2006 Malegaon blasts: Probe against Maha ATS, CBI officials likely


Last Updated: Friday, May 24, 2013,
 
New Delhi: Maharashtra‘s elite Anti-terror Squad and CBI officials, who probed the 2006 Malegaon blasts, may have to face probe as the Centre has taken a serious view of allegations that nine Muslim youths were framed with malafide intentions.

Taking note of the chargesheet filed by the National Investigation Agency earlier this week in which four suspected members of right-wing groups were named as accused, senior officials in Home Ministry, the cadre-controlling authority of IPS, said the Maharashtra Government may be “advised” to probe the role of then ATS officials who had allegedly been framed.

 
The case was registered by Maharashtra ATS with Rajvardhan, then Additional Superintendent of Police of Nasik (Rural).

Abrar Ahmed, who was named by the ATS as an accused, had alleged in an affidavit that then DIG of ATS Subodh Jaiswal (at present on deputation to RAW) and then ATS chief KP Raghuvanshi had “doctored” a confessional statement from him.

Later, the case was probed by CBI whose Joint Director Arun Kumar, at present Additional Director General of Uttar Pradesh Police, but the families of the accused approached the court saying no CBI team ever visited or took their statement.

The supposed transcript of telephone conversation submitted by CBI along with its supplementary chargesheet which purportedly showed Abrar Ahmed hatching the conspiracy was not authentic, the families of the nine accused had claimed in their petitions.

ATS and CBI had earlier filed a charge sheet against the nine Muslim youth and charged them with triggering explosive devices on September 8, 2006 at Malegaon.

The youth, who were behind bars for five years, were released as NIA did not oppose their bail plea.

PTI

 

#India- Rape at Home #Vaw #Incest


4 May 2013, Open Magazine

Rape at Home

The trial of a French Consulate employee, accused of raping his minor daughter, has begun in Bangalore. His wife Suja Jones speaks to Open on her battle for justice and why is it important to listen carefully to your child
T
TRAUMA
COMING TO TERMS Suja Jones says she feels completely awake for the  first time in her life (Photos: RITESH UTTAMCHANDANI)

COMING TO TERMS Suja Jones says she feels completely awake for the first time in her life (Photos: RITESH UTTAMCHANDANI)

After Suja Jones filed a complaint against her French husband Pascal Mazurier for the rape and other forms of sexual abuse of their three-year-old daughter, one of the police officers, a woman, at the Bangalore High Grounds Police station gave her some advice. “She said ‘In our families, we don’t take this kind of thing outside,’” recalls Jones. “She said I should have found a way to ‘help him’ myself.” The trial against Mazurier, an employee of the French Foreign Ministry stationed in Bangalore, has finally begun. Mazurier, who is accused of rape and paedophilia, was arrested on 19 June 2012 but has been out on bail since last October. On 28 June 2012, Jones wrote a letter to Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde describing the aggressive and humiliating interrogation she was subjected to after filing her complaint. Shinde agreed to meet Jones’ lawyers to hear their case, but no further action has been taken.

This week, angry groups protested in front of Shinde’s residence in Delhi, raging at the inefficiency, the apathy, the callousness of the authorities in dealing with the rape of the five-year-old girl found crying and mutilated in a locked room in the capital. It is a mass outrage that Jones understands. Jones holds her three small children close. “I never feel completely safe anymore,” she says. Over the past ten months, since filing the complaint, Jones has learnt that the Home Ministry and law enforcement system are only two of the problems a woman has to overcome when looking for justice for her abused child. Jones has faced vicious insults by men’s rights activists, fought off official complaints by Mazurier’s parents that she is neglecting, perhaps even drugging the children, and faced landlords who have refused to rent out their flats to her. And despite their official declarations of neutrality, the loyalty of the French administration seems to lie more with the accused than with the four-year-old child, though she too is a French citizen. Jones has even received an online death threat: ‘I don’t know you,’ wrote one commenter, ‘but when I do, you are as good as dead.’

In the din, it is easy to forget the hero of this story—a little girl called Isabel (name changed to protect identity). Faced with a painful reality she would not accept, Isabel did not give up, naming her ongoing ordeal with her three-year-old voice, trusting someone would finally hear her:

He made bobo on my zheezhee (hurt my genitals).”

He put something filthy in my mouth.”

This is a nice uncle” (looking at a photo of a movie star) “Will he do bobo to me too?”

“I should have heard, I should have known,” says her mother, “…the fog of denial was just so strong.” In June last year, undeterred, Isabel managed at last to break through the fog. According to the results of official medical examinations, she had been a victim of ongoing sexual abuse, rape, sodomy. According to the chargesheet prepared by the Bangalore police, the perpetrator is Isabel’s father, Pascal Mazurier, who is an employee (now suspended) of the French consulate in Bangalore. Mazurier and his lawyers deny the charges. “I would have given anything, anything, for it not to be true,” says Jones. “I let my love for my husband and my own self-doubt keep me blind for far too long.”

+++

“When a woman is raped,” says 38-year-old Jones, who was born and raised in Calcutta, “it is her own fault. When a little girl is raped, it is the mother’s fault.”

