Mere criticism is not #sedition, govt says in draft guidelines #draconianlaws #justice


Published: Friday, Oct 19, 2012, 19:33 IST
Place: Mumbai | Agency: PTI

Having burnt its fingers over the arrest of cartoonist Aseem Trivedi, the Maharashtra government today submitted a draft circular to the Bombay High Court, which says that a criticism of political leaders or government per se does not call for pressing of the charge of `sedition‘.

Advocate General Darius Khambata submitted a six-point circular to the division bench of Chief Justice Mohit Shah and Justice NM Jamdar during the hearing of public interest litigation filed by lawyer Sanskar Marathe against Trivedi’s arrest on sedition charge.Trivedi was arrested over some of his cartoons that allegedly insulted the national emblem and the Parliament.At an earlier hearing, high court had granted bail to Trivedi and come down heavily on the police for arresting him on “frivolous grounds” and “without application of mind”.

The government had also stated then that it was dropping the charge of sedition, and would come out with a circular specifying the limitations and parameters for application of sedition charge in future.The draft circular submitted today says that sedition charge would apply if the act creates disaffection towards the government and incites violence.

“Words, signs or representations must bring the government into hatred or contempt or must cause or attempt to cause disaffection, enmity or disloyalty to the government. They must be incitement to violence or must be intended to create public disorder….” it says.Words, signs of representations against politicians or public servants per se do not fall under the category of sedition.”Comments expressing disapproval or criticism of the government with a view to obtaining change of government by lawful means are not seditious under section 124 (a) of IPC.

Obscenity or vulgarity should also not be taken into account under this charge,” the circular reads.Further, says the circular, police officials should seek a legal opinion in writing from the law officer, followed by that of the public prosecutor, before applying sedition charge against any person.

The court today heard arguments of Khambata, Marathe and Trivedi’s lawyer advocate Mihir Desai on whether the HC needs to include any more guidelines. But no order was passed.Trivedi, though the sedition charge has been dropped, will still have to face a case under National Honor Act and Information Technology Act for three of his cartoons which were also put on internet.The Kanpur-based cartoonist, associated with Anna Hazare‘s anti-corruption movement, was arrested on September 8, which had led to public outcry.

IMMEDIATE RELEASE-Brutality of the state exposed on Fabricated Cases


MEDIA RELEASE: 29 September, New Delhi

BRUTALITY OF THE STATE EXPOSED ON FABRICATED CASES: JURY CALLS FOR SPECIAL LEGAL SUPPORT MECHANISM FOR VICTIMS

DSC04362 300x168 BRUTALITY OF THE STATE EXPOSED ON FABRICATED CASES: JURY CALLS FOR SPECIAL LEGAL SUPPORT MECHANISM FOR VICTIMSNew Delhi: ‘It has been established beyond doubt that the Indian police and investigative agencies have for years run a systematic campaign to brutalize citizens by way of punishing them for defending their homeland, farms and communities, or for simply belonging to a certain community that is labeled as being involved in terrorism’ said the interim jury recommendations at a two day peoples hearing on fabricated cases at the Constitution Club. Jury members included Justice Rajinder Sachar Dr. Ram Puniyani, Dr. Binayak Sen and journalists Saba Naqvi and Ajit Shahi.

The depositions from across the country thoroughly exposed the role of the Indian state in fabricating cases of sedition and terrorism to implicate tens of thousands of innocent citizens across India.

The Jury also noted that ‘the Indian judiciary has for the large part been complicit in giving the police a free pass in this evil endeavor. This has only extended the ambit of misery that has incarcerated innocents for years, devastating lives and families’.

Saba Naqvi emphasized that the civil society groups, activists, and solidarity groups that work with the victims of fabricated cases and their families begin documenting in detail each such case around the country so that a single resource base is created to aid concerted action as well as to spread awareness.

jury 1 300x225 BRUTALITY OF THE STATE EXPOSED ON FABRICATED CASES: JURY CALLS FOR SPECIAL LEGAL SUPPORT MECHANISM FOR VICTIMSDr. Binayak Sen recommended that the campaigns explore the establishment of a legal support mechanism for the victims of fabricated cases so that they are supported throughout the life of their cases in pursuing a legal defense. He also added that the campaigns need to explore the possibility of bringing class actions suits and criminal law suits before the higher courts to plug the loopholes in the criminal jurisprudence system that lead to the fabrications.

Civil society groups at the meeting will ensure that National Human Rights Commission and the state human rights commissions be pressured to create special cells devoted exclusively to dealing with fabricated cases on sedition and terrorism.

The public hearing also recommended that the government be pressured to bring action against police officers who are established to have forged evidences and fabricated such cases of terrorism and sedition against innocent citizens.

It is also recommended that the campaigns work towards taking the issue of fabricated cases of sedition and terrorism to international civil rights forums, and evaluate the application of the various international protocols that relate to the practice of war.

