Complaint to NHRC -Minor ghastly killed by BSF and threw the body to Bangladesh


 

10 June 2013

 

To

The Chairman

National Human Rights Commission

Faridkot House

Copernicus Marg

New Delhi

 

Respected Sir

I want to draw your attention on an incident of gruesome killing of a minor boy by Border Security Force personnel. The deceased was at his age of 14 years and a student of local school. His father was a migrant labour and belongs to Scheduled Caste community. On the fateful day, the boy was dragged to the BSF camp and tortured to death. Then his body was thrown to the opposite side of the border; Bangladeshi land to hide their atrocious act. Few of the villagers were witnessed the incident of deceased being taken to the BSF camp by the BSF personnel. The police have started a criminal case against unnamed BSF personnel but I have serious doubt on the credibility of the police investigation when the accused are personnel attached with BSF.

I am attaching the detail of the incident which is self explanatory in nature and demand for:-

  • The incident must be investigated by the Commission
  • The involved BSF personnel must be booked and subsequently prosecuted
  • The witnesses and family members of the deceased must be protected and their safety and security maintained
  • The family must be duly compensated

 

Sincerely Yours

 

 

(Kirity Roy)

Secretary

 

 

Name of the victim :-   Master Sourabh Shikari son of Mr. Utanka Shikari aged about 14 years , a student of Class IX at local school, belong to Schedule Caste community,  resident of  village- Dharampur,  Post Office- Putikhali, Block- Krishnanagar, Police station- Krishnaganj, District- Nadia, West Bengal.

Name of the perpetrator :-  Two Border Security Force(BSF) personnel  from  Tungi  BSF camp, attached with ‘F’ company of BSF Battalion 173 who were in duty from 11pm to 5 am and Company Commander of 173 BSF Battalion.

Place of incident:-  Adjoining alley of  Tungi BSF camp and Tungi BSF Camp under Krishnaganj Police Station of Nadia district.

Date and Time of the incident: –  On 10th May 2013 in between 10.30 pm to 11pm.

 

Case Detail:-

It is revealed during our fact finding that the deceased was a minor boy. He was a student of class IX standard of  Majdia Rail Bazar High School. The victim is belonged to a schedule caste family. His father Mr. Utanka Shikari is a mason and migrant laborer; he usually lived in Mumbai for his employment.  Mrs. Mamata Shikari the mother of the deceased stayed at their native with her two daughters Ms. Swati Shikari(13) and Ms. Jyoti Shikari (13) and the deceased in extreme financial hardships. The said area having overwhelming population of ‘Matua’ a scheduled caste community of Bengal, renowned for their religious fervors.

 

Mrs. Mamata Shikari is a renowned devotional singer of that area.  On 10th may 2013 a ‘ nam sankirtan’ (devotional music programme) was arranged at the house of Mr. Sujit Biswas . Usually this type of programme concluded at late night. On the said night while Ms. Mamata Biswas was performing at the said household; at around 10 pm the deceased returned back to his home to charge his mother’s mobile phone, after that he took the alley adjoining to the fence as he was scared of snakes at the usual road.    At that time two BSF personnel from Tungi BSF camp apprehended him on suspicion that he was a smuggler and dragged him to the said BSF camp. Some villagers saw the incident. They were Ms. Suchitra Biswas; wife of Mr. Ananta Biswas, Mr. Shukdev Roy; son of Mr. Shailen Roy and Mr. Pijush Bhakta; son of Late Subhash Bhakta; all residents of village – Dharampur under Krishnaganj police station. Few villagers heard the lament of the deceased made feeble protests out of BSF terror, the BSF personnel then said ‘come tomorrow morning at camp with member of panchayet and get him released’. But the hapless boy was tortured throughout the night at the said BSF camp.

 

Next day; on 11th May 2013 the family members of the deceased went to the Tungi BSF camp to get him released, the said BSF personnel at camp out rightly denied any arrest and subsequent custody at their camp. At around 5.30 am some farmers discovered the victim’s body at the opposite side (Bangladesh) of the border, while they were at their agrarian field.  The villagers univocally alleged that the BSF after killing the boy threw the body at the opposite side of the border to hide their atrocious act. On the same day Mr. Ananda Shikari, uncle of the deceased lodged a complaint in Krishnaganj Police Station which was registered as case number 113/2013 dated 11.5. 2013, under sections 364/302/201/34 of Indian Penal Code. Prior to that an unnatural death case was registered vide Krishnaganj PS UD Case No. 22/13 dated 11.5.2013.

 

On the same day under supervision of Krishnanagar Police Station the BSF personnel of Tungi BSF camp arranged a flag meeting with Border Guard Bangladesh (BGB) and got back the body. On the same day the victim’s body was sent to Police Morgue, Shaktinagar, Krishnanagar, district – Nadia for post mortem examination and the same was done by Dr. AK Biswas; MO, Medico Legal, Nadia District Hospital  vide Post Mortem number- 461/2013 dated 11/05/2013 and body was handed over to the family for cremation.

Inline images 1

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Kirity Roy
Secretary
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
(MASUM)
&
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
40A, Barabagan Lane (4th Floor)
Balaji Place
Shibtala
Srirampur
Hooghly
PIN- 712203
Tele-Fax – +91-33-26220843
Phone- +91-33-26220844 / 0845
e. mail : kirityroy@gmail.com
Web: www.masum.org.in

 

Uttar Pradesh – PUDR statement on the death of Khalid Mujahid in police custody


June 11, 2013

PUDR strongly condemns the death of Khalid Mujahid, an undertrial arrested in 2007 in connection with bomb blasts in UP earlier that year. Mujahid died on 19 May, 2013 when he was being escorted by a team of the Uttar Pradesh state police from a court in Faizabad to Lucknow jail. His death while under police escort in what is a clear case of custodial killing raises several questions – the rights of citizens, especially Muslim youth; the character of the police and state; the truth behind terror cases and arrests.

Khalid Mujahid, together with Tariq Qasmi had been shown as arrested on 22 December 2007 from Barabanki railway station. The ATS accused them of being behind the bomb blasts in Lucknow and Faizabad courts in November 2007, and the blast in Gorakhpur, claiming that explosives and other incriminating material were found on the two. The Bahujan Samaj Party, then in power, set up a Commission of Inquiry in March 2008 following protests against the arrests.

The Justice RD Nimesh Commission of Inquiry constituted by the state government to look into this matter submitted its report in December 2012 almost exactly five years after their arrests.

