#India – summary of the National Food Security Bill, 2013


March 24, 2013
 Jean Dreze

1. Preliminaries

The Bill seeks “to provide for food and nutritional security in human life cycle approach, by ensuring access to adequate quantity of quality food at affordable prices to people to live a life with dignity and for matters connected therwith and incidental thereto”.

It extends to the whole of India and “shall come into force on such date as the Central Government may, by notification in the Official Gazette appoint, and different dates may be appointed for different States and different provisions of this Act”.

2. Entitlements

Public Distribution System (TPDS)

Priority households are entitled to 5 kgs of foodgrains per person per month, and Antyodaya households to 35 kgs per household per month. The combined coverage of Priority and Antyodaya households (called “eligible households”) shall extend “up to 75% of the rural population and up to 50% of the urban population”.

The PDS issue prices are given in Schedule I: Rs 3/2/1 for rice/wheat/millets (actually called “coarse grains” in the Bill). These may be revised after three years.

Children’s Entitlements

For children in the age group of 6 months to 6 years, the Bill guarantees an age-appropriate meal, free of charge, through the local anganwadi. For children aged 6-14 years, one free mid-day meal shall be provided every day (except on school holidays) in all schools run by local bodies, government and government aided schools, up to Class VIII. For children below six months, “exclusive breastfeeding shall be promoted”.

Children who suffer from malnutrition will be identified through the local anganwadi and meals will be provided to them free of charge “through the local anganwadi”.

Entitlements of Pregnant and Lactating Women

Every pregnant and lactating mother is entitled to a free meal at the local anganwadi (during pregnancy and six months after child birth) as well as maternity benefits of Rs 6,000, in instalments.

[Notes: (1) “Meal” is defined in the Bill as “hot cooked meal or ready to eat meal or take home ration, as may be prescribed by the Central Government”. All “meals” have to meet nutritional norms specified in Schedule II. (2) The entitlements of women and children are to be delivered by state governments through schemes “in accordance with the guidelines, including cost sharing” to be prescribed by the Central Government. (3) Every school and anganwadi is to have “facilities for cooking meals, drinking water and sanitation”. (4) For purposes of issuing ration cards, the eldest woman in the household (not less than 18 years of age) shall be considered head of the household.]

3. Identification of Eligible Households

The Bill does not specify criteria for the identification of households (Priority or Antyodaya) eligible for PDS entitlements. The Central Government is to determine the state-wise coverage of the PDS, in terms of proportion of the rural/urban population. Then numbers of eligible persons will be calculated from Census population figures. The identification of eligible households is left to state governments, subject to the scheme’s guidelines for Antyodaya, and subject to guidelines to be “specified” by the state government for Priority households. The lists of eligible households are to be placed in the public domain and “displayed prominently” by state governments.

4. Food Commissions

The Bill provides for the creation of State Food Commissions. Each Commission shall consist of a chairperson, five other members and a member-secretary (including at least two women and one member each from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes).

The main function of the State Commission is to monitor and evaluate the implementation of the act, give advice to the states governments and their agencies, and inquire into violations of entitlements (either suo motu or on receipt of a complaint, and with “all the powers of a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908”). State Commissions also have to hear appeals against orders of the District Grievance Redressal Officer and prepare annual reports to be laid before the state legislature.

The State Commission may forward “any case” to a Magistrate having jurisdiction, who shall proceed as if the case has been forwarded under Section 346 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973.

5. Transparency and Grievance Redressal

The Bill provides for a two-tier grievance redressal structure, involving the District Grievance Redressal Officer (DGRO) and State Food Commission. State governments must also put in place an internal grievance redressal mechanism which may include call centres, help lines, designation of nodal officers, “or such other mechanisms as may be prescribed”.

Transparency Provisions

Mandatory transparency provisions include: (1) placing all PDS-related records in the public domain and keeping them open for inspection to the public; (2) conducting periodic social audits of the PDS and other welfare schemes; (3) using information and communication technology (including end-to-end computerisation of the PDS) “to ensure transparent recording of transactions at all levels”; (4) setting up vigilance committees at state, district, block and fair price shop levels to supervise all schemes under the act.

District Grievance Redressal Officers

DGROS shall be appointed by state governments for each district to hear complaints and take necessary action according to norms to be prescribed by state governments. If a complainant (or the officer or authority against whom an order has been passed by the DGRO) is not satisfied, he or she may file an appeal before the State Food Commission.

Penalties and Compensation

The Food Commissions have powers to impose penalties. If an order of the DGRO is not complied with, the concerned authority or officer can be fined up to Rs. 5,000. The Commission can authorise “any of its members” to act as an adjudicating officer for this purpose.

In case of “non-supply of the entitled quantities of foodgrains or meals to entitled persons”, such persons will be entitled to a food security allowance from the state government, as prescribed by the central government.

6. Other Provisions

PDS Reforms

In Chapter VII, the Bill states that central and state governments “shall endeavour to progressively undertake” various PDS reforms, including: doorstep delivery of foodgrains; ICT applications and end-to-end computerisation; leveraging “aadhaar” (UID) for unique identification of entitled beneficiaries; full transparency of records; preference to public institutions or bodies in licensing of fair price shops; management of fair price shops by women or their collectives; diversification of commodities distributed under the PDS; full transparency of records; and “introducing schemes such as cash transfer, food coupons or other schemes to the targeted beneficiaries in lieu of their foodgrain entitlements” as prescribed by the central government.

Obligations of Government and Local Authorities

The main obligation of the Central Government is to provide foodgrains (or, failing that, funds) to state governments, at prices specified in Schedule I, to implement the main entitlements. It also has to “provide assistance” to state governments to meet local distribution costs, but on its own terms (“as may be prescribed”). The Central Government has wide-ranging powers to make Rules.

The main obligation of state governments is to implement the relevant schemes, in accordance with the guidelines issued by the Central Government. State governments also have wide-ranging powers to make Rules. They are free to extend benefits and entitlements beyond what is prescribed in the Bill, from their own resources.

Local Authorities and Panchayati Raj Institutions are responsible for proper implementation of the act in their respective areas, and may be given additional responsibilities by notification.

7. Schedules

The Bill has three schedules (these can be amended “by notification”). Schedule 1 prescribes issue prices for the PDS. Schedule 2 prescribes “nutritional standards” for midday meals, take-home rations and related entitlements. For instance, take-home rations for children aged 6 months to 3 years should provide at least 500 calories and 12-15 grams of protein. Schedule 3 lists various “provisions for advancing food security”, under three broad headings: (1) revitalization of agriculture (e.g. agrarian reforms, research and development, remunerative prices), (2) procurement, storage and movement of foodgrains (e.g. decentralised procurement), and (3) other provisions (e.g. drinking water, sanitation, health care, and “adequate pensions” for “senior citizens, persons with disability and single women”).

