#Chhattisgarh – 1067 inmates branded as ‘ ALLEGED MAOISTS”, languish in prisons #RTI

Unite Under Maoism!

Jostling for justice

Hundreds of undertrials languish in overcrowded south Chhattisgarh prisons even as their trial proceeds sluggishly, says an RTI reply

With most information regarding prisons closely guarded in the country, in conflict zones — some north-eastern States, Kashmir or Chhattisgarh — it is even more so. The only information about prisons that percolates to public space is about how inmates are becoming master painters, singers or dance drama designers. While those endeavours are to be lauded, the standard of life in smaller prisons, which are not located in the national capital or megacities but in districts and sub-divisions, rarely gets attention.

In this scenario, the role of prison reforms committees becomes important in highlighting issues of prisons in smaller states and districts, but more often than not, their recommendations never see light of day. For example, the All India Committee on Prison Reform (1980-83) produced one comprehensive study cum recommendation on how to improve quality of life in Indian prisons. Two main focuses of the report were to address overcrowding and speedy trial. However, nothing happened. Several other committees were also formed at the regional level in the last 30 years by various state governments to initiate prison reforms and speedy trial albeit without any substantial result. The relatively new State of Chhattisgarh has never instituted any formal study of its prisons. It is also yet to implement recommendations of the Prison Reform Committee.

A 2009 study by National Human Rights Commission shows that Chhattisgarh prisons accommodate three times more than their capacity. However, a prison wise break up of inmates is not available.

Recently, an RTI filed by activist Swami Agnivesh has revealed that while there is space for 844 inmates, the three prisons of Kanker, Jagdalpur and Dantewada (all in south Chhattisgarh) cumulatively accommodate 1067 inmates who are undertrials and are referred to as “alleged Maoists” or “Maoist supporters”, according to the RTI reply. “We only have figures of those arrested as alleged Maoists. If the sum total of general undertrials and the convicts are added to this category, then the prisons are three times more crowded,” Swami Agnivesh told The Hindu.

The number of “alleged Maoists” or “Maoist supporters” in Kanker prison is 144 whereas it has space only for 65. Similarly, while Dantewada prison can accommodate 150, it actually has 377 undertrials as inmates. Jagdalpur prison has lesser number of alleged Maoists undertrials compared to the available space for the inmates. It can house 629 inmates but has 546 alleged Maoist undertrials. “Please add total number of prison inmates to the alleged Maoist undertrials and you will have more than three times overcrowding in Dantewada as well,” Swami Agnivesh added.

The RTI has also revealed that out of these 1067 undertrials, 1018 are tribals. Swami Agnivesh said that in majority cases, the tribals could not appoint a lawyer or even manage to find out about the case details and that “confines them in prison for ages”. “There are several people in prison for more than five years as undertrials. Their cases are not moving at all. This is atrocious,” he added.

The RTI record shows nine tribals are languishing in Jagdalpur prison for more than five years, whereas details regarding ‘inmate’s number of years in prison’ have not been disclosed by the authorities of Dantewada and Kanker.

Jagdalpur prison authorities were more forthright in disseminating information like the number of women arrested as alleged Maoist sympathisers or the number of arrests under special security act Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA). The number of women inmates in Jagdalpur is 53 and 128 undertrials are detained under UAPA, the RTI reply said. Besides, Jagdalpur prison authorities also shared that eight undertrials have not appeared in court “for the last one year”. While the Kanker authorities have disclosed that there are six women in prison custody as undertrials, other information regarding number of inmates detained under UAPA or inmate’s cumulative years in prison are not disclosed by either Kanker or Dantewada authorities.

Swami Agnivesh claimed that in the entire Maoist belt of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Orissa, thousands of tribals are languishing in prisons as undertrials. He demanded appointment of fast track courts for speedy disposal of these cases, adequate compensation for the innocents and punishment of officials who framed the tribals.

The State’s Tribal Affairs Minister Kedar Kashyap could not be reached on phone for comments.

A few years after the launch of the now-illegal anti-Maoist movement Salwa Judum, both the opposition Congress and the CPI started claiming that their members are indiscriminately arrested in south Chhattisgarh as alleged Maoists. However, some of the BJP old hands have also been put behind bars for allegedly associating with the rebels. The CPI is now planning a campaign to pressurise the government to release the political activists. A recent judgement of the Bombay High Court that says “mere membership of a banned organization will not incriminate a person unless he resorts to violence” has also acted as a shot in the arm of the activists.

