#Chhattisgarh- Centre reverses stand on governor’s powers under Fifth Schedule

Author(s): Jitendra, downtoearth

Assistant solicitor general’s affidavit says the constitutional head of state has no discretionary powers over functioning of Tribes Advisory Council, headed by chief minister

The Centre seems to have reversed its stand on the powers of a governor over administering tribal areas in a state. Earlier, the attorney general of India had given an opinion to the home ministry, in response to a reference, that governors do have discretionary powers, but an assistant solicitor general has said exactly the opposite. Fauzia Mirza has said that the governor has no discretionary powers under the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India in a submission filed in the Chhattisgarh High Court on behalf of the Centre. The Fifth Schedule is rooted in Article 244 (1) and deals with administration and control of Scheduled Areas and Scheduled Tribes.

Mirza filed the submission in February end in connection with an ongoing case that has virtually challenged the Fifth Schedule and validity of the Tribes Advisory Council (TAC).  “The governor has granted powers to the chairpersons as per the rules of TAC,” the assistant solicitor general stated. “It cannot be said that these rules have been formulated to exercise the governor’s discretionary powers. While framing these rules, the power of governor has been exercised as the Constitutional head of the state acting with the aid and advice of the council of ministers and not in his discretion,” the document says.

The statement contradicts the opinion expressed by attorney general G E Vahanvati on April 21, 2010. Vahanvati, in his opinion on the nature of powers of the governor under the Fifth Schedule, had stated that the governor does have discretionary powers and had based his opinion on nine judgements of the Supreme Court and other references.

The division bench of Chief Justice Yatindra Singh and Justice Pritinkar Diwakar granted two weeks to the advocate general to file a reply. The next hearing is on March 12.

Fifth Schedule and its implementation in practice

The public interest petition filed last year in the Chhattisgarh High Court virtually questions the Fifth Schedule. The petition says it was impractical to implement the Fifth Schedule in its present form because of its flawed nature. While it was the root cause of the tribals’ plight, the functioning of TAC is also questionable, it said. According to the petitioner, if governors exercise their near extra-constitutional powers, they would be in direct confrontation with state executive heads.

According to the petition, paragraph 4(2) of the Fifth Schedule stipulates that TAC should hold deliberations in such a manner that the governor refers to them. “In reality, the chief minister, who is also the chairperson of TAC, decides the agenda and seizes sole control over functioning of the body without taking any reference from the governor,” the petition states.

“Governors never exercise their power entrusted in the Fifth Schedule,” says B K Manish, the petitioner who is a tribal rights activist. He cited two recent incidents—Nagari movement of Jharkhand and illegal detention of thousands of tribals in the name of Maoist movement in Chhattisgarh. In Nagari, adivasis approached the governor to annul a project to establish a centre of the Indian Institute of Management by forcible acquisition of fertile land. The governor ignored their demand. In Chhattisgarh, the governor turned a deaf ear to tribals’ appeals to annul the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act.


Tribal woman #Ledha raped by S R P Kalluri, Will the court punish him ? #Vaw #custodialrape

This article appeared in Stree Garjana

During an investigation, we came across the shocking case of a tribal woman who was raped by the Superintend of Police in North Chhatisgarh. This happened after she tried to get her husband to surrender before the police. Her husband, who had come to surrender, was shot in front of her eyes and then she went through this prolonged ordeal of gang rape. Two pertinent questions come to mind? How genuine is the surrender policy for Naxalites? We say that one of the achievements of the women’s movement is to have the law amended regarding custodial rape? But where is the law for the women of the toiling classes? Custodial rape incidents are blatantly on the increase. Should not the women’s movement focus on these issues?_ Eds.




This is the story of a brave tribal woman who is fighting for justice. Her name is Ledha. Perhaps she is the first tribal woman who stood courageously against a cruel, perverted Superintendent of police who raped her. She is fighting the case in Chattisgarh court.

She is from a small village in Sarguja district of Chattisgarh . She was married to Ramesh Nageshia, a tribal who was a member of the Maoist party. Just because she was married to him she was also branded as a Naxalite and was sent to jail on the charges that she was a squad member and participated in a land mine blast killing three CRPF personnel. She was arrested in the name Seema.  She was in jail for one and half years. She had conceived by the time she was arrested. She languished in the jail during pregnancy and due to malnutrition, she gave birth to a weak child. Due to the efforts of her lawyer Mr.Amarnath Pandey she got bail for one month to deliver the child. She was again sent to jail. Finally she was acquitted from the case.

