A year after death, Gujarat court certifies it as farm suicide


Written by Rohit Bhan |  NDTV Updated: May 29, 2013 1

AhmedabadLast year when marginal farmer Anirudh Jadeja of Khijdad village in Gujarat’s Saurashtra had committed suicide, a hasty local police termed it as an accidental death due to a domestic strife.

The family had contested the claims and even decided to fight a long, legal battle despite monetary restrictions.

On Monday, a local court in Jamnagar ruled in their favour terming it as a farm suicide – relief for a family which had presented a plethora of documents including a letter addressed by Anirudh to Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, revealing his debt worries due to failed monsoon.

In his letter, Anirudh had even mentioned about the failed crop and a fear of bank officials knocking at his door to recover Rs. 11,000 he had taken as loan.

“There was pressure from the bank as his crop had failed due to almost negligible rains. He had a big family and was under extreme pressure… he had no option but to commit suicide, something the police refused to accept,” said his uncle Laljibhai Jadeja. In Suarashtra, it is the same story again this year.

Sheetal Bhaliya, a farmer in Amreli, is hoping this year the rains are adequate or else disaster looms large. The last six months have been a terrible struggle for farmers like him to make both ends meet.

“The crop spread in five bighas of land had got destroyed last year. I have a family of 10 to take care of. It is a struggle taking care of the family members,” said Sheetal Bhaliya.

The government seems unfazed. Last year due to failed monsoons, 62 farmers committed suicide in Gujarat. Activists claim that the number is much more as police refuse to record them as farm suicides.

Even when they are acknowledged as farm suicides, compensation is not paid to families. Right to Information (RTI) activists have been writing letters to the government, but with no results. It’s a sad state of affairs.

“Till September last year, 42 such deaths were reported and in the entire 2012, 62 farmers committed suicide. But compensation hasn’t been given even to one farmer,” said RTI activist Bharatsinh Jhala.

With government not listening to their woes, farmers are looking towards the rain gods for a little help this year.

 

#India – American woman gang-raped in Manali #Vaw #WTFnews


gangrape

By  Jun 04, 2013

NEW DELHI (AP) — An American woman was gang-raped Tuesday in the northern Indian resort town of Manali, police said.

The 30-year-old woman was picked up early Tuesday morning by men in a truck as she was hitchhiking back to her guest house after visiting a friend, police officer Sher Singh said.

The three men in the truck then drove to a secluded spot and raped her, he said. She went to police and they filed a rape case.

No arrests had been made as of Tuesday afternoon, Singh said.

(READ MORE: The ongoing threat to female travelers in Asia)

Authorities issued an alert for the three men and set up roadblocks to check any trucks leaving the town, he said.

The reported rape came after a Swiss tourist was gang-raped in March while on a cycling trip through rural India. Six men were arrested in that attack. In a separate incident the same month, a British woman traveling in northern India jumped out of the third-floor window of her hotel room fearing a sexual attack after the hotel’s owner tried to force his way into the room.

The assaults come amid heightened concern about sexual assaults in India that followed the fatal gang-rape of a young woman on a moving bus in New Delhi in December.

That rape sparked public protests demanding better protection for women. In response, the government passed a law increasing prison terms for rape and providing for the death penalty in cases of rape that result in death or leave the victim in a coma. It also made voyeurism, stalking, acid attacks and the trafficking of women punishable under criminal law.

 

#India- Woman ‘gang-raped for over 4 months ,forced to marry one of her attackers #Vaw #WTFnews


 #India- Chastity, Virginity, Marriageability, and Rape Sentencing #Vaw  #Justice #mustread

but police REFUSED to register a crime

A 23-year-old woman was allegedly gang-raped by three persons in Gurgaon for a period of over four months.

The incident came to light when the victim approached a local court which directed the Gurgaon police to register a case of rape, criminal conspiracy and kidnapping under sections 376 and 506 in the Sector 5 police station on Saturday.

According to police, the victim had come into contact with one Pradeep Kumar, a resident of Nangloi, on November 12 last year.

 

“Kumar had contacted the victim as a call centre representative over the phone. He assured her to provide her a job in a call centre. When she met him the first time at Gurgaon’s Rajendra Park area, the accused took her to a rented house in Nangloi after telling her that some preparation was required before the interview.

