#India -Culture of deceit #UID #Afzalguru


 

DC | Antara Dev Sen | 19th Feb 2013
We live in a robust culture of deceit. We routinely lie, cheat, deceive, steal, rob and act in bad faith, in the public domain. When lied to, we don’t even raise an eyebrow.
Last week, I went to register for the National Population Register (NPR). The booth, im­pr­e­ssively flashing assorted gadgets to collect biometric data, appeared — even more impressively — to be multi-tasking. To some it offered NPR, to others it promised the UID (Unique Identity number) or Aadhaar card. This pleased ma­ny, who had no clue abo­ut NPR but were convinced that Aadhaar was a compulsory magic wand. “They won’t let us stay in Delhi without it,” said my maid, a mig­rant from another state. “This is our work permit for Delhi,” expla­i­ned another kindly. “We won’t be given gas cylinders without this,” said someone else. “They will give us money if we show this”, beamed yet another. The confusion over Aadhaar was as­tounding. But some of us had reservations about Aadhaar and did not want it, which we told the officers. This was not Aadhaar, they assu­red us. The form asks whether you want to share this data, and you can tick “no,” Relieved, we did just that. And we were immediately iss­ued an Aadhaar receipt with the NPR registration. Seeing our shock at this discovery one kind officer said, “Never mi­nd, you have done your duty. The rest is not in your hands.” So true. Clearly, the Bhagavad Gita was written with 21st-century babudom in mind.
The government never lets truth come in the way of a good proclamation. So we were first told that enrolling for the UID or Aadhaar was entirely voluntary, not mandatory. Then they linked it to several government schemes and made it impossible for citizens to access their rights and benefits without it. It was not mandatory, like it is not mandatory to wear a parachute. But you “opt” for the parachute if you are to be pushed out of an airplane.
We have, through generations, perfected the art of public deception. We don’t even flinch when we see enormous lies being paraded as the truth in public. Rece­n­tly, Afzal Guru was sec­r­etly executed in jail. The state knew fully well that the prisoner had a constitutional right to meet his family one last time. That he had a constitutional right to judicial review of the President’s rejection of his mercy petition. The state knew that it would be wrong to kill the man before the due process of law had been completed. It knew that it would be wrong to kill the man without allowing his mother, his wife and his little son to meet him one last time. The state knew but did not care. And once it was over, the state lied to us all.
Home minister Sushil­kumar Shinde brazenly declared: “I have information that the family has been intimated.” The letter informing Afzal’s wife Tabassum that the President had rejected her mercy petition reached her on February 11, two days after her husband was hanged. Dated February 6, it was sent by Speed-post from New Delhi to remote Sopore in Kashmir on February 8, the day before Afzal’s execution. Shinde found nothing wrong in that: “The letter was sent by jail officials as per rules.” It informed her that the mercy petition had been rejected and that at 8 am on February 9, Afzal would be executed. It ended with: “This is for your information and further action.” The authorities knew that Tabassum would not get it in time for any “further action.” It was a meaningless sen­tence. It was “just a formality.”
You know that phrase, right? “Sign here, ple­a­se, no need to read it. It’s just a formality.” This is the marginalisation of rules, where rules that were supposed to gro­und us in truth and make justice more acce­ssible are made irrelevant by cle­ver disrespect. Slowly, the dema­nds of truth and justice, the ideas of fairness, equality and freedom are all reduced to “just a formality.”
For centuries, we have known that statements in bad faith, even if technically true, are untru­ths. In the battlefield of Mahabharata, Yu­dhis­thira, who never lied, was asked by Drona whether his son Ash­wathama had indeed been killed. “Ashwa­tha­ma hata (Ashwathama is dead),” declared Yu­dhisthira as planned, and muttered “iti gaja (the elephant, that is)”. (Also known as “naro va kunjaro va,” that is “ei­ther the man or the elephant.”) This was Yu­dhis­thira’s lie. The Mahabharata makes it ab­solutely clear that Yudhisthira had cheated, that this was deception even though his statem­ent was technically true. So why do we allow our ministers to cheat us?
Deception is a pillar of Indian politics. Election promises are an elaborate exercise in deceit. We proudly flaunt lies. Like Mamata Banerjee, then railway minister, taking out newspaper advertisements posing as a Muslim woman. In a make-believe namaaz shot, wearing the hijab, she announced a new railway line and a nursing college as Id gifts. She used the public ex­chequer to promote herself by misrepresenting facts — portraying herself as a Muslim and pa­rading development projects as her gifts to Muslims. As a reward, we made her the queen of Bengal.
What was once unthinkable is acceptable today. Like the idea that Narendra Modi, widely believed to be the architect of the 2002 Gujarat massacre of Muslims, can be elected PM in our liberal democracy. But why not? We take the mockery of justice in our stride. Bal Thackeray, believed to have orchestrated the Bombay riots of 1992-93, lived like a king and got a state funeral. Leaders and ministers responsible for the 1984 massacre of Sikhs in Delhi were grandly rewarded. L.K. Advani, as Union home minister, supervised the probe on his own role in the Babri Masjid demolition.
A culture of deceit breeds a culture of im­p­unity that has enormous cos­ts. It changes us irrevocably. Truth becomes ir­relevant as we float bet­ween several manufactured realities. Our idea of public reasoning is to create an echo chamber for our more powerful voices. Dissenters are welcome to bark from the fringes, of course, since we are a democracy that promises free speech. But for how long?
Like in everyday life, in public life, too, truth and justice have been replaced by the hollow PR mannerisms. We are grateful to leaders who, having failed to deliver on all fronts, announce: “We understand your concern. Have a nice day.” We do not expect the truth. But unlike banks and mutual funds that also make trick promises, our politicians do not offer legal warnings in fine print. While nurturing this  deep-seated culture of deceit, can we really tell our children not to lie?

