Chattisgarh- After Maoist Attack , Police dismantle big camp in Sukma


RAIPUR, May 30, 2013

Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu 

Within 72 hours of Saturday night’s devastating Maoist strike, Chhattisgarh police have removed one of their biggest camps from Minapa in Sukma district, located deep inside the forest, possibly fearing another attack. File photo

PTI Within 72 hours of Saturday night’s devastating Maoist strike, Chhattisgarh police have removed one of their biggest camps from Minapa in Sukma district, located deep inside the forest, possibly fearing another attack. File photo
SLIDESHOW

A Congress convoy, returning from the party’s Parivartan Yatra (transformation rally), on May 25, 2013 was waylaid near Darbha forest in Jagdalpur. At least 16 people were killed and 25 others were injured. Picture shows view outside the hospital in Raipur.

 

Questions surface about the wisdom of setting it up

Within 72 hours of Saturday night’s devastating Maoist strike, Chhattisgarh police have removed one of their biggest camps, from Minapa in Sukma district, located deep inside the forest, possibly fearing another attack. The camp was removed lock, stock, and barrel on Tuesday, 15 days after it was set up. Reportedly, it housed a thousand personnel.

Till last week, police officers were talking about the camp as a major strategic advance in the direction of the Andhra Pradesh border. But repeated firing by rebels on the camp had clearly put the police on the back foot.

Constables and junior officers on the ground believe that the Minapa camp, 50 km south of Sukma, had a vital link to the Darbha attack on Saturday, which saw the death of 27 Congress workers and leaders. “All attention was focussed on reaching supplies and facilities to Minapa,” said one officer.

Sources said the camp was a fine example of “horrendous planning.” It was set up even as the monsoon was approaching. “The camp should have been set up in October or November, so that it would have been well-established by the time the monsoon arrived,” said a constable.

The camp lacked even basic facilities such as toilets. There were no shade-trees to give cover — from rain, heat or stray firing. Personnel were spending their nights virtually in the open in an area largely controlled by Maoists.

Some constables told The Hindu that casualties were growing. “They went out to defecate and got shot. One died of bullet injuries and another got shot. One died of snake bite; there was no anti-venom available,” said one of them.

Constables alleged they were virtually left in the jungle to rot and die. “We were left in an open space, in the forest, in temperatures above 47 degrees, and told to set up facilities, to defend ourselves and go on the offensive. This was absurd,” said one.

Moreover, some of them were brought from the plains of Chhattisgarh. They had limited knowledge of the terrain and often suffered from dehydration. One officer said the camp was intended to be in place only for 15 to 20 days. “It was an experiment carried out to place an additional camp in the Maoist hotbed for two weeks during the Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) of the Maoists, so that we can engage them while they are busy planning,” he said. But the Maoist TCOC continues.

Director General of Police Ram Niwas defended the camp project. “We clearly achieved what we wanted to achieve. The Maoists were pushed back [during the TCOC],” he said.

Mr. Niwas was not ready to accept the views put forward by the constables. “There are officers with decades of experience who designed the plan and worked on it, and we achieved our target. If constables start finalising plans, how are we going to operate?”

 

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


May 28, 2013

Human Rights Forum

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Those killed in this senseless carnage are:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Police Version:

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

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

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

Attacked By Salwa Judum:

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

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

Conclusion:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Members of the fact-finding team:

VS Krishna (HRF State general secretary)

G Mohan (HRF State secretary)

SK Khadar Babu (HRF Khammam district president)

K Sudha (HRF Visakhapatnam district committee member)

Bela Bhatia (Researcher, Bombay)

Maharashtra – Uterus removal racket under Rajiv Gandhi Insurance Scheme #Vaw #WTFnews


IBN7 | Posted on May 24, 2013 a
Insurance Scheme has been busted in nine districts of Maharashtra. The racket was running in the nine district including Latur and Usmanabad. The racket came in light after a social organisation Tathapi did a study and alleged that several women has lost their uterus due to the racket.