 

PRESS RELEASE- Peaceful protesters demand withdrawal of police forces in Odisha


PPSS Update : 24th March 2013

PRESS RELEASE

From 22nd March 2013 onwards, more than 200 women of Govindpur village are continuing daily peaceful protest and shouted slogans opposing undemocratic moves of the government and POSCO in the village of Gobindpur in Jagatsinghpur district of Odisha.

We are apprehending a police crackdown after the end of the budget session in the Odisha assembly on 6th of April 2013. Mean while, our villagers re-erected bamboo and wooden barricades at Gobindpur, Patana, Dhinkia and Trilochanpur villages under Jagatsinghpur‘s Dhinkia gram panchayat to prevent officials and police from entering the proposed Posco plant site. Addressing the villagers, our women leader Ms Manorama Khatua said that now we can go to any extent to ensure stopping of the project on our fertile land. She said that the women would henceforth guard the entry gate to Dhinkia area with their male counterparts to ensure no more demolition of betel vines takes place. She also said that our people are hell bent on opposing any move of the authorities to enter Gobindpur.

As you know that the presence of policemen was a cause of tension for women and girls at Gobindpur village. The state government has resorted to unethical tactics of jailing and lathicharging the protesters regularly. As women and children are at the forefront of the movement, regular lathicharge on women and children by paramilitary has become a norm. Over last 2 months though the administration declared that land acquisition would not happen ‘by coercion’, this region has just become a site littered with paramilitary camps with more than 12 paramilitary platoons. The constant presence of paramilitary in the area right inside the villages is worrisome and unacceptable in a democratic polity. A large number of people suffering from ailments are unable to visit doctors and nearest markets. Particularly the suffering of women with gynecological problems is deeply disturbing.

Hence we are demanding immediate withdrawal of policemen from Govindpur Village. To restore faith of its citizenry in Dhinkia & Govindpur villages and beyond, the state government must admit its excesses in the area.

We have also decided to launch hunger-strike from April 3, 2013 if it was not done. We call upon all political parties, social activists, intellectuals, and public concerned citizens, leaders to participate in the proposed hunger-strike.

Hoping for Solidarity.

Prashant Paikaray

Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

Mobile no – 09437571547

E- mail- prashantpaikaray@gmail.com

 

#India – Innocent and unarmed people were beaten up,this is animal behaviour: SC


March 24, 2013

States drag their feet

J. Venkatesan, The Hindu , march 24,2013

TOPICS


The Sunday Story

On March 11, the Supreme Court again issued notice to the Centre through the Secretary, Home Department, on police reforms. This was at the suo motu hearing of the case relating to the assault of a woman by Punjab constables and brutal beating up of women teachers in Bihar.

Notices were also issued to all the State governments and the Union Territories through the Chief Secretaries, the Home Secretaries, the Directors-General of Police, the Administrators and the Police Commissioners, requiring them to file affidavits on the implementation of court directions in what is now famous as the Prakash Singh case. The case has been listed for further hearing on April 1.

The National Police Commission was set up in 1979 to suggest measures on police reforms. The Commission recommended a Model Police Act to replace the outdated Police Act, 1861. However, none of the recommendations was implemented. On a writ petition filed in 1996 by Prakash Singh, former Director-General of the Border Security Force (see accompanying story and graphic), the Supreme Court on September 22, 2006, issued comprehensive directions.

They include: The Director-General of Police should be selected by the States from among the three senior-most officers on the basis of their length of service, very good record and range of experience. Police officers on operational duties like the Inspector-General of Police in charge of a zone, Deputy Inspector-General of Police in charge of a range, Superintendent of Police in charge of a district and Station House Officer in charge of a police station should have a minimum tenure of two years. The Centre and the States were to set up Security Commissions for selection and appointment of personnel and ensure complete autonomy in police administration.

The investigating police should be separated from the law and order police to ensure speedier investigation, better expertise and improved rapport with the people. There should be a Police Establishment Board in each State to decide all transfers, postings, promotions and other service-related matters of officers. A District Level Police Complaints Authority headed by a retired district judge will look into complaints against officers of and up to the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police .

 

#India — Nobody’s children: Report slams the state of juvenile justice in conflict zones


Mar 24, 2013, 09.08AM IST TNN[ Manash Pratim Gohain ]

NEW DELHI: “In 197 districts of India officially notified as affected by internal armed conflicts, which includes 91 districts notified as ‘disturbed’ under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) and 106 districts declared as Left Wing Extremism (LWE) affected, the edifice of the juvenile justice does not exist. Children, irrespective of their age, are treated as adult and subjected to gross human rights violations, including arbitrary arrest and detention, torture, extra-judicial executions and sexual assaults as part of the counter insurgency operations.”

These and many more disturbing details had been revealed by the first ever report on the state of juvenile justice in conflict afflicted districts of India, “Nobody’s children: Juveniles of Conflict Affected Districts of India“, by the Asian Centre for Human Rights (ACHR). Juveniles in these districts are denied access to juvenile justice unlike their counterparts in rest of the country, even as a heated debate has been raging at the national level with respect to lowering the age of juveniles in the wake of the gruesome rape of a young woman on December 16, 2012 in Delhi.

The 197 districts which have been notified as conflict affected include 71 districts notified as “disturbed” under the AFSPA in Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Manipur, Nagaland, Tripura and Jammu and Kashmir; and 106 districts declared as LWE affected in nine states of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Orissa, Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal.

“The report highlights 15 cases of arbitrary detention and torture and six cases of detention under the Public Safety Act of Jammu and Kashmir, 15 cases of extra-judicial executions and five cases of sexual assault such as rape by the security forces. In a number of cases of these blatant violations, the National Human Rights Commission has already awarded compensation and the orders of the NHRC establish the truth beyond any reasonable doubt,” said, Suhas Chakma, director, ACHR.

As per the report on the state of juvenile justice in conflict afflicted districts, in 151 districts out of 197 conflict afflicted districts across 16 states, i.e. 76.64% of the total conflict afflicted districts do not have observation homes (OH) and special homes (SH) implying that juveniles who are taken into custody are kept in police lock up and camps of the army and para-military forces in violation of the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000 [JJ(C&PC) Act] and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The worst cases are Manipur which has only one OH cum SH and Jammu and Kashmir which has only two OH. This denies access to justice to many juveniles detained from other districts as they need to be produced before the respective Juvenile Justice Boards (JJB) or courts in the case of Jammu and Kashmir.

The report further brought to light that in the conflict afflicted districts, the JJBs exist on paper while their functioning remains deplorable. The Government of Manipur had submitted false information to the Ministry of Women and Child Development that nine JJBs had been operating in the State while in reality only one JJB was functioning. As the state government failed to establish the JJBs, the Project Approval Board (PAB) in its 35th Meeting under Integrated Child Protection Scheme (ICPS) held on January 17, 2012 had no other option but to decide not to sanction further grants for the nine JJBs for the current Financial Year 2012- 2013 until a report on the functioning of JJBs with complete details of members, case pendency, among others are submitted by the state government.

