Women Health Activist Madhuri Ben released, joins anti-dam stir


Gwalior, June 1, 2013

Pheroze L. Vincent, The Hindu

Human rights activist Madhuri Krishnaswamy, better known as Madhuri Ben, was released from Khargone Women’s Sub Jail on Thursday after she agreed to get bail in a 2008 case of rioting and assaulting a public servant.

In 2008, Madhuri Ben — who heads the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sanghatan (JADS) — alerted the health and police officials in Barwani district after a tribal woman gave birth to a child on the road after being evicted from a primary health centre. Pharmacist of the PHC Vijay Chouhan filed the case against her. The case was closed by the police, only to be reopened by the court, which sent her to a fortnight of judicial custody on May 16 after she refused to seek bail.

The JADS is involved in an agitation of Barela tribals in Khargone district against the Kharak Reservoir Project. On May 25, police arrested 27 tribal people for rioting, trespassing and obstructing the government officials from performing their duty.

Ms. Ben filed a review petition with the Barwani district judge on grounds that a long time had lapsed after the complaint. She said she had refused bail as a form of satyagraha.

“After I saw innocent Adivasis being sent to jail, I realised it is important for me to be available to participate in their struggle. Choukhand village [centre of the agitation] is one of the few tribal villages that are better off economically. This project threatens to take away their prosperity in one stroke,” she told The Hindu .

After her release she headed straight to Choukhand to join the dharna. She said she would continue to “shame the State government” by protests in Khargone and Bhopal.

 

Press Release- AID Condemns the Violent Attack in Chhattisgarh


June 1, 2013

Demands Peaceful Solution

Association for India’s Development (AID) unequivocally condemns the brutal murder of 24 people on May 25th by the Maoists in Bastar, Chhattisgarh. We condemn the killing of any human beings and send our condolences to their families. Any escalation of violence by the state or the Maoists will lead us further away from a peaceful and lasting solution to the conflict in Chhattisgarh.

The Government of India has been swift in dispatching additional security personnel to supplement the 30,000 forces already deployed in Chhattisgarh. Given the history of such military operations in the area we are fearful that this will cause even more human rights violations of the Adivasi communities. Human rights violation cannot be committed by the state in response to the violations by the Maoists because the major brunt of the violence is borne by the Adivasis who are already amongst the most marginalized. Human rights violations of these communities have to end.

As many concerned citizens, including former security heads have stressed, a chiefly military response to Maoist violence cannot secure peace in Chhattisgarh. In a judgement addressing the core of the problem, the Supreme Court in July 2011, while ordering the disbanding of Salwa Judum, commented: “Tax breaks for the rich, and guns for the youngsters amongst poor, so that they keep fighting amongst themselves, seems to be the new mantra from the mandarins of security and high economic policy of the State. This, apparently, is to be the grand vision for the development of a nation that has constituted itself as a sovereign, secular, socialist and democratic republic.” In the same order the Supreme Court directed the  state of Chhattisgarh to file FIRs and diligently prosecute all unconstitutional activities of Salwa Judum. To this day the state has not filed a single FIR. We urge the government to implement the Supreme Court orders in letter and spirit.

We are also seriously concerned by an incident that has attracted less attention: On the night of May 17-18, 8 villagers, including 3 children, and a member of the CRPF were killed in a gun-battle near Edasmeta village in Bijapur district. We appreciate the government’s decision to grant compensation to the families of those killed and to order a judicial inquiry into the incident by the Justice V K Agrawal Commission, constituted to investigate a disturbingly similar incident that occurred in Bijapur last June, when 17 Adivasis, including 7 minors were killed by CRPF personnel. At the same time, we strongly urge that these investigations be concluded in a timely manner and that those responsible be held accountable. The adivasis of Chhattisgarh have long been caught in the armed conflict between state and non-state actors in the region, with village after village being subjected to indiscriminate violence, deprivation and displacement. The lives of these communities cannot be treated as expendable.

The state should ensure the immediate implementation of Panchyat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 and Forest Rights Act, 2006. The rights of the Adivasis to the land and forests are protected under Schedule V of the Indian Constitution and any violation of it is unconstitutional and illegal.

