#India -13 Women activists from Maitree arrested for protesting in Kolkata #Vaw #WTFnews


Protests outside Mamata‘s house over report that claims Bengal is unsafest for women

Edited by Surabhi Malik (With Inputs from IANS) | Updated: June 13, 2013

Protests outside Mamata's house over report that claims Bengal is unsafest for women

KolkataWomen activists demonstrated outside Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee‘s residence in Kolkata this morning to protest against a spate of rape cases in the state. They wanted to meet Ms Banerjee and submit a memorandum of demands. But an hour into the protests, police dispersed the women activists and arrested 13 of them.

The protesters, led by Maitree which is an umbrella organisation of women activists, also wanted to meet Mamata to seek her response to a report released by the National Bureau of Crime Records which says West Bengal has the maximum number of crimes against women in the country.

Unable to meet Mamata, the activists left an “open letter” for her asking her why she had not spoken about the two recent and brutal rape and murder cases in the state.

The two incidents happened in quick succession and left Kolkata shocked. Last Friday, at Kamdoni village about 25 km from Kolkata, a 20-year-old college girl was brutally raped and murdered by six men. Three days later, a 13-year-old school student met the same fate at Gede in Nadia district.

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) says Bengal recorded the highest number of crimes against women for the second year in a row in 2012. The state government however contested the data, claiming its disclaimers were not published.

According to NCRB, Bengal recorded 30,942 cases of crime against women in 2012 – of which 2,046 were rapes, 4,168 kidnapping, 593 dowry deaths and 19,865 cases of cruelty by husband or relatives.

But state Director General of Police Naparajit Mukherjee said rape cases had come down “considerably” in 2012. He attributed the hike in crimes against women to cases registered under Section 498 A of the Indian Penal Code, related to cruelty towards a woman by her husband or his relatives.

In 2012, West Bengal recorded 2,046 cases of rape – lower only than Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan. In 2011, the state had recorded 29,133 cases of crime against women, 2,317 of these were rapes.

 

Probed, declared pregnant, tribal women now ostracized #Vaw #WTFnews


TNN | Jun 12, 2013,

JABALPUR: A tribal panchayat has excommunicated families of nine girls from Madhya Pradesh‘s Betul district, who were found pregnant at a mass marriage event under mukhya mantri kanyadaan yojna.

The girl’s were sent away from the event after undergoing pregnancy tests on June 7. The panchayat, which is the supreme body of Korku and Gonds tribes that form 90% of the population in the region, issued the orders against the families for “bringing ignominy to the community”.

The families have been left to fend for themselves. Even local BJA MLA Geeta Ramjilal, a tribal, has refused to intervene. “In any case, once the tribesmen decide to take a particular course of action, nothing can be done by anyone. Their word is law after all,” she told TOI on Tuesday. She is careful not to upset her party’s tribal vote bank.

Sarju Markam, a panchayat member, said the order can be rescinded if the families invite the villagers for a community meal and host a “jaatmilona”, a function to restore social ties.

“The girls brought dishonour and there was a public spectacle. So penance has to be observed,” he said.

One of the girl’s fiancee said feeding a population of 1,200 is something much beyond her folks.

He said he would stand by her and “marry her the day the crisis gets over”. But he fears the wait could be too long.

As landless labourers, the family collectively earns Rs 1,000 per month and the arrival of monsoon further cuts down earning prospects. Raising the amount for the lunch at a short notice would be impossible. This could mean an uncertain future for him, his prospective bride and the child as well.

The girl, in her 20s, quietly sits at home. She has been forbidden for moving out and has been trying to ignore jeers and barbs aimed at her. Her fiance has been helping the family to find a moneylender to fund the feast.

 

 

#India – Violence against the state is tragic but it contains the seeds of rejection


Repression is no solution

Gopal Subramanium

Violence against the state is tragic but it contains the seeds of rejection. Only an inclusive approach that respects human rights can eliminate extremism

Perhaps no other chain of events in the recent past has had a more direct and substantial impact on the life of human beings across the world than acts of terror. Terrorism has not only affected our lives directly, but has also allowed the state to intrude in our lives like never before.

 

Fundamental obligation

 

Since the security of the individual is a basic human right (and a fundamental condition of the social contract underpinning society), the protection of individuals is a fundamental obligation of the state. In recent years, however, the measures adopted by states to counter terrorism have themselves sometimes been found wanting in terms of compliance with human rights norms. The means and methods adopted by the state have posed serious challenges to human rights and the rule of law, and often this is on account of the zeal of the law-enforcement agencies to give a commensurate response to the terrorist.

 

The state cannot legitimately respond by resorting to mechanisms that overstep the limits of the law. Thus, a reason why it is important for the state to ensure that none of its measures transgresses the limits of the law is any transgression may have the effect of eroding both its legitimacy and the rule of law, thereby fomenting further unrest and erosion of faith in the Constitution.

