which the entire bauxite reserve of the state would be exhausted in next 24 years.”

Industry calls the shots

CAG has observed that industry decides where and how much land it needs.

Checks of MoUs and concerned files revealed that promoters themselves have selected the sites and applied for acquisition subject to their suitability. The Industrial Investment Promotion Corporation of Odisha Limited (IPICOL) has assessed the requirement and based on appraisal by it, Odisha Industrial Infrastructure Development Corporation (IDCO) has filed requisition with concerned collector for acquisition of land identified by the company,” the draft report says.

It goes on to say that no exercise was conducted by government to ascertain the availability of government land to ensure barest minimum acquisition of agriculture land.

Besides, the government has not selected sites suitable for establishment of steel and power projects, mining projects, other industries considering the availability of water, mineral, government and non-agricultural land, and approachability.
“As a result, sites for setting up of industries were identified by promoter companies and got regularized by applying through IPICOL and IDCO.”

Allotted land mortgaged

The CAG report also points out other irregularities. In one instance, administrative approval for acquisition of 1,745 acres of private land was given with the approval of minister for steel and mines prior to signing of MoUs with the promoters. “It is highly irregular and is indicative of extension of undue favour to private promoters,” the auditors observed.
What’s more, it has been found that permission has been given by IDCO to promoters for mortgage of allotted land and in eight out of 19 test-checked cases.

“The promoters concerned have mortgaged the allotted land in different banks to avail loans though no such commitment was made in MoUs. Revenue department has not even authorized IDCO to give such permission for creation of mortgage by the promoters,” the draft report says.

Ironically, IDCO does not have the information about the quantum of loan availed by promoters by mortgaging land resources. “Accordance of mortgage was highly irregular and the department has practically no monitoring on the issue,” the auditors said.

No estimation of benefits from industrialisation

No record could be provided to audit by IPICOL and IDCO and steel and mines department to show that due diligence has been exercised to examine the proposal of promoters and benefits that would accrue to the state and that would be extended to the particular project proponent before signing of MoU.

“We also found that neither any competitive bidding was made for selection of parties for setting up of any particular type of industry or infrastructure projects nor even any Request for Proposal (RFP) was issued. We noticed that states like West Bengal, Gujarat and Karnataka are inviting RFP for setting up of industries in the State,” said G Chandraprakash, deputy accountant general, in a letter addressed to state steel and mines secretary.

Chandraprakash wrote to the state, seeking its views for incorporation in the final performance audit report.

 

#India- Your Aadhaar data is being misused by banks #mustshare #privacy #UID


Couple in Colaba were shocked when a bank sent a letter to their 10-yr-old daughter, without their knowledge or consent, saying an account had been opened in her name with details taken from UID

January 24, 2013
MUMBAI
Naveen Nair

Heading out to enroll for a unique identity? Think twice before you provide your personal details while filling out the forms: the possibility of your personal details being leaked to a third party cannot be ruled out.

Aadhaar
1: Applicants submit personal information of their family in the UID application form

Take for instance this couple based in Colaba, who were alarmed when a letter (see pic) arrived at their doorstep last week from the Indian Overseas Bank (IOB). It was addressed to their 10-year-old daughter, and claimed that a Savings Bank (SB) account had been opened under her name.

Aadhaar
2: UID centre forwards the information to banks

The family is now racked with anxiety, having no clue how their personal data reached bank officials without their knowledge or consent. While the bank officials claim that the data is directly sent to them by the central government, UIDAI (Unique Identification Authority of India) officials say that no such information is forwarded to the banks without the consent of the applicant.

Aadhaar
3: Bank uses the information to open accounts and then informs the customer about it. Graphics/Amit Bandre

Surprise package
Reshma Puri and her daughter Anamika (names changed on request) had applied for Aadhaar cards around eight months ago. Both already had existing accounts with banks other than IOB. Imagine their shock last week when the mailman delivered the letter from IOB. The letter, posted from the Nariman Point branch of IOB, claimed that an SB account in Anamika’s name had been opened on October 13, 2012, based on her Aadhaar details. The letter further requested her to visit the branch within 15 days armed with her Aadhaar ID card, to complete the procedure and activate the account.

Aadhaar

A worried Reshma said, “The current accommodation we live in is provided by the government, and is thus transferable. My husband and I were both present when we applied for our daughter’s Aadhaar card, and we made sure that all the details were entered correctly. We are sure that we did not give any consent for an account to be opened for our daughter in any bank.”