It is alleged that the removal of uterus has been carried to siphon off money under the Rajiv Gandhi Insurance Scheme. Tathapi worker Medha Kale claimed that the study showed that government hospital were not carrying out the uterus removal operation and even if such a procedure was carried out due to medical emergency, the cost was very low. But such operations were carried out on a large scale in private hospitals as they used to charge a big sum of money for the same.

In Andhra Pradesh, too, about 1,100-1,200 such cases have been found.

NGO alleges uterus removal racket running in MaharashtraIt is alleged that the removal of uterus has been carried to siphon off money under the Rajiv Gandhi Insurance Scheme.

According to Tathapi doctors were carrying out the operations after telling the patients that if they don’t undergo surgery, they could die. Almost 50 per cent of the women were told that their uterus needs to be removed to stop excessive bleeding during their menstrual cycle while 21.8 per cent women being told that they suffered from white discharge. Almost six per cent women were told that they could suffer from uterine cancer if they did not get their uterus removed.

After this the doctors used to charge several thousand of rupees for the surgery. Most the women who underwent surgery are aged between 20 and 30 year

 

#India – Farmers’ suicide rates soar above the rest


MUMBAI, May 18, 2013

P. Sainath

 The Hindu

Suicide rates among Indian farmers were a chilling 47 per cent higher than they were for the rest of the population in 2011. In some of the States worst hit by the agrarian crisis, they were well over 100 per cent higher. The new Census 2011 data reveal a shrinking farmer population. And it is on this reduced base that the farm suicides now occur.

Apply the new Census totals to the suicide data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) and the results are grim. Sample: A farmer in Andhra Pradesh is three times more likely to commit suicide than anyone else in the country, excluding farmers. And twice as likely to do so when compared to non-farmers in his own State. The odds are not much better in Maharashtra, which remained the worst State for such suicides across a decade.

“The picture remains dismal,” says Prof. K. Nagaraj, an economist at the Asian College of Journalism, Chennai. Prof. Nagaraj’s 2008 study on farm suicides in India remains the most important one on the subject. “The intensity of farm suicides shows no real decline,” he says. “Nor do the numbers show a major fall. They remain concentrated in the farming heartlands of five key States. The crisis there continues. And the adjusted farmers’ suicide rate for 2011 is in fact slightly higher than it was in 2001.” And that’s after heavy data fudging at the State level.

Five States account for two-thirds of all farm suicides in the country, as NCRB data show. These are Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh. The share of these ‘Big 5’ in total farm suicides was higher in 2011 than it was in 2001. At the same time, the new Census data show that four of these States have far fewer farmers than they did a decade ago. Only Maharashtra reports an increase in their numbers.

Nationwide, the farmers’ suicide rate (FSR) was 16.3 per 100,000 farmers in 2011. That’s a lot higher than 11.1, which is the rate for the rest of the population. And slightly higher than the FSR of 15.8 in 2001.

In Maharashtra, for instance, the rate is 29.1 suicides per 100,000 farmers (‘Main cultivators’). Which is over 160 per cent higher than that for all Indians excluding farmers. Such gaps exist in other States, too. In as many as 16 of 22 major States, the farm suicide rate was higher than the rate among the rest of the population (RRP) in 2011.

The data for 2011 are badly skewed, with States like Chhattisgarh declaring ‘zero’ farm suicides that year. The same State reported an increase in total suicides that same year. But claimed that not one of these was a farmer. What happens if we take the average number of farm suicides reported by the State in three years before 2011? Then Chhattisgarh’s FSR is more than 350 per cent higher than the rate among the rest of the country’s population.

In 1995, the ‘Big 5’ accounted for over half of all farm suicides in India. In 2011, they logged over two-thirds of them. Given this concentration, even the dismal all-India figures tend to make things seem less terrible than they are.