#Chhattisgarh- Tribal Girls’ Rape: Two Education Dept Officials Held #Vaw


RAIPUR | Jan 14,2013,
Two officials of Chattisgarh education department were today arrested in connection with the rape of minor inmates of a government-run residential school for tribal girls at Jhaliyamari village in Kanker district.

With today’s arrests, the total number of those held in this connection so far has reached eight, including two teachers.

“Block Education Officer (BEO) S S Navarji and Additional Block Education Officer (ABEO) Jitendra Kumar Nayak were booked for inaction against the rape accused when the incident came to light in November last year,” Superintendent of Police Rahul Bhagat told PTI.

“Deputy Sarpanch of Jhaliyamari village Sukalu Ram Netam had informed Navarji about the alleged sexual assault on inmates in the residential school following which the officer directed Nayak to probe the matter,” Bhagat said.

“After the investigation, rape on minor inmates was confirmed but no action was taken against the accused and even they (BEO and ABEO) did not inform the police,” he said.

Both will be produced in a local court of Kanker today, the SP said.

The incident of sexual assault on minor inmates of the government-run residential school for tribal girls in Jhaliyamari village of Kanker district was reported to police on January 6, following which two people including contract teacher – Mannu Ram Gota (24) – and school watchman – Deenaram – were arrested.

Later Superintendent of the residential school Babita Markam, Deputy Sarpanch of the village Sukalu Ram Netam and a villager Lachhu Ram were held for abetment.

The incident sparked outrage across the state and in view of this, the state government has directed to conduct inspection of all residential schools and hostels.

The main Opposition Congress has claimed that more such incidents can come to light after the inspection.


#Chhattisgarh- Many Monkies on our Back… #Vaw

By- Jamuna Inamdar
The final number of districts that make up the Indian state of Chattisgarh, located approximately in the center of India, is 27 as of today.  (*A district (Zilā) is an administrative division of an Indian state or territory.)  Here is a map that depicts all 27 districts.

Many existing districts were further divided and as many as 9 new districts were added last year.  And even today, Chattisgarh is being divided into newer districts.  Very soon, the above map will have to be updated.

I only hope we finally know how many districts there are! Or because of the constant change and addition everyone will lose track of how many districts there were and how many there are currently and how they look on the map.

I also happen to now be more well versed (even though still abysmally inadequate) with facts about Chattisgarh state where I started working 9 months ago than about the state of Maharashtra where I was born and lived for 3 decades.

While I thought Chattisgarh might be the state with the highest number of districts at 27.  Turns out it is Uttar Pradesh with a whooping 70 districts. Uttar Pradesh is the 5th largest state in India but I believe it is the most populated.  The largest state in our country, Rajasthan, has 33 districts.

In October 2011, I read in Outlook India the text of a lecture by Jairam Ramesh, called the Sardar Patel Memorial Lecture.  Some excerpts from it regarding why the division of some states (Chattisgarh and the likes especially) into smaller districts might be the need of the hour:

The Union Government has identified 60 districts in seven states that are affected by left-wing extremism. Of these, 15 are in Orissa, 14 in Jharkhand, 10 in Chattisgarh, 8 in Madhya Pradesh, 7 in Bihar, 2 each in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh and 1 each in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. 18 more districts are being considered for inclusion.

When you look at these 60 districts on a map of India , five characteristics stand out. I should, however, mention straightaway that the 7 districts of Bihar are an exception to these generalisations. Bihar has its own dynamics embedded in caste and land-related structures.
  • First, an overwhelming majority of these districts have substantial population of tribal communities.
  • Second, an overwhelming majority of these districts have significant area under good quality forest cover.
  • Third, a large number of these districts are rich in minerals like coal, bauxite and iron ore.
  • Fourth, in a number of states, these districts are remote from the seat of power and have large administrative units.
  • Fifth, a large number of districts are located in tri-junction areas of different states.
On the size of administrative units, recently on a visit to Chattisgarh I discovered that the size of some blocks (like Conta in Dantewada district and Orchha in Narayanpur district and Orgi in Surguja district) was equivalent to the size of some districts in some other states and indeed equivalent to the size of some other states themselves.(the highlights and italics are mine) Given poor connectivity and infrastructure to begin with, this is a huge handicap to contend with by administrators. Rationalisation of administrative units is entirely within the domain and powers of state governments. The Chattisgarh government has very recently decided to create five more districts in the Naxal-affected regions of the state and this is a good step.