At the end of 2011, close to 60% of the prisoners in jails in Chhattisgarh were undertrials. A recent Right To Information (RTI) application also revealed that in south Chhattisgarh alone over 95% of the 1067 undertrials were tribals, a majority of whom only speak Gondi. They have little or no money to appoint a lawyer or even find out about their own case details. According to the recently released Nirmala Buch Committee report, there are 990 adivasis lodged in the Chhattisgarh jails without a trial for 2 or more years. We request the committee to release the names and details of all 235 such cases so far reviewed by them. The fundamental right to personal liberty of all citizens, guaranteed by Article 21 of the constitution, should not be violated. We urge the state to expedite the review of all cases where people are held for such long periods without being produced in court.

We advocate for the cessation of violence and the demilitarisation of the region, with dialogue and meaningful engagement between State and non-State actors.  As Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye only makes the whole world blind.”  Violence brings only further suffering and injustice. We appeal to both parties to sit down for dialogue, to find a non-violent resolution to the conflict and a lasting political solution for peace.

Indian Tribal Women Rush to a Champion’s Defense #Womenrights


By Swapna Majumdar

WeNews correspondent

Friday, May 31, 2013

Tribal women in India are mobilizing behind a leading maternal-health advocate. Supporters say the case against Madhuri Krishnaswamy was concocted to stop her from flagging rights violations that led to 25 maternal deaths in nine months in one impoverished district.

Tribal women protesting Madhuri Krishnaswamy's arrest.
Tribal women protesting Madhuri Krishnaswamy’s arrest.

Credit: Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS).

NEW DELHI, India (WOMENSENEWS)–The May 30 release of Madhuri Krishnaswamy, a relentless campaigner for better maternal health for marginalized tribal women in Barwani, one of the most impoverished districts in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, has brought temporary peace in the district.

Angry protestors who had been gathering in Barwani included about 2,000 tribal women from different parts of India, estimates Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, the local advocacy group that Krishnaswamy heads.

Protesters converged on Barwani, ready to face arrest unless police charges against Krishnaswamy, based on the complaint by a Barwani health official, are withdrawn.

The May 16 jailing and arrest of Krishnaswamy on charges of — among things — obstructing a public official, have drawn outcry from rights groups and activists across the country. Demonstrators have been concentrated in Barwani, but some civil society groups have also met with senior health officials at the federal health ministry in Delhi to drum up support for Krishnaswamy.

More demonstrations, public rallies and litigation strategies to hold Madhya Pradesh government officials accountable for violations of women’s rights to life, health and non-discrimination are being pursued to pressure the administration to drop the charges.

The state government turned a blind eye to the health violations that Krishnaswamy was flagging and made up a false case to muzzle her, said Jashodhara Dasgupta of the National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights, a coalition of 17 health advocacies, which has supported Krishnaswamy’s work.

Dasgupta, a member of the alliance, which is headquartered in New Delhi, told Women’s eNews that the arrest was meant to conceal the administration’s failure to implement various government programs for marginalized women.

No Comment from Local Government

The Barwani administration has not commented on the issue. The police filed a closure report in the case for lack of evidence in April. But after testimony by a Barwani health official the court summoned Krishnaswamy and sent her to prison after she refused to seek bail.

The false nature of the case was clear when some of the charges that led to her arrest included “rioting armed with deadly weapons,” said Ajay Lal, a program officer for Support for Advocacy and Training to Health Initiatives, a community health advocacy based in Pune, Maharashtra, that has been working with Krishnaswamy in Barwani.

“Krishnaswamy’s arrest is a blatant act of state reprisal against an activist who has repeatedly drawn attention to the health violations,” Lal said in a phone interview. Lal said poor maternal care in government hospitals was leading to deaths of poor tribal women.

Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, the nongovernmental organization headed by Krishnaswamy, has staged persistent protests against the poor health services in the largely tribal area of Barwani for the past 14 years.

Barwani has the second-lowest Human Development Index among the 50 districts in the state, according to the Madhya Pradesh Human Development Report 2007. Using a 2003 government sampling, this report put the maternal mortality rate for the district at 905 deaths per 100,000 live births compared to the state’s already-high figure of 379 per 100,000 live births.

Under Millennium Development Goal No. 5 India has pledged to reduce its maternal mortality ratio by three quarters before 2015 to 109 deaths for every 100,000 live births, far lower than the current figure of 212. By comparison, the United States, a laggard among industrialized countries, has a national average maternal mortality rate of 21 per 100,000 live births.