 

In the name of combating extremism, repressive measures are also used to stifle the voice of human rights activists, advocates, minorities, indigenous groups, journalists and civil society. There is another dimension: by being able to build up a perception of threat, the state may be able to get away with channelling the funds normally allocated to social programmes towards strengthening the police force and the army. The talked-up threat perception of terrorism (and a few ‘encounters’) may well be used to justify the acquisition of more weapons. As Professor Simon Bronitt of Australian National University has summed up “…there is almost a new genus of law: post 9/11 law. Although 9/11 has become a significant force in justifying these laws, the truth is that there is an element of opportunism [by some law-enforcement and state agencies] behind these claims of necessity for new powers and offences.”

 

While militarisation and the strengthening of police forces are important in their own right, it is equally necessary to understand the genuineness of the ‘security reasons’ presented by the state as a ground for abridgment of human rights, many of which are fundamental. Frisking, for example, which used to be considered a grave intrusion upon one’s privacy at one point of time, is today normalised and we are all fine with being frisked everywhere.

 

Existential realities

 

Little or no attention is paid to the true causes of resort to violent methods. It is as if the deafening sound of explosions and landmines is used to attract the attention of the state to existential realities. There are grim realities of existence as tribals in this country, and the unfortunate aspect is that their unheard voices fail to make a din in the power corridors. From their perspective, extremism, violence and terrorism become a means to attract the attention of the state.

 

Governments have been non-responsive to peaceful protests and have, in fact, come down heavily on peaceful protesters as they did at India Gate when they relentlessly beat up women protesting in the aftermath of last December’s gang rape in Delhi. The state turns a blind eye to the violence committed by state actors, and private actors in connivance with state actors, which results in irreversible psychological damage.

 

It is evident that the state has misplaced priorities. Since there is little that the state seems to have done, one can safely say that it does not seem to be aware of the abysmal conditions in which the tribals of Chhattisgarh live.

 

The state does not seem to be aware that tribals in Madhya Pradesh eat the poisonous kesari dal which is reported to have a paralytic impact. The state also does not seem to be aware that tribal women and other villagers in Maharashtra have to walk miles before they can get drinking water. This feeling of being ‘parentless’ makes people vulnerable to anti-state ideologies. Having said this, I am not legitimising violence against innocents by invocation of oppression; I am only suggesting that oppression is one of the reasons of unrest which manifests in the resort to violence against the state and insignias of the state.

 

In the Mahanadi Coal Fields Case (2010), the Supreme Court took strong exception to the manner in which the Central government and the Mahanadi Coal Fields Limited had acquired the lands of tribals in the Sundargarh district of Odisha and not compensated them even 23 years later. In fact, 20 years after dispossessing them, the government noted that the land was actually not required!

 

The Supreme Court observed: “the whole issue of development appears to be so simple, logical and commonsensical. And yet, to millions of Indians, development is a dreadful and hateful word that is aimed at denying them even the source of their sustenance. It is cynically said that on the path of ‘maldevelopment’ almost every step that we take seems to give rise to insurgency and political extremism [which along with terrorism are supposed to be the three gravest threats to India‘s integrity and sovereignty] … The resistance with which the state’s well meaning efforts at development and economic growth are met makes one think about the reasons for such opposition to the state’s endeavours for development. Why is the state’s perception and vision of development at such great odds with the people it purports to develop? And why are their rights so dispensable?”

 

Listen to people

 

The Supreme Court’s identification of the issue is not off the mark, and I believe it is quite perceptive of the reality. Studies establish that absolute deprivation by the state has a psychological impact on its people. Therefore, any attempt to combat violence by the state must have within its fold the measures to eliminate the conditions conducive to the spread of extremism, which must include (a) strengthening the rule of law; (b) fostering respect for human rights and provision for reparation for violations; (c) reversing ethnic, national and religious discrimination, political exclusion, and socio-economic marginalisation; (d) listening to the people and (e) becoming more responsive to society.

 

The recent events of violence are tragic without a doubt but they contain the seeds of rejection of political structures. Political structures need to build confidence by dialogue, working on the ground for the uplift of the poor, and must work with an attitude of inclusiveness.

 

While mourning the loss of human life, we must devise innovative systems of engagement, based not on power or hierarchical administration but equality. One wishes ardently that new mechanisms of review — with deep and meaningful engagement with the local communities suggested in the Verma Committee on crimes against women — be quickly operationalised and deployed.

