#India – Salwa Judum’s record: 99 allegations of rape, not a single FIR


by  , First Post

When the Supreme Court in 2011 banned the Salwa Judum, a state-sponsored tribal militia propped up to counter Maoists in Chhattisgarh, it ordered the state government to investigate and register FIRs against all alleged criminal activities of the Salwa Judum.

In addition to allegations of murder (500 cases) and arson (103 cases), 99 affidavits were submitted to the Supreme Court accusing the tribal militia of rape. Women have been victimised by the Salwa Judum says the lawyer. AFP Women have been victimised by the Salwa Judum says the lawyer. AFP Two years after the judgment, the state is yet to register its first FIR against the Salwa Judum for sexual violence. “Where ever there is a war, women are the most vulnerable. In the Salwa Judum case itself there are affidavits in the Supreme Court regarding some 99 rapes and the court has to decide what to do about them. I personally had taken up the cases of six women that had not been registered by the Superintendent of Police. They had filed a private complaint and given their statements before the Magistrate. But ultimately they had to take back those statements under pressure and were not able to pursue them,” says Sudha Bharadwaj, Bilaspur-based advocate and General Secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) in Chhattisgarh. Expressing her disappointment to instances of the system’s unresponsiveness to injustices against tribals, Bharadwaj says, “When people have tried to raise issues in court, they have often been victimised. Cases of human rights violations have been pending before the Supreme Court, the High Court, the National Human Rights Commisssion (NHRC) years. Even in the recent Sarkeguda Judicial Enquiry, people have given their affidavits but nothing has happened so far. Unfortunately our institutions are failing people.” On 25 May, Mahendra Karma, the architect of Salwa Judum, was among the 28 people who were gunned down in a brutal attack by Maoists who opened fire on a convoy of Congress leaders while they were returning from a political rally. A recent statement issued by the PUCL condemning the cold blooded attack on unarmed political workers of the Congress party and as “unacceptable” and “reprehensible” draws attention to the ongoing cycle of violence in the state. “Under no circumstances can acts of brutality be justified, even if they be in response to equally heinous and brutal acts unleashed by the security forces, as we are seeing presently in Chhattisgarh, as recently as the killing of eight innocent tribal villagers in Edasmeta village of South Bastar on 17 May and 18 May, 2013, or in response to the brutalities committed by the vigilante Salwa Judum founded by the deceased Mahendra Karma,” reads the PUCL statement. Speaking about the apprehensions of tribals about fresh military operations by the government following last week’s attack, Bharadwaj says, “The Chhattisgarh PUCL has condemned the attack by Maoists in no uncertain terms. However, our great concern is that the only response we find from both the State and the Central government is of stepping up militarisation. While we totally appreciate the concerns on the law and order front, the basic democratic issues of the people of this region have to be kept in mind, they have to be addressed. Otherwise, it will be impossible to de-escalate this violence, to reduce the alienation of the tribal people.” A big concern that has now is the danger of displacement due to further militarisation of the region, says Bharadwaj. “In the course of the hearing of the Salwa Judum case, the NHRC had recommended that all internally-displaced persons should be rehabilitated in their villages. We seriously fear that with increased militarisation there might be more people fleeing. This should not be the case. Counter-insurgency operations should not become ground-clearing operations,” says Bharadwaj. Humanitarian medical agencies such as the MSF and Red Cross which are already operating in Bastar should be given free access to the region to provide medical care in order not to risk “criminalising an entire population”  she adds. “That will lead to serious collateral damage. A lot of innocent adivasis will get killed.” Urging for better sense to prevail, Bharadwaj refers to the government’s own reports that have argued at looking at left-wing extremism as more than a crisis of law and order. “The recommendations of the Expert Group of the Planning Commission on Left Wing Extremism, the Report of the Ministry of Rural Development, the NC Saxena Report on implementation of forest rights, and the recent letter of the Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Kishore Chandra Deo all speak very strongly about the importance of implementing PESA and the Forest Rights Act in its true spirit, about empowering the Gram Sabhas, about the need for taking people in confidence before mining or industrialization, and how these are the underlying issues which are feeding Naxalism. If they are not addressed, and people continue to be displaced or criminalised, it will result in further spiraling of violence,” says Bharadwaj.

 

Subramanian Swamy tweets ‘being gay is a mental disorder’ #WTFnews #Homophobia


Former cabinet minister and president of Janata Party Subramanian Swamy‘s anti-gay tweet attracts criticism
29 MAY 2013 | BY ANNA LEACH
Former cabinet minister and president of Janata Party Subramanian Swamy

Indian politician Subramanian Swamy, the president of the Janata Party, wrote ‘Being gay is a mental disorder’ in a tweet on Monday (27 May).

