JU students take out first ever street protest in Kolkata to free Soni Sori


Piyush Guha, who was also arrested on charges of sedition and released in 2011, says that the government wants the people on the periphery not to speak, not to think
Ajachi Chakrabarti

Ajachi Chakrabarti

December 13, 2012, TEHELKA

Jadavpur University students take out a protest march to free Soni Sori in Kolkata. Photo: Shankar Sarkar

The campaign to free Soni Sori broke new ground on Wednesday 12 December, with the first street protest for her immediate release being organised at Jadavpur University in Kolkata. It was a small beginning, with fewer than 200 college students and a handful of civil society activists carrying out a march; a turnout blamed by organisers on college exams. “This is only the beginning,” said Madhushree Das, one of the organisers, “and we will continue the protest and plan something big for January, when the students are back on campuses.”

One man, however, was not in the least disheartened with the turnout. Piyush Guha was a tendu leaf businessman in Chhattisgarh with little involvement in politics, when he was arrested along with Binayak Sen and Narayan Sanyal in 2007, and charged with sedition in what became the biggest political trial in recent memory. Jailed in the same Raipur Central Jail where Sori continues to be lodged, Guha was released in 2011 after the Supreme Court granted him bail. “I never imagined so many youths would come to support Soni Sori,” he says of the low turnout. “If there’s anything this era has taught us, it’s that we are on our own. But there is a potential in this crowd for a bigger campaign. Our generation of political leaders either never did anything for us or failed in the attempt, but the young men and women who came today to support a woman they do not know show that there is still humanity in the next generation.”

There are parallels between Guha’s and Sori’s incarcerations. Neither was considered a Maoist by the state establishment, yet both were arrested; a sign that the State is expanding its campaign to silence even the voices on the periphery of the conflict, anyone it considers collaborators or sympathisers, he says. “The government wants the people on the periphery not to speak, not to think.” The parallels breed empathy —reason Guha was at Jadavpur for the rally. “When I was in solitary confinement, my biggest fear was that the people had forgotten us,” he says. “Hearing about the nationwide campaign for our release gave us succour, and the initiation of this campaign will give her hope.”

Guha recounts the horrors of the jail hospital, which denied Sori medical aid as her health deteriorated and proceeded to give her a clean bill of health. “You get nothing in the jail hospital,” he says. “Even though there are nominally three doctors responsible for it, it is actually run by a compounder. No inmate ever gets treatment there. People are afraid to go there, as even minor ailments can become fatal. We saw countless people dying from lack of treatment in front of our eyes. I remember one inmate who committed suicide because he was being denied treatment even when the Raipur Medical College is just across the road.”

The survivor: Piyush Guha

Medical care is available, he says, but at a price. “If you can pay Rs 100, you’ll get an injection. Cough medicine comes for Rs 50. If you can pay Rs 500, you can even be treated at the medical college. Of course, if you are branded a Maoist, you can forget about that.” The entire prison, he says, runs on bribes, with career criminals scouring the local newspapers for news of wealthier people being arrested. “There are a lot of simple village youths in custody on false charges of being Maoists,” he says. “They cannot afford to get even the basic necessities in jail.”

Even release from prison has not been kind to Guha. Prison meant the end of his tendu business, as his partners were unable to sustain it in Chhattisgarh after his arrest. “Economically speaking, I only have my loans,” he says. “Even if my creditors don’t pressure me to return their money, I know it’s at the back of their minds. I’m starting not from zero, but from minus [sic].” He lost both his parents in the course of his arrest, famously not being allowed to attend their last rites, even by the Supreme Court. “The police repeatedly raided my house after my arrest,” he says, “and my wife and parents had to move house three or four times. Eventually, my parents decided to move back to their village, as the police hounding had made living in Kolkata an unsustainable proposition. It was impossible to continue my father’s treatment in the village, and he died of a cardiac arrest two years later.”

Guha, however, insists he has no regrets. “I understand that I faced some personal losses,” he says. “And I do regret those, sometimes. But jail gave me time to think. My years in prison have strengthened my conviction to stand up against injustice. I cannot forget all those unknown people who helped me. I have to stand up for all those other people I don’t know. It is my social obligation.”

I ask him whether he intends to become a full-time activist. “First I need to survive,” he says.

 

ATTN -Call 09266802178 to demand repeal of Sedition Law


Support the campaign of People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) to repeal the draconian SEDITION LAW created by the British to stifle India’s freedom movement.

Today, the law is used in democratic India by the government to suppress criticism and crush dissent in violation of our Fundamental Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression, including the Right to Dissent.