 

(The author is a senior advocate, a former Solicitor General of India, and a former Chairman, Bar Council of India)

 

#India – 350 Tribal women forced to undergo virginity and pregnancy tests before mass marriage #WTFnews #VAW


Pheroze L. Vincent,, The Hindu

Mass marriage under way at Hardoo village in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh. Photo: Special Arrangement
Mass marriage under way at Hardoo village in Betul district of Madhya Pradesh. Photo: Special Arrangement

10 girls were found pregnant and household items they got under the Mukhyamantri Kanyadan Yojana seized

Around 350 women from Gond and Korku tribes in Betul district’s Hardoo village, which is about 200 km south of here, were illegally subject to pregnancy tests before they participated in a mass marriage ceremony under the Mukhyamantri Kanyadan Yojana. This State-funded wedding ceremony of more than 400 couples was attended by local MLA Geeta Uikey of the BJP and the former minister, Vijay Shah.

Anyone who has attained the legal age for marriage can avail of this government scheme, which is aimed at reducing wedding expenses and controlling indebtedness. Couples are given household items like mattresses, gas stoves and mangalsutras for Rs. 9000.

Before the function at Hardoo, two health department employees, Jayashree Budhauliya and Durga Malviya, asked the brides to line up at a primary school building in the vicinity for a medical check-up.

“We found 10 girls pregnant. They were more than four months pregnant. We reported them to the panchayat medical officer,” said Ms. Malviya. District officials seized the household items given to the girls and they were sent away.

Betul-based activist Anurag Modi of the Shramik Adivasi Sanghatan told The Hindu that it was common practice among adivasis to cohabit before a formal wedding ceremony. “The government had no business to check if they are pregnant. This reflects the general mindset which does not treat adivasis as humans,” said Modi.

Ms. Uikey also condemned the incident which, she said, came to her notice only after the function. “This is an insult of women and adivasis. These officials want to destroy the traditions of adivasis. I demand that action be taken against them.”

To curb malpractice

After the incident panchayat officials confided to journalists that this practice of conducting pregnancy tests had been in practice for almost three years, ostensibly to check misuse of the scheme. Pradesh Congress Committee President Kantilal Bhuria, addressing a rally in Jhabua, also condemned the incident and threatened to go the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes if errant officials were not taken to task.

Collector R.P. Mishra told this paper that he had ordered an enquiry under Assistant Collector Neha Marvya. “I have been here for two months. This practice came as a surprise. There is no rule that calls for such tests. I have asked for a report within a week. This will also cover such incidents that may have happened earlier. Action will be taken on any official who may have violated the law,” he said.

The unmasking of Narendra Modi #mustread


Sujata Anandan, Hindustan Times
June 05, 2013

Senior BJP leader LK Advani being garlanded by Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi during his Jan Chetna Yatra at Daman and Diu of Gujarat Border in Vapi.

I woke up on Monday morning to a mailbox flooded with messages from Gujarat. There were hundreds of clippings of Gujarati newspapers reporting BJP leader LK Advani’s latest comments against Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi and the message from BJP members from Modi’s own state that said, “Advani sachu bolya ke Gujarat toh pahle thi j samrudh hatu–Modi a toh Gujarat ne lutyu! (Advani speaks the truth when he says Gujarat was always prosperous – on the contrary Modi has looted Gujarat)”

The second part of the statement was most certainly not Advani’s but those BJP members who sent me the messages had been crying from the rooftops for a long time about Modi’s propaganda and propensity to lie and exaggerate. For example, they went viral when in March this year, Modi, speaking to women entrepreneurs, laid claim to Lijjat Papad as a Gujarat state enterprise when in fact it was born in the bylanes of the very Maharashtrian locality of Girgaum in Bombay (That’s when he earned the ‘Feku’ tag.) He laid claim to Amul–the milk in your tea comes from Gujarat – when he, in fact, had nothing to do with the enterprise. Hemant Fitter, a former BJP member who quit the party to join Keshubhai Patel‘s Gujarat Parivartan Party, told me that Modi treated the Amul founder Dr Verghese Kurien very badly, forced him out of Anand in his last years and did not even accord this modern revolutionary, who transformed India, a state funeral.

Now my inbox is flooded with messages–supported by newspaper clippings–that even I, not a Modi fan, find appalling. One of these says that the Modi government has sold blood donated by people for Rs. 11 crore. Another speaks of how farmers are being criminalised and punished for drawing water from their own wells in the interest of multinational water companies. The Surat Municipal Corporation is allegedly not being allowed to draw water from the Tapi River for its residents when constitutionally every city on the edge of a river has the right to free water from that source. Another clipping speaks of government schools being closed down in Gujarat and education largely being handed over to private entrepreneurs. Yet another clipping speaks of 5,00,000 graduates being on a pay of just R2,500, 10,00,000 unemployed and 40,00,000 Gujarati families living below the poverty line. The message – Modi vikas na gappa mare (Modi is simply gassing about development).

But what tickled me pink was a widely-circulated morphed picture of Modi. It is made to look like a poster of Dabangg – Modi’s face on Salman Khan’s uniformed body asking – “Swagat nahi karoge hamara?’ (Will you not welcome me?)