Ten States show a higher farm suicide rate in 2011 than in 2001. That includes the major farming zones of Punjab and Haryana. The average farm suicide rate in the ‘Big 5’ is slightly up, despite a decline in Karnataka. And also a fall in Maharashtra. The latter has the worst record of any State. At least 53,818 farmers’ suicides since 1995. So how come it shows a lower FSR now?

Well, because Census 2011 tells us the State has added 1.2 million farmers (‘main cultivators’) since 2001. That’s against a nationwide decline of 7.7 million in the same years. So Maharashtra’s farm suicide rate shows a fall. Yet, its farm suicide numbers have not gone down by much. And a farmer in this State is two-and-a-half times more likely to kill himself than anyone else in the country, other than farmers.

Karnataka, in 2011, saw a lot less of farm suicides than it did a decade ago. And so, despite having fewer farmers than it did in 2001, the State shows a lower FSR. Yet, even the ‘lower’ farm suicide rates in both Maharashtra and Karnataka are way above the rate for the rest of the country.

These figures are obtained by applying the new farm population totals of Census 2011 to farm suicide numbers of the NCRB. The Census records cultivators. The police count suicides. In listing suicides, the State governments and police tend to count only those with a title to land as farmers.

“Large numbers of farm suicides still occur,” says Prof. Nagaraj. “Only that seems not to be recognised, officially and politically. Is the ‘conspiracy of silence’ back in action?” A disturbing trend has gained ground with Chhattisgarh’s declaration of ‘zero’ farm suicides. (That’s despite having had 4,700 in 36 months before the ‘zero’ declaration). Puducherry has followed suit. Others will doubtless do the same. Punjab and Haryana have in several years claimed ‘zero’ women farmers’ suicides. (Though media and study reports in the same years suggest otherwise). This trend must at some point fatally corrupt the data.

At least 270,940 Indian farmers have taken their lives since 1995, NCRB records show. This occurred at an annual average of 14,462 in six years, from 1995 to 2000. And at a yearly average of 16,743 in 11 years between 2001 and 2011. That is around 46 farmers’ suicides each day, on average. Or nearly one every half-hour since 2001.

 

#India – The Draconian #ITAct


Draconian act

free1.jpg

May 20, 2013 : dECCAN hERALD

The arrest of Jaya Vindhyala, president of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties(PUCL) in Andhra Pradesh, is the latest case of arbitrary and highhanded police action to restrict freedom of expression.

The case specifically involved online freedom of expression because the alleged offences related to a posting on a Facebook page. Vidhyala had made a posting critical of Tamil Nadu governor K Rosaiah and an AP legislator Amanchi  Krishna Mohan. While the same information published by the local print media had invited only a notice of  legal action, its online publication  has invited arrest and prosecution. It is difficult to understand how there can be different standards of response to the same information in two forms of media. Online media postings  are made by individuals and they are more vulnerable. Freedom of expression is basically the individual’s freedom to express opinions and it should be guaranteed and protected, whatever the medium of expression.

While dealing with the case, the Supreme Court has directed state governments to not arrest anybody  for a post on a networking site unless the action is cleared by senior police officials. But this is no relief because senior police officials are also vulnerable to pressure from political authorities who are offended by postings in online media, as in this case. Vindhyala’s postings contained only matters revealed under the RTI Act and other information in the public realm. And yet she is being prosecuted. This is because Section 66 A of the Information Technology Act, under which the action was taken,  is  very restrictive and draconian.

The section in effect differentiates between an ordinary citizen and a person who uses social media for comment. While the citizen has a defence under Section 19(1)(a)  of the Constitution and other relevant provisions of the law, the netizen can be proceeded against under Section 66 A. This is anomalous because social media is actually gaining more popularity and importance than conventional media and they provide an empowering forum for individuals.

This section should be removed from the IT Act because it is discriminatory and liable to be misused, whatever the guidelines that are given to the police. A number of cases of highhanded actions under the provision  have come to light, including  the arrest of two girls in Maharashtra who questioned the shutting down of Mumbai in the wake of Bal Thackeray’s death. Union Law minister Kapil Sibal’s recent assurances on the bill in parliament were not convincing.

