PRESS RELEASE- Fact Finding Report ‘ Guilty Until Proven Innocent’ on Unlawful Police Activities in North Bastar


CHHATTISGARH LOK SWATANTRYA SANGATHAN

(PEOPLES UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES, CHHATTISGARH)

___________________________________________________________________________

                                                                                                                                                                Date 20th May 2013

To: The Editor/ Chief Reporter

PRESS RELEASE: FOR FAVOUR OF PUBLICATION

A team consisting of eminent activists and lawyers went for a fact finding mission organized by PUCL-Chhattisgarh to the Edanar and Malmeta Villages of the Edanar Panchayat, Kanker District and the Anjrel Village of Khadkagaon Panchayat, Narayanpur District of North Bastar, on 18th and 19th April 2013.  The purpose of the mission was to investigate and document the unlawful police activities that were exposed by Edanar villagers during a statewide camp by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) conducted on 12th April, 2013 in Raipur.   The representation by Edanar village focuses mainly on a police rampage that happened in Edanar and Malmeta Villages in which six villagers were assaulted, two families were robbed, and one innocent man was arrested, and remains in jail till date, after being accused of aiding Naxalites.

However, the 23rd January incident is only a small part of a longer history of militarization and unlawful police activities in this region.  In the Edanar Panchayat (P.S. Tadoki), security forces consisting of CRPF and BSF, accompanied by local police and Special Police Officers (SPOs), conduct combing operations twice a month in which homes are looted and villagers are assaulted, threatened, labeled as “Naxalites”, arrested, charged with very serious offences and some of them even killed. In the Khadkagaon Panchayat (P.S. Narayanpur), villagers are routinely terrorized and even evicted from their homes by local SPOs, despite the Supreme Court order declaring SPOs unconstitutional.

The team documented over 20 such incidents of unlawful activities in both panchayats.  The report also examines the legal issues associated with and the overall context in which these violent attacks have occurred.  It gives special importance to the broader impact of the ongoing militarization of the region including the six BSF camps which are already stationed in Kanker, and the pending construction of 22 paramilitary barracks by the Bhilai Steel Plant to protect the functioning of its Raoghat iron ore mine.

The team releases the attached report,  Guilty Until Proven Innocent :  A Fact Finding Report on Unlawful Police Activities in Two Panchayats of North Bastar, Chhattisgarh with the hope that the media would highlight the situation of the people living in these areas, understand the larger political and economic context of the ongoing violence, and strike a well-educated public discourse around the issue.   We strongly urge correspondents to visit the area and write firsthand accounts of the issues faced by the local villagers.

Team members include: Shishir Dikshit (Lawyer, Janhit Legal Center), Lakhan Singh (People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Chhattisgarh), Somdutt Upadhayay (Lawyer, Bilaspur Social Forum), Tathagata Sengupta (People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Chhattisgarh), Samantha Agarwal (Sanhati), Pinki Verma (Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha-Mazdoor Karyakarta Samiti), and Keshav Sori (Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolan). The following report has been jointly prepared by the members of the fact finding team.

For further information contact: Adv. Sudha Bharadwaj (9926603877)

Sincerely,

Sudha Bharadwaj

General Secretary, PUCL-Chhattisgarh

P J Kurien , rape accused a speaker in Women Deliver Conference, Feminists Protest #Vaw #WD2013


By- Rukmini Sen, at http://hillele.org/

In a letter to the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress Chief Sonia Gandhi, Feminists and women activists accross India have expressed their shock that PJ Kurien has been invited as a lead speaker to the third Global Women Deliver Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, from May 28- May 30th 2013. Rajya Sabha Deputy Speaker P J Kurien is an accused in the Suryanelli Rape Case and GWD Conference is one of the largest global event of the decade to focus on the health and empowerment of girls and women.

In this letter written and signed by some senior feminists of the country it is stated that “In 1996, in the state of Kerala, a 16-year-old girl was abducted and brutally gang-raped by 42 men over a 40 day period. She was tied up, and transported place to place throughout the state, and raped by various men at various points. When she was finally dumped by the rapists and taken to the hospital the doctors said her groin and private areas were so savaged, and she had bled so much that a few more days and she would be dead!”. The victim, however, found courage and named and identified her rapists. One of them was P J Kurien, who she recognized and identified from a photograph. On September 06, 2000, a special court had found 35 of the men involved guilty and sentenced them to rigorous imprisonment for varying terms.

The Kerala High Court, however overturned this ruling. It acquitted all 35 convicted rapists and found only one of them guilty of crimes related to the sex trade and sentenced him to a 5- year jail term and a fine of Rs 50,000. “The reason for the acquittal was political pull, especially that of P.J. Kurien, who was a Union Minister and a member of the ruling Congress party”.

In fact, even the witness on whose statement Kurien was later acquitted, has recently admitted that he had actually testified to seeing Kurien in the guest house, around the time the victim was raped there. According to him, the police officer in charge had changed his statement to protect Kurien, with bribes having been given to buy his silence! Furthermore, the only man convicted in the case has also testified that Kurien was in the
guest house at the time of the rape. The testimony comes in spite of pressure being applied by the investigating officer on people not to testify against Kurien! Despite this, the government has refused to remove Kurien from office and re-try his case with the new evidence emerging against him.

Meanwhile, the rape survivor and her family have had to move houses constantly, and continue to be ostracized by society, while facing harassment from various quarters. The harassment increased because the survivor refused to retract Kurien’s name from the list of men who had raped her!