Obviously, Modi as prime minister seems a less welcome proposition to even Gujaratis unlike what we have been led to believe and Advani seems to have brought some fresh hope to a large number of BJP workers who are now elated at the prospect of this old fox gradually and eventually exposing Modi for what he really is. I had never thought I would ever agree with Advani. But I have made the same comparisons that Advani is now making between Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat though my argument was for Nitish Kumar’s own ‘BIMARU’ Bihar coming up from scratch to a golden enterprise. And that, too, without having to endanger a single Muslim to return to power. In fact, I had always wondered why Modi should be seen as exceptional when even some BJP-ruled states had developed well – and the party had returned to power in those states, though they do not lack commitment to Hindutva as at least Madhya Pradesh, which has shielded many saffron terrorists, proves.

Now that Advani, the patriarch of the BJP, has come to recognise, however late, that Modi is really no exception, a good deal of hope is rising even among BJP members that the truth about Modi will prevail.

And the naked truth is that Modi’s bid to become PM, apart from a hyped up exercise in self-aggrandisement is actually more an attempt to run away from Gujarat before Gujarat catches up with him as all the viral uncharitable messages about him seem to suggest is clearly happening.
Looking at how Gujarat is electrified by Advani’s Modi-baiting, the PMO is going to be no cake walk for the self-proclaimed lion of Gujarat, I should think!

 

Indian Tribal Women Rush to a Champion’s Defense #Womenrights


By Swapna Majumdar

WeNews correspondent

Friday, May 31, 2013

Tribal women in India are mobilizing behind a leading maternal-health advocate. Supporters say the case against Madhuri Krishnaswamy was concocted to stop her from flagging rights violations that led to 25 maternal deaths in nine months in one impoverished district.

Tribal women protesting Madhuri Krishnaswamy's arrest.
Tribal women protesting Madhuri Krishnaswamy’s arrest.

Credit: Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS).

NEW DELHI, India (WOMENSENEWS)–The May 30 release of Madhuri Krishnaswamy, a relentless campaigner for better maternal health for marginalized tribal women in Barwani, one of the most impoverished districts in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh, has brought temporary peace in the district.

Angry protestors who had been gathering in Barwani included about 2,000 tribal women from different parts of India, estimates Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, the local advocacy group that Krishnaswamy heads.

Protesters converged on Barwani, ready to face arrest unless police charges against Krishnaswamy, based on the complaint by a Barwani health official, are withdrawn.

The May 16 jailing and arrest of Krishnaswamy on charges of — among things — obstructing a public official, have drawn outcry from rights groups and activists across the country. Demonstrators have been concentrated in Barwani, but some civil society groups have also met with senior health officials at the federal health ministry in Delhi to drum up support for Krishnaswamy.

More demonstrations, public rallies and litigation strategies to hold Madhya Pradesh government officials accountable for violations of women’s rights to life, health and non-discrimination are being pursued to pressure the administration to drop the charges.

The state government turned a blind eye to the health violations that Krishnaswamy was flagging and made up a false case to muzzle her, said Jashodhara Dasgupta of the National Alliance for Maternal Health and Human Rights, a coalition of 17 health advocacies, which has supported Krishnaswamy’s work.

Dasgupta, a member of the alliance, which is headquartered in New Delhi, told Women’s eNews that the arrest was meant to conceal the administration’s failure to implement various government programs for marginalized women.

No Comment from Local Government

The Barwani administration has not commented on the issue. The police filed a closure report in the case for lack of evidence in April. But after testimony by a Barwani health official the court summoned Krishnaswamy and sent her to prison after she refused to seek bail.

The false nature of the case was clear when some of the charges that led to her arrest included “rioting armed with deadly weapons,” said Ajay Lal, a program officer for Support for Advocacy and Training to Health Initiatives, a community health advocacy based in Pune, Maharashtra, that has been working with Krishnaswamy in Barwani.

“Krishnaswamy’s arrest is a blatant act of state reprisal against an activist who has repeatedly drawn attention to the health violations,” Lal said in a phone interview. Lal said poor maternal care in government hospitals was leading to deaths of poor tribal women.

Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, the nongovernmental organization headed by Krishnaswamy, has staged persistent protests against the poor health services in the largely tribal area of Barwani for the past 14 years.

Barwani has the second-lowest Human Development Index among the 50 districts in the state, according to the Madhya Pradesh Human Development Report 2007. Using a 2003 government sampling, this report put the maternal mortality rate for the district at 905 deaths per 100,000 live births compared to the state’s already-high figure of 379 per 100,000 live births.

Under Millennium Development Goal No. 5 India has pledged to reduce its maternal mortality ratio by three quarters before 2015 to 109 deaths for every 100,000 live births, far lower than the current figure of 212. By comparison, the United States, a laggard among industrialized countries, has a national average maternal mortality rate of 21 per 100,000 live births.