We are sharing a simple lunch in the modest living room of her new rented flat, homey and warm but nothing like the more luxurious space she lived in with her husband and their three children while living on his French salary (this salary, since the time of Mazurier’s arrest, is being deposited by his French employers into a new bank account, one Jones has no access to). A single mom now, and in constant financial struggle, Jones says she feels completely awake for the first time in her life. Of slight frame with a dignified bearing, beautiful in the turquoise sari she had worn to the morning court session, she sits with a mountain of papers piled before her, cross-coded with different coloured Post-its. As she speaks, she expertly flips through them to find the documents relevant to the points she is making, analysing the details with perfect clarity and confidence. “I was not always this way,” she says, “I used to be just a silly girl. I’m all grown up now. Better late than never.”

Suja Jones and Pascal Mazurier met in Calcutta 13 years ago. Jones, the daughter of Kerala Christians, an English honours graduate with a diploma in Travel and Tourism studies, was working in a travel agency. Mazurier was in town doing his French National Service in the French consulate. They fell in love. Jones visited Paris and met his family. Later he returned to Calcutta to ask her parents for her hand. “My mom did not mind much that he was not an Indian,” she says, “…the fact that he was a fellow Christian was good enough.” The couple married in Paris in 2001, and Mazurier joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He served, with Jones at his side, in Bangladesh, Chad and from 2010, in Bangalore. “We loved each other so much,” says Jones, “we were so proud of our love, proud that we were able to manage so well across the national divide.” They were a good looking couple, and enjoyed time in nature as well as partying with friends (she loved to dance). Jones says her husband was charming, good looking, funny, a devoted dad and often the life of parties. “I made myself quite small in our marriage,” she says, “I thought he was amazing and I was nobody. I let him decide things, even things like who the children could or could not play with. It was subtle, but he was the boss.”

But there was something shadowy about their world, she believes, which she could sense but did everything in her power to ignore. According to Jones, sometime after the birth of Isabel her husband turned violent. She says he hit their oldest son and he hit her twice during a pregnancy. Mazurier needed hospital treatment after hurting his own hand by pounding on a door she was hiding behind with the children. “Somehow,” she says, “he didn’t fit my image of an abusive husband. He always used to say he was so sorry, and otherwise he was wonderful.” In 2010, after her husband pushed her violently against a wall during her next pregnancy, her doctor advised Jones in strong words to seek professional counselling for her husband and herself. Jones had a long conversation with him and he apologised. “It was maybe three months later,” she says, “that he started on Isabel.”

Isabel, then three and very close to her father, began to speak of what was happening to her; Jones began noticing disturbing physical signs. “He had explanations for everything,” she says, “it was only the soap in the shower; it was only sliding too much on the slide. He used to say I was jealous of his great relationship with Isabel. I wanted to believe in the happy story that my daughter is well bonded with her father and I was just a jealous mom, a pregnant, then breastfeeding, hormonal, silly housewife imagining all kinds of things about the man I loved, who was a good husband in a respectable position, held by many in such high regard. I thought ‘if he says it was the soap that hurt her, then of course it was the soap that hurt her and how wrong of me to pay attention to what Isabel was saying’.”

In June last year, Isabel spoke more clearly than ever, and her mother, unable to ignore it any longer, took her for professional and medical testing, at a children’s health NGO and at a hospital. On 14 June 2012, armed with the results of those examinations (genital lacerations, rectal gaping, an absent hymen, and sperm in her vagina), Jones went to the police. “Until the very end I resisted,” she says, trying to smile, shaking her head, calling herself stupid, then breathing deeply to regain her composure, “I was saying… no, I will only take the kids to my parents’ for some time; he will get some help, it will all be OK. I could not bear to do it. I loved him. I was a mess.” Mazurier was picked up for questioning and released the next day. He was not arrested until five days later, on 19 June, as French Consul General Eric Lavertu told the police there was some doubt about whether Mazurier has diplomatic immunity (there was no doubt; he does not).

On 25 June, Jones herself was interrogated for four hours by six police officers, one of them a woman. She says she was asked about her sex life with her husband before and after marriage (what she ‘did’ with him), and about her supposed lovers. They questioned her family’s ethics and morality, accused her of media hunger and racism against the French, and demanded she reveal if she had been abused as a child. “I can’t decide if the police are antagonistic or only insensitive,” she says, “…whether they have been bribed, or if this is just the way they are with everyone.” To add to the victim’s ordeal, the police ordered Isabel be taken for another internal examination. This one had the little girl on a bed in the delivery ward, with women screaming and blood on the floor. Later, the police admitted this examination was not required as the results of the previous one were irrefutable. NGO Human Right Watch has included this incident in its recent report on the sexual abuse of children in India.

After his arrest, Mazurier was let out on bail and will remain on bail during the trial. The children’s passports (they are French nationals and the passports are their only official documents) are being held by the French consulate. The French embassy told Open that “according to French law, in case of a disagreement between the parents, the decision to hand over their children’s passports to one of them cannot be taken by the consulate authority but the ‘competent jurisdiction’”. But the court in Bangalore has given (temporary) full custody of the children to their mother. Does the French government doubt that the Bangalore court is indeed the ‘competent jurisdiction’? Besides, this is not a dispute between two parents; the Government of India has put Mazurier on trial for raping his daughter. The only ‘disagreement between the parents’ is the injunction Jones has received from the civil court granting her custody while the father is on trial.