She added, “We are surprised to see that our personal details have reached IOB officials, and they have forcefully opened an SB account. How can the UIDAI decide to share our data with a random bank and what if the provided data is misused? Aren’t we risking our personal security by providing our personal details during enrolment?

It is a kind of spam wherein the government and its subsidiaries are misusing our private information.” The final paragraph of the letter from IOB letter further requests the applicant to furnish the names, addresses and occupations of friends and relatives, particularly those staying abroad, so that the bank may contact them.

Spam or data theft?
Acknowledging the concerns raised by the Puris, Vijay Mukhi, a cyber expert, said, “I don’t believe that the government directly provides such data to any banks, it is lower rank officials working at private agencies to whom the UID data collection work is outsourced. It is the sole responsibility of the government to ensure that it is not leaked.”

Asked if the use of private information for marketing activities would fit the definition of spam, Mukhi said, “Spam is a smaller issue, this is a clear-cut case of data theft and should be looked into more seriously.” He suggested that the government implement measures that prevent others from copying such information from the database.

Reshma further explained that since their current residence is transferable, any such letter addressed to her daughter may arrive at the address in future in their absence, and a stranger may use the letter and operate the account facilities using forged documents.

Bank clarifies
H Mahadev, regional vigilance officer (RVO), IOB, said, “The central government started this process of opening accounts linked to a person’s Aadhaar details about five months ago. The sole purpose of opening these accounts is to channelise the subsidies provided by the government to the Aadhaar cardholder. These accounts are generated directly and accommodated into our system and then bifurcated to respective branches based on the applicant’s residential address.”

He added, “The accounts are generated based on the consent provided by applicants at the time of his Aadhaar enrolment. If the applicant does not wish to operate this account, he or she should submit a letter mentioning the same.” Asked why details of friends and relatives were requested in the same letter, Mahadev said, “This is not part of the instruction provided by the central government. The respective branch may have included these requests as a part of their promotional activity.”

An official from the Nariman Point branch confirmed issuing a letter to Puri, saying, “We have received nearly 6,000 sets of data from our regional office and have randomly circulated letters to all the residents in our ward. Usually the account is expected to be opened in the name of the family’s head in order to avail of the government subsidy. Nearly 2,000 accounts have been activated and most of them are for local fishermen, who are likely to get their first subsidy by the year end.” Asked how a minor was sent the letter, the officer blamed it on system error, saying they are computer generated.

UIDAI’s take
Gurudutt Ray, assistant director general, UIDAI, said, “The central government does not directly open any accounts in a random nationalised bank. We do direct the banks to open an account linked to the Aadhaar details, if the applicant provides his consent for the same. In this case the applicant may have selected the option for opening a bank account linked to his Aadhaar number and IOB being in their vicinity, could have been directed to open the account.” Ray denied that personal data related to applicants is being provided to banks. He claimed that applicants have no obligation to activate the account.

Lawyers explain
No bank can unilaterally set up an account for you. In the case of minors, the guardian’s consent is necessary. If there is no consent, either express or implied, there is no way that an account can be set up that is basic contract law.
Aditya Ajgaonkar, Advocate

There are know your customer (KYC) norms framed by the Reserve Bank of India which clearly say the customer has to open a bank account. Moreover, how can they open up a bank account which has no initial deposit in it?
Jabbar Shaikh, Advocate

 