Tribal Women Denied Care

Supporters say Krishnaswamy’s arrest is linked to the 2008 case of Baniya Bai, a tribal woman living in Barwani district.

When the nine-month pregnant Baniya Bai reached the nearest government health center after travelling about nine miles by bullock cart from her village, a local health officer demanded a $2 bribe before allowing her to be attended. When family members couldn’t pay, she was dismissed from the center and wound up giving birth outside the facility, on the street, according to Krishnaswamy’s advocacy group.

Baniya Bai and her child survived.

Vypari Bai, a resident of another village in the same district, did not. Before dying she went through a terrifying 27 hours of labor pain as she was shunted by health officials from one government health facility to another in search of medical attention.

Krishnaswamy documented both cases in a court petition she filed in 2011 that flagged health-rights violations that led to 25 maternal deaths in Barwani government health facilities during a nine-month period of 2010.

“Tribal women are still dying from pregnancy-related causes because of official neglect and apathy,” saidHarsing Jamre, chief program coordinator of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan, in a phone interview. “Are the lives of tribal women less valuable? No action has been taken against such health officials. But our organization head (Krishnaswamy) raises her voice against this injustice, action is taken against her.”

According to the Human Rights Law Network, a Delhi-based collective of lawyers and social activists that investigated the Barwani maternal deaths, 21 of the 25 deaths from April to November 2010 in the district were women from the marginalized caste tribal group known as Scheduled Tribes, which are eligible for special benefits including free healthcare.

Sixty seven percent of people in Barwani belong to Scheduled Tribes.

Fatal Factors for Tribal Women

Krishnaswamy’s supporters say her cause and her own mistreatment show how government corruption, coupled with caste and gender discrimination are fatal for tribal women.

Disturbing correlations between social inequities and access to healthcare were identified in 2011 by health advocacies investigating maternal deaths and denial of health care in Barwani.

The report–by Sama, CommonHealth and Jan Swasthya Abhiyan — found that marginalized groups, in general, had trouble finding justice and tribal women were doubly disadvantaged by gender power hierarchy and caste.

Earlier this year, on Jan. 27, the Indore bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court directed the state government to improve its healthcare manpower and infrastructure. The order stemmed from a public-interest suit filed by Krishnaswamy’s group and the Human Rights Law Network that documented maternal deaths of tribal women caused by negligence and denial of health care.

Activists working in Barwani say that better infrastructure and more clinicians must also be accompanied by a more humane attitude. Doctors rarely treat marginalized tribal women with empathy, they say, and long wait for service can be fatal for both the pregnant mother and child.

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

 

#India -Police action traumatised anti-dam tribals in MP #Stateoppression #humanrights


Chaukhand village, Khargone (MP), May 30, 2013

Pheroze L. Vincent

  • Villagers staging indefinite dharna at Kharak Dam at Chaukhand village in Khargone district in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday demanding proper compensation. Photo: A.M. Faruqui
    The Hindu Villagers staging indefinite dharna at Kharak Dam at Chaukhand village in Khargone district in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday demanding proper compensation. Photo: A.M. Faruqui
  • Villagers including children staging indefinite dharna at Kharak Dam at Chaukhand village in Khargone disstrict in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, demanding proper compensation. Photo: A.M. Faruqui.
    The Hindu Villagers including children staging indefinite dharna at Kharak Dam at Chaukhand village in Khargone disstrict in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, demanding proper compensation. Photo: A.M. Faruqui.
  • Villagers staging indefinite dharna at Kharak Dam at Chaukhand village in Khargone disstrict in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, demanding proper compensation. Photo: A.M.Faruqui
    The Hindu Villagers staging indefinite dharna at Kharak Dam at Chaukhand village in Khargone disstrict in Madhya Pradesh on Thursday, demanding proper compensation. Photo: A.M.Faruqui

Sisters Kalibai and Phulbai are in a state of shock after they were caned by the police on May 25. Aged 8 and 6, they rushed towards their father Tudpiabai Gangaram on seeing him being caned by the police during a protest against the Kharak Reservoir being built beside their village.

“I said don’t hit my father. My father asked us to run away. Before we could run the policeman hit us also,” said Kali, struggling to talk with her swollen mouth. Phul asked her to open her mouth. “Her tooth broke as the cane hit her mouth,” she said pointing at a missing tooth.

Chaukhand has been resisting the construction of the dam, a minor irrigation project in Khargone and Barwani districts, roughly 350 km south west of Bhopal. Inhabited by the Barela tribe, the village grows wheat, jowar, soya, groundnuts and other traditional millets, beside River Kharak. Most residents do not have documents for the land they cultivate. The reservoir will submerge parts of seven villages.

Work on the project, which had started less than a year ago, has stopped for the last two months due to protests by locals. There are daily dharnas under the village peepul tree demanding a comprehensive rehabilitation policy, before the dam comes up.