The French consulate also told Open: “Before anything else, we should all think of the suffering of a little girl who has been brutalised in an inhuman way. And we must do everything we can to help her recover and build her future.” Asked for an example of how they have or would like to offer Isabel help, the consulate had nothing to say. While still in police custody, Mazurier wrote several cheques, amounting to Rs 4.3 lakh, to the Deputy Consul of France in Bangalore, Vincent Caumontat, practically emptying the joint account from which Jones would have managed her household expenses. “Why did the Deputy Consul agree to receive this money and what did he do with it?” asks Jones. (According to the French embassy: “This money was used to pay [Mazurier’s] lawyers’ fees, which are very high in India, and to meet various expenses related to this”). During the High Court bail hearings, Caumontat was present at Mazurier’s side, as Lavertu has been during the court hearings (“The Consulate employees have always attended court hearings in complete neutrality,” the French embassy told Open. “They have been present not alongside Mr Pascal Mazurier, but in the back rows as observers.” In an act that angered feminists and some of the press in France, the ‘office of President Hollande’ received the lawyers of Mazurier for a meeting in Paris. Only after the outcry and Jones’ requests did the office of the President at last agree to see the lawyers representing Isabel and Jones, as well.

Mazurier’s parents, with the assistance of the French Consul in Bangalore, registered a complaint of concern against Jones with Bangalore’s Child Welfare Committee, saying the children were dirty, appeared to be drugged and that one of the children was obese. (Lavertu did not file a complaint but did make a personal visit on the matter to the CWC). The officials who visited the house filed a report in which they found the children to be alert, doing well, with plenty of books and toys. Mazurier himself, through his lawyers, has claimed that Jones is “a party animal”, that she never really wanted to care for the children, and that this is all a ruse because she did not want to move with him to Cape Town where he was supposed to be posted next. “I had no problem with the move to Cape Town,” says Jones, “…and besides, if I didn’t want to have children, if all I wanted to do was party, can you imagine a more complicated way to go about it?”

Several men’s rights groups in India, among them one called CRISP, have taken up Mazurier’s cause. These activists not only appear in court to show their support but leave hateful comments against Jones at the end of most online news reports. Someone opened a well-viewed fake Facebook page in her name, which said: ‘Hello, my name is Suja, professional call girl, I am a liar, I need help, I manipulated all of this because I do not want to go to South Africa.’

“It is now easy for me to understand why women do not come out when such things happen in their homes,” says Jones, “why women in these situations are driven to take their own lives.”

+++

It is early afternoon. We are again in Jones’ flat, the children are soon to come home from school, but for now all is quiet, the toys and books still tidy in their shelves. “People confront me all the time: ‘How could you not know, what kind of a mother are you?’” Jones speaks without flinching, not outwardly. “I have no words to express my regret. Now all I can do is continue this fight for justice and hope that many others learn from my stupidity. Moms, dads: be attuned to your girls and boys; if something is wrong, they will try to reveal it. There are things that children say and things that children don’t say—learn to tell the difference. Incest is a very careful form of rape, the perpetrators are very careful to hide their actions. If you have any suspicion, you must make sure the child is examined thoroughly. I can now say that I always got a kind of inner jolt every time Isabel said something and I immediately pushed it away, put my mind somewhere else. You must fight the fog of denial with all your might.”

Isabel, now four, is doing better. According to the professionals working with her, and because her mother finally listened, removed the perpetrator, and sought treatment, there is a good chance Isabel will grow and thrive; but of the scars, we cannot know. She still talks about ‘zheezhee’ ‘bobo’, and sometimes shares new details of things that happened and how they made her feel. “She is making new friends, doing more at school,” says Jones. “She loves to swim and play basketball. I have started taking them to church, too—not for the rituals but as a source of comfort. We never used to do that but they seem to really like it. And I make sure we dance and sing together, act silly, have fun; sometimes at the end of the day I am so exhausted, or discouraged, and I look up at them, their sweet faces looking back at me, and I feel my courage return. Sometimes the kids say they love and miss their father. I tell them I love him and miss him too. Fourteen years of loving cannot disappear overnight.”

“My oldest used to say, ‘Mama, you will not survive, you are small, and you have cried so much.’ He hasn’t said that in a while. The other day I took Isabel to my room and picked her up in front of the mirror and showed her: Isabel Mama, Mama Isabel… we are together, I am your amma, I am strong, you are safe in my arms. I saw something in her face relax. She is my hero, my tender lioness. I love her so much.”

 

#India- Anti-rape law: Government to reduce age of consent from 18 to 16 #Vaw


Reported by Sunil Prabhu, Edited by Shamik Ghosh | Updated: March 05, 2013 , NDTV

New Delhi The Home Ministry has moved a note proposing tough new rape laws for the approval of the Cabinet, which is expected to take it up on Thursday. It has inputs from a parliamentary committee which had studied the new rape laws that the government cleared as an Ordinance last month. Once the Cabinet clears these proposals, they will be put before Parliament.

