PRESS RELEASE- Repression of people affected by Kharak Dam in Madhya Pradesh


At around 10.30 in the morning of the 26th of May 2013, a cavalcade of four large police vans filled with around 150 male and female police personnel, and several cars and jeeps and a large machine for work on the dam-site headed by Shri Jitendra Singh, SDM, Bhagwanpura arrived at Village Choukhand, which is a village on the dam site of the Kharak dam proposed to be built on Kharak river in District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh. These villagers, all adivasis, Bhils and Bhilalas, as well as those of the accompanying villages had been resisting the construction of the Kharak dam, until they are rehabilitated and resettled, and their claims are justly settled. On that morning, as the cavalcade stopped at the village, many adivasi villagers went up to the administration to talk to them about the dam, and find out the reason for the police presence. The SDM was the first to emerge from his car, however he did not talk to the people or respond to their queries in any manner. The police force got down thereafter and grouped themselves in a single file. The SDM then ordered that the villagers should be arrested and put into the vans. At this, the police brutally lathi-charged the villagers. The villagers were chased all through the village. Those in their houses were not spared as the police personnel and the SDM himself went from house to house, dragging out people. Even the small children and any others who pleaded with the administration to talk to them were not spared. Women and small children, as also school going children were brutally beaten up. During the lathi charge, the police typically held the villagers close and then hit them on their heads with their lathis. As per the villagers, the skulls of a number of villagers who were then arrested, were cracked open. Women were also brutally beaten by the male policemen, lathis inserted into their clothes, and their clothes pulled, torn and dishevelled.  Many of the male police were carrying bottles of liquor, and they would alternately take swigs of the liquor, shout and beat the villagers. Many of the female police were also drunk. As per the reports of the villagers, the SDM himself donned khakhi uniform and a hat and lathi-charged the villagers along with the police.  A large number of men and women were arrested and taken to Bhagwanpura and from there onwards to Kharone where they were reportedly placed in judicial custody, after reportedly being charged under S.151 and 353 of the IPC.
Some of incidents narrated which showed the brutality of the police are as follows:
  • Muliram s/o Bhadada, a youth from the village studying in Bhopal, beseeched the SDM saying Please do not beat us, please talk to our people. On hearing this, the police flung him on the ground saying how did you dare say this, and beating him mercilessly and dragging him on the ground, took him to the thana where he was arrested.
  • Even visitors to the village were not spared. Nathu bhai from village Bhulwania who was visiting his daughter in Chaukhand was picked up and arrested, as was Geetabai from village Khapada who was visiting her relatives in Chaukhand, and who was dragged out of her host’s house and arrested.
  • Banchabai of village Chaukhand who was inside her house with her two small children and a third suckling infant at her breast, was also hounded out of her house by the police, beaten and arrested.
  • Tudpiabai Gangaram’s two young daughters Kalibai aged 9 years and Phulbai aged 13 years, who began to cry and cling to their father Gangaram who had been hit on the head in their presence and was being taken away by the police, were also brutally beaten up by the police with lathis. By the time of the night meeting, neither of the girls had spoken or eaten anything, one had not got up from her bed, and apart from the physical hurt and inflammation of their bodies, both of them were in deep trauma.

