Soni Sori acquitted in crucial case, lawyer optimistic of speedy Essar trial #goodnews #vaw


SUVOJIT BAGCHI, The Hindu, feb 14

A file photo of a protest by the All India Students
Association in New Delhi seeking the release of
tribal activist Soni Sori. Photo: V.V.Krishnan
A file photo of a protest by the All India Students Association in New Delhi seeking the release of tribal activist Soni Sori. Photo: V.V.Krishnan

Soni Sori, the tribal accused of acting as a courier between Essar Steel and the outlawed Communist Party of India (Maoist), has been acquitted in a crucial case filed in 2010 by the Dantewada district police against 19 individuals for allegedly opening fire and using explosives to blow vehicles of Essar. Ms Sori was one of the key accused in the case.

“But the additional sessions court of Anita Dehariya could not find enough evidence to substantiate the allegations and hence Ms. Sori was acquitted yesterday [Tuesday],” said Ms. Sori’s lawyer K.K. Dubey. Ms. Sori was arrested in 2011 by the Chhattisgarh police for allegedly arranging transfer of money from the privately-owned Essar Group to the members of the banned CPI (Maoist). Altogether, six cases were registered against her and she has been acquitted in four cases so far.

Hole in prosecution case

The witnesses presented before the court could not relate Ms. Sori to the case (sessions trial number 5/11) of firing and burning vehicles using diesel and explosives. “None of the witnesses presented by the police could connect Soni to the incident and that left a gaping hole in the prosecution,” said Mr. Dubey. Incidentally, Ms. Sori was acquitted in another case about a week back. In that case, (sessions trial number 4/11) the allegation was of firing on police near Essar Beneficiation Plant in Kirandul. “There also, witnesses could not confirm if Soni was related to firing on the police,” Mr. Dubey said. . Last year, Ms. Sori was acquitted in two more cases related to firing in Kuakonda police station and burning of a block office. “However, the more critical allegations against Ms. Sori acting as a courier between Essar and the CPI (Maoist) and the attack on Congress leader Avdesh Singh Gautam are continuing,” said Mr. Dubey.

Iconic figure

Ms. Sori — a tribal woman with three children — has emerged as an iconic figure symbolising the State’s attitude toward tribals since her arrest in October, 2011. Ms. Sori’s letter to her lawyer claiming that she was sexually assaulted in police custody under the direct supervision of a police officer, Ankit Garg, became a global rallying point on tribal atrocities. While Mr. Garg and the police continuously denied all the allegations, hundreds of intellectuals, academics, and civil society activists signed petitions, demanding justice for Ms. Sori — a ‘Stand Up For Soni Sori’ campaign was launched across the country. In major cities like London or New York, activists took to the streets, building up the case internationally for Ms. Sori and her 24-year-old activist-journalist relative, Lingaram Kodopi.

Interestingly, while Mr. Kodopi and Ms. Sori both are languishing in jail, like the other 2,000 tribal undertrials of south Chhattisgarh, for allegedly working with the Maoists, two of their co-accused got bail soon after the arrest.

D.V.C.S. Verma, the general manager at an Essar steel plant, and B.K. Lala, one of Essar’s contractors, were arrested in the same case allegedly for paying protection money to the Maoists, which according to police, Mr. Kodopi and Ms. Sori were carrying to the rebels. In fact, Mr. Lala was caught with Mr. Kodopi in the same Palnar market where allegedly Ms. Sori was also present.

While both Mr. Verma and Mr. Lala have been out on bail for a year, Ms. Sori and Mr. Kodopi are both behind bars in Bastar’s jails. Activists associated with the case feel that this is another ‘glaring example’ of injustice to the tribals. Ms. Sori’s lawyer, however, sounds optimistic: “Her acquittal in the all the minor cases may give her a speedy trial in the Essar case now.”

 

#India- Dalit activist shot dead #humanrights


Feb 13, IE

Dalit rights activist and Bahujan Samaj Party member Chandrakant Jaywant Gaikwad (30) was shot dead by assailants in front of a dhaba in Jamb village of Indapur taluka in Pune district on Tuesday morning.

A case was registered against Satpal Mahadev Rupnavar (22) of Jamb, a “notorious” goon and historysheeter, his aide Santosh alias Lubya Chandalkar and three others at the Walchandnagar police station on the complaint of Dada Shivaji Jadhav (32) of Jamb. Jadhav was with Gaikwad when the latter was shot.

Police suspect the assailants wanted to eliminate Jadhav, with whom Rupnavar had a dispute, but he managed to flee.

Inspector Dashrath Patil said Gaikwad, a resident of Jamb, had come to Mahalaxmi dhaba to meet Jadhav. Around 10 am, the assailants reached there in a jeep and an argument ensued between Jadhav and Rupnavar. As Jadhav managed to escape, Rupnavar allegedly fired at Gaikwad from his revolver and fled.