We need your support to spread the campaign, so please urge everyone you know to call 09266802178 and pledge their support in demanding the repeal of this anti-democratic law.

 

#India# Jharkhand # Tribalrights – Dayamani Barla:Gagged Again!


Gagged again!

Minutes after getting bail, tribal activist Dayamani Barla returns to life behind bars. Soumik Mukherjee reports

DAYAMANI BARLA, who was arrested earlier last week (State Ploy to Silence a Dissenting Voice?, 27 October), was rearrested in connection with the same case by the Jharkhand Police minutes after she was granted a judicial bail by a local court on 19 October. Barla’s arrest proves how a dissenting voice is shown little regard by the system, and how a state meant for tribals is safeguarding the interests of all, but tribals.

The police was acting on a separate FIR filed against Barla in 2006 in connection with the case that saw her arrest last week. Both the FIRs were filed after she led a protest outside a Block Development Officer’s office in Ranchi, demanding fair distribution of MGNREGS job cards. Interestingly, while the first FIR mentioned her name, the second FIR, on the basis of which she was rearrested, does not mention it; she was included under the ‘Others’ list.

In January, police questioned Barla for alleged Maoist links after she attended a conference in Ranchi where Binayak Sen and Telugu poet Varavara Rao had demanded the release of political activist Jiten Marandi. Barla’s colleagues term the latest arrest as “a shameless act” by the state authorities. Ranchi SSP Saket Kumar Singh refused to comment on the matter, saying: “Write whatever you want to. What difference will it make anyway?”

Barla has been at the forefront of land rights agitation in Jharkhand and one of the principal voices against State-sponsored atrocities against tribals. It is largely thanks to her efforts that steel companies such as Arcelor-Mittal were forced to stop acquiring large swathes of tribal forestland in Jharkhand.

Since land in Jharkhand is protected under the Chotanagpur Tenancy Act, 1908 and as most areas in the state come under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution, farmland cannot be used for industrial purposes. But the government has been giving out farmland for industrial and urbanisation projects. Barla has ceaselessly stood up against these projects, constantly drawing the government’s ire.

At TEHELKA’s THiNK fest last year, Barla had drawn attention to the plight of the farmers and tribals in Jharkhand. Ironic that within a year of her rousing speech that was greeted with a standing ovation, this crusader finds herself all alone in her fight against the State’s excesses.

Soumik Mukherjee is a Correspondent with Tehelka.
soumik@tehelka.com

 

#India-That Seditious Mango Man #draconianlaws #mustread


 

 | 19 OCTOBER 2012  | , By Gautam Patel at http://www.prisonerofagenda.com/

The sedition law in India is outdated, ineffective and abused; it needs to go, and citing the ‘Maoist/Naxalite problem’ is no answer.

FDI in Retail :: Wal-Mart this

Government, government about to fall

Who’s the most seditious of us all?

A few weeks ago, a young cartoonist, Aseem Trivedi, was arrested on grounds of ‘sedition’. He was later granted bail by the Bombay High Court and, in short order, became the focal point of protests against the sedition law. Section 124-A of the Indian Penal Code, it was said, is a relic of the British Raj, ‘outdated’ and has no place in modern society. Some pointed out that few countries today have such a law, and no comparable democracy does. It was abolished in England some years ago, and in the USA has been much diluted by courts.

The Curious Case of Binayak Sen by Dilip D'Souza

Trivedi isn’t the only one to have faced this law. Dr Binayak Sen was actually convicted under it, and as my friend Dilip D’Souza points out in his new book, The Curious Case of Binayak Sen, that judgement is wholly incorrect. The book isn’t a biography of Dr Sen, or even a legal polemic about the decision — it doesn’t claim to be either. What it does, and does with brilliant concision and accuracy, is demonstrate how hollow the case against Sen was.

The charge of sedition was central to Dr Sen’s case. He was accused of being a Maoist, and the evidence for this was, chiefly, that he carried three letters from a person in jail to persons outside — a charge of sedition based on, as D’Souza says, “being a glorified postman”.1 The case against Trivedi is that his cartoons — which are scathing but not terribly funny, and, despite the government’s silly attempt to block and ban are still available on the Internet — criticise, mock and deride the government. In both cases, the accusations are of having acted against the government and this is equated with the “state”. In neither case was there any evidence of incitement to violence. Were Anna Hazare and the India Against Corruption movement not “exciting disaffection” towards “the government”? D’Souza asks. Alarmingly, he then emphasizes his point by quoting from one of my articles of July 2011, and then says this:

“This writer certainly sounds contemptuous of his lawfully established government: it is in fact how he wants to sound. He wants to ‘excite disaffection towards the government’. So has this writer committed sedition? Can he be charged with it?”