In Jharkhand, there were over 3,500 cases pending before various JJBs in the state as on July 11, 2012 while the OH for Boys established in the LWE affected Palamau district was converted into a girl’s residential school – Kasturba Gandhi Balika Vidyalaya, and the juveniles were shifted to the OH, Ranchi, which is about 165 km away. This requires travel arrangements to be made for the juveniles to come to Palamau district and be produced before the JJB, which invariably delays justice.

In Assam, replies received from JJBs under the Right to Information Act showed that not a single review of the pendency of cases before the JJBs has been conducted by the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate or Chief Judicial Magistrate in the districts of Kokrajhar, Dibrugarh, Darrang, Lakhimpur, Udalguri, Dhubri, Goalpara, Barpeta, Golaghat, Morigaon, Chirang, Dhemaji and Nagaon from date of their constitution till March 30, 2012.

The report goes on to cite violations of juveniles’ rights in conflict affected districts. The report claimed that children in the conflict affected districts are subjected to arbitrary arrest and detention including under the national security laws, torture, extra-judicial executions and sexual violence. In many cases, the perpetrators got away by producing “No Objection Certificate” or statements obtained under duress from villagers or victims stating that they had not committed any offence.

The report cited 15 cases of arbitrary arrest, detention and torture. The report stated that “though crimes of arbitrary arrest, detention and torture are difficult to establish, ACHR has been successful to obtain compensation in at least three cases (two of which are highlighted in the report) to establish the patterns of violence against children.

The first case was that of the “illegal detention and torture of 17-year-old Soumen Mohanty, Orissa on November 17, 2010. Mohanty of Netaji Nagar was arrested in connection with Madhupatana police station case No. 218 dated November 17, 2010 under Sections 506/34 of Indian Penal Code and Sections 3 and 5 of the Explosive Substances Act in Cuttack, Orissa.

On November 23, 2010, ACHR filed a complaint with the NHRC which forwarded it to the Orissa Human Rights Commission for taking necessary action. The Police submitted misleading report and this was challenged by the ACHR. Thereafter, the OHRC asked its director (investigation) to conduct an independent inquiry and the inquiry report.

The inquiry revealed that Mohanty was taken into detention at Madhupatana police station on November 17, 2010 between 7.30 pm to 8.30 pm and interrogated by the police. Mohanty was tortured physically and mentally by ASI Satayanarayan Senapati in presence of inspector Jayant Kumar Mohapatra and sub-inspector, S B Jena. Senapati who assaulted Soumen Mohanty for which he is liable to be prosecuted under sections 341/323 IPC and Mohapatra is liable for illegal detention of Mohanty for more than 40 hours under sections 342/ 341/ 323/ 109 IPC. Police records were manipulated showing that Mohanty was arrested on November 18, 2010 at 8.30 pm to cover up the illegal action of Mohapatra and Senapati which amounts to misconduct and dereliction of duty.”

The OHRC also found that when Mohanty was produced before the CJM-cum-Principal, JJB, Cuttack on November 19, 2010, the JJB observed, “Soumen Mohanty complaints of ill-treatment by police while in custody. He has shown his right hand where marks of assault are visible. “The OHRC accepted the report of the director investigation on November 23, 2012 and awarded compensation of Rs 50,000 to the victim. The Commission directed the authorities to decide about the action to be taken against the erring officials for having assaulted Mohanty and manipulated the records.

The second case is about the illegal detention and torture of a 12-year-old minor in Assam, Dipak Saikia (name changed) of Sanitpur village who was tortured by Manuj Boruah, Officer In-Charge at the Sungajan police station in Golaghat district, Assam. On August 16, 2009 at about 11am, a group of about six police personnel entered the house of the victim and dragged him out without giving any reason. He was taken to the Sungajan police station and on reaching the police station, he was ordered to sit on the floor of the verandah. Boruah allegedly tied the minor’s hands on his back with a chain and tortured him. The victim was beaten up with a stick repeatedly on his body including in the thigh, knees, foots, sole, back, arms, elbows and ears. The Officer-In-Charge also asked the minor to keep his hand on his table and was beaten on the nails. He was again hit on the head, neck and nose until Dipak became unconscious.

Pursuant to a complaint filed with the NHRC by ACHR, the Superintendent of Police, Golaghat district, vide communication dated December 7, 2010 submitted a report to the NHRC confirming that the accused Boruah directed his subordinate police officials to pick up the victim from his home at 10.00 am, caned him and detained him in the police station. The report of the SP further stated that accused police officer willfully omitted to make necessary entries in the General Diary of the police station, pertaining to the whole episode including the picking up of the victim, his illegal detention and subsequent release. The report further stated that a Departmental Disciplinary Proceeding has been drawn up against the accused officer for criminal misconduct and dereliction of duty.

The NHRC ordered the state government to provide a compensation of Rs 50,000 to the victim. On April 20, 2012, the NHRC closed the case after the joint secretary to the Government of Assam, Political (A) Department informed that payment of compensation amounting to Rs 50,000 was paid through cheque to the victim.

The special focus of the report has been on the arrests under the Public Safety Act (PSA) in Jammu and Kashmir. Children continue to be arrested under the PSA which provides for preventive detention upto two years without trial in the name of public safety. The report cited the case of one Faizan Rafeeq Hakeem who was arrested for his alleged involvement in “stone-throwing” incident on February 7, 2011 when he was all of 14 years eight months 11 days old. He was booked under the PSA and shifted to Kotbalwal Jail. Finally, Chief Minister Omar Abdullah ordered his release. Hakeem was released on April 5, 2011.

Another case of administrative detention under PSA was that of 17-year-old Murtaza Manzoor. He was released from jail after the High Court intervened and found his imprisonment to be unlawful. He was locked up for more than three months.

The report also claimed that children are routinely picked up and extra-judicially killed including in alleged fake encounters. In this report, ACHR provided 15 cases of extra-judicial execution of children. In a number of cases, extra-judicial executions have been established by the National Human Rights Commission.

Two emblematic cases are killings of 13-year-old Rakhal Gaur by CRPF, Assam and 15-year-old Jatan Reang by Assam Rifles, Assam.

“On December 8, 2011 morning, Cobra commandos of the CRPF reportedly shot dead Gaur at his village, Malasi Namkhi Gaur village under Dolamara police station in Karbi Anglong district of Assam. On December 9, 2011, ACHR filed a complaint with the NHRC urging its immediate and appropriate intervention. NHRC registered the complaint (Case NO.348/3/8/2011-PF) and issued notice to Director General, CRPF, New Delhi and Superintendent of Police, Karbi Anglong district, Assam calling for reports within four weeks. The state government of Assam paid a compensation of Rs 3,00,000 to the next of kin of the deceased from the Chief Minister’s Relief fund and in view of this, the NHRC closed the case.

