#India -11 babies die in 2 hours at Bengal hospital, death toll now 13 #WTFnews


HT Correspondent , Hindustan Times  Purulia, June 09, 2013

A hospital in West Bengal’s Purulia district, 296 km from Kolkata, reported 11 infant deaths between Friday and Saturday.

“The children who died were brought to the hospital in a very critical condition. The doctors did their best,” said Nilanjana Sen, the hospital super.

“The extension work of the Special Newborn Care Unit (SNCU) is on and when it is completed children will get better treatment, the mortality rate will also come down,” she added.

 

Locals and relatives of the dead children, however, blamed the deaths on the poor infrastructure and lack of doctors at the Special Newborn Care Unit.

A senior doctor with the hospital, who did not want to be named, admitted there was a shortage of doctors in the paediatric unit.

 UPDATE, JUNE 10, 2013

Thirteen infants have died at the Purulia Sadar Deben Mahato Hospital in Purulia since last Friday, the hospital said on Monday.

Most of the infants were in the age group of 0-11 months, hospital superintendent Nilanjana Sen said. While eight deaths were reported on Friday, three infants died on Saturday and two deaths were reported on Sunday, she added.

The infants, who were brought to the Sadar hospital from the block-level hospitals, were suffering from complications such as low birth weight, malnutrition, dehydration and meningitis, the superintendent said.
Citing the difficulties of the Sadar hospital in treating such patients, Sen said the neo-natal unit has only ten beds, which needs to be increased.

 

On an average, 15-20 infants in serious condition are referred to the Sadar hospital from the block-level hospitals daily, she said.

 

Irish rape victim tries to take her own life in India #Vaw


Indians light candles as they mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India. The woman's death sparked a wave of protests like this one
Indians light candles as they mourn the death of a gang rape victim in New Delhi, India. The woman‘s death sparked a wave of protests like this one

LUKE BYRNE – 09 JUNE 2013

AN Irish woman, who was allegedly raped by a businessman while working for an aid agency in India, has attempted to take her own life.

It is understood that the 21-year-old woman took a mixture of sleeping pills, painkillers and other drugs.

She was discovered unconscious in her hotel room yesterday by a fellow Irish national who was staying at the same complex.

Sudeshna Lahiri, deputy director of the Calcutta Medical Research Institute, told reporters that the medicines were pumped from the woman’s stomach.

She is expected to make a full recovery.

The woman has claimed she was sexually assaulted after accompanying a man to his home in the Kalighat area of Kolkata on June 1.

She had been celebrating her 21st birthday with friends earlier that night.

Last December, a 23-year-old Indian woman was gang-raped on a bus that was being driven through New Delhi. She died from her injuries two weeks later. The case sparked mass protests and calls for tougher action to combat sex crimes against women.

In March, a 39-year-old Swiss woman was gang-raped as she camped in a remote forest in central India with her boyfriend, while that same month, a 31-year-old British woman was forced to leap from a second-floor hotel balcony to escape an attacker in the city of Agra, home of the Taj Mahal.

The attacks have led to a sharp fall in tourist numbers to India, especially among women. The number of foreigners visiting India is reported to be down 25pc, with the number of women travellers down 35pc.

 

source- http://www.independent.ie

 

Press Release- Women groups demand apology from Advocate General West Bengal #Sexist


PRESS RELEASE FROM MAITREE

Date: 07th June 2013, Kolkata

We are writing to you on behalf of Maitree, a women’s rights network of 60 organisations and individual activists based in West Bengal. We strongly condemn the comments made by the Advocate General of West Bengal on 4th June 2013 at the Calcutta High Court regarding the State Election Commission.

The Advocate General’s comment: “The State Election Commission is behaving like a beautiful lady asking for this and that. It is making arbitrary and whimsical desires. Some unreasonable” is sexist and stereotypes women. Instead of legal arguments, the Advocate General distracts from the important political issues and tries to diminish the concerns raised by the Election Commission by resorting to trivial and unparliamentary language to attack his opponent. By doing so, the Advocate General joins a long list of public figures in the country who have made denigrating comments about women which go against the grains of equality and justice.

The comment should be examined within the larger context of increasing violation of women’s rights in recent times. If the AG of a state can make such a denigrating comment about women, it sends a wrong signal to the public at large threatening the very safety and security of women. This is most unfortunate since one looks to the higher judiciary to uphold values stated in the Constitution.  Thus his comment is far from being humorous as claimed by him and reinforces deep-seated gender bias. We condemn this as an affront to the dignity of a woman.

We demand public apology from him immediately.

#India – The Neglect of Health, Women and Justice #Vaw #Womenrights


A basket weaver at work with her baby at her side, in Tamil Nadu. The infant mortality rate is very high for working women, particularly those in the primary sector, a large proportion of whom are labourers.

A basket weaver at work with her baby at her side, in Tamil Nadu. The infant mortality rate is very high for working women, particularly those in the primary sector, a large proportion of whom are labourers.

