Statement condemning the Targeting and Vilification of Harsh Mander by Narendra Modi


Statement condemning the Targeting and Vilification of

Harsh Mander by Narendra Modi

N Delhi,

12th, June, 2013

 

With great pride we would like to put on record that the work of our colleague and friend Harsh Mander, for the last several years, both inside the Government as a civil servant, as well as outside the Government as a policy maker, researcher and activist has been, that of promoting in the most ethical way, non-violent ways of ensuring justice to survivors of violence due to their gender, class, caste, religious group, ethnicity or nationality. The most prominent violence which Harsh’s work has highlighted has been the one committed on the vulnerable by both the State and Society due to their invisibility, whether they be the homeless, the destitute, the old or street people.

It is shocking that the “aspirant PM” Narendra Modi has been targetting Harsh for the last week calling him a Maoist. Thus trying to belittle his work, raising doubts about him and villifying his name in public. This targetting of individuals and organisations and vilifying them is not new, earlier too he had spewed venom against Syeda Hammed, Teesta Setalvad and Shabnam Hashni amongst the several and now the new whipping boys are Harsh Mander and Dr. Binayak Sen.

The hiring of Padma, a single poor woman, estranged from her husband, as a care giver in one of the 45 Institutions for street and abandoned children run by Aman Biradari, is being twisted and used by Modi to prove that Harsh is a Maoist sympathiser. The latest spin that Harsh Mander is in any way involved with the Maoists and that he may have had anything to do at all with the abduction of Vineel Krishna, the then District Collector of Malkangiri is patently false, concocted and the figment of a very perverted imagination.

This absolutely absurd claim and false connection being made by Modi only exposes his brand of politics which is seeped, in his parent organisation the RSS from where Mr. Modi has learnt to distort facts and spread hate. His anger against Harsh also clearly goes back to the latter’s work in Gujarat struggling over ten years to ensure justice to those affected by the 2002 communal genocide. It maybe recalled that Harsh had left the prestigious civil services in 2002 and plunged himself in Gujarat and other parts of India in order to quell communal fire from spreading and working towards justice and rehabilitation of the survivors.

It goes without saying that this vilification of Harsh for partisan electoral politics be stopped. It is vital for all to understand that the perils of allowing such politics to take centre stage where democratic rights of people are attacked, impacting their right to work as they choose, amounts to an attack on the very basis of our country’s plural existence. We hope that such politics will not be promoted by political parties and the media so that people can continue to work freely for public good.

We are,

All names are in Alphabetical order

 

( IF YOU AGREE YOU CAN ENDORSE STATEMENT IN COMMENTS SECTION)

  1. Abhay Kumar, Right to Food Campaign Karnataka
  2. Akhila Sivadas, Centre for Advocacy and Research, N Delhi
  3. Ankita Agarwal, Researcher, N Delhi
  4. Annie Raja, National Federation for Indian Women, N Delhi
  5. Anuradha Talwar, New Trade Union Initiative, N Delhi
  6. Anjali Bharadwaj, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, NDelhi
  7. Apoorvanand, Prof. University of Delhi
  8. Arun Gupta and Radha Holla, Breast Feeding Promotion Network of India),
  9. Arundhati Dhuru and Ulka Mahajan, National Alliance of People’s Movements,
  10. Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shanker Singh,  Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Rajasthan
  11. Asha Mishra, Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti, N.Delhi
  12. Ashok Bharti, National Conference of Dalit Organizations, N Delhi
  13. Ashok Khandelwal, Rozi Roti Sandharbh Kendra, Rajasthan
  14. Balram, Gurjeet Singh and James Herenj (Jharkhand)
  15. Bhanwar Singh, Astha, Udaipur
  16. Bidyut Mohanty, SPREAD, Orissa
  17. Bindu Singh, Right to food Campaign, Uttar Pradesh, 
  18. Biraj Patnaik, Centre Equity Studies, NDelhi
  19. Chingmak Chang, ECS, Nagaland
  20. Clifton, Alternative law forum, Bangalore
  21. Colin Gonsalves, Human Rights Law Network, Delhi
  22. Dheeraj, Coordinator Right to Food Campaign, N Delhi
  23. Dipa Sinha, Ph.D Scholar, JNU
  24. Fr. Jothi SJ and Mr. Saradindu Biswas, Right to Food and work campaign, West Bengal
  25. Gangabhai, Social Activist, Chhattisgarh
  26. G V Ramanjaneyulu, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture,
  27. Himanshu, Associate Professor,  JNU
  28. Jean Dreze, Economist, Allahabad University
  29. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human rights activist, Mumbai
  30. Kavitha Kurughanti, Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture
  31. Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Rajasthan
  32. M Kodandram,  Academic, Central University, Hyderabad
  33. Madhuresh, NAPM
  34. Madhuri Krishnaswamy, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan
  35. Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Badwani
  36. Mira Shiva, Jan Swasthya Abhiyan, N Delhi
  37. Mukta Srivastava, Anna Adhikar Abhiyan, Maharashtra
  38. Nishat Hussein, National Muslim Women’s Welfare Society, Jaipur
  39. Paul Divakar and Asha Kowtal, National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights,
  40. 40. Pushpa, Dharmender, Ramendra, Yogesh, Vimla and Sarita (Delhi),
  41. Prof. Mohammed Hasan, Independent Scholar, Jaipur
  42. Prem Krishan Sharma, PUCL, Rajasthan
  43. Radha Kant Saxena, PUCL, Rajasthan
  44. 44. Raj Kishore Mishra, Rupantar, Orissa
  45. Rama Melkote, Prof. Central University, Hyderabad
  46. 46. Reetika Khera, Economist, N Delhi
  47. Rupesh, Koshish, Bihar,
  48. 48. Sachin Jain, Vikas Smawad, Madhya Pradesh,
  49. 49. Sameer Garg, Chaupal, Chhattisgarh
  50. Saito Basumaatary, People’s Rights Forum, Guwahati
  51. Sejal Dand and Sumitra Thakkar, Anna Adhikar Suraksha Abhiyan, Gujarat
  52. Shabnam Hashmi, Anhad
  53. Swapan Ganguly, Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samiti, WB
  54. Subhash Bhatnagar, National Campaign Committee for Unorganized Sector workers
  55. Sunil Kaul, The Ant, Assam,
  56. Suresh Sawant, Rationing Kruti Samiti, Maharashtra,
  57. Tarun Bharatiya, Film Maker, Meghalaya,
  58. V Suresh, PUCL, Tamil Nadu,
  59. Veena Shatrugna, Nutritionist expert, Hyderabad
  60. 60. Vidhya Das, Agragamee, Orissa
  61. Vijay Lakshmi, RTI Manch, Rajasthan, Jaipur
  62. Vinod Raina, Educationist, NDelhi
  63. Vipul Mudgal, Senior Fellow, CSDS