On the second day of the peoples hearing depositions were made on behalf of Kerala politician Abdul Nasser Maudany by former MP Sebastian Paul and Omar Mukhtar, the eldest son of Maudany. Suresh Velamanoor from the Dalit Human Rights Movement (DHRM) spoke about how the Kerala police branded his organization as a terrorist outfit.

Anjum Habib from the Muslim Khwateen Markaz ( Muslim Womens Organisation) in Kashmir spoke about how she was falsely implicated under POTA and spent five years in Tihar Jail. Neena Ningombam and Babloo Loitongbam from Manipur spoke about tragic cases of more than 1500 young people who were killed in extra judicial encounters. Ningombam spoke about the loss of her husband in a fake encounter and her continuing struggle for justice not just for herself but hundreds of young widows in Manipur.

The final jury recommendations and report of the meeting will soon be released by the organizers.

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For more information contact:

Wilfred D Costa- 011-26517814. Email: willyindia@gmail.com
P T George – 011-26560133. Email: ihpindia@gmail.com
Sajeed K. –08891163485 Email: sajeedacl@gmail.com

Mumbai- the city that never sleeps, the city that never speaks…. #musicalactivism


 

I am proud to share the new contribution of friend and rapper  Ashwini Mishra  aka  @alistrap in the field of Musical Activism  called ‘ Mumbai– ‘City Of Gold’

Ashwini Mishra  a.k.a A-List, has been a rap artist and performer since 2004 . Since then, he has performed on a number of platforms such as the St. Xaviers and Bhowanipore college fests in Kolkata as well hosted and performed at a number of hip hop shows in club BED.More recently, he opened for Zero and Parikrama at the MICA collegest fest- MICANVAS back in 2008 and has been performing at open mics across Mumbai over 2010. He performed as one half of rapper-drummer duo “Various Artists” at Concert By The Bay in January 2012.

Ashwini, joined in JUSTICE AND PEACE FOR ALL (JAPA), a  voluntary network in Mumbai, a  platform for musical activism, he rapped on ,Let me tell you a story of this place Naxalbari.This song speaks of the Naxal areas in and around Chattisgarh and how messed up things are for the tribal community with both the police forces and the naxalities exploiting and murdering them.The song refers to soni sori, custodial torture and rape, Dr Binayak SenAnna Hazare andIrom Sharmila  among many others. This wa also an award winning rap

 

Resist Silent Emergency!-‘People’s Hearing on FABRICATED CASES’-Sept28-29


Dear Friends,

Sub: Invitation to a ‘PEOPLE’S HEARING ON FABRICATED CASES’

Venue: Constitution Club, New Delhi

Dates: September 28 – 29, 2012, Friday, Saturday.

The nightmare of the infamous Emergency of Mrs. Indira Gandhi was supposed to be over in 1977 when it was lifted after two years due to large scale public protest. Political parties, institutions and individuals who defended Emergency were discredited. The sigh of relief evoked a hope for a functioning democracy in India.

But today, we are entering into a similar phase of authoritarian governance without any formal declaration of Emergency. This Silent Emergency has regulated, controlled and restricted all space for democratic public protests against ruling governments. Custodial deaths and encounter killings have become a routine phenomenon. Rape, murder, loot, torture and arrests in Manipur, Nagaland and other north eastern states as well as Kashmir have even crossed the excesses of the Emergency period. Many discriminatory laws have been enacted to silence the Media without a censorship. Several discriminatory laws were enacted to enhance and strengthen the power of the State over civil society and crush dissent.

Laws to facilitate the corporate control and loot over the resources of people are being enacted. This has also become a major reason for the human rights violations against adivasis, dalits, minorities, farmers, fisher people, workers, activists and human rights movements. The human rights defenders who take up burning issues of the people are being targeted. False cases are being fabricated against activists, people’s movements, media, theatre activists, minorities, self-determination movements, dalits and adivasis in a major way. Thus thousands of innocent people are languishing in Indian jails without any trial.

In this context of the Silent Emergency in our country we would like to invite you to attend the ‘PEOPLE’S HEARING ON FABRICATED CASES’ which has the following objectives:

1. To defend fundamental rights, human rights and the Indian Constitution to preserve our democracy

2. To popularize some of the most brazen cases of fabrication of false charges against political dissidents and members of the Muslim, dalit and adivasi communities

3. To facilitate further legal action for freedom of these innocent people

4. To generate pressure on the mainstream media to play a more socially responsible role

5. To generate pressure on the institutions of Indian State for the release of undertrials.

The Programme:

The organizers expect the participation of around 50 victims, their family members or friends whose testimonies will be heard by a jury comprising of judges, lawyers, journalists, human rights activists and artists. After listening to all the presentations the Jury will report their observations and conclusions with clear recommendations for various institutions of the Indian State.