The tweet attracted instant criticism although some thought it was a joke and others agreed with him. ‘Gay is not natural, it’s hormone problem,’ said one.

Indian LGBT rights campaigner Harish Iyer tweeted Swamy saying: ‘I think swamy you need to get educated. Let’s meeet. I offer free counselling to homophobes.’

Swamy appeared to be unfazed by the accusations of homophobia and tweeted ‘Looks like most CRTs are “queer”.’ CRT is a derogatory reference to members of the Congress political party,Gaylaxy reports.

Swamy, a right-wing Hindu, is a former cabinet minister and was an assistant economics professor at Harvard. He has caused controversy for anti-Islamic views, for example in an ‘incendiary’ article in response to the Mumbai bombings in 2011 which prompted the National Commission for Minorities to press criminal charges.

The politician’s daughter Suhasini Haider is a news anchor for Indian TV channel CNN-IBN.

Gay sex was decriminalized in Indian in 2009 when the Delhi High Court repealed Section 377 of the British colonial era penal code.

 

Anti-Vedanta campaign gathers steam


TNN May 28, 2013, 12.17AM IST

KORAPUT: With the Supreme Court leaving it to villagers to decide the fate of Vedanta‘s mining plan at Niyamgiri hills at gram sabhas, the anti-mining campaign at villages situated in and around Niyamgiri hills has gained momentum.

Hundreds of tribals, including Dongria Kondhs, assembled at Rayagada‘s Parsali village on Sunday and vowed not to allow an inch of Niyamgiri for bauxite mining.

“Niyamgiri is a source of livelihood for thousands of tribals of around 120 villages of Rayagada and Kalahandi districts. Once mining starts, the tribals will lose their livelihood and scores of perennial sources of water will dry up. We will fight tooth and nail against mining at Niyamgiri,” said sarpanch of Parsali Butu Khora.

According to the apex court’s April 18 order, the gram sabhas will also examine the cultural and religious claims of Dongria Kondhs over the hills.

The tribals, who had assembled under the banner CPI (ML), also decided to organize similar anti-mining meetings at all panchayats, which will be affected by the mining, and urge villagers to participate in large number at gram sabhas to oppose mining at Niyamgiri hills

 

Sole convict in Suryanelli rape case retracts charge against PJ Kurien #WTFnews Timing ?


PTI  THODUPUZHA, KERALA, MAY 29, 2013 | UPDATED 18:18 IST
TAGS: Suryanelli sex scandal |Suryanelli rape case | Sole convict Dharmarajan | P J Kurien | Congress leader |Suryanelli rape victim | KurienKerala court | Kerala | Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman
PJ Kurien
Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman PJ Kurien
In yet another twist to the nearly two-decade-oldSuryanelli sex scandal, the lone convict in the case, Dharmarajan on Wednesday retracted his allegation that Congress leader and Rajya Sabha Deputy Chairman P J Kurien was involved in the case.In an affidavit filed through his lawyer in the Sessions Court at Thodupuzha in Idukki district, Dharmarajan said he made the allegation as the reporter of a Malayalam TV channel barraged him with questions while he was hiding in a place near Mysore after jumping bail.

Dharmarajan, who surrendered in February last after absconding for several years, said he was not familiar with Kurien and he had seen his pictures only in media.

Withdrawing his claim that he had taken Kurien in his car to a guest house in Kumali where the victim was lodged, Dharmarajan said in fact he did not even have a car of his own.

The affidavit was submitted in a private petition filed by the victim seeking legal action against Kurien in the light of Dharmarajan’s “revelation.”

Dharmarajan dropped a bombshell in February claiming in a television interview that Kurien was present at the guest house where the victim was exploited and that he (Dharmarajan) was under pressure from the investigators to refrain from mentioning the Congress leader’s name.

A lawyer by profession, Dharmarajan was the only accused convicted by the Kerala High Court in 2005 while it cleared 34 others earlier held guilty by a special court that conducted trial in the case in the late 1990s.

After serving a brief jail term, Dharmarajan was freed on bail but never returned to prison and his whereabouts were unknown till he resurfaced in February, after the case took a new turn with the Supreme Court asking the Kerala High Court to conduct a re-trial.

The sex scandal took place at Suryanelli in Idukki district January 1996. A 16-year-old was threatened, abducted and abused by a bus conductor and was later confined and sexually assaulted for 45 days by 42

Read more at:http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/suryanelli-sex-scandal-sole-convict-dharmarajan-p-j-kurien-congress-leader/1/273700.html

 

Women Deliver unaware of charges against Kurien, is that Enough ? #Vaw #Rape


AARTI DHAR, The Hindu

P J Kurien. File photo
The HinduP J Kurien. File photo

“Had we known of the controversy, we would not have permitted PJ Kurien to speak at the side event,” say the organisers of Women Deliver conference

With twitterati in India launching a tirade against Rajya Sabha P.J.Kurien’s presence at an international conference on women underway here, the organisers of Women Deliver on Wednesday said they were unaware of charges against him.