‘My arrest was psychological warfare’- Urdu Journalist


On 6 March last year, the Urdu journalist Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi was arrested for his alleged role in the car bomb attack in New Delhi that injured the wife and driver of an Israeli diplomat on 13 February 2012. Out on bail after international outrage and seven months in custody, he is now set to launch his Urdu daily Qaumi Salamati (National Security). He tells Aradhna Wal what it feels like to be persecuted
Aradhna Wal

Aradhna Wal

2013-04-20 , , Issue 16 Volume 10

Mohammad Ahmad Kazmi | 51 | Journalist
Photo: Dijeshwar Singh

EDITED EXCERPTS FROM AN INTERVIEW

What led you to start Qaumi Salamati in Urdu?
Considering my experience with the judicial process, the police mentality, people I’ve met in and out of custody, I’ve realised there is very little awareness among speakers of Urdu and other languages. What we see is not the reality. The real issues are never discussed because people in the corridors of power, in India and elsewhere, don’t want the public to talk about those issues. Terrorism has become an industry for certain countries, and certain people. From what I know, most incidents are staged. Can you conceive of a series of bomb blasts [in Pune] that kill no one? After that, many people are arrested. Do you think the blasts were real? This is a flourishing industry. You set off a firecracker in a marketplace and sell thousands of CCTV cameras, security gadgets and equipment.

Do you think the government will keep a close eye on the content of your paper, considering your pending case?
Let them. The government and the citizens are bound by the law and the Constitution. Let the law take its course.

Will you use your newspaper to fight the politics of counter terrorism?
Through Qaumi Salamati, we will try to set things right. I see my arrest as psychological warfare. You catch one person and create a sense of insecurity among thousands. But many people came out on the streets to support a so called terrorist. Not just in India, but internationally too. Around 5,000 people turned out in London, demonstrating in front of the Indian Embassy. This is the beginning of the reversal of manufactured terrorism. I met people in jail who have been facing illegal detention for months, years. They’ve been praying for a chance to be produced in court, but there are more chances of an encounter happening before that. I was told that before 15 August, 26 January, Holi or Diwali, the police produce these people before TV cameras saying they’ve caught terrorists and foiled their plot.

Why do you think they came after you?
I have almost 30 years of experience writing for different media houses in Iran. I have friends working in Tehran. If someone approaches them for a contact in Delhi, they can give my number. If that person calls me, that can be used as evidence against me. The day of the blast, I was part of a protest in the Congress office. My close relations with Iranian media were used to justify Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement, which he made within hours, calling it an Iranian attack.

How do law and policy need to change to ensure that ‘sedition’ and ‘terrorism’ are not misused to target a particular community?
My lawyer Mahmood Pracha has shown that the police have been misinterpreting the law and implementing it wrongly for years. When I was taken to the Tis Hazari court on the first day, the sub-inspector gave me a folded document to sign. I could only read the last line, which said that I was part of a conspiracy. If they had a case against me, why did they want my signature at that point? The sub-inspector later asked me to sign another copy. This time I read the whole document, which turned out to be a confession. He said in police custody they always asked people to sign like this.