Tribal Women Denied Care

Supporters say Krishnaswamy’s arrest is linked to the 2008 case of Baniya Bai, a tribal woman living in Barwani district.

When the nine-month pregnant Baniya Bai reached the nearest government health center after travelling about nine miles by bullock cart from her village, a local health officer demanded a $2 bribe before allowing her to be attended. When family members couldn’t pay, she was dismissed from the center and wound up giving birth outside the facility, on the street, according to Krishnaswamy’s advocacy group.

Baniya Bai and her child survived.

Vypari Bai, a resident of another village in the same district, did not. Before dying she went through a terrifying 27 hours of labor pain as she was shunted by health officials from one government health facility to another in search of medical attention.

Krishnaswamy documented both cases in a court petition she filed in 2011 that flagged health-rights violations that led to 25 maternal deaths in Barwani government health facilities during a nine-month period of 2010.

“Tribal women are still dying from pregnancy-related causes because of official neglect and apathy,” saidHarsing Jamre, chief program coordinator of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, in a phone interview. “Are the lives of tribal women less valuable? No action has been taken against such health officials. But our organization head (Krishnaswamy) raises her voice against this injustice, action is taken against her.”

According to the Human Rights Law Network, a Delhi-based collective of lawyers and social activists that investigated the Barwani maternal deaths, 21 of the 25 deaths from April to November 2010 in the district were women from the marginalized caste tribal group known as Scheduled Tribes, which are eligible for special benefits including free healthcare.

Sixty seven percent of people in Barwani belong to Scheduled Tribes.

Fatal Factors for Tribal Women

Krishnaswamy’s supporters say her cause and her own mistreatment show how government corruption, coupled with caste and gender discrimination are fatal for tribal women.

Disturbing correlations between social inequities and access to healthcare were identified in 2011 by health advocacies investigating maternal deaths and denial of health care in Barwani.

The report–by Sama, CommonHealth and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan — found that marginalized groups, in general, had trouble finding justice and tribal women were doubly disadvantaged by gender power hierarchy and caste.

Earlier this year, on Jan. 27, the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court directed the state government to improve its healthcare manpower and infrastructure. The order stemmed from a public-interest suit filed by Krishnaswamy’s group and the Human Rights Law Network that documented maternal deaths of tribal women caused by negligence and denial of health care.

Activists working in Barwani say that better infrastructure and more clinicians must also be accompanied by a more humane attitude. Doctors rarely treat marginalized tribal women with empathy, they say, and long wait for service can be fatal for both the pregnant mother and child.

Swapna Majumdar is based in New Delhi and writes on gender, development and politics.

 

#India – Maternal Health Whistle Blower Arrested #Vaw #Womenrights


madhuri1

Published: Thursday, May 30,2013, , http://www.ibtl.in/
ByDr. Rita Pal

Madhuri Ramakrishnasway, a maternal health activist was arrested on the 16th May 2013 outside the court in Barwani, Madhya Pradesh [MP], India. The police had received a complaint from those in charge of a hospital currently under scrutiny for the alleged mismanagement and neglect of maternal health. The background of this complaint is as follows:- On the night of 11th November 2008, a very poor tribal woman from the village of Sukhpuri came to the Menimata Public Health Centre [PHC] during labour. She was admitted by those in charge who allegedly left her unmonitored all night. The hospital then demanded Rs 100, an amount she could not afford. She was asked to leave and the staff refused to arrange transport. Finally, the patient delivered her baby on the street with the help of the local “Dai” (Traditional Birth Attendant), only covered by a cloth held by her father in law. Having witnessed the event, Madhuri took the patient to another hospital to receive treatment. A protest was launched against the unacceptable incident that appears to have been one of many. This case was also part of the writ petition filed in the High Court of MP, Indore Bench in which the substandard state of maternal health services was raised – e.g. the 26 maternal deaths recorded in Barwani District Hospital in 2010 over 8 months were mentioned. The compounder of the hospital was suspended after repeated demands for action but was soon reinstated. It is notable that no one was subsequently held accountable for the dozens of avoidable maternal deaths that have taken place in Barwani. The picture is similar across the rest of the state. The finer points of the case are discussed in more detailed by an excellent Indian blogger and can be read here . “An investigation of maternal deaths following public protests in a tribal district of Madhya Pradesh” [Reproductive Health Matters] states