I certainly hope not.

And this is the heart of the problem. The ‘government’ is not the ‘state’; the government is the party that is presently voted into power and which runs the administration. The state is the nation, and the concepts of statehood, nationality and national identity cannot be conflated with the government. Governments come and go, though some stick on like limpets when they ought to have gone a long time ago. The state remains, and endures; and the state endures not because of any particular government, but despite it. The preamble to our Constitution opens with the words, “We, the people of India”, not “We, the people presently governed by [insert name of political party]”. And sedition is in the section of the Penal Code that deals with offences against the State; it is no offence to criticize a political party or an administration.

Section 124-A does not make this distinction explicitly. It says:

“Whoever, by words, either spoken or written, or by signs, or by visible representation, or otherwise, brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in India …”

The crucial parts here, of course, are the phrase “the government by law established” and the words hatredcontempt, and disaffection. Does the phrase refer to the party in administration, or does it refer to the nation and the state? Do the words include mere criticism as well? If it refers to a particular party or this or that government, and every form of criticism, then we have a very real problem, because most of us would then be in jail for a very long time. The most critical problem is that read literally the section runs into a head-on collision with Articles 19(1)(a) and 19(2) of the Constitution which deal with freedom of speech. Article 19(2) places limits on the right of free speech; but it does not use the word sedition. If the right to free speech cannot be curtailed on the ground that it is seditious, then making it an offence violates the right to free speech.

The conflict between the section and the constitutional guarantee of free speech was resolved by a five-judge bench of the Supreme Court in 1962 in Kedar Nath Singh v State of Bihar, in which the constitutionality of S.124-A was challenged.2 Written with exceptional clarity, the Supreme Court judgement traces the long and convoluted history of the law, and the constitutional provisions in relation to free speech. There are many previous cases of relevance to both aspects: the trial of Tilak for instance, and the cases involving free speech. The Court saw that if mere criticism of administration constituted an offence, then the section was clearly unconstitutional. It analysed the three ‘explanations’ that appear below the section, and held that to resolve the conflict, the sedition law must be read to mean that mere criticism, however strongly worded, of administrative or other actions of the Government do not constitute sedition unless they incite violence against the state; and that a “Government established by law” is not the same as the administration. Therefore, to constitute an offence, the words must go beyond mere criticism of a particular party in power; they must attack the state and they must also incite or advocate violence. That, the court said, is the only way to balance both the section and the constitutional guarantee of free speech.

This is not the arcane stuff of law courts. This is a very real and material distinction, one that is vital to the protection of one of our fundamental freedoms. It is also one overlooked by the trial court’s judgement in Binayak Sen’s case and the authorities who arrested Trivedi. Their literal readings mean that everyone, from Arvind Kejriwal to the leader of the Opposition in Parliament and, indeed, the gentleman on television every night, Mr Arnab Goswami, are potentially guilty of ‘sedition’. Many of us are outraged by the antics of our political masters. Yet, we continue to believe in our state, and we do so despite its current administration, not because of it.

Five decades after the Supreme Court decision in Kedar Nath, it is time for Section 124-A to go? In 2010, when England abolished its law on sedition, the Justice Minister said that:

“Sedition and seditious and defamatory libel are arcane offences from a bygone era when freedom of expression wasn’t seen as the right it is today. Freedom of speech is now seen as the touchstone of democracy, and the ability of individuals to criticise the state is crucial to maintaining freedom. The existence of these obsolete offences in this country had been used by other countries as justification for the retention of similar laws which have been actively used to suppress political dissent and restrict press freedom.”

That is as true of India today as it was in England then. Even our own politicians,from Nehru in 1951 to Veerappa Moily in 2011, have said it has no place in our legal polity. You may or may not agree with Arundhati Roy’s views on Kashmir, but to respond by charging her with sedition is worse than an act of cowardice; unfortunately, stupidity is not a punishable offence.

But India also has this peculiar problem of armed insurgencies in vast areas within its borders, what we call the “Naxalite problem”. Whatever its causes and roots, it is an armed insurrection, and it is not directed at a particular administration, but every administration that functions in the name of India. It is undoubtedly subversive of an established order and incites rebellion. But the problem is far too complex, and the retention of the sedition law has not in any way solved it. It has only been misused in the very manner that England’s justice minister spoke of.

