#India-Journalists report the police version of crime: Seema Azad


|October 21, 2012

Do journalists question enough, asks Seema Azad, ‘Dastak’ editor who was charged under the UAPA in this interview with SHOBHA S V [Courtesy: THE HOOT]

Seema Azad

37-year old Seema Azad’s calm demeanour belies the trauma that she’s had to undergo. Azad, editor of ‘Dastak’ magazine and organising secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) was arrested in February 2010 in Allahabad along with her husband Vishwa Vijayon charges of sedition and UAPA. Vishwavijay has been a student union leader and activist of Inquilabi Chhaatra Morcha.

The duo were arrested shortly after Seema wrote against Ganga Expressway Plan, a project that would have displaced many farmers and also highlighted arbitrary arrests of Muslim youth by the Special Task Force in Azamgarh.

After a prolonged fight that stretched for two and a half years, the Allahabad High Court finally granted bail to the duo on 5thAugust, 2012. They have appealed against the conviction. Azad and her husband were in Mumbai recently to speak in a public meeting demanding for release of social activist SudhirDhawale, who has been in jail on charges of sedition.

Seema spoke out strongly against sedition and laws that curbed dissent and deplored the failure of mainstream media to question police charges against fellow journalists and activists. She also said the publication of ‘Dastak’ was suspended when she and her husband were in jail, but it will come out again from January, 2013.

Can you tell us what happened when you were picked up in February 2010?

I was coming back from Delhi after attending the National Book fair and a group of plainclothesmen literally grabbed my husband and me and put us in a vehicle. I wouldn’t say we were arrested. We were kidnapped. There was no warrant issued at all.

Why do you think you were arrested?

During questioning, the police kept asking us about my articles in my magazine ‘Dastak’ including Operation Green Hunt, Ganga Expressway Plan that would have affected many farmers’ livelihood and about my article on Muslim youth in Azamgarh who were being harassed by the police. I was branded a Maoist because I wrote against the Government on these issues.

Can you describe your experience in the jail?

It was very depressing initially. For the first day or two, I couldn’t talk to anyone. I slowly started opening up. Resistance builds up only gradually. My experience in prison made me open my eyes to a reality that I would never have had an opportunity to experience otherwise. Prisoners also have rights, which are consistently violated all the time. I remember wanting to read a newspaper every day. It seems like a simple thing except that it was not. I had to fight for it with the superintendent, jailor, warden and may others. Finally, when the Chief Judicial Magistrate had come for a programme in the prison, I insisted very strongly that I need a newspaper. It was only after his intervention that they started giving newspapers to read. My family really helped me during this time. Whenever they would come to meet me, they would bring along with them, a big set of newspapers, magazines and some books for me to catch up with my reading. I also found that the jail library is in a very bad shape. I could hardly use it. In my prison, I was the first woman who was accused of being a Maoist.

Since I was an under-trial, physical work was not mandatory for me. However, they kept asking me for bribes. I resolutely refused to pay them anything. I received feelers that I should either pay up or I should work. I clearly told them that I wouldn’t mind working but refused to pay bribes. However, they did not bother me after that. I think it was because I was educated, that things were relatively better for me than someone who is non literate.

The jail officials would ask for money in order to facilitate meeting with my family members. I ended up spending lot of time with the children of the female prisoners. I also taught two women how to read.

What kind of support did you receive from the journalist community?

Mainstream media kept writing from the point of view of the police. When I was arrested, I did not get any support from mainstream media and journalists at all. I have been working as a journalist for the past eight years now. Apart from bringing out a bi-monthly magazine, I have also written for a mainstream publication, Sahara Samay for three years now. Yet, when I was arrested, there was not a single word from any mainstream media journalist. It was very disappointing.

What do you think ails journalism today?

Journalists only end up writing the police version of any crime. The accused person’s version is seldom published. Rarely is any attempt made to contact the accused person’s lawyer or family for their statement. This is a very sorry state of affairs. The level of ignorance amongst journalists about laws is appalling. When I finally got bail two months ago, we had arranged for a press conference about black laws. So many journalists did not know about Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) or Unlawful Activities Prevention Act(UAPA). I had to explain what AFSPA is all about. However, just as corporate media in India is spreading everywhere, I also see many instances of independent media. There are many small publications which are doing good work. I also see hope in online media. When I was arrested, I remember my brother pointing out to many websites, blogs writing about me and the black laws that exist in our country.