In a statement issued here, Women Deliver said it took the issues of violence against women and rape very seriously.

We were unaware that Indian Parliamentarian PJ Kurien is facing allegations of rape. While we cannot comment on the specific allegations, had we known of the controversy, we would not have permitted PJ Kurian to speak at the side event. Addressing violence against women is central to our mission as an organization and one of the focus areas of this global conference,” the statement said.

Mr Kurien, who is facing serious charges of rape, is also chairperson of the Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and Development, that had invited him to speak at the Global MPs Conference, held as a side event at Women Deliver conference.

As the word on Mr Kurien’s participation spread, social media overflowed with condemnations. Tweeted Vidyut: massive anger over women’s rights situation, sweet promises by Sonia/sarkar, half hearted committee/law passed, then Kurien at Women Deliver”

Women’s activists lost no time in writing to UPA chairperson, Sonia Gandhi and Prime Minister demanding Mr Kurien’s removal as chairperson of Rajya sabha.

Mr Kurien’s case involves gang rape of a minor girl in Suryanelli in Kerala. While the victim has alleged that she was raped by 42 men over 40 days and one of them was Mr Kurien. In 2005, the Kerala High Court tried 35 men but Mr Kurien was not among them- and acquitted 34. This order was recently set aside by the Supreme Court following which there have been demands of Mr Kurien’s removal as chairperson of Rajya Sabha.

 

#India – “Tribal autonomy answer to Naxalism’’ #Maoists


May 29, 2013 12:30:50 AM | By Pramod Chunchuwar

Mumbai : Killing Naxals is not the solution, says the Congress MLA from Gadchiroli, Dr Namdev Usendi, a medical practitioner.

On Monday, home minister R R Patil and Shiv Sena leader Uddhav Thackeray had demanded stringent laws and harsh action to crush the Maoists.

Strongly opposing the suggestion to kill Naxals by using armed forces, Dr Usendi said, “This will not end Naxalism. Till poverty and violation of fundamental rights of tribals continue, Naxals will manage to recruit villagers.’’

He also lamented that some decisions of his own government made tribals wonder whether the government was with them or with the capitalist forces. A case in point was the government’s decision about granting lease of forest land for mineral exploration.

‘’Autonomy in administration to Naxal affected area can ensure development and this will help curb Naxalism,’’ Dr Usendi said in an interview with the FPJ.

“Since 1978, twenty-two irrigation projects could not be completed due to the Forest Conservation Act. For these projects, a maximum of 1,500 hectares would have been used. But 6, 545 hectares were allotted to various corporate houses for iron ore exploration. Why does the Forest Conservation Act create hurdles in developmental projects and how this Act is not a problem for corporate houses? This has created a doubt in the minds of tribals in our district and they wonder whether the government is with us or with the corporates or capitalists?’’ Dr Usendi said.

“According to the constitution, Gadchiroli’s tribal dominated area falls under the Fifth schedule. According to article 244(1), the Governor has the authority to announce that any law will not be implemented or implemented with some modification or relaxation. We are demanding that the government should announce the relaxation of Forest Conservation Act which will help complete various developmental projects. This demand was made by us to Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan in the Tribal Advisory committee but nothing has happened,’’ the MLA said.

“The Tribal Advisory committee headed by CM and having more than 20 tribal MLAs as members should meet once in six months. But in the last one year, there was no meeting. In the last four years, the committee has met only twice,’’ Dr Usendi said.

“In North Eastern states, tribal dominated area have been accorded autonomy in administration. Like this, there should be two Zilla Parishads in Gadchiroli district. The main ZP will be elected by all voters and election for another will be only in tribal dominated area and only tribals will vote for their representative. These tribal representatives will suggest or design the developmental schemes or projects and the main ZP will implement it,’’ Dr Usendi stressed.

“Currently, there are 23 tribal members in the 51-member ZP of Gadchiroli. Non tribal members are influential and therefore all money originally meant for tribals development can not be spent. Unless tribals get autonomy in development administration, development can’s take place and till the development takes place, Naxalism can not be curbed,’’ Dr Usendi stressed.