Vol – XLVIII No. 23, June 08, 2013 | A K Shiva Kumar , EPW
A report on the 2013 deliberation of the Kolkata Group at its 10th workshop which focused on healthcare, the status of women and social justice in India.
A K Shiva Kumar (akshivakumar@gmail.com) is convener of the Kolkata Group workshops which are organised by Pratichi (India) Trust, the Harvard Global Equity Initiative and UNICEF India.
At the 10th annual Kolkata Group workshop in February this year, 40 policymakers, development practitioners, non-governmental organisation (NGO) representatives, scholars, activists, journalists, politicians and development experts convened to take stock of the state of women, health equity and social justice in India. The group focused on two major areas of concern. First is the abysmal state of healthcare in India driven by the lack of strong governmental policies, investments and direct operations, and the growing size and exploitive practices of commercial providers. And second is the limited progress in women’s rights, indeed sometimes retrogression, that is reflected by a host of inequities, insecurities and injustices.
The Kolkata Group is an annual forum that deliberates on ways of advancing social justice, human development and human security in India. The group examines available information, seeks positive solutions, and shares its recommendations with wide audiences – government, civil society, the media, and the public. The group believes that bringing together outstanding people from different walks of life to discuss “good practices” and “lessons learned” can blend values, knowledge and discourse as part of a process of public reasoning for social action. Every year the group discussions have a particular focus. Themes in the past have included equity, security and basic education, rights and resources, child rights and development, economic progress and social values, and eliminating injustices in India. The theme in 2013 was “Public Action and Its Future”. The main focus was on health and nutrition as well as the alarming status of women in Indian society.
Balancing Economic Growth
Amartya Sen opened the workshop by underscoring that economic growth in India is good and necessary, because average incomes must be raised to achieve reasonable living standards and extensive income redistribution alone would not be sufficient for shared well-being. Growth generates private income, and even more importantly, it generates public resources which can be spent on the provision of a host of essential goods and services that contribute to decent living standards. Having noted this, Sen argued that it would be a mistake to “sit back” and rely on economic growth alone to transform the living conditions of the unprivileged. While India has much to learn from growth-mediated development elsewhere in the world, it must avoid unaimed opulence – an undependable, wasteful way of improving the living standards of the poor. Even today, after 20 years of rapid growth, India is still one of the poorest countries in the world, something that is often lost sight of, especially by those who enjoy world-class living standards thanks to the inequalities in the income distribution.
On several health indicators, India has fallen behind many of its neighbours. Overall in 1990, India had the best social indicators in south Asia, next to Sri Lanka. But now India ranks second-worst, ahead of only Pakistan. This is despite the fact that during the last 20 years, India has grown richer much faster than its neighbours. Take for instance Bangladesh. India’s per capita income was estimated to be 60% higher than Bangladesh in 1990. By 2010, India’s was 98% higher (about double). However, during the same period, Bangladesh overtook India in terms of a wide range of basic social indicators: life expectancy, child survival, fertility rates, immunisation rates, and even some (not all) schooling indicators such as estimated “mean years of schooling”. Bangladesh’s relatively rapid transformation of social indicators seems to relate closely to the much greater participation and agency of women in the social services as well as in private economic activities, compared with India.
Equally intriguing is that Nepal is also catching up rapidly with India, even overtaking India in some respects. Around 1990, Nepal was way behind India in terms of almost every development indicator. Today, social indicators for both countries are much the same (sometimes a little better in India still, sometimes the reverse), in spite of per capita income in India being about three times higher than in Nepal. Looking at their south Asian neighbours, the Indian poor are entitled to wonder what they have gained – at least so far – from the acceleration of economic growth.
Even though India is still managing to achieve comparatively high growth rates, despite its very insufficient public provision of basic services, this is undoubtedly a source of future concern, and may already be playing a part in India’s contemporary slowdown. High growth in east Asia has been led by, and reinforced by, rapid formation of human capabilities, and this is the shared experience of Japan, China, South Korea and other fast moving economies and societies in Asia. The contrast with India cannot be sharper. Apart from the very limited reach of good quality healthcare and basic education, even today 48% of the population do not even have toilets in their homes. India suffers a chronic power shortage as the breakdown of the grid in north India last year highlighted, but it is also worth bearing in mind that a third of the population in the “black out” area did not ever have any electricity connection anyway. But Sen said you would not think that power supply was a problem in India if you visited government offices where the air-conditioning is kept at a bone-chilling 16 degrees celsius in the summer. This was quite unlike government offices in other Asian countries, which keep the temperature around 23 degrees, which is comfortable enough. It is hard to detect any sign of power supply being a problem if one visits over-chilled offices, restaurants, or hotels, patronised by the comparatively rich, and it would be hard to guess that a third of the Indian population is without electricity altogether. Is it also not ironical – or worse – that political parties support, rather than object to, subsidising electricity for the “middle class” in the name of the aam aadmi? This goes along with support for other middle-class consumptions, such as diesel, cooking gas, and other ingredients of a lifestyle from which the poor are excluded.
Health Inequities