Take out the sedition law; is there not still sufficient strength in the law to punish those guilty of murder and armed attacks, whatever the colour of their political beliefs? Why should we continue to risk these assaults on our constitutional freedoms, risks that are not hypothetical, but are very, very real?

The Kedar Nath judgement quotes from Near v Minnesota, a 1931 US case widely regarded as the first great free press case.3 In the context of free speech and sedition, Near v Minnesota in turn quotes James Madison, the propounder of the First Amendment to the US Constitution, and its Bill of Rights advocating the constitutional guarantees of free speech.

“In every State, probable in the Union, the press has exerted a freedom in canvassing the merits and measures of public men of every description which has not been confined to the strict limits of the common law. On this footing the freedom of the press has stood; on this footing it yet stands. … It has accordingly been decided by the practice of the States, that it is better to leave a few of its noxious branches to their luxuriant growth, than, by pruning them away, to injure the vigour of those yielding the proper fruits. …Had ‘Sedition Acts,’ forbidding every publication that might bring the constituted agents into contempt or disrepute, or that might excite the hatred of the people against the authors of unjust or pernicious measures, been uniformly enforced against the press, might not the United States have been languishing at this day under the infirmities of a sickly Confederation? Might they not, possibly, be miserable colonies, groaning under a foreign yoke?

We so easily forget what we must most remember: Our nation’s Independence too was fought for and won by acts that all constituted sedition.

  1. D’Souza, Dilip; The Curious Case of Binayak Senpg 147 
  2. Kedar Nath Singh v State of Bihar, AIR 1962 SC 955 
  3. Near v Minnesota, 283 US 597 

 

The Iron Lady of Jharkhand: Dayamani Barla


October 19, 2012,  by MAHTAB ALAM, kafila.org

The journalist turned anti-displacement, tribal, woman activist from Jharkhand Dayamani Barla, better known as the Iron lady of Jharkhand amongst people’s movements and activists, or simply as Dayamani Di was granted bail by a local court in Ranchi on Thursday afternoon. She was sent to Jail on Tuesday in fourteen days judicial custody, after she surrendered before the court in a matter of 25 April 2006. Six years ago, she was charged under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), including Section 148 (rioting, armed with deadly weapons), for participating in a protest demonstration, which blocked the road, demanding job cards for rural laborers under the celebrated National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA). She had availed bail at that time from the concerned police station and the matter was almost closed one.

But recently, when the State government and its Police were not feeling comfortable with Dayamani’s anti-Displacement activities at Ranchi’s Nagadi village, they chose to re-open the case. They started sending notices at her rented house and harassing her friends, comrades and relatives. One day, the police reached her house to confiscate her belongings. She somehow managed to escape this situation and decided to surrender before a Court, instead of getting arrested by Police. Notably, she was not alone against whom the case was registered in 2006, the case was registered against 10 named persons other than Dayamani and one thousand unnamed persons, but the police chose to act only against her, for obvious reasons. Interestingly, the rural populaces are still facing difficulties in getting job cards, a legal right of every adult citizenry. “While the government is sending me Jail for no crime, but the demands made in the said protest are yet to be fulfilled,” Damayani made this point before leaving for jail while talking to reporters.

Dayamani Barla, one of the leading anti-Displacement activists of our time is fighting many battles against corporate giants and government alike in various parts of Jharkhand. However, her battle is not limited to the state of Jharkhand alone.  As one of the national Conveners of the National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), along with Medha Patekar and others and as an Executive Committee Member (also former National President) of the India Social Action Forum (INSAF), she is not only part and leader of various people’s movements and campaigns across India but also represents India at International level. For hundreds of activists across India and abroad, she is one of the sources of inspiration, including for this writer. Her courage to fight against injustices at various levels is not only exemplary but simply unmatched. She is a tireless and selfless activist, with strong capabilities and guts take on anyone, including governments. She is totally uncompromising, when it comes to displacement. This is what makes government and corporate afraid of her.

Hence, this not the first time when she is intimidated or harassed but the government is leaving no chance to target her. Early this year, on 14th January, in the evening, a Police Mobile Van of Chutya Thana (Ranchi) landed at her hotel (Dayamani for livelihood and family support, along with her life-partner runs a small hotel, dhaba  at Club Road Ranchi) and started to harass her staff asking about her links with anti-social elements, means Maoist. The Sub-Inspector making the ‘enquiries’ neither had any written permission or an order. The following day, when she met SSP Ranchi, Mr. Saket Kumar at latter’s residence to ask why she was being harassed in this manner, his response was that the allegations were being made on the basis of an complaint and the fact that she participated in the “Free Jiten Marandi Convention”, in which Binayak Sen, Gautam Navlakha Varavara Rao were also present. However, when asked what the crime in that is, the SSP refused to talk.