Ledha’s advocate advised her to show the acquittal order at the police station so that the police would not harass her in future. Ledha went and showed the order of acquittal to the police. They pressurized her to make her husband surrender. They even lured her with an offer of money and a job for her husband. As Ledha had a child to look after, she was tempted by the offer. She innocently believed the cops and convinced her husband. She told him that even if something goes wrong, at the most he may have to serve imprisonment, but nothing worse than that would happen. She dreamt of having a nice future with her husband and the child.

The S.P of Sarguja District, S.R.P.Kalluri arranged for the surrender on May 28th 2006. As per his plans, the police force from Shankergarh, led by Mr. Kalluri himself, started off on the task. An additional force joined them in Kusmi. Ledha accompanied them. They got down from the vehicles in Kasmaar and went up to Civildagh village on foot. Ramesh Nageshia, Ledha’s husband was already waiting there. The police beat him up black and blue immediately on reaching near him. Then S.P. Kalluri asked both of them to sit in the Gram Panchayat secretary’s house. They both sat there talking. Assistant Platoon Commander Brijesh Tiwari of the Special Armed Forces came into the house. Suddenly he shot Ramesh at point blank range. A shocked Ledha screamed in terror. But Ramesh died on the spot. She was brought to S.P Kalluri. He ordered them to kill her also. But somebody said that after all she was a woman, so why kill her? Everybody laughed at this. She was taken to Shankergarh Police station and let off from there after thoroughly terrorizing her of dire consequences if she revealed what had happened in front of her eyes. A very usual story appeared in the daily news papers that there was an encounter in Shankergarh Police Station limits and a Naxalite had been killed.

She went back to her relatives’ place and did not dare to come out for some days. On 30th September 2006, when she went back to her village she came to know that the police were searching for her. She was picked up by them on Dusserah. After taking her to the police station they asked her to remove her clothes. When she refused to do so her parents were also brought there and they beat her father severely until she obeyed them. S.P Kalluri came and slapped her on her face. Ledha fell on the ground along with her child. When the child was uncontrollably crying, and the old parents begging him to leave her alone, S.P. Kalluri raped her. He went to the extent of such cruelty that he inserted green chillies into to her vagina. She was kept in the lock up and the next day Dheeraj Jaiswal, a notorious S.P.O came to her along with four other constables in a drunken state. They all gang raped her. This went on for ten days. All the time the child who cannot yet walk and talk, due to the trauma, used to fervently cry. Finally she was let off. A torn and shattered Ledha met the lawyer with great difficulty in January 2007. She filed a case against S.P. Kalluri and others in the Chhattisgarh High Court. The case was admitted recently.

A joint fact finding team initiated by CAVOW and PUCL Chattisgarh went on a 3day tour to Sarguja district. When the team met Ledha, who was in hiding (obviously for security reasons) she narrated her story to them. She is a brave woman who is determined to fight. She was feeling very guilty for believing the police and making her husband a victim. The pain was so intense in her eyes when she said “Dhoka Khaliye hum”. (we were betrayed.) She is a tiny lean figure. Her child Ranjita is very weak and traumatized. Whenever somebody touches her mother she becomes shaken and terrorized. She cries uncontrollably. The trauma is clearly visible on her tiny face. Ledha cannot work for her living as she has been fighting against the state and is in constant threat. But she does not want to give up. She says “Agar marna hai tho ladke marenge.” ( If death is for sure, let me fight and die.) When one of us asked what punishment should the culprits get? She said with out hesitating “mauth ki sajaa, aur kya?” (Ofcourse, death punishment. What else?)

It is not for the first time that the state is using rape as a weapon on women to “control” or suppress movements. But it is not every time that the victims can fight the state. It is not only because Ledha is brave. Such braveness is definitely required but it is due to the peoples’ movements and the support which Ledha is getting in her struggle that prompted her to fight. Ledha in any case is fighting. It is now the duty of all democratic minded people and the organizations to extend their strong support to Ledha. Let us realize that it is a fight Ledha can not do alone.






JAN 26,2013





While, we women groups are still fighting for more than a year to strip S P  Ankit garg, of gallantry award given to him on Jan 26,2012,  as no one heard including NHRC, NCW, we started again the  pettion online to  President of India  with more than 500 signatures http://petitions.halabol.com/2013/01/21/take-back-president%E2%80%99s-police-medal-gallantry-awarded-ankit-garg. Here comes the news,  S R P Kalluri , INSPECTOR GENERAL OF POLICE, RAIPUR,CHHATTISGARH  , another rapist cop, whose reputation surpases that of S P Ankit Garg has been decorated with a gallantry award  for Jan 26, 2013, the 64th Republic day of India.