Organisers: Solidarity Youth MovementKerala, Indian Social Action Forum – INSAF, PUCL, AISA, SIO, Right to Food Campaign, KSMTF (Kerala Swathantra Matsya Tizhilali Federation), PPSS (Anti Posco Movement), ICR, Focus on the Global South, Justice for Maudany Forum, Visual Search, Moving Republic, SAHELI, Pedestrian Pictures, National Campaign Against Fabrication of False Cases, http://www.fabricated.in, Jamia Teachers Solidarity Assiciation, Jamia Student Solidarity Forum, Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan, National Adivasi Alliance, Kabani – The Other Direction, Human Rights Alert, Dalit Human Rights Movement (DHRM) – Kerala, Forum for Democracy and Communal Amity, Action for Social Equality, INSOCO – Indian Solidarity Committee for freedom democracy & human rights, Center for Harmony and Peace – Varanasi, PUDR, Socialist Front, Student of Resistance.
People’s Hearing on Fabricated Cases

Sept 28-29 Constitution Club, New Delhi

Programme Schedule

28-09-2012, Friday

Inaugural Session: 10am – 11.30am

11.30am – 1.30pm
Issue
Speaker

1
Koodankulam Anti Nuclear
P K Sundaram

2
Anti POSCO Struggle
Abhay Sahoo

3
Jaitapur Anti Nuclear
Vaishali Patil

4
Farmers Group, Madhya Pradesh
Dr. Sunilam

LUNCH BREAK

2.30pm – 6pm
Issue/Case
Speaker

5
Journalist Mhd Ahmed Kazmi
Shauzab Kazmi

6
Soni Sori
Himanshu Kumar

7
Gujarat Fabricated Cases
Zakiya Soman

8
Faseeh Mahmood
Sabih Mahmood, Manisha Sethi

9
Journalist Shahina KK
Shahina KK

10
Seema Azad, UP
Seema Azad

11
Jharkhand
Dayamani Barla

12
Odisha
Prafulla Samantara

13
Chattisgharh
Ajay T.G

14
DHRM, Kerala
Suresh

15
Email Surveillance Victims, Kerala
T. Mohammed Vellom
29-09-2012, Saturday

10am – 1.00pm
Issues
Speaker

16
Kashmir & North East
Anjum Zamrud Habib, Babloo Loitongbam, Kaka D Iralu, Neena Ningombam

17
Abdul Nasar Maudany
Dr. Sebastin Pol, Omar Mukhtar
LUNCH BREAK

2.00pm – 3.30pm
Issues
Speaker

1
Prisoners Issue
SAR Geelani

2
Repressive Laws
Preeti Chauhan, PUDR

3
Increasing repressive state under neoliberalism
Colin Gonsalves
3.30pm – 6.00pm

Concluding Session: Comments from the Jury

Jury:
Justice Rajindar Sachar
Dr. Binayak Sen
Saba Naqvi
Ajit Shahi
Dr. Ram Puniyani
K Satchidanandan

Sedition Law is against spririt of Democracy- Binayak Sen


Kractivism in Actionp- Free Binayak Sen Campaign

Kractivism in Actionp- Free Binayak Sen Campaign

Binayak Sen

I was convicted of sedition (section 124 of the IPC) on December 24 (Christmas eve), 2009, and awarded life imprisonment by the additional sessions judge, Raipur. I had already spent two years in jail as an undertrial before the Supreme Court granted me bail. Following my conviction, another four months was spent in a solitary cell before the Supreme Court suspended the sentence and granted bail, remarking in the process that there did not seem to be any evidence against me.

A hearing of my appeal in the Chhattisgarh High Court is now awaited. Afew days ago, human rights organizations gathered in Delhi to welcome back from jail Seema Azaad, the general secretary of the UP PUCL. She had also been convicted of sedition and awarded life sentence on the basis of some innocuous documents found in her possession , and then was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court after having spent two-and-a-half years in jail. I was reminded of all these events when i joined the Mumbai Press Club to greet the young cartoonist, Aseem Trivedi, following his release from jail on September 12. He had spent four days in jail after being charged with sedition , allegedly because of the content of some of his cartoons .

These charges were deemed to be so patently absurd that Aseem’s incarceration aroused a storm of protest, resulting in his prompt release. Sedition is said to have occurred when any attempt is made to bring the government of the day into disaffection . Mohandas Gandhi was convicted of sedition by the British Imperial government in 1922. Arguing his own case, Gandhi told the judge that he had no affection for the British government and, moreover, he felt it was his duty to inform his fellow citizens as to why he had no affection for it.

While convicting Gandhi, the British judge felt it necessary to apologize to Gandhi for his act, to which he was bound by his duty as a judge. Such stories are part of the folklore of sedition, and create the impression that sedition is about well-known or relatively resourceful people standing up to a bumbling state power. Nothing could be further from the truth. The most important lesson i learnt in jail was that there are vast numbers of people accused of sedition and incarcerated for this reason. To take just one example, several hundred very ordinary men and women participating in the peaceful anti-nuclear agitation in Kudankulam have been charged with sedition. The state today stands guarantor, under the doctrine of eminent domain, to a country-wide process of expropriation of common property resources — land, water, forest, minerals and traditional knowledge such as knowledge of biodiversity.