The recent intimidation and arrest is due to her leading a restless, successful and mostly peaceful (except once when police opened fire on villagers) struggle against the acquisition of fertile land at Nagari, a village situated at few kilometers from the state capital and where government wants to build IIM, IIT and National Law School. Contrary to the propaganda spread by government and its machinery, the protestors do want these institutions to be build but not at the cost of the main source of livelihood of villagers. And they have suggested an alternative as well in neighborhood for the said purpose but the government is adamant. As per modest estimates, at least 500 tribal families and their livelihood will be destroyed, if the land is acquired for said institutions. In January, the state bulldozed farms just around when the winter crops, mostly potatoes and pulses, were to be harvested. Following that, the police filed FIRs against 12 villagers! But even then the struggle is still on. And this is what worrying the government most. The government is desperately trying to crush the movement, by hook or crook.

Here, however, what we must remember that it is not a matter of Dayamani Barla or Jharkhand alone.  Harassment of activists on flimsy pretexts and conviction in fabricated cases has become trend of our times. And this must resisted robustly by human rights activists and organizations everywhere. This I feel strongly also because as I was about to finish this, I am informed that farmer leader and activist friend of ours from Madhya Pradesh is pronounced convicted by a local trail court in a fabricated case and taken in to custody. The actual term of sentence will be announced tomorrow. The case in which he is convicted was essentially a case of Police firing, killing 24 farmers. The time has also come to speak out against the executive mildness of the Courts as well. Something needs to be done urgently.

Are we ready or waiting for our turn?

(Mahtab Alam is a Delhi based civil rights activist and freelance journalist.)

A doctor walks into the heart of darkness


Oct 14, 2012 – Javed Anand, in Asian Age
First, if you’ve not seen it already, go find the recent issue of a national weekly which has “The Silent Killers of Chhattisgarh” as its cover story. It’s not the story that I’m talking about but the picture on the cover for it has many stories to tell.
Stay with the picture for a bit. A young mother, an adivasi woman with a child in her lap, faces the camera. As for the child, except for the bloated belly, you see more bones than flesh. You can easily count the ribs. The child in apparent anguish is bawling. But you get the feeling you may not hear any sound even if this was a video shoot.
If a single picture of a victim of acute undernourishment could be disturbing enough, what are we to do with facts no less disturbing? According to the National Nutrition Monitoring Bureau, we learn from Dilip D’Souza’s The Curious Case of Binayak Sen, more than 60 per cent of scheduled tribes in India have a body mass index (BMI) of less than 18.5. The World Health Organisation (WHO) puts this statistic in perspective: if more than 40 per cent of the population of a community has a BMI of less than 18.5, the community can be considered to be in a condition of famine. In other words, famine and starvation are an everyday reality for the scheduled tribes of our “socialist republic”.
Let’s go back to the picture, give it another look and consider if it’s telling us something about ourselves. Then ask ourselves the question: Should we be proud of India the “Emerging Superpower”, or should we be ashamed of being Indians?
Perhaps years ago Dr Binayak Sen — product of one of the highly prestigious Christian Medical College, Vellore — asked himself some such question and found an answer: Those who are not a part of the solution are a part of the problem. The answer took him and his colleague, Dr Saibal Jana, in 1983 to the Dalli Rajhara mining belt in Madhya Pradesh, now Chhattisgarh, to offer their services to a medical centre set up by workers for workers, Shaheed Hospital.
From the perspective of today’s Mr and Ms Middle Class especially, Dr Sen is an obvious “loser”. As it happens, the ’60s generation of which he is a part produced many losers such as him. Something called “social concern” took the good doctor away from the glitter of the metropolis to the heart of darkness. He was lucky having acquired a professional expertise which was badly needed where he went.
Once there, he should have stuck to the trodden path: prescribing pills and injections, recommending tests after tests, hospitalisation… But his alma mater had taught him to reach out to the person(s) behind the patient, to think of preventive healthcare.
Thus Dr Sen and his colleagues discovered that at the root of the ailments of the patients who came to him was chronic hunger. What pills, what injections can you prescribe for treating “stable famine” malady? Healthcare, he realised, was a human rights issue. Experience was driving Dr Sen towards “dangerous territory”. He began entertaining dangerous thoughts such as “structural violence” against the poor and the hungry, even suggesting that, “this situation fits the definition of genocide: not by guns or machetes or gas chambers, but by creating conditions for communities” (Dilip D’Souza’s words), “in which the survival of (these communities) is at risk” (Dr Sen’s words).
To compound matters, Dr Sen gravitated towards the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) and ended up being elected general secretary of its Chhattisgarh unit. On request, Dr Sen in his dual capacity as a doctor and as PUCL general secretary visits an ailing Maoist leader, Narayan Sanyal, in the Raipur Central Jail, with written permission from the jail authorities.
Ah ha! So this up-to-no-good doctor with dangerous thoughts is mixed up with Maoists? Not just Maoists, the ISI as well! Proof: An email from his impounded computer shows a message addressed to the ISI. The well-known Indian Social Institute (ISI) Delhi! So the dangerous doctor is arrested and charged with sedition: waging war against the Indian state.
Read D’Souza’s book with an open mind and you cannot but conclude that in place of hard evidence all that you find in the voluminous chargesheet against Dr Sen are insinuations and innuendos, apart from falsehoods and mindlessness. Many years ago the Supreme Court was constrained to remark that policemen are like “criminals in uniform”. The remark is most apt for the Chhattisgarh police in the context of Dr Sen’s case. What’s more scandalous, however, is the December 2010 verdict of the trial court that held Dr Sen and two co-accused guilty of sedition (among other charges) and sentenced to life imprisonment. Allow D’Souza to take you through parts of the judgment, hold your breath and decide for yourself.
A January 2011 appeal against the conviction is currently pending before the Chhattisgarh high court. Over-ruling a nay from the high court, the Supreme Court has granted bail to Dr Sen. It’s difficult to see how the trial court’s verdict can stand the scrutiny of the high court and the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile, it is hopefully a matter of some consolation to Dr Sen, his colleagues and family — and us — that their trials and tribulations have charged the demand for the expulsion of the long-outdated sedition charge embedded into the Indian Penal Code by our colonial masters.