What is your view of the current state of journalism in India?
The media, both in India and other countries, is full of non issues to keep people from thinking. In India, we sit in front of TV new channels for hours without having heard any news. At least a Doordarshan or an AIR bulletin gives out information. There is a set of journalists I call ‘poultry eggs’. They do stories the way editors tell them to. Reading newspapers in custody, though, I still have hope for the print media. It is more responsible.

aradhna@tehelka.com

 

#India – Fact Finding team including scientists, activists assaulted in Odisha #WTFnews


The PPSS condemns in unequivocal terms the assault on the  Civil Liberty Fact Finding Team ( Add MediaCLFFT) consisting of  Meher Engineer (Scientist, Kolkata),      Sumit Chakravartty( Editor, Mainstream Weekly), Manoranjan Mohanty (Former  Prof. Delhi University),Kamal Nayan Choubey (PUDR), Ranjana (PUDR), Pramodini   (PUCL, Odihsa), Mathew Jacob (Human Rights Law Network), Partha Ray, Sanhati, Sanjeev Kumar (Delhi Forum)when they were returning from  visit to our villages on March 9, 2013. We feel sad because they had come all the way from Delhi and Kolkota to find out truth relating to bombing and lathicharge that resulted in the killing of three of our men on March 2 and severe injuries of several women on March 7.

When the world was preparing to celebrates Women’s day, the village women of Govindpur , Dhinkia, Patanahat got brutally beaten up by police and goons close to armed police camp in Govindapur as they had gone there to demand withdrawal of police camp from the area and to allow them to live in peace on March 7 as continuous deployment of five platoons of police at Govindpur village has made life miserable for everybody. Police presence is also a major reason why bombing has taken place and we have lost 3 important lives. The presence of police is only encouraging the criminal elements to unleash a region of terror which was also experienced by the fact finding team on March 9, 2013.

Perhaps it does not require any emphasis that women are the worst hit in today’s situation. Our women don’t at all feel safe and the administration is fully aware of this fact. Despite that they are not doing anything which prompts us to say that they might be behind all these acts of violence. Everything could have come out in open by independent fact finding teams but now even such teams are attacked.

One can understand what might have happened to our women protesters on March 7. Around 2.30 p.m. on 7th March 2013, hundreds of men and women of PPSS came in procession and staged a peaceful demonstration near the Mangalapada police camp at the entry point of Gobindpur village demanding withdrawal of armed police from their locality. The police fired teargas shells and made a lathi-charge on the peaceful protestors as a result more than 40 persons have sustained injury. Women activists were cornered and beaten up by plain-clothed policewomen. Bilochan Khatua, Sulochana barik, Solia mallick, Sati Barik, Nayana Dash, Tulashi Dash, Basanti Mandal, Satya Mallick, Pravati Swain, Taaopi Samal , Lopa Samal and many more of Govindpur village were injured.

Women claimed that their eyes burned when the police fired teargas shells. This shows the government’s double standards. On one hand, the government is claiming that it was acquiring land peacefully while on the other hand it is using police force which is contradictory.

Meanwhile the South Korea’s Ambassador Kim Joong Keun visited Odisha on 6th march 2013. When people in the proposed POSCO project site are mourning the killing of 3 activists of the movement who were killed in a bomb attack on March 2, the Ambassador did not say anything to express his grief. He was obsessed with the progress of POSCO project.

We also condemn in strongest terms POSCO’s attempt to take Odisha Scribes for pleasure trip to outside. We also appeal friends from media please not to fall in the trap as people will lose complete faith in them.

Meanwhile , the CPI (ML) leader K N Ramachandran and Sarmistha Choudhury, who attended an anti-Posco meeting have announced a ’Jana Sansad’ at Jantarmantar in New Delhi on March 15 to protest ‘forcible’ land acquisition for POSCO.

Different social action groups organized a protest meeting over the  killing of Anti-POSCO Protesters and Forcible Acquisition of Land in Odisha, at Odisha Bhawan, 1 Niti Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, on 9th March (Saturday), 2013.

I am attaching herewith the statement of various social action groups on the murder of PPSS leader, Complaint to NHRC by Center for Legal Awareness and Human Rights (CLAR)  and the  latest interview of our activists Mr. Debendra Swain prepared by Video Volunteers. This is the link

 

We express our gratitude to all our friends for their support and circulating their statements.

We call on all democratic and progressive organizations and individuals to  condemn the blatant use of brute force through police as well as goons to brutally crush our democratic movement.

Kindly forward this mail widely.

Hoping for Solidarity.

Prashant Paikaray

Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti.

Mobile no – 09437571547

E- mail- prashantpaikaray@gmail.com

 

Government scared to grant me my fundamental rights: Irom Sharmila #AFSPA #Vaw


by  Mar 4, 2013, Firstpost

“The government will listen. It depends on the movement of the people because we are a democracy. What I want is peace and justice, not the administration of a government that uses violence as a means for their governance,” said a frail and emotional Irom Sharmila, addressing the media outside a Delhi Court, which has charged her with attempt to commit suicide. (Read full report here)

Sharmila continues to persevere with her more than 12-year long struggle for the repeal of the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act (AFPSA). On a protest fast since 2000, she is force fed via tube at a government hospital in Imphal, Manipur, where she remains in custody and denied free access to her family, friends and supporters.