Discussions drew attention to the Asian experience, beginning with Japan in 1860 after the Meiji Restoration, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand and China, where economic progress was driven by rapid human capabilities formation. We, in India, are trying to target a high growth rate without investing adequately in basic health, nutrition and education. In this connection, several participants pointed to the appalling state of India’s health system. Public healthcare has been relegated to low priority by the government, given that public spending on health in India is around 1.2% of its gross domestic product (GDP) – and has remained so for the past five years – whereas it is 2.7% of GDP in China.
The Kolkata Group reiterated that the most urgent need in healthcare in India today is for an affirmative approach that advances universal health coverage through reversing the financial neglect of public healthcare and the removal of debilitating illusions about what private healthcare and commercial insurance can achieve without firm and active public policies. Influential policymakers in India seem to be attracted by the idea that private healthcare, properly subsidised, or private health insurance, subsidised by the state, can meet the challenge. However, there are good analytical reasons why this is unlikely to happen because of informational asymmetry (the patient can be easily fooled by profit-seeking providers on what exactly is being provided) and because of the “public goods” character of healthcare thanks to the interdependences involved. There are also major decisional problems that lead to the gross neglect of the interests of women and children in family decisions. Nearly every country in the world which has achieved anything like universal health coverage has done it through the public assurance of primary healthcare (whether in Europe, Canada, or much of east Asia).
India’s leaders ought to recognise the necessity for the state to ensure comprehensive quality primary healthcare for all. Related to the main focus of the recommendations, the Kolkata Group urged the government to increase public spending on healthcare to achieve its well-considered pledge of devoting at least 3% of GDP to healthcare. It is particularly important to recognise that there are good reasons for demanding universal entitlements to primary healthcare for all. Effective regulations and ethical professionalism are also essential. The steady increase in public revenues generated by economic growth can and should be fruitfully committed to this extremely important cause.
Child Nutrition
Related to health is India’s worrisome record in reducing child malnutrition. Noting the unusually high levels of under-nutrition in India, the Kolkata Group argued for a firm recognition of the Right to Food in general and legislation to guarantee the entitlements to food for all. Recent experience (including Supreme Court orders on the right to food as well as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) shows the value of putting economic and social rights in relation to a legal framework. Legislation should recognise that food and nutritional security depends not just on food but on a set of related interventions that promote women’s health and nutrition, safe drinking water, proper sanitation and healthcare.
The Kolkata Group had earlier endorsed the proposal for creating durable legal entitlements that guarantee the right to food in India. A Right to Food Act covering justiciable food entitlements should be non-discriminatory and universal. Entitlements guaranteed by the Act should include foodgrains from the public distribution system (PDS), school meals, nutrition services for children below the age of six years, social security provision and allied programmes. Ensuring non-discriminatory access and universal entitlements requires special initiatives that focus on the discriminated, disadvantaged and vulnerable groups in society. Last but not least, design and implementation should include effective public participation, grievance redress provisions and independent oversight.
Women’s Rights
The Kolkata Group also drew attention to the limited progress in women’s rights that continues to be plagued by a host of inequities, insecurities and injustices. Discussions were grounded in the developments following the incident of gang rape on 16 December 2012. Nirbhaya’s statement, “I want to live”, provided a very strong emotional impetus to the protests by large numbers of women and men from different sections of society. The fact that many people went past without helping when Nirbhaya was lying there with her friend wounded reveals something awfully callous about us. Similarly, it is not to our glory that dalit women have been violated and raped again and again. And there has been relatively little noise or protest. Underlying causes for the neglect and abuse of women include patriarchy as well as deep cultural factors.
Increasing the enormity of punishment in cases involving crimes against women does not necessarily solve the issue of rising crime against women. Awarding the death penalty, for example, can serve the purpose of revenge but it does not help in social reform. Society needs to ensure that the police are serious about such crimes, there is a system that will punish those responsible for the crime, and that such matters are tried expeditiously in a court. Indian women experience much greater difficulties in getting help from the police, and consequently do not trust the police to work in a professional manner. Protocols should be adopted to protect female complainers and in moving the court swiftly enough to get a judgment quickly.
The Kolkata Group noted that the violations of women’s rights are related to the continuation of early child marriage, violence against women, discriminatory practices, the impunity and bias that permeate the functioning of the legal and police systems, malnutrition of women and children, increasing prevalence of sex selection at birth as well as inadequate women’s autonomy, health, education, and freedoms. The steps ahead must recognise the recommendations of the Justice J S Verma Committee report promoting women’s bodily integrity, dignity and sexual autonomy. Serious attention should be paid to health, education, nutrition as well as the lack of adequate recognition of women’s well-being and agency. The group also underscored the importance of public protests and the need to keep raising the demand for a police and legal system that protects the rights of women. Women’s needs have to be more centrally recognised as a political priority for their voices to be heard.
[Chaired by Amartya Sen, Kolkata Group attendees this year were Sabina Alkire, Louis-Georges Arsenault, Shabana Azmi, Abhay Bang, Countess Albina du Boisrouvray, Lori Calvo, Achin Chakraborty, Gregory Chen, Lincoln Chen, Abhijit Chowdhury, Asim Dasgupta, Keshav Desiraju, Antara Dev Sen, Jean Dreze, Shiban Ganju, Dilip Ghosh, Joaquin Gonzalez-Aleman, R Govinda, Shaibal Gupta, Pratik Kanjilal, Manabi Mazumdar, Surjya Kanta Misra, Nachiket Mor, Poonam Muttreja, Sridhar Rajagopalan, Kumar Rana, Sujatha Rao, Srinath Reddy, Nidhi Sabharwal, Abhijit Sen, Amartya Sen, Nandana Sen, A K Shiva Kumar, Amarjeet Sinha, Shantha Sinha, Sukhadeo Thorat and Sitaram Yechury.]