“When Kumar reached his rented accommodation in Nangloi, he was joined by his brother Kedaar and cousin Neeraj and all the three raped her one by one at gunpoint,” investigating officer Rashik Lal said.

Kumar later forced the victim to marry Kedaar after threatening her with dire consequences if she revealed her ordeal.

All the three accused then raped her again and again over months. One of the accused always remained present with the victim to keep a watch on her.

However, the woman managed to escape from the Nangloi house on March 15 and reached her home in Laxman Vihar in Gurgaon.

The victim’s family then approached the Gurgaon police, who allegedly refused to register an FIR. Finally, the woman approached a local court and after the court’s direction, the police registered the case.

“We arrested the prime accused Pradeep Kumar from his house on Sunday while Kedaar and Neeraj are on the run. A team has been constituted in the matter and we will nab them soon,” Lal added.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2334792/Gurgaon-gang-rape-Woman-gang-raped-months-forced-marry-attackers–police-REFUSED-register-crime.html#ixzz2VF54MoYB
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#India – 17 year old abducted and Gang raped in Delhi #Vaw #Rape


RAPE

STAFF REPORTER, The Hindu . June 3, 2013

All three accused, in their 30s, have been arrested

A 17-year-old girl was allegedly abducted by three men in Nangloi while she was out for a stroll near her house on Saturday evening and gang-raped. All three accused, in their 30s, have been arrested in Delhi.

According to the police, the girl, who lives with her parents, had gone for a walk late on Saturday evening after dinner. As she reached an isolated stretch some distance away from her house, a white car came from behind and intercepted her.

The three men sitting inside asked her to get in. Upon her refusal, they allegedly dragged her inside and drove away. She tried to raise an alarm, but they covered her mouth.

“She was then taken to an empty warehouse in the area, where the three men took turns to rape her. Following this, the unconscious victim was dumped close to the spot from where she was abducted,” said a police officer.

When she regained consciousness, she returned home and narrated her ordeal to her parents. The family then approached the police and a case under Section 376 (D) of the Indian Penal Code and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences ct was registered.

Based on the description of the three accused and the vehicle, the police zeroed in on them and arrested them on Sunday. The car has also been seized.

Keywords: NangloiDelhi rapesexual assault

 

 

Manipur – 3 commandos suspended for beating up a patient


PTI  Imphal, June 04, 2013

Three police commandos were suspended for allegedly beating up a patient and five others, who were accompanying him, on the way to a hospital in Bishenpur district of Manipur, police said on Tuesday.

The suspension order of sub-inspector Bung Singh and two constables (all commandos) was issued by the Superintendent of Police of Bishenpur district Radheshyam Singh on Monday.

Khwairakpam Paka (32), under acute pain following detection of stones in his kidney, and his five companions including a woman, were beaten up by the three policemen in an inebriated condition when Paka was being taken from his home at Thanga to a private clinic in Imphal at around 10 pm on Saturday, police said.

Different social organisations had complained to the police about the incident. Three Manipur Rifles personnel and one jawan of India Reserve Battalion were also allegedly involved in the incident.

Respective commanding officers of the Manipur Rifles personnel and IRB jawan have been informed to take action against them, the sources said

 

Anti-Areva Protest: Letter to French and European Bankers from Fishermen and Farmers of Jaitapur


02 June 2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

To,

The Presidents / Chief Executive Officers,

The French and European Bankers,

 

SUBJECT:- FINANCING OF PROPOSED JAITAPUR NUCLEAR POWER PROJECT.

 

Dear Sir / Madam,

 

We the people of Jaitapur, Madban, Sakhari Nate, Mithgavane, Niveli, Karel and all the surrounding villages situated near proposed JAITAPUR Nuclear Power Project, are writing to you with a deep sense of anguish and disgust about the scheduled development taking place in the city of Paris on 5 th and 6 th June between Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) acting through Government of India, French Company AREVA and various French as well as European Bankers.

 

We, the thousands of Fishermen, Farmers as well as common inhabitants of Jaitapur and surrounding areas, are given to know that NPCIL and Government of India officials are going to negotiate with French as well as European Bankers the loan terms for financing the proposed JAITAPUR NUCLEAR POWER PROJECT.

