Who killed this scribe? #Chhattisgarh #India

A week after the death of Nemichand Jain, the questions pile up casting a shadow over journalism in this conflict zone, says GEETA SESHU. Pix: Nemichand Jain (courtesy: Kamal Shukla)
Posted/Updated Wednesday, Feb 20 23:54:03, 2013

Mystery shrouds the death of Nemichand Jain, a journalist who was allegedly killed by Maoists on February 12, 2013, as they suspected him of being a police informer.

The killing again draws attention to the precarious nature of journalism practiced in rural areas, in conflict zones and in places where the media is unorganized.

Jain was stabbed to death at Leda village of Sukma district late Tuesday while he was returning from a local weekly market to his village Tongapal,” Lakhan Patel, a senior police official in Sukma, told a news agency.  While Patel also said he couldn’t confirm whether Maoists or local rivals were behind the killing, police produced pamphlets thrown around the site of the killing that stated the ‘journalist’ was killed for being a police informer.

Jain was well known in the area and had made a name in rural reporting for the last 20 years, said Anil Mishra, Tehelka correspondent from Chhattisgarh. Like a number of journalists here, he was also a distributor of newspapers in his area. “He was a source of information about local issues that he would feed to journalists of the newspapers he distributed,” said Kamal Shukla, journalist and blogger from Kanker district. Jain used to write out short reports and send them to these newspapers, so in the complex information-gathering processes of rural reporting, he did perform a journalistic role, Shukla felt.

According to Mishra, there is still a lot of confusion over the perpetuators of the crime. At first, journalists of the area thought that the pamphlet announcing the Maoist involvement was a fake one! “For one, its colour was not the usual red colour and it was written in a different style, “ concurs Ruchir Garg, correspondent for NaiDuniya.

They point out that the day after the killing, another pamphlet issued ostensibly by the Kate Kalyan area committee, a part of the Darba divisional committee of the Maoists, denied their hand in the killing.  Today, the Kanger Ghati area committee issued a pamphlet taking responsibility for the killing, terming Jain as a ‘mukhbari’ (a spy or informer).

The multiple pamphlets have aroused suspicion that the police have also have a hand in the killing, said senior journalist and President of the Chhattisgarh Union of Working Journalists, NRK Pillai.  Bemoaning the manner in which the safety of journalists was continuously compromised in areas of conflict, Pillai said that he was not at all sure of the authenticity of the pamphlets.

Another factor was that Maoists had never, thus far, killed any journalists in the bloody war in Chhattisgarh, Mishra said. “There was no warning, or threats and his family also said he used to give news of Maoist statements and campaigns too, “ Mishra said.

Garg added that usually, Maoists do issue threats to journalists, maybe even issue an ultimatum to journalists to leave the area. And even then, the Maoists launch an intense campaign against the journalist before taking any action, he added.

Mishra demanded that police investigate reports that Jain had exposed the tin smugglers in the area and had a fight with the sons of a prominent tin smuggler only a few days before his death.  The smuggling of tin and colombite, which villagers extract from rock in the area, is highly profitable and Jain had exposed this smuggling.

Shukla, however, is in no doubt that the Maoists had a hand in the killing of Nemichand Jain.  According to his information, a week before the killing, a local group of Maoists held a jansabha and had kept in custody an innocent person from his village but Nemichand was instrumental freeing this person, angering them.

Nemichand was more of a local social activist than a journalist, Shukla said, and tried to mediate between villagers and the administration to resolve local issues like water supply or get the newspapers he distributed to write on these local issues.The allegation that he was a police informer was also not true, as Nemichand was known to have taken up cudgels against the police, said Shukla, quoting the local villagers.

In his blog, Shukla said that independent journalists of Bastar had actually done a service to the Maoists by highlighting their struggle and the police repression in the ‘undeclared war’ that has led to so much violence and killing in the area. Maoists didn’t take action against journalists who worked for tendu-leaf, mining and timber contractors, corporate houses and the administration, he complained.

Shukla, who was beaten up in 2012 when he tried to report on the large-scale felling of trees by a relative of the state’s forest minister, felt that journalists must boycott press statements from Maoists till they acknowledge their hand in the killings and punish the perpetuators!

For long, journalists in Chhattisgarh have been speaking out on the perils of reporting from the conflict zone. If they highlight local issues, the police target them as Maoists, said Pillai, who, along with Anil Mishra and Yeshwant Yadav,  was at the receiving end of death threats in 2011, issued by the Adivasi Swabhimaan Manch, an organization allegedly sponsored by the police.