 

#India – Woman ‘gang-raped’, brutally murdered in Indore #Vaw #WTFnews


 #India- Chastity, Virginity, Marriageability, and Rape Sentencing #Vaw  #Justice #mustread

Anuraag Singh, TNN Jun 1, 2013,

INDORE: Body of a woman, with brutal injuries, found near BCM Heights in Vijay Nagar locality has revived the shattering memories of 2012 Nirbhaya gangrape and killing of Delhi. The woman, aged in her 30s was sexually assaulted and the possibility of gangrape cannot be ruled out, said police officials.

The body was spotted by a security guard from a vacant plot at around 9 am. The head of the woman was reportedly smashed with a heavy object and a piece of pipe was stuffed into her privates. Police are trying to establish the identity of the victim, who appears to be a tribal by her attire and the fact that her left arm was tattooed with three names Chameli, Jawan Singh and Gulab.

The plot where the body of the woman was found was not the only place splashed with blood as blood stains were visible in the adjacent vacant plot, suggesting that the woman could well have been gang raped in the vacant plot and then dragged to the other plot where she was murdered.

“The post-mortem report of the woman has established major wounds on the head as the cause of death. The report also has clearly establishes sexual assault on the woman,” SP (Indore East) OP Tripathi told TOI.

Post-mortem conducted by a team of doctors, including a female doctor at the MY Hospital, will study the viscera and blood samples to arrive at a conclusion where the deceased was subjected to gangrape.”A case of murder and sexual assault is being registered at the Vijay Nagar police station and efforts are underway to establish the identity of the woman,” the SP-East said.The case has once again exposed the state of affairs around the posh BCM Heights apartments, which is just a walking distance from the Vijay Nagar police station. In April only, a sex racket was busted from one of the flats of BCM Heights building with the arrest of two call girls hailing from Kolkata, but the operator of the racket Ashok Chauhan and another key accused Fareida Sheikh are still on the run.

 

#India – For Kolkata Rape Survivor , a Lonely Wait for Justice #Vaw #Womenrights


By SWATI SENGUPTA
A demonstration in Kolkata, West Bengal, on Feb. 14, which was part of the 'One Billion Rising' campaign, a global initiative to oppose violence against women.Dibyangshu Sarkar/Agence France-Presse — Getty ImagesA demonstration in Kolkata, West Bengal, on Feb. 14, which was part of the ‘One Billion Rising’ campaign, a global initiative to oppose violence against women.

KOLKATA, West Bengal —In February 2012, a woman was gang-raped in a moving car after she was offered a lift from outside a nightclub on Kolkata’s Park Street. Unlike the majority of rape victims in India, she decided to report the crime, not only to the Park Street police, but also to the media. With her back to the TV cameras, her frizzy hair being her only identifying feature, she fielded questions from journalists.

Not long afterward, as she waited at a bus stop, another person saw her curls and asked, “Are you the Park Street rape victim?”

The woman immediately fled the bus stop. After that, she began to tie up her hair every time she went outside.

Katrina at a reporter's house in Kolkata, West Bengal, on May 14.Courtesy of Swati SenguptaKatrina at a reporter’s house in Kolkata, West Bengal, on May 14.

“Even my family and friends now ask me to straighten my hair,” said the woman, a 38-year-old Anglo-Indian who asked to be identified as Katrina. “I am constantly identified everywhere I go. But why should I? I love my curls and always like to keep my hair open.”

Since the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student in Delhi last year shocked the nation, the central government has passedstronger laws on sex crimes and harassment of women, and the suspects are being tried in a fast-track court that was set up for sexual assault cases, which usually take years to conclude.

Katrina’s case is also in a fast-track court in Kolkata, where three of the five men she accused of raping her — Nishad Alam, Naseer Khan and Sumit Bajaj – began their trial in March. However, the Kolkata police commissioner, Surajit Kar Purakayastha, said the police are still looking for the other two men, Mohammad Ali and Kader Khan, the main suspect.

However, tougher laws on crimes against women can’t prevent the ostracization that occurs to rape victims in India, as Katrina has learned.

For example, the chief minister of West Bengal, Mamata Banerjee, responded to the initial reports about the rape by saying Katrina had lied in order to make her government look bad. Hours later, an angry mob formed outside Katrina’s apartment building.

Katrina has also been receiving calls from unknown people who have threatened her or offered her money to withdraw the case, the last one as recently as April, which she reported to the police.

The single mother of two teenage daughters decided to not take any chances with her safety. A former call center worker who was unemployed at the time of the rape, she has spent most of the past year at home while she looked for a job.

“I never stepped into a discotheque since then. I hardly go out with friends. I miss my life,” she says wistfully, sipping tea and nibbling on croquettes at a reporter’s house. She agreed to visit only after receiving reassurances that no one else would be home.

Her sense of isolation grew as her neighbors – many of whom used to celebrate Christmas and the New Year at her apartment — began to grumble about her. Katrina often came home at odd hours when she was running a call center, but after she went public with the rape, she said that her neighbors complained about her comings and goings.

“No matter how early I returned, everyone would suggest I got back late – hinting that I was in the wrong and had invited my rape,” Katrina said

Whenever she had guests or her teenage daughters stepped out, she said her neighbors would whisper: “Look! There they go!”

“Luckily, I have very strong girls,” she said. “I know they will protest every injustice, but I am scared out of my wits for them.”

Biswanath Acharya, one of her former neighbors, said the complaints about Katrina were purely for security reasons. “We objected about the odd hours in which she would leave and return home, or some of her friends – usually male – would visit her.”

His wife, Durga, said that while she supported Katrina’s decision to report the rape, she said that they got updates on the case from television and never from her. “We came to know from her landlord that she was facing a financial crisis as she couldn’t pay her rent,” she said. “But we were not close enough to discuss about her job requirements. Frankly, looking at her, you wouldn’t know she didn’t have a job.”