Here are 10 developments:
  1. There are some amendments that the Home Ministry note proposes, among them that the age of consent has been lowered from 18 to 16 years. Under the existing laws, sexual intercourse under the age of consent is considered statutory rape.  (Watch)
  2. The ministry has reintroduced the word “rape” instead of sexual assault, which the Verma Commission, set up to draft new laws on crime against women, had recommended using as one with much wider definition.
  3. The government’s decision to reject marital rape as a criminal offense has been accepted. The Verma Commission had suggested that marital rape be included as a criminal offence, but the government argued that doing so would weaken traditional family values in India, and that marriage presumes consent. Women activists have fiercely opposed the government’s stand.
  4. The ministry has also rejected the Verma Commission’s suggestion that those in the armed forces accused of rape be brought under the ambit of criminal law; the government says this needs wider consultations.
  5. It has endorsed the government’s decision to introduce the death penalty for the most extreme rape cases. The Verma Commission had suggested that life imprisonment be used for cases where women die as a result of sexual assault.
  6. The Home Ministry adds to the present law the recommendation that hospitals and nursing homes, whether private or public, will have to provide treatment to victims of rape and failure to do so will be punishable.
  7. The government had promulgated the new ordinance on February 3.  President Pranab Mukherjee gave his assent, and the provisions became the law pending approval from Parliament. The government had defended promulgating the ordinance saying there was a strong case to amend the law to check crime against women.
  8. The changed laws were based largely on the recommendations of the three-member Verma commission, headed by Justice JS Verma, which was set up after public outrage over the brutal gang-rape of a medical student in a moving bus in Delhi in December last.
  9. The provisions of the Ordinance were moved to a standing committee of Parliament made up of members of all parties to recommend changes if any. The Home Minister also held consultations with the Prime Minister before the Cabinet note was drafted.
  10. Once the Cabinet clears the new proposals, the ordinance will be repealed and a new criminal law amendment bill 2013 will be introduced. But any person booked under this present ordinance will be continued to be prosecuted under its provisions.

 

#India Marital rape: Parliamentary panel supports government’s decision #Vaw #WTFnews


marital-rape-poster

By PTI – NEW DELHI

01st March 2013 08:38 PM

A Parliamentary panel today supported government’s decision not to accept marital rape as a criminal offence, saying it could lead to “practical difficulties”.

The Justice J S Verma Committee set up in the aftermath of the Delhi gangrape incident to suggest changes in the criminal law had recommended that the exception for marital rape be removed from the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

“The fact that the accused and victim are married or in another intimate relationship may not be regarded as a mitigating factor justifying lower sentences for rape,” the Verma Committee had said.

However, the government did not accept the recommendation in the ordinance promulgated last month. But, it enhanced punishment for sex by husband with his wife during separation without consent from two to seven years.

The Standing Committee on Home in its report on the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill, 2012 agreed with the view of the Home Ministry that criminalising marital rape would weaken traditional family values in India, and that marriage presumes consent.

“… it has practical difficulties. If litigations are allowed, then the family system will be disturbed,” Committee Chairman M Venkaiah Naidu of BJP said in response to questions.

The IPC differentiates between rape within marriage and outside marriage. Under the IPC sexual intercourse without consent is prohibited.

However, an exception to the offence of rape exists in relation to un-consented sexual intercourse by a husband upon a wife. The Verma Committee recommended that marriage should not be considered as an irrevocable consent to sexual acts.

The decision to exempt marital rape was fiercely opposed by women’s groups.

Committee members D Raja (CPI) and Prasanta Chatterjee (CPM) gave a dissent note for excluding marital rape from the ambit of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Bill saying it was contrary to the provisions of the Constitution which considers all women as equal human beings.

 

#India- The Politics of Death Penalty


death-penalty

Rajindar Sachar

 

 

One had always heard perjorative remarks about politics and morality being distant neighbors, notwithstanding the life long struggle by Gandhiji to have some kind of connect between these. This was demonstrated with a telling thud in the way Central Government has dealt with the case of Afzal Guru a resident of J & K who was held guilty in attack on Parliament and sentenced to death by the Supreme Court in 2005. The lower court thereupon fixed 20th October 2006 as date of execution. However the wife of Guru filed a mercy petition before the President who after giving personal hearing to her, asked for some clarifications from the Home Ministry, which was never sent.

 

Guru had also in 2006 sent petition through the jail to the President. He never   received   any   reply   to   this  application, but nevertheless was

hanged on the morning of 9th February, 2013. Excepting for few officials, none including the family of Guru knew of the impending execution. I am personally against the death penalty, being follower of Gandhiji, J.P., Dr. Ambedkar.  But even if we have death penalty, the manner in which hanging has been carried out in this case certainly outrages principles of humanity.

 

I am also concerned with the low in politics where hanging of one person becomes the subject of slinging match between two major political parties Congress and B.J.P. For the last so many years BJP has ad-nauseam made the issue of hanging of Guru as one of its major political strategy and to seek to project the delay by the Congress government as antinational, unpatriotic and most mischievously as a Muslim appeasement question. Congress was upto now explaining the delay as an administrative question. But it would appear that core group of Congress has now decided that it was necessary to hang Guru to counter the challenge of B.J.P., because of the proximity of General Elections to Parliament in 2014, and may be to advance the date of Election  at  convenient date  in  2013.  So since a month back Digvijaya Singh Congress General Secretary, suddenly and without any provocation invited questions on TV on Guru and making a very pointed statement demanding Guru’s hanging.