Now that you are out on bail, what how do you plan to continue your fight?
I am very happy going around different parts of the country talking about black laws like sedition and UAPA. I am also working on bringing out my magazine ‘Dastak’ once again. It was stopped when I was in jail. The next edition will come out in January 2013.

I express my solidarity with the people of Koodankulam. 7000 people have been slapped with sedition! Section 124 (sedition) has become a joke. The prevailing atmosphere is such that the state wants to intimidate everyone who wants to critique and challenge government policies of development. If the government thinks that they will frighten people in this way, I can tell you from my experience that they are sorely mistaken. I have become even more rebellious after my arrest and subsequent stay in jail. I am going to continue my fight for what I believe in.

 

PRESS RELEASE–Social movements and democracy being suppressed through fabricated cases


 

 MEDIA RELEASE: 28 September, New Delhi

DSC04230 1 300x169 Social movements and democracy being suppressed through fabricated cases New Delhi: Depositions by representatives of social movements from across the country revealed a familiar pattern of shrinking spaces for democratic dissent. In struggle areas such as Koodankulam, Jaitapur, Odisha and Chhattisgarh the state response has been to use violence and fabricated cases as a systematic tool to undermine people’s struggle for social and environmental justice. A two day ‘Peoples hearing on fabricated cases’ is being organized at the Constitution Club by over 30 groups from across India under the banner of the National Campaign against Fabricated cases.

At Koodankulam, the site of a peaceful anti-nuclear struggle by local communities, the Tamil Nadu police has filed over 109 FIRs against 55,795 people and. At least 21 sections of the IPC have been used, including Section 121 (Waging War against the state) against 3600 people, and Section 124A (Sedition) against 3200 people. The state has been unable to respond to substantive issues such as nuclear safety, seismology, environment impact assessment and democratic consent raised by the peaceful protesters.

In the Konkan coast in Maharashtra, there has been a massive investment push with 76 Mining leases, 19 thermal power plants, 23 special economic zones and the Jaitapur nuclear power project being imposed undemocratically on the fisher folk and peasants of the region. People’s democratic right to protest was prevented through legal prohibitory orders and hundreds of activists have been charged with false cases. ‘We have been robbed of our dignity and rights of democratic expression’ said Vaishali Patel one of the leaders of the people’s movement.

Representing the POSCO Prathirodha Sangram Samiti (PPSS), Abhay Sahoo narrated the numerous fictitious cases filed against local communities. Sahoo himself is a victim of some 50 fabricated cases, and was behind bars for 14 months in 2008-09, 5 months in 2011-2012, and is now on bail. While 4 leaders of PPSS are still in jail, more than 200 false cases have been lodged against villagers and warrant orders have been issued against more than 2000 people out of which more than 500 are women. Over 100 women were arrested during the last 3 years but were released on bail.

Because POSCO and Koodankulam are prestige projects for the Manmohan Singh Government, Sahoo predicted that repression and instances of fabricated cases will increase in the coming days. ‘Both these movements need to create more organic linkages and fight jointly for justice’, said Sahoo.

Representatives from SAHELI, a Delhi based womens support group spoke about Lingaram Kodopi and Soni Sori, the tragic case of an adivasi family, caught in the crossfire of Operation Green Hunt in Chhattisgarh. Sori continues to languish in a Raipur jail on bizarre charges of burning houses and trucks.

Former MLA Sunilam Mishra, who is the leader of the Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, spoke about how the police and administration have become tools in the hands of companies in Madhya Pradesh. The MP Government lodged 66 false cases against Dr Sunilam and his associate farmers in one single incident of police firing in Multai.

Shauzab Kazmi deposed on behalf of his journalist father Mohammed Ahmed Kazmi who was arrested in March 2012 in connection with a bomb blast involving an Israeli diplomat.

Journalists Seema Azad and Shahina K K also spoke about the fabricated cases against them. A jury which includes Dr. Binayak Sen, Justice Rajinder Sachar, Ram Punyani, Saba Naqvi and Ajit Sahi will issue recommendations at 4pm tomorrow and a press conference will follow.

 

State Demons in Forests of Bastar #chhattisgarh


 

Salwa Judum soldiers in Chhattisagrh

Salwa Judum soldiers in Chhattisagrh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Vol – XLVII No. 31, August 04, 2012

Is the deliberate targeting of the support base of the Maoists good counter-insurgency policy?