 

SC order regarding impleading Jaya’s #ITAct case


Message from kavita srivastava
The Supreme Court vacation bench of Justice BS Chauhan and Justice Deepak Mishra today heard the matter of Shreya Singhal VS UOI, where an  application was moved by the petitioner for the impleadment and stay on the  proceedings against  Jaya Vindhyala, President PUCL AP, who had been booked and arrested under Section 66A of the IT Act by the Chirala Police Station in Prakasham district, AP.
The bench was pleased to issue notice to the State Government of AP and further directed compliance of the central advisory dated 27/01/2013 by which an arrest u/s 66 A cannot be made made without sanction of the police officer not less than a rank of a DCP (SP) of . This direction was also issued to all the State Government to ensure compliance.
The court heard the case for about 6 to 7 minutes. The counsels present were : Soli J Sorabjee, for the petitioner, Siddhartha Luthra, ASJ and lawyers Apar Gupta and Karuna Nandy.
This order means that the Central Advisory has now been made law. Where no inspector can make arrests unless the SP level officer sanctions.
We donot know whether in  Jays’s case the central advisory was complied with.

 

 

#India – Sites scouted for biggest nuclear fuel fabrication plant #WTFnews


HYDERABAD, May 14, 2013

Y. Mallikarjun, The Hindu

N. Sai Baba— Photo: By Special Arrangement

N. Sai Baba— Photo: By Special Arrangement

Sites in Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan are on the radar for setting up a third nuclear fuel fabrication facility to meet requirements of nuclear power reactors, even as the Ministry of Environment and Forests’ approval for the second unit at Kota, Rajasthan is awaited.

The site selection committee of the Department of Atomic Energy (DAE) visited Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh and few other places in Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh to find a suitable site for what will be the biggest nuclear fuel fabrication facility, with an envisaged production of 1,250 tonnes a year.

The Nuclear Fuel Complex (NFC) in Hyderabad, with an installed capacity of 4,780 MW, is currently meeting the fuel requirements of 20 nuclear reactors. Of them, 18 are Pressurised Heavy Water Reactors (PHWRs) and two are Boiling Water Reactors.

NFC chief executive N. Sai Baba told The Hindu here on Monday that the NFC produced 812 tonnes of fabricated fuel — the highest ever — in 2012-13 and was aiming for an output of 900 tonnes this year. He said the Kota facility, with an investment of Rs. 1,600 crore, was envisaged to produce 500 tonnes per year and expected to be operational by 2017.

Four PHWR units of 700 MW each — the third and fourth units of Kakrapar (Gujarat) and seventh and eighth units of the Rajasthan Atomic Power Station — are under construction and expected to go on stream in the next few years. By 2020, a total of 2,000 tonnes of fuel would be required by various reactors and the NFC was gearing up to meet the needs, Mr. Sai Baba said.

At present, 60 per cent of the raw material for nuclear fuel is being met indigenously and the rest imported mainly from Russia and Kazakhstan. The DAE is looking for more vendors from countries such as Uzbekistan and Namibia.

Mr. Sai Baba said the NFC had achieved a good recovery from the first consignment of uranium ore concentrate received from the Tummalapalle uranium mine and the processing plant located in Kadapa district of Andhra Pradesh. Of the estimated 1.5 lakh tonnes of uranium reserves identified in the country, 72,000 tonnesare from Tummalapalle. Another one lakh tonnes were expected from this place as only 10 km area of the total 35 km had been explored so far.

Besides the four upcoming PHWRs, the Nuclear Power Corporation of India Limited is building 10 more 700 MW reactors for commissioning between 2020 and 2022.


  • DAE team visits places in Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh
  • The proposed plant will have an envisaged production capacity of 1,250 tonnes a year

The DAE has already scouted for sites in Andhra Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh

 

Chhattisgarh – Letter to NHRC on the denial of rights to political prisoners at Raipur Central Jail


Sanhati

May 8, 2013

by Prashant Rahi

This is to bring to your notice the unrepentant high-handedness of the authorities of the Raipur Central Jail in Chhattisgarh as regards thedenial of fundamental and human rights to two of their under-trialinmates whom I visited there last week, both senior, well-educated citizens of the country.