 

Press Release- Release Narayan Sanyal


October 11, 2012

Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations, CDRO, condemns the  move by Jharkhand police to prevent Narayan Sanyal from coming out of  jail. Narayan Sanyal is a senior politbureau member of CPI (Maoist) who  was granted bail in all three cases against him. On 8th October, 2012 SP Hazaribagh accompanied by an Inspector arrived at Hazaribagh Central  Jail to search his cell claiming they had information that he was in  possession of a mobile phone inside the jail premises. Subsequently,  they claimed to have discovered a mobile phone and used this excuse to  keep him incarcerated. Narayan Sanyal was arrested in December 2005 by  the Chattisgarh police but he was officially shown as having been  arrested by Andhra Pradesh police. He was then implicated along with  Binayak Sen and Piyush Guha in the notorious fabricated case.

The manner in which police and prosecutor are deliberately preventing CPI(Maoist) leaders from being released on bail—by either re-arresting  them under preventive detention as in Sushil Roy’s case in 2011, and/or  foisting trumped up case as has been done against Narayan Sanyal—clearly makes a mockery of the government claim that we live under Rule of Law. Surely, if a person is granted bail, then it stands to reason that  he/she should be released too. What the latest instance yet again  reveals is how police and agencies work to subvert the criminal justice  system and holds the judiciary in contempt.

While CDRO is moving the NHRC against such blatant violation of  judicial orders we urge all democratic minded people to note this new  trend which is accelerating the process of lawlessness that has come to  characterise the conduct of Indian police and agencies.

Asish Gupta Kranti Chaitanya (Co-ordinators CDRO)

Member Organizations: Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR,  Punjab), Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC), Association  for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal), Bandi Mukti  Committee (West Bengal), Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights  (CPDR, Mumbai), Coordination for Human Rights (COHR, Manipur), Human  Rights Forum (HRF, Andhra), Lokshahi Hak Sangathana (LHS, Maharashtra),  Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS, Assam), Naga Peoples Movement for  Human Rights (NPMHR), Organisation for Protection of Democratic Rights  (OPDR, Andhra), Peoples Committee for Human Rights (PCHR, Jammu and  Kashmir), Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka), Peoples Union for  Civil Liberties (PUCL) Chhattisgarh, PUCL Jharkhand, PUCL Nagpur, PUCL  Rajasthan, ,PUCL Tamilnadu, Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR,  Delhi), Peoples Union for Human Rights (PUHR, Haryana), Assansol Civil  Rights Association (West Bengal).

Sedition law threat to democracy: Binayak Sen


 

By IANS,

Kovalam: Rights activist Binayak Sen Saturday slammed the blanket use of the sedition law by the government on cartoonist Aseem Trivedi and the anti-Kudankulam protesters, warning this tendency was becoming a threat to free speech.