 

The counter-insurgency operations to wipe out the Maoists have gone hi-tech – unmanned aerial vehicles are now being deployed for, among other things, “remote sensing” of “left-wing extremists”. On 28 June, a couple of hours after the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and its elite Commando Battalion for Resolute Action (CoBRA) troops aided by Chhattisgarh state police began returning to their camps, CRPF officials in New Delhi began to dish out ­details of the “biggest encounter”, the “big victory of the secu­rity forces in Chhattisgarh” in which they killed “19 Maoists”. But in Raipur, the state capital, the Chhattisgarh police had its own version of the specific intelligence input, the episode and the singling out of the dead, and the two did not match.

 

The CRPF version traced the 17 deaths (two more in a separate incident nearby) to prolonged exchange of fire with the dreaded Maoists in which six of its commandos sustained injuries. ­Union Home Minister P Chidambaram duly parroted the same, of course, commending the forces for their courage and their skills, and claiming that three important Maoist leaders were among the dead. But his own local Congress Party unit had a different tale to tell – according to its version, the official story of the encounter of the security forces with the Maoists was cooked up; it was a “fake” encounter, and the victims were “innocent adivasis”. Going by the local Congress version then, the security forces, whose job it was to prevent unlawful activities on the part of the Maoists, had themselves engaged in activities that render them culpable under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code and under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, besides being accused of the sexual molestation of women and the destruction and looting of properties.

 

The villagers of Sarkeguda, Kothaguda and Rajpenta who had survived the attack of the security forces had an altogether different account of the incident. According to them, as related by the report of the Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisations (CDRO), there were no Maoists around that night when the CRPF and its CoBRA commandos and the state police cordoned off those villages and fired indiscriminately and without warning on the unarmed residents. Indeed, there was no exchange of fire; it was just that security forces first fired from the west, and then from three other directions and so some stray bullets may have injured some members of the forces themselves. And the brutality: those who did not die from their ­bullet wounds were put to death with axes that the police could lay their hands on in the villages.

 

When the local Congress version of what happened came to light, Chhattisgarh Chief Minister Raman Singh, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader, dished out the old yarn that the Maoists had used the innocent adivasis as human shields and so they perished. Thus, the 12-year old girl, Kaka Saraswati – who was hit by a bullet and died as she was fleeing towards her house – was forced to act as a human shield of the Maoists, according to those who peddle such falsehoods. So were 16-year-olds, Kaka Rahul and Madkam Ramvilas, Class X students in a Basaguda school, now dead and gone. When it was pointed out that there were no Maoists around, then it was argued that whoever supports the Maoists deserves to be killed, and, according to intelligence, these were villages that had backed the Maoists. The ­National Human Rights Commission, instead of independently investigating the incident, is (reportedly) relying on the CRPF version. And the judicial inquiry: will it hold its major sittings at the venue of the so-called encounter? Going by past precedence, with the dead buried, the truth will also be consigned to the grave.

 

Now, the very office holders of the Indian state, the union home minister and the Chhattisgarh chief minister, seem to have no commitment to the rule of law or the Constitution. So what do we tell them? We are reminded of an old message from Robert Thompson, who was a veteran of the Malayan civil service, as also the chief of the British advisory mission to South ­Vietnam during 1961-65. In his book, Defeating Communist ­Insurgency: Experiences from Malaya and Vietnam (1966), Thompson argued that it was imperative that the security forces operate within the ambit of the law. Yes, we need to draw the attention of P Chidambaram and Raman Singh to the very counter-productiveness of their acts of omission and commission in achieving the objectives they have set for their counter-insurgency strategy. From June 2005, when the vigilante group Salwa Judum began to be deployed in the counter-insurgency operations in Chhattisgarh, up to today, when it is soon going to be three years since the launch of Operation Green Hunt, no one really knows the actual count of the number of innocent tribal peasants killed. But as Thompson would have surely felt, these acts of killing by the security forces have only served to “create more communists than they [have] kill[ed]”. The Indian state refuses to admit that it is in a state of civil war, but its citizens should force it to admit to this truth and agree to abide by the fourth Geneva Convention in not harming non-combatants/civilians.