Sharmila has been charged by the Delhi court in a 2006 case that was booked against her by the Delhi Police after she declared a fast unto death from Jantar Mantar. Described as the Iron Lady of Manipur, Sharmila pleaded not guilty to the charge of attempt to commit suicide before the Delhi Court. The next date of hearing has been fixed for May 22.

On request by her lawyers, Sharmila was permitted by the Delhi Court to a five-minute interaction with the press.

PTIPTI

Responding to question regarding the government’s stand that repeal of the AFSPA depended on the Army’s assessment of the ground realities, Sharmila said, “The government and the Army are colluding to cheat the people. The government is of the people, by the people and for the people. The government should control the Army also.”

On whether she had requested the government to permit her family and supporters free access to her, she said, “They are so scared to give me my fundamental rights. I am also a social being. I am innocent woman who loves civilization.”

When asked whether she had faith in the legal system and the central government, she said, “I have in faith in God. God will also guide the wrong-doers. I will remind them that of their real responsibility as a leaders of a society.”

Reacting to a question on the setting up of the three-member commission headed by former Supreme Court Judge Justice Hegde, which has begun hearing cases of alleged extra-judicial killings by security forces, in Manipur, Sharmila said, “The government will remain adamant for the time being. The Jeevan Reddy committee has already recommended the repeal of this draconian law.”

Making a final statement, Sharmila said, “I’m following the non-violent principle of the Father of Nation. The government should not discriminate. As a leadership, they should behave unbiasedly…I have in faith in God. God will also guide the wrong-doers. I will remind them that of their real responsibility as a leaders of a society.”

The Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) is representing Sharmila in Delhi. Speaking to the press, Svetlana, one of her counsels, said, “Now the case will move into the trial stage. If she is unable to come because of her health conditions, we will move an application for exempting her from being present in court. We haven’t filed any application to move the trial to Manipur.”

Outside the Delhi Court, students and supporters staged a protest, shouting slogans seeking the repealing of the law.

Asked what their message to Sharmila was, former president of the Manipur Students Association Delhi, Seram Rojesh said,  “We are here to give solidarity to her. The police denied us permission to meet her. In this struggle, we want to show her that she is not alone. The world is with her. She has done nothing wrong. She is fasting for the right to a dignified life. But she has been charged with 309 of IPC. We are protesting the very idea of charging her.” Rojesh is also the coordinator of the Save Democracy, Repeal AFPSA Campaign.

 

Hanging In India: Letter To A Prison Doctor #deathpenalty


By N. Jayaram

 

19 February, 2013
Countercurrents.org

Dr Vasant Yamakanmaradi, medical officer of the Central Prison, Hindalga (Belgaum), said the four convicts are both mentally and physically healthy. “We have been regularly conducting their health check-up to ensure they are fit to be executed,” he said. “All convicts have been informed about their execution.” (1)

The jail authorities began preparations for the executions after President Pranab Mukherjee rejected the mercy petitions of Veerappan’s brother Jnanaprakash, Bilavendra, Simon and Meesekar Madaiah last week.

Dear Dr Yamakanmaradi,

Assuming that you’re accurately quoted – and it is mostly likely you have been as another newspaper has also done so while spelling your name differently, it is good to know that you have been checking the health of the four convicts regularly. (2)

I wonder whether you have also been talking to the convicts doctor. Do you talk to them as just living beings that need to be kept alive until the Indian state can snuff out their lives?

Or do you see them as human beings – sons, brothers, husbands, fathers, friends, colleagues, carers of cows and dogs also perhaps? In other words as people – strange thought this – such as you and I? People who – if the criminal justice system got it right – were associated with a notorious gangster, who were caught, convicted, sentenced to death and spent more than eight years in prison, perhaps coming around to believing that their lives will be spared? In many of the shrinking number of countries that retain the death penalty, an eight-year wait would have led to commutation.

The four condemned in your prison claim to be innocent – and the best criminal justice systems in the world, including those in Europe and North America have thrown up numerous cases of miscarriages of justice.

Does it bother you that you might be helping in preparing to hang people who might well be telling the truth when they claim to be innocent? Or are do you believe Indian policemen and security forces always catch the right people and scrupulously adhere to the letter of the law? Surely you know of rampant encounter killings? If not, I invite you to read the reports of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Human Rights Law Network, the Asian Human Rights Commission, Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch and a host of other NGOs.

Have you read the famous essay, “A Hanging” by George Orwell, doctor? (3) It is not only one of the best essays in the English language, the subject of classroom study around the world. It is also a powerful record by a fine mind watching the process of a hanging under British colonialism. Here’s an excerpt, but I recommend reading the full version:

It was about forty yards to the gallows… At each step his muscles slid neatly into place, the lock of hair on his scalp danced up and down, his feet printed themselves on the wet gravel. And once, in spite of the men who gripped him by each shoulder, he stepped slightly aside to avoid a puddle on the path.