“We found an absence of antenatal care despite high levels of anaemia, absence of skilled birth attendants, failure to carry out emergency obstetric care in obvious cases of need, and referrals that never resulted in treatment. We present two case histories as examples. We took our findings to district and state health officials and called for proven means of preventing maternal deaths to be implemented. We question the policy of giving cash to pregnant women to deliver in poor quality facilities without first ensuring quality of care and strengthening the facilities to cope with the increased patient loads. We documented lack of accountability, discrimination against and negligence of poor women, particularly tribal women, and a close link between poverty and maternal death”

This whistleblower’s concerns were not without merit. She was subsequently witch hunted as the hospital in question filed a complaint against her, the patient and the patient’s husband. They received a court notice to appear at Barwani Court regarding this case on the 16th May 2013. Apparently, the police filed a closure report but sadly the court remained unsatisfied with this and the report was refused. Madhuri was arrested from the court and imprisoned in Khargone Women’s Jail. The petition completed by her supporters states

“Although the police had filed a Closure Report, it was refused since “clear reasons for closure had not been stated” and Madhuri did not opt for bail since the charges were clearly false[i]; one Section 148 actually refers to “rioting armed with deadly weapons”! She was sent to judicial custody until May 30th 2013”

It goes onto say

“We find unacceptable that the government targets those who work to protect the rights of the poorest Dalits and Adivasis who are suffering due to poor quality of health services; and we demand accountability from the erring officials who are indirectly responsible for thousands of women dying due to preventable pregnancy related causes”

Madhuri Ramakrishnasway is popularly known amongst the tribals of Barwani as “ Madhuri Ben” .She is a leader of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), a tribal and Dalit Rights Collective. Various advocacy groups under them often hold peaceful protests with a view to raising awareness of the substandard healthcare during pregnancy and labour. She has been involved in developing a grassroots movement demanding good care for rural maternal and child health in some of the remotest parts of the district. In support of Madhuri Ben’s concerns, it is notable that last year :

“The study, conducted on 819 deaths of a total of 1,065 probably maternal deaths reported in Madhya Pradesh between April 2011 and January 2012, suggests 132 women died on their way home or to a health facility” [Source – The Hindu ].

While recent news reports ran headlines about the sudden miraculous “improvement” in mortality rate in the state [ Times of India ], these reports conflicts with a presentation in the previous year on maternal death reviews in MP. Apurva Chaturvedi, State Consultant, National Rural Health Mission, and Archana Mishra, Deputy Director (NRHM), explained that 32 per cent of the reviewed deaths had occurred in district hospitals, 25 per cent in maternity centres, 13 per cent in sub-centres and 6 per cent in private facilities.

“Only 17.7 per cent of the expected maternal deaths are being reported and analysed while the remaining go unreported. Worse, in 37 per cent of the cases the cause of maternal deaths is registered as ‘other’,” they said.

The questionable statistics and the reasons for this was argued well by Sachin Jain. The government’s position isn’t convincing given the reports on the ground. It is therefore time for a legitimate investigation into the serious risk posed to vulnerable mothers in this state. The first task for the government is to cease harassing its whistleblowers who point out their spectacular failings. Then they should apply their minds more constructively to improving healthcare for patients at risk of neglect and death. They may also wish to improve their ability to collect statistics to avoid being embarrassed further. Click here to Sign the Petition

Author : Dr Rita Pal, Follow her twitter.com/dr_rita39

 

Tribals arrested, lathi-charged for demanding rehabilitation


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

 


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

Madhya Pradesh government starts dam construction without clearances

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

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

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

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

Cheated of compensation

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

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

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

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

 


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

 

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


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

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


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

 

Press Release : NAPM on Maoist Ambush in Chattisgarh


Politics of Violence and Counter Violence will only Maim Adivasis

NAPM Condemns the Ambush by Maoists in Bastar

Increased Militarisation in the Region would be no Solution

New Delhi : Once again in the ongoing politics of offensive and counter offensive between State and Maoists, adivasis have lost their lives. In an ambush on the convoy carrying Congress leaders, Maoists have reportedly killed 27 people and injured several others including senior Congress leader, V C Shukla. On the intervening night of May 17-18 too eight villagers, including three children, and a personnel of elite CRPF Cobra battalion were killed in a gun-battle near Edasmeta village in southern Chhattisgarh too. Adivasis caught in the armed conflict have been the worst victim of this war of control over resources, territory and sovereignty. That this happened during the Parivartan Yatra, a programme of the Congress Party to reach out to the people, is indeed unfortunate.