Why you should question #UID #AAdhaar ? and get answers #Saynotouid


Uid- I am not a criminal
Usha Ramanathan
1. The UID was promoted as a `voluntary’ `entitlement’. Now, people are being threatened that they canot access any services or institutions unless they are enrolled for a UID. This has not happened only because states have so decided, but are based largely on the reports of committees that Mr Nilekani has chaired since he became Chairman of the UIDAI.
2. This coercion has been introduced into a project where no feasibility study has been done till date. On 28 September, 2010, 17 eminent citizens had raised questions about the launch of a project of this nature without even a report on feasibility. The Parliamentary Standing Committee had raised similar concerns. There are no answers yet,and yet the coercion has become the norm.
3. The Standing Committee on Finance roundly rejected the National Identification Authority of India Bill 2010, by its report presented to Parliament on December 13, 2011. It also said that the UID project needs to be sent back to the drawing board, citing various deficiencies in its plan and execution.
The UIDAI and Dr Manmohan Singh‘s government have chosen to ignore the report. There is still no law. And the UID project, and the compulsion that has been introduced, are occurring beyond the protection of the law.
4. Proof of Concept studies were done only after the project was already underway. While doing the PoC on enrolment (uploaded in February 2011, over 4 months after enrolment had begun), the report says, they did not include areca nut workers and other plantation workers because this would only complicate the sample. How can such a study find validity. Also, the findings of the study are not substantiated; the evidence is not available, and those reading the report critically have found it to be self-serving.
The Fingerprint Authentication report (March 2012) and the Iris Authentication report (September 2012) suffer from similar problems. And unreasonable assumptions have been used to make it appear like the technology can be made to work: for instance, it is said in the report that iris never changes! A study by two professors at Notre Dame demonstrates that this is in fact untrue, and that those who have been saying it have done so because no longitudinal studies had been done thus far, since this is such recent technology!
5. The UIDAI, especially Mr Nilekani, is pushing for `re-engineering’ all systems and `seeding’ all data bases with the UID number to make it `ubiquitous’. This will make all systems dependent on the UID system functioning. Already, the inability to authenticate people is showing signs of requiring the use of `manual override’, which is a magnificent source of `lwakage’ and of exclusion of those the systemt does not authenticate. This unseemly haste to shift to untested and undependable technology is a source of grave concern.
6. The seeding of the number everywhere also raises privacy concerns. Mr Nilekani has not denied that the UID project raises serious privacy issues. But he has sidestepped the issue, saying that it is an issue wider than the UID project and needs a general law, and so he will not worry himself about it.
Whatever his assumption of responsiblity to ensure the protection of privacy — and in this case it would include concerns of profiling, tracking, tagging, convergence of data, data mining, the state and all manner of people gaining access to this data bank that is being created especially in the context of data becoming a transactable commosity — must precede consideration of any such project. Instead, there is no law governing the project and the uses to it which it may put; and there is no law on privacy either.
7. While still on privacy, it is being propagated that `the poor have no use for privacy’. This casual dismissal of such a right, especially given how vulnerable the poor, including classes of migrants, homeless, jhuggi dwellers, casualised workforce, for instance, are needs to be confronted.
8. There is much concern about the companies to whom the UIDAI has given contracts. There are companies like L1 Identity Solutions whose favoured customer has been the CIA, where a former director of the CIA, George Tenet, was even on their Board. Accenture, another company shortlisted for the project, is on Smart Borders Project with the US Homeland Security. US law requires all agencies to provide any information demanded of them to the Homeland Security if asked.
When the UIDAI was sent an RTI asking why they had enlisted foreign companies such as these in the project, the answer was that they had no way of knowing whether they were foreign companies — because the way invited participation did not elicit this information!
The absence of a law means that there is nothing binding them to a legal structure within which we could hold them.
 
The contracts with these companies are being denied for public persual in the name of `confidentiality’
9. The rampant outsourcing in the project means that all manner of people handle our data, including biometric data, and there is little that we can do when it is traded, misused, shared, lost ….
In January 2011, the Home Minsitry had said that they could not use UIDAI data because it was insecure, unverified and coudl pose a security threat. Then they patched up their differences and decided to share the country 50:50! As citizens, though, the rapprochement does not answer the problems raised by the Home Ministry.
Where are the answers?

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PRESS RELEASE- #Justiceverma recommendations in context of assaults against women with disabilities #delhigangrape


National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled

4, Ashoka Road, New Delhi 110 001

 

 

January 24, 2013

 

 

Press Statement

 

The National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) welcomes the report and recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee concerning sexual violence against women.

The NPRD puts on record its appreciation of the seriousness with which the Committee has considered the specific issues concerning women with disabilities and the sexual assaults they face. Representatives of the National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD) met the Committee on three occasions, and made its submissions.

The Committee has, amongst others, made the following recommendations, in the context of assaults against women with disabilities:

Duty of the State: The Committee has affirmed the duty of the State as the guarantor of the Fundamental Rights of disabled women and has stated that the involvement of private actors in providing services to the disabled, does not absolve the State of its Constitutional duty towards them.

The Committee has also invoked the idea of parens patriae (the State has the same rights over its citizens that the parent has over his ward) to describe the role of the State.

However, experience shows that protection by the State is like a double-edged sword. When the State takes over the role of the parent, it often overrides the opinion of the ward; the State then decides what is good for the ward and what is not. This could at times go against the interests of the disabled. This issue also needs to be addressed.