The inquiry commission examined police records, affidavits and testimonies of witnesses. On this basis, it concluded there was ample evidence to show that Tariq Qasmi and Khalid Mujahid were arrested not on 22 December 2007 as claimed, but on 12 December and 16 December respectively. The Commission reports that when the National Loktantrik Party’s youth leader in UP Choudhary Chadrapal threatened to immolate himself on 22 December if by then the two Muslim youth were not released, that the top brass decided to show their arrest on 22 December from Barabanki railway station. The Commission recommended action against the concerned officers and personnel who could be identified.

Despite the conclusions of the report and evidence cited, the now ruling Samajwadi Party too dragged its feet. By the time the government acted on the report, another six months passed. Finally on the basis of the Commission’s report the state government moved an application to withdraw the case. However the Special Court in Barabanki turned down the application in May 2013, claiming that the charges were much too serious. And then, nine days later, Khalid died in police custody, in circumstances which remain mysterious.

Some light can be shed on the so-called mystery by recalling that Khalid’s story is one that is being played out over and over again. The forms may be different but the essential plot and characters remain the same. Bomb blast/s occur. Muslim youth are picked up. Connections with SIMI etc. are alleged; seizure of explosives and extremist literature produced as evidence. In many cases the accused are found to be innocent, having been wrongly incarcerated for years. They are either released on bail or cases withdrawn or they may still continue to be in jail due to various reasons. This, if they are lucky. It isn’t unusual that some like Khalid never return. Not too long back in November 2012 Quateel Siddiqui (arrested for his alleged involvement in the German Bakery blasts) too died in a high security cell in Yerawada jail in Pune, in judicial custody. Again, under so called ‘mysterious circumstances.’ However generally no one is held accountable for the years lost and lives destroyed.

In this context PUDR welcomes the fact that in this case a rare FIR has been filed against 42 police personnel, including the former DG of Police Uttar Pradesh. Whether the case will be properly investigated, and the guilty prosecuted, remains to be seen.

Khalid Mujahid’s arrest, imprisonment and custodial death exposes the brazenness with which the police and ATS routinely arrest Muslim youth under false charges, force ‘confessions’, torture and kill them in custody. It also reveals the callous attitude of elected governments wary of displeasing the police, ATS or the Hindutva elements; and a compromised judiciary for whom terrorist activity requires no proof; guilt is decided by the magnitude of the alleged crime.

These acts of omission and commission expose a disturbing synchronicity between various agencies in terrorizing ordinary citizens, particularly Muslim youth, in the alleged fight against terrorism. The fact that a person could remain incarcerated for years after being abducted illegally and implicated in a fabricated case raises the issue of institutionalization of bias against Muslim youth in the name of fighting ‘terrorism’. Not only does ‘let law takes its course’ approach means years can elapse before those falsely implicated, mostly Muslim youth, win back their freedom. But their struggle to do so through the legal system is now coming under attack from Hindutva forces in an organized way amounting to a violation of the right to legal defense. While protests against Khalid’s custodial death were expressed in several cities in UP including Faizabad immediately afterwards, the local Bar Association passed a resolution expelling Khalid Mujahid’s lawyer Jamal Ahmad. His assistant Mohammad Shakeel was grievously injured. Indeed local bar associations have been issuing diktats that those accused of terror attacks will not be defended by their members and anyone who defies this ban will face expulsion and threat to life. Their recurrent diktats and attacks on lawyers who defy their ban has not persuaded either the High Court/Supreme Court or the Bar Council of India to show any concern over this subversion of the ‘rule of law’.

The death of Khalid Mujahid, raises questions about the police, lower judiciary and legal profession and their commitment to uphold, without discrimination, the constitutionally mandated protection of life and liberty of every citizen. PUDR calls upon all democratically minded people to protest against this attack on democratic rights and violation of the laws of natural justice and demands that:

1. Criminal responsibility be fixed in the in death of Khalid Mujahid and the guilty punished.

2. The Bar Associations expel lawyers obstructing legal aid to the accused, and lawyers guilty of attacking Khalid’s defense counsels be immediately disbarred.

3. Arbitrary picking up and illegal detention of Muslim youth be stopped and officials guilty of their wrongful confinement and fabrication of cases against be prosecuted and punished.

D. Manjit
Asish Gupta
(Secretaries)

 

TEPCO sued over deaths of elderly patients during Fukushima evacuation


Fukushima *

Fukushima * (Photo credit: Sterneck)

 

 

June 11, 2013

THE ASAHI SHIMBUN,

Noriko Abe is demanding answers over the death of her 98-year-old father-in-law who was forced to take a 230-kilometer bus trip lasting more than eight hours in the confusion following the Fukushima nuclear accident.

Dozens of hospital patients died during the arduous evacuation process, which was hampered by poor communications, a lack of manpower and the sheer chaos in the aftermath of two natural disasters. At least one medical worker said decisions made during the evacuation likely exacerbated the situation for the frail patients.

Abe and the families of three other patients at Futaba Hospital who died in the evacuation process filed a lawsuit at the Tokyo District Court on June 10, seeking a total of about 130 million yen ($1.3 million) in compensation from Tokyo Electric Power Co., the operator of the crippled Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

The patients’ ages ranged from 62 to 98 when they died.

“This is not an issue about money,” Abe, 71, said. “I want the court to clarify the reasons our father had to die and for TEPCO to apologize.”

The government’s Investigation Committee on the Accident at the Fukushima Nuclear Power Stations pointed to a lack of communications between various agencies of the central and Fukushima prefectural governments as part of the reason for the delay in evacuating the Futaba Hospital patients.

But the plaintiffs, citing their own advanced age, focused the lawsuit on TEPCO to avoid a drawn-out court battle against the governments.

The lawsuit adds to the mountain of compensation claims against the utility over the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

“We would like to refrain from commenting on the lawsuit,” a TEPCO official said.

According to the lawsuit, the four patients, who were being treated for pneumonia and other ailments, were among about 340 at Futaba Hospital when the Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami knocked out power at the nearby Fukushima No. 1 nuclear plant on March 11, 2011.

Power outages meant medical equipment could not be used at Futaba Hospital, and the four patients did not receive adequate care, the lawsuit said.

The following day, 209 patients were evacuated from the hospital and eventually taken to Iwaki Kaisei Hospital. The four patients were not among them.

At 3:36 p.m. that day, the first hydrogen explosion rocked the Fukushima No. 1 plant. Officials of the central and Fukushima prefectural governments tried to pick up the pace of relocating patients in nearby hospitals.

But the explosions hampered the evacuation of the remaining patients at Futaba Hospital.