National Alliance of People’s Movements condemns this ambush leading to loss of precious lives. Life of those in power and leadership are important and so are the lives of common adivasis who are being tortured, jailed and killed by Security forces and Maoists alike. In the ongoing conflict both claim to represent the interests and work for Adivasis but their stance and means has only alienated them and perpetrated injustice on them. Their rights have often been violated resulting in large number of adivasis in jail on false trumped up charges. In the same Durma valley where the attack by Maoists have killed Congress leaders, state administration violated all the existing laws and procedures to facilitate land grab for Tata Steel.

Salwa Judum, an armed Sena of the young and adolescents worsened the scenario. It has been termed as illegal and directed to be disbanded by Supreme Court, but State government responded by making them part of the regular police. Even, as Salwa Judum burnt houses, raped women, maimed and killed adivasis, the State supported it and failed to provide justice to adivasis and continued to brand them as Maoists and their supporters. A democratically elected government in Chattisgarh or at the Centre can’t use the dictum of you are with us or against us. Its allegiance is to the rule of law and its duty is to protect the rights of its citizens.

Even while, politicians across the political spectrum are terming this as an attack on democracy, let us not forget that every time an adivasi is jailed, killed, their houses burnt, women raped and their schools occupied to facilitate resource grab or termed as collateral damage in the ‘Operation Green Hunt‘, democracy is attacked and the faith of citizens in the State’s ability to uphold justice and rule of law, shaken. Violence on both sides is condemnable and should be avoided forever.

We fear that this latest ambush will now be used by the state to justify further militarisation in the region and make lives of Adivasis more difficult. There is an urgent need for political intervention and dialogue. The guns of State or Maoists, will not solve the problem. Politics of violence and counter violence will only make lives of adivasis and others in the region more difficult, which will ultimately have an impact on the democratic norms and freedom of citizens elsewhere in the country, as seen in shrinking spaces for non-violent, democratic movements and arrest of activists. Soni Sori, Lingaram Kodopi and many others are braving brutality as a result of the war promoted by the state and Maoists, both. Mahendra Karma, openly supported Salwa Judum, a violent outfit and the same violence has killed him. This is tragic, yet a telling fact.

The swiftness with which the centre has promised all help in this regard and dispatched a large number of security forces, if the same urgency was shown for providing justice to the victims of Salwa Judum in all these years, Indian state would have won a bigger political battle by now. Awards, compensation and martyrdom will be bestowed on those killed by Maoists but Adivasis victims of this collateral damage and those languishing in jail need justice too. There is an urgent need to address that otherwise situation will only deteriorate. We demand that political dialogue in all sincerity be initiated to arrive at a political solution rather than increased militarisation.

Medha Patkar, Prafulla Samantara, Dr. Sunilam, Arundhati Dhuru, Gabriele Dietrich, Gautam Bandopadhyay, Ramakrishnan Raju, Sister Celia, Maj. Gen (Retd) Sudhir Vombatkere, Vimal Bhai, Krishnakant, Rajendra Ravi, Meera, Seela M, Madhuresh Kumar

 

World listens to ‘Iron Lady of Jharkhand’ in the Big Apple


New York, May 25, 2013

Narayan Lakshman, The Hindu 

Jharkhand adivasi rights activist Dayamani Barla receives the Ellen L. Lutz Indigenous Rights Award from Suzanne Benally, executive director of Cultural Survival, an indigenous peoples’ rights organisation.Photo: Narayan Lakshman
Photo: Narayan Lakshman Jharkhand adivasi rights activist Dayamani Barla receives the Ellen L. Lutz Indigenous Rights Award from Suzanne Benally, executive director of Cultural Survival, an indigenous peoples’ rights organisation.Photo: Narayan Lakshman

Dayamani Barla was presented with the first ever Ellen L. Lutz Indigenous Rights Award by Cultural Survival, an indigenous peoples’ rights organisation

The Big Apple is renowned as the home of investment banks, glitzy fashion shows and other 21st-century tributes to prodigious wealth accumulation. But on Thursday it played host to a powerful symbol of Indian adivasis’ struggle against oppression, Jharkhand activist and journalist Dayamani Barla.