 

Making the Legal System Accessible: In its submissions to the Committee, the NPRD had highlighted the difficulties encountered by disabled women at each stage of the criminal-legal process, right from filing an FIR, to testifying in court during the trial. The Committee has responded to the submissions by recommending the following:

·        When a physically or mentally disabled woman lodges a complaint of rape (Section 376 Indian Penal Code) or outraging of modesty (Section 354 IPC), such complaint shall be recorded by a woman police officer at the residence of such woman, or wherever she is comfortable. The complaint shall be recorded in the presence of a special educator or interpreter, depending on the need of the complainant. The entire process of recording of the complaint should also be videographed. (Section 154 Code of Criminal Procedure)

·        A physically or mentally disabled woman cannot be asked to go to the police station. Her complaint must be recorded at her residence or wherever she is comfortable. (Section 160 CrPC)

·        During the process of Test Identification Parade, if the person identifying the arrestee is physically or mentally disabled, then the identification process must be videographed. (Section 54A CrPC)

·        While recording the statement of a physically or mentally disabled woman in court, the Magistrate must take the assistance of a special educator or interpreter, depending on the needs of the complainant. Additionally, the recording of testimony of the woman should be videographed. (Section 164(5)(a) CrPC)

·        Additionally, the statement made in the above manner shall be treated as a statement for the purpose of cross examination during the trial and the physically or mentally disabled woman would not have to re-state the same. (Section 164(5)(b) CrPC)

·        Section 119 of the Indian Evidence Act, provides for the recording of testimony of ‘dumb witnesses’. The Committee has recommended that this derogatory phrase be replaced with ‘persons who are unable to communicate verbally’.

One of the major reasons why most cases involving rape of disabled women fail to convict the wrongdoer is because the testimony of the victim is not given due importance by the police or the court. The above recommendations, if incorporated in the law would go a long way in addressing this problem.

However, the definition of ‘special educator’ and ‘interpreter’ require further clarity when these recommendations are incorporated into the law. In our deliberations with the Committee we had stated that a special educator may not know sign language and an interpreter may know only a few signs, and therefore may not be always equipped to provide the required assistance in bridging the communication barrier between the victim and the legal system.

Medico-Legal Examination: Medical examination of the victim is of utmost relevance in cases of rape, both from the point of view of providing medical aid and from the point of gathering evidence for the trial. The Committee has recommended the setting up of Sexual Assault Crisis Centres at government and private hospitals to carry out this task. The Committee has recommended that the Counsellors present in these Centres should be professionally qualified to address the needs of disabled victims of sexual assault. In addition, the report of the counsellor regarding disability of the victim should be part of the medico-legal evidence that is submitted to the court.

Safety of Women and Abuse within Institutions: The Committee has affirmed that every citizen has a right to protection against violence and it is the duty of the State to provide safe spaces to all women, including disabled women. The Committee has recommended that such safe spaces should be accessible to the disabled in terms of architectural design, management and provision of services.  To address abuse of disabled children within institutions, the Committee has suggested that all such institutions and homes must be registered with the concerned High Court with the court acting as the guardian of such children.

The Committee has recommended that the concerned High Court should act as an oversight mechanism to all the institutions in the state and there should be weekly reports submitted to the High Court. The suggestion to professionalize the recruitment of care takers and superintendents, in terms of having mandatory qualifications etc. is a welcome suggestion and would improve the conditions of these institutions and the way they are currently managed.

Power Asymmetry and Socialization in Schools: The Committee has observed that it must be the task of educational institutions to recognise discriminatory attitudes among children on the basis of gender, disability, caste and so on and rectify the same.

Sex Education: The Committee has recognized that sex education must also be provided to disabled children and young people by professionally trained teachers and care givers, to ensure their safety and holistic development.

Aggravated Sexual Assault: The Criminal Law Amendment Bill 2012, which is at present before the Parliament provides that sexual assault against physically or mentally disabled women, is classified as an ‘aggravated sexual assault’ and has a minimum punishment of ten years imprisonment. While the Committee has endorsed most of the provisions in the Bill, it is unfortunate that this clause is absent from the Committee’s recommendations.

In the light of these recommendations made by the Committee, it is of utmost importance that the government act immediately. The NPRD demands that the recommendations made by the committee with regard to changes in laws should be passed in the Budget session of parliament. It also demands that necessary budgetary allocations for requisite infrastructure and providing personnel and their training should be made for implementing the other recommendations made by the Committee.