Meanwhile, Reang was killed in firing by the personnel of 14th Assam Rifles and arbitrarily arrested four other tribal villagers at Gudgudi village under Katli Chara police station in Hailakandi district, Assam. The five tribal villagers including the deceased were returning from Boirabi bazaar when they were ambushed by the 14th Assam Rifles from North Tripura over a bridge at Gudgudi village at around 10 pm on May 14, 2010. The 14th Assam Rifles personnel opened fire indiscriminately without any provocation and killed Reang although they were unarmed. Following the killing of Reang, the Assam Rifles personnel arrested the four other Reang tribal villagers and handed them over to Katli Chara police station.

On July 23, 2010 ACHR filed a complaint with the NHRC urging its immediate and appropriate intervention. The NHRC registered the complaint as Case No.170/3/21/2010-PF/UC and issued notice to the Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. During the course of proceeding, the NHRC received the Magisterial Enquiry Report, Investigation Report of the Superintendent of Police, Hailakandi, and the Post-Mortem Report. The reports confirmed that the minor was fired at from point blank range by a jawan and injured his right thigh. But, the minor was not provided medical care and he died on account of excessive bleeding. The NHRC directed the Ministry of Home Affairs to pay a compensation of Rs 5,00,000 to the next of kin of the deceased.

The ACHR also cited examples of sexual violence children, especially the girls, face sexual violence from the law enforcement personnel in the conflict affected areas. One of the case cited is that of a 15-year-old tribal girl raped by a personnel of Tripura State Rifles on February 23, 2011 at Nandakumarpara village in Khowai subdivision in West Tripura district. The accused Tejendra Barui was deployed in the Village Committee Election for the Tripura Tribal Areas Autonomous District Council.

According to the family members, the accused TSR personnel dragged the victim to a nearby jungle forcefully when she was returning home from her relatives house and raped her. On February 25, 2011, ACHR filed a complaint with the NCPCR which was registered as Case No. TR-19023/21623/2010-11/COMP. Pursuant to NCPCR’s intervention, the District Magistrate and Collector, West Tripura district vide letter dated May 13, 2011 informed the NCPCR that a compensation of Rs 40,000 was recommended to two victims under the Tripura Victim Compensation Fund Rules, 2007.

On June 21, 2012, ACHR further intervened with the NCPCR to ensure that the compensation is enhanced.

Another case of sexual violence cited was that of a 14-year-old mentally challenged girl being raped by a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel near the CRPF camp in Warangal district, Andhra Pradesh in April 2011. The victim was an inmate of a Shelter Home run by an NGO. The matter came to light only when the victim was admitted to a local hospital and gave birth to a premature baby on November 5, 2011. ACHR filed a complaint with the NHRC on November 14, 2011. The NHRC directed the Director General, CRPF, New Delhi and Superintendent of Police, Wrangal district to submit reports.

In compliance, the Director General, CRPF submitted a report which stated that during investigation the caretaker of the Home revealed that a CRPF Constable had raped the girl in the month of April 2011 as a result the victim might have become pregnant. An FIR was also registered under Section 376 IPC at Kakatya University Campus police station, Warangal against an unidentified CRPF personnel and Caretaker of the Home. The NHRC vide its proceedings dated April 13, 2012 directed the CRPF to submit a further report regarding the status of action taken.

 

 

Press Release: Fact finding raises issue of Police Complicity in murder of Bihar RTI activist #MUSTSHARE


PRESS RELEASE

Date: 24.03.2013

Fact finding Team raises issue of Police Complicity in murder of crusader against corruption in Muzaffarpur

A six member fact finding team of the NAPM (National Alliance of People’s Movements) today visited Ratnauli village of Muzaffarpur district in Bihar, where Ram Kumar Thakur, a lawyer and RTI activist was shot dead yesterday evening, 23rd March. Ram Kumar was returning by cycle from the courts with his nephew early yesterday evening. On reaching Purshottampur village, Jamarua panchayat, at around 4:30 pm they were surrounded by six men who came on two motorcycles. The men who have been identified by the nephew are Raj Kumar Sahni, Brahmanand Sahni, Parmanand Sahni, Rajesh Kumar Sahni, Mahesh Sahni, Sukhdev Sahni. According to nephew, Sujit Kumar, It was Rajesh Kumar Sahni, the son of the Mukhiya who gave instructions to surround them and shoot. Ram Kumar was being rushed to the nearby hospital in a tempo when they were met by the police who transferred ram kumar to a bolero with a missing number plate and told the accompanying people to reach Prashant Hospital, but instead of taking Ram Kumar to Prashant Hospital the police took him to Ma Janaki hospital. Those accompanying Ram Kumar have said that the police caused a delay of two hours as a result of which Ram Kumar was brought dead to the hospital. An FIR stating the above has been filed in Manihari thaana this afternoon.

Ram Kumar Thakur had been actively raising the issue of corruption in his village, Ratnauli, for the last few years. He had filed a number of RTI applications on the implementation of the MNREGA and IAY. In a social audit conducted by the Department of Rural Development in September 2011, Ram Kumar Thakur, among others had raised objections to the inclusion of ‘ghost’ names in the muster roll that were read out during the public hearing. This resulted in an uproar where the Mukhiya and his supporters vociferously opposed these claims as false. The social audit could not be completed because of the disruption which then erupted into a fight where those who had objected to the fudged muster roll were beaten. Ram Kumar Thakur was also beaten by the Mukhiya’s men during this incident. After this incident an FIR was filed against the perpetrators by the district administration, however action is yet to be taken.
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Most recently Ram Kumar had filed a case with the State Vigilance Commission on the installation of solar lights under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Programme. The case which was filed along with Sundeshwar Sahni of Lok Jagran Manch, an NGO based in Muzaffarpur raised questions on the allocation of money under the project and alleged mis-management of funds by the Mukhiya, Raj Kumar Sahni. The issues raised by them were even investigated by the Sub-Divisional Officer. The findings of this investigation are not yet available. Following this, in the month of December, Ram Kumar Thakur and his family had received death threats from the Mukhiya’s son, Rajesh Sahni. A letter asking for protection was even sent to the DIG of police by Ram Kumar Thakur asking for protection.

Over three months since Ram Kumar received threats at his home, over three months since the letter asking for protection was sent to the police, and well over a year since the fight that broke out during the social audit in which he was beaten, Ram Kumar was killed by the perpetrators of previous incidents of violence who were well known to the police and district administration. Had the police and administration taken notice of Ram Kumar’s appeal for protection, Ram Kumar Thakur would still be alive. Ram Kumar is succeeded by his wife, two daughters and a son.