Pramod Chunchuwar

 

Stop cutting trees for Posco plant: tribunal


Livemint

National green tribunal says large number of trees are being cut without permission of any competent authority
Neha Sethi Mail Me |  Ruchira Singh Mail Me
  
First Published: Tue, May 28 2013. 11 39 PM IST
Environmental clearance for the project was suspended by the same tribunal in March last year. Photo: Reuters<br />
Environmental clearance for the project was suspended by the same tribunal in March last year. Photo: Reuters
Updated: Tue, May 28 2013. 11 53 PM IST
New Delhi/Mumbai: The National Green Tribunal on Tuesday stepped in to stop felling of trees for the controversial Posco steel project in Orissa’s Jagatsinghpur district, posing another challenge to the South Korean company’s much-delayed $12 billion plant.
According to a report by PTI earlier this month, the state government has been able to acquire 2,630 acres of land against the initial requirement of 2,700 acres for setting up the 8 million tonnes per annum (mtpa) plant.
Environmental clearance for the project was suspended by the same tribunal in March last year.
“It is undisputed that as of today the project proponent does not have environmental clearance,” the bench headed by justice Swatanter Kumar said on Tuesday.
A petition filed by activist Prafulla Samantray brought to the tribunal’s notice the violation by the steel company in Orissa.
“It is contended before us now that large number of trees are being felled/cut by the project proponent without permission of any competent authority,” the bench’s order said.
Samantray alleged that the Orissa government was in collusion with the company and around 200,000 trees have been cut despite the suspension of the environmental clearance.
“This shows that the Orissa government is more concerned about the interests of the corporate and not the interest of its people. These trees are very important for our area as they prevent us from cyclones in the area,” he said.
The tribunal’s decision is significant as Posco was violating the earlier NGT order while felling trees in the area, said Rahul Choudhary, advocate for the petitioner.
“This talks about the company and how they are violating the law of the land. The country should make sure that they consider damage to environment because of a plant, instead of just looking at the investment that the company brings,” he said.
The tribunal added that the suspension of the environmental clearance will remain in force till an order is passed by the environment ministry based on the recommendations of a committee headed by former bureaucrat K. Roy Paul that was set up last year to look into this issue.
The South Korean company denied any violations in a posting on its website.
“Posco reiterates that it has never violated any human rights or environment norms in Orissa and also assures all its precious shareholders and stakeholders that Posco has committed itself to protect human rights through ethical practice,” the company said.
Posco India’s general manager, corporate relations, I.G. Lee, did not answer his phone or reply to a text message seeking comments.
Earlier, Lee had said the company was awaiting the handing over of 2,700 acres of land by the state government to start building its steel plant.
According to the original plan, the company needs 4,004 acres in an area with sandy soil in parts where villagers grow nuts and betel vines.
Meanwhile, an independent committee set up to safeguard Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development ethical guidelines has said that Norway’s oil fund, which has invested in Posco’s steel plant and is the largest sovereign wealth fund in the world, has no strategy for dealing with possible violations of human rights by the companies in which it invests.
The committee further said that the fund was not doing enough to protect against human rights breaches.
PTI and Reuters contributed to this story.
  
First Published: Tue, May 28

 

Report Of The Killing of Adivasi Civilians by CRPF at Edesmeta in Bijapur District


May 28, 2013

Human Rights Forum

Following media reports that eight adivasis and a CRPF constable had died in an alleged encounter on the night of May 17, 2013 at Edesmeta village in Bijapur district of Chattisgarh, a team of the Human Rights Forum (HRF) from Andhra Pradesh visited the area on May 25, 26 to elicit facts. The team spoke with residents of Edesmeta as well as police officers at Gangulur. There are 67 households in Edesmeta located in six paras (hamlets). The village is in Burgil panchayat of Bijapur block and falls in the jurisdiction of Gangalur police station.

The following is a brief report of the fact-finding team. A more detailed report will be put out in due course:

It is the HRFs view that contrary to the police version of an encounter with Maoists, there was no exchange of fire at Edesmeta on the night of May 17. Eight adivasis, including four minors, all of them male, and the CRPF constable died as a result of indiscriminate and unilateral firing by the CRPF. None of the deceased eight adivasis are Maoists as the police initially claimed. The eight did not die because the Maoists used them as human shields as an improvised police version put out a day later stated. They were killed in gunfire unleashed by a specialized anti-naxalite unit of the CRPF. There was no provocation whatsoever for the firing. Four more adivasis including a minor were injured. This callous brutality is chillingly similar to the slaughter of 17 adivasi civilians (including six minors) at Sarkeguda, also in Bijapur district, on the night of June 28, 2012.