Communities, whose survival is dependent on their access to common property resources, find their survival threatened by this process of expropriation. Resisting this process becomes key to the survival of these communities , and the law of sedition is one of the important resources deployed by the state in order to suppress this entirely legitimate resistance. Communities cannot be expected to acquiesce in their own extinction, but the state seems perfectly prepared to deploy its resources, both juridical and military, in order to ensure that its writ should run. The application of sedition is also contrary to the spirit of a democratic polity. After all, the process of building up political alternatives has to be based on holding — and advocating — views that are contrary to those held by the current holders of power. Sedition serves the power holder very well, because any heterodox opinion can promptly be limited by being safely put away. Human rights workers and their organizations across the country have come together to press for repeal of the sedition law and other similar laws. They are jointly engaged in a signature campaign, and a series of public meetings, to petition Parliament for the prompt repeal of these archaic and antidemocratic legal formulations, which constitute a real danger to the development of a genuinely democratic polity. The writer is an academician, pediatrician and a human rights activist

Cultural Activist, Jeetan Marandi languishes in Jail, his wife Aparna Marandi keeps the Battle on #mustread


 

WHO IS JEETAN MARANDI?

Jeetan  Marandi is a cultural activist from Jharkhand , a cultural activist who used to sing the folk songs and other revolutionary songs in villages of Jharkhand, to make the people aware of socio-political developments taking place in the state. He was misjudged due to his name. He is also  the secretaries of Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners.

He was arrested in 2008 and accused by the police of being involved in the murder of 20 villagers, including the son of former Jharkhand chief minister Babulal Marandi, in Chilkari in 2007.

He was sentenced to death in June 2011 by a lower court in Jharkhand. He has been an active participant in the movements against forcible land acquisitions in Jharkhand – and was actually arrested while he was on the way back from one such rally organized by the Visthapan Virodhi Jan Vikash Andolan, almost an year after the killings.

In December 2011, Jharkhand High Court turned down death sentences of four person including Jeetan Marandi in Chilkar massacre case for the want of substantial evidence. The  Court had acquitted the four accused in Chilkhari murder case on December 15, 2011. Giving them the ‘benefit of doubt’ the court said that it could not punish these people on the basis of the witnesses who themselves are of criminal background. Jeetan, Chattar Mandal, Manoj Rajwar and Anil Ram were first awarded death sentence by Additional Sessions Judge at Giridih on June 22, 2011. Jeetan Marandi and other three were convicted under Sections 143, 342, 379, 149, 120B, 30, 149, Copyright Licensing Act and Unlawful Activities Prevention Act along with Section 302.

The police chargesheeted him under various clauses of the penal code, and it has also been alleged that false witnesses were brought forth during the trial, leading to the death-sentence. This case falls into the larger pattern of victimization of the cultural political activists as well as those adivasi voices who are resisting the various injustices being inflicted by the state.

He has been slapped under the draconian law Crime Control Act (CCA) , and still contnues to langish in jail.I AM JEETAN MARANDI

He has written a letter from jail in name of the Nation

Dr Binayak Sen, in a public meeting in  Ranchi  in 2011 had said “An artiste and tribal rights activist, Jeetan was known to utilise the power of music to speak against government atrocities on the common man, especially tribals. “Artistes world over have used their medium of music, song, painting, etc. to portray the wrongs of society. Jeetan was fighting against displacement, corporate and political loot among other ills. It is ironic of the state government that in the land of Birsa Munda, it has been staying mum on his case.

Please sign online petition for his release-PLEASE SIGN ON-LINE PETITION FOR HIS RELEASE

His wife, Aparna Marandi is asking us if our nation is really independent. She says when I look around so many years after independence same repression as British is continuing and there is not much progress on health, education of poor. Educated are not getting jobs. She says my husband Jeetan Marandi is an example. He was writing songs to make people aware about their rights and to fight against obscurantism,dowry etc and he is in jail on false charges. I think we are not independent. For more Aparna ji can be reached at 09771949885

http://www.cgnetswara.org/index.php?id=13006

She sings song of jeetan marandi

ये आज़ादी है कैसा, कहने वालों को हक ये मिला है कैसा?….एक गीत

ये आजादी आज़ादी है कैसा?

कहने वालों को हक ये मिला है कैसा
देखो कितने भूखे नंगे तडप रहे हैं
ये आज़ादी का हालत है कैसा
देखो कितने महल ये चमक रहे हैं
कितनी झुपडिया उजाड पड़े हैं
ये आज़ादी मिली है कैसा?