Katrina eventually moved, deciding that she didn’t want to deal with the dirty looks and snide remarks. But even while she was looking for another apartment, she was reminded of her status as a rape victim. She said landlords would take her deposit, make inquiries about her and finally return the money. They would tell her, “We can’t rent this flat to you. Surely you know why,” she recalled.

The government was partly to blame for Katrina’s plight since it didn’t offer her much help, said Bharati Mutsuddi, a senior advocate of the Calcutta High Court, who was also a member of the West Bengal Commission for Women when the Left Front governed the state. “The role of the state could have been to offer her succor, strongly supporting her in the case and to ensure she remains strong, mentally and physically,” Ms. Mutsuddi said.

The current head of the women’s commission, Sunanda Mukherjee, said that the commission was already handling many cases and that Katrina needed to file a case with the commission if she wanted aid.

Katrina ended up finding another apartment on her own, and, after many interviews that never went anywhere, another job. About six weeks ago, she was approached by Santasree Chaudhuri, an entrepreneur and a women’s rights activist, to work at a hotline she founded for victims of sexual and domestic violence, called Survivors for Victims of Social Injustice.

Ms. Chaudhuri, who was out of the country when Katrina’s case was first reported in the media, learned about Katrina after returning to India and contacted her through a nongovernment organization. “She came to my place and immediately offered me this job,” Katrina said.

She started the new job about six weeks ago. “Now I meet so many women and encourage them to go on fighting for their rights, and it feels good to support them in this manner,” said Katrina, who has been inspired to write a book about her own experience.

Katrina said she was hopeful that the next generation will have a more sympathetic view of rape victims, as her daughters’ friends have stood by them. “No snide remarks, no ditching my darlings because of my rape. I’ve been to parent-teacher meetings, and my children’s friends all surround me and chat,” she said.

She said although she had initially regretted coming forward about the rape, those feelings quickly dissipated, and now she was determined to see her case through to the end, no matter the cost.

“Had I died that night – and it’s only a miracle that I am alive – people would have sympathized,” she said. “The fact that I am alive, screaming, protesting with courage no matter how much I am crumbling inside, makes everyone angry. How can a raped, brutalized woman still have so much of courage and voice? They want me to break down.”

 

Kolkata- Cops ban ‘law-violating’ rallies in heart of city


May 26, 2013, TNN

KOLKATA: In a meeting with all political parties in the state, Kolkata Police commissioner Surajit Kar Purakayastha on Saturday announced that law-violation programmes will no longer be allowed in the city.

Opposition parties, particularly the CPM and the BJP, which have planned such programmes on May 31 and June 1, called the decision “undemocratic”.

Though the police chief cited reasons such as lack of infrastructure and the harassment caused to people, it was clear that the government wants to avoid trouble ahead of the crucial panchayat polls in the state. It was during a law-violation programme in April that SFI leader Sudipta Gupta lost his life while being hauled to the Presidency jail. Recently, a law-violation programme by the SUCI led to chaos in central parts of Kolkata. A sub-inspector was seriously injured in the violence that broke out.

According to Purakayastha, Kolkata Police does not have “adequate” infrastructure to handle law-violation programmes during which political workers are found to jostle with the police before being overpowered and herded into waiting buses to be taken to the lock-up. In most cases, the police have to use force to bring the situation under control. Though the Kolkata Police possesses water cannons and other crowd-control equipment, none of these have ever been brought to use during such programmes.

The commissioner, however, said that the ban is temporary and will be in place till the police build up adequate infrastructure. He didn’t make clear what the government has in mind so far as augmenting the police force is concerned.

“We met representatives of all major political parties and requested them to not to organize law-violation programmes,” Purakayastha said. He did not clarify whether there would be any amendment in the present law. When asked whether it a request or an order, the commissioner said that it was an instruction from the city police. In addition to the ban on law violation, the Kolkata Police also renewed its ban on the holding political meetings at Metro channel. “For long, we have been requesting political parties not to organize any programme at Metro channel as this disrupts the normal movement of traffic in the heart of the city. Today, we once again reminded all political parties about the existing ban in the Metro channel,” a senior police officer said. Sources in the police, however, said that officers were working as per instructions from the ‘top’.

The decision resulted in severe criticism from Opposition parties. “Firstly, these are not called ‘law-violation’ programmes. Members of responsible political parties simply ‘court arrest’ when the government fails to protect the interest of citizens. When they police says that it can’t handle such programmes, one wonders what it will do against people who break the law and try to get away. No wonder, the law and order situation in the state is in a mess. This is not a police decision. It is a decision taken by the state government to curb the rights of people,” said CPM leader Md Salim.

State BJP president Rahul Sinha said that the government is gradually trying to implement an ‘undeclared emergency’. “It wants to choke the Opposition‘s voice. We shall hold our programme as per schedule,” he said. West Bengal Pradesh Congress Committee president Pradip Bhattacharya also said that his party wouldn’t abide by such instructions.

 

People should oppose FDI in retail: Mahasweta Devi #mustshare


 

Kolkata, May 21 — Supporting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee‘s decision to withdraw from the UPA last September on the issue of FDI in retail, eminent writer Mahasweta Devi Tuesday exhorted people from all walks of life to protest against the measure.

“Of course, I support our chief minister’s decision to withdraw from the centre on FDI. I think everybody should protest against it. People from all walks of life should contribute in their own way in standing up against it,” Mahasweta Devi said while launching a book “FDI-Gobhir Shorjontror Shikar Aamra” (FDI-We are a target of conspiracy).