“The government is not applying its mind while applying the sedition law,” Sen, who himself is battling the same charge, told IANS on the sidelines of the 5th Kovalam Literary Fest, which started here Saturday.

“Dissent is necessary. Without dissent there can be no democracy,” he added.

In April 2011, the Supreme Court granted bail to civil rights activist Binayak Sen, who has been sentenced to life imprisonment on charges of sedition and for having links with Naxalites.

According to lawyer and rights activist Vrinda Grover, who was presiding as Sen delivered the 5th K.C. John Memorial Lecture at the event, cases of sedition have been filed against thousands of villagers at a single police station at Kudankulam. According to Grover, this was a record in independent India.

In his lecture, Sen warned on the danger of famine looming over most of India’s most vulnerable sections including Dalits, tribals and minorities. He urged a return to the practices of sustainable agriculture.

Trivedi, an activist of India Against Corruption (IAC) and a Kanpur-based cartoonist, was charged with sedition for drawing cartoons insulting Indian emblems, including the Constitution, during Anna Hazare‘ anti-corruption rally in Mumbai in December 2011. He was arrested Sep 8.

The Bombay High Court had rapped Mumbai police for arresting Trivedi on “frivolous” grounds and added that the action breached his freedom of speech and expression.

In September, Andhra Pradesh police cracked down and arrested hundreds of people protesting against the nuclear power plant being set up by atomic power plant operator NPCIL at Kudankulam in Tamil Nadu.

Villagers have opposed the project for the past one year, fearing for their safety, especially since the nuclear disaster at Fukushima in Japan March 2011.

 

Terror Without a Clue- Peoples Hearing Court #Fabricated


The Indian Police has been methodically harassing those protesting the State’s atrocities by framing false charges against activists and citizens concerned, finds a People’s Hearing Court

Shazia Nigar
New Delhi, Oct 2, 2012

The People’s Hearing on Fabricated Cases, organised by academicians, civil society groups and concerned citizens, was held in the capital on 28 and 29 September. Even though those who deposed before the court came from places as varied as Jammu & Kashmir, Odisha, Jaitapur (Maharashtra) and the Northeast, but their stories were uncannily similar: fabricated cases, harassment and the use of the legal machinery to shrink the democratic space that is enshrined in the Constitution.

Abhay Sahoo, leader of Posco Protirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), from Paradip in Odisha, is a case in point. PPSS has been actively resisting the establishment of an integrated steel plant and a captive port by POSCO, a South Korean company, for the last seven years. The reason behind the sustained struggle is that more than 22,000 people belonging to Paradip will lose their land, livelihood and a sense of identity if the project goes ahead. Despite the peaceful and democratic form of protest employed by the locals, the government has strategically employed every means – democratic and undemocratic – to hand over the land to POSCO.

One of the strategies employed by the government, as Sahoo explains, is, “False cases. It is a weapon in the hands of the state governments to stop popular mass movements that demoralises activists and creates an atmosphere of fear. Almost 10,000 people involved with PPSS have not been able to come out of their villages for the last seven years. Isn’t this a lot more than a silent emergency?”

Implicated in fifty cases, ranging from murder, sexual assault, atrocities against Dalits and wrongful confinement, Sahoo spent fourteen months in jail in 2008-09 and another five months in 2011-12. Sahoo is not alone. There is Manorama, a young woman leader of PPSS implicated in 38 cases, including, bizarrely, charges of rape. Then there is Kamlesh who was implicated in a case that took place while he was still in custody. Besides these, 208 cases have been registered against 1,400 men and women who have dared to exercise their democratic rights. Fear of arrest makes it impossible for people to step out of their villages for basic needs such as medical treatment, education and even daily rations. The police are unable to pick them up from within the villages because of the strong resistance in the form of gheraos.

“Until now, I had been speaking about only others being implicated in fabricated cases,” said Seema Azad, a member of People’s Union of Civil Liberties and a journalist withDastak Ki Nai Awaaz in Lucknow. Today, she needs to defend her own case in a people’s court. She was arrested and spent a year-and-a-half in jail on charges of sedition and being a Maoist.

“Like in most fabricated cases, in my case, too, the place and time of my arrest in the police records are wrong. I was picked up in the morning, but the chargesheet says I was picked up at night. That day, I was carrying books with me, but they weren’t Maoist literature. The police planted these books. It’s not that I don’t read Maoist books, but on that particular day I didn’t have any on me.”