अपर्णा मरांडी

Listen to her here http://cgnetswara.org/index.php?id=13077

Here , Aparna Marandi is singing a Santhali song written by jailed adivasi cultural activist Jeetan Marandi which talks about ill effect of drinking. The song says you are drinking and your house is getting destroyed, your children are suffering, their education is getting affected. The song requests please leave drinking and take care of your family.

http://www.cgnetswara.org/index.php?id=13126

 

“ANYTHING BUT THE TRUTH”-Response to story #SoniSori in Indian Express- WSS


 

We are deeply shocked and dismayed at Ashutosh Bhardwaj’s (AB) report  “Soni’s Story” published in the Sunday Express on 5th August..  The reporter has not bothered to cross-check any of the “facts” given to him byhis unnamed sources, and relies entirely on innuendo and unproven assertions to discredit a woman who is currently imprisoned and in no position to clarify and defend herself.   AB employs dubious techniques to gain access to sensitive information, yet ends up completely missing out on the real story unfolding in Dantewada, where a dysfunctional criminal justice system, coupled with a vicious law enforcement machinery, iscriminalizing an entire community and generation of adivasis.

Factual Inaccuracies

The reporter takes great pains to cast doubts over Soni Sori’s claims of custodial sexual torture at the hands of Chhattisgarh police.   And this is done without having talked to the victim herself.

1)      First, he suggests that the X-ray images taken in Chhattisgarh hospitals right after her torture show that there were no stones in her vagina or rectum.  It should be noted that the State of Chhattisgarh itself makes far more modest claims in its defense before the Supreme Court than these clumsy ones made by AB. Quoting the Head of the Radio-diagnosis of the Raipur Hospital where these tests were conducted, the State has admitted before the apex court that “In the CT scan, the vaginal part is not included…”  All the Chhattisgarh state has claimed in court is that “No foreign body is visible for the part of the rectum for which the CT scan was done.” [Annexure 5, Submission on behalf of the Respondent State of Chhattisgarh in Writ Petition 206 of 2011, Supreme Court of India].  Elementary knowledge of human anatomy wouldsuffice to illustrate that CT spinal scans do not cover the majority of the rectum; they leave out the lower rectum.

2)      AB deliberately downplays the horror of the discovery of stones in Ms. Sori’s private parts by the NRS Hospital in Kolkata by suggesting that the report sent by the hospital, described as “four-page confidential report, a copy of which is with The Sunday Express,” does not confirm torture charges. It may interest AB to know that hospital did not file a 4-page report, but a 39-page report, which was madeavailable to Ms. Sori’s lawyers by the Supreme Court.  Which 4 pages of this report were read by AB is impossible to guess, but his conclusion that the hospital did not confirm the torture charges is absurd.  Themedical board not only conducted a thorough gynecological and rectal examination – the first since Soni Sori was taken into police custody – but uncovered physical evidence in the form of stones from her private parts, which were physically sent to the Supreme Court along with the report.  Shoving of stones into one’s private parts may not conform to Mr. Bhardwaj’s definition of “torture”, but it does seem to satisfy the Supreme Court of India.

3)      Mr. Bhardwaj then seeks to discredit the Kolkata hospital’s report further by suggesting that even the Supreme Court entertains doubts about the accuracy of this report, and hence has ordered Soni Sori’s re-examination at AIIMS.  Again, if he had only bothered to read the Supreme Court order of 2nd May 2012, publicly available on its website, he would have easily learned that the examination and treatment at AIIMS was ordered by the apex court to provide Soni Sori with medical treatment that was deliberately being withheld from her by the Chhattisgarh authorities.  It was not at all to “re-examine” the torture evidence.  In any case, what medical evidence of torture does AB imagine would still be present in the body eight months after the incident?!   The problems of abnormal vaginal discharge and other associatedgynecological, urological problems, raised by a private practitioner whom AB has talked to, which AB insinuates in his article as being mysteriously absent, have all been painstakingly documented before the Supreme Court, if only Mr. Bhardwaj had bothered to acquaint himself with the documents of this case. In fact, it was on the basis of these that urgent medical treatment was being repeatedly requested by Ms. Soni’s counsel in three different interim applications to the Supreme Court, and it is this prayer of Ms. Sori’s counsel which the Supreme Court answered in its May 2nd order.

4)      What is perhaps most distasteful in the report is the zeal with which AB attacks the authenticity of Soni’s letters from prison.  Again, he has no tangible argument to show any kind of discrepancy, and indeed, even the State of Chhattisgarh has not challenged the authenticity of these letters filed before the Supreme Court.  When AB confronts Soni herself with these letters, she also affirms that she isindeed sending them from prison.  Undeterred, AB tells the reader that he is unable confirm that these letters are indeed in Soni Sori’s handwriting, and he cannot find how they are being sent from prison. One wonders whether this has more to do with Mr. Bhardwaj’s competence as an investigative journalist, rather than the authenticity of letters. For instance, did he try to get a handwriting sample of Soni tocompare the various letters? Did he know that on 5/10/2011, the day after being arrested in Delhi, Soni Sori had submitted IN PERSON a handwritten letter to the Saket Courts, which is now an integral part of the court record and a public document, which can be easily used for the purpose of comparing handwritings? If AB had only bothered to do some primary research, maybe his investigative abilities would have improved dramatically.  Further, it is unclear why he expects either Soni or anyone else to give him specific information about how the letters are being sent to Delhi.  Does he not know what happened to Dr. Binayak Sen charged with similar allegations of carrying letters for an alleged Naxalite?