Based on the facts that have come to light the NAPM demands that:

Those named in the FIR be arrested immediately
> Speedy trial is undertaken.
> Immediate compensation of Rs. 20 lakhs be given to the victim’s family
> Police complicity is investigated.

A complete investigation into the corruption issues raised by Ram Kumar in Ratnauli Panchayat should be done by the Rural Development Department, Government of Bihar.
This is the fifth case of murder of a RTI activist/ whistleblower in Bihar, making a serious note of this the Government should work towards a comprehensive law for the protection of such persons.

Ram Kumar was also an associate of the Bihar MNREGA Watch, which has been spear heading an unprecedented mobilization of workers in Ratnauli panchayat, and has in the past years spread to other blocks of Muzaffarpur. Sanjay Sahni and others of Bihar MNREGA Watch have been actively raising their voices for securing entitlements under MNREGA and the national and state pension schemes for close to two years through public meetings, demonstrations and application filing.

Members of the NAPM fact finding team included Shahid Kamal (NAPM), Ashish Ranjan (NAPM), Mahendra Yadav(NAPM), Ranjit Paswan (JJSS), Sanjay Sahni (Bihar MNREGA Watch) and Arvind Kumar (JJSS).
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Contact Numbers : 9973363664/ 9973936658

www.jjabihar.org

 

Forgetfulness is minor neurocognitive disorder says DSM-V #mentalhealth #WTFnews


Eat or surf a lot? You risk being labelled mentally ill

, TNN | Mar 24, 2013, 

Eat or surf a lot? You risk being labelled mentally ill
The latest psychiatry manual will, for the first time, spell out Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, minor neurocognitive disorder (like forgetfulness), binge eating, internet addiction, etc. Each new condition could trigger a mega sale of pills.
MUMBAI: Come May, psychiatrists will acquire a new manual to diagnose mental illnesses. But instead of anticipation, there seems to be an air of trepidation hanging around the fifth installment of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders — DSM-V, in short — that is published by the American Psychiatric Association and followed across the world.

Several practitioners are voicing reservations about DSM-V’s new labels. Hinting at a pharmaceuticals-driven manual, a senior psychiatrist said: “It’s about molecules … DSM-Vhas identified so many new conditions that people will be handed out prescriptions more rapidly then before.”

The psychiatry manual will, for the first time, spell out Adult Attention Deficit Disorder, minor neurocognitive disorder (like forgetfulness), binge eating, internet addiction, etc. Each new condition could trigger a mega sale of pills, but the DSM-V team has shrilly denied any connection with the big-buck pharma sector.

Manual key to research

Earlier this week, American psychiatrist Allen Frances, who helped devise the fourth edition of the manual (DSM-IV), lashed out against the new installment in the British Medical Journal. “It risks mislabelling a sizeable number of population as mentally ill,” Frances wrote.

He is disturbed about a new introduction called ‘somatic symptom disorder’ that will need only one bodily symptom distressing or disrupting daily life for about six months. “This new category will extend the scope of mental disorder classification by eliminating the requirement that somatic symptoms must be medically unexplained,” he wrote. In a field trial study to check for somatic symptom disorder, the results included 15% of patients with cancer or heart disease and 26% with irritable bowel syndrome or fibromyalgia. “The rate of psychiatric disorder among medically ill patients is unknown, but these rates seem high,” added Frances.

Doctors in India are not too supportive of the somatic symptom disorder. “One symptom cannot be used to diagnose a mental condition,” said Dr Shubhangi Parkar, who heads KEM Hospital’s psychiatry department. “In India, we need to take into account the patient’s body language, our social milieu and families before making a diagnosis,” she said.

Dr Rochelle Suri, a counsellor, said she is not a big fan of DSM-V because it is too generalized. “Just because someone has a few of the symptoms doesn’t mean they have the illness,” she said. Dr Harish Shetty from L H Hiranandani Hospital said: “Treatment modalities should focus on the narratives of life and not on presentation of symptoms alone. A clear diagnosis should be viewed as a trailer and not the movie that needs treatment.”

How important is DSM-V in the Indian context? Parkar said: “DSM-V is important because care has been taken to ensure that cultural context is considered in diagnosis.” In fact, the Indian Psychiatric Society set up a task force to discuss DSM-V and send its recommendations.

Dr B N Gangadhar, professor at Nimhans who was on the IPS task force on DSM-V, said: “DSM is important mainly for doctors who are doing research. With growing amount of research conducted in the country, DSM-V will be an important tool.” But he added diagnosis in India is mainly done on the basis of World Health Organisation’s parallel scale called ICD ( International Classification of Diseases).

Suri said DSM is becoming popular in India’s “westernized” metros because it aids fast diagnosis. “People want a treatment plan as quickly as possible. Hence, DSM would be a good tool in the cities, but in rural settings, where western influence is low, it may not be possible to use it,” she added.

Parkar said each DSM has brought about debate and changes while Shetty viewed it as flexing of muscles. “DSM-V is an aggressive campaign for space and more power for psychiatry in a world where physical illnesses are the emperors,” Shetty said.

New illnesses in psychiatry handbook 

Temper tantrums are now Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder

Grief is Major Depressive Disorder

Forgetfulness is minor neurocognitive disorder

Adults can have Attention Deficit Disorder too

Binge Eating Disorder

Internet Addiction

DSM

DSM stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. It’s published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. This ensures that a diagnosis of schizophrenia is consistent from one clinician to another, across the world. DSM is also important to establish criteria for diagnosis that can be used in research on psychiatric disorders.

DSM has been periodically reviewed and revised since the publication of DSM-I in 1952. Given the burst of information in neurology, genetics and behavioral sciences, experts feel the need to upgrade the scale of diagnosis.

DSM V has been courting controversy for the last four-five years because as critics say, it’s trying to be the game-changer in psychiatry.

In an internet forum, American psychiatrist Dr Allen Frances, who was in the team to draw up DSM-IV, listed the 10 worst changes in DSM-V:

(1) Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder: DSM-5 will turn temper tantrums into a mental disorder. Children and youngsters may be given medication.

(2) Normal grief will become Major Depressive Disorder, thus medicalising emotional reactions to the loss of a loved one. More pills

(3) The old-age characteristic of forgetting could be diagnosed as minor neurocognitive disorder, creating a huge false positive population of people who are not at special risk for dementia

(4) DSM-5 could lead to overdiagnosis of Adult Attention Deficit Disorder and widespread misuse of drugs

(5) Excessive eating 12 times in three months will not be considered gluttony, but a psychiatric illness called Binge Eating Disorder.