This one-sided firing by the CRPF took place upon a gathering of adivasis of Edesmeta who were performing the beej pondum, the seed festival normally held this time of the year before the rains arrive and sowing begins. About a 100 adivasis had gathered around a small structure containing their dieties known locally as ‘gaama’. The beej pondum on May 17 (Friday) was the last of the four-day long festivities that were held during the evening-night. The adivasis had congregated at the place which is an open field and about a 10 minute walk from the village. The area is ringed on all sides by fairly thick forest. That the adivasis were unarmed civilians would have been clear to the naked eye from a distance since they had going a large fire.

A huge contingent of security forces from Gangulur consisting principally of CoBRA (Commando Battalion for Resolute Action, a specialised anti-naxalite guerilla unit of the CRPF) commandos numbering well about 150 personnel surrounded the area from three sides. The CRPF men caught hold of three young men Punem Sukku, Karam Budra and Karam Lakhma who were going towards a chelimi (a water hole) to drink water and also fetch some for the others gathered at the pondum. The CRPF men roughed them up. The terrified three, however, managed to wriggle out and ran into the forest in the direction away from the gathering. The villagers noticed the presence of the CRPF men when the three young men started running. They stopped dancing and almost immediately the CRPF started firing at the gathering. It was about 10 pm.

The initial burst of firing was from the north and it hit Karem Somlu(35), Punem Somu (30) and the beej pondum pujari Karem Pandu (37). They died on the spot. As soon as they heard the shots and saw these men falling, the adivasis began to scream and run with most of them heading south towards the village. The firing continued, this time from the west killing the four minor boys Karam Guddu (10) Karam Masa (16), Karam Badru (8) and Punem Lakku (15). It is entirely credible that the CoBRA constable Dev Prakash was hit by the gunfire unleashed by his colleagues from the west. His body lay next to that of Karam Masa’s. Villagers of Edesmeta the HRF team spoke with stated emphatically that there were absolutely no Maoists in the area and the CoBRA constable was hit in the same burst that felled Masa.

In fact, a few adivasis who managed to survive this massacre and were hiding in the bushes or behind some boulders said they overheard some of the CRPF men shout “stop firing, one of our men has been hit”. After the firing stopped, the CRPF lit up the area with flare guns. They also slapped and beat up a few adivasis. They left about an hour later carrying with them the bodies of Karam Masa and the constable Dev Prakash. They also took away three survivors Karam Aiytu, Karam Manga and Karam Lachhu. All three were beaten enroute Gangalur and at the police station also.

Karam Soma (35) managed to survive as he ran quickly and hid behind a boulder pretending he was dead. Karam Joga, who was hit by a bullet fell close by. Joga pleaded for water a few times and then passed away. After the firing stopped, the CRPF men found Soma and beat him up before leaving.

Those killed in this senseless carnage are:

Karam Pandu (35), the village pujari.
Karam Somlu (35) husband of Somli.
Punem Somu (30), husband of Boodhi.
Karam Joga (36), husband of Somli.
Karam Guddu (10) son of Karam Pandu (killed in firing).
Karam Masa (16), son of Karam Lachu and Somli.
Punem Lakku (15), son of Punem Lakku (late) and Borru.
Karam Badru (8), son of Karam Joga (killed in firing) and Somli.

Injured: Karam Somlu (40), Punem Somlu (20), Karam Somlu (25) and Karam Chotu (10). All four spent well over as day in pain before being given treatment. They are now recovering at the Maharani Government Hospital in Jagdalpur.

As soon as news of the firing and death of their relatives reached the village, the women rushed to the spot. In fact, an old woman Karam Lakki reached the place even before the CRPF men had left. On seeing the bodies of the adivasis, she screamed at the CRPF. She was slapped a couple of times by them before they hurriedly left. After the other women arrived, they carried the seven dead bodies and the four injured back to the village.

Women relatives of Karam Masa and those of the three men picked up by the CRPF after the firing went to the Gangalur police station the next morning (May 18). They pleaded with the CRPF to let their men go. Masa’s body was handed over to his mother after a post-mortem and the three were let off towards the evening.

The same day meanwhile, another large contingent of security forces came to the village from towards Cherpal. On seeing them, most of the adivasi men fled into the forest fearing they would be subjected to violence. Weeping women shouted at the CRPF men saying “you have butchered our men and children”. The CRPF men, who were on their best placatory behavior, told the women that it was not them but another party from the Gangalur and Bijapur side that had taken part in the firing the night before. It took a long time for them to convince the women to allow them shift the dead bodies for post-mortem. Many women from the village followed the CRPF men as the bodies were carried to Gangulur that evening.