 

We further understand that, to allay and assuage the serious concerns of Bankers as well as French Company AREVA about our staunch and fierce opposition to the proposed JAITAPUR NUCLEAR POWER PROJECT, Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL) and Government of India officials are making wrong representations, concealing the ground information, twisting and distorting the facts and are trying their level best to delude you, in order to make you agreeable and secure loan finance for this mega disaster project.

 

To put the ground realities and facts in clear perspective, we, the fishermen and farmers of Jaitapur and adjoining areas, want to make it very very clear that our die hard opposition to Proposed JAITAPUR NUCLEAR POWER PROJECT is total, fierce and will not be subdued by any means or ways possible. In fact it is gaining momentum every passing day and is extending to larger and wider areas of Coastal Maharashtra, famously known as KOKAN.

 

In view of all above, we urge upon you not to buckle to the cheap tactics of NPCIL as well as Government of India and extend any loan to this ill fated Nuclear Project, which is sure to be scrapped sooner or later and you will end up not only loosing your money but your face too.

 

We will never ever allow anybody to contaminate our ancestral land, seas, marine as well as land environment of this konkan coast with NUCLEAR ENERGY and it’s dangerous fallout of ionizing RADIOACTIVITY at any cost and to achieve this objective, we are prepared to embrace even death if the situation so warrants.

 

Hope propriety prevails in your decision making and you desist from making money over our deaths.

 

                              

Yours Truly

                  Fishermen, Farmers and inhabitants of Jaitapur and vicinity

 

 

 

Marking a New Dawn – Historic Arms Trade Treaty Signed at U.N


By Lucy WestcottReprint |
Anna MacDonald of Control Arms speaks at the start of the ceremony for the signing of the Arms Trade Treaty at United Nations headquarters in New York, Jun. 3, 2013. Credit: Keith Bedford/INSIDER IMAGES (UNITED STATES)Anna MacDonald of Control Arms speaks at the start of the ceremony for the signing of the Arms Trade Treaty at United Nations headquarters in New York, Jun. 3, 2013. Credit: Keith Bedford/INSIDER IMAGES (UNITED STATES)

UNITED NATIONS, Jun 4 2013 (IPS) – The United Nations witnessed a historic moment Monday with the signing of the Arms Trade Treaty, first adopted in April by the General Assembly, and the first time the 85-billion-dollar international arms trade has been regulated by a global set of standards.

Negotiations took place between 193 countries, 63 of which signed on Monday. More countries are expected to sign by the end of the week.

“We all know about history, so [the U.S. has] a big responsibility.” — Alex Gálvez of Transitions Foundation of Guatemala

The treaty will regulate all transfers of conventional arms and ban the export of arms if they will be used to commit crimes against humanity.

The treaty also calls for greater transparency and for nations to be held more accountable for their weapons trading. States will undergo rigorous assessment before they move arms overseas and have to provide annual reports on international transfers of weapons.

But some of the world’s major arms importers and exporters, whose inclusion is crucial for the treaty’s success, have abstained or declined to give their signatures. Syria, North Korea and Iran were the only three countries to fully oppose the treaty, while Russia, China and India abstained.

The United States, the world’s largest arms exporter, did not sign, but is expected to by the end of the year. Technicalities in the language of the treaty were the reason for not signing; while U.S. support for the treaty is “strong and genuine,” there were inconsistencies in comparison between the English-language and translated versions of the treaty, said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

“All other countries are looking to what the United States does,” Kimball added.

Ray Offenheiser, president of Oxfam America, said it is “critical” that the United States sign the treaty, which has been “10 years in the making.”

In a statement released by the State Department Monday morning, Secretary John Kerry welcomed the treaty, ensuring that the U.S.’s signing would not infringe on the fiercely debated Second Amendment rights of U.S. citizens.

“We look forward to signing [the treaty] as soon as the process of conforming the official translations is completed satisfactorily,” Kerry’s statement said.

The treaty is a crucial step towards ending the deaths of the 500,000 people Oxfam estimates perish from armed violence each year.

“The most powerful argument for the [treaty] has always been the call of millions who have suffered armed violence around the world,” Anna Macdonald, head of Arms Control, Oxfam, said in a statement. “Their suffering is the reason we have campaigned for more than a decade,” she added.

