#India – The Naxal, the Tribal, and the Doctor


naxalarea

June 19, 2013 ,

 Recent news reports state that the Chhattisgarh government has asked International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to suspend its operations in the Bijapur district where it had operated for the past two and a half years. ICRC had been providing medical help to violence hit people in the tribal dominated area. This order of suspension raises important questions about (a) the duty and ability of the state to provide medical services to the tribal population in that area, and (b) the willingness of the state to allow medical services to affected people in an area affected by Maoist violence.

 

Bastar district is a predominantly tribal area, with more than two-thirds of the population belonging to the Scheduled Tribes category. Ninety percent of the population is rural, more than 87% of the population is employed only seasonally, and literacy levels are among the lowest in Chhattisgarh. Two thirds of the Village Reports, or Jan Rapats prepared by the villagers themselves (Jan Rapats are prepared by all villages in Chhattisgarh, and reflect the needs and views of the villagers) state that health facilities in these areas are very poor.

“Most villages emphasise that the availability of medicines, appointment of health personnel, improvement in the quality of health care, Government aid, and the availability of clean drinking water are areas that require attention.”

 

Though 6.25% of Chhattisgarh’s population is based in the Bastar district, the area had 3 hospitals, no dispensaries, and 57 Primary Health Care centres as of 2001. Forty percent of the population had no access to toilet facilities, safe drinking water, and electricity as of 2001.

(Human Development Report Chhattisgarh, 2005. Available here.)

 

Bastar has also been in the news recently owing to the naxal attack on Congress’ Parivartan Yatra convoy on May 25, 2013, during which senior Chhattisgarh Congress functionaries and security personnel were killed.

ICRC first expressed its willingness to enter Naxal affected areas in Chhattisgarh in 2008, and was welcomed by Chief Minister Raman Singh (Sourced from here):

“Certainly, ICRC plays a vital role in mitigating the sufferings of people in conflict zones across the globe. With the kind of resources and expertise ICRC has at its command, its presence will benefit the poor tribals of the region where a huge population is suffering and hundreds of children have been orphaned in the conflict…”

Interestingly, he went on to say,

“We have no problem even if such organisations provide medical assistance to Naxalites injured in encounters with security forces…We also do the same thing. Whenever Naxalites are injured, they are hospitalised so that they can be punished by a court of law for their crimes.”

 

Since 2010, ICRC has run a Primary Health Care centre, mobile clinics, and a hand-pump rehabilitation programme to ensure safe drinking water for the tribal population. According to another Times of India story, international agencies have helped play a crucial role in providing essential health care facilities in the region:

“Last year, when a diarrhoea epidemic broke out in South Bastar, killing nearly 100 people, Bijapur administration had enlisted the support of MSF and UNICEF, apart from calling doctors from other districts. But in Dantewada, in the absence of such an intervention, and in the face of an acute shortage of doctors, a large unknown number of people died without medical support.”

Then why the order of suspension?

The order of suspension has ostensibly been given by the district administration because “…ICRC is yet to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding with the state government” regarding its work in the region. State government sources have said that since ICRC is an international organization, it needs “certain clearances from the centre” for carrying out its operations.

If ICRC has operated in Bastar since 2010, how was it able to function without obtaining clearances from the central and state governments for almost three years? How was it able to bring in medical equipment, and (presumably) foreign personnel into a security sensitive area, and operate without the required permissions for all this time? Does the state and district administration seriously expect people to believe that they allowed ICRC to work in a Naxal dominated area for close to three years without the proper paperwork?

 

News reports indicate that other reasons may also be at play here. In 2011, the police in south Bastar and Dantewada had alleged that ICRC, along with MSF (Doctors Without Borders) which had been operating there since before ICRC started working there, was facilitating the treatment of Maoist rebels. Two Maoist rebels who had been arrested claimed that they were being treated by ICRC and MSF.

“These two organisations are deliberately going to Maoist camps and spending weeks. The foreign doctors should know what they are doing. I am from an enforcement agency and can’t welcome them having extra love for Maoists, but not for people injured in Maoist brutalities.” – Senior Superintendent of Police, Dantewada (Sourced from here)

 

According to him, people from the two organisations could be prosecuted under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act that prohibits direct or indirect contact with Maoists.

 

The recent order of suspension, coming soon after the Maoist attack on May 25 can then also be seen through the lens of an overzealous state and district administration irked by the fact that ICRC is treating Maoist rebels. If in fact this is the case, several questions beg to be asked: What prevents doctors from treating Maoist rebels injured in conflict, especially after the Chief Minister himself expressly stated that he would be fine with such treatment? Does the duty of a doctor to treat injured people depend on whether a person is suspected of being an insurgent or terrorist? Does such treatment in itself make a doctor an accomplice in the crimes the injured is suspected of having committed? If yes, should lawyers representing suspected terrorists also be made accomplices to crimes committed by their clients?