(6) DSM-V may exclude Asperger Syndrome, a form of high-functioning autism. Autism diagnosis is likely to fall

(7) First-time substance abusers will be clubbed with long-time addicts

(8) DSM-5 has introduced Behavioral Addictions. Could lead to over-diagnosis of internet and sex addiction

(9) DSM-5 highlights Generalized Anxiety Disorder and the worries of everyday life.

(10) DSM-5 could lead to misdiagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder

 

Dirty Eleven Companies that Collaborated With the Nazis #mustread


written by Sam Greenspan

I saw this article today; it’s about a controversy over the German insurance company Allianz buying the naming rights to the new New York Giants and Jets football stadium.

That’s controversial because Allianz has very famous Nazi ties — they insured Auschwitz, their CEO was one of Hitler’s advisers, and, during the Holocaust, instead of paying life insurance benefits to Jews, they sent that money straight to the Nazis.

Jewish groups don’t want Allianz getting the naming rights to the new Meadowlands. Abe Foxman, the head of the Anti-Defanation League, says, quote, “It would be an insult. It’s putting their name in lights for generations to come.”

Since World War Two ended, Allianz has officially apologized for its role in the Holocaust and has paid several million dollars in restitution. Which brings me to a larger point here: At what point should we say to Nazi collaborating companies, “OK. You’ve apologized, you’ve paid, none of your current employees worked with the Nazis, it’s time to move on”?

Because there are a TON of companies that worked with the Nazis. Way more than the Allianz and the other 11 I’m about to talk about here. They’ve all apologized. A lot have paid restitution. Two generations have passed.

I won’t comment on whether I think people should forgive them… boycott them… continue to patronize them, but begrudgingly… or continue to patronize them with statements like, “Wow, Allianz, your insurance is SO good, we’re SO impressed with what you’re doing. And if it wasn’t for the 800 other, better insurance companies out there, we’d TOTALLY sign up with you.”

That’s up to you. I’m just puttin’ the information out there. Here are 11 companies that you may not realize collaborated with the Nazis.


  1. The 12 Nazi collaborating companies featured in this article.

    Kodak. During World War Two, Kodak’s German branch used slave laborers from concentration camps. Several of their other European branches did heavy business with the Nazi government.

    And Wilhelm Keppler, one of Hitler’s top economic advisers, had deep ties in Kodak. When Nazism began, Keppler advised Kodak and several other U.S. companies that they’d benefit by firing all of their Jewish employees. (Source: The Nation)

  2. Hugo Boss. In the 1930s, Hugo Boss started making Nazi uniforms. The reason: Hugo Boss himself had joined the Nazi party, and got a contract to make the Hitler Youth, storm trooper and SS uniforms.That was a huge boon for Hugo Boss… he got the contract just eight years after founding his company… and that infusion of business helped take the company to another level.The Nazi uniform manufacturing went so well that Hugo Boss ended up needing to bring in slave laborers in Poland and France to help out at the factory.

    In 1997, Hugo’s son, Siegfried Boss, told an Austrian news magazine, “Of course my father belonged to the Nazi party. But who didn’t belong back then?” (Source:New York Times)

  3. Volkswagen. Ferdinand Porsche, the man behind Volkswagen and Porsche, met with Hitler in 1934, to discuss the creation of a “people’s car.” (That’s the English translation of Volkswagen.)Hitler told Porsche to make the car with a streamlined shape, “like a beetle.” And that’s the genesis of the Volkswagen Beetle… it wasn’t just designed for the Nazis, Hitler NAMED it.During World War Two, it’s believed that as many as four out of every five workers at Volkswagen’s plants were slave laborers. Ferdinand Porsche even had a direct connection to Heinrich Himmler, one of the leaders of the SS, to directly request slaves from Auschwitz. (Source: The Straight Dope)
  4. Bayer. During the Holocaust, a German company called IG Farben manufactured the Zyklon B gas used in the Nazi gas chambers. They also funded and helped with Josef Mengele’s “experiments” on concentration camp prisoners.IG Farben is the company that turned the single largest profit from work with the Nazis. After the War, the company was broken up. Bayer was one of its divisions, and went on to become its own company.Oh… and aspirin was founded by a Bayer employee, Arthur Eichengrun. But Eichengrun was Jewish, and Bayer didn’t want to admit that a Jewish guy created the one product that keeps their company in business. So, to this day, Bayer officially gives credit to Felix Hoffman, a nice Aryan man, for inventing aspirin. (Source: Alliance for Human Research ProtectionPharmaceutical Achievers)
  5. Siemens. Siemens took slave laborers during the Holocaust and had them help construct the gas chambers that would kill them and their families. Good people over there.Siemens also has the single biggest post-Holocaust moment of insensitivity of any of the companies on this list. In 2001, they tried to trademark the word “Zyklon” (which means “cyclone” in German) to become the name a new line of products… including a line of gas ovens.Zyklon, of course, being the name of the poison gas used in their gas chambers during the Holocaust.

    A week later, after several watchdog groups appropriately freaked out, Siemens withdrew the application. They said they never drew the connection between the Zyklon B gas used during the Holocaust and their proposed Zyklon line of products. (Source: BBC)

  6. Coca-Cola, specifically Fanta. Coke played both sides during World War Two… they supported the American troops but also kept making soda for the Nazis. Then, in 1941, the German branch of Coke ran out of syrup, and couldn’t get any from America because of wartime restrictions.So they invented a new drink, specifically for the Nazis: A fruit-flavored soda called Fanta.That’s right: Long before Fanta was associated with a bunch of exotic women singing a god-awful jingle, it was the unofficial drink of Nazi Germany. (Source: New Statesman)
  7. Ford. Henry Ford is a pretty legendary anti-Semite, so this makes sense. He was Hitler’s most famous foreign backer. On his 75th birthday, in 1938, Ford received a Nazi medal, designed for “distinguished foreigners.”He profiteered off both sides of the War — he was producing vehicles for the Nazis AND for the Allies.I’m wondering if, in a completely misguided piece of logic, Allianz points to the Detroit Lions giving Ford the naming rights to their stadium as a reason why they should get the rights to the Meadowlands. (Source: Reformed Theology)
  8. Standard Oil. The Luftwaffe needed tetraethyl lead gas in order to get their planes off the ground. Standard Oil was one of only three companies that could manufacture that type of fuel. So they did.Without them, the German air force never could’ve even gotten their planes off the ground.When Standard Oil was dissolved as a monopoly, it led to ExxonMobil, Chevron and BP, all of which are still around today. (But fortunately, their parent company’s past decision to make incredible profits off of war have not carried on.) (Source: MIT’s Thistle)
  9. Chase bank. A lot of banks sided with the Nazis during World War Two. Chase is the most prominent.They froze European Jewish customers’ accounts and were extremely cooperative in providing banking service to Germany. (Source: New York Times)
  10. IBM. IBM custom-build machines for the Nazis that they could use to track everything… from oil supplies to train schedules into death camps to Jewish bank accounts to individual Holocaust victims themselves.In September of 1939, when Germany invaded Poland, the “New York Times” reported that three million Jews were going to be “immediately removed” from Poland and were likely going to be “exterminat[ed].”IBM’s reaction? An internal memo saying that, due to that “situation”, they really needed to step up production on high-speed alphabetizing equipment. (Source: CNet)
  11. Random House publishing. Random House’s parent company, Bertelsmann A.G., worked for the Nazis… they published Hitler propaganda, and a book called “Sterilization and Euthanasia: A Contribution to Applied Christian Ethics”.Bertelsmann still owns and operates several companies. I picked Random House because they drew controversy in 1997 when they decided to expand the definition of Nazi in Webster’s Dictionary.Eleven years ago, they added the colloquial, softened definition of “a person who is fanatically dedicated to or seeks to control a specified activity, practice, etc.” (Think “Soup Nazi”.)