The Kharak dam is an irrigation project proposed to be built on the Kharak river at the border of Districts Khargone and Badwani in Madhya Pradesh. The project is slated to affect 7 villages of Districts Khargone and Badwani, namely, Juna Bilwa, Kaniapani and Choukhand in District Khargone, and villages Kamat, Kaniapani,  Julwania and Muvasia in District Badwani. The dam is yet to receive either statutory forest clearance under S.2 of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980 or environment clearance under provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. Yet work on the dam has been illegally started this year by the State Government. Challenged by the adivasis, it stopped two months ago, but was resumed once more after the police action on the 26th of May 2013.
Acquisition for the project commenced in 2011 and 2012, and in July 2012, S.12 notices dated 27.07.2012 were given to some villagers, for payment of compensation under the Land Acquisition Act. However they were not given any copies of the awards which would allow them to challenge the award through references under S.18 of the LA Act in the courts. The people were told that they would be given their compensation in three installments, and if they did not take the money, they would have to forego it, and further they would be jailed and kept in jail, until the project was completed. Thus they were forced to take the compensation in an oppressive manner. These families of Choukhand and the other affected villages of District Khargone were compensated at the rate of Rs. 40,000 per acre, although reportedly, the Collector’s guideline for the village is Rs. 1,60,000 per acre for un-irrigated land and is Rs. 3,20,000 per acre for irrigated land. The actual market rates in voluntary sales are much higher. Much of this land is irrigated, which had been ignored while assessing compensation.
However around 150 families from the three Khargone villages including Village Chaukhand, who cultivated land through a common cooperative society since 1969 (through common patta dated 10.03.1969 and renewed by pavti dated 27.06.94) and whose cooperative society was disbanded in the late 90’s cultivate individual portions of these revenue lands, without title. The cultivators of the Khargone villages who are cultivating revenue lands without title have also been denied any form of compensation or rehabilitation, and were in fact told that they were not entitled for any rehabilitation. Many of the families who cultivated patta land in Village Chaukhand and the other Khargone villages also do not have their names inscribed on the pattas as Khatedars, as the land records were old, have not been updated, and does not reflect the actual cultivation status on the ground. These families were also denied any form of compensation. Persistent demands for the just settlement of their claims has not been met by the district administration.
All the four affected villages of District Badwani are under reserved forest, and the villagers there are cultivating forest land. The residents of the four villages of Badwani affected by the Kharak dam who cultivate forest lands and hold pattas for cultivation of forest land under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006, and some of whose claims under the 2006 Act are also pending, were excluded from any form of compensation and rehabilitation, and have been expressly told that the Government is not required to give them any compensation.
The villagers in this area had united under the aegis of the Jagrut Adivasi Dalit Sangathan and had been agitating their issues for the last six months, and in the last two months stopped all work on the dam, until the issues related to settlement of land claims, compensation, rehabilitation, and grant of alternative land was settled. Leading activist of the organization, Ms. Madhuri Krishnaswamy  had been jailed ten 10 days ago in a case related to denial of health and birthing facilities for Adivasi women in Badwani, and is presently detained in Khargone jail. Evidently, the district administration of Khargone has found the moment and the absence of Madhuri opportune for cracking down on the Kharak dam affected adivasis.
The main findings of the team are as follows:
1.    The dam construction work is proceeding completely illegally, without the mandatory prior clearance under S.2 of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, and environmental clearance under provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The State Government must immediately stop all work on the project, and also discharge all tenders for the project.
2.    There was no provocation, or use of any form of verbal or physical violence by the villagers on the 26th of May 2013. The villagers tried to talk to the officers about their problems but were repulsed. On the other hand, the administration and police deliberately planned a crack-down on the villagers in order to intimidate and terrorize the villagers and break their struggle for their rights. They came prepared for this purpose and executed their plan. The use of force on the villagers who were asking for the protection and grant of their legal rights is completely unjustified.
3.    The majority of the villagers have been willfully excluded from the compensation process, and their bonafide claims and legal rights on the revenue and forest land have not been considered.
4.    Thus, villagers cultivating government revenue lands without titles since 1984 have not been considered as Bhumiswamis under the provisions of Madhya Pradesh Krishi Prayojan Ke Liye Upyog Ki Rahi Dakhal Rahit Bhoomi Par Bhoomiswami Adhikaron Ka Pradan Kiya Jana (Vishesh Upabandh) Adhiniyam, 1984, under which all persons in cultivation of government land on 2nd October 1984 were deemed Bhumiswamis under the Act. They have also not been considered for grant of Bhumiswami status for being in possession of government land, under notifications of the State Government in 1998, 2000, and 2002, for change of use of charnoi land to agricultural land.
5.    Claims under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 of many villagers cultivating forest lands are pending or are yet to be considered. No cognizance has also been taken of the families who have already received pattas under the Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006. Ousting of the adivasis before their claims are settled, or alienation of their forest land rights due to the project since the grant of land rights under the 2006 Act is not alienable under the Act, is in violation of Scheduled Tribes and other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006.
6.    Even those who have been compensated for their titled lands have been badly shortchanged, and compensation for their rich, black cotton soils, has been given at absurdly low rates and in a completely arbitrary manner, at rates which are only a fraction of the Government rates for the village and the market rates in the area. None of the villagers were able to file references under S.18 of the LA Act, in the district Courts to challenge the low rates of compensation, within 5 weeks time limit after receiving S.12 notices in July 2012. However, since they have not been given copies of the land awards as required as per judgment of the Supreme Court, this can still be done.
7.    There was no updating of the land records and settlement of claims even for the titled land despite demand by the villagers, resulting in numerous disputes in the village and among families.
8.    The State Government has not applied the State or National R&R Policy to the area or made any provision for the grant of alternative entitlements under any R&R scheme for the affected tribal population, despite ILO norms requiring land replacement for adivasis facing forced displacement.
9.    The State Government must immediately discharge the adivasi men and women from jail, remove the cases against them, punish the police and administration officials responsible for the unjustified use of force, apologize to the adivasis and also give them damages.
10.     The State Government must speak to the adivasis and their organization, and meet the bonafide, lawful and just demands of the villagers for settlement of claims, compensation and R&R.
A team of three persons Ms. Chittaroopa Palit, Dharamdas Lohare, social activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan and Ms. Santoshi, student visited Village Chaukhand on the night of the 26th of May. Around 100 villagers gathered in a meeting at 10.30 at night in which they related the events of the day, and the back-ground of the issue. Police vans could be seen moving to and fro even during the meeting. The Adivasi villagers were very disturbed by the repression which had taken place, but were valiant, and said that they understood that the struggle for just settlement of their claims and for grant of alternative land was going to be a long haul, and they were prepared to fight for their rights. The names of the villagers who shared the events which forms the basis of this report are as follows:
1. Tudpiabai Gangaram, 2. Vairaiyabai Sakharam, 3. Karewtbai Jagdish, 4. Saklibai Chunnilal, 5. Nirma d/o Gampulal (student class XII), 6. Archana d/o Dinesh (student Class XI), 7. Kalibai Gangaram aged 9 years, 8. Kamlabai Masriya, 9. Gyanibai Sikram, 10. Kalibai Kalarsigh, 11. Vestabai Esram, 12. Shivram Tersingh, 13. Bhikla Ramlal, 14. Vimla Dhulsingh, 15. Ramdas Chattarsingh, 16. Champalal Mangilal.
Chittaroopa Palit                                                     Khandwa, 28th May 2013
Dharamdas Lohare


#India – Rape accused Kurien heads for global meet on women #WTFnews #Vaw

Undeterred by Oppn boycott back at home, Rajya Sabha deputy chairman will be the lead speaker at the mega event

dna correspondent @dna

New Delhi: Rajya Sabha deputy chairman PJ Kurien, who is battling rape charges, would represent India at a global conference to discuss issues related to women and their empowerment. The conference is being attended by 60 parliamentarians from world over.
After Congress refused to dismiss Kurien last February, after the resurfacing of the Suryanelli sex scandal case which has rocked Kerala off and on since 1996, opposition parties in Rajya Sabha have decided not to allow him to preside when the House discusses issues related to women.
The case relates to abduction and serial rape of a 16-year-old schoolgirl of Suryanelli in Kerala by 42 men over 41 days in January-February 1996.
Undeterred by the charges and opposition boycott back home, Kurien will deliver the inaugural address at the 3rd Global Women Deliver conference at Kuala Lumpur, capital of Malaysia.
The event will be attended by the prime minister of Malaysia Datuk Seri Najib Razak among other dignitaries.
The three-day conference from May 28 is touted as the largest global event of the decade to focus on the health and empowerment of women.
Women Deliver is a global advocacy organisation bringing together voices from around the world to call for action to improve the health and well-being of girls and women.
Besides, the European Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development in cooperation with its sister parliamentary networks in Africa, Asia and America will organise a parliamentarians forum during the conference.
The three-day event will also review the progress of Millennium Development Goals, whose deadline of 2015 is fast approaching.