 

The Aadhaar Card – What are the real intentions of the UPA ? #UID


DAVOS/SWITZERLAND, 25JAN07 - Nandan M. Nilekan...

 

 

 

 

Berges Malu / Monday, DNA  February 18, 2013 0:38 IST

 

The UPA government operates by stealth these days, everything from passing IT laws (remember how the IT Law was passed without any opposition) to executing terrorists, all committed through stealth. It seems the government either doesn’t seem to have the guts or the wherewithal to be bold about the decisions it would like to take.

 

 

The latest stealth move by the current government, is to demand citizens have an Aadhar card for such regular things as buying cooking gas to demanding information under the Right to Information (RTI) act. This shows how the current government would like to turn India from a liberal democracy into a closely monitored police state cause let’s be honest, this government has no intention of taking care of the aam aadmi, if it did, it wouldn’t let lakhs of farmers commit suicide around the nation, displace thousands in the commonwealth games and let the economy slow down thus stifling the creation of new jobs for youth coming out of school every year. The UID is simply a method of surveillance, surveillance not to prevent rapes, thefts and murders, which this government has no intention of preventing, but instead to make the life of the common man a bigger struggle than it already is.

 

 

 

 

The Aadhar card was introduced by the PM along with Nandan Nilekani and his ‘dream team’ (which comprised of mostly NRI’s- an issue for another debate) as an optional card that wasn’t meant to be mandatory for all citizens. What started out as a simple identity card that would be provided to all Indians, turned into a card that would benefit the poor and now into a card mandatory for receiving all/any benefits from the government. Recently it was reported schools in Thane started demanding that parents provide an Aadhar card number or admission wouldn’t be granted to their children and in a separate move the chief secretary of Maharashtra JK Banthia sent out a circular saying one should provide their Aadhar card number to demand information under RTI. This deception by the government is unsurprising what with the massive scams we hear about daily.

 

 

 

The writing on the wall is thus clear, the government is slowly using stealth means to make the Aadhar card mandatory for all citizens. And oddly enough, the Aadhar card by itself is illegal, as Parliament has refused to pass a bill that was aimed to legalize the Aadhar card, and the government is pumping large amounts of money into the scheme, according to some estimates nearly Rs 150,000 crore. I won’t be surprised, if a scam turns up out of this too.

 

 

 

Besides there’s no clue where all that bio-metric data that the government plans on collecting may land up, as The Hindu recently had a story that mentioned that much of the data is being collected and collated by an American company that under US law would have to turn over data to the US government if asked for it.

 

 

 

Soon power will not be measure in how much money you acquire or who you know but the anonymity you possess.

 

 

“You don’t have a digital footprint… people with that kind of anonymity in this age, that’s true power” – Logan Pierce – Person of Interest

 

 

 

#Gujarat Protest against proposed Nuclear Plant at Mithi Virdi



Hiral Dave , IE : Gandhinagar, Tue Feb 19 2013, 06:03 hrs

The proposed nuclear plant to be built by Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) with US technology at Mithi Virdi in Bhavnagar district has run into stiff resistance from locals who are opposing the first public hearing scheduled for March 5. The project is part of the Indo-US nuclear deal signed in 2007.

Around six years ago, NPCIL had zeroed in on a cluster of five villages — Mithi-Virdi, Jasapara, Khadarpar, Mandva and Paniyad — to build the 6,900 megawatt (MW) nuclear power plant that would be India’s largest such facility.

However, soil and water testing was delayed following intense protest by villagers. Now, locals including those living in nearby urban centre of Bhavnagar city have closed ranks and vowed not to let the public hearing on environmental concerns take place.