(Muralidharan)

Assistant Convener

National Platform for the Rights of the Disabled (NPRD)

9868768543

 

 

#India- #Delhigangrape case: 10 main points from #JusticeVerma report #Vaw


RAPE

23 Jan, 2013

Text: PTI

NEW DELHI: The Justice Verma Committee on Wednesday recommended enhancing punishment of upto 20 years imprisonment for rape and murder and life for gang rape but refrained from suggesting death penalty.

The three-member Committee headed by former Chief Justice J S Verma submitted its 630-page report to the government suggesting amendment of criminal laws to provide for higher punishment to rapists, including those belonging to police and public servants.

New offences have been created and stiffer punishment has been suggested those committing it like leaving the victim in a vegetative state.

Created new offences

The new offences include disrobing a woman, voyeurism, stalking and trafficking. The present law provides for punishment for rapists of imprisonment ranging from seven years to life.

The panel, which was constituted in the wake national outrage over the December 16 gangrape of a 23-year-old girl in Delhi in which one of the accused six is said to be a juvenile, however, is of the opinion that the age of the juvenile under the Juvenile Justice Act need not be lowered from the present 18.

There has been strong demand that the age of a juvenile should be brought down to 16 in view of the fact that the minor accused in the Delhi gangrape allegedly behaved in the most brutal way.

 

No death penalty for rapist

Releasing the report, Justice Verma told a news conference that the Committee has not suggested death penalty for rapist because there was overwhelming suggestions from the women organisations against it, a point that was received with thunderous applause from activists at the media interaction.

The Committee did not recommend death penalty for rape because it was a “regressive step” and it “may not have a deterrent effect”.

“We have not recommended death penalty as we had overwhelming suggestions against it. The women groups unanimously were against death penalty and that is why we thought that is a strong reason to respect that view particularly in view of the modern trend also,” Justice Verma said.

Replacement of Section 375 defining rape

Among the amendments proposed is a change in Section 100 of the IPC dealing with right of private defence which extends to causing death. Taking note of the brutality committed in the Delhi gang rape incident, the Committee suggested replacement of Section 375 defining rape by defining specific unnatural acts.

Intentional touching will constitute the offence of sexual assault for which punishment will be a maximum of five years rigorous imprisonment or fine or both.

Use of words, gestures which create an unwelcome threat of sexual nature or advance would invite a maximum punishment of one year imprisonment or fine or both.

Failure of many public functionaries

Justice Verma came down heavily on Union Home Secretary R K Singh for praising Delhi Police Commissioner Neeraj Kumar in the wake of the gang rape incident instead of coming out with an apology.

The Committee said the Delhi gang rape incident has disclosed the failure of many public functionaries responsible for traffic regulation, maintenance of law and order and more importantly, their low and skewed priority of dealing with complaints of sexual assault.

 

Clear jurisdiction of the police over crime scene area

Disputes relating to the jurisdiction of the police over the area of the crime are often a cause of delay in initiating the process of taking cognisance of the crime and providing medical aid to the victim.

The panel said the peculiarity of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi not having any control over the police force, which control vests only in the Ministry of Home Affairs is the reason given publicly by the Delhi Chief Minister for the absence of responsibility of her government.

Apathy of civil society

“This ambiguity must be removed forthwith so that there is no divided responsibility in Delhi in respect of maintenance of law and order. Such a step is also essential to maintain accountability,” it said.

The Committee also took note of the apathy of civil society and mentioned about the inaction of passers-by and bystanders, who failed in their citizenship duty of rendering help to the Delhi gang rape victim and her companion who were lying badly injured and disrobed on the roadside for a considerable amount of time.

 

Change in behaviour of the citizenry

“Misbehaviour of the police towards any samaritan is often the cause for such apathy. Bust this must not deter citizens from doing their duty. A change in the behaviour of the citizenry will also improve the conduct of the police. This effort must be promoted,” it said.

The Panel said the brutalities of the armed forces faced by residents in the border areas have led to a deep disenchantment and the lack of mainstreaming of such persons into civil society.

“Serious allegations of persistent sexual assault on the women in such areas and conflict areas are causing more alienation,” it said.

Appropriate machinery for supervision of juvenile homes

Committee member Gopal Subramanium said the Juvenile Justice Act has been a total failure and condition of the juvenile homes were pathetic.

“When you read our report you will find we have extracted from the reports of the National Commission for Protection of Children and you will be shocked to see the unimaginable things juveniles have to do there…,” he said.