Questionable Ethics of this “Journalism of Courage”

It has been brought to our notice that in his zeal to find out how these letters are being sent from the prison, AB accosted her young children and badgered them to find out whether they could recognize Soni’s handwriting in the letters, whether Soni was passing off the letters to them when they visited her, and whether they knew how she was sending these letters to Delhi.  AB never once approached either Soni’s lawyers in Delhi, or any of the doctors who examined her, or the women’s rights and civil liberties activists, who he insinuates are “using her” (to what ends and purpose only he can shed light on). Instead, he tried to obtain sensitive information out of children, clearly violating all ethical boundaries of “investigative journalism”. Considering that the youngest of Soni’s children is only 6 years old, we strongly protest at thishighly questionable and rather “courageous” way of trying to elicit information from children about their mother.

It is common knowledge that most instances of custodial torture, especially sexual torture, go unpunished and unrecorded simply because it is nearly impossible to establish the claims. This is what makes it all the more shameful for The Sunday Express to go out of its way to discredit the one solitary instance of brutal torture that has actually been corroborated by hard, incontrovertible medical evidence – by employing the dubious techniques of innuendos and mis-statement of facts.  By questioning the sexual torture claims, this report ends up giving credence to the similar line of arguments of the State.   Is it really that difficult for IE’s editors and journalists to understand why an imprisoned adivasi woman, from a conflict-ridden region, whose husband and nephew are also imprisoned by the police, and who has herself been threatened with even more dire consequences to her family, may take a few days to overcome her fear and the trauma of her brutal sexual torture, and only then be able to talk of the gory details?

(Ir)Responsible Journalism?

While appalling factual inaccuracies and selective presenting of pieces information does great damage to the reporter’s credibility, what is perhaps most worrisome and reprehensible in this story is the story he chooses to ignore, to not to report on.

AB mentions in an off-hand manner that there is evidence to show that neither Soni, nor her husband (who has been in jail for over two years now) were involved in the attack on Mr. Avadhesh Gautam’s house, in which both of them are charged.  He also reports that even the police admit that the other cases against Soni (eight of them altogether) are all false cases.  But then does not highlight or discuss the grave implications of this explosive piece of information.

He probably knows that the FIR lodged by Mr. Avadhesh Gautam after the attack on his house, in which he named Soni and her husband, also named 65 other adivasis of the local villages. As in the case of Soni and her husband, it is open knowledge in the villages that the other 65 names are also figments of someone’s overactive imagination.  Yet dozens of them continue to be in jail even today, as their trial drags on endlessly and they are unable to obtain bail.  But somehow, AB, in possession of all these facts, could not be bothered less in reporting on this epidemic of coerced criminality that seems to be sweeping across the adivasi belt.

AB also fails to inform the readers that in this case, the reason why so many adivasis are languishing in jail in an admittedly fabricated case is that for over a year Mr. Avadhesh Gautam, the main complainant, hasnot answered his summons to appear in court to give testimony.  For over a year, the court has been making (half-hearted) attempts to get him to come so that the trial can proceed. But for over a year, the deliverer of summons simply cannot find Avadhesh Gautam in the village. But Avadhesh Gautam is not in hiding– he lives in his house, attends to his business, everyone in the village knows his whereabouts, and even AB had no problem nailing him down for this story.  Only the court cannot seem to find him to deliver summons to him.

But this does not seem to bother Mr. Bhardwaj.  In his enthusiasm to get Mr. Gautam’s opinion on Ms. Sori’s character, he conveniently lays aside the *real* story–that so many adivasis continue to languish in jail for over two years simply because Mr Gautam cannot take the trouble to appear in the court to give his testimony, What makes Mr. Avadhesh Gautam, who has admittedly falsely implicated Soni and her family in a criminal case, the ideal person to provide insights into Ms. Soni’s condition escapes us. But what is even more distressing is that AB does not find it worthwhile to investigate why a whole generation of adivasis is being put behind bars on the basis of such false cases, why it is taking years and their entire family’s savings to get them out.  Instead, his way of “responsible journalism” leads him to cast aspersions and doubts on the custodial torture of one woman, who has dared to question this dismal state of affairs in a constitutional democracy, and on the concerns being raised by democratic rights activists.

 

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is a non-funded effort started in November 2009, to put an end to the violence perpetrated upon our bodies and societies. We are a nationwide network of women from diverse political and social movements comprising of women’s organizations, mass organizations, civil liberty organizations, student and youth organizations, mass movements and individuals. We unequivocally condemn state repression and sexual violence on women by any perpetrator (s)

 

 

Resist the silent emergency! Call for Action on June 26th 2012


Dear friends,

On June 26,1975, Emergency was declared in India, robbing citizens of their basic democratic rights and ushering in a dark period of rampant human rights violations all over the country. Arrests of Indian citizens without charge or notification of families, abuse and torture of detainees, media censorship and use of public and private media institutions for government propaganda, forced sterilization of the minorities, destruction of slums and low income housing areas and authoritarianism were its main characteristics. All dissent was crushed. While the engineering student Rajan was tortured and killed in the Kakkayam torture camp, many others who were tortured are still alive to tell their tales.