“We have submitted a memorandum to Bhavnagar district collector. We do not want public hearing in the first place,” said Krishnakant, a coordinator for various groups opposing the plant.

“Bhavnagar is one of the biggest beneficiaries of the agricultural activities in the area. It gets its supply of fruits and vegetables round the year from the farmers of the 24 villages that have got notices for environmental public hearing for the proposed plant,” said Damyanti Modi of Bhavnagar Anu Urja Abhyas Juth, a group of senior citizens from Bhavnagar who have been studying the possible impact of a nuclear power plant at Mithi Virdi.

A year ago, Pittsburgh-based Westinghouse Electric Company had signed an MoU with NPCIL for site development work supporting future construction of AP 1000 nuclear power plants. The project requires 777 hectares, including private and government wasteland.

Mithi Virdi is a small coastal town known for its lush green orchards producing a variety of rare-quality fruits. Villagers say adequate monsoon in the last decade has ensured them three bumper crops in a year.

Earlier, gram panchayats of every affected village had passed resolutions vowing not to give private land or wasteland for the project.

Last year, villagers twice stalled the plans for soil and water testing by Gujarat Power Corporation (GPC), which has been hired by NPCIL for the testing work. In fact, the protests have been so intense that the GPC began digging bore around 5 am when villagers were asleep. However, in no time, the team had to fold up when more than 5,000 villagers reached the site and stalled the process.

Even a trip to Kakrapar nuclear plant near Surat for 96 farmers arranged by NPCIL could not convince them for the project.

Fear of losing fertile ancestral land coupled with apprehensions about a nuclear power plant in the neighbourhood has put the villagers on the edge.

Several NGOs have also been working closely with villagers.

While Bhavnagar Collector V P Patel was not available for comment, NPCIL authorities said they had received a copy of the memorandum opposing public hearing on environmental impact.

Of four sites short-listed in Gujarat, Mithi-Virdi was finalised for various reasons, including its proximity to sea, type of soil, water, seismic zone positioning and population.

 

#Srilanka – The killing of a young 12-year-old boy


CALLUM MACRAE, The Hindu FEb 19.2013

  • CHILLING DETAILS: Digital image analysis by an expert for Channel 4 has confirmed that this photograph showing 12-year-old Balachandran Prabakaran before and after he was shot dead, were taken with the same camera.
    No Fire Zone/Channel 4CHILLING DETAILS: Digital image analysis by an expert for Channel 4 has confirmed that this photograph showing 12-year-old Balachandran Prabakaran before and after he was shot dead, were taken with the same camera.
  • CHILLING DETAILS: Digital image analysis by an expert for Channel 4 has confirmed that these this photograph showing 12-year-old Balachandran Prabakaran before and after he was shot dead, were taken with the same camera.
    No Fire Zone/Channel 4CHILLING DETAILS: Digital image analysis by an expert for Channel 4 has confirmed that these this photograph showing 12-year-old Balachandran Prabakaran before and after he was shot dead, were taken with the same camera.
  • CHILLING DETAILS: Digital image analysis by an expert for Channel 4 has confirmed that this photograph showing 12-year-old Balachandran Prabakaran after he was shot dead, were taken with the same camera.
    No Fire Zone/Channel 4CHILLING DETAILS: Digital image analysis by an expert for Channel 4 has confirmed that this photograph showing 12-year-old Balachandran Prabakaran after he was shot dead, were taken with the same camera.

New photographs of LTTE chief Velupillai Prabakaran’s son just before he was shot dead, obtained by Channel 4 TV, leave more questions for Sri Lanka to answer about war crimes

It is a war that has produced some truly terrible images, but this one is particularly disturbing. A young boy sits looking distressed, like a child who has been lost in a supermarket. He has been given a biscuit or some kind of snack. In the second photograph, he is looking anxiously up, as though hoping to see someone he recognises.

The boy is Balachandran Prabakaran, the 12-year-old son of Tamil Tiger leader Velupillai Prabakaran.

These photographs, which we are releasing today, form part of the new evidence in the forthcoming feature documentary “No War Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka,” the culmination of three years of research which will be shown for the first time next month in Geneva, to coincide with the U.N. Human Rights Council meeting. The new evidence in the film is certain to increase pressure on the Indian government not only to support a resolution on Sri Lanka and accountability, but also to ensure that it is robustly worded, and that it outlines an effective plan for international action to end impunity in Sri Lanka.

The new photographs tell a chilling story. This child is not been lost of course: he has been captured and is being held in a sandbag bunker, apparently guarded by a Sri Lankan Army soldier. In less than two hours he will be taken, executed in cold blood — and then photographed again.