 

Having so decided UPA Government went about Guru’s hanging in the vilest of human Rights violations. No where in the world, where a modicum of rule of law exists, can the government hang its citizen without informing his family prior to it and allowing them to meet him. Human dignity of Guru was violated by denying him this right. Government’s clumsy claim that a speed post was sent on 7th February from Delhi to the family of Guru in J & K and since the family did not contact the government, they went ahead with hanging. Such a convoluted explanation will immediately invite the taunt “Tell that to the Marines”. Admittedly letter was received by the family on 11th February, when Guru had already been hanged on 9th February. Can one even imagine the deep permanent scar left on the family especially the wife and small child.

 

I have no doubt that there was premeditated decision by the Home Ministry not to allow the family to meet Guru (because this would become public knowledge) and presumably it will naturally result in some demonstrations especially in J & K and Delhi. Admittedly Mr. Shinde, Central Home Minister telephoned Omar Farouk Chief Minister of J & K a couple of days earlier informing him of the decision to hang Guru and asking for his reaction – Omar is stated to have raised no objection, but asked only to be told earlier to the date of hanging. The further news report suggests that Home Minister a few days later himself talked on phone to Omar and in the accepted style of conspirators told him in code language that “the event he had told him earlier will be done in a day or so”. What more proof is required to show complete disregard for well established norms by the government.

 

This hush on the plea of security is laughable. No doubt there would have been some demonstrations and protests, but so what – it is a normal feature in democracies, unless it is the governments plea that its security machinery is so incompetent that it could not deal with demonstrations   by   angry    supporters    of     Guru    and  that  it also apprehended a Navy Seal Expedition like done by USA government to kidnap Osama Bin laden in Pakistan.

 

Bonafide of governments intention to hang immediately is also being questioned, considering that government knew that Supreme Court is still examining the question that if there is delay of over 2 years in disposing of the mercy petition, no execution should take place – in Guru’s case delay is over 7 years – was not that enough reason to suspend hanging of Guru in the meanwhile.

 

The killers of Indira Gandhi were allowed to meet their family members before hanging. Has the functioning of Central government become so sullied that their own precedents have no relevance.

 

Even now with all this inhuman and defenseless exercise, the central government is refusing to return the body of Guru to the family. Both in law and morality, the family is entitled to the body of Guru so that it can be buried with all the usual religious ceremonies at a place of their choosing, so  that  they can visit the grave like others can. No silly prison rule to refuse the body to the family on the puerile excuse of public disorder can be pleaded in defense. The government in order to conceal its own illegalities, insensivity and violation of Human Rights has got caught in its own web and succeeded in projecting Guru in death larger than in life.

 

The Central government should not muddy the situation any further. It has already allowed itself to be cornered by B.J.P. in the communal cauldron, inviting a legitimate comment that in the matter of belief in secularism, the difference between B.J.P. and Congress is that between tweedledum and tweedledee – the former being openly anti-secular and the later being also the same but concealing it under a thin ice which dissolves at the altar of electoral strategy.

 

As an epilogue, should we not consider that instead of governments repeating in future such nauseating violation of the Human Rights,  India should follow the course of at over 140 countries which have agreed to abolish the death penalty and have put a moratorium on any more hangings.

 

Dated: 20/02/2013

New Delhi

 

#India -Afzal Guru, Parliament attack convict, hanged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail #deathpenalty, protest today at Jantar Mantar


JOIN SILENT PROTEST AT  JANTAR MANTAR TODAY at 1.00pm AGAINST THE HANGING OF AFZAL GURU

Edited by Surabhi Malik | Updated: February 09, 2013 08:46 IST

Afzal Guru, Parliament attack convict, hanged in Delhi's Tihar Jail

New DelhiAfzal Guru, convicted for his role in the attack on Parliament in 2001, has been executed at about 8 this morning at Delhi’s Tihar Jail.The Home Ministry had recommended the death sentence for Guru on January 23, sources said, and President Pranab Mukherjee rejected his mercy petition a few days ago, clearing the way for his hanging.

Nine years ago, in 2004, Afzal Guru was given the death sentence by the Supreme Court. The sentence was scheduled to be carried out on October 20, 2006, but was stayed after his wife filed the mercy petition, which had been pending with the President’s office since.

The main opposition party, the BJP, has for long questioned the delay in the execution of Guru. Senior Congress leaders like Digvijaya Singh too said that a decision must come soon. But activists and political groups in Kashmir have argued that Guru was not given a fair trial. There have been many requests that his death sentence be commuted.

Afzal Guru is from Sopore in Kashmir and curfew has been imposed there and in other major towns in the valley, including Srinagar, just 35 kms away.  The army is on high-alert.

Separatist groups in Kashmir have earlier warned against Guru’s execution and Chief Minister Omar Abdullah has repeatedly stressed that it could have serious repercussions in his state. Mr Abdullah is in Delhi and is leaving for Srinagar immediately.

In December 2001, five heavily-armed terrorists drove into the Parliament complex and opened fire. Nine people were killed, most of them members of the security forces. All the terrorists were shot dead.

Both Houses of Parliament had just been adjourned and many MPs and ministers, including then Deputy Prime Minister LK Advani were still inside.