It is curious, but till that moment I had never realized what it means to destroy a healthy, conscious man. When I saw the prisoner step aside to avoid the puddle, I saw the mystery, the unspeakable wrongness, of cutting a life short when it is in full tide. This man was not dying, he was alive just as we were alive. All the organs of his body were working — bowels digesting food, skin renewing itself, nails growing, tissues forming–all toiling away in solemn foolery. His nails would still be growing when he stood on the drop, when he was falling through the air with a tenth of a second to live. His eyes saw the yellow gravel and the grey walls, and his brain still remembered, foresaw, reasoned – reasoned even about puddles. He and we were a party of men walking together, seeing, hearing, feeling, understanding the same world; and in two minutes, with a sudden snap, one of us would be gone–one mind less, one world less.

Have you taken the Hippocratic oath or a version thereof, doctor? (4) Perhaps you have a copy with you? Here is a reminder of three lines in the oath:

• Even under threat, I will not use my medical knowledge contrary to the laws of Humanity.

• I will not permit considerations of religion, nationality, race, party politics or social standing to intervene between my duty and my patient.

• The health of my patient will be my first consideration.

NB: “…religion, nationality, party politics or social standing”. The Indian state has in recent months executed a Pakistani Muslim convicted of the 2008 Bombay attacks and a Kashmiri Muslim recently for his alleged role – never conclusively proven – in the 2001 Parliament attacks in New Delhi. The Supreme Court thought the death penalty for Afzal Guru was needed to satisfy the “collective conscience of the society”. The lives of Maya Kodnani, Babu Bajrangi and several others convicted of their role in the Gujarat pogrom of 2002 were – rightly in the opinion of those opposed to the death penalty – spared by the good judge Jyotsna Yagnik. Do you, doctor, ask yourself why it is that the indigent, the minorities, the Dalits and the lower castes pack death row?

Do you think preparing prisoners, checking on their health, taking their pulse with the purpose of overseeing their death is in consonance with the oath you took when you entered the profession, doctor?

Perhaps you do believe in the rightness of the death penalty in some cases. But do you seriously think each of the hundreds now on death row in India deserves to die? Do go through an exceedingly well thought out essay by a leading surgeon and writer in the United States, who is of Indian origin, who does believe in the death penalty in certain cases. Dr Atul Gawande is the award-winning author of books such as Complications: A Surgeon’s Notes on an Imperfect Science (2002), Better: A Surgeon’s Notes on Performance (2007) and The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right (2009).

In a March 2006 essay in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled “When Law and Ethics Collide – Why Physicians Participate in Executions”, he has noted that the American Medical Association (AMA), the American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) and other professional bodies are opposed to doctors taking part in putting convicts to death. The ASA president is quoted as saying, “Physicians are healers, not executioners”. (5)

Again, an excerpt to whet your appetite:

In 1980 … the AMA passed a resolution against physician participation as a violation of core medical ethics. It affirmed that ban in detail in its 1992 Code of Medical Ethics. Article 2.06 states, “A physician, as a member of a profession dedicated to preserving life when there is hope of doing so, should not be a participant in a legally authorized execution,” although an individual physician’s opinion about capital punishment remains “the personal moral decision of the individual.” It states that unacceptable participation includes prescribing or administering medications as part of the execution procedure, monitoring vital signs, rendering technical advice, selecting injection sites, starting or supervising placement of intravenous lines, or simply being present as a physician. Pronouncing death is also considered unacceptable, because the physician is not permitted to revive the prisoner if he or she is found to be alive. Only two actions were acceptable: provision at the prisoner’s request of a sedative to calm anxiety beforehand and certification of death after another person had pronounced it.

The code of ethics of the Society of Correctional Physicians establishes an even stricter ban: “The correctional health professional shall… not be involved in any aspect of execution of the death penalty.” The American Nurses Association (ANA) has adopted a similar prohibition. Only the national pharmacists’ society, the American Pharmaceutical Association, permits involvement…

Perhaps you would say, “what can I do, orders are orders”? Harsh Mander, a former officer of the Indian Administrative Service who eventually went back to the Lal Bahadur Shastri Academy in Mussoorie which trains civil servants, has written extensively about the right and duty of officials to dissent in the face of injustice. Have you read his columns in The Hindu and other newspapers, doctor? Just google them. Most instructive.

The Supreme Court has given a stay of execution until Wednesday and it is to be hoped the constitutionality of the practice will be considered afresh. You can then get back to the health of the four with a view to doing what your oath enjoined you to do – preserving them in good health, not participating in their death.