Forensic pathologist’s opinion

In these photographs, which digital image analysis indicates were taken with the same camera, we can see he has been shot five times in the chest. Separate video footage, also apparently filmed as a war trophy by government soldiers, shows that alongside him lie the bodies of five men. They appear to have been Tamil Tiger fighters, probably his bodyguards. They have been stripped, bound, blindfolded and then shot in the head.

The new photographs are particularly important evidentially, because they prove that Balachandran was not killed in crossfire, or in a battle. His death was deliberate and calculated. The pictures fill in chilling details on the circumstances of his murder — and leave the Sri Lankan government with yet more questions to answer about just how systematic the executions at the end of the war appear to have been. Last year, we first revealed video footage and stills which showed Balachandran’s body shortly after his execution. These were analysed for us by a respected forensic pathologist, Professor Derrick Pounder, to assess the cause of death.

The professor identified what he thinks is the first of the shots to be fired at the boy: “There is a speckling (on the skin) from propellant tattooing, indicating that the distance of the muzzle of the weapon to this boy’s chest was two to three feet or less. He could have reached out with his hand and touched the gun that killed him.”

The professor said the angle of the shots suggested that after that bullet was fired, the boy fell backwards and was then shot four more times. Unlike the men around him, there was no indication that the boy had been blindfolded or bound, so it was possible that the boy may have been made to watch the execution of his guards before the gun was turned on him.

The new photographs released today give us a chilling insight into what happened before that. They appear to demonstrate that the situation was calm and orderly. Balachandran was given a snack and some water. There was time to take photographs while he was held in the bunker and again afterwards. The forensic analysis report on the photographs concludes that there is “no evidence to indicate fabrication, manipulation or the use of effects to create the images” and concludes that the photographs “appear to be an accurate representation of the events depicted.”

From the separate video sequence recorded later (which has also been authenticated by both digital video analysis), it is clear that there were several military personnel in the area.

Where the trail leads to

It is difficult to imagine the mindset of an army in which a child can be executed in cold blood with apparent impunity. It also raises extremely difficult questions for the Sri Lankan military. With every month that passes, the evidence of systematic execution of prisoners grows. The pattern of apparent sexual violence against female fighters is disturbing in the extreme.

As the respected international human rights lawyer, Professor William A. Schabas, says in our film: “If you look at what looks like the mass execution of naked prisoners, these all add up to possibly the claim that this was in fact systematic — and that could point to the highest levels in the military authority of Sri Lanka as being responsible for war crimes of summary execution, killing and torture.”

India’s role

And in Sri Lanka, of course, the highest levels of the military are virtually the same as the highest levels of the government. President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother, the Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, have some very difficult questions to answer.

They may well continue to simply deny the evidence and cite the undoubted crimes of the Tamil Tigers. But as a defence, it is becoming increasingly threadbare. The crimes of one side do not justify the crimes of another. A government which claims to adhere to international humanitarian law cannot hide behind the brutal suicide bombings or the brutalised child soldiers of the Tigers. But for India there is a dilemma too. Because it matters not just what the answers to these questions are. It also matters who asks these questions. India is central to this.

It has been said before, but it is true, and worth repeating. Without justice there can be no peace and reconciliation, and without truth there can be no justice.

This is not an academic exercise in historical accountability. The men responsible for these crimes are still in charge. They are continuing to brutally repress Tamils in the north and persecute anyone who criticises the government including, as we have seen with the impeachment of the Chief Justice, their own judiciary.

If there is no attempt to address these issues and to bring justice to those who suffered, the fear is that in the short term, political repression in Sri Lanka will increase and that in the long term, history is destined to repeat itself with yet more bloodshed and regional instability.

It seems to most human rights defenders around the world, including those in India, that the only way ahead in this situation is for the creation of a credible, independent, international inquiry into these events, as called for by the U.N.’s Panel of Experts. That inquiry should examine all the crimes committed by both sides.

If India was to declare its support for such an inquiry, many hope it could mark the start of the long, delayed movement towards peace, reconciliation and political justice in Sri Lanka.

(Callum Macrae is director, “No Fire Zone: The Killing Fields of Sri Lanka.” nofirezone.org)

 

Sloppy Mental-Health Talk Will Intensify Stigma


By Atima Omara-Alwala

WeNews commentator

Monday, February 18, 2013

The current gun-control debate could worsen the mental health stigma that already stops many women of color from seeking help, says Atima Omara-Alwala. It’s necessary to get the facts right on mental illness and those who commit violent acts.

 

Let's sweep Mental Illness out from Under the Rug

 

Credit: Geek2Nurse on Flickr, under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC 2.0)..

(WOMENSENEWS)–Well-meaning activists and elected officials do a huge disservice when they make assumptions about helping the mentally ill only in light of the extreme violence they are supposedly likely to commit.