Ranbaxy’s fraudulent practices- A deception most foul #Healthcare #Pharma

A deception most foul

  • Ranbaxy tablet.
    Ranbaxy tablet.
Ranbaxy’s fraudulent practices may have jeopardised millions of lives in India, Africa and the U.S.

Exactly two weeks ago, the pharmaceuticals industry was rocked by revelations that one of the world’s largest generic drug manufacturers, Ranbaxy Laboratories, pleaded guilty to seven federal criminal charges stemming from its fraudulent production practices dating back to 2008, and agreed to pay U.S. regulators $500 million in fines.

Much has since been said about Ranbaxy’s attempts to wipe the slate clean and institute rigorous testing standards across the board, including Ranbaxy CEO Arun Sawhney’s comment that the “announcement marks the resolution of this past issue,” and his company was “pleased to continue bringing safe, effective and quality medicines to market for the benefit of consumers in the U.S. and other parts of the world.”

Yet, what has been commented on far less after Ranbaxy’s deception came to light is that the lives of millions in India, Africa, the U.S. and elsewhere, who place their faith in national regulators, may have been jeopardised by their consumption of adulterated drugs.

Elusive answers

Why has Ranbaxy been permitted to continue its U.S. operations? Why have the former owners of the company, brothers Malvinder and Shivinder Singh, been permitted to walk free with the $2 billion that they made from selling Ranbaxy to Daiichi Sankyo in 2008?

Finally, few, if any, fingers have been pointed at regulators in India for permitting a fraud of such breathtaking magnitude to occur under their noses, and allowing the venality of a single corporate entity to bring disrepute to “third world generics.”

Three points

Let us set the record straight then, and consider three key facts about this episode. In doing so, we will borrow from one analytic account that has put truth-telling and hard research over sound-bites and euphemisms, Katherine Eban’s “Dirty Medicine” exposé in CNN Money/Fortune.

First, Ranbaxy’s fraud permeated multiple levels of the organisation and its perpetrators’ actions have created a veritable spectrum of health dangers for the public.

Whistleblower and former Ranbaxy Director Dinesh Thakur was a key informant in the case who gave evidence, for example, that Ranbaxy scientists were routinely directed to “substitute cheaper, lower-quality ingredients in place of better ingredients, to manipulate test parameters to accommodate higher impurities, and even to substitute brand-name drugs in lieu of their own generics in bio-equivalence tests to produce better results.”

That Ranbaxy lied to the U.S. FDA and other regulators frequently, and indulged in back-dating and forging data, Mr. Thakur found, was “common knowledge among senior managers of the company, heads of research and development, people responsible for formulation to the clinical people.”

Sometimes it appeared that sheer insensitivity to the plight of clients consuming their dubious products had crossed all bounds.

Another senior official who quit Ranbaxy after her attempts to get management to curb the malpractice failed was Kathy Spreen. On one occasion when Dr. Spreen mentioned her concerns about the quality of Ranbaxy’s AIDS medicines for Africa an executive reportedly said, “Who cares? It’s just blacks dying.”

Second, U.S regulators have at best achieved a pyrrhic victory as the deal they have struck with Ranbaxy still leaves consumers at risk, does not result in charges against a single company official.

Despite several incriminating prior investigations of Ranbaxy plants in Dewas and Paonta Sahib in 2006, the FDA “did nothing to stop all the drugs that were already on the market, drugs that had been approved, or applications submitted from other sites,” Ms. Eban notes.

In February 2009, the FDA finally deigned to punish Ranbaxy by imposing an Application Integrity Policy, which effectively closed down Ranbaxy drug applications.

Yet, in November 2011, it did not see fit to hold Ranbaxy back from selling generic Lipitor, the popular cholesterol-reducer.

Blessed with a six-month exclusivity grant from the FDA, Ranbaxy went on to rake in a cool $600 million through atorvastatin sales.

Ultimately, fate intervened and, in November 2012, Ranbaxy had to issue a massive recall notice for atorvastatin after glass particles were discovered in samples. The FDA backed off from any suggestion that it may have bungled its approvals process for Ranbaxy.

The India angle

Third, Indian regulators’ monumental failure to address Ranbaxy’s malaise early on has only been compounded by its unwillingness to take strong steps, even at this late stage, to bring the company to justice in Indian courts and save millions of its citizens from avoidable harm.

The media must share blame for not keeping the government’s nose to the grindstone. After Ranbaxy’s knuckles were notionally rapped earlier this month the press has displayed a staggering lack of interest in the core issue, the damage that Ranbaxy’s products have likely caused to Indians and the government’s role in that.

One major newspaper proclaimed, “The good news is that the company’s U.S. revenues, after dipping post-2008 for a couple of years, have now started recovering [sic].” Another declared, “Despite all the noise, the overwhelming majority of generic drugs are as safe and effective as their brand-name counterparts. Brand-name companies have also had their share of quality problems.” It is inconceivable with all the brouhaha about intensifying U.S.-India co-operation that New Delhi could have been entirely in the dark since 2006, when questions were first raised about Ranbaxy in the U.S. What were India’s Ministry of Health and Drug Controller General doing since then?

Even as late as last week, the Ministry’s Joint Secretary Arun Panda was on record saying “There is no order from the health ministry which has been issued to Drug Controller General of India to launch a probe against the company as of today.”