The 89-year-old Jnanpith awardee suggested tapping into indigenous resources for India‘s growth and development.

“We have sufficient resources. If we use them properly then India can walk on a path of progress and development,” she said.

Mahasweta Devi said she was “somewhat satisfied” with the state government’s stance on introduction of foreign direct investment (FDI) in retail.

Commending the Trinamool Congress for “trying” to bring about changes during its two years in power, she said it is too early to comment on its impact.

“It’s too early to comment. It has just completed two years. It hasn’t done too good or anything worth praising nor it has done anything bad worth criticising.

“It’s trying… let’s just say that,” she added.

Trinamool Congress Monday completed two years in power in West Bengal.

 

nydailynews.com

 

Story of a refugee grand mother, of identities and displacements #Sundayreading


In times of displacement, do we leave our former selves behind and create new identities? In this moving personal history, Garga Chatterjee profiles his Bengali grandmother whose true self was unmasked only by a tragic stroke .

http://www.thefridaytimes.com/

 

I have crossed the border between the two Bengals multiple times. In February 2013, I took back my maternal uncle Bacchu mama to his ancestral home in East Bengal (now part of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh). He had fled after his matriculation exams, a little before the 1965 war. Then we reached his modest, 2-storey, tin-shed erstwhile home in the Kawnia neighbourhood of Barishal Town. And here this mama of mine began to touch and feel the dusty walls and stairs. He is by far the jolliest person I have known. This was the first time I saw his eyes tear up. The story that follows is of his paternal aunt, or pishi.

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Dida and her husband - mid 1970s
Dida and her husband – mid 1970s
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Having taken an active interest, and in some cases an active role, in anti-displacement agitations of various hues, what rings hollow to my privileged existence is the trauma of such an experience. I know the statistics, the caste break-up of the internally displaced, the pain of being transformed from sharecroppers to urban shack dwellers – raw stories of loss and displacement. The “on-the-face” aspect of the accounts, unfortunately, has a numbing effect. When a populace is numb to the explicit, its sensitivity to things hidden is virtually non-existent. In spite of my association with causes of displacement, in my heart of hearts, I don’t feel I inhabit them. I can empathize but can’t relate. Nobody I have grown up with seemed to have any psychological scar or trauma about displacement – at least none that was carried around, although I grew up around victims of one of the biggest mass displacements of all times. I am talking about the partition of Bengal in 1947.

The narrow path was a metaphor for my dida’s connection to her new world

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Dida or Jyotsna Sen - early 1970s
Dida or Jyotsna Sen – early 1970s
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Growing up in Calcutta in the 1980s, visits to my maternal grandparents’ house were a weekly feature of my life. We lived in a 30-something-strong joint family, firmly rooted in West Bengal, very Ghoti. For Ghotis, the East Bengalis are a people with a culture less sophisticated than their own. In later years, especially post-1947, the term ‘Bangal‘, which used to mean East Bengali, also came to mean refugees, and hence evoked a certain discomfiture in West Bengal, if not outright animosity.

With time, however, social ties were built between certain sections of the two communities. I am a child of mixed heritage – I have a Ghoti father and a Bangal mother.

The people of my mother’s extended family had their displacement stories – not really of trauma, but of a sense of material loss – the money they couldn’t bring with them, the land they had left behind, the travails of some families they knew, etc. Calcutta subsumed much of their former selves. An exemplary figure here is my maternal grandmother, my dida. She was married off to my maternal grandfather, my dadu, who I hear opposed the marriage at that time, if not the match itself (both my parents were teenagers). When she came to Calcutta in tow with her husband, she was still quite young. My mother was born in Calcutta.

I have a Ghoti father and a Bangal mother

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The author and his dida
The author and his dida
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They lived in a rented place near Deshopriya Park. There was an air of dampness about the place. It was connected to the metaled road by a longish, narrow path, gritty and dimly lit, a metaphor for my dida’s connection to her new world, in that connecting to the mainstream required a certain tortuous effort. Inside that house, it was strange and intriguing to me. The lingo was different – they spoke Bangal (a Bengali dialect) with a Barishal twang (Barishal was one of the more pupulous districts of East Bengal) called Barishailya. Dida said chokh(‘eye’) as tsokkhu and amader (‘our’) as amago. I used to pick these up and relate them delightedly to my Ghoti joint family to regale them. Now I don’t think it’s hard to imagine that many Bangals didn’t like the fact that other people found simple pronouncements in their dialect amusing and even comical. (Some comedians have used this aspect in Bengali comedy: I am reminded of black clowns with artificial and heightened mannerisms who regaled white audiences.)

She bought her groceries at a bazaar full of grocers who were refugees from East Bengal

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Dida cooked well and was known for it. But what did she herself want to be known for? My mother related to me how her father was a great lover of letters and sciences. This was somewhat true – sometimes I abhorred going to him because he would not only tell me to do a math problem but also ask me why I did it that way. He tried to get all his children formally educated – a Bangal signature of the time. Markedly different was his attitude towards Dida – I remember numerous instances of “ o tumi bozba na” (‘You wouldn’t understand that’). On her 50th marriage anniversary, her children got together for a celebration. The couple garlanded each other. She looked happy with her self and her world. “ Togo sara amar ar ki aase” (‘What else do I have but you people’) was her pronouncement. Something happened a few years later that made me question the exhaustive nature of her statement.