For women in communities of color, already contending with higher rates of depression and other mental illness, this can be particularly harmful.

Who wants to come forward about your problems when National Rifle Association spokesperson Wayne La Pierre is saying you belong to a trigger-happy lunatic crowd whose names need to be kept on a registry?

Who wants to be lumped together with Adam Lanza?

The horrific massacre of school children and educators in Newtown, Conn., has spurred interest in mental health but the public discourse has spent very little time at the intersection of race and gender.

If we don’t address mental health reforms overall aggressively, the current gun-control debate could bolster a vicious stigma that already blocks many in underserved communities from seeking help.

Clicking through my Facebook and Twitter feeds that awful December day, I saw a torrent of pithy comments on the need to do something about mental illness and gun control in the United States.

It’s a tenuous link to make since an August 2006 study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows only 4 percent of those considered mentally ill actually commit violent acts.

I grew up in a black immigrant family intimately affected by mental illness and disability. When I was a child, my favorite cousin, in her late 20s at the time, developed paranoid schizophrenia. Just before we knew she was ill, she came to stay with us, as she always had when visiting.

I was excited to see this cool big sister figure who took me shopping, to the movies and let me play with her makeup. I was shocked at what my pre-teen eyes saw. A healthy, vibrant full figured woman transformed into an emaciated, exhausted version of herself, her thick curly hair now rapidly thinning. Sores covered her once well-kept face.

Grappling With Illness

I will never forget watching my parents grapple with her diagnosis and try to get her help.

As I grew older I saw friends grapple with the byproducts of mental illness: eating disorders to alcoholism and self-injury. In spite of my knowledge and experiences, the national stats are still stunning.

About 26 percent (57.7 million) of Americans ages 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. That number translates into a sobering 1-in-4 adults. Yes, 1-in-4.

Major depressive disorder, or depression, is a leading form of mental disability in people ages 15-44 in the United States and is more prevalent in women, with women suffering two-and-a-half times more likely than men from depression.

The disparity in those suffering from depression widens significantly when you zoom in on female demographics.

Fifty percent more African American women are diagnosed with depression than white women,

according to the National Association for Mental Illness. It’s raised such concern that at the 2007 Congressional Black Caucus Annual Legislative Conference, mental illness and black women were discussed as a major topic because a study from Mental Health America showed a mere 7 percent of black women suffering from depression sought treatment, compared to 20 percent of white women.

The rate of suffering for Latinas is even higher than that of black or white women.

Psychological, biological and environmental factors combine to culminate in mental illness. Traumatic and stressful events, such as a death in the family or divorce or job loss, or even a presumably happy event such as getting married, can contribute to depression.

Unfortunately, the number of those who seek treatment is low, and even lower in communities of color. Here seekers can be more prone to finding mental-health services too expensive; not covered by insurance; or hindered by language and cultural barriers; compounding a larger problem further.

A ‘Weakness’

As a black woman, I am all too familiar with the belief that depression in my community can be especially seen as a “weakness.”

Mental Health America’s 2007 survey found that over half–63 percent–of African Americans believe that depression is a personal weakness. Only 31 percent consider it a medical problem that can be treated. Additional research from the National Association of Mental Illness indicates similar sentiments pervading the Latino and Asian communities.

To be clear I understand why the need for better mental-health treatment has been raised in the context of the Newtown and Aurora, Colo., and other mass shootings. And it’s true that some are homing in on the particular problems of men, who commit up to 94 percent of murder-suicides, according to a 2006 study by the Violence Policy Center.

But we can’t allow the discussion to get sloppy when it comes to mental illness.

Discussing what shifted in the lives of Lanza or Aurora shooter James Holmes to make them killers makes more sense than generalizing about the mentally ill whose percentage of violent crimes against others is low.

Far more frequently, those with mental illness torture and harm themselves.

I would be remiss as a person who has made her living in politics and advocacy if I didn’t use this window, asPresident Barack Obama encouraged, to help “make access to mental health care at least as easy as access to a gun.”

But we must also do our part to not stigmatize those in need so much so that they will not seek the help they need.

Atima Omara-Alwala is a political strategist, progressive and activist of 10 years who has served as staff on eight political campaigns and other progressive causes with a particular focus on women’s political empowerment and leadership, reproductive justice, health care and communities of color. Her writings on the topics have also been featured at Ms. Magazine, RH Reality Check and Fem2pt0. Currently, she isnational vice president of theYoung Democrats of America and serves on the boards of DC Abortion Fund andPlanned Parenthood Metro Washington Action Fund.

 

Condemn the highhanded, authoritarian attempts of the notorious Special Cell’s attempt to seize the phones of Prof. SAR Geelani


COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025

 

18/02/2013

Condemn the highhanded, authoritarian attempts of the notorious Special Cell’s attempt to seize the phones of Prof. SAR Geelani, the President of CRPP!