The panel suggested that the Chief Justice of the High Court of every state should device appropriate machinery for administration and supervision of these juvenile homes in consultation with experts in the field.

 

Medical examination of rape victims by global experts

The Committee also said all marriages in the country irrespective of the personal laws under which such marriages are solemnised should mandatorily be registered in the presence of a magistrate and the magistrate will ensure that the marriage has been solemnised without any demand for dowry having been made and that the marriage has taken place with the full and free consent of both partners.

The panel suggested medical examination of victims of sexual assault which were prepared on the basis of the best practices advised by global experts in the field of gynaecology and psychology.

 

 

SC questions Centre’s power to allocate coal blocks


PTI | Jan 24, 2013,

SC questions Centre's power to allocate coal blocks
The Supreme Court has said that the Mines and Minerals Act gives no power to the Centre to allocate coal blocks to companies.

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday questioned Centre’s power to allocate coal blocks to companies, saying it has a lot of “legal explanation” to do as the statutory Act empowers only the states to undertake this task. 

The apex court said that the Centre cannot undermine the the Mines and Minerals Actwhich has given no power to it to allocate coal block to companies.

A bench of justices RM Lodha and J Chelameswar asked the government to go through other legislations particularly the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, to find out whether it is empowered to allocate the resources.

“There is absolutely no power given to the Centre under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957. There is no provision overriding the Act. You require to give a lot of legal explanation,” the bench said.

“The question is does the Centre have power under the Act and does it have the power to undermine the entire statutory mechanism. Can you override the statutory provision of the Act… It is very doubtful, legally perhaps,” it said.

Attorney general GE Vahanvati said he does not want to give an out of cuff answers to these questions and sought time to go into these issues.

The bench granted six weeks time to the Centre to respond on the issue.

“From your affidavit itself it appears that minerals and mining lease has to be executed by the state and not by the Centre. It strikes at the root of all the allocation,” the bench said.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by advocate ML Sharma and various members of civil society including former CEC N Gopalaswami, ex-Navy chief L Ramdas and former Cabinet secretary TSR Subramanian, seeking a SIT probe into the coal block allocation scam.

 

#India- 5-year-old girl raped, strangled in Navi Mumbai #WTFnews #Vaw


CHILDRAPE

Express news service : Mumbai, Thu Jan 24 2013,

In an incident that sent shockwaves across Navi Mumbai, a five-year-old girl, who had gone missing on Tuesday evening, was found dead outside her residence in Vashi in the early hours of Wednesday. Medical reports say the child was raped. The police are interrogating the building watchman where the child used to stay with her parents.

The police said the girl�s parents returned home from work on Tuesday evening to find their child missing. Her two brothers were playing with their friends some distance away from the residence and didn�t know where she was. The parents lodged a complaint with the APMC police late on Tuesday night.

�They returned home at around 2:30 am on Wednesday and found her dead body near their house. They rushed back to the police station to inform us and we sent a team with them. The victim�s body was taken to the Navi Mumbai municipal hospital for autopsy,� said a police officer.

The police began the probe working on the assumption that the accused could be a resident of the same locality and would have known when the victim would be alone in the house.

Meanwhile, the hospital sent its preliminary medical report to the police late on Wednesday night. �The reports have confirmed that the victim was raped. We have registered a complaint of murder and rape under the Indian Penal Code and relevant sections of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act,� said Navi Mumbai Police Commissioner A K Sharma.

Opinion on cause of death has been withheld pending further examination.

�We suspect that she was strangled to death. Apart from the injuries to the victim�s private parts and some bruises near the mouth, there were no other external injuries,� Sharma said.

 

#India -2- child norm to Maternity Care, Nutritional Security Of Children #WTFnews #Coercion #illegal #health


Cap benefits, limit families, suggests panel

Call To Dilute Govt Commitments To Maternity Care, Nutritional Security Of Children Draws Fire

Nitin Sethi TNN , Jan 24, 2012

New Delhi: Should maternity benefits and nutritional support to children under government schemes be restricted to only the first two children to “encourage stabilization of population”? Raising a storm among activists, the parliamentary standing committee has recommended so while assessing the National Food Security Bill. The recommendation has been objected to by the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights also (NCPCR).