One can only wonder what further evidence against Ranbaxy officials hoped to obtain when one of them said, “Launching a probe against a company is a serious matter and a decision to that effect would be taken after due consideration of all aspects in the Ranbaxy case.”

Coming as it does after the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in the Novartis Glivec case, the government’s inaction hardly helps the cause of the generics business. Now we should expect influential branded-drug manufacturers to redouble their lobbying efforts to get lawmakers to block the rising tide of generic alternatives.

Similar to high-level corruption cases it may be that the government will respond adequately only when there is a surge of public protest. Otherwise, the next time you fall ill, the prescription may well be glass particles.


Chhattisgarh- Mahendra Karma and his cynical form of vigilantism #Maoists

For long, Karma often resembled a wolf that preyed on the tribals of southern Chhattisgarh, many from his own tribe
Sudeep Chakravarti , The Mint
First Published: Tue, May 28 2013. 12 00 AM IST
Karma and his ilk gradually distanced themselves from the blood-letting, though the stains never really washed. Photo: Manpreet Romana/AFP
Karma and his ilk gradually distanced themselves from the blood-letting, though the stains never really washed. Photo: Manpreet Romana/AFP
Mahendra Karma is dead. And I am here to write ill of him.
This may be construed as indelicate in the aftermath of the savage Maoist attack on 25 May in southern Chhattisgarh that left him and several others dead—unlike Karma, many innocent of human rights wrongdoing. But it certainly is not an act of hypocrisy. Karma wasn’t exactly a man of probity. For long, the Congress party’s point man in Bastar, sometimes called “Bastar Tiger”, Karma often resembled a wolf that preyed on the tribals of southern Chhattisgarh, many of them from his own tribe, with utter disregard for their livelihood and lives. While I abhor violence, including the revenge hit by Maoists that finally claimed Karma at 62, his death should not be used to whitewash his crimes against humanity.
Where Karma, the son of a clan chief, walked, chaos could follow. I am still chilled when I listen to the intercept of a police transmission reportedly between the superintendent of police (SP) of Bijapur in southern Chhattisgarh and his junior colleague planning an operation to deny Maoists support among dirt-poor, neglected locals in that forested, resource-rich region.
The recording, distributed by human rights activists and Maoist sympathizers—not always interchangeable—to several researchers and writers, is from 2005. It was a time when Salwa Judum—which, in the local Gondi dialect, translates as Purification Hunt—an extreme, cynical form of vigilantism led by Karma took wing. He did so in compact with Chhattisgarh state, in a rare case of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Raman Singh and the leader of opposition—Karma, then a Congress member of the legislative assembly—seeing eye to eye. In the mirrored, public-consumption vocabularies of the government and Karma, Salwa Judum emphatically remained a spin—Jan Jagaran: People’s Awakening.
As I wrote in my book Red Sun, this is how people were sometimes awakened:
(SP) All officers and forces should be well distributed. And be on high alert. If any journalists come to report on Naxalis—get them killed. Did you understand?
(Voice): Roger sir…
(SP) …the Jan Jagaran people are telling villagers very clearly, ‘You come with us… If you do not come (after being told for the) third time, we will burn your village.’
Salwa Judum vigilantes destroyed homes, and stores of grain and any other food they had; killed dozens of men, women and children; maimed and—or—raped several. Children were forced to watch the death and dismemberment of parents. Pregnant women were disembowelled. The death and torture of those suspected of allying with Maoist rebels was instant. This intimidation, blessed by posses of state police and Union government paramilitaries who have their own record of blood, lust and war crimes in the region, at one point herded in excess of 50,000 tribal folk into little more than concentration camps across Dantewada district—since last year further split to create the additional districts of Bijapur and Sukma.
To be fair to Karma, there was a method to his madness. Maoists had begun to infiltrate the Dantewada region as far back as the 1980s—it was then part of the vast Bastar district of the undivided Madhya Pradesh—to establish what would later enlarge into the rebel-influenced Dandakaranya zone. Landlords such as Karma, himself a child of a tribal landed family, increasingly began to see left-wing extremists, then spearheaded by the vanguard of the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist) People’s War, as a threat. The perception was mutual.
For the rebels, Karma and his ilk symbolized the class enemy—worse, a tribal who came from traditionally, socio-politically oppressed stock was the class enemy of fellow tribal folk. For Karma & Co., the stealthily and rapidly infiltrating rebels represented a threat in several ways. For one, at the barrel of the gun they could redistribute land to the landless. For another, they were a direct threat to the local practice of Malik Makbuja, the right of the Adivasi to cut trees on his own land that had been subverted to benefit middlemen and various vested interests.
The MP Protection of Scheduled Tribes (Interest in Trees) Act, 1956-57, was designed to protect the interest of the Adivasis. Trees felled by them on their own land could not be sold to non-tribals and required monitoring by the office of the collector; a complex system deposited sale proceeds into an account. Middlemen often stepped in to facilitate the process, in several cases cheating the locals. Meanwhile, vested interest in the timber business thrived. Even as traders were on the lookout for any land owned by non-tribals, landed tribals such as Karma cut into the action by buying and grabbing land from fellow tribals. The local bureaucracy and the forest department staff played handmaiden to all the deal-making, coercion and removal of timber from prime forest land.
I most recently read about it in a document prepared in the defence of barefoot doctor and human rights activist Binayak Sen, which had a preface by Supreme Court lawyer Nandita Haksar. It cited a Central Bureau of Investigation first information report (FIR) from 1998 that, after taking into account a writ petition filed by two non-governmental organizations and the Lokayukta, held there was prima facie evidence of criminal conspiracy by several government officials and landowners. Among them, Karma. They were, the FIR stated, “party of (sic) criminal conspiracy during 1992-96 to cause wrongful gain to the land owners in the matter of felling trees. It is alleged that the accused public servants bestowed undue favours to the said land owners and others and illegally accorded permission to fell a large number of valuable timber trees on the basis of forged and fabricated documents and in utter disregard” of laws to protect aboriginal rights. As the document on Malik Makbuja noted: “No further action has been taken against Mahendra Karma or any of the other accused”.
While that’s another, familiar story of politico-legal winking—Madhya Pradesh at the time was a Congress satrapy—Karma and the Maoists evolved their own grudge match over influence. By late 2004, the merger of the People’s War faction with the Maoist Communist Centre (India) formed the rebel behemoth of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). The extreme left-wing grip over Chhattisgarh appeared to be unassailable. Local rebel leaders and cadres, in their ideological enthusiasm and their bid for a power grab, were dictating nearly every aspect of tribal life—deciding when people could go to the market and, in some cases, even marriages.
The heavy-handedness that an ideological drive backed by weapons inevitably brings became an affliction, and resentment against the Maoists began to grow in several areas. Not just against members of the dalam, or armed cadre, but arguably more so against members of the sangham, the rebel militias and the recruitment, information and logistics networks. In a few villages, scuffles broke out between pro- and anti-Maoist groups. In one case in June 2005, Maoists even attacked villagers from nearby areas in Kotrapal who had gathered to decide against cooperating with Maoists. Two villagers died, several were beaten up; some were kidnapped. One major incident lit a reverse spark, as it were.
Karma, never short of bluster or chutzpah, latched on to this with blinding speed, and nurtured it with resentment, rumour and rigour. “Something had to be done,” K.R. Pisda, the former collector of Dantewada, told me as he elaborated on this when I interviewed him for Red Sun. “There were rumours that the Naxals were entering villages to loot, beat and kill. Anger began to spread… We established camps and organized food… Then we asked around, checked, and discovered there was no looting or intimidation as rumours had it.” In four or five days, people began to return home.
“Then Mahendra Karma arrived there,” Pisda told me. “He toured the area, talked to people, held meetings with important people, with elders.” Karma held frequent meetings in that area through that July, accompanied by a senior police officer, whipping up anti-Maoist sentiment till poorly attended meetings became mass gatherings. “Then in the middle of all this, we appointed special police officers, created village defence committees,” he said. Pisda dead-panned this admission of creating a force, frequently including adolescents, armed and paid a salary—at the time Rs.1,500 a month—from state funds, which really answered only to leaders such as Karma and several brutal sub-bosses, as they went about their business of being a rogue force. “Naxals started to attack these people—that continues,” he said.
Indeed, that continues till today. And so too the Judum, as it came to be known. The rogue force was formally disbanded by the government of Chhattisgarh after a severe censure by the Supreme Court in 2008 when it termed Salwa Judum illegal in its premise of the state arming civilians to kill—other civilians. But the Judum continued in the garb of the Koya commandos. After widespread legal and human rights outrage, the state modified its recruitment laws to take in several Judum cadres. In one form or another, the Judum writ still runs in southern Chhattisgarh.
Karma and his ilk—one that now quite transparently includes aiding corporate interests in the region—gradually distanced themselves from the blood-letting, though the stains never really washed. Talk has it that his influence within the Congress had lessened somewhat, though he was hopeful of a resurgence in a political drive aimed at weakening the hold of the BJP in southern Chhattisgarh—perhaps even claiming the seat in the legislature he lost in 2008.
I had some queries of him. The last time I tried to talk to him during a cocktail reception at the improbably named Babylon hotel in Raipur—a universe away from his village home in Farsapal, a short drive from Dantewada town—he had brushed my questions aside as being redolent of a “Naxali”, and soon left in a swish of heavily protected sport utility vehicles. Too bad.
The endgame in the battle against Maoist rebels is still to begin in earnest, but it will likely come sooner than later, precipitated by the 25 May incident. Meanwhile, the competitive hell that they and Karma & Co. created in Chhattisgarh festers. For now, Maoists remain here in force, intermittently fighting security forces. And Karma was hardly the last of his kind.
Sudeep Chakravarti is the author of Red Sun: Travels in Naxalite Country and Highway 39: Journeys through a Fractured Land. He writes a column each Friday in Mint, which focuses on conflict situations in South Asia that directly affect business.