 

NEW DELHI- Protest against the massacre of adivasis in Bijapur, Chhattisgarh


 

PROTEST AGAINST THE MASSACRE OF 20 ADIVASI VILLAGERS IN BIJAPUR, CHHATTISGARH

 

 

DHARNA AT PARLIAMENT STREET

11 AM to 5 PM, 31 JULY 2012 (Tuesday), New Delhi

  

Almost a month has passed since the heinous massacre of 20 tribal villagers – including six minors – by the Indian state’s armed forces on the night of 28 June 2012 in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. None of the perpetrators who carried out this planned massacre has so far been indicted of murder, let alone being brought to justice. The culprits continue to enjoy the protection of the state while the affected people of the three villages who are fighting for justice are intimidated, persecuted and put behind the bars. The attempt of the Indian state thereby has been to hide the truth of Bijapur massacre, to pass it off as just another incident of “collateral damage” in its operations against adivasis, and to stifle the voices of those villagers who are affected by the massacre. In such a situation, it becomes the responsibility of the progressive, democratic and revolutionary forces of the country to raise our voice collectively against the genocidal Indian state’s war, to demand punishment of the perpetrators responsible for the massacre, to unite with the fighting masses of Sirkegudem, Kottagudem and Rajupenta villages, and thereby prevent the ruling-class conspiracy to erase the Bijapur massacre from public memory and to push it into oblivion.

The facts of Bijapur massacre are by now well known. Villagers from Sirkeguda, Kottaguda and Rajupenta villages belonging to Dorla Koya tribe who are mostly small peasants, gathered in a meeting on the evening of 28 June in Kottagudem village to plan for the upcoming sowing season. There were around 60 villagers present in the meeting, including children. As the meeting was underway, around 10pm a large contingent of CRPF’s COBRA battalion arrived from Basaguda police station one kilometre away, which is also the base of the CRPF battalion. These heavily armed forces surrounded the people in the meeting and fired at them indiscriminately and without warning from three directions, killing 15 of them on the spot. Many of the villagers who did not die of bullet injuries were brutalised and hacked to death by the CRPF mercenaries with crude weapons collected from the village. To cover up this heinous crime of genocidal proportions, the CRPF killer gangs loaded the dead bodies on a tractor, sent them to the Basaguda police station, and removed the blood-stained earth so that no tell-tale evidence of the massacre remains to speak of the truth. The CRPF forces remained in the village for the night and in the morning they shot dead another village youth in cold blood when he came out of his house. These fascist forces sexually assaulted at least three women and threatened them with rape, broke open the houses of the villagers and looted the money they found therein, destroyed grains, and created a reign of terror. On 29 June a villager died of his grievous injuries in the hospital, thus taking the toll of the massacre to 17. In another incident of cold-blooded murder perpetrated by the Indian state’s armed forces in the same region, two villagers were killed near Jagargunda village of the neighbouring Sukma district on the same night of the Bijapur massacre. The familiar cock-and-bull story of an ‘encounter’ between the Maoists and the armed forces were parroted, claiming that the latter fired in ‘self-defense’ killing the two.

            The union home minister P Chidambaram, who is the main architect and orchestrator of Operation Green Hunt, jubilantly celebrated the massacre as a successful assault against the Maoists, who were killed in a “transparent” operation. He congratulated the CRPF force carrying out this daring attack. His lapdog Vijay Kumar – the CRPF Director General – basked in the ‘glory’ of perpetrating the massacre and hailed his “brave soldiers”. Raman Singh, the Chhattisgarh Chief Minister denied that any civilian was killed in the operations, while his home minister Nankiram Kanwar said that anyone who supports the Maoists deserves to be killed like the Maoists. While such lies, slander and intimidation from the ruling-class reactionaries flew thick and fast, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh – the main agent of US imperialism in the government – maintained a studied silence, hoping that the anger of the people will not cascade into a massive outburst of protest. However, as the villagers of Sirkeguda, Kottaguda and Rajupenta came out to the streets to protest against the massacre of their kith and kin, gave fearless testimonies even amidst grave sorrow and anger, and a few conscientious reporters and democratic citizens brought out the truth behind the Bijapur massacre, the ruling classes could no longer defend their white lie and Goebbelsian propaganda that the dead were “dreaded armed Maoists”. Their lie of a ‘fierce encounter’ too got exposed when it was confirmed by the villagers that there were no armed-carrying Maoists in the meeting nor were the CRPF fired upon, and that some of the COBRA personnel were injured by their own men.