N. Jayaram is a journalist now based in Bangalore after more than 23 years in East Asia (mainly Hong Kong and Beijing) and 11 years in New Delhi. He was with the Press Trust of India news agency for 15 years and Agence France-Presse for 11 years and is currently engaged in editing and translating for NGOs and academic institutions. He writes a blog: http://walkerjay.wordpress.com/ 

Notes

1. “ Belgaum jail awaits hanging orders for Veerappan aides” http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/Belgaum-jail-awaits-hanging-orders-for-Veerappan-aides/articleshow/18550276.cms

2. “Veerappan aides’ fate still hanging” http://www.deccanchronicle.com/130218/news-current-affairs/article/veerappan-aides-fate-still-hanging

3. “A Hanging” by George Orwell, http://www.george-orwell.org/A_Hanging/0.html . There is also an audio version http://thelongestchapter.com/tag/a-hanging/

4. Indian Medical Association: Medical Oath http://www.ima-india.org/IMA_medical_oath.html

5. “ When Law and Ethics Collide — Why Physicians Participate in Executions ” http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMp068042

Dr Rina Mukherji wins case of sexual harassment against ‘The Statesman’ after 10 years #Vaw #Justice


The Cost of Justice

February 13, 2013 News, feministindia.com
Rina Mukherji-1In 2002, Dr Rina Mukherji, then a senior reporter working for The Statesman complained of sexual harassment against Ishan Joshi, the news coordinator for the paper. On October 12, 2002, she was fired from her job.

Dr. Mukherji, then approached Network of Women in Media in India (NWMI) , the West Bengal Commission for Women and the Labour Commissioner. The Statesman refused conciliation proceedings and the labour suit moved to the Industrial Tribunal against the management of The Statesman . Ten years later, on February 6, 2013, the Court ruled in her favour. Rina Mukherji recounts her struggle for justice in this first person account

A full decade. That is the amount of time I have taken to win justice. More than three years of the period was lost due to vacant courts bereft of judges or stalling of proceedings on various pretexts by lawyers from the opposing side.

I was lucky to have been supported by many in the profession, as also outside it. Professor Jashodhara Bagchi, the then Chairperson of the West Bengal Commission for Women, went through a harrowing time trying to settle the dispute with The Statesman. Her experience, though, exposed the flaws in the system and led us to realize that the Commission lacked “teeth.” We also realized that an employer could easily upstage a complainant by dragging a dispute to court, and with the judicial system we have, a matter would drag on for years. In the meanwhile, a complainant loses precious years of professional life, and is blacklisted by employers.

Even if you land up a full-time job with an employer who is extremely supportive of your plight, it is difficult to work when you have to keep shunting between courts for months (and years) together. In my case, I had a labour suit to attend in Kolkata, and two libel suits-one civil and the other criminal with the latter in Delhi, to attend to. I was left with no option but to freelance, notwithstanding the regular drain on my resources.

One of the worst problems when you have a complaint of sexual harassment at the workplace-is that no lawyer is willing to take up the case. They are apprehensive of losing the case, since they lack experience in such matters. (This again, is because of the deafening silence on such issues in a patriarchal society, which manifests itself in women keeping away from reporting on them). In my case, it was a media house, and hence even scarier! If not for Ms. Sutapa Chakrabarty of the Human Rights Law Network, (HRLN), an NGO providing legal aid to those who suffer a breach of their human rights, I might have had to plead my case myself.

There is another point I wish to make about those who swear by the names of celebrated legal luminaries. The lawyers at HRLN who fought my case were young and bright; and most of all, committed. Shamit Sanyal, Debashis Banerjee and his wife, Rajashri Banerjee, and Ambalika Roy brought a degree of commitment that is undeniable.

In fact, Debashis Banerjee worked hard to put forth the winning arguments that ultimately decided the case in my favour and got me an award from the Industrial tribunal granting my reinstatement and full back wages from the time of my termination by the management of The Statesman. And this was –to quote him- the “first case he had taken up as an advocate.”

The police, even if they be sympathetic and helpful, are utterly confused about how to deal with a white-collar offender. Eve-teasing or molestation by roadside miscreants is easy for them to deal with. But an educated man who is highly-placed in an organization can refuse to co-operate with the police investigation and easily get away with it due to loopholes in the legal system.

The Vishakha Guidelines were formulated with the best of intentions. But sexual harassment complaints committees in organizations are, more often than not, a total farce since the Guidelines presuppose organizations to be fair in bringing offenders to justice when a complaint is made to them. In my case, there was no such committee at The Statesman during my tenure. The pressure put in by Network of Women in Media in India ( NWMI), had my ex-employers hurriedly set up their committee.

My complaint, however, was never investigated into. Even as they refused to take cognizance of my complaint, The Statesman actually promoted the offender to a higher position.

One only hopes women will have a better deal once the Sexual Harassment at Workplace Bill becomes an Act in the near future.

The industrial tribunal has awarded me reinstatement and full back wages from the time I was terminated in October 2002 on the ground that it was illegal. However, the libel suits-filed against me by The Statesman and Ishan Joshi for having tarnished their reputation are yet to be decided. I still have a long way to go for a full victory.