Odisha – Niyamgiri tribe’s question on Gram Sabha issue #Video

KBKNews, May 27
Under a scorching sun, after walking miles and miles in the hilly terrain, these bare feet have come here to tell the most astounding tale, if we care to hear them out: stories of human grit, resolution, revolution; stories of a resolute struggle to protect one’s dignity, self-reliance, and the ultimate provider — Mother Earth. For the more than five thousands adivasis assembled at Muniguda on the foothills of Niyamgiri on 22 May 2013, it was yet another occasion to declare to the world, on top of their voice, that THEY ARE NOT GOING TO ALLOW MINING ON THEIR SACRED MOUNTAIN, COME WHAT MAY.But, the Indian State refuses to hear that roar. It has hatched yet another plan to micromanage the interests of a company, in the form of Gram Sabha that will be orchestrated and controlled by the State itself. However, the adivasis have already announced their verdict, and have vowed not to budge a bit.

If the stupendous gathering of people suggests their unity and resolve to fight the mighty State, the unprecedented absence of police force (hardly 15 to 20 in number) during this rally could be another sly strategy of the State to suggest that ‘the State is not interfering or intimidating’.

In the previous post of KBK Samachar, we had KumtiMajhi blasting the Indian State and the company (Vedanta) for threatening and stooping people from attending meetings and public hearings. So, did the government take notice of that? Will the forces and company goons not show up if Gram Sabhas are held as well? …It will be interesting to watch that.
Here we present an excerpt of the protest rally of 22 May 2013.