 

The central government has repeatedly touted its plan of combining development with improving law and order as a solution to Naxalism in these regions. ICRC is one of the most reputed health care agencies operating in Bastar, an area with a clearly documented lack of health care facilities. The administration at all levels clearly needs to reconcile its twin goals of development and security enforcement in a transparent, and rational way. Essential health care for tribals in a conflict-ridden area, and the work of doctors cannot be left to the alternating prioritization of security enforcement and development. This is especially so when the Jan Rapats reveal how miserably the state has failed in meeting the expectations of the local population.

SOURCE- http://polityinindia.wordpress.com/

 

 

#India – Gandhian activist denied permission to fast over tribal issues


By Newzfirst Correspondent 6/3/13

 

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New Delhi – In a startling development, the Delhi Police on Monday refused permission to Gandhian activist Himanshu Kumar to hold indefinite fast over tribal issues.

In a letter sent by the office of Deputy Commissioner of the Police to Himanshu Kumar, it is said that the permission to stage continuous fast for 10 days cannot be granted in view of security/law & order reasons.

Reacting to the denial of permission, Himanshu Kumar told Newzfirst that the Government doesn’t want people of the Country being educated about the tribal issues and problems.

The Government wants to project Naxalism as the only problem being faced by the country and does not want people to learn about the injustice meted out to tribals in the name of development, he said.

“This was my humble effort that we use this opportunity to ponder on this issue – how should the tribal people of this country be treated.” he said.

However, I will continue to fast, he added. “This is not just a question of the tribals but a question for all those who want to build a better society, where everyone gets justice because it is impossible to even think of peace without justice.”

Annoyed by the Government’s decision to deploy a large number of army troops in the tribal areas post Bastar incident, Himanshu Kumar has begun an indefinite fast- Aatmchintan- on 1 June calling upon the Government and the general mass of the country to do soul-searching over the treatment being meted out to the Tribal people.

24 people including senior Congress leaders were killed in an attack carried out by the Maoists in Bastar, Chhattisgarh on 25 May.

 

#India- Home Minister’s visit to Raipur hospital costs woman her life #Vaw #WTFnews


By Sahar Khan in Raipur, mailtoday.in

A woman, who was rushed to Ram Krishna Care hospital in Raipur following a massive heart attack, was detained at the hospital gate by Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde’s securitymen.

Her relatives said they struggled to get medical attention for her failing which she died at the gate.

Shinde was in the hospital to visit the people injured in the Maoist attack in the Bastar district on May 25.

The family further alleged that they desperately made phone calls to whosoever possible to explain the medical emergency but they were turned a deaf ear.

Raipur superintendent of police O. P. Pal, however, said no complaint has been lodged yet in this regard. “ There is a clear instruction that no ambulance should be stopped during any VIP visit.

We will look into the issue if any complaint reaches us,” he said.

A local media report quoting the family of the deceased woman said there was no blockage of roads after the minister’s cavalcade reached the hospital but the security personnel denied the entry through the gate.

The hospital management, on the other hand said, since several VIPs are visiting the hospital after the Maoist attack special arrangements have been made to ensure that patients do not suffer.

Director of the hospital, Dr Sandeep Dave said the woman was already dead when brought to the hospital and no complaint was lodged.

In November 2009, kidney patient, S. P. Verma, died during PM Manmohan Singh’s visit to PGIMER hospital in Chandigarh to attend a convocation ceremony.

Verma’s family claimed he was denied timely treatment after securitymen allegedly kept diverting his vehicle.

In July 2011, injured policeman Dharmendra Kumar died at the emergency gate of Hallett Hospital in Kanpur, after being denied entry by the Special Protection Group deployed for Rahul Gandhi, who was to arrive to meet victims of the Kalka Mail derailment.

 

Chhattisgarh – Carrying bodies, tribal women of Bastar lead protests against cops


Ashutosh Bhardwaj : Gangalur, Ehadsameta , Mon May 20 2013,
BasterAn injured outside Gangalur police station. (IE Photo)

Bastar has seen several protests but rarely have tribal women come out and beat their breasts, shouting slogans. Surprisingly, men tried to calm them down, pull them away but these women continued to scream and hurled stones at the Gangalur police station and nearby CRPF camp.Old and young women were protesting while carrying bodies of their husbands and sons, handed over to them around 1 pm on Sunday. They knew only Gondi and Halbi but managed a few Hindi abuses. “Wapas jao… wapas jao..,” they shouted at the CRPF camp as they laid down the bodies at the thana gate and tried to break open its lock. Two old women rattled barbed fencing of the CRPF camps and threw stones at the personnel on guard, forcing them to run for cover. “Raman Sarkar murdabaad, murdaabaad.” Some of them hurled utensils inside the thana. “Stop killing tribals; kill us now, if you dare.”