When asked if the treaty could prevent atrocities like those which have occurred in Syria, Macdonald said she believed it could, if implemented correctly.

With such vast negotiations taking place, disagreements were bound to arise.

“Items [such as] the scope of weapons covered by the treaty and the strength of human rights provisions preventing arms sales in certain circumstances are not as strong as we would have wished,” Jayantha Dhanapala, president of the Pugwash Conferences on Science & World Affairs and former under secretary general for disarmament affairs, told IPS.

Nevertheless, he believes the treaty is a “long overdue step” in realising Article 26 of the U.N. Charter, which calls for the “establishment of a system for the regulation of armaments”.

And considering the treaty was adopted just weeks ago, 63 signatures is an “excellent number,” Macdonald said.

The treaty will go into force after it receives 50 ratifications from states that have signed. This is expected to take up to two years, but some states, including the United Kingdom, have agreed to already start enforcing the rules of the Treaty.

One victim of gun violence was at the U.N. to witness the signing, the first step on the path to the treaty’s ratification.

Alex Gálvez, 36, was 14 years old when he felt a bullet course through his right shoulder, exiting through his left one. Buying sodas for lunch in Guatemala, Gálvez was caught up in a territorial dispute. The bullet perforated his lungs, but Gálvez said he was too young at the time to realise that he was dying.

Gálvez is now executive director of Transitions Foundation of Guatemala, an organisation that helps Guatemalans living with disabilities, many of whom have been injured by small weapons.

“They left a lot of small weapons without control” after three decades of violence in Guatemala, Gálvez told IPS.

“Unfortunately not everyone had had the opportunity to get treated in time, to get educated [about arms],” Gálvez said. “It’s not just Guatemala that is suffering [from armed violence]; many other countries are suffering too.”

While he received his medical treatment in the United States and understands that it’s a complex process, Gálvez would like to see the country sign, especially as it has provided small arms to many countries, including his own.

“We all know about history, so they have a big responsibility,” Gálvez said.

 

#India- Who owns our identity? #UID #Aadhaar #Biometrics


Author: Latha Jishnu, Down to Earth
Posted on: 31 May, 2013

Between Nilekani’s UID and National Population Register’s KYR+is a huge mess and a looming nightmare

imageIllustration: Anirban Bora

 

Yattan Bibi, scrubber of floors and cleaner of dishes (other people’s), has spent the past six months visiting a number of government departments, bank offices and “camps” in different schools. All this to get her identity proven—again and again. It’s a bureaucratic obstacle race that’s tired her out but the hope of getting some kind of dole “for my old age when my limbs get weak” keeps this unlettered woman stubbornly on the paper chase. Most of the time she has no clue quite what is expected of her, much less why.

In recent weeks, armed with her tattered ration card and an old bank passbook which are her most prized assets, Yattan Bibi has piled up an impressive number of documents. Thanks to her ration card she has got an aadhaar number, which is software czar Nandan Nilekani’s “gift” of a unique identity to the millions he says have been left out of the system because they have no documents to prove who they are. The unique 12-digit number is not an open sesame however. It did not help Yattan Bibi open a special public sector bank account for pension of Rs 600 a month under the Delhi government’s Dilli Annshree Yojana. The bank says aadhaar is not a valid proof of residence. It has, instead, asked for a voter ID card or a permanent account number (PAN) card to prove her bonafides.

As different arms of the government work on parallel lines, unnecessary complexities are being created. Officially, aadhaar registration is voluntary but it is implicitly compulsory since there is the threat of denial of services. Enrolment with the National Population Register (NPR), on the other hand is mandatory, and C Chandramouli, Registrar General and Census Commissioner of India, who runs NPR has sent out a warning that the time for filling in the Know Your Resident Plus (KYR+) form is running out. The KYR+ will, eventually, result in the ultimate proof of identity, a citizenship card with the aadhaar number on it. Or so we are promised.

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Between the seemingly lax aadhaar of the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and the stricter KYR+ of NPR, which comes under the Ministry of Home Affairs, is a messy universe of verification and authentication that is complicating the lives of the poor, with no guarantee of the much promised “social inclusion” at the end of it all. If anything, Down To Earth’s investigations have shown that the Unique Identification (UID) programme is as prone to being a tool of exclusion as it is of ensuring the benefits of welfare schemes (see ‘Unique identity crisis’, Down To Earth, May 1-15, 2012). Across the country, workers are being denied their wages because authentication machines fail to match their fingerprints with the UIDAI database. Forget the iris scans because we don’t have the money for such sophisticated machines. Above all is the overarching question of safety and likely misuse of data.