Fearing popular reprisal after getting thoroughly exposed, Chidambaram had to swallow his own words and hypocritically declared that he was “deeply sorry” for any civilian deaths, while Vijay Kumar too resorted to duplicity once again by regretting the deaths of the villagers. Neither however gave any indication that the perpetrators of the massacre and their military and political bosses will be charged of murder and brought to justice. After the media brought to light the fact that not even the mandatory post-mortem of the dead bodies were carried out by the government, Raman Singh hastily ordered a farcical judicial enquiry, the purpose of which is to shield the culprits and not to punish them. It is clear that the ruling classes will not punish the foot-soldiers employed to protect their political power and to crush the peoples’ movement which they consider to be the biggest threat to their fascist class rule, unless forced by a strong peoples’ movement.

            Such extreme aggression and brutality undergone by the tribal people of central and eastern India from outside are not new. The people of Bastar have a proud history of fighting exploitation, repression and external aggression that goes back to centuries. From the struggles against predatory feudal states and landlord’s armies in the pre-colonial period through the great Bhumkal Rebellion of 1910 against the colonial regime and thereafter, they have stood up against all attempts in the past aimed at their subjugation and annihilation. After the transfer of power in 1947, when the police firing on landless peasants demanding their rights over land in Darjeeling district in 1967 sparked the prairie fire of Naxalbari, the tribal people of Srikakulam too became the flag-bearers of revolution, a struggle in which hundreds of tribal peasants laid down their lives fighting the repressive state. A police firing on a massive gathering of Gond adivasis at Indravelli in Adilabad district of Telangana on 20 April 1980 led to the massacre of 12 of them, but rather than curbing their fighting spirit, this incident ignited the anger of the Gonds spanning over Telangana and Bastar against the Indian feudal and comprador ruling classes in an unprecedented manner. Indeed, the Indravelli massacre – the largest massacre of tribal people in post-1947 India till the Bijapur massacre of June 2012 – was one of the factors that led the Gond adivasis of Telangana, Gadchiroli and Bastar to espouse the revolutionary movement as their own. In the recent past, the people of Bastar have faced and defeated the notorious Salwa Judum campaign even at the cost of undergoing great losses. In fact, villagers of Sirkeguda, Kottaguda and Rajupenta returned to their homes in 2009 after years of exile, as their villages were destroyed by the state-sponsored Salwa Judum goons. They were still in the process of regrouping their lives when this latest massacre by the Indian state extinguished the lives of 17 of them.

            But unlike in many of the past incidents of cold-blooded execution by the armed forces of the Indian state in central India, the affected people have now come out to tell their tale and to demand justice. The people of Sirkeguda, Kottaguda and Rajupenta – the witnesses to the heinous crime – have bravely narrated the course of events on 28 June and thereafter to the media and various fact-finding teams. They have refused to be silenced by the intimidating presence of the armed forces in large numbers in and around their villages after the incident. The villagers declined the offers of ‘relief’ and ‘compensation’ by the government, and sent back a truckload of food material brought by the district administration for their ‘relief’. They asked in defiance, “If we are Maoists, then why do you bring us this rice? Why did you do this to us?” Fifteen residents of the three villages including eleven children even embarked on a journey to Hyderabad – the capital city of neighbouring Andhra Pradesh – to tell the world about the brutality and repression that they were subjected to on the night of 28 June. However, as soon as they stepped into Hyderabad, the Andhra Pradesh police at the instructions of its political masters abducted all fifteen villagers along with two members of the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC) who went to receive them, and took them to an unknown location. It was only after a series of protests that they were produced by the AP police before a court of law. All of them have been sent to prison. All seventeen of them still continue to languish in prison for the ‘crime’ of threatening the Indian ruling classes with the truth of Bijapur massacre.

            The growing frequency of state-orchestrated massacres and the growing number of the dead in such cold-blooded murders show the upsurge of popular discontent against the status-quo as well as the expansion of the peoples’ democratic and revolutionary struggles aimed at changing this status-quo. The intensifying class struggle in the subcontinent in the context of the worldwide economic crisis makes the Indian rulers more desperate by each passing day to remove all hurdles against the ever-growing exploitation of India’s working people and the plunder of the country’s natural resources by MNCs and big Indian corporations – resources which in reality belong to the entire people of the country.  And this regime of exploitation and plunder is being hard-sold by the media-managers of the ruling classes as ‘development’. The entire Bastar region as well as other adivasi-inhabited regions of central and eastern India which are rich in mineral resources has become the most coveted prizes that have been already sold out by the government to various imperialist and domestic companies through thousands of secret MoUs. But since the people all over the subcontinent have stood up to defend their jal-jangal-zameen even at the cost of their lives, the Indian ruling classes have unleashed its fascist repression campaign all over the country in an attempt to crush and decimate all forms of peoples’ resistance. The revolutionary movement of Bastar is one of the fiercest and most militant of such struggles being waged in the subcontinent today, which has defeated each and every military campaign by the Indian state against it till now. Therefore, we now find the exasperated Indian ruling classes executing large-scale massacres of the adivasis and other sections of the oppressed masses to further its anti-people design.