#India – When Doctors are also perpetrators of Crime #Vaw

Study shows sex selection practices in doctors’ families

, TNN | May 28, 2013, 06.42 AM IST

NAGPUR: A study by a Nagpur-based institute has found the sex ratio skewed in doctors’ families, too. The child sex ratio in these families was 907 girls per 1,000 boys, lower than the national average of 914. It was indicative of a deep-rooted social malady that could pose a critical challenge in correcting the sex ratio in India, the study stated.

The skewed ratio in the doctors’ families was strongly indicative of underlying sex-selection practices even though the ratios offer only circumstantial evidence, rather than proof, the study stated. The study was published recently in the American Journal ‘Demography’ and titled ‘Skewed Sex Ratios in India: Physician Heal Thyself’.

The researchers investigated the sex ratio in 946 nuclear families with 1,624 children where either one or both parents were doctors who had studied at the Government Medical College and Hospital in Nagpur between 1980 and 1985. The medical college is a large tertiary care teaching hospital in Vidarbha region, admitting 200 students for the Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of SurgeryMBBS) .

Other than being more skewed than the national average, the researchers observed that the conditional sex ratios consistently decreased with increasing number of previous female births. Third, the birth of a daughter in the family was associated with a 38 % reduced likelihood of a subsequent female birth.

“Our investigation has revealed startling concerns about the potential sex selection practices among doctors of Vidarbha region. We are aware of the limitations of this study as the sample size is not very big and hence may not faithfully represent the entire physician community in India. But it definitely warrants a closer look. It will also be interesting to see whether such practices pervade others in the medical profession, such as nurses and paramedical workers,” said principal investigator Archana Patel.

Patel also works as a professor and head of the department of paediatrics. She is a director of epidemiology unit at Indira Gandhi Government Medical College, Nagpur. The others who conducted the study with Patel are Neetu Badhoniya, Manju Mamtani and Hemant Kulkarni.

“The study was conducted for three reasons. The medical profession enjoys high esteem in India, and physicians are regarded as role models in society. Second, physicians have a crucial role in the implementation of the Pre Conception and Pre-Natal and Diagnostic Techniques (prevention of sex selection) Act to prevent the misuse of ultrasound and other techniques for prenatal sex determination, which has been implicated for selective abortion of girls. Third, little is known whether this preference for boys also exists among the families of Indian physicians. Hence, we investigated the pattern of sex ratios in the immediate families of physicians,” Patel said.

General surgeon Maya Tulpule, president of the city chapter of Indian Medical Association said, “I will discuss the matter with IMA managing committee members to see whether we can take up such a survey here in Pune.”

It was an important study which reflected the mindset of the society of which doctors are a part, said senior psychiatrist Devendra Shirole, former national vice president of IMA. “However, a multi-centric study with a larger sample size is needed. We will discuss this at IMA’s national meeting soon,” he added.

Previous studies have also claimed that this son preference varies little with education or income and that selective abortion of girls is common in educated and affluent households, presumably because they can afford ultrasound and abortion services more than uneducated or poorer households.


SC ban on Salwa Judum not implemented: Nandini Sundar

by  May 27, 2013

“On no count has the government done anything to implement the Supreme Court judgment. In fact, they have done everything to subvert it and make the situation worse,” says author and sociologist Nandini Sundar, on whose petition the apex court in 2011 banned the Salwa Judum, a state-sponsored militia propped up to counter Maoists in Chhattisgarh.

In its hard-hitting judgement, the Supreme Court had ordered the prosecution of all those involved in criminal activities of Salwa Judum, the architect of which was controversial Congress leader Mahendra Karma. On Saturday, Karma, the tribal leader from Bastar was among the 27 people gunned down in a deadly Maoist attack on a convoy of Congress leaders while they were returning from a political rally.

CRPF jawans carry of the body of a victim. PTICRPF jawans carry of the body of a victim. PTI

The Supreme Court had directed the state government to investigate all previously “inappropriately or incompletely investigated instances of alleged criminal activities of Salwa Judum”, file appropriate FIRs and diligently prosecute the guilty.

But no one has been prosecuted, says Sundar. “Somebody like Mahendra Karma should have been in jail a long time ago,” she adds.

Has the Supreme Court verdict impacted the government’s response at all? “No. For one thing, we had explicitly named Mahendra Karma and shown from police diaries and the Collector’s monthly reports of his involvement. Right from the beginning we had shown the involvement of the Chhattisgarh government in what was going on. It wasn’t a people’s movement at all.”

Describing the response by the state government to the Supreme Court’s order to disband the 6500 “barely literate” and inadequately trained tribal special police officers to fight the Maoists, as a “slap in the face of the court”, Sundar says “The SPOs were supposed to be disbanded. Instead, they were constituted into an armed constabulary force from the date of the judgment. The Chhattisgarh Act says very clearly that everyone who was an SPO on the date of the judgement would now be considered an armed constabulary force and they were given better guns and more money.”

Asked whether the scale and nature of response by the government to the deadly attack was a cause of worry and what she would like the government response to be, she said, “I am very saddened by the attack and I think it is terrible… Firstly, I would like to see the government implement the Supreme Court judgment. Secondly, I would like to see them resign for their complete failure to address the whole issue.

“The judgment laid down very clearly the fact that people who violated human rights should be prosecuted. I would like to see the SPOs disbanded. I would like to see the compensation and rehabilitation of all those who were affected by the Salwa Judum. I would like to see the schools being vacated and restarted in every village. They continue to be occupied by the security officers (despite the Supreme Court’s order). We would like to see some element of justice and normalcy as the main plank rather than just military operation.”


The continuing tragedy of the adivasis


Ramachandra Guha, May 28, The Hindu 


The killings of Mahendra Karma and his colleagues call not for retributive violence but for a deeper reflection on the discontent among the tribals of central India and their dispossession

In the summer of 2006, I had a long conversation with Mahendra Karma, the Chhattisgarh Congress leader who was killed in a terror attack by the Naxalites last week. I was not alone — with me were five other members of a citizens’ group studying the tragic fallout of the civil war in the State’s Dantewada district. This war pitted the Naxalites on the one side against a vigilante army promoted by Mr. Karma on the other. In a strange, not to say bizarre, example of bipartisan co-operation, the vigilantes (who went by the name of Salwa Judum) were supported by both Mr. Karma (then Leader of the Opposition in the State Assembly) and the BJP Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Raman Singh.