Recently, data of 300,000 applicants containing PAN and biometric information was lost while being uploaded from Mumbai to the UIDAI server in Bengaluru because a hard disk of the Maharashtra government’s IT department crashed. Shocking, said many commentators. But what of the many instances that have come to light of laptops with such data that have gone missing? In spite of the frequency of such data disasters, privacy concerns are being dismissed as elitist. Such questions, goes the official argument, ignore the ground realities of India where millions desperately need an identity of some kind to be part of the system. Yet, in March, the Bombay High Court directed UIDAI and the Union government to respond within three months to a public interest litigation questioning the lack of safeguards in aadhaar.

Now comes an even more troubling disclosure. Legal expert Usha Ramanathan who has been studying the policy and practices of Nilekani’s UIDAI over the past five years, warns that the authority will be a business entity governed by the Companies Act. It is not bound by a law that will recognise the fiduciary role of the state, she warns. In that role, government does not own data.

As Ramanathan explains it, the framework for ownership of data was set out by Nilekani in the Technology Advisory Group for Unique Projects which he chaired. This group suggested the setting up of National Information Utilities (NIUs) to manage government’s databases through the creation of NIUs which will then “own” the data as private companies with a public purpose. But essentially profit-making would be their goal. While the government would have “strategic control”, NIUs would be at least 51 per cent owned privately. In other words, the data would be privatised after the operations of NIUs are stabilised (with state funding and support, of course). Thereafter, the government would become a “paying customer” whereas NIUs would be “essentially set up as natural monopolies”. How do we deal with such a chilling scenario in a country that has no privacy laws or data protection regulations?

 

 

#Aadhaar and the art of not-so-subtle persuasion #UID


 
ALOYSIUS XAVIER LOPEZ, The Hindu
 Residents have been anxiously queuing up to complete biometric verification — Photo: K.V. Srinivasan
Many seem convinced the scheme is compulsory
A couple of days ago, Lavanya Mohan’s tweet on being ‘sent back in line’ for not wearing a dupatta while trying to get her picture taken for the Aadhaar number raised a storm on Twitter.
Users of the social networking site responded with anger and scorn over what they termed ‘moral policing.’ However, this does not seem to have adversely affected the process of verification at all. In fact, according to a Corporation official, the number of residents thronging offices in West Mambalam, where the incident occurred, has only increased since the controversy. This only reflects the fact that many think the scheme is compulsory.
Long queues of those anxious to complete biometric verification are a common sight everywhere. This is unsurprising as the word Aadhaar seems ubiquitous these days. It stares at you everywhere, from ATMs to civic body offices. The website of Unique Identification Authority of India, which issues the 12-digit individual identification number that is Aadhaar, says it is not mandatory. However, most people seem to believe otherwise.
“Residents are scared that they may even lose citizenship if they do not have Aadhaar number,” said N. Baskaran, a Corporation councillor in Saidapet. “Everyday at 5 a.m., people queue up at the ward office to get tokens. As biometric data is collected only from 30 people in a day, many of them return disappointed. Repeated failure causes panic,” S. Elumalai, a resident of T. Nagar.
Incidentally, the statement of the Minister of Planning in the Lok Sabha on December 2, 2009 clearly says that “Enrolment will not be mandated. The UID number will prove identity, not citizenship.”
Many citizens cited the notices at ATMs as the reason for the urgency. These notices ask residents to link the Aadhaar/UID number with their accounts to get “benefits of government subsidies.” The banks however deny having persuaded customers to link Aadhaar with their accounts.
The fervour seems to have penetrated the higher echelons of the city establishment too. Recently, the councillor of ward 129 staged a road blockade protesting the delay in issuing Aadhaar. Collection of biometric data is on at Tondiarpet, Royapuram, Thiru.Vi.Ka. Nagar, Anna Nagar, Teynampet and Kodambakkam zones. Work in Adyar zone will start soon.
“Six lakh residents have been covered by biometric identification under NPR in Chennai. All of them will get Aadhaar numbers automatically in 30 days,” said M.R.V. Krishna Rao, Joint Director, Census Department.
However, some experts were very critical of the process. “Aadhaar is farcical. It has no legal sanction. This is autocratic. It is just an IT business opportunity for a few,” said M.G. Devasahayam, a former IAS officer. “The government is enrolling all residents. But we have not discussed it in Parliament,” he added.
Keywords: Aadhaar, moral policing, biometric verification, Unique Identification