A post-mortem was conducted by a panel of doctors at the Community Health Center, Gangulur the next morning (May 19) after which the bodies were handed over to their relatives. Angry villagers, most of them women, then placed the bodies between the Gangulur police station and the CRPF camp located opposite it and abused the local police as well as the CRPF and threw stones at the police station. That adivasi women pelted stones on a police station in an area where even the presence of the police is highly intimidating to the average citizen speaks volumes. The police merely watched on. Would they have been silent if their conscience was clear and there really was an exchange of fire? The women later took the bodies back to Edesmeta and cremated them the same evening.

According to the villagers, on Monday (May 20), another huge contingent of the police went to the village. A few of the officers addressed the adivasis where the firing took place and apologised for what had happened on the night of May 17. In turn, the villagers told the police that they wanted those who were responsible for the killings punished. When we asked the Gangulur inspector PK Sahu about this he denied that the police had even gone to Edesmeta on Monday.

Police Version:

In the face of this terrible brutality, the security establishment continues to maintain the fiction that the Maoists had fired upon the CRPF men and the latter had to therefore, retaliate. In this version, the fact of the dead adivasis being unarmed civilians is conceded, but the averment is that they were felled by Maoist bullets or they were a tragic outcome of crossfire in which they were used by the retreating Maoists as “human shields”.

The police assert that a special CoBRA unit from Gangalur enroute Pidiya to launch an offensive against the Maoists came under hostile fire near Edesmeta village following which they retaliated in self-defence. While one of their men was killed in the fierce encounter, they managed to kill an extremist and apprehend three suspects. It was only the next morning that they discovered some bodies which could be those of civilians and had evacuated them for post-mortem. Even senior officials in the security establishment touted this falsehood initially. When media reports emerged that a number of civilians including minor boys were killed, the version quickly changed to ‘Maoists used adivasi villagers as human shields to make good their escape.’ Senior officials in Raipur maintained that the CoBRA was a specially trained elite force and that the CRPF had put in place additional precautionary measures after the Sarkeguda incident last year. In effect, what is being conveyed is that the CRPF men exercise maximum restraint and only engage in exchange of fire. Civilian fatalities resulted because of Maoists firing recklessly while retreating!

These assertions fly in the face of facts. The plain truth is that the CRPF personnel opened fire without any provocation upon a gathering of unarmed adivasis celebrating a traditional festival. Edesmeta residents stated repeatedly that the CRPF men could easily ascertain that there were no Maoists in the area and that it was an unarmed gathering of villagers but they fired nevertheless. Several villagers who are still in grief and anger told the HRF team: “They want to finish us off”.

Attacked By Salwa Judum:

Edesmeta village has been subjected to violence during the early months of the Salwa Judum campaign. In the winter of 2005, Salwa Judum vigilantes and the police raided and set the entire village on fire. Three adivasis Karam Budru, Karam Latchu and Karam Lakku were caught by the Salwa Judum on that day. They beat up and inflicted knife and axe injuries on all three. Budru and Latchu died but Lakku managed to survive. This is reflective of the brazen manner in which a combination of the Salwa Judum and State instrumentalities committed illegalities during that period. On that occasion, the adivasis got wind of the impending raid and fled deeper into the forest to save themselves. They managed to survive for about two years after which they returned to the village and rebuilt their homes and lives. All of them are subsistence farmers who also go to the border mandals of Khammam district in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh to work as farm labour during the mirchi plucking season for about 2 to 3 months every year.

The State government has awarded a compensation of Rs 8 lakh to each family of the deceased adivasis of Edesmeta. The villagers of Edesmeta are in open contempt of this largesse. They told the HRF team: “We do not want this blood money. We want those responsible for killing our people punished”. A judicial enquiry has also been ordered by the State government to be headed by VK Agarwal who is also probing the Sarkeguda massacre of last June.

Conclusion:

Time and again we have pointed out that the government’s policy of treating the Maoist movement as an outbreak of mere criminality and seeking to “wipe it out” by deploying more and more special forces is deeply offensive of the Constitutional scheme and democratic sensibilities. As has been elucidated in the report of the Expert Group of the Planning Commission in 2007, a detailed and democratic response to the sources of discontent that is at the root of Naxalism is the way forward instead of a ‘law and order’ quick fix. This would per se include viewing and treating the Maoist movement as a political phenomenon and devising political means to address it. It is not our contention that the police apparatus must be a mute spectator to violence committed by the Maoists. They must meet that violence but in a manner that is respectful of the law and the rights of the people. They cannot overstep the boundaries of the law much less indulge in ‘administrative liquidation.’ Otherwise, immense injury would be done to the ‘children of our republic’ as the Supreme Court so poignantly put it.