A decision was made to take the second group of 34 patients–including the four–from Futaba Hospital to the Soso public health center in Minami-Soma, about 25 kilometers north of the Fukushima No. 1 plant, for radiation checks before transferring them to an evacuation center.

But it wasn’t until the early morning of March 14 when the Self-Defense Forces rescued the 34 patients and used an SDF bus to take them to the Soso public health center.

“I could not do anything for them,” said Kenji Sasahara, 47, who headed the Soso public health center when the patients arrived for radiation checks. “Their conditions were very bad so I should have asked that they be taken directly to the evacuation center.”

Sasahara said a number of patients were pale and in such serious condition they could not be removed from the SDF bus. Center workers entered the vehicle to conduct the radiation checks, which were completed in about 10 minutes.

A plan was devised to transfer the patients to Iwaki Koyo Senior High School, about 46 kilometers south of the Fukushima No. 1 plant, on a bus chartered by the Fukushima prefectural government.

But to avoid approaching the stricken nuclear plant, the bus route went inland and covered a distance of 230 kilometers.

According to the government investigative panel’s final report, officials at the prefectural agency dealing with the natural disasters were not aware that many of the patients were in serious condition and unfit for such a long drive.

Sasahara said he asked the SDF members to take the patients to Iwaki without transferring them to the other bus.

“It would have been dangerous to even transfer the patients to the other bus because that alone would have been a heavy burden,” he said.

Sasahara asked a public health center worker from Iwaki to travel with the group as a navigator. “That was the only thing I was able to do,” Sasahara said.

The four patients died between March 15 and April 18 while being evacuated or after they had reached the evacuation center. Abe’s father-in-law died on March 16.

A third group of 54 patients evacuated from Futaba Hospital on March 15, while 35 others were moved on March 16. Both groups ended up in Nihonmatsu, northwest of the Fukushima No. 1 plant.

Although Sasahara was worried about the patients, he and the 50 workers at the center were swamped with work as about 1,000 evacuees a day showed up for radiation checks.

Early on the morning of March 16, Sasahara received a call on his mobile phone from an acquaintance in Iwaki who worked in the prefectural government.

“A number of patients have died,” the acquaintance said, leaving Sasahara speechless.

According to the government investigative panel, three patients died before the bus reached the Iwaki high school, while five others died by the morning of March 16.

According to Futaba Hospital officials, four from the group of 34 died by the end of March.

In total, 19 patients evacuated from Futaba Hospital died over the five days after the nuclear accident, and 21 others died by the end of March.

Sasahara, who holds a PhD in medicine, now heads the Fukushima prefectural public hygiene research institute.

“The patients were not exposed to radiation because they were always either in the hospital or in a vehicle,” he said. “Looking back on it, there was no need to bring those patients to the public health center in the first place.”

(This article was compiled from reports by Shinichi Fujiwara and Noriyoshi Ohtsuki.)

 

source- http://ajw.asahi.com/

 

 

 

Abolitionists hold conference in Spain #Deathpenalty


death1

Published:
Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Only for the most extreme cases. That’s part of Government’s continuing stance on the death penalty, which remains on T&T law books and which currently applies to 30 persons on Death Row—including one female. Speaking on the eve of this week’s international Anti-Death Penalty Congress in Spain, where the global abolitionist movement will caucus, Attorney General Anand Ramlogan said, “This is an emotional political issue with powerful arguments on both sides. “There may be doubt whether it is a potent and effective deterrent, but it is difficult to argue with victims who rest their case on the principle of retribution. In the final analysis, it is a matter that should be decided by the people.”

 

 

Global focus will fall on the issue of the death penalty in the Caribbean when the fifth annual Anti-Death Penalty Congress takes place in Madrid, Spain, from tomorrow to Saturday. The event has been organised annually since 2001 by the Ensemble Contre la Peine du Mort (Together Against the Death Penalty) and the World Coalition Against the Death Penalty. It is being held this year on invitation of the Spanish government with support from the French, Norwegian and  Swiss governments. The summit, expected to be attended by 1,500 people from 90 countries, unites members of international civil society, politicians and legal experts to heighten the global lobby for the abolition of the death penalty.

 

Part of the gathering involves 200 participants from countries such as  T&T and others regionally,, which still retain the death penalty. Amnesty International estimates 13 of the 58 states that retain the death penalty are in the English-speaking Caribbean. Apart from special focus on the Arab and African regions in this year’s programme, the conference’s first day activities feature a session on the death penalty in the Caribbean region. Feature speakers include T&T’s Leela Ramdeen, who will present a paper representing the Greater Caribbean for Life group. This involves seven people from T&T, Belize, Guatemala, Jamaica, Puerto Rico and St Vincent & the Grenadines.

 

While deeply sympathising with the victims of  violent crime, the group doesn’t believe the death penalty makes societies safer. Members, however, believe abolition of the death penalty in T&T and the Caribbean will require a multi-faceted approach that addresses issues including improving the criminal justice and administration of justice systems, tackling crime and violence, addressing victims’ rights, enhancing education systems 1` and changing the minds of people. As for T&T’s positon on the death penalty issue, Ramlogan told the T&T Guardian: “There is no doubt the death penalty can be a deterrent, as it has an effect on the psyche of the criminal, but I’m aware that there’s a raging academic debate on this issue. “Victims and supporters argue it has nothing to do with the concept of deterrence, because it has to do with retribution and the enforcement of the law. Abolitionists argue that it is cruel and inhumane, is not an effective deterrent and ‘an eye for an eye’ leaves the whole world blind.”

 

Ramlogan added, “As the duly-elected government, we’re sworn to uphold and enforce the laws of this land and  therefore duty bound to facilitate and advance its implementation as long as it remains on the books.”  On the status of the Government’s moves to try and implement the law regarding hangings following its 2012 plan for legislation to categorise murders, Ramlogan said: “The Government did introduce a bill to categorise murders and introduce some measure of flexibility and discretion so that the death penalty would not be automatically imposed in every case. We were influenced in this regard by the American jurisprudence which distinguishes murders according to the particular facts and circumstances in which the murder occurred (hence, for example, murder in the first, second and third degree). “Unfortunately, this bill was not passed because the Opposition voted against it. The Government, however, has no difficulty with the proposition that the death penalty should be discretionary. We are, however, equally committed and duty-bound to implement the law as it presently stands.”