_______________________________________________

#India- Dealing with Maoists


The Maoists want a military conflict as it brings more adivasis into their fold. The Indian state‘s best bet is in ensuring that it wins over the aam adivasis to its side.
CHITRANGADA CHOUDHURYAJAY DANDEKAR, Outlook

May 25th’s condemnable attack by the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army, which ended up killing and injuring over 50 people from Congress politicians to migrant adivasi labourers, cannot be understood without recognising the Maoist party’s explicit political aims. These aims include zero tolerance for any competing political force in the party’s area of armed influence. Also, as stated often by male members of the party’s non-adivasi leadership, the polarising hardships created by military conflict are desirable since they hold the opportunity of swelling the party’s ranks.

But to make deeper sense of the attack, Indians must also acknowledge the routine stymieing of democracy and governance in adivasi India— the context that nurtures the current avatar of India’s four-decade-old Naxalite rebellion.

If the Indian establishment wishes to effectively end such attacks in the long run, it cannot sidestep a hard look at why it stands so discredited in the aam adivasi’s eyes across central and eastern India. If  “democratic values” are what are at stake, as leading politicians argued in the wake of the attack, their parties must also act to uphold and defend such values in numerous adivasi blocks where the Maoists neither challenge the writ of the state nor hold out the threat of political assassinations.

Here are some specifics dos and don’ts:

1. Implement land rights safeguards: From the adivasi bonded labour agitations in neglected western Orissa to the struggles against losing land and livelihoods for mining and industrialization across the bauxite, coal and iron ore-rich tracts of central and eastern India, land is at the heart of much of the ongoing violence adivasis suffer. This despite clear safeguards in the Constitution, dedicated land alienation laws and the atrocities act, all of which are meant to prevent and redress adivasi displacement and dispossession. Existing constitutional and legal provisions have to be seriously implemented to address this growing crisis.

2. Fast-track the Forest Rights ActFrom the adivasi perspective, the 2006 Forest Rights Act (FRA) was arguably the most meaningful legislation of independent India. It overturned colonial notions of the state as owner of the forest, and recognised adivasis and other forest-inhabitants as rightful cultivators of forest produce and key actors in forest conservation. But states have been reluctant to cede control— as per the government’s latest status report (April 2013), under 50% of land title claims filed by villagers in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Maharashtra and Orissa have resulted in titles. On the ground, this translates into deliberate neglect. In a mid-May interview with one of the columnists, residents of a Gond village in Orissa’s forested coal belt said they had filed FRA claims in 2010 but there was no administrative action to process them. Instead, forest officials had been making rounds of the village with officials of a private mining company. The other important aspect of the law—giving adivasi communities the right to market their forest produce—has been implemented in only a handful of villages across India.

3. Stop criminalising legitimate spaces of expression and protest: A wide spectrum of non-violent adivasi movements today exist on the ground, agitating on multiple issues including forced displacement, the loss of access to natural resources, the absence of meaningful economic and social rehabilitation, below-minimum wages, government liquor shops and indebtedness. Many of these struggles get little public or media attention. The state’s common reaction is to throttle and intimidate such agitations, often through outright physical assaults or by filing criminal charges against protestors, including those of Naxalism. In Chhattisgarh, such non-violent movements have had to coalesce under a single banner hoping for strength in numbers, given the perennial fear of imprisonment under the state’s harsh Public Security Act.