Rina Mukherji is a senior journalist currently based in Kolkata. She has worked for over two decades in the print and online media specializing in issues related to sustainable development, the environment and human rights . She is the recipient of the 2011-2012 Laadli Media Award for Gender Sensitivity ( Eastern Region) and several international fellowships for reporting on science, the environment and public health

#India- Court issues order on right of pregnant prisoners to access MTP #womenrights #reproductiverights


MADHYA PRADESH HIGH COURT AT INDORE ISSUES ORDER ON THE RIGHT OF PREGNANT PRISONERS TO ACCESS MEDICAL TERMINATION OF PREGNANCY

 

INDORE – The High Court of Madhya Pradesh at Indore issued an order allowing Hallo Bi, a pregnant female prisoner, to exercise her reproductive rights under the Medical Termination of Pregnancy Act (Act). Hallo Bi had been sold into prostitution by her husband and after months of continuous instances of rape, she became pregnant.

In the order, the Court wrote, “We cannot force a victim of violent rape/forced sex to give birth to a child of a rapist. The anguish and the humiliation which the petitioner is suffering daily, will certainly cause a grave injury to her mental health.” This is a positive development for Hallo Bi and sets an important precedent for similar circumstances by affirming rape victims’ right to lawful termination of pregnancy under the 1971 Act. Unsafe abortions are one of the leading causes of maternal mortality in India with approximately 6.7 million abortions performed every year at unregulated facilities, often by medical practitioners untrained in abortion services.

In early December 2012, Human Rights Law Network (HRLN) Reproductive Rights Unit Assistant Director, Ms. Karla Torres, read an article in the Times of India about a pregnant woman who was in prison for murdering her husband and had been ordered to make a written application to the High Court for a termination of pregnancy. After communicating with HRLN advocate Mrs. Shanno Shagufta Khan in Indore and meeting with Hallo Bi, HRLN filed a petition requesting the High Court to allow for a medical termination of pregnancy.

The petition also stressed the Act’s silence on this issue and asked the High Court to issue guiding directions. As both the Act and the jail manual are silent on this aspect, the High Court had requested Hallo Bi to submit a written application for a medical termination of pregnancy. The High Court subsequently denied Hallo Bi’s application. HRLN’s petition stressed that the High Court had erred in not allowing Hallo Bi’s application as the power to refuse the same did not lie with the High Court.

Under the Act, the decision to terminate a pregnancy is between a woman and her doctor(s). As such, once a medical practitioner is of the opinion that the pregnant woman falls within the conditions laid down in the Act, a medical termination of pregnancy can take place. A court, therefore, does not have authority to determine whether a woman can or cannot terminate her pregnancy. Instead, a court can ensure that a woman who requests a medical termination of pregnancy under circumstances that satisfy the Act is provided with adequate medical care and services to fulfil her right to a termination of pregnancy.

Although the High Court found that Hallo Bi’s circumstances satisfied the MTP Act, the Court did not include guiding directions. Notwithstanding, HRLN plans to request a review of the petition so that this issue is taken up afresh and guiding directions are issued.

Download the full order here

 

Supreme Court admits PIL on cancer cervical vaccine trial #goodnews


TNN | Jan 8, 2013,

INDORE: The Supreme Court on Monday admitted a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by local activists alleging that pharma companies had conducted unauthorised drug tests of their vaccine on tribal girls.

The petition alleges that pharma companies, including Glaxo Smithkline and MSD Pharmaceuticals Pvt Ltd tested gardasil and cervarix — two unproven HPV vaccines purported to prevent cervical cancer — on nearly 24,000 tribal girls in Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat, including 44 persons at the Maharaja Yeshwantrao Hospital (MYH). Of 44 patients subjected to drug trials in the state, 10 were males.

PIL filed by Kalpana Mehta of Indore, Nalini Bhanot and V Rukmini Rao representing Gramya Resource Centre for Women alleges that the testing had led to adverse effects on girls’ health and the pharma companies ignored their further treatment. Seven girls allegedly succumbed during the vaccine trial. The petitioners were represented by Colin Gonsalves of the Human Rights Law Network.

Admitting the case, Justice S Radhakrishnan and Justice Dipak Misra have directed the Union government to immediately file its reply on the issue.

The apex court has also directed that the Christian Medical College, Vellore, should be asked to examine the medical record of the girls in question and submit a report to the court.

This order comes in the backdrop of allegations by activists that multinational companies are influencing state governments to carry out clinical trials on humans, which are often not transparent or regulated efficiently. The PIL alleges that PATH, an NGO, had initiated a project for the introduction of the two vaccines in India by signing a MoU with ICMR even before they were licensed by the Drugs Controller of India.

 

Cash Prizes Fuel India’s Sterilization Overdrive #Vaw #Coercion #Reproductiverights


By Swapna Majumdar

WeNews correspondent

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Spurred by cash incentives, state workers in the state of Rajasthan offer prizes to women to undergo tubal ligation in mass sterilization drives. Critics call it a coercive process that restricts women’s right to know their contraceptive choices.

 

Women await their turn for sterilization at a primary health center in Rajasthan.
Women await their turn for sterilization at a primary health center in Rajasthan.