A judicial enquiry is no substitute for a criminal prosecution. The law of the land and the Constitution will not have it any other way. We demand that:

1. CRPF personnel who participated in the unilateral and unprovoked firing upon unarmed adivasi civilians at Edesmeta village on the night of May 17, 2013 must be charged under Section 302 of IPC relating to murder and other relevant provisions of the penal code as well as provisions of the SC, ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 and prosecuted.

2. The investigation into these cases must be handed over to the CBI.

3. The Central and State governments must stop the ongoing policy of trying to suppress the Maoists by increased deployment of Special Forces. It must address that movement politically.

4. Governments must respect the Fifth Schedule mandate in letter and spirit and the adivasis’ right to land, forest and other natural resources in their region. Protective legislation meant for the adivasis must be implemented in letter and spirit.

Members of the fact-finding team:

VS Krishna (HRF State general secretary)

G Mohan (HRF State secretary)

SK Khadar Babu (HRF Khammam district president)

K Sudha (HRF Visakhapatnam district committee member)

Bela Bhatia (Researcher, Bombay)

Empower tribals or it will get worse: Ex-DG, BSF


Commissioned in the Indian Police Service in 1965, EN Rammohan holds wide-ranging experience of fighting insurgency in Assam as well as Nagaland as the head of the Border Security Force (BSF) in a long career. In an interview with Tehelka Editor-at-Large Ajit Sahi, he suggests it would be counterproductive to escalate the war against the Maoists in Chhattisgarh as a reaction to the massacre by the rebels of 27 people, most of them leaders and workers of the Congress party, on 25 May 2013
Ajit Sahi

Ajit Sahi

May 29,2013e

EDITED EXCERPTS FROM THE INTERVIEW

Photo: NaveeshPhoto: Naveesh

The Maoists have claimed that they killed Congress leaders Mahendra Karma and Nand Kumar Patel in  on Saturday as a retaliation for the Salwa Judum and Operation Green Hunt. What do you have to say to that?

The answer must be given in the context of the non-application of the Fifth Schedule  of the Constitution. As per the Constitiution, the Scheduled Areas of the country are to be ruled by the Governor by appointing a Tribes Advisory Council which will decide what is done with the area and how it is to be administered.This Tribes Advisory Council has never been constituted by any governor. The chief minister has no role in the administration of the tribal areas and nor does the forest minister. The Tribes Advisory Council will decide whether the area must be given for mining or not. If you give the tribals this power, they will administer the area. If they want to extract minerals, they will have a liaison with the company and they will file an agreement and the company will take out the ore and the Panchayat will get the money.

What does this have to do with what the Maoists have done?

The advasi does not have this right. The chief minister of the state signs an agreement with the company and they evict tribals from the area. Is it not illegal and unlawful?

Are you saying that denial of rights to the land is fuelling the Maoist insurgency?

Obviously. The tribals are helpless. They have been evicted from hundreds of acres of land. The Maoists say that the government is illegal and unlawful. We will have to fight them.

Why has counterinsurgency been successful in the North-East but failed in Chhattisgarh?

the insurgency has not been successful in the North-East. First, we must ask why are civilians taking up the gun? it is because the government has been illegal and unlawful. If you remove the cause of insurgency, then it will disappear.

On 27 May, an additional 1,000 troops were sent and a combing operation was begun. How do you rate its chances of success?

There is no chance of any success because the leadership of the counter resistance forces is so poor. Besides, the main thing is that you are fighting on the wrong side. How are you going to help the adivasis when they see that the police are conducting operations? Do you know how many innocent people get killed in the process? How do you get the Maoists out of this game? That should be the objective.

Why dont you answer that question? How do we get Maoists out of this game?

Very simple. Enforce the Fifth Schedule. Let the adivasis administer the area themselves. The chief minister is illegally administering the area by signing a lease with the mining companies. Is that not illegal and unlawful?

Isnt the Chief Minister also a legally and democratically elected representative?

He may be democratically elected but he is doing an illegal thing. He has no power under the Act to administer the forests. The Fifth Schedule says it must be administered by the Governor of the state reporting to the President of India. Where does the Chief Minister come into this?

I want to ask you about Saturday’s massacre of 27 people. A lot has been said about how the route of the Congress convoy was changed at the last minute and the fact that not enough route clearance was done, that sanitisation wasnt done. What are these things sanitisation and route clearance?

Whenever there is insurgency in a forested area, particularly if there are some low hills and they are thickly forested and the road is passing through that, if any convoy of the Government or a political party is passing through that route, they should inform the Government that the route should be sanitised. There should be a road opening party to go on either side of the road to a depth of 1 km so that an ambush cannot be placed. They should occupy the area at least eight hours before the party is about to move and they should sit there. Secondly, an anti-sabotage party should go through with explosive detecting equipment and sanitise the road. Only after they give the clearance, the convoy should be allowed. I don’t think any of this had been done in this case.