A few days later, Afzal Guru was arrested.

In November last year, Ajmal Kasab, the terrorist from Pakistan who was caught during the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai, was executed in a Pune jail.

 

#India -The Verma Commission and Women’s Status #Vaw #AFSPA


\Seven Sisters’ Post, January 25, 2013

Walter Fernandes

At a time when are losing faith in the judiciary, the Verma Commission has done its bit to restore their credibility. The Commission has kept its promise of getting the report ready fast and got a more than 600 page report ready in 29 days. In so doing it has respected public opinion and has gone through the 80,000 representations made to it but it has not gone overboard by making populist recommendations or giving a politically correct report as many Commissions have done in the past. It has recommended strong action but has resisted pressure on death penalty for rape or lowering the age of juveniles. But it has not hesitated to make politically unpopular recommendations such as a review of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) which shields many security persons who commit this heinous crime and enjoy impunity. It has also challenged the political establishment by asking parties to look inwards and deal with rapists who get elected to the legislature.

 

One may not agree with all that the Commission says but one appreciates many of its positive points such as taking the definition of sexual abuse beyond rape to actions such as abuse through the social network tools that were not considered criminal or were not known when the law was enacted.  It suggests that what is called “outraging the modesty of a woman” should be included in the broader and stricter definition. That suggestion is important because in many cases of abuse, the defence tries to show that it was not a physical assault so it is not serious. Also acid attacks were not known and the Commission suggests a new Act on it. It suggests inclusion of stalking as a serious offence and that human trafficking should be taken seriously especially when police personnel are involved in it.

 

Equally important is the suggestion that action should be taken against police personnel who do not register a complaint of rape or assault and the call for police reforms. No action can be taken if the police personnel remain insensitive to such crimes. Also the suggestion that the mode of appointing the Director General of Police should be reviewed is reasonable. One is aware of at least two former DGPs being convicted of rape or molestation much after their retirement and given only nominal punishment. Such persons should never have reached the top because if the top watchmen are corrupt who is to keep watch on them? In that light the suggestion about police reforms is meaningful.

 

The Commission faces squarely the issue of many persons being exempted from prosecution either by the law or by the culprits themselves. For example, the legislators do not seem to be accountable to the public whom they represent. Both the Congress and BJP persons on the panel said on NDTV on 23rd January that the Commission had made general statements about many rapists being elected. The Counsel of the Commission had to tell them that the Association for Democratic Reforms that keeps track of the elections has a list of 320 legislators who are accused or convicted of rape. In that light what the party representatives said looked irresponsible. Also the suggestion of the Commission that legislators who are accused of rape should resign or should not contest elections looks extremely weak. Will the political decision-makers take this suggestion seriously particularly if it becomes a prestige issue? For example, politicians in West Bengal and elsewhere brush aside accusations of rape as propaganda by the opposition. One is of the view that the recommendation that the Representation of People Act makes sense. But the Commission should have gone beyond pleading with such politicians to resign and made more concrete suggestions.

 

The same holds good for AFSPA. The Commission has gone beyond a plea to state that the security persons who are accused of rape should be judged under the same law that applies to civilians and that there should be special commissioner to deal with cases of sexual abuse in the conflict areas. They are reasonable suggestions but after realising that the AFSPA is at the root of many abuses the Commission only asks for a review of the Act without making concrete suggestions. That looks too weak given the number of cases of rapes in the conflict areas and the manner in which the culprits find shelter in this Act. The Reddy Commission had made concrete suggestions after the Manorama Devi case in Manipur but the Government is yet to act on it. One is told that a retired senior army official who joined the demonstrators in Delhi and many other defence officers opposed even the dilution of AFSPA though the Home Ministry wanted to reform it. So the plea for reform it looks too weak. There should have been more concrete suggestions for changing or repealing AFSPA.

 

One can find many more positive and negative points. The Commission has probably stuck to its mandate of suggesting legal reforms. In that sense it seems to have done justice to what it was asked to do and in a very short time. Thus what it has done is commendable. At this stage one should ask about the next step and that is a challenge of our society. A Commission of this type was required even before the atrocious crime that resulted in the uproar in Delhi. But the mandate of the Commission seems to be based on the assumption that legal action alone is adequate. For example, one agrees with the Commission that the khap panchayats are illegal. But they cannot be changed without public opinion against the system that supports them. Serious efforts at serious social reforms are required particularly when religious and political leaders tell the people that rapes and other abuses happen only in “westernised India” and not in rural Bharat.

 

A law alone cannot change society as one can see from the extremely low sex ratio among children below 10, obviously because of sex specific abortions or what is called piously “induced foetus miscarriage”. The 2001 census showed that sex determination tests and such abortions were happening in prosperous district despite a law against them. The 2011 census shows that the evil has spread to other areas. The value system of our society that considers the woman a burden is to blame for it. In that context the suggestion that all marriages should be registered and that the registrar should ensure that no dowry is involved in the marriage is reasonable. But who is to bell the cat? These laws will be implemented only if there is public pressure from our society. Now is the time for social reformers and thinkers to join hands and challenge our caste, class and gender values that lead to these evils. The Verma Commission Report can be their starting point.