“We had started work only on the 55 hectares for which claims were settled at roughly Rs. 3 lakhs per acre according to the collector’s guidelines. The problem is with those who don’t have documents. The principal secretary has decided to give them a relief amount of Rs. 4 lakhs per hectare. On Saturday we went to talk with the villagers when the situation deteriorated,” said Executive Engineer SS Raghuvanshi of the Water Resources Department.

Villagers narrated a different story. “At 10.30 a.m. we were on dharna as usual when four police vans came with around 150 male and female officers. The Sub Divisional Magistrate Jitendra Singh Chouhan was in front. They formed a line. We went to the SDM and asked when we will get compensation. He said that everyone with documents will get compensation but first we must clear the area,” said Shivram Kanase an activist of the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS) which works in the area.

The villagers asked them to pay the compensation before starting work. Police then forcibly evicted them from the site. “They chased me and snatched my child from my arms and threw him on the ground. That policeman’s breathe smelt of liquor. He beat me with his cane,” said Samranabai, a local resident.

Collector Navneet Kothari is on leave and Superintendent of Police R. P. Singh refused to answer queries. He said, “You do your job. If I say there was no lathi charge, will you believe me?”

Another lady named Banchibai Ningole, with an infant at her breast, was arrested from her house, said villagers. Totally seven men and twenty women are in judicial custody. They were denied bail on Wednesday. The police have told the court that they are on the look out for others and that if released, the 27 would rejoin the protests.

“I asked the SDM why his men were beating women and children. He said that we were stopping government work and we would be locked up. Inspector T. C. Usre caught my hand and hit me. The women constables didn’t do anything. Maybe they felt bad for us,” said Gyanibai Jadav.

SDM Chouhan denied the occurrence of a lathi charge. “Villagers attacked the workers at the site. I told them that we won’t tolerate violence. We can convey their objections to the government. Police only removed them from the machines. There was no lathi charge,” he told The Hindu.

Many men and women showed the cane scars on their backs and legs. Four children with bruises claimed they had either been hit or had fallen while running from the police. The counsel for the arrested, C. K. Pathak said that he wasn’t pressing charges on the police as he first wants his clients to be released.

Bail was denied on a day when CM Shivraj Chauhan visited the district to conduct a mass marriage. On May 28 the government announced a Rs. 212 crore package for oustees of the Omkareshwar Dam, which will be given on condition that they vacate their homes by July 15. The evictees in neighbouring Khandwa had gained international prominence when they went on jal satyagraha by indefinitely immersing sitting in the River Narmada last year.

Here in Chaukhand, an uneasy peace prevails with villagers unsure of whose lands will be occupied and how much money they will get. Many fields have already been filled with rocks by the construction contractors. They are also under pressure from panchayat leaders not to obstruct the construction. Both the dharna continues and construction work has stopped.

Villager Sakaram accompanied this reporter on the way out of the village, which is connected to Dhulkot Panchayat by a long un-metallled road filled with stones. Ambulances don’t come here, he said, and many women have complicated pregnancies due to the journey on bullock cart to the hospital.

On Thurday a Barwani court granted bail to JADS leader Madhuri Krishnaswamy, who was arrested a fortnight back for a 2008 case of rioting. Ms. Krishnaswamy took up the case of a tribal woman giving birth on the street after being evicted from a primary health centre. The suspended pharmacist had filed the case on her.

“Last time we all voted for BJP as they promised us land pattas. This time we are going to meet (Congress state president) Kantilal Bhuria ji when he visits Khargone of June 4,” Mr. Sakaram added. He goes to public meetings of both the Congress and the BJP. “One day they will listen to us,” he explained.

 

Rs 212 crore for Omkareshwar dam oustees


 

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Author(s): Aparna Pallavi
Date: May 30, 2013

Activists allege farmers being shortchanged; demand strict implementation of rehabilitation policy and Supreme Court guidelines
Last year, people affected by the Omkareshwar and Indira Sagar dams protested the raising of dam storage levels by staying in neck-deep water for over a fortnight (photo courtesy Narmada Bachao Andolan)
Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan has declared a rehabilitation package worth Rs 212 crore for people displaced by the Omkareshwar dam on the river Narmada. The announcement was made late on Tuesday night. The project has affected five villages and a total of 2,500 families.

The project affected people had been agitating for rehabilitation since July last year when they staged a jal satyagraha after the government ordered the dam reservoir to be filled without providing alternative land or compensation. Following the agitation, the government constituted a complaint redressal cell for the oustees . However, the cell failed to function as desired. A press note of the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA), a people’s front fighting for the rights of those displaced, stated the government even showed displaced villagers land that had already been given to those displaced because of other development projects, which nearly sparked off a conflict between the two groups.

No land in lieu of land taken

The current rehabilitation package promises Rs 2.5 lakh as compensation to landless oustees, while farmers have been promised Rs 2 lakh compensation per acre (one acre equals 0.4 hectare). Though the NBA has welcomed the provision for the landless, it has criticised the package provision for farmers.