 

On whether the matter would be taken further, the AG said soon after the debate, he wrote Opposition leader Dr Keith Rowley several letters “in the hope that we can have some meaningful dialogue on this issue.” “Unfortunately, there was no response. The Opposition has managed to maintain the contradictory position that it supports the death penalty but cannot support or propose any legislation to facilitate its implementation,” Ramlogan said. Since some quarters believe T&T, like other regional states, may soon have to take the death penalty off its books, where does T&T stand in this scenario? Ramlogan said, “I believe the overwhelming majority of the population favours the retention of the death penalty. The murder rate is high and there are many who believe in the principles of retention and deterrence. “The Government is in favour of categorising murders so that the death penalty can be reserved for the most extreme cases with the most brutal of heinous murders. The Opposition objected to this and we were forced to remove it from the proposed amendment to the Constitution. This, however, remains the Government’s position.”

 

Considering the 37 per cent reduction in serious crime (from 2012 to 2013 figures), asked whether Government still sees the death penalty as absolutely necessary, Ramlogan said, “The death penalty does not apply to most serious crimes. It does, however, apply to murder and the murder rate is still high even though it is on the decline.” With some polls on T&T showing a large part of the population favouring hanging, the AG was asked whether this can be expected before the end of the term. “We cannot implement the death penalty without an amendment to the Constitution. This requires a special majority in Parliament for which Opposition support is necessary,” he said. “In Jamaica the opposition recently joined forces with the government to vote to amend the Jamaica constitution to facilitate the implementation of the death penalty. We can only live in hope.” With the situation in limbo, the AG added, “The death penalty, part of our law, is what we inherited from our colonial masters. The Privy Council has ruled this is a valid part of T&T’s binding laws. “Both the Opposition and People’s Partnership have publicly declared their commitment to the implementation of the death penalty in response to the overwhelming public support and demand for it.” The AG added, “There is no universal consensus on the morality or correctness of the death penalty. It forms part of the laws and is in fact implemented in many countries, including certain states in the USA, Singapore and China.”

 

 

Opposition PNM says….

Opposition PNM deputy leader Marlene McDonald said the party stands by its position in favour of the death penalty, but also maintains its position against Government’s recent legislation on it. PNM Senator Fitzgerald Hinds added, “The death penalty issue is to me  more of an intellectual exercise more than emotional.” He said matters were often overturned at Privy Council level since that jurisdiction had abolished the death penalty. “They engage arguments in a rigorous exercise so it becomes a matter of their legal wit against that of Caribbean attorneys,” he added.
“So we have to be very intellectual in our approach on this. When the Government came with the last piece of legislation we examined it thoroughly and found where the Privy Council would have walked right over the stipulations of the bill.” Hinds added, “We must now await what new measures Government will present, then see whether that can meet Privy Council resistance.”

 

 

THE MADRID MANDATE

CONGRESS TOPICS:  include abolition and alternative sentences in the world, juveniles and the death penalty in the world, drug trafficking and the death penalty, legal representation in capital cases globally, the Middle East,  Iran, African and Asian regions and the death penalty, terrorism and abolition, the state of abolition in the USA, Europe and future strategies, death penalty and torture, abolitionist strategies.

POLITICAL FIGURES EXPECTED: President of Benin, Foreign Affairs Ministers of Spain, France, Swiss Confederation, Norway, Mauritania, deputy prime ministers of Luxembourg and Belgium, UN high commissioner for human rights, the general secretary of the Council of Europe, president of the Commission of Human Rights of the Iraq Parliament, president of the International Commission Against the Death Penalty, and the former  French Justice minister, who authored the French law that abolished France’s death penalty.

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE LAUREATES: Northern Ireland peace activist Mairead Maguire, former Iranian judge and women’s/human rights activist, Shirin Ebadi, former East Timor president Jose Ramos Horta.

TESTIMONIES FROM: former death row prisoners of Iran, Spain, Morocco, Uganda, Taiwan, parents, spouses of death row prisoners and the former death row warden of the US state of Virginia.

 

#India – Who Is Qualified To Be A Whistleblower ?



In a recent judgement, the Supreme Court has argued about the basic qualifications required to expose wrongdoings by organisations. Reports Ankit Agrawal
BY  ANKIT AGRAWAL  , Tehelka

Last month a two member bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Surinder Singh Nijjar and Justice MY Eqbal of the Supreme Court of India gave it’s verdict on the civilian case of Manoj H Mishra v/s Union of India and Others. The civil suit was filed by Mishra to contest his sacking from the Kakarapar Atomic Power Project (KAPP) at Surat, Gujarat.

Mishra was working as a tradesman at the power-plant when on the night of 15 July 1994 Surat recorded an unprecedented rainfall of 480mm in 10 hours, causing massive flooding inside the complex. More than 25 feet of the turbine, adjacent to the nuclear reactors, was submerged before dawn. In fact, some of the barrels that contained nuclear waste were also washed away by the floodwater. Even though, the emergency was declared on the next day, due procedures, which includes alerting State authorities and deputing assistant health physicist to check contamination and radiation, weren’t implemented. Worried, Mishra wrote a letter to the editor of  Gujrat Samachar  mentioning flooding inside the nuclear facility, improper safety precautions and flouting of Action Plan for Site Emergency. Pointing towards corruption, he demanded an inquiry by a high-level committee. Subsequebntly, he was sacked by the inquiry committee for criticising the project and passing confidential information to the media.

Mishra contented this punishment in lower, high and the Supreme Court and argued that he acted as whistleblower keeping in mind the best interest of people and the nuclear facility. While dismissing his case the SC delved into the concept of whistleblower and referred to the Indirect Tax Practitioners v/s RK Jain, which defines whistleblower as “a person who raises a concern about wrongdoing occurring in an organisation or body of people. Usually this person would be from that same organisation. The revealed misconduct may be classified in many ways; for example, a violation of a law, rule, regulation and/or a direct threat to public interest, such as fraud, health/safety violations and corruption.” Following this reference Justice Nijjar observed in judgement, “In our opinion, the aforesaid observations are of no avail to the appellant. It is a matter of record that the appellant is educated only upto 12th standard. He is neither an engineer, nor an expert on the functioning of the Atomic Energy Plants. Apart from being an insider, the appellant did not fulfill the criteria for being granted the status of a whiste blower. One of the basic requirements of a person being accepted as a whistleblower is that his primary motive for the activity should be in furtherance of public good. In other words, the activity has to be undertaken in public interest, exposing illegal activities of a public organization or authority. The conduct of the appellant, in our opinion, does not fall within the high moral and ethical standard that would be required of a bona fide whistleblower.” The court further says that Mishra breached confidentiality agreement by alleging about widespread corruption in the organisation.