The other recommendations of the standing committee diluting the existing commitments of the government to provide nutritional security to children, flowing out from various Supreme Court orders, has also drawn criticism from the civil society and the commission. In its report, the standing committee said: “The committee recommends that the maternity benefit of Rs 1,000 shall be admissible up to the birth of second child only to encourage stabilization of population.” It also recommended that pregnant women should be eligible for the maternity benefit of Rs 1,000 per month after three months into pregnancy and not for six months as is norm now.
Reacting strongly to the proposals, NCPCR said, “The commission is stunned to see that its submissions to the standing committee on critical issues of children’s food and nutritional security have not found place in the report.” It said, “The universal and unconditional maternal entitlements enabling exclusive breast-feeding to babies for the first six months of life that was provided for in the NFSB is now withdrawn. On the contrary, the committee imposed the two-child norm denying entitlements to the third born and higher order of babies to encourage stabilization of population.”
The standing committee report notes that the recommendation to use regulation of nutritional support for population stabilization was made by Congress MP Naveen Jindal.
The commission has criticized the recommendations, saying, “The committee has ignored the importance of exclusive breast-feeding of babies for the first six months of life which is the vital and indispensable factor for survival and growth of children. In would only perpetuate child mortality and malnutrition in the country. This is unjust and violates the fundamental right to equality.”
The Right to Food campaign, too, has criticized the recommendation denying the nutritional support to children, “It is now widely recognised that such disincentives do not contribute to population stabilisation and only violate the rights of women and children. India’s fertility rate has been steadily declining and anyway approaching the level of population stabilisation.” The campaign added, “It is shocking to learn that the committee obliterated legal guarantees to the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS) and anganwadis on grounds of programmatic and operational gaps in the scheme. This undermines the Supreme Court orders and the advise of hundreds of experts and campaigns that wrote to the Committee on the importance of universalising the ICDS services.”
Oddly, it was on the advice of the Union ministry for women and child development that the standing committee decided to keep ICDS out of the list of legal entitlements under the bill. The ministry told the committee, “The scheme is confronted with programmatic and operational gaps which would need to be addressed first.”

 

 

FAQs-Who needs moral policing, how much and why? #mustread #Vaw #1billionrising #Valentinesday


, by Anjali MonteiroK P Jayasankar

Love in the time of moral policing

The moral police are everywhere. Crawling out of the woodwork into our public spaces. In our legislative assemblies, in our board rooms, in court rooms, on the streets, in colleges, in cinemas and cyber cafes, gardens and pubs, even in police stations. Alas, and perhaps in our heads too. The rabid Sri Ram Sena or the Shiv Sena or the Bajrang Dal foot soldiers who demonstrate their love for ‘Indian culture’ by molesting girls wearing jeans and vandalising Valentine’s Day celebrations are unfortunately only the tip of the iceberg. They are supported openly and tacitly, by many ‘honourable’ others, ranging from chief ministers and health ministers to members of the National Commission for Women.

So many people in our country are in a state of moral panic over ‘western’ culture, pub culture, cyber culture and the many other ‘degenerate’ cultures that are polluting the sacred body of our Mother India and her pristine, fragile ‘Indian culture’, all of which call for more and more policing. Here are some Frequently Unasked Questions (FUQs, no pun intended) about moral policing in India.

Question 1: Who needs policing?

The list is long, maybe endless. At the top are impressionable young women and girls, who need to be protected from the corrupting effects of the afore-mentioned ‘evil’ cultures. Women are progenitors and homemakers — their sexuality needs to be strictly monitored, controlled and harnessed. If they have lost moral values, how can they become part of the eugenic project for a healthy and a morally sound generation next? What would happen to the sacred institution of the family if women got out of hand? Remember the Shiv Sena violence against a film like Deepa Mehta’s Fire? Love between two women leaves out the boys as arbitrators of women’s sexuality. Boys after all will be boys, they will settle down after marriage; but girls must be neither seen nor heard. Their ability to withstand the effects of ‘debauchery’ is far inferior to the male of the species. They cannot even handle cigarettes and alcohol. In other words, the moral police have to zealously shield all ‘less powerful others’ who are morally weak and can easily be perversely affected by stimuli of every kind: films, websites, beer, jeans, western music, birds and bees, in fact the list of provocative objects is infinite and ever growing.

This invention of a less powerful other is rampant and not confined just to the moral police, but informs the way in which ‘media impact’ is commonly framed. Our chattering classes are constantly exercised about the impact of the media on children, women, illiterates, poor people, villagers, slum dwellers — all subsumed under the category of the gullible and easily swayed ‘masses’ who have to be protected. This calls for a morally superior, intellectually more discerning ‘filter’ (in other words, people like ‘us’) who will decide what is fit for their impressionable eyes and ears. The censorship of the state is regarded as essential to uphold moral and aesthetic standards which popular cinema and television are prone to constantly violate.