Condemn the continuing harassment of Prof. SAR Geelani since the illegal execution of Mohd. Afzal Guru! 

 

In a highly reprehensible act the fascist, Special Cell of the Delhi Police made an attempt to seize the phones of Prof. SAR Geelani, the President of CRPP today (18 February 2013) morning at his residence in Zakir Nagar. On being asked by Prof. Geelani as to whether they had any written orders for seizing his phones and if so on what grounds the Special Cell officers maintained that they don’t have such written orders. They insisted that they have verbal orders from their senior officials and they will seize the phones of Prof. Geelani. The Special Cell is putting pressure on Geelani to give away his phones.

 

It should be noted that despite the highhanded attempts of the Special Cell on the 9 February 2013 to forcefully take him away from the highway when he was travelling to be kept illegally at an undisclosed location till late in the night and then enforcing an undeclared house arrest on him for a couple of days, Prof. Geelani has been fearlessly making his observations clear before the media regarding the blatant violations behind the killing of Mohd. Afzal Guru. Most of the interviews came out to be a scathing indictment of the illegal execution of Mohd. Afzal Guru. It proved unequivocally that Mohd. Afzal Guru and his family were not only denied their basic human rights but were also denied justice from the day one of the trial of the Parliament attack case. Prof. Geelani also pointed out that Afzal being a Kashmiri was easy target as the Indian government does not want to politically address the genuine aspirations of the Kashmiri people but only believed in the politics of revenge and retribution.

 

The latest attempt from the Special Cell of the Delhi Police to seize the phones of Prof. SAR Geelani is yet another desperate attempt to gag him and in that process all dissenting voices against such dastardly acts of the Indian state. The Central Home Minister without batting his eyes was brazenly justifying the illegal act before the media insisting that it was necessary to violate laws and procedures to ensure that Mohd. Afzal and his family will not take recourse to law to prevent his execution! The Indian state is desperate to somehow shy away from the increasing instances of indignation being expressed by many legal luminaries such as Fali Nariman, Justice AP Shah, Senior Advocates Sushil Kumar and Kamini Jaiswal and others. Even the then government prosecutor Gopal Subramanium who made a song and dance in the Supreme Court about the need to satisfy the ‘collective conscience’ through the hanging of Mohd. Afzal Guru also is on record saying that the basic rights of Afzal and his family were violated in the most inhuman way. Despite such expression of indignation by many prominent citizens, the Indian state and its fascist police in the Special Cell have specifically targeted voices from the people of Kashmir, especially Prof. SAR Geelani who have been forthright in his condemnation. In many a places the police and the fascist Hindu communal outfits have ganged up to brutally beat up and then frame protesting people including students and intellectuals from Kashmir in several cases. This is part of the continuing attempts from the side of the Indian State to gag and suppress the voices of dissent that have arisen from various section of the people, intelligentsia and progressive and democratic sections ever since the illegal execution of Mohd. Afzal Guru on 9 February 2013.

 

We at the CRPP strongly condemn the fascist authoritarian designs of the Special Cell to deny the right to free speech, mobility and freedom of expression of Prof. SAR Geelani. Any such arbitrary and authoritarian attempt of the Special Cell can only invite further condemnation and indignation from the broader sections of the people.

 

In protest,

 

Amit Bhattacharyya

Secretary General

 

Sujato Bhadra

Vice President

 

Ajit Bhuyan

Vice President

 

N. Venuh

Vice President

 

Kaleem Koya

Vice President

 

MN Ravunni

Vice President

 

PA Sebastian

Vice President

 

Rona Wilson

Secretary, Public Relations

 

MSU law faculty head arrested for smearing VC’s chair with itching powder #humour


TNN | Feb 19, 2013, 0

MSU law faculty head arrested for smearing VC's chair with itching powder
M S University law faculty head arrested for allegedly smearing itching powder on vice-chancellor Yogesh Singh’s chair.
VADODARA: Vadodara‘s M S University law faculty head Ghanshyam Solanki was arrested on Monday for allegedly smearing itching powder on vice-chancellor Yogesh Singh’s chair during a national seminar a day earlier. Singh had to leave the seminar midway.

“Forensic tests on the chair revealed that somebody had smeared it with itching powder. Further investigations revealed the teacher’s involvement,” police commissioner Satish Sharma said.

Solanki was booked for obstructing a public servant in discharge of public functions and causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means. He confessed to using the powder but claimed that it was not meant for Singh. His real target was the law faculty in-charge dean professor S S Bhattacharya.

MSU officials said Solanki may have done so as his application for promotion was rejected recently.