“In our areas, it is not uncommon for police to prey on weak journalists and lure them into providing information, “ says Pillai, adding that the arrangement may have gone sour. In fact, journalists are often targeted by the police for being ‘naxal’ informers, he added.

Earlier, journalists received innumerable threats from the Salwa Judum, the militia raised by local landlords with police support to fight the Maoists. In Bhopalapatnam, Afzal Khan and in Konta, Sanjay Reddy and Sheikh Anwar were the receiving of such police allegations. Sheikh Anwar, who was a senior and well-known journalist in the area, was still under arrest, Pillai said.

While journalists have demanded an inquiry into the killing and into the failure of the police to ensure the safety of journalists in the area, it is clear that incident has rattled the media in this already stressed and dangerous place. As Mishra put it, “Thus far, we thought there could be nothing worse than dealing with the police and their harassment, their threats and false cases. But if this news is true and the Maoists also start attacking us and killing us, where do we go and where can our journalism go?”

13- year-old tribal girl burnt alive by a jain family,raped ? #Naiduniya #Chhattisgarh #paidmedia

No english daily, national  , or even a channel ? has covered this #paidmedia

One english paper-  HITAVAD covered it

 The front-page of Hindi Newspaper, Nai duniya , Chhattisgarh edition today informs that a 13 year old  , sukmadi vadhda,  abujhmadiya a primitive tribal girl  from narayanpur, chhattisgarh, who was burnt alive by a jain family early this month might have been raped .Post mortem report reveals that   there is a possibility that 13 years old   girl,was raped before  burning her alive by a Jain family.But the post mortem report does not reveal all, and will   be sent to  forensic  science laboratory  in Raipur f or confirmation of sexual assault

On september 2,  the district court  judge ordered all the  family members of the Jain  family ,  Praful Jain, Prabha Jain, Pintu Jain  to 15 days  judicial custody under  IPC  Sec 302 and also have registered a case under the Atrocities act . 


13-yr-old girl raped, set on fire by father HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Raipur, September 07, 2012

A thirteen-year-old girl was repeatedly raped by her father, a daily wage earner, for two weeks and then set ablaze by him and left to die on the outskirts of the Chhattisgarh capital recently.

The girl was raped after her mother, also a daily wage earner, left the house after frequent squabbles with her husband.

Neighbours took the victim to a government hospital, where she is being treated for nearly 60% burn.

Doctors attending on the girl told HT she was out of danger but the traumatised girl was at a loss to fathom why her mother left her to the mercy of her father who not only raped her but tried to kill her as well.

The mother rushed to the hospital on learning about her daughter’s agony but seemed to be too shocked to speak to HT. She just said she would never forgive herself for leaving her daughter behind.

City superintendent of police Neeraj Chandrakar said, “The father has been booked for rape, attempt to murder and criminal assault. The girl narrated her ordeal in a statement, saying that she was raped for over two weeks after her mother went away from the family. The father tried to burn and kill her.”

Setback for OPG Power plant, Kutch,Gujarat

Buisness Standard  New Delhi Feb 15, 2012

In a major setback to OPG Power Gujarat, the National Green Tribunal has directed it to stop work at its 300 Mw thermal power plant at Bhadreshwar, Gujarat.

The ongoing construction work was challenged before the Tribunal by fisherfolk, saltpan workers and local villagers. The Tribunal said till all approvals were obtained by the project proponent, no construction activity should take place, said Ritwik Dutta, legal counsel for the appellants.

The Tribunal is a specialised body having the expertise to handle environmental disputes involving multi-disciplinary issues. It was established in 2010 under the National Green Tribunal Act for effective and expeditious disposal of cases relating to environmental protection.

OPG Power started construction work without the required approvals, including those under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and CRZ clearance. This projectis located in Mundra Taluk, Kutch district.

On its website, the company had said “work had begun on the site. The generating plants are scheduled to be commissioned in 2013.”

The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) earlier this month had issued a showcause notice to OPG Power, seeking explanation on the violation of the coastal regulation zone (CRZ) notification, 2011, in the construction of the plant in the ecologically sensitive Bhadreshwar coast.

In the showcause notice, it has asked the company why the clearance issued to it in September 2011 under the CRZ notification should not be kept in abeyance after cases of violations by the company surfaced.

The NGT in its judgment cited the environmental clearance letter, which clearly stipulates that the project proponent shall not start any construction or project enabling activities unless and until environmental clearance as well as all requisite prior permission and clearances are obtained.