    The Anti-Defamation League called that expanded definition offensive… especially when added by a company with Nazi ties… they said it, quote, “trivializes and denies the murderous intent and actions of the Nazi regime… it also cheapens the language by allowing people to reach for a quick word fix… [and] lends a helping hand to those whose aim is to prove that the Nazis were really not such terrible people.” (Source: New York ObserverADL)

This list was originally published on Thursday, September 11, 2008 at http://www.11points.com/

 

Vedanta offers govt, ONGC seats on Cairn board – Illegal


 

 TNN | Mar 24, 2013,
NEW DELHI/BARMER: NRI metals and mining tycoon Anil Agarwal is willing to offer the oil ministry and state-run explorer ONGC a seat on the board of Cairn India, even as the Vedanta group firm started pumping oil from its third field in the Barmer block and began commercial gas supply from the acreage.

“Instead of having management committee (oversight panel for a field) and various levels (of approval), ONGC and petroleum ministry can put their nominee on board of Cairn to cut approval process and expedite decision making,” PTI quoted Agarwal as saying at the function to mark commercial gas supply from the Barmer block.

Industry experts say putting a ministry representative on the board of a private firm under its watch is not feasible due to legal and regulatory issues. Besides, such a move would give rise to conflict of interest and may not be passed.

Even for ONGC, which is Cairn’s 30% partner in Barmer, a Cairn board position does not look feasible since it has no stake in the former. Even if Cairn shareholders make an exception for ONGC, it would perhaps ease communications between the partners and shorten the planning process for the field. But approvals would still have to be sought from the ministry, its technical arm or the oversight panel.

To that extent, Agarwal’s offer is to be seen as an expression of his frustration with the slow decision-making process in the government. His Vedanta Resources had entered a deal to buy Edinburgh-based Cairn Energy Plc‘s majority stake in its Indian unit in August 2011 for $8.6 billion. But it took over 16 months for the deal to get all regulatory clearances. Thereafter, the ministry took more than a year to allow Cairn to conduct additional exploration in the field.

(With inputs from PTI)

 

25th Anniversary of Paash – A Punjabi Poet who died for opposing Fanaticism #mustshare


SUNDAY, MARCH 24, 2013

The Most Dangerous – Poem by Paash

Most treacherous is not the robbery
of hard earned wages
Most horrible is not the torture by the police.

Most dangerous is
To be filled with dead peace
Not to feel agony and bear it all,

Leaving home for work
And from work return home
Most dangerous is the death of our dreams.

Most dangerous is that watch
Which runs on your wrist
But stands still for your eyes.

Most dangerous is that eye
Which sees all but remains frostlike,
Most dangerous is the moon
Which rises in the numb yard
After each murder,
But does not pierce your eyes like hot chilis

By Gurpreet Singh

Twenty-five years ago when leftists across the world were commemorating the hanging of Bhagat Singh—a towering revolutionary who fought against the British occupation of India—another progressive voice was silenced by the terrorist bullets in Punjab, India.

Paash, whose real name was Avtar Sandhu, was gunned down by Sikh separatists on March 23, 1988.

It was a sheer coincidence that his murder came on a historic day that commemorated the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh and his two comrades, Rajguru and Sukhdev, who were hanged together by the British government on March 23, 1931. But the political ideology of Paash, who was born in 1950, made him inseparable from them.


True to his commitment toward the secular and progressive ideology of Bhagat Singh and his comrades, Paash was assassinated for his writings, which opposed religious fundamentalism. 

Much like Bhagat Singh, Paash was opposed to religious fanaticism of every shade and pulled no punches while criticizing both Hindu and Sikh extremists.

Yet the terrorists, owing allegiance to the Khalistan Commando Force seeking a separate theocratic Sikh homeland, shot him dead. 

His death shocked secularist Punjabi scholars in B.C. where a Paash Memorial Trust is still active and continues to hold events in his memory once a while.

Although Paash lived in California, he never made it to Canada. He was visiting India at the time of his murder.

It was thanks to Maxim Gorky’s Mother that Avtar Sandhu came to be known as Paash. Born in a peasant family, he loved to identify himself after Pasha, the hero of the classic novel by the same name.

This pen name gave him a new identity which remained with him until his assassination. There were some striking similarities between legendary Pasha and Paash as both stood for the working class and opposed both the establishment and theocracy.


Paash started writing poetry during his early teens and was an ardent reader, who had a personal library that housed books on range of subjects including science, philosophy, and literature. Though he wrote essays and published two Punjabi journals, Haak and Anti 47, as well as a “wall newspaper“, he gained much prominence as a poet. 

His poetry was so popular that its translation from Punjabi into other languages attracted attention widely, both outside Punjab and all of India. Even some Bollywood stars were among his admirers.

In the late 1960s he became involved in the youth wing of the Communist Party of India, but slowly he became fed up with its politics and instead joined with supporters of the ultra-leftist Naxalbari movement. It believed in an armed struggle for the sake of landless farmworkers.

He borrowed the idea of publishing a wall newspaper from Chinese revolution. It is a separate matter that he was not a sectarian leftist and remained critical of the flaws within Communist parties and groups.

Paash was briefly jailed for being a Naxalite but this did not deter him from writing for poor and against state repression. His poems were frequently smuggled out of prison and published. His rebellious poetry was widely circulated among the youngsters. Even a section of police and bureaucracy was influenced by his poetry.

It is not surprising that the BJP, a Hindu nationalist party of India, opposed an attempt to include one of his highly provocative poems in the school curriculum. 

Paash also opposed the state of emergency imposed by the Congress government from 1975 to 1977, and expressed his anger at the then-Indian prime minister Indira Gandhi in his poetry.

He even returned a paycheque to a Hindi newspaper that censored lines about Gandhi in his poem as a mark of protest.

It was his journal Anti 47 that provoked the Sikh separatists. Since he studied a lot, he questioned and denounced their separatist ideology by quoting from Sikh scriptures. He shamed them by arguing that the real Sikhism was all about equality and compassion—and not fascism.