“It is shameful and unbelievable. I had never expected this to happen. Normally, we do not except a teacher to get involved in such acts,” Singh told TOI.

“We have taken it very seriously and any such incident by any staff or student will not be tolerated in future,” officer on special duty (registrar) Dr Amit Dholakia said.

 

#India- Air attacks in Mizoram, 1966 – our dirty, little secret


19 FEB, 2013,  ABHEEK BARMAN,ET BUREAU

The original villages, crops and granaries were destroyed to deny wandering insurgents shelter and food.

The original villages, crops and granaries were destroyed to deny wandering insurgents shelter and food.
One month and four days after becoming prime minister of IndiaIndira Gandhi was faced with a problem familiar to her father, Jawaharlal Nehru: an insurgency in the north east. On February 28, 1966, the Mizo National Army (MNA) revolted against India and fighting broke out across the region. In response, the Indian state did two unprecedented things.

By March 2, the MNA had overrun the Aizawl treasury and armoury and was at the headquarters of theAssam Rifles. It had also captured several smaller towns south of Aizawl. The military tried to ferry troops and weapons by helicopter, but was driven away by MNA snipers.

So, at 11:30 am on March 5, the air force attacked Aizawl with heavy machine gun fire. On March 6, the attack intensified, and incendiary bombs were dropped. This killed innocents and completely destroyed the four largest areas of the city: Republic Veng, Hmeichche Veng, Dawrpui Veng and Chhinga Veng.

Locals left their homes and fled into the hills in panic. The MNA melted away into surrounding gorges, forests and hills, to camps in Burma and the then East Pakistan. The air force strafed Aizawl and other areas till March 13. One local told a human rights committee set up by Khasi legislators GG Swell and Rev Nichols Roy that, “There were two types of planes which flew over Aizawl — good planes and angry planes. The good planes were those which flew comparatively slowly and did not spit out fire or smoke; the angry planes were those which escaped to a distance before the sound of their coming could be heard and who spat out smoke and fire.”

This was the first— and only — time that the air force has been used to attack Indians in India. It cleared Aizawl and other cities of the MNA, but did not finish off the insurgency, which would last for another 20 years. Till the 1980s, the Indian military stoutly denied the use of air attacks in Mizoram in 1966.

By 1967, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act was in force in the area that is now Mizoram. That year, the eastern military brass, led by the then Lt General Maneckshaw, and government decided to implement the second terrible thing it did in Mizoram. This was called ‘regrouping of villages.’

At the that time, there was one road coming south from Silchar in Assam, that traveled all the way down to where the state’s limits ended. To the east and west of this road were vast tracts of forests, hills and ravines, dotted with hundreds of villages.The military plan was to gather villagers from all over, and cluster them along the side of this road. These new, so-called Protected and Progressive Villages (PPVs), were nothing but concentration camps, minus gas chambers. The movement was supposed to be voluntary — people in some far off hamlet were supposed to jump with joy when told to give up their land, crops and homes to trek hundreds of miles and live behind barbed wire. Actually, the military told villagers to take what they could carry on their backs, and burn everything else down. Elders signed ‘consent’ papers at gunpoint.

In every case, villagers refused to move. When they were coerced to march, they would refuse to burn down their properties. Then, the military officer and his men would torch the whole place down. They would march in a column guarded by the military, to their designated PPV.

Life here was tough: each resident was numbered and tagged, going and coming was strictly regulated and rations were meagre. In the PPVs’ confines, tribal conventions broke down. In the scramble for scarce resources, theft, murder and alcoholism became widespread.

The regrouping destroyed the Mizos’ practice of jhum, or shifting cultivation. There was little land inside the PPVs and their original jhum areas had been left far behind in the interiors. Farm output fell off a cliff. Mizoram suffered from near-famine conditions, supplemented by what little the military could provide, for the next three years.

Why were the villagers herded into the PPVs? The military reckoned that keeping villagers under their eyes would keep them from sheltering insurgents or joining the MNA. The original villages, crops and granaries were destroyed to deny wandering insurgents shelter and food.

These ideas were picked up by our officers from the colonial British playbook. The British had regrouped villages during the Boer war in the early 20th century, in Malaya, where they interned Chinese in special camps and in Kenya where villages were uprooted to crush the Mau Mau revolt.

The British could get away with all this because they were inflicting pain on a subject population. The Indian establishment had no such fig leaf: it was giving grief to its own citizens.

The scale of the Mizoram regrouping was awesome. Out of 764 villages, 516 were evacuated and squeezed into 110 PPVs. Only 138 villages were left untouched. In the Aizawl area, about 95% of the rural population was herded into PPVs. No Russian gulag or German concentration camp had hosted such a large chunk of the local population.