Things happened in quick succession after that. The brothers and sisters fell out. This turn of events resulted in Dida staying with us. Our joint family had ceased to exist too. By now, I was a medical student. Dida was getting worse due to her diabetes. So I spent time with her. I remember her trying to speak (and failing miserably) our non-Bangal Bengali dialect to my paternal grandmother. She was still trying to fit in, for circumstances demanded that she do. At the time I thought she was extraordinarily fortunate. With my newfound sensitivity towards “identities”, I thought, she must have been very happy to speak Bangal until now. She bought her groceries at a bazaar full of grocers who were themselves refugees from East Bengal. Her husband’s extended family was essentially her social circle and they all chattered away in Bangal. They ate their fish in their own way. In spite of being displaced from East Bengal, she had retained her identity, her “self”. Or so I thought.

She was speaking gibberish – names we didn’t know, places we hadn’t heard of

[box9]She suffered a cerebral stroke not long afterwards. A stroke is tragic as well as fascinating to observe. It cripples and unmasks. The social beings we are, who care about what words to speak to whom, what state of dress or undress to be in where and when, all this complex monument of pretense comes crashing down with a stroke. For one whole day Dida had been in what would medically be termed a “delirium”, characterized by, among other things, a speech that was incoherent to the rest of us. She couldn’t move much and spoke what we heard as gibberish – names we didn’t know, places we hadn’t heard of. To ascertain the stage of cerebral damage, one asks questions like ‘Who are you?’ ‘Where are we?’ ‘What is the date?’ I was alone with her when I asked her these questions. Who are you? “Ami Shonkor Guptor bareer meye.” (‘I am a girl from Shonkor Gupto’s family.’) I repeated my question, and she gave the same answer. She couldn’t tell me her name. Shonkor Gupto wasn’t her father but an ancestor who had built their house in Goila village of Barisal in East Bengal. Later, when she had recovered from the stroke, she remembered nothing of this incident. When I asked her later, she replied “Jyotsna Sen” or “Tore mare ziga” (‘Ask your mother’). ‘Who are you?’ and ‘What’s your name?’ had become one and the same again. She died some time later. It was another stroke that felled her.

Displacement brings trauma with it. And the trauma can be cryptic. It can be hidden. It can be pushed down, sunk deep with the wish that it doesn’t surface. But displacement resurfaces in odd ways. And often an involuntary journey away from home is a journey away from one’s self too. The journey of displacement is hardly linear. It is more like a long arc. In most cases, the arc doesn’t turn back to where it started from. The journey looks unhindered by identities left back. But we can sometimes peer deeper. Nobody called my Dida by the name Jyotsna Sen – she merely signed papers with that name. She had a name by which people called her before her marriage – “Monu”. This name had become hazy after her marriage and the journey to her husband’s house; and it was essentially lost after she migrated to Calcutta. She had been doubly removed from the people, the household, the organic milieu that knew “Monu”. She had three children, four grandchildren, a husband, a new city. Where was she? And when all this was shorn off, what remained was a teenage girl from East Bengal village – a place she hadn’t been in 60 years, maybe the only place where she had been much of herself. Monu of Shankar Gupto’s house.

At this point, I wonder whether she silently bled all through her years in Calcutta. Would she have bled similarly if she had made choices about her own life, or if she had actively participated in the decisions that changed her life’s trajectory? The speculative nature of the inferences I draw from her “unmasking” story is not a hindrance to imagine what could have been. A little looking around might show such stories of long-drawn suppressions all around – suppressions we consider facts of life and take for granted. Who knows what she would have wanted at age 15, or at 22? Where was her voice, her own thing in the whole Calcutta saga that followed? The picture-perfect 50th anniversary clearly didn’t capture who she was. Her husband believed she had had her due – what more does one need, he would have thought. My mother assumed that with the well-intentioned husband that her father was, Dida must have been happy. The identity-politics fired lefty in me had thought she hadn’t been displaced enough, given the continuity of her Bangal milieu! But a part of her lived repressed.

In the microcosms we inhabit, there are stories of displacement, failed rehabilitation and denial of life choices. It is my suspicion that on learning about the Narmada valley displaced, a part of my Dida’s self would have differed vehemently with the Supreme Court judges, who upheld the prerogative of “development” over the costs of displacement.

 

 

Savage, inhuman torture & molestation by Jalangi police


 

6th May 2013

 

To

The Chairman

West Bengal Human Rights Commission

Bhabani Bhaban

Alipur

Kolkata – 27

 

Respected Sir,

 

I want to draw your kind attention regarding the matter of custodial torture committed upon Mr. Ariful Islam Sarkar by the police personnel of Jalangi Police Station. Our fact finding report provides the detail of the whole incident.

 

On the date of the incident the involved police personnel trespasses the victim’s house and brutally assaulted the victim in front of his wife Ms. Rina Bibi. They molested the victim’s wife by pulling her clothing.  After that the perpetrator police personnel forcibly took the victim to Jalangi Police Station and the victim was brutally assaulted by them inside the said police station during his custody. He was even waked at midnight, stripped naked and bashed. The victim received injuries over his body during the assault. After that the victim was medically treated at Sadhikandiyar Primary Health Centre and Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital; Baharampur. In both the places he informed the details of physical torture by the perpetrator police personnel to the attending doctors. Later, he was sent to prison and on 01.04.2013, the victim got bail. On 08.04.2014, the victim lodged a written complaint before the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police, Murshidabad informing the incident of physical torture committed upon him by the involved police personnel of the Jalangi police station. But till date no actions has been taken by the higher authorities of the police.