It was on April 26, 2013 that I visited these two under-trials with due permission from the Jail Superintendent. One of them is called Purnendu Mukherji, a resident of Kolkata (aged 70 years), and the other, Varanasi Subrahmaniam, a resident of Andhra Pradesh (aged 57 years). Both have spent about 3 years in various jails of the country ever since they were shown arrested in Bihar. To the best of my knowledge, they have been framed up in cases related to a violent incident reported some time ago from the Rajnandgaon district of Chhattisgarh, which may have been an outcome of the ongoing civil war in that state between the Maoist-led forces on the one hand and the paramiltary and police forces on the other. These two political prisoners, whom I visited, appear to have been falsely implicated in the case/s related to this incident simply because they were among the alleged Maoist leaders already incarcerated in some other part of the country, and hence vulnerable to be charged by the Chhattisgarh police, hard-pressed as they were to affix the blame for the untoward incident on one civilian suspect or the other. While Purnendu Mukherji’s trial proceedings arew ell underway at the Rajnandgaon District and Sessions Court, Varanasi Subrahmaniam (who was recently transferred early this year to Raipur Central Jail from District Jail, Warangal, AP) has not yet been served any charge-sheet in this matter. The two are charged under various sections of the IPC, such as waging war against the state and sedition as well as the provisions of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 2008.

As per the security provisions for such so-called high-profile prisoners, my meeting with the two was arranged in the office of the Additional Jail Superintendent, to which neither did my prisoner friends nor I have any objection. However, the mere seriousness of the charges against these prisoners – itself a very common occurrence for the hundreds and thousands of tribals and activists thrown behind bars in that state – cannot be allowed to be made a ground for the denial of their fundamental and human rights. My objections on this count are as follows:

* The jail official, in whose office my two prisoner friends and I were seated during my visit, remained ensconced within earshot of our conversation, and was listening throughout. This violated the stipulated norms for prison visits by family members and friends and legal advisers.

* Other prisoners who worked in the Jail office were also well within earshot.

* In addition, an official in plain clothes, who did not work in the jail, but was very obviously an informer or intelligence official of the very police, who had fabricated the case against my two prisoner friends, seated himself on a chair right next to me, even closer to us than the jail officials and the other prisoners.

Personally, I found such eavesdropping a serious infringement upon my own civil right to converse freely with my friends and ask about their well-being and about the details of the cases foisted upon them. I did raise objections there and then, stressing that agents of the very same state that had foisted the case could not be allowed to overhear our conversation, and that there should be a sufficient distance of a few metres between us and any official or any other person for that matter, such that we could be seen and observed clearly for security reasons, but our conversation could not be heard. Such pleas, however, went unheeded within the premises of the prison with the officials not even batting an eyelid. This may also be perceived as an outright denial to my friends of their right to a free and fair trial. If officials of the state can be allowed to overhear every aspect of the preparations and mutual discussions of the defence side, then how can the accused expect to convey in confidence their defence points and arguments to their visiting lawyers or to friends like me who would coordinate between them and their defence lawyers? This is especially so in the case of these two prisoners who are total strangers to Raipur and Rajnandgaon, and badly need help from friends like me to co-ordinate their legal defence. The few relatives who visit them live hundreds, if not thousands, of miles away, and hence cannot pay regular visits to the jail and court.

The jail officials allowed us only 20 minutes, with all the interruptions and interventions owing to the unwarranted eavesdropping by the jail and police officials and other prisoners.