All the deceased were men; two of them father and sons — Karam Joga and his son Badru (13), Karam Pandu and his son Guddu (14). The other minor boy killed was Punem Lakhu (15).

The agony did not end with their death. The bodies were lying in open field, under 45 degree sun, decomposing, badly swollen and emanating unbearable smell. CRPF men, face covered, guarded them with X-95, AK-47 with an Under Barrel Grenade Launcher.

“Jara pet par chira laga,” a doctor said. He too had his face covered. A man, Suklu, came forward and cut open a naked body. Red worms protruded out from stomach. “Dead bodies become like balloon. When you cut them, they produce fart like sound,” a CRPF cop explained. Relatives of the deceased held the bodies as the doctor examined the bodies with a stick, from a distance.

“Don’t you have another blade, a new one,” Civil Surgeon Dr B R Pujari asked his colleagues. Only two blades were used so far, and five bodies had been cut open from various sides, the doctor thought of changing the blade. But there was none. Suklu did not change surgical gloves through the process.

Pujari admitted that it’s against the law to conduct postmortem in open, that too in police presence, and the entire process was probably illegal. “Under certain conditions, an officer with rank of SDM and above can give permission to conduct it otherwise,” he tried to explain.

SDM Virendra Bahadur Panchbhai said: “The only requirement for postmortem is of adequate light. Other things can be relaxed in special situations.”

An hour later, their women relatives were protesting outside the thana for justice. They had arrived here on Saturday evening when police forcibly brought the bodies along, but now after nearly 24 hours men convinced them to take the bodies back home. The administration arranged for a tractor, but the terrain was difficult and it left them in between. And then began a two-hour-long journey to carry the bodies on shoulders.

Two bodies, father and son Joga and Badru, were kept on the same logs and cremated together. “It’s not unusual among tribals. When a person loves someone a lot, we cremate together,” said a tribal.

– See more at: http://www.indianexpress.com/news/carrying-bodies-tribal-women-lead-protests-against-cops/1118025/0#sthash.5gBvcRXp.dpuf

 

#India- Over 1 lakh children malnourished in Bastar #RIP #Indiashining


 

Raipur, Dec 12 – The Chhattisgarh Government today admitted that over 1 lakh children are suffering from malnutrition in the tribal-dominated Bastar region.

In a written reply to a question of Kuldeep Singh Juneja (Congress) in the Legislative Assembly, Women and Child Development Minister Lata Usendi said 1,15,093 children are suffering from malnutrition in Bastar division comprising seven districts as of December 2012.

Of these, 31,034 children are severely malnourished, while 84,059 fall in the category of average malnutrition, she said.

The highest number of malnourished kids are in Bastar district (35,034), followed by Kanker (27,482), Kondagaon (17,308), Dantewada (10,871), Bijapur (10,083), Sukma (8,811) and Narayanpur (5,504), Usendi said.

The Minister, however, denied any death due to malnutrition from 2008 till now in the Naxal-affected region in Central Chhattisgarh. PTI

 

Tata Steel still to pay Rs.27 crore to villagers


Wordmark of Tata Steel

Raipur, March 21 (IANS) Tata Steel, India‘s largest private sector steel major, has still to pay over Rs.27 crore compensation amount to villagers in Chhattisgarh‘s Bastar district to take over their land for setting up an integrated steel plant, the assembly was told Wednesday.

“Tata Steel is still due to make payment of Rs 27.35 crore compensation amount to the villagers. The company has so far paid Rs.42.07 crore,” Revenue Minister Dayaldas Baghel told the house.

The minister said Tata Steel would require 2,044 hectares of land for setting up the steel plant. As the proposed plant area comes in a tribal belt, the state would acquire land on behalf of company and allot it on lease.

But the compensation has to be paid by the company, the minister said.

Tata Steel, whichn inked a pact with the Chhattisgarh government in June 2005, is setting up a 5.5 million tonne per annum steel plant in Lohandiguda area in Bastar, some 340 km south of Raipur.

Baghel said the Bastar administration had acquired 1,764 hectare of land from 1,707 land holders located in 10 villages between October 2007 and February 2008.

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