‘Liberated zone’

From the 1980s, Naxalites had been active in the region, asking for higher wages for tribals, harassing traders and forest contractors, and attacking policemen. In the first decade of this century their presence dramatically increased. Dantewada was now identified by Maoist ideologues as the most likely part of India where they could create a ‘liberated zone.’ Dozens of Telugu-speaking Naxalites crossed into Chhattisgarh, working assiduously to accomplish this aim.

The Naxalites are wedded to the cult of the gun. Their worship of violence is extreme. They are a grave threat to democracy and democratic values. How should the democratically elected State government of Chhattisgarh have tackled their challenge? It should have done so through a two-pronged strategy: (i) smart police work, identifying the areas where the Naxalites were active and isolating their leaders; (ii) sincerely implementing the constitutional provisions guaranteeing the land and tribal forest rights of the adivasis, and improving the delivery of health and education services to them.

The Chhattisgarh government did neither. On the one side, it granted a slew of leases to industrialists, over-riding the protests of gram panchayats and handing over large tracts of tribal land to mining companies. On the other side, it promoted a vigilante army, distributing guns to young men owing allegiance to Mahendra Karma or his associates. These goons then roamed the countryside, in search of Naxalites real or fictitious. In a series of shocking incidents, they burnt homes (sometimes entire villages), raped women, and looted granaries of those adivasis who refused to join them.

In response, the Naxalites escalated their activities. They killed Salwa Judum leaders, murdered real or alleged informers, and mounted a series of daring attacks on police and paramilitary units. The combined depredations of the Naxalites and Salwa Judum created a regime of terror and despair across the district. An estimated 150,000 adivasis fled their native villages. A large number sought refuge along the roads of the Dantewada district. Here they lived, in ramshackle tents, away from their lands, their cattle, their homes and their shrines. An equally large number fled into the neighbouring State of Andhra Pradesh, living likewise destitute and tragic lives.

It was to study this situation at first hand that our team visited Chhattisgarh in 2006. We travelled across the Dantewada district, speaking to vigilantes, Naxalites and, most of all, ordinary tribals. We met adivasis who had been persecuted by the Naxalites, and other adivasis who had been tormented by the Salwa Judum vigilantes. The situation of the community was poignantly captured by one tribal, who said: “Ek taraf Naxaliyon, doosri taraf Salwa Judum, aur hum beech mein, pis gayé” (placed between the Maoists and the vigilantes, we adivasis are being squeezed from both sides).

We also visited the State capital, Raipur, speaking to senior officials of the State government. They privately told us that Salwa Judum was a horrible mistake, but added that no politician was willing to admit this. Then we spent an hour in the company of the movement’s originator, Mahendra Karma. He told us that he was fighting a dharma yudh, a holy war. We asked whether the outcome of this war was worth it. We told him of what we had seen, of the homes burnt and the women abused by the men acting in his name and claiming that he was their leader. He answered that in a great movement small mistakes are sometimes made. (The exact words he used were: Badé andolanon mein kabhi kabhi aisé choté apradh hoté hain.”)

I was immediately reminded of a politician in another country, George W. Bush. In his holy war, too, there was no thought to the collateral damage that innocent civilians would suffer. Admittedly, the jihadis that Bush was fighting were as bloodthirsty and amoral as the Naxalites. But did a democratic government have to reproduce this amorality and this bloodthirstiness? Should it not fight extremism by saner methods? The tortures, the renditions, the displacement of thousands upon thousands of civilians — in all these respects, Dantewada seemed to me to be a micro version of Iraq or Afghanistan.

Palpable indifference

From Raipur we went to Delhi, where we met the Prime Minister, the Home Minister, and the National Security Adviser. Their indifference to the unfolding tragedy was palpable. So, in 2007, we filed a Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court asking for the disbandment of Salwa Judum. Four years later, the Court issued an order chastising the Chhattisgarh government for creating “a miasmic environment of dehumanisation of youngsters of the deprived sections of the population, in which guns are given to them rather than books, to stand as guards, for the rapine, plunder and loot in our forests.” By arming poor and largely illiterate adivasis, the State government had, said the Supreme Court, installed “a regime of gross violation of human rights in a manner, and by adopting the same modes, as [have] done Maoist/Naxalite extremists.”

The strictures of the Supreme Court were disregarded by the State government, which recast Salwa Judum under another name and form, and by the Central government, which continued to put the interest of mining magnates above those of the suffering adivasis of the land.

The killings of Mahendra Karma and his colleagues are the latest casualties in a bloody war that began a decade ago in Dantewada. What will the State and Central governments now do? The knee-jerk reaction, doubtless encouraged by editorial writers and TV anchors in Delhi, will be to call for the Army, and perhaps the Air Force too, to launch an all-out war on the Naxalites, regardless of the consequences for civilians. One hopes wiser counsels will prevail. The times call not for further retributive violence, but for a deeper reflection on the discontent among, and dispossession of, the adivasis of central India, who are in all respects the most desperately disadvantaged of the Republic’s citizens, far worse off than Dalits even.

In the winter of 2006, after my experiences in Dantewada, I gave a public lecture in Bhubaneshwar. The State’s Chief Minister, Naveen Patnaik, was in the audience. I urged that the rash of mining leases being proposed by the State government on tribal land be stopped. As it happened, foreign and Indian mining companies were invited into the State, without any attempt to make adivasis stakeholders in these projects. The consequence is that Orissa, a State once completely free of Naxalites, has seen them acquiring considerable influence in several districts of the State.