Following mass protests in Kutch along the sea shore, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India, has issued a strongly-worded notice to OPG Power Gujarat Ltd, currently involved in building a 300 MW power plant in Mundra taluka ofKutchdistrict, saying it has violated provisions of the coastal regulatory zone (CRZ) notification of 2011. The plant is being built near village Bhadreshwar, about 25 kilometres from theMundraPortand about 48 kilometres from the Kandla port, and its ultimate goal is to expand its capacity to 2,600 MW.

The notice, dated February 6, 2012, and sent to the OPG’s head office in Chennai, says, the Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) appraised the project twice, on February 14-15, 2011, and April 5-6, 2011. However, the OPG failed to bring to the notice of the EAC the “involvement of forest land.” Scheduled to be commissioned in 2013, equipment has been ordered from the vendors, including Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd, to complete the work on the plant. OPG hired Tata Consulting Engineers for providing engineering expertise and Gannon Dunkerley for civil construction.

The notice said, OPG in its justification of the violation argued that after obtaining CRZ clearance in November 2011 it “became aware that that the most viable route for the sea water pipelines would pass through a very small tract of land, which is forest land, and it applied to the deputy conservator of forests for diversion of 3.68 hectares (ha) forest land for laying down the proposed sea water pipelines.” Rejecting the argument, the notice underlined, “Disclosure of information after appraisal of the project amounts to suppression of information by the project proponent before the Ministry and EAC at the time of appraisal.”

Citing rules, the notice said, “If a project involves forest as well as non-forest land, work should be started till approval of the Central government for release of forest land under the Act has been given.” Given this situation, the OPG has been asked to give an explanation within a fortnight, as “CRZ clearance issued to the project cannot be kept in abeyance.” If no response is received, the notice warns, the MoEF will be obliged to take “appropriate orders” without any further notice.

Among those opposing the OPG’s power project include fisherworkers, salt pan workers and grazing communities living on the Bhadreshwar coast, who believe that the plant as serious impacts as it would bring about adverse impact on their livelihoods. They have held several protests since 2009 under the banner of Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan (MASS), a fishworker’s trade union.

The OPG Group’s initial public hearing in 2009 to set up the 300 MW thermal plant was met with stiff opposition from local communities whose livelihoods were under threat due to the project. While theGujaratgovernment’s State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) was still deliberating on the issue, OPG applied to MoEF for expansion to 2600 MW. “The pending approval from the SEIAA was not at all mentioned in the application to the MoEF”, a MASS statement said, adding, “This piece of information was only revealed when an RTI application was filed by MASS.”

MASS statement statement further said, “On September 16, 2011 the company got its approval under the CRZ notification, but with a long list of conditions attached. However, the forest permission (needed to convert lands for non-forest use) was granted. Yet, the company started its construction and went ahead without obtaining necessary clearances.” MASS wrote a letter dated November 1, 2011 to the Union environment minister, forest department, police department officials highlighting this violation and urging immediate action. Yet, it fell on deaf ears, till the latest notice to OPG on February 6, 2012.

Indore psychiatrists admit to conducting drug trials on mentally ill patients

INDORE : Days after several government doctors of Indore were penalised for illegally conducting drug trials on mentally ill patients, some doctors admitted on camera to the ongoing unethical practices in the profession.

Headlines Today conducted a sting operation to exposes how doctors have been actively violating drug trial laws, converting patients into guinea pigs and then abandoning them to die.

The Madhya Pradesh government washed off its hands by imposing a meagre fine of Rs.5,000 each on five doctors for conducting trials on mentally ill patients between 2008 and 2010. It has now passed on the buck to the Centre to take further action.

Headlines Today recorded on hidden cameras how doctors, motivated by blind ambition and greed for money, conducted trials on patients and found out how patients were duped into volunteering for trials and later abandoned to suffer.

Hemant Jain, one of the leading psychiatrists in Indore, shares the credit for inventing the bivalent polio vaccine. However, according to an Economic Offences Wing (EOW) report submitted to the chief secretary of the state, 18 deaths were recorded during the trials conducted by Dr Jain.

Headlines Today asked Dr Jain on hidden cameras what was the scope of making a profit per case by conducting drug trials.

Headlines Today: Doctor, this whole thing about money… Can you give me a rough break up?
Dr Hemant Jain: I will tell you. It is about 18-20 per cent margin.

Amongst several others, Dr Jain conducted a trial on Ajay Naik’s newborn son, Yatharth in 2010 for a polio vaccine. Ajay was informed by Dr Jain’s assistants that the government has started a scheme under which it was vaccinating the newborn babies for free.

“We were not told about the trial at all. Had I known, do you think I would have gone,” asked Naik.