The incident has created panic in several parts of Indapur. Nearly 300 policemen have been deployed in Jamb to maintain law and order. Senior police officers, including DySP Manoj Lohiya, visited the crime scene. A hunt is on to nab Rupnavar and his aides.

Meanwhile, Dalit activists held agitation and burnt tyres to protest the murder. Gaikwad was known to be an office-bearer of the Rashtriya Dalit Nyay Hakka Samiti, Indapur Taluka.

 

Court adjourns RTI activist Shehla Masood’s murder trial till March 8, the womens day will she get justice ? #Vaw


My Friend Shehla Masood

My Friend Shehla Masood

Published: Wednesday, Feb 13, 2013, 18:14 IST
Place: Indore | Agency: PTI

A special CBI court on Wednesday adjourned till March 8 the ongoing trial in RTI activist Shehla Masood murder case as the prosecution failed to produce original call records documents as evidence.

“As prosecution witness Saidutt Bohre could not furnish original call records documents cited as evidence, the special CBI Judge Anupam Srivastava postponed the trial till March 8 on a request by prosecution,” senior public prosecutor Hemant Shukla said.

Bohre, along with another witness Santosh Jadhav — both employees of mobile service providers — will now depose before the court on March 8, he said.The court will also hear the bail applications moved by alleged shooters Tabish and Saqib AliDanger‘ on March 8, Shukla said.

Besides Tabish and Saqib Ali ‘Danger’, interior designer Zahida Parvez, Saba Farooqui and Irfan are chargesheeted by CBI in the murder case.Shehla was shot dead outside her house in Bhopal‘s posh Koh-E-Fiza locality on August 16, 2011.The call details, believed to be among the accused and other people connected with the case, were part of the chargesheet filed by CBI last year.

Defence counsel Sunil Srivastava, representing co-accused Saba Farooqui, said it was prosecution tactic to delay the trial.”This is surprising the prosecution is not coming prepared for the trial. It had in the past instances also returned its own witness,” he alleged

 

Freedom of speech in India is for the rich and the powerful #censorship


FEBRUARY 14, 2013
by , kafila.org

While freedom of speech and expression in India is under attack from all sides, have you noticed how the rich and the powerful can say what they like without getting arrested, facing FIRs and courts, hiring lawyers and so on?

While an innocuous tweet or Facebook status update can land you in police lock-up on a Saturday night or Sunday morning 5 am, a Digvijaya Singh can say sexist crap against Rakhi Sawant and get away with it.

Here’s another example from Twitter recently. Lalit Modi of IPL infamy, who wants us to believe his coming to India and facing the law is a security threat to him, tweeted that the BJP’s  Arun Jaitley would lose his deposit if he contested the Lok Sabha seat from Jaipur. (Lalit Modi thinks he’s the Maharaja of Rajasthan.) In response to that, one Ankush Jain replied…

lalit-modi-arun-jaitley-barkha-dutt-radia-tapes

You can see there, Barkha Dutt’s threat to sue three people,one of whom said nothing, was merely tagged there. Ankush Jain was so terrified he deleted not just his Tweet but even his twitter account! I don’t blame him. He’s probably a student or a government employee or runs a shop somewhere… he wouldn’t want to face legal notices and police stations and court-rooms. Lalit K Modi on the other hand has no such problem. He counter-threatened Barkha Dutt with legal notices. Jain’s offending tweet still exists in the form of a manual RT by Lalit Modi, as you can see in the screenshot above.

You can see here a good summary of what happened on Twitter over this.

Some people then pointed out on Twitter that a similar allegation was made by Vinod Mehta in his book Lucknow Boy but Dutt never sued Mehta. Here is a screenshot from the Google Books version of Mehta’s book:

Lucknow Boy A Memoir - Vinod Mehta - Google Books - Mozilla Firefox_2013-02-13_23-40-57

So while an Ankush Jain is bullied into deleting his Twitter account, a Vinod Mehta can sit pretty.

The Indian Constitution promises freedom of speech and equality. Both promises are just that. The Internet’s democratisation of public discourse hurts the rich and the powerful and they are striking back. The rest of us feel helpless.

Lawrence Liang’s two posts from Kafila archives are worthy of recall:

This sentiment reminds me of Anatole France’s famous statement that the law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. The quick equation of an individual blogger with the might of a newspaper or a magazine is a little troubling. Individuals do not have the same kind of power, money or reach to be able to defend themselves in the way that newspapers may be capable of. [Bloggers and Defamation]

And:

So why is the punishment redundant? Because it doesn’t really matter. The mere fact that the provision exists and the fact that it allows for the possibility for someone to file a police complaint or threaten police action serves the purpose of intimidating speakers, reader, organizers regardless of the fact that in most cases if it were to go to trial, it would be highly unlikely that the offending act would be found to be in violation of the provisions. The courts have laid down reasonably high standards for interpreting what would amount to a violation of these laws, and have even acknowledged their misuse. [The process is the bloody punishment]

Where the mind is without fear, where the head is held high…

 

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