RTI and whistleblowers protection activists are miffed following the judgment. Prashan Bhushan, a senior advocate, who appeared for Mishra in the court, termed this judgment a “fallacy of justice”. He said, “By informing the media about the near-catastrophic accident and poor response by the authorities, Mishra did a public duty therefore he was a whistleblower.” Shekhar Singh, RTI activist, points out two dangerous points in the judgment, expertise of the whistleblower and purity in motive. He says, “What is the sort of expertise one wants to be a whistle blower? The judgement falls flat when compared to the Whistleblowers Protection Bill, 2011 as it doesn’t have any mention about the purity of intention. Important thing is to expose the wrongdoing.”

How to shield your calls and internet activity from government surveillance #privacy


June 11, 2013
Protect yourself: Mobile and internet activity.Protect yourself: Mobile and internet activity. Photo: Michel O’Sullivan

If you have followed the startling revelations about the scope of the US government’s surveillance efforts, you may have thought you were reading about the end of privacy. But even when faced with the most ubiquitous of modern surveillance, there are ways to keep your communications away from prying eyes.

A new frontier of sweeping secret surveillance is not a conspiracy theory but a burgeoning reality.

First, instead of browsing the internet in a way that reveals your IP address, you can mask your identity by using an anonymising tool such as Tor or by connecting to the web using a Virtual Private Network, or VPN.

Additionally, you can avoid Google search by using an alternative such as Ixquick, which has solid privacy credentials and says it does not log any IP addresses or search terms or share information with third parties.

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When it comes to sending emails, if you are using a commercial provider that has been linked to the PRISM spy initiative, you can throw a spanner in the NSA‘s works by learning how to send and receive encrypted emails. PGP or its free cousin GPG are considered the standard for email security, and these can be used to both encrypt and decrypt messages – meaning you can thwart surveillance unless you are unlucky enough to have Trojan spyware installed on your computer.

Novice computer users learning how to use PGP or GPG may find it daunting at first, but there are plenty of tutorials online for both Mac and Windows users that can help guide you through the process. For journalists working with confidential sources, attorneys seeking to ensure attorney-client privilege, or others whose work requires secure communications, learning how to use PGP or GPG is an absolute necessity. Organisations seeking to protect themselves from email grabs could go one step further: they could take more control of their messages by setting up their own email server instead of relying on a third-party service, helping ensure no secret court orders can be filed to gain covert access to confidential files. And if you need to store private documents online, you can use Cloudfogger in conjunction with Dropbox.

For instant messaging and online phone or video chats, you can avoid Microsoft and Google services such as Skype and G chat by adopting more secure alternatives. Jitsi can be used for peer-to-peer encrypted video calls, and for encrypted instant message chats you can try using an “off the record” plugin with Pidgin for Windows users or Adium for Mac. Like using PGP encryption, both Pidgin and Adium can take a little bit of work to set up – but there are tutorials to help ease the pain, such as this for setting up Adium and this tutorial for Pidgin.

As for phone calls, if you want to shield against eavesdropping or stop the NSA obtaining records of who you are calling and when, there are a few options. You could use an encryption app such as Silent Circle to make and receive encrypted calls and send encrypted texts and files, though your communications will be fully secure only if both parties to the call, text or file transfer are using the app. Other than Silent Circle, you could try RedPhone (Android and iOS) for making encrypted calls or TextSecure for sending encrypted texts.

A new frontier of sweeping secret surveillance is not a conspiracy theory but a burgeoning reality. But it is not an Orwellian dystopia – at least, not yet. Tools to circumvent government monitoring exist and are freely available. The onus is on us as individuals to learn how to use and adopt them.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/consumer-security/how-to-shield-your-calls-and-internet-activity-from-government-surveillance-20130611-2o1bg.html#ixzz2VynaHfTa

Why We Protested Against Narendra Modi


 Narandra Modi's Vibrant Gujarat Story: Propaganda vs Fact #mustread

By P. K. Vijayan & Karen Gabriel

09 June, 2013
Countercurrents.org

The past few days have witnessed the grand spectacle of Narendra Modi emerging as the front-runner for the post of Prime Minister, from the Bharatiya Janata Party. Our growing sense of dismay and foreboding at this spectacle has however, led to some annoyance, the essential refrain of which is, ‘Why not Modi? Why are you so hostile to him? Look at what he’s achieved in Gujarat – maybe it’s time he was given a chance to do the same for India….’ We were immediately reminded of how we were met with the same response when Modi came to Delhi University on 6 February 2013, and we protested.

At the time, he had visited Sri Ram College of Commerce (SRCC) in the University, ostensibly to deliver a lecture on ‘vikas’ (progress) and ‘development’. We, along with many others, stood outside SRCC throughout his talk, protesting peacefully but vehemently against him. The Delhi Police repeatedly lathi-charged us, used water-cannoning, and (in open collusion with ABVP activists) indulged in extremely communal and sexually violent abuse and molestation of the female protestors. Nine of the protestors (including one of us) were gratuitously charged under various sections of the IPC and the Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act, 1984, with rioting armed with deadly weapons, obstructing public servants, assaulting public servants, damaging property, etc. That matter is pending investigation with the office of the Lieutenant Governor of Delhi.

Why did this happen? Because we protested against Narendra Modi. At that time too, several colleagues, students and sundry well-wishers expressed bafflement: while they were sympathetic to us for what had happened with the police, they couldn’t understand why we were protesting in the first place. After all, Modi was just coming to deliver a lecture on development, and, as they saw it, he too surely had the right to freedom of speech. What, they asked, was the harm in listening to him? The subtle, implicit accusation was, we had it coming – and on two counts: one, because we ‘hypocritically’ violated our own principles by seeking to deny Modi his freedom of speech; and two, because we protested his airing his views on ‘development’. Let’s deal with the second count first.

Presumably, we would have been forgiven if we had been protesting against Modi for making say, an explicitly communal speech, or defending the carnage of 2002. Not for one moment did it cross our interlocutors’ minds that Modi speaking on ‘development’ was, in fact the implicit defence of that carnage. Here was a man projected in several quarters, not least in the business community that SRCC is so strongly connected to, as the future Prime Minister of India. This ‘lecture’ was his first major public event since this projection began: did they seriously expect that he would come to make incendiary communal speeches, just when he is being projected as Prime Ministerial material now? Obviously not!