While the above has been discussed in the context of curbing the Naxal struggle, I am thinking about it in the context of the recent rapes in a tribal school.

Since three days now, Kanker district of Chattisgarh is in the news.   In one of the Ashram schools in Kanker, meant for tribal girls, the teacher and watchman of the school were arrested for repeatedly raping the minor girls.  One of the girls has died as a result of a sexually transmitted disease that went untreated.

Kanker was essentially part of Bastar district in south Chattisgarh. In 1998 it got an identity of its own.  It is now a district on its own with its own district collectorate, child welfare committee, district institute of education and training (DIET) and the usual government set up that every district needs and has.

If Kanker has been separated as a district from Bastar (and is even called North Bastar) in a bid to make it more manageable, has that helped the state to manage it any better or does it still appear unwieldy to administrators?

In a district with (figures obtained from http://kanker.gov.in/) 7 tehsils or blocks and 1004 villages, how difficult is it for government officials especially appointed for the purpose to ensure that heinous and grave crimes such as repeated rapes of tribal girls in school hostels do not go unnoticed? Can this problem be attributed to insufficient government officials, too many schools in too many villages? Clearly not!

I have personally encountered and still work with district level education officials who have not seen the schools that fall under their jurisdiction – the blocks.  They have not made visits to the schools in these blocks.  Some schools have never seen a government official who is “in-charge” of hearing and offering a solution to their problems.  Are the villages and blocks that far flung that a district level official never reaches them?

Another challenge that exists is the division within government education officials – of those who look into administrative matters and those who look into academic  matters.  Whose concern becomes this case of sexual assault and rape?  Ideally everybody’s.. but..!

When asked why officials do not make visits to their assigned blocks and schools – the answer is often the resentment that they have to do so on their account using their own finances!

Had the district level officials, block level officials made regular visits to the school they were assigned to, elicited cooperation and accountability from the head teachers of schools, would repeated rapes of minor girls have gone unnoticed?

I understand it is not that simple or merely to do with administrative divisions – as block level officials have turned a blind eye to this atrocity even after becoming aware of it.  Making visits and keeping oneself abreast of what is happening is not sufficient from actually stopping something from happening.  There are many other dynamics at play – dynamics of dominant caste and oppressed tribes. As pointed out by a colleague, a very important point to be considered here will also be to find out if the rapist teacher and watchman belonged to the same tribal community or were they non-tribal?

What is also disturbing is the appeal of the villagers for help falling on deaf ears. What do people do when their plea for help falls on the ears of people who instead of protecting them are partners in crime?  Aren’t these situations when people have decided to then take the law into their own hands, reacting equally brutally and violently?  And does that not take us further away from being a civilized society?

And dividing states and districts and blocks for administrative efficacy is not even the answer for the basic apathy and narrow-mindedness and helplessness and inhuman side of human beings.

I hope this incident will shake the district and block level officials into connecting with the people, the villages and truly becoming the protectors of peoples’ rights.  I hope they know that they cannot turn a blind eye to something gruesome happening in their very blocks, in the very schools they are responsible for, under their very noses.  I hope they are able to overcome caste and class barriers and offer protection and support to human beings who are made vulnerable and forced into helplessness.

I hope in the administrative sense, we learn to make the players of this system more accountable and design the system to succeed and not to fail!

  source -http://jamunainamdar.blogspot.in/

#India- Over 1 lakh children malnourished in Bastar #RIP #Indiashining


Raipur, Dec 12 – The Chhattisgarh Government today admitted that over 1 lakh children are suffering from malnutrition in the tribal-dominated Bastar region.

In a written reply to a question of Kuldeep Singh Juneja (Congress) in the Legislative Assembly, Women and Child Development Minister Lata Usendi said 1,15,093 children are suffering from malnutrition in Bastar division comprising seven districts as of December 2012.

Of these, 31,034 children are severely malnourished, while 84,059 fall in the category of average malnutrition, she said.

The highest number of malnourished kids are in Bastar district (35,034), followed by Kanker (27,482), Kondagaon (17,308), Dantewada (10,871), Bijapur (10,083), Sukma (8,811) and Narayanpur (5,504), Usendi said.

The Minister, however, denied any death due to malnutrition from 2008 till now in the Naxal-affected region in Central Chhattisgarh. PTI



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