Let us be in no illusion. The ruling classes of India are planning more and more mass executions like that of Bijapur at an ever growing scale in the coming days in the name of countering Maoism. Operation Green Hunt, deployment of the Indian Army in Bastar in the name of ‘training’ and of the Air Force in the name of ‘logistics’, establishment of National Counter-Terrorism Centre (NCTC) to strengthen the coercive apparatus of the state, promulgation of draconian laws like UAPA, NSA etc., are important components of this larger design. These are integral parts of the Indian state’s war on the people, which will be pushed forward with ever more vengeance and brutality in the future as is evidenced by the Bijapur massacre – the largest massacre of adivasis in ‘independent’ India. Only a united, widespread and resolute mass mobilisation in the subcontinent and outside can desist the warmongering Indian state and the blood-thirsty ruling classes from perpetrating more Bijapurs in the near future. RDF appeals to the democratic and progressive individuals and organisations to unite in protest against the Bijapur massacre by participating in the Dharna on 31 July 2012 at Parliament Street, New Delhi.

 

 

 

REVOLUTIONARY DEMOCRATIC FRONT (RDF)

Issued by: Varavara Rao (President), Rajkishore (Gen. Sec.) | Contact: 09717583539 | revolutionarydemocracy@gmail.com

 

IMMEDIATE RELREASE-June 26th- Emergency Day- hunger strike in all Prisons in INDIA !!


COMMITTEE FOR THE RELEASE OF POLITICAL PRISONERS

185/3, FOURTH FLOOR, ZAKIR NAGAR, NEW DELHI-110025

Statement in Solidarity with Proposed Day Long Hunger Strike on Emergency Day on 26 June 2012 in All Prisons

Against the Sentencing of Seema & Vishwa Vijay! Against the Denial of Our Fundamental Freedoms!

Let us Remember the Dreadful Anti-People Emergency to Continue our Fight Against the Undeclared Emergency on the Freedom Loving People of the Subcontinent!

All Political Prisoners are Targets of an Undeclared Emergency! We demand Their Unconditional Release!

All Draconian Laws Including the UAPA and AFSPA and the Anti-Sedition Laws are Clear Instruments Towards Declaring an Undeclared Emergency! We Demand that Such Anti-People Laws be Immediately Revoked!

As this is being written one cannot deny the possibility of a Muslim youth being picked up as suspected ‘terrorist’ out to destabilise the Indian state; or an Adivasi or a Dalit who is left with little option but to fight against the criminal denial of his/her life and livelihood being picked up as a ‘terrorist’, ‘extremist’ waging war against the state. Anyone who writes, speaks, mobilises people against such growing fascist, anti-people tendencies of the Indian state are also becoming targets of the same policy—the case of Seema Azad and Vishwa Vijay and a cultural organisation like Kabir Kala Manch being the latest while there are others such as Sudhir Dhawale, Utpal and Jeetan Marandi being incarcerated for their undying love for the well being of the people especially the most oppressed, the Dalits and Adivasis. In Jammu & Kashmir while there are undeclared centres of torture and detention at every nook and cranny, the Kashmiri Muslim prisoners kept in jails in Jammu are meted the worst kind of treatment—in the form of torture, denial of facilities as per the jail manual etc. While the arrests under Public Safety Act are increasing day by day with thousands behind bars the state has also started enforcing UAPA along with the already imposed Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA).

Every state of India is teethed with separate preventive detention laws as well as other draconian instruments apart from the centralised UAPA. Prisoners are flooding the already crowded jails which has least turned out to be centres of reform but breeding grounds for criminalisation and communalisation. Instances of entire villages being put behind bars—for their alleged support to the Maoists—repeatedly even after they are acquitted by the court while custodial deaths/killings due to inhuman torture or connivance of the authorities with communal, criminal elements in the prison is strikingly emerging as a pattern. Needless to say there is an undeclared emergency in the Indian subcontinent.