In  July 2012, Kalluri named one Lingaram Kopodi as the mastermind of a Maoist attack. Kopodi turned out to be a journalism student in Noida Kalluri’s tenure in Dantewada has coincided with a string of horror stories. In  February 2011, Kalmu, an 18-year-old insurance agent with Bajaj Allianz, was picked up, beaten, locked up for 21 days and accused of being the mastermind of the killing in the murga bazaar kaand. The “kaand” is how villagers around Sukma remember the events of January 24, when Ismail Khan, the leader of a group of SPOs, was shot dead.All hell broke loose after the killing. “The SPOs began to indiscriminately round up and beat the adivasis. The entire market downed shutters and rushed home.

This notorious police officer  has been  intimidating and torturing innocent tribals and ultimately pushing them to the fold of the Maoists.
S.R.P. Kalluri,  has been implicated in Custodial rape of Ledha Bai and murder of her husband, Police beatings in Ambikapur,  Lathicharge of Rozgar Adhikar Yatra (March for Right to Employment), custodial torture, fake encounters and Intimidation of Lawyers. Kalluri has been promoted regularly , promptly , now he has been given Presiendents Gallantry  Award, for these meritious services ? Mr President ??




 S R P KALLURI AND custodial death and rape of tribal woman in Sarguja dist of Chattisgarh

The incident: Ledha a tribal woman was married to Ramesh Nageshia, who was a member of a Maoist party. Some time back she was arrested on the charge of being a squad member and having participated in a land mine blast that killed three CRPF personnel. After spending one and a half years in jail and having delivered a child in this period, she was finally acquitted from the case.

After the acquittal she was advised by her advocate to show her acquittal order to the police to prevent harassment in future. When she went to the police for this, she was pressurized to make her husband surrender. She was offered money and job if she did that. She was told that her husband at the most would face imprisonment.

The S.P of Sarguja District, S.R.P.Kalluri arranged for the surrender on 28th May 2006. As per his plans, the police force from Shankergarh, led by Mr. Kalluri himself, started off on the task. An additional force joined them in Kusmi. Ledha accompanied them. They got down from the vehicles in Kasmaar and went up to Civildagh village on foot. Ramesh Nageshia was waiting there. The police beat him up black and blue. Then S.P. Kalluri asked both of them to sit in the Gram Panchayat secretary’s house. As the two were sitting there, the Assistant Platoon Commander Brijesh Tiwari of the Special Armed Forces came into the house. He suddenly shot Ramesh at point blank range. Ramesh died on the spot.

Ledha was then brought to S.P Kalluri. He ordered the policemen to kill her also. But someone said why kill her, she was after all a woman. Everyone laughed at this. She was taken to Shankergarh Police station and let off from there after thoroughly terrorizing her of dire consequences if she revealed the killing of her husband outside.

The news papers reported the incident as killing of a naxalite in Shankergarh Police Station limits in an encounter.

Ledha went back to her relatives’ place and did not dare to come out for some days. On going back to her village on 30th September 2006, she came to know that the police were searching for her. She was picked up by the police on Dusserah. In the police station she was asked to remove her clothes. On refusing, her parents were also brought there and her father was severely beaten up. S.P Kalluri came and slapped her on her face. Ledha fell on the ground along with her child; she was then raped by S.P. Kulluri in front of her child who was crying uncontrollably and the old parents begging him to leave her. The SP also inserted green chillies into to her vagina. She was kept in the lock up and the next day Dheeraj Jaiswal, the S.P.O came to her along with four other constables in a drunken state. They all gang raped her. This went on for ten days. All this happened in front of her child. Finally she was let off. Ledha met the lawyer with great difficulty in January 2007. She filed a case against S.P. Kalluri and others in the Chhattisgarh High Court.


They completely stripped me. They stripped me. My child was wailing uncontrollably on the ground. Then Kalluri said, “Take her inside the room, I will interrogate her.” In my nude condition, they took me inside the room in the police station. Then Kalluri raped me inside the police station.  He brought me outside after an hour and got green chillies shoved into my vagina. Before leaving the police station, Kalluritold the policemen to rape me everyday. In the Shankargarh police station, the policemen used to rape me everyday. Dhiraj Jaiswal came with the policemen three times to rape me and once Brijesh Tiwari raped me.