4. Pay closer attention to justice: The criminal justice system as it exists today is loaded against the adivasi. On the one hand, there is little recognition for crimes—from police atrocities to cheating and forced displacement—committed against the adivasi. NHRC’s April visit to Chattisgarh reinforced this principle of zero culpability when it did not recommend criminal charges in any of the questionable encounters that killed adivasi villagers. On the other hand, adivasis are routinely picked up and imprisoned, spending years in a hostile system they can make little sense of. Court proceedings often take place in a language they do not understand, the official legal aid system takes little interest in them, and private lawyers who can get them bail are beyond reach. This April, a year after a committee was set up to examine cases of adivasi prisoners, its head and former bureaucrat Nirmala Buch said she did not know if the Chhattisgarh government had acted on the recommendation that prosecutors not oppose bail for 110 adivasi undertrials in the 235 cases the committee had examined. Undertake a dedicated review of adivasi undertrials, and act on its findings. Create a distinctive legal aid program for adivasis with funds from the Tribal Sub-plan budget. Institute criminal charges on adivasi complaints.

5. Hold businesses accountable: Among the leading violators of human rights in India’s adivasi belt are businesses, in particular mining corporations who have made an unparalleled entry into these areas over the past decade. This presence will only expand in the coming years, but there is alarmingly little attention by the state on the profound implications of this for vulnerable communities on the ground. Corporate misdemeanours range from intimidating gram sabhas, falsifying records, fixing public hearings, nurturing land speculation and alienation, bribing politicians, the bureaucracy and the district media to facilitate violations, sapping natural resources including groundwater, and polluting without any notion of having to pay for it. All of these are open secrets through various levels of government. Yet a blind eye is turned since the consequences of these violations are primarily borne by adivasis. Businesses operating in adivasi areas need to be held to a code of conduct with clear principles of responsibility and accountability.

6. Address the head-on policy collision between mining and adivasi rights: There is a nascent but overdue debate within government on how mining in its current form is incompatible with the constitutional provisions for adivasis. V Kishore Chandra Deo, the most engaged Tribal Affairs Minister India has seen in a long time, has repeatedly pointed to the crisis of confidence and trust in adivasi areas mining is causing. He took this position most strongly in a letter on April 4 to the governors of all adivasi-populated states, men of power who have routinely ignored their constitutional mandate of ensuring ‘peace and good governance’ in adivasi areas. Deo’s concerns over mining have been publicly seconded by his colleague Jairam Ramesh. It is no coincidence that these are the only cabinet members who spend time in adivasi areas and see the damage on the ground first-hand. What is the larger strategic plan for our mineral resources and where might we draw the line on the social and economic costs adivasis bear for our extractive industries? Give these questions the seriousness they deserve, even though they are difficult ones to ask, when spoils from mining enrich individual MPs and MLAs across party lines, and bankroll electoral campaigns.

7. Engage, don’t exclude: Through a series of executive orders, the current government has shrunk the legitimate powers of gram sabhas in adivasi areas to participate in decisions over matters that affect them, from developmental and mining projects to diverting and destroying forests. None of these rollbacks were run by locals or justified to them. They orders came in response to high-level lobbying, and often after explicit PMO directives. The effective message to adivasis is that their participation is irrelevant, or an irritant. Dedicated area development funds in adivasi areas such as the Integrated Action Plan are imbued with a similar scuttling of participatory norms. IAP funds, hundreds of crores of rupees, are entirely controlled by 3 district bureaucrats, violating the legal mandates of local communities and elected panchayats. What proportion of IAP money and energies were spent to engage communities in key challenges like creating accessible and meaningful healthcare in their area?

8. Don’t patronise the adivasi: Adivasis are not our ‘backward’ siblings but full and equal citizens confronted with, and living through enormous inequality and injustice. Recognize that adivasi societies are home to deep and distinctive traditions, which add to the diversity India takes pride in. They also possess an evolved ecological awareness, acquired over generations of managing their environments and livelihoods— knowledge systems that arguably rival those of the most celebrated “development experts”. If the rest of India has the humility to listen, adivasi communities might hold valuable policy insights on how we could avoid replicating the fate of China, which has gravely damaged its environment on the path to economic progress. Incidentally, adivasi societies also possess better sex ratios than some of India’s most developed areas including South Delhi and South Mumbai. Don’t look down on adivasis for “staying aloof from the meanstream [sic] of modern society”, as one government document on Malkangiri’s IAP put it. The fundamental issue seeking resolution is not adivasi difference, but mitigating the inequality and injustice that compromise democratic values for them at every turn.


Chitrangada Choudhury is Research Fellow, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies. Ajay Dandekar is Professor, Central University, Gujarat.

 

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