But how can you sanitise a route that is as long as 70-100 km?

You cannot. But if you have a large enough force, then you can sanitise it. We have done it in the North-East. I’m not talking about some fairy-tale. I have done it. If it takes five days to cover 100 km, then take five days and sanitise it. If you are sitting there, then they can’t come and plant an IED.

The CRPF have faced a lot of fire from the Maoists in Chhattisgarh. Last year, the Maoists kidnapped the District Collector of Sukma, where the killings occurred on Saturday. Why are they so capable in that region?

Obviously, the forces have not been effective. The Sukma Collector went to that place with only two security guards. What a fool he is. He is a very important man and the collector of a district. He can’t go with just two men. He should have sent two-to-three companies ahead of him and cleared the area.

But he was trying an outreach among the tribal people.

Nonsense. You don’t have an outreach with two men as your guards. He will get kidnapped. The Maoists are using the adivasis to come to power. You are not treating them justly which is why they are going to the Maoists. The Maoists will promise them that when we get the power you will administer the area yourself. The adivasis are poor, illiterate people. What can they do but agree? The only way out is to implement the Fifth Schedule.

But in 65 years, the Fifth Schedule has never been implemented and it is not going to be implemented in a hurry.

It is the law of the land and if you are not implementing it, then you are illegal and unlawful. I’ll give you the answer why it is not implemented. Because, there are millions of dollars available to the Government under these areas and nobody wants to give that money to the adivasis.

Where do you see the situation headed now in the next two to six months?

It is going keep going on and on. Continuous fighting will take casualties. A lot of innocent tribals will be killed and the situation will keep on going from bad to worse.

 

Tribals arrested, lathi-charged for demanding rehabilitation


Published on Down To Earth | Latest news, opinion, analysis on environment and science issues | India, South Asia (http://www.downtoearth.org.in)

 


Author(s):
Aparna Pallavi
Issue Date:
2013-5-28

Madhya Pradesh government starts dam construction without clearances

Twenty men and seven women from the tribal village of Chaukhand in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone district were arrested while many others with them were brutally beaten up by police for protesting illegal construction of a dam on the Kharak river.

As per a press-note issued by the Narmada Bachao Andolan on May 26, the residents of the village, mostly Bhil and Bhilala tribals, were demanding compensation and rehabilitation, and had put a stop to the work at the dam site two months ago.

On May 26, sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Jitendra Singh Chouhan, along with 150 police personnel, arrived at village Choukhand with an earth-work machine and tried to start work on the dam forcibly, says the press note. When villagers tried to speak to the SDM, he ordered a lathi-charge.

Residents claim people were pulled out of their houses and beaten up. Those injured include Banchabai of village Choukhand who was breastfeeding her baby when she was pulled out, and two minor girls Kalibai and Phulbai who were trying to protect their father from beatings.

Cheated of compensation

Chitroopa Palit, activist of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, said the proposed dam is yet to receive statutory forest clearance under the Forest Conservation Act and environment clearance under provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act. Despite this, the state government started land acquisition for the dam in 2011; the structure will submerge seven villages in the Badwani and Khargone districts. Since July 2012, some people in villages Juna Bilwa, Kaniapani and Choukhand in Khargone district were forced to accept paltry compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre (0.4 hectare) against collector’s guidelines which put the compensation amount at Rs 1.60 lakh for non-irrigated land and Rs 3.20 lakh for irrigated land. The people were told they would be paid compensation in three instalments and if they protested they would be jailed till the completion of the project.

However, residents of four affected villages in Badwani district—Kamat, Kaniapani, Julwania and Muvasia—have been denied any compensation. These villages are located in reserve forest area, and some of the tribal residents have been given land rights under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) while others’ FRA claims are pending, informs Palit. Also, 150 families in  three villages in Khargone district, who were cultivating land under a common patta (land titles) in the name of a cooperative society since 1969, have also been denied rehabilitation because the society was disbanded in the late 1990’s and people do not have individual documents, she said.

The people, united under the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), have been demanding rehabilitation since 2011, and after the administration failed to fulfil their demand, they stopped the dam work, said Palit. She said that administration has taken advantage of the arrest of JADS activist Madhuri Krishnaswami [1] to stage this attack on the people.

Khargone collector Navneet Mohan Kothari denied that people were beaten up. “The people who beat up the workers on the dam site were arrested,” he said. Kothari refused to comment on the fact that the dam work has been started illegally without proper clearances and said that all project-affected people have been paid just compensation.

 


Source URL: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/tribals-arrested-lathi-charged-demanding-rehabilitation

 

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