Complaint (Parivaad) C.A. No. 624/09

Witness no. …1… for (panjiyan poorva saakshya) Deposition taken on the …..27-6-07……. day of ……. Witness’s apparent age …..22…… States on affirmation ……………. My name is ……….Mrs. Leda…….wife of Ramesh…… Occupation ….housewife… address …..Village Tarangava, Police Station Shankargarh, Distt. Sarguja Chhattisgarh……..

  1. This happened around one year ago. I am illiterate. I do not know the date. Israel used to come to our village. His mother also belonged to our Oraon tribe. His mother was from our village. Israel loved me and I became pregnant from him. The foetus got aborted after I was beaten in the village. He always promised to marry me in one or two months. Thus I became pregnant again. He got that pregnancy terminated also. When he did not meet for one month, I enquired about him and came to know that he had married a girl from his own tribe.
  1. When I called Israel and talked to him, Israel assured me that in his tribe, one can have a junior wife and a senior wife (chotki-badki) and that he will me after five months. I kept quiet for five months. After five months, I called Israel again. He told me that he would not keep me and I could go wherever I wanted. I returned to my father and told him that Israel would not marry me now. Then I went with my father to Shankargarh police station where Nasar Siddiqui was the thana-in-charge. Israel had already met him because of which Nasar Siddiqui did not register my report and threw us out of the thana. We returned to our home. A boy named Ramesh used to come to our village. He asked my father what Israel had done to his daughter (me). My father told him to inquire from his daughter (me) instead. Later my father arranged my meeting with Ramesh. Ramesh asked me about everything. So I had told Ramesh whatever Israel had said and done. Ramesh told me that he was in touch with the Naxalites and after talking to them, he would get me married to Israel. After this, Ramesh started coming to my home quite often. In the meantime, one day Ramesh asked my father why we were so keen on my marriage with Israel while Ramesh himself was also a tribal and my father should get his daughter (me) married to Ramesh. When Ramesh talked to me about marriage, I agreed to marry him. Then during sarnapuja, Vikram baba of the village got me and Ramesh married.
  2. After the wedding, Ramesh came with us to my parents’ home and stayed there for two-three days. Then he said that he was going in search of some employment and that when he found some work, he would come and take me with him. One month later, Brijesh Tiwari from Shankargarh police station came to our house and asked him to accompany him as sahib had called me to the police station. In the Shankargarh police station, the thana-in-charge Nasar Siddiqui said about me that I was a Naxalite and if I were not sent to jail, then I would surely file a case against Israel.
  3. Thereafter I was sent to jail. At that time, I was pregnant. My child is very weak. After eight months, when my delivery was due, I was granted bail. I delivered my child at home. After my delivery, when I appeared in the court for hearing, I was again sent to jail. After six months, the judgment was delivered in my case and the court acquitted me. When I released from the jail, my lawyer advised me that I should inform the Shankargarh police station about my release. After three days, I went to the Shankargarh police station with my father. When I went there, I met thana-in-charge Sapan Choudhary who asked me if I knew Ramesh. I said yes, he was my husband. He asked me what sort of work he was engaged in. I told him that he said that he worked as a labourer and did some farming also.
  4. Shankargarh thana-in-charge Sapan Choudhary told me that Ramesh was a Naxalite. Before this, I did not know that Ramesh was a Naxalite. Sapan Choudhary advised me that I should make Ramesh surrender before the police and that if he surrendered before them, the police would help him and the government will also give him some money. Otherwise, one day he would come and kill Ramesh in front of me in my house.
  5. After one month, Ramesh came to our home. I asked him if he was a Naxalite. He said yes. I told him that the thana-in-charge had suggested that I should ask him to surrender. If he was made to surrender then the government will give us money for our living expenses. Ramesh said that he would be coming next month on leave and then he would tell me about his decision. Next month, Ramesh came to Sivildag and informed me through the secretary that he had arrived. After receiving the information from the secretary that Ramesh had come to Sivildag, my father and I went to Shankargarh police station to inform them that Ramesh had come to surrender. At that time, Sapan Chaudhary, thana-in-charge, was not present at the police station; the other policemen were there. We told the police men that Ramesh had come to surrender. The policemen told us to sit, the senior officer will talk to the SP and tell us. Then the policemen told us to go back home and return to the police station at the crack of dawn the next day. Next morning, I went to the Shankargarh police station where I met Mr. Kalluri who told me that I was lying that Ramesh would surrender. I told him with folded hands that I was telling him the truth and that Ramesh had come to Sivildag for surrendering.