Talking to Down To Earth from Khandva district, NBA activist Chittaroopa Palit said that the Supreme Court in its May 2011 order has said that the rehabilitation policy should be strictly followed. The policy says that all farmers ousted should be given minimum five acres of land. The present compensation package, however, does not envisage such a clause and offers to pay farmers only for the land they actually have, which will impact farmers with less than five acres badly. Also, the actual cost of land is much higher – this year Indira Sagar dam oustees have been paid Rs 5.80 lakh per acre. The NBA press note demanded that government either give every displaced farmer five acres of irrigated land, or pay for the purchases made by him.

Another unreasonable clause in the rehabilitation package is that only those villagers who vacate the submersion area by July 15 will be paid compensation. “This clause is illegal, and goes against the spirit of the rehabilitation policy,” says Palit. “Supreme Court has also said clearly in its order that oustees will be given six months to vacate the area after payment of compensation,” she adds.

‘Compensate those displaced by other dams as well’

NBA has demanded that compensation should not be limited to only Omkareshwar oustees, but should also be paid to those displaced because of all dams in the Narmada valley – namely Indira Sagar, Maheshwar, Upper Beda and Mann.

Omkareshwar dam is a multi-purpose project built at a cost of Rs 2,224.73 crore. Its installed capacity is 520 MW; the power is produced by eight power stations. The project is supposed to generate 1,167 million units energy every year, while also meeting the irrigation needs of at least three districts.

 

#India – Maternal Health Whistle Blower Arrested #Vaw #Womenrights


madhuri1

Published: Thursday, May 30,2013, , http://www.ibtl.in/
ByDr. Rita Pal

Madhuri Ramakrishnasway, a maternal health activist was arrested on the 16th May 2013 outside the court in Barwani, Madhya Pradesh [MP], India. The police had received a complaint from those in charge of a hospital currently under scrutiny for the alleged mismanagement and neglect of maternal health. The background of this complaint is as follows:- On the night of 11th November 2008, a very poor tribal woman from the village of Sukhpuri came to the Menimata Public Health Centre [PHC] during labour. She was admitted by those in charge who allegedly left her unmonitored all night. The hospital then demanded Rs 100, an amount she could not afford. She was asked to leave and the staff refused to arrange transport. Finally, the patient delivered her baby on the street with the help of the local “Dai” (Traditional Birth Attendant), only covered by a cloth held by her father in law. Having witnessed the event, Madhuri took the patient to another hospital to receive treatment. A protest was launched against the unacceptable incident that appears to have been one of many. This case was also part of the writ petition filed in the High Court of MP, Indore Bench in which the substandard state of maternal health services was raised – e.g. the 26 maternal deaths recorded in Barwani District Hospital in 2010 over 8 months were mentioned. The compounder of the hospital was suspended after repeated demands for action but was soon reinstated. It is notable that no one was subsequently held accountable for the dozens of avoidable maternal deaths that have taken place in Barwani. The picture is similar across the rest of the state. The finer points of the case are discussed in more detailed by an excellent Indian blogger and can be read here . “An investigation of maternal deaths following public protests in a tribal district of Madhya Pradesh” [Reproductive Health Matters] states

“We found an absence of antenatal care despite high levels of anaemia, absence of skilled birth attendants, failure to carry out emergency obstetric care in obvious cases of need, and referrals that never resulted in treatment. We present two case histories as examples. We took our findings to district and state health officials and called for proven means of preventing maternal deaths to be implemented. We question the policy of giving cash to pregnant women to deliver in poor quality facilities without first ensuring quality of care and strengthening the facilities to cope with the increased patient loads. We documented lack of accountability, discrimination against and negligence of poor women, particularly tribal women, and a close link between poverty and maternal death”

This whistleblower’s concerns were not without merit. She was subsequently witch hunted as the hospital in question filed a complaint against her, the patient and the patient’s husband. They received a court notice to appear at Barwani Court regarding this case on the 16th May 2013. Apparently, the police filed a closure report but sadly the court remained unsatisfied with this and the report was refused. Madhuri was arrested from the court and imprisoned in Khargone Women’s Jail. The petition completed by her supporters states

“Although the police had filed a Closure Report, it was refused since “clear reasons for closure had not been stated” and Madhuri did not opt for bail since the charges were clearly false[i]; one Section 148 actually refers to “rioting armed with deadly weapons”! She was sent to judicial custody until May 30th 2013”

It goes onto say

“We find unacceptable that the government targets those who work to protect the rights of the poorest Dalits and Adivasis who are suffering due to poor quality of health services; and we demand accountability from the erring officials who are indirectly responsible for thousands of women dying due to preventable pregnancy related causes”

Madhuri Ramakrishnasway is popularly known amongst the tribals of Barwani as “ Madhuri Ben” .She is a leader of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), a tribal and Dalit Rights Collective. Various advocacy groups under them often hold peaceful protests with a view to raising awareness of the substandard healthcare during pregnancy and labour. She has been involved in developing a grassroots movement demanding good care for rural maternal and child health in some of the remotest parts of the district. In support of Madhuri Ben’s concerns, it is notable that last year :

“The study, conducted on 819 deaths of a total of 1,065 probably maternal deaths reported in Madhya Pradesh between April 2011 and January 2012, suggests 132 women died on their way home or to a health facility” [Source – The Hindu ].