But does that mean that the Modi of Gujarat 2002 has vanished, because he won’t talk that way – or even talk about it? Has the man responsible for the deaths of Muslims on a scale tantamount to genocide suddenly been absolved of that sin because he now speaks only of ‘vikas’? And ‘vikas’ for whom? Blatantly corrupt corporates and business houses? There are reports that the Gujarat government has lost thousands of crores of rupees in land sold to industrial houses like the Tatas, Essar and the Adani Group way below its market cost. According to the Planning Commission’s Suresh Tendulkar Committee, Gujarat has the fastest growing poverty rate in the country. There is ample evidence to show that, on major indices of human development, taken individually and together, like literacy, life expectancy, infant mortality, etc., states like Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have done far better than Gujarat – but there is no call to promote these states as models of development. 44.6% of children under five in Gujarat suffer from malnutrition; the maternal mortality rate stands at 172/lakh, which is extremely high; sex ratios are far below the national average; the poverty rate in tribal areas is as high as 57% – one can go on rattling off the figures, but the point is clear: ‘development’ in Gujarat is neither particularly phenomenal, nor has it touched the masses.

No, the reason why Gujarat is being promoted is because Modi has wooed and welcomed big business investment on an unprecedented scale in Gujarat. This means big funding for his party as well: the BJP will be suitably and generously rewarded by the Tatas and Ambanis who are being fawned on so assiduously by Modi. Combine this with his well-known ability to rabble rouse through war-mongering, hate-speech and general communal machismo, and you have a lethal new political soft pornography. It continuously suggests, without making any explicit connections, that Modi’s communal machismo is what is needed for genuine ‘vikas’. It weaves a general discourse of ‘development’ as rampant privatization, through which big business brings malls full of consumer goods, high-tech cities with gated colonies and huge inflows of foreign direct investments. Just as soft porn offers an endless supply of sameness disguised as variety, but incites desire for this nonetheless by perpetually presenting it as exclusive, yet tantalizingly available – so too, this model of development generates a powerful illusion of choice and promotes it as exclusive, privileged, available only through investment in the new economy. And Gujarat 2002 flickers through it as the subliminal hardcore pornography of this discourse – gutted houses, dismembered bodies, raped and murdered women, slashed wombs spilling chopped foetuses, terror-filled faces screaming for mercy.

These images of the full fury of state power unleashed provide an important, implicit and tacit guarantee to big business: that as long as Modi is in control, and in their pockets, they need fear no unrest from the masses they will oppress and exploit, because Modi’s state has shown that it is more than capable of acting without any restraint whatsoever – legal, ethical, moral or constitutional. The message is clear, and from all evidence, thrilling to large sections of the middle classes: if you want to enjoy the luxuries of ‘development’, as tailored by wholesale privatization, somewhat paradoxically, you need a state that shows itself to be strong enough to push that through – violently, vehemently, viciously. Economic might is made possible, and accompanied, by brute force, and the thrilling, ego-boosting, endless middle class desire for that might is fully fulfilled in Modi’s display of force. This is what marks Modi’s promotion of the same economic model practiced by the Congress, as different: the latter is perhaps as communal as the BJP, but it still hesitates to communalize these same economic policies as openly as Modi’s Gujarat did. Which also means that if the Modi model gains ground, the Congress will not hesitate to adopt it – effectively intensifying both the communalist and neo-liberalist tendencies that are already seeping through our socio-polity.

This is what we were protesting against. Modi on ‘development’ is not separate – and must not be separated – from Modi on Muslims/Christians/communists. Modi on ‘development’ is as dangerous and poisonous as Modi on the need for genocide. Promoting Modi in Delhi University was an audacious initiative, aimed at testing his acceptability in a space like the university that is, by definition, supposed to be a progressive, democratic, secular space. We now know better. The university not only gave SRCC consent to invite Modi, but also permitted the deployment of a huge police force on campus, armed not just with lathis and the occasional side-arm (as would have been the case in the not-too distant past), but astoundingly, with assault rifles, a water cannon and even a few machine guns! The university administration was clearly not only signalling acceptability to Modi, they were rolling out the red carpet of the bruised and beaten bodies of protestors for him. And if the university can be successfully sold the idea that Modi is selling ‘development’, and therefore will be allowed to address the university community, even if protest has to be openly and brutally crushed for that, then the rot has set in far more than we had gauged.

Which brings us back to the first allegation – that we are denying Modi the right to free speech, which we ourselves insist on so vehemently. The ingenuousness of this argument is matched only by its convenience. Modi is the last person who needs someone rushing to his defence, to exercise free speech or anything else. Let us for the moment forget that he has never himself been a defender of this right. Let us remember instead some other things we forget when we make such an argument. We forget that freedom of speech is no abstract, absolute freedom but has restrictions on it that are also constitutionally pressed. We forget that the right to protest against Modi is as much a matter of freedom of speech; Modi’s right in this regard is neither superior to, nor more valid than ours. We forget that freedom of speech is not just a legal provision but is above all a political provision. We forget that, as a political provision, freedom of speech must necessarily be understood and exercised in the political context in which it is invoked. (If this was not the case, and if freedom of speech was an absolute right, all forms of hate speech, obscenity and other inflammatory discourse could happily take recourse to this and spew venom with impunity.) In this case, the context is crystal clear: Modi the Hindutva leader was selling ‘development’ as his political ride, from a communal-fascist Chief Ministership to a communal-fascist Prime-Ministership. We protested against Modi’s coming, therefore, on principled political grounds, without hate-speech or obscenity – but that is what we were rewarded with by the police and Modi supporters.

It is true that in this particular instance, Modi’s lecture on ‘development’ was unlikely to attract any of the constitutional restrictions on free speech. But, as we have already argued, the political context is vital in understanding the limitations of free speech. Which is why, in a context in which Modi is being openly promoted as the next Prime Ministerial candidate from the BJP, Modi on ‘development’ is as sinister as the openly communal Modi. ‘Development’ is the Trojan horse that Modi (and the BJP) is hiding inside, to ride to Prime-Ministership This is what we were protesting against. And in the heart of Delhi University, we found a quick, small replay of what happened in Gujarat in 2002: the police joined hands with the supporters of Modi to wreak vengeance against the protestors. This is the sign of the India that will unfold under Modi, and this is what we were protesting against. What is at stake is the idea of India itself, and if that is an idea worth protesting about, then many more of us should be protesting against Narendra Modi.

Dr. Karen Gabriel, Assoc. Prof., Dept. of English, St.Stephen’s College, Delhi University. Dr. Karen Gabriel has been writing extensively on cinema, nationalism, gender, and sexuality. She has been actively engaging especially with questions of state violence, repression, democratic rights, etc.