  6. Then I was taken in a police van from police station Shankargarh to police station Kusumi. More policemen joined us at police station Kusumi and from there all of us when to Kasamaar. At Kasamaar, all of us alighted from the van and walked on foot. From Kasamaar, we reached Sivildag on foot. On reaching Sivildag, Kalluri sahib asked that Ramesh be brought. Then Ramesh was brought. Then the policemen beat Ramesh with lathis (sticks). After beating Ramesh, Kalluri sahib interrogated Ramesh and after interrogation, he told Ramesh and me that we should go to the house of the secretary and discuss with each other. We were talking in the room. At that time Ramesh told me that “the bag hung on the peg contained (saade lakh) rupees. These police men are going to take me to jail, you should use that money for my bail etc.” (The witness starts crying at this point.) Brijesh Tiwari came in the meantime and shot at my husband Ramesh three times. When Brijesh Tiwari shot at my husband, I started crying loudly. Then the policemen dragged me out of the room. (The witness is crying.) The policemen told Kalluri sahib that they should kill me also. Then Kalluri said yes, kill her. Then the villagers present there opposed it. Then they took me to police station Shankargarh in a police van. I was imprisoned in police station Shankargarh. At night, Kalluri sahib came to police station Shankargarh and warned me not to speak about this to anyone. “We took pity on you because of your child and let you go. If you complain anywhere, we will shoot you.” They let me out at noon on the next day. It was Monday. It was the day of the weekly market in Shankargarh. When they let me out of of the police station then I wondered where to go. Thinking this, I went to Shankargarh market. There I met Shankar. He told me that the policemen had shot Ramesh dead. I already knew about.  I went crying to my home in village Sarangava. After reaching home, I told my parents about the incident. My father asked me to stay at home for ten days and not go anywhere, because in our community (after a death in the family) no one goes out anywhere for ten days.
  7. After ten days, I came to Ambikapur and told my lawyer about the entire incident relating to my husband’s murder. Then my lawyer prepared a petition on my behalf and sent it to the Chief Minister. After filing the complaint, I started living in Ambikapur. I used to work in Suresh’s house as a house maid. When I returned to my village around the time of panchpujai dussehra, my parents informed me that the police was looking for me. After consulting my parents, I went to Chainpur to stay with my sister. The next day, policemen from the Shankargarh police station arrested my father and brought him to the police station. My aya (mother) sent a message to my sister’s house that the Shankargarh police had taken my father into custody. Then I returned home. I reached my home in the evening. Soon after, the policemen from Shankargarh police station came in three vans and took me to the Shankargarh police station. When I reached Shankargarh police station, I saw Kalluri sahib who, upon seeing me, asked if I knew who he was. Then I said, “You are Kalluri Sahib. I made my husband surrender before you and you got him shot.” Then Kalluri slapped me twice. I was carrying my daughter. I fell on the ground with my daughter. Kalluri asked me to take off my clothes. When I refused, two policemen twisted my father’s arms and made him stand up, and started beating him. They beat my father mercilessly. Then Brijesh Tiwari unfastened my saree and took off all the other garments. When I was resisting the taking off of my clothes, they started hitting my father forcefully. I took off my clothes. They completely stripped me. They stripped me. My child was wailing uncontrollably on the ground. Then Kalluri said, “Take her inside the room, I will interrogate her.” In my nude condition, they took me inside the room in the police station. Then Kalluri raped me inside the police station.  He brought me outside after an hour and got green chillies shoved into my vagina. Before leaving the police station, Kalluri told the policemen to rape me everyday. In the Shankargarh police station, the policemen used to rape me everyday. Dhiraj Jaiswal came with the policemen three times to rape me and once Brijesh Tiwari raped me.
  8. For ten days, my father, my mother and I were detained in the police station. My mother was also taken to the Shankargarh police station the same day when I was also taken there. After ten days, they took us to Ramanujganj police station. In the Ramanujganj police station, they made us sign some papers on the threat of shooting us. After releasing us, they put four policemen on duty to keep a watch on me. Even when I went for relieving myself or taking a bath, the policemen would accompany me. On the occasion of Chherta, the said policemen went away to celebrate Chherta. They started drinking liquor. Then I ran away on foot and reached Rajpur. From there, I caught a bus to Ambikapur. As I reached Ambikapur at night, I stayed in a dharmshala (resthouse). In the morning, I went to my lawyer’s place. When I reached my lawyer’s place in the morning, his wife informed me that he had gone to Bilaspur. The lawyer’s wife told me that he would return after two days, so I waited for two days for him. I had no money, so I went to Suresh’s house where I used to work earlier and took Rs 200 from him to go to Bilaspur. When I was in jail, a lady had visited me who had given me her contact number to me. I searched for her in Bilaspur. I looked for her in the Bilaspur high court and I asked about her from a male lawyer. When he enquired, I told him about the whole incident. That lawyer said he will take up my case, so I got him to prepare my case and file it in the Honourable High Court.
  9. One week ago, some people from Delhi had come to ask me some questions, so I told them about the incident. I told the people from Delhi that I had not visited my village since I had filed the case. I want to go to my village. Please arrange for me to go to my village. They assured me that they will make arrangements for sending me to my village in one week. I have presented papers in this case.