The social scientist Ajay Dandekar, who has done extensive research on the subject, observes that the rise of extremist violence is a consequence of “the complete mismanagement of democracy and governance in the tribal areas.” The latest bout of violence, he says, should come as a wake-up call to those “who place still some hope in the rule of law and constitutional governance.”

I entirely concur with Dandekar when he writes that “if even now the policy makers are willing to take the issues of justice to the tribals head-on the extremists will definitely be dealt a bodyblow in the process and their own legitimacy would stand questioned.” A first step here would be for the top leadership of the present government to reach out directly to the adivasis. The Prime Minister and the Chairperson of the UPA should together tour through the strife-torn areas of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, and Orissa, promising the full implementation of the Forest Rights Act, a temporary ban on mining projects in Fifth Schedule Areas, and a revival of the powers of gram panchayats. That would be a far more effective strike against Naxalites than sending in fighter planes or massed battalions.

(Ramachandra Guha’s books include India after Gandhi. He can be contacted

Keywords: Mahendra Karma killin


Odisha pays scant heed to tribal ministry’s directions on mining for Vedanta

Kumar Sambhav S…
Issue Date:

State invites forest rights claims from only a dozen villages on Niyamgiri hill slope

Vedanta's bauxite mining  
proposal in Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi has been stiffly opposed by affected  
tribals and forest dwellers Photo credit - Saroj MishraVedanta‘s bauxite mining proposal in Niyamgiri hills in Kalahandi has been stiffly opposed by affected tribals and forest dwellers Photo credit – Saroj Mishra

The directions of the Union Ministry of Tribal Affairs to the Odisha government, asking it to ensure that the Supreme Court’s order in the Vedanta case is properly implemented, seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Defying the ministry’s instructions that the state should invite claims of individual and community rights under the Forest Rights Act from all the villages in Kalahandi and Raygada districts over the proposed bauxite mining area, the state has decided to invite such claims only from the 12 villages that lie on the slope of the Niyamgiri hill.

Orissa Mining Corporation Limited (OMCL) and Sterlite Industries, the Indian arm of Vedanta, had proposed to mine bauxite from the Niyamgiri hills in Odisha’s Kalahandi district for Vedanta’s alumina refinery in nearby Lanjigarh. The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had refused to give approval for the project more than two years ago, saying it violated provisions of the Forest Conservation Act (FCA), Environment Protection Act (EPA) and the Forest Rights Act (FRA). OMCL later challenged the government’s decision in 2011 in the apex court.

On April 18, the Supreme Court ordered that village councils in Odisha’s Rayagada and Kalahandi districts would decide if projects of the metals and mining giant,Vedanta, have infringed the tribal communities’ right to worship. The court made it clear that the religious rights of the tribals must be protected [1]. It also asked the gram sabhas to consider afresh—under FRA—all other individual and community claims of the tribals.  The Niyamgiri hills are revered by the Kondh tribals of the region who have been fighting a pitched battle against the project from the very beginning.

All in Rayagada and Kalahandi were to be consulted

The tribal affairs ministry, on May 2, sent “legally binding” directions to the state under FRA [2], prescribing the process and time frame to aid the gram sabhas affected by the Vedanta’s proposed mining project to decide—independently and in a transparent manner—the veracity of religious and cultural rights claimed by the tribal people on Niyamgiri hill. The ministry asked the state to issue advertisements in newspapers, including those in vernacular languages, asking all the tribals and traditional forest dwellers in Kalahandi and Rayagada districts to file claims of religious and cultural rights, along with the individual and community rights over the proposed mining area. The ministry has also asked the state to display this notification along with the details of the apex court order in all villages in the two districts irrespective of their proximity to the mining site so that there is no possibility of subjectivity in the selection of gram sabhas where the meeting will be finally held.

Twisted reasoning

The state, instead of responding to the directions, referred the matter to its law department which suggested the gram sabha meetings should be conducted in only the 12 villages that fall on the Niyamgiri hill slope. “The Supreme Court, in December last year had asked the state to inform it about the status of implementation of FRA in the villages on the hill slopes of Niyamgiri. The state then submitted a list of 12 villages on the hill slope and status of FRA implementation in them to the court. The law department has suggested that the final judgement of the court and its December 2012 order need to be seen in conjunction and hence the government has decided to conduct the gram sabha in the same 12 villages,” said Santosh Kumar Sarangi, secretary, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Development Department in Odisha.

The collectors of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts have already been instructed to initiate the process of inviting claims in the 12 villages. Out of the 12 villages selected, Jarappa, Khambessi, Kesarpadi, Batudi, Serkapadi, Lakhapadar and Lamba fall in the Raygada district while Palaberi, Phuldumer, Konakadu, Tadijhola and Ijrupa fall in Kalahandi. While the Supreme Court ordered that the claims should be invited within six weeks from the date of judgement—April 18—the state has asked for six weeks extension as it had not decided on the villages to be consulted.

Another round of battle?

“It is a conspiracy of the company and the state to reduce the number of villages which can claim rights over the Niyamgiri hill. The 12 villages that the state has identified are hardly significant. For instance, Ijrupa has only one house while another village Tadijhola has no population of Dongriya Kondh. According to the apex court judgement, claims of all the villages falling within 10 km of the mining area should be considered. There would be at least 60-80 such villages. We are planning to submit a memorandum to the state government and tribal affairs ministry on irregularity of the selection of villages,” said Prafulla Samantray who was an intervener in the case.

On being asked about the ministry’s course of action if the state does not abide by its directions, Vibha Puri Das, secretary in the tribal affairs ministry, said she has already written to the chief secretary of the state to report on the actions taken by the state on the ministry’s directions. “We have proposed a joint exercise of the state and the ministry for facilitation and capacity building of the gram sabhas as per the Supreme Court order. We are dealing with a state. We will have to see how it works out,” she added.


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