The first PPVs were dismantled in 1971, but the last ones continued for another eight years. The MNA revolt ended in 1986. No government has expressed regret for the bombing and regrouping.

 

#India- Rural Muslim poverty highest in Gujarat, Assam, WB, and UP: UNDP


PTI : Hyderabad, Mon Feb 18 2013,
Gujarat muslim

United Nations has observed that poverty head count ratio for Muslims is highest in the states of Assam, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat even as it expressed satisfaction over India’s efforts to meet the millennium development goals in important areas.

“India is well placed to meet the millennium development goals on reducing poverty by half and achieving universal primary education and gender parity in education. However, it is not likely to meet targets in areas of maternal mortality, infant mortality, under-five mortality and sanitation,” said UNDP country director Caitlin Wiesen.

She was addressing a national seminar on “Millennium Development Goals and Rural Development in India: Policy Initiatives Targets and Achievements”, organised by the National Institute of Rural Development here.

“It is commendable that India is meeting its overall poverty reduction target but there are multiple manifestations of poverty in rural areas. Scheduled Tribes exhibit highest level of poverty at 47 per cent and Scheduled Castes at 42 percent,” she said.

Wiesen said as far as religious groups are concerned, poverty head count ratio for Muslims is “very high in states of Assam, Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal and Gujarat”.

“Nearly, 50 per cent of agricultural labourers and 40 per cent of other labourers are below poverty line in rural areas, where households with primary level and lower education have the higher poverty ratio,” Wiesen pointed out.

She said though India has improved on poverty reduction, the situation is grim for the poor in rural areas because agriculture sector, the mainstay of rural people, has not grown on expected lines.

“There is an urgent need to strengthen accountability systems within government and communities, convergence between rural development and other key departments and social mobilisation of the poor into self help groups and federations,” the UNDP director said.

Wiesen said development strategies in India need to take into account the challenges posed by climate change which has a direct bearing on natural resources and livelihood of the rural population.

“UNDP is moving into its new five-year program which will focus on areas of rural development, inclusive growth, democratic governance and environment”, she said.

Wiesen said the UNDP program will be launched in nine states including Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Orissa and Assam.

National Institute of Rural Development Director General Dr M V Rao and NIRD professor Dr B Chakaravarty were also present at the event

 

India wins Kishanganga case at The Hague court #Pakistan #Kashmir


Ravish Tiwari : New Delhi, Tue Feb 19 2013,

The International Court of Arbitration at The Hague Monday ruled in favour of India‘s position on the diversion of Kishanganga water, setting aside objections by Pakistan that has halted work on the 330 MW Kishanganga hydel project in Jammu & Kashmir.

Islamabad took New Delhi to the court of arbitration in the summer of 2010, disrupting Indian plans to divert water from the Kishanganga into the Bona Madmati Nallah. Islamabad said the diversion violated provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty of 1965, a claim that India refuted.

While the broad verdict is in India’s favour, officials were learnt to be going through the detailed order to check the fine print. The verdict is likely to mean a green signal for the Kishanganga project. Pakistan had earlier taken India to a neutral inter-nations expert for resolution of a dispute on the Baglihar dam, which too had gone in India’s favour in 2007.

In a statement issued late on Monday evening, Ministry of External Affairs spokesperson Syed Akbaruddin said, “The award of the court of arbitration at The Hague today reaffirms the validity of India’s position… It highlights once again that India is adhering to all the provisions of the Indus Waters Treaty.”

Former Central Water Commission chairman A K Bajaj, who was involved with the process of dispute resolution from the beginning and had been engaged by the government even after retirement, said, “It was a major point that Pakistan was opposing on various frivolous grounds and it is good that the hon’ble tribunal has decided the matter by correctly interpreting the relevant provisions of the Treaty.”

Former water resources secretary Dhruv Vijay Singh, who spearheaded the Indian case, told The Indian Express, “India always believed in abiding by the provisions of the treaty. And we will continue to do so.”

The arbitration went through tumultous phases after New Delhi and Islamabad failed to agree on the nomination of three neutral judges. Both sides invoked a provision in the treaty under which UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon had to nominate Stephen M Schwebel, a former president of the International Court of Justice, as the head of the seven-member arbitration bench.

The technical expert was nominated by the rector of London’s Imperial College of Science and Technology, and the legal expert was recommended by the Lord Chief Justice of England to complete the three neutral members, including the chairman, on the bench.

The bench, on which the two countries nominated two members each, visited both sides of the LoC before beginning a detailed hearing which concluded on August 31 last year.

India’s legal team was led by Fali S Nariman and comprised international law expert Shankar Das and hired foreign lawyers. The technical and factual case was presented by a team comprising Singh, Bajaj, Indus Commissioner G Aranganathan and his deputy Darpan Talwar, among others.

 

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