 

Credit: Swapna Majumdar

 

NEW DELHI (WOMENSENEWS)–

A few days after Rukma Devi underwent sterilization in the Rajsamand district of Rajasthan, she suffered intense pain in her abdomen. Fever and body aches followed.

Devi had registered at one of the state’s “sterilization camps,” part of the nation’s campaign to reduce the number of births. The effort is characterized by drives conducted in village primary health care clinics that aim to meet government targets of sterilizing as many women, through tube tying, as possible within a certain time span.

A few months later, when the abdominal pain still hadn’t gone away, the mother of four went to a local doctor and got some shocking news.

She was pregnant.

Rajasthan, in the north of India, has earned the dubious distinction as the state with the most failed sterilizations in 2012. Out of 2,609 failures reported so far this year, 772 were registered in Rajasthan, according to the national government’s statistics. The average number of children a woman bears in Rajasthan is 3.3, far higher than the national average of 2.6

These statistics provided the backdrop for legal and health activists to discuss ways to curb the sterilization push over a two-day meeting in New Delhi in late November.

Kerry McBroom is director of the reproductive rights unit of the Human Rights Law Network, a New Delhi-based group of lawyers that has already spurred the Supreme Court to rebuke the national and state governments for unhygienic sterilizations of poor, low-caste women in many parts of the country, including Rajasthan. She said women’s rights at sterilization camps are being violated by doctors and health facilities across the county who flout national and international ethical and procedural guidelines.

“The quality and nature of information that health workers provide women and their families to convince them to be sterilized is questionable, raising doubts about informed consent,” McBroom said.

She cited the Indian government‘s 2006 quality-assurance protocol for sterilization services as well as 2011 guidelines by the International Federation for Obstetricians and Gynecologists on female contraceptive sterilization.

Mandatory Information

Both standards say that before a woman undergoes sterilization she must be informed about other, reversible forms of family planning. She must also be counseled about possible complications and, if deciding on the sterilization option, be provided with hygienic conditions and adequate medical equipment.

Of the 225 million women aged 15 to 49 sterilized worldwide, 40 percent live in India.

Roughly 80 percent of all women in India use sterilization as their contraceptive method primarily because the government promotes sterilization as a means of family planning and population control.

But this sterilization overdrive leads to an inordinate degree of failure.

In the past three years Rajasthan has paid more than $10 million to compensate women for failed sterilizations, according to information obtained under the national Right to Information Act by Yedunath Dashanan, an activist based in Jaipur, the state capital.

The government’s reply to that application, released in September 2012, showed 4,200 failed sterilization cases in Rajasthan between 2009 and 2011. The response also showed 16 deaths due to sterilization complications. Tubal ligation is generally safe, but in parts of India such procedures are carried out in violation of prescribed safety standards, often with fatal consequences for marginalized women.

Still, the state government continues to promote female sterilization to stabilize its population and lower fertility rates. In keeping with its goal of achieving 698,604 sterilizations in 2012-13, the state medical and health department asked its health workers in July this year to sterilize 100,000 people within the fortnight coinciding with World Population Day (July 11).

To meet these targets, state health officials offer cars on a lottery basis and free cooking gas connections to promote sterilization. Each health worker who facilitates the operation also receives cash incentives, which are openly mentioned in family planning programs.

Coerced Sterilizations

Incentives such as these lead to coerced sterilization, mainly of women, said Dr. Abhijit Das, director of the Centre for Health and Social Justice, a New Delhi-based nongovernmental organization working on gender equity and health.

“India focuses on female sterilization as its main tool of family planning,” said Das. “There is a lack of choice as providers focus only on sterilization. Women accept it as the best option as no information is provided about other family planning methods.”

Das added that the lack of information violates the National Population Policy 2000, which stresses informed choice and target-free approaches in administering family planning services. State medical practitioners, he said, reveal a worrying degree of ignorance about national and international ethical guidelines on sterilizations.

About 1.7 million women in Rajasthan do not have access to contraceptives, Das said. “There is also a lack of understanding of potential adverse outcomes for sterilizations. The poor technical quality of the services provided is leading to increased deaths, increased failures and morbidities.”

In a 2010 study of 749 women who underwent these sterilizations in the Bundi district of Rajasthan, authors found 2.5 percent became pregnant, far above the international standard for pregnancy following failed sterilizations of 0.5 percent.

The study was conducted by Manjri, a nongovernmental organization based in Nainwa, Bundi district, in collaboration with the Centre for Health and Social Justice. It found that 88 percent of participants were not told about failures or complications and 27 percent received no advice about post-sterilization care.

Violations included conducting only three of the 11 mandatory physical examinations before the surgery.

Almost all the women were discharged within four hours of the operation, which involves cutting or blocking the fallopian tubes, although 7.6 percent of them were still unconscious. This too apparently violates the nation’s health standards that say a patient can be discharged four hours after the tubal ligation surgery only if her vital signs are stable, she is fully awake, has passed urine and can walk.

Swapna Majumdar is a journalist based in New Delhi and writes on gender, development and politics.

 

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