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.


Soni Sori and Gautam Navlakha Vs. State of Chhattisgarh W.P. (CRL.) 206/2011

Human Rights Law Network



The petition was filed the Supreme Court of India because the Chhattisgarh police have made an attempt on the life of Petitioner, Soni Sori – a tribal woman from village Sameli in Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh. The petitioner also seeks a direction from the Court for the setting up of a Special Investigation Team (SIT) of police officers from outside the state of Chhattisgarh, to investigate the criminal prosecutions against her as well as her allegation made in her complaint sent to the Delhi Police regarding the Chhattisgarh police attempting to murder her on September 11, 2011.

The third reason is that witness in FIR 26/11 relating to Soni Sori is the Sarpanch of a village from Orissa who was arrested by the Orissa police and handed over to the Chhattisgarh police, allegedly signed a statement to the effect that he was an eye witness to the alleged exchange of money between Essar corporation and the Naxalites.

At the very onset, it is stated that the Petitioner fled from Dantewada, Chhattisgarh in the second week of September 2011, in fear for her life. She came to Delhi and gave instructions and on the basis of these instructions this petition was filed.  She fears that the Chhattisgarh police who are expected to follow her to Delhi will extra-judicially execute her as she has in her possession evidence to show that false cases have been registered against her nephew, Mr. Lingaram Kodopi, and herself. These false cases have been registered because the two of them refused demands made by the Chhattisgarh police that they act as intermediaries between certain corporations and the Naxalites. The Chhattisgarh police also wanted the petitioner to give evidence against her fellow villagers and to make false statements to the effect that they were Maoists.

As a result of their not giving in to the demands of the police, the police have filed a series of false cases against Mr. Lingaram and the petitioner. The casual way in which these false cases are prepared is set out in charts at pages …… and …… of this petition. The charts show that for different instances taking place at different points in time, the statements of the so-called witnesses have been prepared by cutting and pasting from what appears to be a template, even though the statements are supposed to have been made in entirely different contexts at different points of time.

It is also obvious from the tape recording done in a sting operation by Tehelka, where the policeman speaking on the phone admits their case to be a false one.   According to the prosecution case an Essar contractor was carrying money to allegedly pay the Naxalites, and approached the petitioner and Mr. Lingaram who were allegedly acting as intermediaries, and that the contractor and Mr. Lingaram were arrested near a market where the transaction was taking place and that the petitioner fled from the place.  The truth is, and this is confirmed by the policeman during the sting operation, that Mr. Lingaram was at his grandfather’s home when he was arrested. This single fact alone shows that the prosecution story is false.

Mr. Lingaram is particularly targeted because he came to Delhi at the end of 2009 and gave evidence at a public hearing organized by human rights organizations in Delhi on the atrocities against adivasis in Dantewada. While in Delhi, he completed a course in journalism and this apparently annoyed the Chhattisgarh police even further and made them apprehensive that he will use his recent training to report on police atrocities in Chhattisgarh. The police are clearly very apprehensive about the documentary evidence that Mr. Lingaram had obtained of the carnage in the three villages of Tarmetla, Morpalli and Timmapuram, where hundreds of houses were burnt, people were killed and women raped by the police and other armed security forces, and into which this Honourable Court has since ordered a CBI enquiry. The Chhattisgarh police arrested him to prevent him from handing over the evidence that he had collected including video testimonies and photographs of the victims including the rape victims to the CBI.

While in Delhi, Mr. Lingaram also appeared on several television programmes where he recounted very passionately the pathetic situation in which tribals like himself found themselves. The police are constantly after the petitioner and Mr. Lingaram to turn against their fellow tribals and collaborate with the police on pain of victimization and having false cases registered against them. Both the petitioner and Mr. Lingaram resisted these efforts of the police to draw them into acting as police informers. Hence the filing of the false cases.