Dr. P. K. Vijayan, Asst. Prof., Dept. of English, Hindu College, Delhi University. He has written on masculinity and nationalism, and has been actively involved in addressing the policy change in higher education initiated with Delhi University. They have co-authored several pieces on various issues.

 

Maoist violence is not a mere law and order problem: Tribal Affairs minister


Deo said the government needs to be sensible about development in tribal areas, rather than allowing industries to exploit the rich natural resources of these areas

Nupur Sonar

June 10, 2013

The mangled remains of a vehicle at the site of Maoists ambush in Bastar where the Congress partys convoy was attacked. Photo PTIThe mangled remains of a vehicle at the site of ambush in Bastar where the Congress partys convoy was attacked. Photo PTI

Speaking at a press conference  held on the occasion of the launch of his Ministry’s new website, Tribal Affairs minister  said that Maoist violence is a deeper problem and cannot be treated as a mere law and order problem.  “There is rampant exploitation of tribals and the lack of development is also a part of the problem,” he said. The lack of development in these areas is the reason for such attacks, he said, while laying emphasis on the need to get to the root cause of the problem.

In the wake of the 25 May Maoist attack on a Congress convoy in , Deo said that at a time when the tribals are caught between the cross-fire of the paramilitary forces and the Maoists, all tribals cannot be painted with the same brush.  “It is really unfortunate that today,  in democratic India a tribal has no choice. He has to choose between the security forces and Maoists,” he added.

Deo said the government needs to be sensible about development in tribal areas, rather than allowing industries to exploit the rich natural resources of these areas. “Where in India have tribals benefited from mining activities? The impoverished have only become further impoverished,” he said while stating that whether or not his cabinet colleagues were for this kind of development, he is strongly opposed to it.  “This kind of development is a clear violation of our social obligations.”

Tribals are not our enemy but civilians of the country and our paramilitary forces are the ones who are trained to fight the enemy. But Salwa Judum is the biggest threat to peace.  Keeping young tribals in concentration camps and depriving them of their rights is not the answer. It is the worst thing that can happen”, he said.

An all party meeting to fine-tune the state’s policy on tackling Maoist violence is scheduled for later today

 

Complaint to Odisha Human Rights Commission on CRPF atrocities in Niyamgiri


To, The Secretary,

Odisha Human Rights Commission,

Bhubaneshwar
Date: 11th June 2013
Sub: CRPF atrocities and human rights violations in villages of Niyamgiri mountains
On 3rd June 2013, at around 11am, the Central Reserve Police Force opened fired on a group of three Dongria Kond tribals (1 adult and 2 children) from the interior Batudi village of the Niyamgiri mountains who were bathing in the stream near Panimunda village. A group of adult men and children from Batudi village had gone to bathe to the nearby Panimuda village as the water streams around their village were still dry. Around 11 Dongrias (6 adults and 5 children) were bathing at a higher level of the stream, and one adult and two children were bathing at a lower level. Suddenly, the CRPF opene fired. The two children, Munna Jakesika (14years) and Ravi Jakesika (10years), and Pakru Jakesia (25 years) were present in the area where the CRPF open fired. Their photo is attached. Terrified, three of them started running uphill towards where the the other people were. Bullets flew through Munna, Ravi and Pakru’s sides and above their heads. The adults who were on a higher level of the stream, on hearing the bullet sounds rushed towards where the sound was coming from. They saw Munna, Ravi and Pakru frantically running uphill, as bullets missed them by inches. This open firing by the CRPF lasted for around 5 minutes.
This incident was reported by villagers of Batudi who witnessed the firing to a group of activists (Samarendra Das and Devangana Kalita) who visited the village on 7th June 2013. The names of the 11 people who saw the firing on Munna, Ravi and Pakru, and who reported the incident to us are as follows:
Duku Jakesika: 30yrs
Derku Sikaka: 20yrs
Janju Mandika: 22yrs
Bindu Jakesika: 32yrs
Momo Jakesika: 20yrs
Druku Jakesika: 21yrs
Babula Jakesika: 8yrs
Lanji Kuturuka: 6yrs
Swadevo Jakesika: 10yrs
Manni Kuturuka: 8yrs
Lassu Jakesika: 12yrs
We also spoke to the three people on whom the CRPF had fired. The two children, not surprisingly, were immensely shaken after the experience, and recounted how terrified and scared they felt as the bullets flew on their sides and above their heads. Duku Jakesika, in a powerful statement, said,
“This is an assault on our very lives. The CRPF has no right to shoot at us without any provocation. Villagers bathing in a stream are not Maoists. Little children are not Maoists. These are our mountains, our forests, our land. Because of the CRPF, today, we cannot roam around freely in our own area. We do not feel safe anymore, we have to live in fear and insecurity. Our lives do not matter to the state, they can kill us whenever or wherever.”
This incident in Batudi is indeed a gross violation of national and international human and children’s rights. It is however, one of many similar incidents of CRPF atrocities in the Niyamgiri mountains. CRPF’s ‘combing’ operations have been generating immense fear and insecurity amongst the Dongria Kond, and threatening people’s lives, livelihood and culture. On 5th June in Kesarpadi village, a meeting of Dongrias from various villages was held to discuss on the gram sabha process ordained by the Supreme Court. In the meeting, a Dongria woman, in an interview with Oriya journalist, Amitabh Patra, narrated the following experience of CRPF atrocities,
“Few days back we were gathering forest products near our village. At that time so many armed forces arrived and they pointed guns at us and surrounded us. They started asking “where is Lada (the tribal leader)? Where have you hidden the maoists ? Where have you hidden the weapons? Why are you opposing mining?” Some one from the behind yelled – ‘If you resist the mining you will be killed like dogs’…………….We do not want such development where our lives are threatened every moment by the armed forces! We kept some weapons to safeguard our selves and our crops from wild animals. We do not want to kill the animals, but to drive them away. Occasionally when these animals attack or come too close to us we get killed. They (CRPF) came and barged into our houses, took away our belongings, threw our stored food grains and cooked food, took away our worship weapons and the guns we kept for our protection from wild animals. We have been living and preserving the mountains and the soil and everything around us since centuries. You can see us living in harmony with nature. But since past ten years our peace and life has been disturbed by the company and police. Since the armed forces presence our freedom to move around in our mountains has been restricted. We are living in a state of fear”
The video of the women’s interview can be found here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V5D7FAUhNQg&feature=youtu.be . She did not want to reveal her name or village in fear of retribution by the armed forces. She felt without her name and village, it would be difficult for the CRPF to easily locate her, since she lived in the villages inside the forests.
Such atrocities and gross violations by the CRPF are threatening the existence, livelihood, mobility and freedom of the Dongria Kond. The Dongria Kond only live in the Niyamgiri mountains, and such immense repression by the CRPF and the atmosphere of fear and vulnerability generated by this are violations of international standards and protocols for protection of tribal groups.
We demand an immediate enquiry by the Orissa Human Rights Commission and the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights into these violations by the CRPF in the Niyamgiri mountains. These inhuman atrocities need to be immediately stopped, especially in the context of the democratic process of conducting gram sabhas for determining Dongria’s religious, cultural and habitat rights that has been initiated by the Supreme Court judgement on the Niyamgiri mining case. No democratic process can be truly free and fair, in a context of such repression and violation of the Dongria’s basic human rights.
We look forward to hearing from you at the earliest and hope that immediate action will be taken on this matter.
Yours sincerely,
Samarendra Das, Activist, Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti and Foil Vedanta (London)
Devangana Kalita, Independent Researcher and Activist, New Delhi.
Amitabh Patra, Journalist and Activist, Orissa