 

Immediate Release- False Promises by Govt to Anti- Nuke Activists


A warning to the TN Govt on Koodankulam

A warning to the TN Govt on Koodankulam (Photo credit: Joe Athialy)

Idinthakarai Update
April 2, 2012
On March 27, 2012 evening 7:30 PM, we gave up our indefinite hunger strike of 9 days after a credible team of mediators had a round of talks with the Tamil Nadu government officials at Radhapuram near here. They had accepted to release all our comrades from prison and withdraw all the false and serious cases against us.
On March 29, 2012 at 9 AM, a team of Home Ministry officials from New Delhi descended on my family’s home at Nagercoil and inspected our SACCER Trust’s account for 12 hours both at home and again at the Government Guest House in Nagercoil. Our small Trust with hardly any money runs a very small school of 217 children. [It is interesting to note that the central government’s and state government’s teams inspected the Koodankulam nuclear power plant for hardly a few hours, and not 12 hours at a stretch.]
On March 30, 2012, I received a letter from the Passport Officer in Madurai that I have to return my Passport as I have criminal cases against me. [I wonder if all the politicians, bureaucrats, scientists, military leaders and businessmen with criminal record have received such a request and I am approaching the court to verify this.]
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE)                                                       April 1, 2012
Idinthakarai & P. O. 627 104
Tirunelveli District, Tamil Nadu
Phone: 98656 83735; 98421 54073
Press Release – Tirvandrum
The People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) entered into a negotiation with the Tamil Nadu State officials on March 27, 2012 with the assistance of some credible and respectable mediators. As per that mediation, the Tamil Nadu State Government assured to release all the imprisoned people through due process and withdraw all the cases that have been registered against us.
However, the bail process is being delayed by several obstacles such as filing charge sheets in additional cases, demanding double surety, and condition bail of asking people to produce themselves at a distant police station on daily basis.
All the false and serious cases such as ‘sedition’ and ‘waging war on the Indian State’ have not been withdrawn yet. Instead all these cases that randomly include +3,000 people and +2,000 people are used to intimidate the local people. So people here live in fear and are very afraid to venture out of their homes and villages. We hear reports that the Tamil Nadu Government is still trying to arrest all the important leaders and functionaries as soon as possible.
Furthermore, personal vendetta is being taken by the State and Central agencies on some individuals and NGOs. The Home Ministry officials searched the home of S. P. Udayakumar on March 29, 2012 for some 12 hours. And the Madurai Passport Officer has now asked Udayakumar to surrender his passport within 15 days through his letter dated 30/3/2012.
The Tamil Nadu Government has sent the local police officers and constables from Koodankulam and Idinthakarai etc. to their respective villages on official duty to divide the local communities by instigating caste and religious hatred and group clashes. These police men spend all their time talking to their relatives and friends in their villages spreading rumors and causing fear and concerns among the people.
The Tamil Nadu Government is also using the Rs. 500 crore package to woe the corrupt and unscrupulous elements from the local villages, divide the communities and mobilize false support for the Koodankulam nuclear power project.
We would also like to highlight the fact that the KKNPP has been restarted without any kind of consent and cooperation of the local people and it grossly violates Article 32 of the Indian Constitution. The fears and concerns of the people have not been addressed in any meaningful manner by both the Expert Teams nominated by the Central and State Governments. These governments are blatantly violating the rights and entitlements of the local people in an arrogant and authoritarian manner.
The PMANE has concluded its 9-day indefinite hunger strike and has resumed its relay hunger strike on daily basis from March 28, 2012. It is not true that our struggle has been withdrawn just because we have decided to resume fishing, open the local shops and send the Idinthakarai children back to school.
Supreme Court Advocate Shri Prashant Bhushan visited us on March 31, 2012 and the former Chief Minister of Kerala and current opposition leader Shri V.S. Achuthanandan is scheduled to visit on April 12, 2012.
The Struggle Committee
People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy

PMANE founder’s NGO inspected, wife says no foreign funds


by Pallavi Polanki Mar 30, 2012, Firstspost

The Nagercoil-based education trust run by SP Udayakumar, who is leading the People’s Movement Against Nuclear Energy (PMANE) from Idinthakarai village against Kudankulam Nuclear Power Plant, was subjected to a day-long inspection by Home Ministry officials on Thursday (March 29).

Firstpost spoke to Meera Kumar, wife of Udayakumar and trustee of the South Asian Community Centre for Education and Reasearch (SACCER), who spent the entire day answering questions and providing details of the Trust to the officials.

What was the inspection regarding?

There were two officials from the Home Ministry and one local officer. They wanted all the documents and accounts from 2005-06 to 2010-11. The officials were from the FCRA (foreign contribution regulation act) division of the Home Ministry.

Is SACCER receiving foreign funding?

No. We are not registered under the FCRA. On two occasions we got prior permission from the FCRA wing for donations. Both were donations were between 2005-2007.

The founder of PMANE was not present for the inspection. Firstpost

One was for Rs 90,000 from Aid India and the other for Rs 4.35 lakh from Watumull Foundation. Prior permission was received for both these contributions from the FCRA wing. The Rs 4.35 lakh was towards buying a van for the school (SACCER manages a school in Nagercoil). It was a down-payment for the van, the total cost of which was Rs 7.50 lakh or so. The remainder we paid through a loan.