On 31.08.2009, the Petitioner’s nephew, Lingaram Kodopi was forcibly picked up from his house in Sameli village, district Dantewada, locked up, and physically and mentally tortured in order to pressure him to become a Special Police Officer (SPO).  When the members of Mr. Kodopi’s family and other villagers went to the police station, the police refused to accept that Mr. Kodopi was in their detention, but after the villagers persisted in their enquiries, the police stated that Mr. Kodopi had come of his own accord to become an SPO.  On 18.9.2009, Mr. Kodopi’s brother, Masaram Kodopi filed a Writ petition (habeas corpus) No. 5469/2009, in the High Court of Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur, alleging forcible detention of Mr. Kodopi by the Chhattisgarh police. On 06.10.2009, the Hon’ble High Court of Chhattisgarh at Bilaspur directed that Mr. Kodopi be allowed to return to his family.

That the harassment of Lingaram Kodopi by the police continued even after they had to release him because of the above-mentioned order of the Court of Chhattisgarh.  Immediately after Mr. Kodopi’s release, his elder brother, Masaram Kodopi, was picked up by the police and detained for a day and accused of securing the release of a “Naxalite.” The police continued to threaten Lingaram with dire consequences and harass his family members, due to which, Mr. Kodopi decided to migrate to New Delhi, and further undertook the study of journalism at the International Media Institute of India, at NOIDA in the state of Uttar Pradesh.  An affidavit prepared by Lingaram Kodopi on 22.10.2009, describing the pernicious harassment by Chhattisgarh police, which had forced him to come to Delhi. Lingaram Kodopi also participated in a public meeting, titled the Independent People’s Tribunal on Land Acquisition, Resource Grab and Operation Green Hunt, where he described his own experiences of being detained and tortured by the police, and answered questions from journalists, jury members and audience about the situation of adivasis in the conflict-torn region of Dantewada in Chhattisgarh. While in Delhi, Mr. Kodopi also appeared on several television programmes where he recounted very passionately the pathetic situation in which tribals like himself found themselves.

That these cases are false can also be seen from the fact that the petitioner is a government servant and is the Residential School’s warden at Jabeli Ashram in Dantewada. She has been attending her duties every day and there are many witnesses to this. Yet in the charge sheets that have been filed, she is shown as an absconder. Things came to a head when she received a call from an unknown person that she should hide in the forests because the police were going to “encounter” her. She fled and a while later the police opened fire on her and tried to kill her. She managed to escape and came to Delhi for filing this petition before the Supreme Court of India.

Soni’s case is a typical case of tribal being caught in the cross fire between the Maoists and the security forces. Her father was shot at by the Maoists and his entire house looted on 14.6.11.  He is currently in the hospital and lodged an FIR.

So the petition was filed for an order or direction to the state of Chhattisgarh to produce all the FIRs and charge sheets with respect to Soni Sori and her nephew Lingaram Kodopi. Also to setup a Special Investigation Team (SIT) comprising of officers from outside the state of Chhattisgarh to investigate and prosecute in respect of the FIRs and charge sheets. The petition also asks for staying the arrest of the Petitioner, who undertakes to cooperate with the investigation and an order or direction directing transfer of all the cases pending against Petitioner and Lingaram before any court in the State of Chhattisgarh to any competent court in Delhi.

SC suspends Narayan Sanyal’s life term, grants him bail #Justice

New Delhi, May 7, 2012

The Supreme Court on Monday suspended the life sentence of CPI (Maoist) activist Narayan Sanyal, held guilty of committing sedition by a Chhattisgarh court in 2010, and granted bail to him.

A bench of justices G.S. Singhvi and S.J. Mukhopadhaya gave bail to 78-year-old Sanyal, considering his age and the fact that he has already spent over six years in jail since his arrest in 2006.

The bench said the concerned trial court would impose the condition to its satisfaction for Mr. Sanyal’s release on bail.

Mr. Narayan Sanyal was convicted along with People’s Union of Civil Liberties’ Vice President Binayak Sen and a Kolkata businessman Piyush Guha for colluding with the Maoists in expanding their network to fight the state.

Mr. Sen was granted bail and his sentence was suspended by the apex court on April 15 last year.

They were held guilty by a Raipur court on December 24, 2010 of committing sedition and criminal conspiracy under the Indian Penal Code as well as offences under the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act.

The three were also found guilty under the provisions of Prevention of Unlawful Activities Act and sentenced to five years jail term. Mr. Sanyal was also awarded 10 years imprisonment for being member of a terrorist outfit, in violation of the UAP Act.