On a rainy and blustering evening in Manhattan, Ms. Barla, who has been described as the “Iron Lady of Jharkhand” for her fearless opposition to the infringement of adivasi rights was presented with the first ever Ellen L. Lutz Indigenous Rights Award by Cultural Survival, an indigenous peoples’ rights organisation.

After an eloquent address at the reception in her honour at New York’s National Museum of the American Indian, Ms. Barla told The Hindu that she doubted whether this international recognition would make a difference to the situation in Jharkhand, but added that those who opposed the adivasis’ struggle to preserve “jal, jungle, jameen” may now have pause to consider why the U.S. had thus honoured their cause.

The self-made scribe, who rose from humble beginnings to become the voice of the Munda tribe and other deprived communities, has reason to worry about the situation back home. In all Ms. Barla is said to have nine cases foisted on her by the government and people associated with the award indicated that she had faced obstacles in leaving Jharkhand for this event in the U.S.

On October 18 last year, she was jailed for two months for demanding job cards for the rural poor in Angada block under the NREGA scheme, a charge that stemmed from a 2006 case against her.

Although she got bail two days later, she was immediately re-arrested in relation to two other cases, where she was accused of disrupting law and order during a protest. Keeping up her journalistic mission, she wrote from her jail cell that the “looters of the state have become well-wishers in the eyes of the government.”

On that occasion Nagri residents and activists stepped up the demand for her release and prominent intellectuals, including Noam Chomsky, Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey, signed a petition “strongly condemning [her] unjust incarceration… and demand that the false cases against her be dropped and that she be released immediately.”

Terry Odendahl of Global Greengrants Fund, who nominated Ms. Barla for the award, reflected on the Jharkhand police’s attempts to silence her protests when she said, “Dayamani’s jailing was a reminder to civil rights activists across the nation of the unfriendly role the Jharkhand state is taking towards drivers of democratic change.”

Ms. Barla’s determination to keep the forces of India’s modern capitalist machine from eating into adivasi land clearly caught the eye of the award selection committee, which picked her out of a group of nearly 60 nominees.

Alongside her colleagues from the Adivasi Moolvasi Astitva Raksha Manch, Ms. Barla in 2008, succeeded in preventing global steel and mining industry behemoth ArcelorMittal, from proceeding with the establishment of a $8.79 billion steel plant based on the proposed seizure of 12,000 acres of land and the displacement of 40 villages, not to mention the likely ecosystem and indigenous livelihoods damage.

In an article written at the time she was quoted saying, “We will not allow the ArcelorMittal Company to enter into the villages because one cannot be rehabilitated once displaced. The lands which we cultivate belong to our ancestors; therefore we will not leave it.”

Since 2010, she has also led numerous protests in Nagri village, nearly 16 km from Ranchi, against the Jharkhand government’s efforts to acquire over 200 acres of farmland to set up IIM, IIT and National Law School campuses.

On Thursday, a captivated audience of human rights lawyers, academics, and members of indigenous communities from across the world listened as Ms. Barla said that in the span of 12 years, the Jharkhand government had signed 104 MoUs with corporate, 98 per cent of which were mining interests with a strong demand for natural resources in the region.

“If the government gives land for mining to all companies, Jharkhand will lose its environment and the land will become infertile,” Ms. Barla explained, adding that in 10 years, the population of displaced people would increase four-fold, permanently destroying indigenous habitats and livelihoods.