 

#India – Naxal elephant in the drawing room #Chhattisgarh


D. SAMPATHKUMAR

  ·

The institutionalised resistance to State authority, which is really what Naxalite violence is all about, has been around for a very long time.

June 9, 2013:

It isn’t quite the run-of-the-mill elephant jokes that were popular at one time (Google it if you are so inclined), although the elephant figures in it in a major way.

I have in mind a tale about a mother elephant that had calved on top of a hill. It was narrated to me by the manager of a company I worked in for a while. He would insist on coming up with the most comprehensive solution to a problem that the team under him could barely get started on solving. While that is an awful state of affairs, you could go just as terribly wrong by getting started on the first thing that strikes you as the solution.

The story goes that there existed a temple on top of a thickly wooded hill. There was a pathway that was barely enough for people to go up in single file, if they wanted to get to the top. The climb was not just arduous but treacherous as well.

On most days, the temple priest would be the only one to go up the hill and, that too, because it fell upon him to perform the morning rituals. The rest confined themselves to offering prayers only on important festival days.

Cracking the calf puzzle

One morning, when the priest went up to perform his daily puja, he was astonished to find a calf elephant crying out plaintively for help. Soon, all the villagers trekked to the top of the hill. The question in everyone’s mind was, ‘‘How did the baby elephant get to the top when even expert trekkers found the going so tough?’’

The villagers were scratching their heads trying to find an answer. Soon, the village wisecrack hit upon an explanation. He said, ‘‘Look, I think it is like this. The mother elephant must have gone up the hill and given birth to a calf.’’ . The villagers nodded their heads. ‘‘Oh yes, that is really how it must have happened’’, they seemed to be telling each other and dispersed in the secure knowledge that they had cracked a puzzle. But, of course, the real mystery was not how the calf happened to get there, but how a pregnant elephant managed to get to the top of the hill and give birth to a calf.

So it would seem, for the talking heads and writers in the media, when it comes to understanding the Naxalite violence and the role of private militia orsalwa judum as it is called.

If only the Government had not created this monster, the problem of Naxalite violence would not have escalated to the extent of wiping out the entire state Congress party leadership in the manner in which it did.

But the truth is, salwa judum or not, Naxalites have been around for a long time. Also, it isn’t as though they have all of a sudden embarked on the path of violence after being strong adherents of the principle of ahimsa. The reality is a bit more nuanced.

Truckload of charges

Years ago, I was, for a brief while, engaged in nothing more onerous than doling out payments to transport contractors within the finance set up at the Tata’s truck plant in Pune.

Dealing as I did, with truck drivers and assorted other minions in the world of commerce, I acquired a deeper understanding of the politics and social mores of India’s vast countryside existing outside the metros.

The company had engaged the services of the cooperative society of ex-servicemen for driving away fully assembled truck chassis from Pune to various towns where Tata dealers were located.

The transportation charges that were payable took into account the distance involved; the quantity of fuel to be consumed, besides wages and daily allowance to the driver for the duration of time it took him to deliver the vehicle and return. You could say that pretty much everything had been factored in, to the last minute detail. Or at least, so the company thought.

The extra levy

But when the bills were submitted there was an extra item charged at Rs 20 per truck (not a small sum in the 80s) for some destinations which were not built into the contract. The clerk in charge of transport payments would routinely disallow that claim and pay only the balance which was, as per the terms, agreed upon.

Over time, it added up to a sizeable sum which brought the secretary of the ex-servicemen society to my office. He explained that all chassis that passed through the town of Jagdalpur in the Bastar district of Chhattisgarh for upcountry destinations, suffered a levy in the hands of the local militia and this couldn’t be incorporated in the contract.

He went on to explain in some detail, the internal security situation in the eastern parts of India. He would know; he was, after all, a retired colonel of the Indian army. Jagdalpur is at the very heart of the Naxalite movement in the State of Chhattisgarh.

It was all a long time ago. But nothing much has changed. One, the institutionalised resistance to State authority, which is really what this is all about, has been around for a very long time.

Two, such organised resistance was defeated only in the plains of Gangetic West Bengal and later in the plains of East Punjab. More specifically, the resistance could never be quelled with any degree of success where the movement operated with the advantage of hills and forests.

It is one thing to evict Naxalites from Jadavpur University which they occupied for a brief while. But it’s quite another to beat down the resistance dispersed around the hills of Chota Nagpur or the forests of Malkangiri in Odisha.

Operating at the margin

That said, no one is quite seriously doing anything about it either. The movement is being sustained because the energy needed to keep it going is generated from within. Both the rebels and the components of the established authority of the State (ruling party and the party in opposition) have no incentive to disturb the status quo.

The rebels are quite content to operate at the margin, collecting a toll on traffic in their domain; much like what warlords did when caravans passed through the Silk Road in the era before sea lanes of commerce were discovered. The political parties too do not want to destroy the rebels.

Each political party thinks that the rebels would be useful at some future date for forming an alliance to outwit the other party/parties contesting for political power.

In any case, the mindset of the rulers, no matter which party is in power, is not dissimilar to that of the rebels themselves.

There is no grand vision for the country where Naxalites stand in the way and, therefore, need to be either reformed or eliminated. They too prefer to make money at the margin from industrial investments, administrative clearances, and so on.

In other words, they operate at the margin sucking out what they can, much like the Naxalites themselves.

If Naxalites operate from the safety of the hills and forests, the ruling establishments prefer to operate from the safety of secretariats in the States and the North and the South Blocks in the Centre.

(This article was published on June 9, 2013,in Hindu )

 

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