This censorious mentality is widespread in our society and is perhaps uncomfortably close to the fine art of street censorship practiced by the Thackerays and Muthaliks.

Question 2: What needs policing?

Everything, but particularly all sites and signs of ‘modern’ ‘western’ culture, from greeting cards to cell phones, from pubs to cyber cafes: moral panic always hovers over frontier technologies. Our parents thought that films, or even radio, corrupted us. We worry about our children on the Internet; television has already become passé.

When printing was invented, our forefathers would have worried about its corrupting effects on young impressionable minds. In fact, in the medieval scriptoriums in European monasteries, access to certain texts was denied to younger writers. Today, sadly, no one grieves over the corrupting influence of books.

We forget that each generation has its own relationship with the cultural products of its own times. Personally, we have always thought of television as a ‘movie in a box’. When we took our daughter to her first movie, she asked us incredulously, when the first image appeared — “Is that a huge TV on the wall?” As someone who was born into a TV era, the relationship she has with the medium is qualitatively different from ours. Our collective inability to understand new technologies and our suspicion of what young people might be up to behind our backs makes us struggle to assert control — an essentially futile endeavour. Moral panic breeds behind the doors of the unknown.

Question 3: Why do we need policing?

The answer is simple: because ‘Indian Culture’ is fragile, because many Indians have delicate sentiments that are very easily hurt. And when these sentiments are hurt, maybe a few hundred people get massacred or raped, or maybe a shrine is pulled down or several thousand bar girls lose their jobs.

The state is assiduous in protecting the hurt sentiments of these sentinels of virtue. It usually turns a blind eye and sometimes even defends these actions — after all, how long can one hold back hurt sentiments? Our moral police know that they can strike with impunity; the chances are that the victims will get blamed for ‘provoking’ them.

Question 4: What is ‘Indian culture’?

The moral police are blissfully unaware of the contested nature of both the terms. Many years ago, a second generation ‘Indian’ child in London hesitantly admitted to us that she did not speak any ‘Indian’. Indian culture is as elusive as Indian food. In fact, one strong marker of it is the chilly. How many among the moral police, who lament about the fragility of ‘Indian culture’ know that the chilly first came to India with the Portuguese from South America not so long ago?

There are grids of exclusion at work, relations of power that begin to define the boundaries of Indian culture. A painting by Hussain done in the 1960s is suddenly a threat to our pristine traditions. Many of our 330 million Hindu Gods have spent the prime of their lives unclothed; the time has come to design moral robes for them. Khajuraho and Konarak now badly need saffron fashion designers.

Question 5: Why do the moral police indulge in policing?

Unfortunate tautology. How else would they grab the eyeballs of the nation? With very little work and no long-term investments, they can become famous overnight and reap rich political dividends. There are few risks involved, given the state’s sensitivity to their hurt sentiments.

Valentine’s Day provides rich opportunities. Dubbed as a threat to Indian culture, it throws up immense possibilities for great photo ops. The media has coined an endearing acronym to discuss certain goings on between young adults — PDA, roughly translated, it reads public display of affection. These acts are firmly handled by the moral police, who reiterate their faith in our great traditions by molesting the women publicly in front of television crews, who promptly arrive at the scene of the spectacle, forewarned and forearmed.

Question 6: Who gives the moral police the right to police?

Too many of us, through our sins of omission and commission. When the captains of industry cosy up to a champion of ethnic cleansing, when a leading television news channel gives an award to a staunch defender of the politics of hate, one begins to understand how deep and pervasive the rot is.

The normalisation of hate politics, the selective amnesia of the middle class — all these add up to strengthening the power of the moral police.

Question 7: What of love in the time of moral policing?

The moral police hate love and love hate. While the militant ones are easy to spot, the ‘soft’ ones are insidious.

They begin to define the realm of the ‘normal’. They censor our films, define dress codes, and make laws to control the Internet, all in the name of decency and order, of protecting the vulnerable and preventing social chaos.

While we must protest, firmly and loudly, against gross violations like Mangalore and Meerut, can we begin to speak fearlessly against the little everyday violations, the covert ways in which our spaces for love and freedom are encroached upon? And above all, we must never forget: Ayodhya and Mangalore are both manifestations of the same politics of hate and intolerance that we must resist till our last Valentine’s Day.

(The authors are professors at Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai)

 

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