The Rs 90, 000 was for a tsunami related project that my husband did for Aid India. It was an entrepreneurship programme for women. The money was given as cheque to the women and a few sewing machines were also given, I think.

The officials were concerned mainly about these two. They took audit statements for all years from 2005-06 to 2010-11.

Did they ask for accounts from 2011-12?

No. They didn’t ask for any documents or vouchers relating the current financial year.

Did they say what the purpose of the inspection was?

No. They didn’t tell me exactly why they had come. But I understood that they were under a lot of pressure from someone from above. They were very cordial with me. My husband usually handles all the paperwork. So I wasn’t familiar with a few things. So initially, it was bit difficult.

Was the inspection at the office alone?

We have an office at home. So the inspection took place there.

In the afternoon, I was asked to go the Traveller’s Bungalow (the district guesthouse for government officers). They asked me for all the ledgers and cash books. They wanted copies of everything.
They asked me for three certificates. One, on how many passbooks were opened and closed for the SACCER Trust. The second was on staff structure. Some of the vouchers were missing so they wanted me to give in writing that some of the vouchers were not traceable. So I wrote that.

How long did inspection last?

At the office it was from 9 am to 2 pm At the Traveller’s Bungalow, it was 3 pm to 9.50 pm. Most of the time was spent in making copies, compiling, attestation and so on.

Has the inspection concluded?

They have not called me today.

Did Koodankulam come up in conversation at all?

No. They didn’t mention it.

Did they ask for Udayakumar?

Once, the officer asked me where my husband was and if he was reachable. He wanted to know if I had the authority to sign and wanted to know if my husband had to give me power of attorney. We explained to them that I was one of the trustees and had the authority to sign.

Had the officials informed you of their visit?

They had sent us an email saying that we were supposed to be present in room number 9, Jaislamer House,(office of the FCRA division in Delhi) on March 29 and 30. We had replied through a lawyer that we wouldn’t be able to present ourselves. And we had sent a copy of the letter through email. But day before yesterday (March 28), an officer from SP’s office came home and informed us of the visit.

Had you received any communication from the FCRA prior to the email?

Yes. Late last year, they had sent us a questionnaire. It was pertaining to how much foreign contribution we have received. I had explained to them that there were two occasions on which we received contribution and for both we had prior permission from the FCRA. The documents have been submitted.

Did the officials speak to Udayakumar?

On two occasions, I gave the phone to one of the officials to speak to Kumar (who continues to be in Idinthakarai village, which is about 30 km from Nagercoil). My husband was explaining to him why he couldn’t be there and was apologizing for his absence.

How is Udayakumar’s health?

He has been on liquid diet for the last three days. (Udayakumar broke his nine-day fast on Wednesday). His health is a bit down. It looks like he has a flu. He has been treated at the hospital. He is feeling better today.

Has he come home after he called off his fast?

He hasn’t been home since February 28. They say that Section 144 has been relaxed for areas other than Koodankulam. They say it shouldn’t be difficult to get there. I am trying to meet him over the weekend. Since I have school tomorrow, I will to try to meet him on Sunday. I haven’t met him in the last one month.

India Edging Maoists From Mineral-Laden Land, Chidambaram Says


Palaniappan Chidambaram (1)

Image via Wikipedia

Indian police for years have abused civilians in the fight against the Maoists, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch. While India’s Supreme Court in October ordered an independent probe into allegations that police in Chhattisgarh tortured and sexually assaulted a schoolteacher whom they accused of links to the rebels, “authorities have not initiated any inquiry or criminal action against the police officers implicated,” Human Rights Watch said in a Jan. 31 statement.

February 01, 2012, 1:52 PM EST

By James Rupert and Bibhudatta Pradhan

Feb. 2 (Bloomberg) — India is winning command over mineral-rich areas where Maoist guerrilla attacks deter billions of dollars in potential investment, Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram said, one year after he declared the conflict deadlocked.

“Albeit slowly, we are gaining control of the situation,” reversing Maoist advances that began after 2004, Chidambaram said in a 40-minute interview on counter-terrorism, Pakistan and prospects for expanding foreign investment in India’s economy. “The earlier estimate that in three to four years we will be able to gain ascendancy was an optimistic estimate,” he said. “That I am willing to concede.”

Chidambaram told a conference in 2009 that reinforced police battalions in heavily forested Maoist enclaves would eliminate a rebel-run zone whose area is as big as Portugal. On Feb. 1 last year, he described “a kind of stalemate” in the insurgency, which blocks mining of bauxite, iron and other minerals. Execution Noble Ltd., a London-based financial services company, said in 2010 that the region had the potential to draw $80 billion of investment.

The minister declined to specify what period now may be needed to defeat the rebels beyond saying “it will take a few more years.” He spoke in his high-ceilinged office in the red sandstone secretariat built a century ago as the seat of Britain’s colonial government.

Chidambaram, 66, a lawyer and Harvard Business School graduate from India’s southern state of Tamil Nadu, is one of the most prominent members of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s cabinet.

Record Growth

As finance minister from 2004 until 2008, Chidambaram oversaw record economic growth that averaged 8.5 percent a year. Singh moved him to the Home Ministry amid public anger over the 2008 attack on Mumbai by 10 Pakistani guerrillas that killed 166 people.

Read more here

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