 

#India – 5000 people on the road to Protest Arrest of Women Health Activist


Massive rally by JADS in Badwani, MP to protest against unjust arrest of Madhuri

madhuriprotest1
As is now widely known, the leading organizer of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, Madhuri was arrested
on 16th May 2013 at Barwani district court. This arrest was made in connection with the protest done by
the Sangathan related to the case of an adivasi woman Baniya bai, who was forced to deliver on the
roadside near Menimata PHC, because she was denied care in the PHC.
In response to this unjust arrest, nearly 5000 people mobilized by JADS, including large numbers of
women, demonstrated on 21st May 2013 in front of the District collector’s office at Barwani. Key
demands of the protesters were release of Madhuriben along with dismissal of all false cases against
various activists, major improvement in public health services, and eliminating large scale corruption in
implementation of the NREGA programme in the district. Major slogans included “Amu akkha kon chhe
– Madhuri chhe, Madhuri chhe” (‘Who are all of us – all of us are Madhuri’), “Aspatal mein loot band
karo” (Stop exploiting patients in Hospitals) and Nyay nahi to jail do” (‘Either give us justice or give us
jail’). The demonstrators from various far-flung areas of the district had gathered from 1 pm to 9.30 pm
in front of Collector’s office, but the collector refused to address the demonstrators or to meet their
representatives.
In this situation of total non-responsiveness of the District administration, JADS activists finally pasted a
notice on the police barricade, addressed to the Chief Minister, giving the warning that if the government
does not release Madhuriben by 30th of May, the Sangathan would mobilise an even larger rally at the
Collector’s office.

madhuriprotest

protest2

 

Woman Activist lands in jail for protesting lack of health facilities in tribal district five years ago


Author(s): Kundan Pandey
Date: May 18, 2013

People picket police stations; fellow activist claims case is baseless

Madhuri Krishnaswami had protested the treatment meted out by a health centre to a poor woman in labour. She has also exposed corruption under MGNREGAMadhuri Krishnaswami had protested the treatment meted out by a health centre to a poor woman in labour. She has also exposed corruption under MGNREGAMadhuri Krishnaswami, a health activist working with tribal communities in Barwani district of Madhya Pradesh, was sent to jail on May 16 after she turned down the court’s suggestion to take bail. The court ordered her arrest in connection with a five-year-old case  registered in 2008 against Krishnaswami and others for their protests against the deficiencies in public healthcare facilities in the state.

People protesting against Krishnaswami's arrest People protesting against Krishnaswami’s arrest

Residents of the area have been on sit-in protest in front of six police stations in the district since Friday, demanding the activist’s immediate release.

Krishnaswami is the head of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), a non-profit that works on various matters, including healthcare for tribal people and marginalised communities. She has been sent to Khargone women’s jail on 14 days’ judicial remand.

Harassed for exposing corruption

Social activist Chinmay Mishra, who is closely associated with the case, in an interview over the phone, said Krishnaswami has played a significant role in exposing corruption worth several hundred crore in development schemes under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) in the district. The local administration is quite annoyed by her activities and had earlier ordered her externment. However, after protests by locals, the administration cancelled the order. This step (of arresting Krishnaswami) has been also taken for the same reason, adds Mishra.

The 2008 case was registered against Krishnaswami for protesting the treatment meted out to a pregnant woman in labour. Baniya Bai was refused admission by the compounder at the Menimata public health centre, Vijay Klumar. The woman delivered her baby on the road. Krishnaswami, who was in the area, intervened and sent the mother to hospital, and protested her ill-treatment.

Kumar later lodged a complaint against Krishnaswami, Baniya Bai’s husband Basant and other protesters. A case of rioting and assaulting a public servant under sections 353, 332, 147, 148 and 342 of the Indian Penal Code was registered against Krishnaswami and other protesters in 2008. Five years later, police filed a closure report (April 30, this year).

But the court refused to close the case and ordered notices to be served on the parties on May 2, says Mishra. The notice was not served on Krishnaswami, he adds. The activist appeared in court voluntarily to justify her actions. She was informed that the police had filed a closure report but had not stated clear reasons for the closure and so the report was rejected, adds Mishra.

The court suggested that Krishnaswami take bail, but she refused, quoting Mamatma Gandhi, “Jail is rightful place for independent persons of slave country.”  She demanded that the case be revoked and the doctor and compounder responsible for Baniya Bai’s ordeal be punished. Krishnaswami was subsequently placed under arrest on court’s order.

Mishra says that the case is baseless, and was filed with malafide intention.

Baniya Bai is also a party to the writ petition filed in the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court, in which the status of maternal health services in the state was questioned. Twenty-nine maternal deaths have been recorded in a span of nine months at Barwani district hospital.
 

 

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