Throwing light on the dubious investigations carried out by the police, she recounted being asked whether she had visited Vishwanath temple. When she responded in the affirmative, the police said it was impossible because Maoists don’t visit temples. Then she was asked if she exercised, and on answering in the negative, she was told, “You must be exercising, as all Maoists do.”

“We should not call ourselves victims, we are the agents of change” said Shahina KK, a journalist and recipient of the Chameli Devi Award. She has been falsely implicated for ‘intimidating’ witnesses in the Muslim political leader Abdul Nasir Madani case. While at TEHELKA, Shahina had written an investigative piece on the fabricated case against Madani. But in an attempt to silence her, she was implicated in one.

Shahina says when she gathered some concrete evidence on how the false case against Madani had been built up, she received a call from the police, asking, “ Madam, everybody here says you are a terrorist. Are you?” Presently out on bail, she has to show up at the Bangalore High Court every month. For how long she might have to do that she doesn’t know, as the chargesheet has not yet been filed.

The others deposing at the hearing on day one were Shauzab Kazmi, son of Urdu journalist Syed Ahmed Kazmi who has been arrested allegedly in the Israeli embassy car blast case, and activists from Koodankulam and Jaitapur.

“Chaman Mein Har Taraf Bikhri Hui Hai Dastan Meri, Khamoshi Guftugu Hai, Be-Zubani Hai Zuban Meri”. Anjum Zamrud Habib from Kashmir described the situation in the valley by borrowing these words from Iqbal. A member of Muslim Women’s Organisation, she shared her experience of having to spend five years in Tihar Jail on being falsely implicated under POTA, and used the platform to talk about the clampdown of the State on anyone daring to stand for their rights in Kashmir. Babloo Loitongbam spoke on the extra-judicial killing of 1,500 people in Manipur; Omar Mukhtar and former MP Sabastian Paul spoke on behalf of Maulana Abdul Maudany.

Emphasising the need for documentation of such cases, Sajeed K, one of the organisers, said, “Until 2008, there did not exist any discourse on how the police was systemically targeting Muslims. It was then that we published a series on fabricated cases in TEHELKA, with relation to SIMI. Of course, the fabrication of the cases is not just against Muslims. Over the years, we have seen how the Indian police has systemically implicated human rights activists and community leaders who are leading campaigns against state terrorism. We need to keep up the pressure.”

The jury, consisting of Justice Rajinder Sachar, Saba Naqvi, Binayak Sen, Ajit Sahi and Ram Puniyani pronounced its verdict in favour of the people questioning the systemic and deliberate attempt to shrink democratic space for any dissent. It stated, “The role of the Indian state in fabricating cases of sedition and terrorism to implicate tens of thousands of innocent citizens across India has been thoroughly exposed in testimony after testimony presented at the People’s Hearing on Fabricated Cases.”

letters@tehelka.com

Jury Recommendations: PEOPLE’S HEARING ON FABRICATED CASES #mustread


 

PEOPLE’S HEARING ON FABRICATED CASES
September 28-29, Constitution Club of India, New Delhi

JURY RECOMMENDATIONS

DSC04362 300x168 Jury Recommendations: PEOPLES HEARING ON FABRICATED CASES

The role of the Indian state in fabricating cases of sedition and terrorism to implicate tens of thousands of innocent citizens across India has been thoroughly exposed in testimony after testimony presented at the People’s Hearing on Fabricated Cases.

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 a whole as being involved in terrorism.

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

It is clear that the nefarious activities of the police and the state in general need to be checked and held accountable for their illegal fabrication of cases.

It is now recommended by the jury of the People’s Hearing 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.

It is recommended that the various civil action groups that are engaged in the human rights campaigns take a lead in preparing such exhaustive documentation.

jury 1 300x225 Jury Recommendations: PEOPLES HEARING ON FABRICATED CASESIt is 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. Also, 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.

It is requested that the 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.

It is 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.

It is recommended that campaigns be launched to seek the repeal of the dubious seditious and terror laws that are grossly misused and abused by security agencies to implicate innocent people in fabricated cases.

It is recommended that the civil action groups for human rights establish a framework for healthcare related protocols that allow for a role of the ICRC and the Indian Red Cross as well as evolve a code of medical neutrality in armed conflict.

It is recommended that a campaign be launched into holding the state to account for the disappearances of individuals as well as the extrajudicial killings in fake encounters. Campaigns also need to build a strong action against custodial deaths.

Justice Rajinder Sachar
Saba Naqui
Dr. Ram Puniyani
Dr. Binayak Sen
Ajit Shahi

 

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