Naik’s son was just two-day-old when Dr Jain tried for a vaccine meant for one-month-olds. The newborn developed white spots all over his body. When Dr Jain was contacted, he refused to acknowledge the side effects. Naik still did not know that it was a drug trial until he started getting his son treated by a skin specialist.

Naik said that when his case was taken up by the media, Dr Jain threatened him and even tried to bribe him.

“After there was uproar in the media, Hemant Jain called me to his clinic and said that writing to the National Human Rights Commission will not help my case. He offered me a help of Rs.40,000 and a job and asked me to keep shut,” Naik said.

He, however, rejected the offer and since then has been paying for it. Now no doctor agrees to vaccinate his one-and-a-half-year-old son for basic ailments. “They ask me to get a written permission from Dr Jain first,” Naik said.

Trials for career progression
While money has been a driving force behind these trials, there was another major factor. Pali Rastogi, one of the psychiatrists who conducted clinical trials on 20 patients, revealed on spy camera that apart from the money that was paid to him per patient for the trial, why the trials were so important for the doctors.

Headlines Today: Apart from the money aspect, how else do the trials benefit you?
Dr Pali Rastogi: Our promotions depend on the number of international researches we have conducted. That is why they are very important.

Death of trial victim
In the frenzy to conduct such trials, patients are often duped into volunteering for the trial. Krishna Kumar Gehlot, 80, died within a week of Headlines Today’s interaction with him. Known as an extremely skilled tailor at one point of time, he was confined to his bed for the last seven years before finally succumbing to death.

In 2007, Dr Apoorva Puranik and his team of assistants told Gehlot that he should volunteer for an asthma trial and it would treat him fully because it was as American medicine.

Gehlot, enticed by the foreign remedy for his lung infection, volunteered. For months on end, he was supposed to use several TFT pumps and record the data. When the trial ended, he could hardly walk on his feet.

“When I told the doctors, they said they cannot do anything. I should go die in my bed and not bother them,” Gehlot, who struggled to survive and with no money to pay for the medical expenses died, had said before his death.

Violation of guidelines
According to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) rules, all patients should have a copy of the insurance under which they are covered for the trial. Moreover, they should be fully informed about the side effects of the trial.

Niranjan Lal Pathak, 70, suffered a massive heart attack in 2008. He was taken to the MYM Hospital for treatment.

“We were told that his case has been selected for a special government project for free treatment. So we agreed,” said Niranjan’s nephew Alok Pathak.

Headlines Today found that the one-page consent form suggested that it was for a “study” and not for a trial. Headlines Today has a copy of the original 16-page form in English that should be signed by the patients instead. The original form has details about the side effects, risks and the insurance terms. In none of the cases above, the patients were made to sign the original form. Pathak was actually made a part of a trial for cardiac problems. As a side effect, Pathak was later diagnosed with dementia.

“They have turned a hail hearty man into a dependant. Sometimes, he loses the way to his own house, refuses to recognise his family members,” Alok alleged.

Dr Apporva Puranik refused to help him or acknowledge the side effect.

Headlines Today also got exclusive copy of the insurance papers that say that “mentally ill patients are only insured for a physical injury during the trial”. As a result, volunteers are not eligible for any compensation if they suffer from any mental illness as a side effect. When Headlines Today tried to contact the doctors, they refused to comment.

’81 deaths in 3 years’
The EOW report also mentions 81 deaths between 2008 and 2010 due to drug trials in Indore. No post-mortem examinations were conducted on the dead. As a result, doctors are getting away by calling them natural deaths, like Dr Hemant Jain did when Headlines Today questioned him on spy camera.

Headlines Today: Tell us something about the deaths during your trial.
Dr Hemant Jain: There were no deaths.

Headlines Today: But the Vidhan Sabha papers show that there were 18 deaths.
Dr Hemant Jain: They were natural deaths.

Another loophole that is exploited across the country is the Schedule Y of the Drugs and Cosmetics Act. It can be used to form an independent ethics committee with a minimum of seven members who can approve a drug trial in any part of the country. Once the trial is approved the doctors conduct them by duping the patients and make money. An ethics committee is also supposed to monitor the progress of the trial, which never happens. Dr Hemant Jain himself admitted on the spy camera that they were ineffective.

Headlines Today: How much can an ethics committee monitor a trial?
Dr Hemant Jain: They cannot do much. It is difficult for them.

Retired judge Justice P Mulye, a member of the institutional ethics committee, said, “We are open to suggestions. We understand there are loopholes and we are contemplating action.”

Despite many people dying between due to drug trials hardly any action has been taken so far and patients continue to be used as guinea pigs in the name of advancement of medical science.

By- Neha Dixt


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