The title of the journal symbolized a challenge to another attempt to divide India on religious lines like in 1947, when Muslim Pakistan was separated from India.

As a result, he was gunned down by the extremists in his native village Talwandi Salem. As one says, you can kill a person but not an idea. Paash may have been murdered physically, but his rebellious rhymes will continue to live.

Gurpreet Singh is Georgia Straight contributor, and the host of a program on Radio India. He’s working on a book tentatively titled Canada’s 9/11: Lessons from the Air India Bombings

#India- Observe 23-30 March week -unconditional release of political prisoners and repealing draconian laws #AFPSA


COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS
185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025

ON MARCH 23—BHAGAT SINGH, SUKHDEV AND RAJGURU’S MARTYRDOM DAY

OBSERVE THE WEEK 23-30 MARCH 
FOR THE UNCONDITIONAL RELEASE OF ALL POLITICAL PRISONERS!
TO REPEAL ALL DRACONIAN LAWS INCLUDING AFSPA & UAPA!
FOR POLITICAL PRISONERS STATUS TO ALL THOSE WHO HAS BEEN INCARCERATED FOR THEIR POLITICAL VIEWS!
NO TO DEATH PENALTY!

Revolutionaries never die. The martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru once again reiterate this truth. Their martyrdom epitomises the veritable saying even in death we shall dare! Yes the indefatigable spirit of the three martyrs still enlivens the struggle for justice and truth for many of the oppressed and exploited in the Indian subcontinent as well as the world. The conviction of the three martyrs as young revolutionaries to swim against the tide, to dare to dream of a new world and break new paths for the emancipation of the vast sections of the toiling masses of the subcontinent still lingers in the dreams of many in Post-47 India.

Today when we observe the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh-Sukhdev-Rajguru little have things changed from the days of colonial vintage with the vast sections of the people of the subcontinent living in abysmal conditions—literal hand to mouth existence—with uncertainties abounding their lives. All the efforts of these peoples to make their world a better place to live, with dignity, equality, security as human beings have been met with the worst forms of violence from the powers that be. The pro-imperialist, Development State that was ushered in, post-1947, in the Indian subcontinent has systematically pushed these peoples to the margins so much so that their survival is under peril. Every effort of the people to do away with this model of development that replicates the exploitative, oppressive structures of surplus maximisation of the local parasitic classes in alliance with imperialist interests have been met with criminal profiling by the Indian State. Several draconian legislations enacted since 1947 by the Indian State have been in one form or the other retained in many such legislations to follow till date despite protests from the progressive, democratic sections of the society. The present day Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) has turned out to be one of the most draconian legislations with scores of people put behind the bars under this act. Along with this is the notorious Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) that is in force in the regions of the North East and Kashmir as well as a surfeit of draconian security laws framed by the various state governments in India. The simultaneity in the spate of legislations of various kinds of draconian security acts by almost all state governments in India along with the aggressive implementation of the policies of Liberalisation, Privatisation and Globalisation is significant. The last 15 years itself has witnessed this unprecedented rise of different forms of penal laws that are being used with impunity to silence and incarcerate many a Bhagat Singhs, Sukhdevs and Rajgurus in the length and breadth of the Indian subcontinent. But despite the beastly demeanour of the Indian State not a single project or policy initiative—be it mining, land grab, dam construction, super highways, forest land, or setting up of mega-steel plants etc—of the Indian government has gone without the news of protests from the masses of the people who have resorted to every form and means to defend their land and livelihoods.

At a time when from the various ministries of the central government to the Governors and chief ministers of the states let alone the lowest commandant of the paramilitary at the ground are all preaching ‘development’—an euphemism for further violence on them in the form of land grab, displacement from their habitat, a policy of unbridled loot and plunder of people’s resources—to the people the real violent face of the state has never been exposed so blatantly before the people. The duplicity of this talk of development of the State has never been more evident as it is today. The struggle of the vast sections of the people left with little options should also be seen in this context as an attempt to stay alive amidst the dance of death in the form of malnutrition, hunger, lack of opportunities of production and reproduction of their material world. The rural economy which has traditionally been the backbone of the vast sections of the people as the largest employment provider has been perilously stagnant the situation moving from bad to worse as the state has totally neglected any form of constructive expenditure in this area. The fear of more Bhagat Singhs and his ilk rising again from this genuine anger that vast sections of the toiling masses share with their martyred freedom fighter is palpable in the response of the state as more and more forces abound those areas of the subcontinent where the land is rich abundant with resources inhabited by the poorest of the poor. More and more prisons and state-of-the-art police stations are being built in the areas populated by the poorest of the people. The garrison state teethed with penal laws is fast becoming a reality.

Thus the target of the State which is in service of moribund capital in deep crisis has been the poor Adivasis, dalits, various nationality groups such as the Kashmiris, Nagas, Manipuri people, Assamese, Kamtapuris, the Muslim minorities who have become easy targets of the so-called war against terror. Around 25000 adivasis have been put behind bars in various prisons in the states of Chhattisgrah, Jharkhand, Orissa, Jungalmahal in West Bengal etc. Hundreds of Muslims framed in several cases as part of the ideological campaign of the Indian State which as pitched itself as the able partner of US imperialism in the so-called war against terror. The undeclared number of Kashmiri Muslims kept in various prisons as well as secret torture and detention centres run into thousands. Further India has become the biggest purchaser of weapons in the international market while it has little to spend on health and education.

As every form of dissent—struggle for better wages and working conditions, better and subsidized education, employment, livelihood, against displacement and land grab etc., is being criminalised by the State as the activists and their leadership of various struggles are being put behind bars with trumped up cases, anyone who has taken the trouble to question the anti-people, pro-business/capital policies of the government has become a Maoist. Anyone who empathises with the oppressed and discriminated, anyone who has given his/her time apart from their personal life for the betterment of the greater common good, for the cause of the poorest of the poor, the salt of the earth cannot be but a Maoist a la the perception of the police and an obliging, sensation driven media.

In such a scenario when prisons are being crowded with more and more people clamouring for their rights, with the State constantly in search of a submissive, naive subject as its people, the spirit of the martyrdom of Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru becomes alive, as the long and arduous struggle to do away with all kinds of prisons that has become fetters to the overall development of humanity cannot be wished away.

CRPP calls upon all freedom loving people of the subcontinent to come forward to be part of the legacy of the martyrdom of our beloved freedom fighters and their cherished goals for a just and equitable society. The struggle to release all political prisoners and to do away with all kinds of draconian laws and to put an end to all forms exploitative and oppressive violence of the State in the form of capital punishment and other extra-judicial forms of killings are inseparable from the cherished dreams of the Great Martyrs.

In Solidarity,
Amit Bhattacharyya

 

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