All three had moved the Chhattisgarh High Court against their conviction and their appeals are still pending there.

THE UNTOLD STORY – Perils of Protest

From cops flashing their private parts to bystanders taking advantage of the crowd and confusion to grope them, women protesters often go through hell on India’s rough streets. Sunday Times finds out shocking tales of sexual harassment, abuse and molestation

Maitreyee Boruah , TOI, April 29, 2012

A31, Minoti Saikia has been to jail thrice. Her crime? Participating in a protest. In cities across India, protests are a regular affair. What is not so regular is the treatment meted out to protesters, especially the women. “I always thought it’s easier to get heard if you are a woman, until I hit the streets with placards and banners in my hand. Police lathicharge was something I was expecting but the groping and abuses hit me like a bolt from the blue,” says the Guwahati-based activist.
Minoti was arrested recently while staging a peaceful protest against the construction of a hydro-electric project. She remembers the details vividly. “We were holding a demonstration that was completely non-violent. The police suddenly came and started dragging women by the hair. It was almost 2.30 in the night. We didn’t know how to react. I was numbed when I felt somebody running his hands down my back and waist. It was horrible.”
What is even more horrible is how bystanders also take advantage of the situation. “There have been many instances when people in the crowd have joined the commotion and started groping women protesters. That, too, in broad daylight,” says Minoti. However, it is tales of policemen molesting women protesters that are shockingly — and increasingly — becoming common. Besides physical assault, there is a lot of verbal abuse hurled at women. “The kind of expletives that the cops use can leave years of mental trauma on any woman,” says Mridula Kalita, secretary of Nari Mukti Sangram Samiti, which takes up causes like eviction of farmers and anti-dam protests.
Incidentally, it’s not just women in the lower socioeconomic group that are targeted. In March this year, female advocates in
Bangalore who were protesting in the civil court premises came back with horror stories about the police. “Some of them unzipped their pants and flashed at us. They pulled our sarees and groped us. We had seen in films such incidents about the police. We saw in reality also what they are capable of doing,” one of them said.
Kamayani Bali Mahabal, a lawyer and human rights activist testifies to the extreme vulnerability of women protesters. She recalls her own experience with the Mumbai police when she was protesting against the Chhattisgarh High Court’s decision of prolonging the incarceration of Binayak Sen. “I was brutally assaulted by the police and dragged to the Colaba police station,” she says. “My ‘crime’ was standing silently with a poster proclaiming peace and justice! The cops came and attacked me and even tore my T-shirt. I had to cover myself when they took me to the police station but I did not care at all — it was for them to be ashamed.”
Sameera Khan, co-author of Why Loiter? Women and Risk on Mumbai’s Streets, says that women are at risk of sexual harassment in any large crowd or mob — not just during protests but even while entering crowded railway stations. “What makes it worse is that in large groups, it is often impossible to identify the perpetrator.”
In the rare scenario when the perpetrators are caught, they are seldom punished. In 2006, for instance, a Punjab police personnel was clicked on camera molesting a girl during a peaceful protest by a group of veterinary doctors and students in Amritsar. Even though the Punjab and Haryana High Court took suo motu notice after the picture appeared in a leading English daily, the police personnel were given a clean chit by the court later.
Madhu Kishwar, founder of Manushi, a forum for democratic reforms, says that the problem lies in the way the police are trained in India. “This is a result of bad training and poor recruitment policies. Police in our country neither know how to handle large numbers, nor have they been trained on how to behave in a democracy.”
It’s not as if police brutality towards women protesters is limited to India. In December last year, shocking images surfaced of riot police in Egypt brutally beating a woman with metal bars. The woman’s hijab was ripped off and she was kicked repeatedly on the chest till she became unconscious.
Activists say that such blatant violence is slowly affecting women protesters. “There are so many instances when our fellow women protesters have given up joining protests because of cases of molestation,” says Kalita. Adds Nandita Shah, co-founder of Akshara, an organisation that aims at empowering women, “There needs to be an urgent change in the way society treats women during protests. The only other option for women is not to protest at all.”
Not a great thing that for democracy.
With inputs from Anahita Mukherji

ROUGH ROAD A Tibetan woman activist is hauled away by policemen in Delhi, March 2012; (left) Egyptian riot police personnel brutally attack a woman, December 2011, and (right) Arpita Majumdar, a final-year medical student, became the face of defiant women protesters in 2006 by taking the onslaught of a water cannon, chin up


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