Among the instances of denial of basic human rights to these two prisoner friends of mine, which were brought to my notice during those 20 minutes, the following are liable to be considered as serious violations:

1. The jail officials refused to let them read a copy of the Jail Manual. It seemed as if the officials did not want to inform the prisoners of the officially laid out rules and regulations along with their own rights and obligations. Not providing copies of the Jail Manual was a common ploy adopted by the authorities to remain unquestioned while putting up a high-handed and arbitrary behaviour. My prisoner friends told me in front of the jail official present that they had been asking for the Jail Manual for several months, yet the official maintained his stoic refusal to comply with their request.

2. In most Jail Manuals, prisoners are said to possess the right to write and receive letters. In this jail, however, I was told by my prisoner friends (with the Jail official silently listening on) that letters sent to them by family members were not delivered. Varanasi Subrahmaniam said that he had once asked for a message to be wired through telegram to his lawyer in Andhra Pradesh, but no such facility was granted. Similarly, speed post facility even at one’s own cost was denied even if the matter concerned some urgent, legal issue. The same prisoner friend of mine further complained that a letter, which he wanted to send to seek some pertinent information under the RTI, 2005, could not be sent due to this high-handed attitude of the officials.

3. An elder brother of Varanasi Subrahmaniam, who visits him once in a month or two, had during his last visit subscribed to the reputed newspaper, The Hindu on the latter’s behalf. However, the jail authorities had neither co-operated nor allowed him to procure copies of this newspaper. Even such innocuous reading material was flatly denied.

4. The usual jail newspaper when circulated into the barracks of these two prisoners would often be found to be heavily censored. Even such news items that did not pose any threat to the maintenance of order in the jail and did not directly impact its security would be invariably cut up. Especially with prisoners, who have been detained for political reasons or those who have certain political inclinations and beliefs, denial of the right to read all that he or she may wish to read from registered newspapers, magazines and books openly available in the market would amount to outright denial of his or her right to information and knowledge.

5. Even serious books that could be food for thought for anyone who may be concerned with the betterment of our society are not allowed as reading material for these two prisoners.

6. Varanasi Subrahmaniam is further not allowed to read in his mother tongue, Telugu.

7. Writing materials such as blank papers and other permissible stationery items are also not provided in the course of normal routine.

8. Apart from the above instances of the denial of fundamental and human rights that seemed part and parcel of the normal manner of administration at this prison, the septuagenarian among the two, Purnendu Mukherji told me that he was suffering from a number of ailments, some of which are quite serious and needed urgent investigation and treatment at an appropriate advanced referral centre outside the state of Chhattisgarh. The ailments he is currently suffering from include chronic Pulmonary Obstructive Disease, arthritis, hernia, spinal problems and gastric trouble. A special diet, as may be permissible, was also required for him.

At the end of my visit, I tried to appeal to the Additional Jail Superintendent, who was overseeing my visit, in the hope that my prisoner friends would be accorded human treatment, especially as no crime was yet proven to have been perpetrated by them. However, I soon realized that my appeal fell on deaf ears, and I was left with no option but let this apex watchdog of the state of human rights in our country, as also the world at large,know what transpires within the underbelly of our criminal justice system, namely jails like the one at Raipur.

I urge you to please help restore the rights of the two prisoners whom I visited on April 26.I am forwardinga copy of this letter for the sake of information to the Jail Superintendent, Raipur Central Jail, and to some concerned civil liberties and democratic rights activists in the country.

 

Half of India’s dalit population lives in 4 states- UP, West Bengal, Bihar and TN


 

B Sivakumar, TNN | May 2, 2013, 06.14 AM IST
CHENNAI: Four states account for nearly half of the country’s dalit population, reveals the 2011 census. Uttar Pradesh stands first with 20.5% of the total scheduled caste (SC) population, followed by West Bengal with 10.7%, says the data released by the Union census directorate on Tuesday. Bihar with 8.2% and Tamil Nadu with 7.2 % come third and fourth. Dalits form around 16.6% of India’s population.