While recent news reports ran headlines about the sudden miraculous “improvement” in mortality rate in the state [ Times of India ], these reports conflicts with a presentation in the previous year on maternal death reviews in MP. Apurva Chaturvedi, State Consultant, National Rural Health Mission, and Archana Mishra, Deputy Director (NRHM), explained that 32 per cent of the reviewed deaths had occurred in district hospitals, 25 per cent in maternity centres, 13 per cent in sub-centres and 6 per cent in private facilities.

“Only 17.7 per cent of the expected maternal deaths are being reported and analysed while the remaining go unreported. Worse, in 37 per cent of the cases the cause of maternal deaths is registered as ‘other’,” they said.

The questionable statistics and the reasons for this was argued well by Sachin Jain. The government’s position isn’t convincing given the reports on the ground. It is therefore time for a legitimate investigation into the serious risk posed to vulnerable mothers in this state. The first task for the government is to cease harassing its whistleblowers who point out their spectacular failings. Then they should apply their minds more constructively to improving healthcare for patients at risk of neglect and death. They may also wish to improve their ability to collect statistics to avoid being embarrassed further. Click here to Sign the Petition

Author : Dr Rita Pal, Follow her twitter.com/dr_rita39

 

Tribals arrested, lathi-charged for demanding rehabilitation


Published on Down To Earth | Latest news, opinion, analysis on environment and science issues | India, South Asia (http://www.downtoearth.org.in)

 


Author(s):
Aparna Pallavi
Issue Date:
2013-5-28

Madhya Pradesh government starts dam construction without clearances

Twenty men and seven women from the tribal village of Chaukhand in Madhya Pradesh’s Khargone district were arrested while many others with them were brutally beaten up by police for protesting illegal construction of a dam on the Kharak river.

As per a press-note issued by the Narmada Bachao Andolan on May 26, the residents of the village, mostly Bhil and Bhilala tribals, were demanding compensation and rehabilitation, and had put a stop to the work at the dam site two months ago.

On May 26, sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) Jitendra Singh Chouhan, along with 150 police personnel, arrived at village Choukhand with an earth-work machine and tried to start work on the dam forcibly, says the press note. When villagers tried to speak to the SDM, he ordered a lathi-charge.

Residents claim people were pulled out of their houses and beaten up. Those injured include Banchabai of village Choukhand who was breastfeeding her baby when she was pulled out, and two minor girls Kalibai and Phulbai who were trying to protect their father from beatings.

Cheated of compensation

Chitroopa Palit, activist of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, said the proposed dam is yet to receive statutory forest clearance under the Forest Conservation Act and environment clearance under provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act. Despite this, the state government started land acquisition for the dam in 2011; the structure will submerge seven villages in the Badwani and Khargone districts. Since July 2012, some people in villages Juna Bilwa, Kaniapani and Choukhand in Khargone district were forced to accept paltry compensation of Rs 40,000 per acre (0.4 hectare) against collector’s guidelines which put the compensation amount at Rs 1.60 lakh for non-irrigated land and Rs 3.20 lakh for irrigated land. The people were told they would be paid compensation in three instalments and if they protested they would be jailed till the completion of the project.

However, residents of four affected villages in Badwani district—Kamat, Kaniapani, Julwania and Muvasia—have been denied any compensation. These villages are located in reserve forest area, and some of the tribal residents have been given land rights under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) while others’ FRA claims are pending, informs Palit. Also, 150 families in  three villages in Khargone district, who were cultivating land under a common patta (land titles) in the name of a cooperative society since 1969, have also been denied rehabilitation because the society was disbanded in the late 1990’s and people do not have individual documents, she said.

The people, united under the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS), have been demanding rehabilitation since 2011, and after the administration failed to fulfil their demand, they stopped the dam work, said Palit. She said that administration has taken advantage of the arrest of JADS activist Madhuri Krishnaswami [1] to stage this attack on the people.

Khargone collector Navneet Mohan Kothari denied that people were beaten up. “The people who beat up the workers on the dam site were arrested,” he said. Kothari refused to comment on the fact that the dam work has been started illegally without proper clearances and said that all project-affected people have been paid just compensation.

 


Source URL: http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/tribals-arrested-lathi-charged-demanding-rehabilitation

 

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