The nightmare of Emergency was over in 1977 when it was lifted due to large scale public protest. Political parties, institutions and individuals who defended Emergency were discredited. The sigh of relief evoked a hope for a functioning democracy in India.

But today, we are entering into a similar phase of governance without any formal declaration of Emergency. This Silent Emergency has regulated, controlled and restricted all space for democratic public protests against ruling governments. Custodial deaths and encounter killings have become a routine phenomenon. Rape, murder, loot, torture and arrests in Manipur, Nagaland and other north eastern states as well as Kashmir have even crossed the excesses of the Emergency period. Many discriminatory laws have been enacted to silence the Media without a censorship. Several discriminatory laws were enacted to enhance and strengthen the power of the State over civil society and crush dissent. State terrorism today is beyond the imagination those who were responsible for the declaration of Emergency in the seventies.

Laws to facilitate the corporate control and loot over the resources of people are being enacted. This has also become a major reason for the human rights violations against adivasis, dalits, minorities, farmers, fisher people, workers, activists and human rights movements. While the mainstream media is compelled to ignore most of the people’s movements,for reasons of commerce those who work on human rights of the people are being victimized. The human rights defenders who take up burning issues of the people are being targeted. False cases are being fabricated against activists, people’s movements, media, theatre activists, minorities, self determination movements, dalits and adivasis in a major way. Thus thousands of innocent people are languishing in Indian jails without any trial.

Human rights lovers of this country and abroad came out on streets to campaign for the release Dr. Binayak Sen in recent times. However, hundreds of innocent adivasis are still suffering in the jails in Chhattisgarh. While the anti-POSCO movement leader Abhay Sahoo was released on bail recently, he is still being tied up with 51 fabricated cases. The villagers and activists resisting the South Korean multinational giant POSCO are facing over 1500 false cases and many of them cannot move out of their villages even to go to hospital due to this. They are jailed inside their own villages. While the leader of the anti-nuclear movement in Koodamkulam is facing over 200 fabricated cases, similar charges have also been instigated against over 6000 villagers. Muslim spiritual leader Abdul Nasser Maudany who supported the struggles of adivasis and dalits in Kerala was imprisoned in Coimbatore jail with fabricated charges for nine and a half years without trial and declared innocent and released later. However, he is imprisoned again with fabricated charges and he is suffering in jail in Bangalore today without proper medical care for his health problems. Maudany is becoming blind today. He has lost vision in one eye and the second eye is also affected. Writer and human rights activist Seema Azad is also behind bars today facing fabricated charges along with her husband. Seema Azad is the organizational secretary of PUCL in Uttar Pradesh. Journalist Syed Mohammed Ahmed Kazmi, journalist K.K. Shahina, adivasi activist Soni Sori, farmers’ movement leader Dr. Sunilam, Mumbai based activist Arun Ferreira, Activists protested against Nonadanga slum evictions in West bengal ,  advocate Shahnavas, dalit group in Kerala DHRM, Mumbai based theatre group Kabir Kala Manch, adivasi activist CK. Janu and her supporters and thousands of others have become victims of fabrication by the State in the recent past. This trend is not acceptable to any citizen who believes in democracy and human rights.

Therefore we appeal to all lovers of democracy and human rights to remember the trauma of this country through a declared Emergency during the 70s and express their strong protest against the emerging `Silent Emergency’ in India today. We appeal all citizens to:

  1. Organize protests against this Silent Emergency on June 26, 2012. If it is not possible on this day, please do it on a convenient day in your area.
  2. Organise public meetings remembering Emergency of the Seventies and against today’s Silent Emergency.
  3. Express your skills of writing, songs, posters, paintings, internet action, theatre or any other creative means of expressing your dissent.
  4. Organise film screenings of festivals to express concerns.
  5. Inform http://www.fabricated.in about your involvement (write to editor at fabricated.in)

We do hope that such collective action will generate some space for saving the remnants of democracy in this country.

Thanking you,

Fabricated.in team

Imprisoned for speaking out in India – with Dr Binayak Sen


11 June 2012, 5:27 pm

What: Public meeting with famous Indian Doctor, activist and former political prisoner, Dr Binayak Sen, recipient of the Jonathan Mann award (2008) for Global Health and Human Rights.
Who: Dr Binayak Sen, Dr Ilina Sen (social worker and activist), Shabnum Mustapha (Director, Amnesty Scotland)
Where: Meeting Room 6, Crystal McMillan Building, 15 George Square, University of Edinburgh
When: Thursday 14 June, 4.00 – 6.00pm

As part of Dr Binayak Sen’s visit to the UK to receive the Gandhi Foundation International peace award, Dr Sen and his fellow panel members, will be discussing miscarriages of justice in India, his activism and how his attempts to speak out on behalf of the poor led to his conviction on trumped up charges.