Hence we seek your urgent intervention and demand for: –

 

·       The whole incident must be investigated Your own independent agency.

·       The involved police personnel of Jalangi Police Station must be booked under the specific law and prosecuted for their alleged criminal acts and acts committed in violation of law.

·       The victim and his family must be provided adequate compensation and protection so that they do not come under any further threat or inducement.

 

Thanking you

 

Yours truly

 

 

 

Kirity Roy

Secretary, MASUM

&

National Convener, PACTI

 

 

Name of the victim: – Mr. Ariful Islam Sarkar, son of- Late Abul Kasim Sarkar, aged about- 50 years, by faith- Muslim (backward community), residing at Village- Nabingram -Sagarpara, Police Station- Jalangi, District- Murshidabad, West Bengal, India.

 

Name of the perpetrators: – Mr. Mainuddin Khan (Assistant Sub-Inspector of Jalangi Police Station) and 4 other involved police constables of Jalangi Police Station.

 

Date and time of incident: – On 29.03.2013 at about 2 pm.

 

Place of occurrence: – Victim’s house at above mentioned address and inside Jalangi police station.

 

Case Details: –

 

It is revealed during fact finding that the victim is an agricultural labour. His financial condition was impecunious and he is living under financial duress.  He was not been enlisted under Below Poverty Line (B.P.L) category. In the year 1995, the victim got married with Ms. Selina Parvin, daughter of Mr. Ajimuddin Mondal. Fact finding reveals that she was from financially well off family as her father was a government employee. As a result, after their marriage, she developed marital discontent. In the year 2006, she left the victim’s house. The victim tried to convince his wife and father in law for her return but failed. Ms. Selina Parvin filed a divorce petition for the dissolution of her marriage with the victim. In the year of 2006, the victim got remarried with Ms. Ruma Bibi after getting divorce from his earlier marriage. This infuriated Ms. Selina Parvin and she started to conspire against the victim.

On 26.05.2010, she filed a petition under section 125 of Criminal Procedure Code before the Judicial Magistrate, 1st Court, Berhampore against the victim vide Execution Case No.-233/2010 and the court (JM 1st Court, Baharampur) ordered the victim to pay sum of Rs. 1800/- as maintenance per month to Ms. Selina Parvin. But the victim failed to pay few instalments of monthly maintenance due to his financial distress and as a result the court issued arrest warrant against the victim on the basis of non-payment of maintenance.

On 29.03.2013 at about 2 pm, Mr. Mainuddin Khan an Assistant Sub Inspector of Jalangi police station accompanied with four other police constables of Jalangi police station came to the house of the victim by an ash coloured Bolero make four wheelers. They trespassed into the victim’s house and at that time police force was not accompanied by any lady police. They foul mouthed with the members of the family and verbally abused the victim and his wife with filthiest language having sexual connotation. The police personnel brutally assaulted the victim in front of his wife with their wooden sticks and forcibly shoved the victim to the courtyard of his house, then Ms. Rina Bibi was molested by the said police personnel while she was asking for release of his husband from their clutches. During the melee the police personnel pulled her wearing, unclothed her and intentionally touched her private parts. In the mean time the perpetrator police personnel repeatedly had beaten the victim while they dragged the victim to their parked car. The victim was taken to the Jalangi police station and was put into the lock-up. The said ASI, Mr. Mainuddin Khan got the victim out from the police lock-up at midnight and again bashed him up. He was kept naked at the lock up for whole of night. While the victim asked for drinking water, the police personnel present at the time with the said ASI tried to force the victim to drink his own urine instead of giving him a glass of water

On 30.03.2013 at about 9 am, the victim was taken to Sadhikhandiyar Primary Health Centre for medical treatment. The victim informed the attending doctor; Dr. Nurujamman about the horrific physical torture meted upon him by the mentioned police personnel at the Jaangi police station. On 8.4.2013, he was again treated at Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital at Beharampur, after released from judicial custody on 1.4.2013 after granted bail from the court.

On 07.04.2013, our fact finding team wanted to talk with Mr. Mainuddin Khan; the involved ASI through telephone (03481-23553) regarding the incident of physical torture upon the victim by him. But the said police personal refused to discuss the issue and abruptly disconnected the telephone line. Our fact finding team again called to the said police station over telephone and wanted to know the details of the incident regarding the matter of custodial torture upon the victim by the police personnel attached with the police station. But the then Duty-Officer disagreed to discuss the happenings and he also disconnected the line in a haste.

On 08.04.2013, the victim lodged a written complaint before the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police; Murshidabad, informing the whole incident of custodial torture committed upon him by the police personnel of the Jalangi police station. But till date no appropriate actions have been taken by the higher authorities of the district or police administrations.

Inline images 1
VICTIM – MR. ARIFUL
 
Inline images 2
TREATMENT SHEET – FROM GOVT. HOSPITAL


Kirity Roy
Secretary
Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Mancha
(MASUM)
&
National Convenor (PACTI)
Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity
40A, Barabagan Lane (4th Floor)
Balaji Place
Shibtala
Srirampur
Hooghly
PIN- 712203
Tele-Fax – +91-33-26220843
Phone- +91-33-26220844 / 0845
e. mail : kirityroy@gmail.com
Web: www.masum.org.in

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