The 2011 census recorded nearly 20.14 crore people belonging to various scheduled castes in the country. As per the 2001 census, the number was 16.66 crore. The dalit population showed a decadal growth of 20.8%, whereas India’s population grew 17.7% during the same period. “Though there is an increase in the population of dalits in the country, many states with a considerable number of dalits don’t have any legislation to protect the interests of the community. Dalit empowerment is very poor in many states,” said former Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK) MLA D Ravikumar.

Many scheduled caste families don’t own land or any other property, said Ravikumar. “Many dalits are landless and efforts to empower them by giving free land have not been successful in Tamil Nadu. Unlike Punjab, which has a considerable number of dalits as industrialists, here there is hardly any industrialist from our community,” the leader of the dalit party said.

There are around 9.79 crore women among the total SC population, and the sex ratio works out to 946 females per 1000 males. Nagaland, Lakshwadeep and Andaman and Nicobar islands have no scheduled castes among their population. Though UP has the largest chunk of the total SC population, Punjab has the largest share of dalits in its population at 31.9%. Himachal Pradesh and West Bengal follow Punjab with 25.2% and 23.5%. In Tamil Nadu, dalits account for about 18% of the population.

The state budget should also allocate funds for creation of assets for dalits, said Ravikumar. “Instead of distributing freebies, the state governments can set aside a portion of the total allocation for dalits. In many cases, funds are being diverted and dalits lose whatever is due to them,” he said. The states with considerable number of dalits in their population must pass a separate legislation on the lines of Andhra Pradesh, which has passed the SC/ST Sub Plan Act, said a dalit activist.

 

Andhra Pradesh -Biometric information of 14 lakh #Aadhaar applicants goes missing #UID


 | May 1, 2013 | Postnoon

Beware!-Vital-info-missing-3

Biometric information from over 14 lakh people has gone missing. This could lead to vital data falling into criminal hands.

What can be a greater loss to a city than the loss of identities of its citizens? While the Aadhaar card, projected as a “smart mix of politics and economics,” promises to deliver the “one ultimate identity” to all the citizens of India, its progress report in Andhra Pradesh has no reassuring remarks.

Forget ultimate identity, there seems to be no guarantee of our identities anymore.

On April 8, the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) publicly agreed that several lakh Aadhaar enrolments and data were lost. What is described as a “technical error” is in reality the loss of biometrics and personal information of 14 lakh Aadhaar card-seeking citizens of Andhra Pradesh.

Over two lakh citizens in Hyderabad have not found their Aadhaar enrolments online. Fearing public backlash, the UIDAI authorities were able to retrieve over seven lakh enrolments through data retrieval, but have been unable to retrieve the other half. Postnoon investigates.

Current Enrolment Status

Even as the deadline for Aadhaar-c link gets closer, there seems to be little or no co-ordination among any of the three major players — the AP civil supplies and district collectorate, private enrolment agencies and the UIDAI — in the Aadhaar game.

“The selling point of this project was the promise of transparency and accountability. Except for the UIDAI’s website, our State government’s civil supplies or district

collectorates do not seem to have found the need to be accountable,” says Raoji Brahmanand, RTI activist and Aadhaar applicant.

The official explanation for the data loss is that private enrolment agencies had employed agents who developed differences over their remuneration and left the project mid way. Some claim that laptops and equipment containing data also went missing.

“But since high encryptions guard the enrolment data and biometrics, it cannot be decrypted. We are trying to retrieve the data currently,” says an official from UIDAI.

According to data gathered by Postnoon from UIDAI and district collectorate authorities, the current population of the City stands at roughly 82 lakh. Out of this, only 53,28,183 have enrolled for Aadhaar and a little over 30 lakh UID numbers have been generated.

Ask why this slow pace of enrolments and loss of data, S Vijaypal, deputy district collector of Hyderabad collectorate says, “No idea. We are only forwarding whatever enrolment data we receive to the State government and UIDAI.”

The morale among officials handling the Aadhaar project is low and it is evident why.

Here are the current statistics of the Aadhaar project in Hyderabad:

Beware!-Vital-info-missing-2

Beware!-Vital-info-missing-1Beware!-Vital-info-missing

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