The video top is to understand how the rape survivor and her family have been further victimized over the years

The Feminist groups across the country have condemned the Government of India’s decision to permit PJ Kurien who is a rape accused to leave the country when there is a case against him in order to represent the Indian government at an international conference which is focused on women and girls health issues.

Feminist groups across the country have demanded that Women Deliver should not allow P J Kurien to speak or participate in any of the meetings or platform in the conference. Some of the leading feminists of the country have expressed surprise that “they do not check the credentials of dignitaries invited on a such a prestigious International Forum on the issues of Womens Health”. Women activists of the country have insisted that for future the conference organisers should check if delegates have a background in the subject matter of the conference, in the course of which they would also discover their misdeeds.

Feminists across the country have demanded that Kurien immediately vacates his position of Chairman of Asian Forum of Parliamentarians on Population and development

They have further demanded UNFPA which has sessions wherein ministers, parliamentarians and senior government officials will be speaking on women’s reproductive health and how they can be

LINK TO PETITION HERE- https://kractivist.wordpress.com/petition-stop-p-j-kurien-rape-accused-in-women-deliver-conference-wd2013-wdlive/

Green tribunal halts land acquisition for POSCO


Author(s):
Anupam Chakravartty
Issue Date:
2013-5-28

South Korean steel giant acquired 1,093 ha without waiting for environmental clearance

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) which suspended the environmental clearance to the controversial POSCO steel project in Odisha‘s Jagatsinghpur district last year, has once again stepped in to halt illegal work on the controversial project. In the past fortnight, Korean steel manufacturer POSCO, aided by state government of Odisha, acquired 2,700 acres (one acre equals 0.4 hectare) of agricultural land, including betel vines, in Jagatsinhpur district without waiting for the mandatory environmental clearance. NGT, on Tuesday, took cognisance of the violations by the steel company, which were brought to its notice through a petition filed by activist Prafulla Samantray, and asked the state government and POSCO to stall any acquisition till the environmental clearance is issued for the project. Samantaray and others stated in the petition that since POSCO does not have a valid environmental clearance, the present levelling, trench work and tree felling by the project proponent cannot be carried out.

NGT, while hearing Samantray’s petition, said that the company will not acquire any land before the dispute on the environmental clearance is resolved. NGT had suspended the environmental clearance granted to the project on March 30, last year [1]. At that time, the tribunal had asked an expert committee under the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to review the project afresh. The committee headed by former bureaucrat K Roy Paul, in its report, sought for a complete design change of the plant [2].

While POSCO had agreed to reduce the land requirement for the project, private agricultural land was not acquired till recently because of protests by local residents. However, towards the end of April, the plant authorities aided by the state and local administration started land acquisition, leading to violence and an incident of bomb explosion, which killed four protesters http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/bomb-kills-4-protesters-posco-stee… [3]. Paul, while submitting the report in October, had said that many important conditions with regard to the grant for fresh environmental clearance had not been fulfilled. On May 28, NGT found that important components for the grant of environmental clearance are yet to be completed, while the authorities began acquiring private agricultural land.

“The state government is yet to formulate a conversion policy for changing forest to industrial areas while it went ahead with cutting trees and destroying betel vines for the POSCO plant. The NGT’s order is a big relief for us as it has directed the state government to bring out a notification to formulate policy for the conversion of such land,” said Samantray.

International censure

On the other hand, at the international level, POSCO’s funders have been questioned for sponsoring the plant in Odisha, where several human rights violations have taken place in the name of land acquisition for the plant. On Monday, Norway’s National Contact Point (NCP) – a body that oversees the implementation Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development guidelines – has pulled up the country’s $740 billion oil fund for aiding POSCO plant. NCP said Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), which manages the oil fund on behalf of the Norwegian government, has refused to cooperate with the OECD Contact Point in its assessment of the fund’s investments in POSCO. “NBIM has violated the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, and it lacks a strategy for identifying and handling possible violations of human rights in the companies they invest,” NCP said in a statement on Monday.

The investigation was triggered by a complaint from several organizations about the 12 million tonnes per annum capacity steel plant planned by POSCO, which will displace 20,000 people physically and leave them without any means of living. The complaint to the local OECD contact points of South Korea, Norway and Holland was made by the non-governmental organizations Lok Shakti Abhiyan in India, KTNC Watch in South Korea, Fair Green and Global Alliance in the Netherlands and Norway’s Forum for Environment and Development. These organisations have claimed the stakeholders or funders should have used their influence to prevent or mitigate the damage caused by the human rights violations during the acquisition for the plant [4].

NBIM, in a reply to the allegations stated that the bank was awaiting the conclusions of the investigations against POSCO in South Korea. NBIM replied to NCT that “the OECD guidelines do not apply to minority shareholders, and for that reason refused to give answers to our written questions,” said Hans Petter Graver, chairperson of the Norwegian Contact Point. Graver in a release said that the guidelines do apply; the question is how they apply for an investor with numerous small shareholder positions.

The Norwegian Oil Fund has a 0.9% stake in the POSCO plant; the stake is valued at US $245 million. In Holland, the Dutch pension fund ABP and its pension administrator APG March, which is one of the funders, have agreed to cooperate with the local OECD Contact Point, according to the release by National Contact Point.

 


Source URL: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/green-tribunal-halts-land-acquisition-posco

 

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