Dr Sen is an internationally acclaimed public health professional who has worked for over three decades with poor, indigenous and other marginalised people on issues of basic livelihood, health services and social justice in Chhattisgarh, one of the poorest states in India. As an outspoken defender of the marginalised and dispossessed indigenous people of India, Dr Sen has been a fearless critic of the inequitable policies and unconstitutional police and paramilitary action against the poor and displaced.

As a result of his activism, Dr Sen was accused of supporting the Maoist movement and was arrested under draconian ‘anti-terror’ laws. Dr Sen was imprisoned without bail for two years whilst awaiting trial. A local court in Chhattisgarh went on to convict and sentence Dr Sen to life imprisonment on the charge of ‘Sedition’. Dr Sen was eventually granted bail by the Supreme Court of India in April, last year.

Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience and led a high profile campaign for Dr Sen, which included the support of 44 Nobel Laureates. A motion in support of Binayak Sen was tabled and passed in the Scottish Parliament by Shirley-Anne Somerville MSP.

The event on Thursday will hosted by the Centre for South Asian Studies and Global Public Health Unit (University of Edinburgh) and will be supported by Amnesty International Scotland, Scottish Action for the release of Binayak Sen, and Scotland Against Criminalising Communities.

We encourage as many people as possible to attend the event, as it will be a unique opportunity to see and hear from Dr. Binayak in person and hear first hand his opinions and experiences.

For further details, please email Anuj Kapilashrami at anuj.kapilashrami@gmail.com

Petition protesting Nonadanga evictions and arrest of activists


To

Mamata Banerjee,
Chief Minister,
Government of West Bengal,
Writers Building,
Kolkata,
India-700 001

We are deeply concerned by your government’s arrest of seven democratic rights activists and its earlier detention of residents of the Nonadanga slum on April 8, 2012 at Ruby junction. These activists were engaged in a peaceful sit-in demonstration attended by a broad spectrum of left organisations and individuals of good conscience, demanding rehabilitation of hundreds of residents evicted from the Nonadanga slum of Kolkata on March 30, 2012. The peaceful character of their protest is a matter of public record, documented by various media reports. Accordingly, we are shocked and dismayed at the response of your police forces to these democratic protests.

In this matter, the actions of your police forces have been systematically repressive and appear to be progressively sinister while sending a very dangerous and anti-democratic signal. On April 4th, your police lathi-charged a peaceful rally and beat a pregnant woman in her third trimester. Your police forces proceeded, on April 8th, to attack a peaceful sit-in demonstration and arrest 69 people, victimising children under the age of ten. Seven activists were kept in custody by slapping non-bailable charges, i.e., Debolina Chakroborty, Samik Chakrobarty, Manas Chatterjee, Debjani Ghosh, Siddhartha Gupta, Partho Sarathi Ray, and Abhijnan Sarkar. Yet this was not enough. On April 9th, your police attacked yet another peaceful rally of the anti-eviction movement in Kolkata and arrested more than 50 participants.

In addition, your advocates insisted on pressing quite incredible charges against the seven detained activists. State counsel has essentially argued that any peaceful democratic dissent constitutes a conspiracy to hatch a subversive plot against the government. Furthermore, this argument revealed the aim of the State to interrogate those remanded in order to recover “information” about “possible stockpiling of arms and explosives”. This daft and tired accusation is patently a euphemism serving to disguise the government’s aim to torture the detainees. We are quite apprehensive of false evidences being foisted and concerned with this attempt by your government to throttle democratic dissent and protest in such a sinister manner.

This turn of events reminds us of the infamous case of Dr Binayak Sen and various attempts by police and security personnel to manufacture false cases against intellectuals and activists in order to harass, malign and silence them. We demand in the strongest possible terms the immediate release of the seven democratic rights activists and immediate annulment of this bizarre set of charges. Furthermore, we demand that all the evicted persons from the Nonadanga colony be suitably rehabilitated and proper compensation be arranged for them. We also demand that you prosecute police personnel responsible for the brutal lathicharge on women and minors on April 4th. Instead of addressing the genuine grievances of the urban poor, who have been mercilessly evicted from their homes, your government has cracked down on conscientious intellectuals and activists who stood by the people. This is rather shameful behaviour for a purportedly pro-poor government. The Trinamool Congress promised “Pariborton” to the citizens of West Bengal. But the more things change, the more they stay the same. Let it deliver or go the way of its predecessor.

Please refer to the following reports from the Times of India for a chronology of these events.

5 April 2012 : Lathicharge on protesters, including a pregnant woman and and infant;
6 April 2012 : Firhad Hakim, West Bengal Urban Development Minister, asks for the list of evictees in Nonadanga;
9 April 2012 : A peaceful protest meeting and demonstration at Ruby junction is broken up by the police, and demonstrators arrested; 7 activists are detained;
10 April 2012 : Arrest of people in College Square demonstration against Nonadanga eviction, persons detained earlier remanded to further custody, intellectuals come out against police brutality and arrest.

Yours sincerely,

PLEASE SIGN ONLINE PETITION HERE

 

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