The role of the media in managing, making perceptions about this undeclared emergency as a necessary evil is increasingly creating a sense of fatalism among the people. Increasingly it is being told to the people that any form of political dissent is against the interests of the state; of growth; of development. So anyone who protests against the anti-people policies of growth, development becomes a ‘terrorist’, ‘waging war’ against the state. The rest of the act of profiling these people as ‘criminals’, ‘anti-nationals’ is done by a large section of the jingoist media hand-in-glove with the state in its so-called ‘war against terror’ as well as the predatory policies of loot and plunder of the Indian state. Today what denote corporate/moribund capital interest have also become the interests of the big media houses. And there is a convergence of interests between moribund capital and a national security state that India is fast emerging. The need of an undeclared emergency is more than justified in such a scenario.

In this context the memories of 26th of June 1976 remain a dreadful day for the freedom loving people of the Indian subcontinent as it happens to be the day of proclamation of the notorious Emergency by the then Indira Gandhi autocratic regime. On this dark day of 1976, the democracy – loving people in their hundreds were arbitrarily jailed and virtually an awful war was declared on the voice of decent and the voice of the voiceless. And today the memory of 26th of June and the lived reality for vast sections of the masses of the people remains the same. But it should be recalled that ultimately, the mighty voice of freedom – loving people prevailed as they fought back.

In solidarity with the call given by the political prisoners we at the CRPP is proposing to observe this day, i.e., 26th June, as the day of raising voice in defense of the rights and freedom of prisoners in general and those of Political prisoners in particular. We stand in solidarity with the call for observing day long hunger strike given by all the political prisoners and other prisoners throughout the Indian subcontinent, for the realization of the following demands.

IMMEDIATE DEMANDS

1. Stop the fascist policy of slapping false cases at the jail gate itself on any Political Prisoner, who has been released through due legal process after prolonged imprisonment.

2. If one is imprisoned in one are more cases, he/she should be kept informed about the rest of the cases if any pending against him or her and all cases should be duly processed and completed within reasonable time period as per the right of Speedy trial.

3. Hygienic food and water supply to the prisoner should be guaranteed.

4. Regular Interviews for the prisoners with their kith and kins and well wishers should be guaranteed.

5. Books, Magazines and political literature should be supplied to the prisoners who are in need of them.

6. Prisoners should duly be produced before the respective courts.

7. Any prisoner who completes 10 years of imprisonment (7 years actual sentence + three years remission) should forthwith be released irrespective of the sections stipulated in the case.

8. Lifers in the Hyderabad Central such as PBV Ganesh and Abdul Qadheer should immediately be released from their prolonged imprisonment of more than 20 years.

OTHER DEMANDS

Release All Political Prisoners Unconditionally!

Repeal All Draconian Laws Including UAPA and AFSPA!

Remove All forces from the Adivasi areas in Chattisgarh, Orissa, Jharkhand, Jangal Mahal under the name Operation Green Hunt, Operation Hukka, Operation Vijay!

Remove Armed Forces from Kashmir and North-East!

In Solidarity,

Your browser may not support display of this image.   Your browser may not support display of this image.   Your browser may not support display of this image.

SAR Geelani                       Amit Bhattacharyya                          Rona Wilson

Working President              Secretary General                               Secretary, Public Relations

Joint Statement on Travesty of Justice in BATHANITOLA JUDGEMENT


We are deeply distressed and shocked at the judgment of Patna High Court (Bihar) on 16th April 2012 acquitting the upper caste/feudal murderers of the ghastly Bhatanitola Massacre in 1996. This is not only a severe miscarriage of justice but a massacre of the very notion of justice. Thus it is akin to the judicial massacre of the poor dalits and muslims of Bathanitola. This Patna High Court judgment not only makes a mockery of the lofty slogans of the Indian ruling classes like dignity , democracy, human rights, justice right to life and dignity but also shamelessly exposes the class/caste biasness of various organs of the Indian State including the judiciary. The upper caste landlord, contractor, mafia, bureaucracy, police, and political executive nexus is quite evident.

 

On 11th April 1996 Ranveer Sena, the private army of the upper caste landlords cold bloodily murdered 21 people poor dalits and muslims in Bathanitola in Bhojpur distict, Bihar. 3 toddlers (one of them only 3 months old), 6 children, 11 women were cruelly butchered by the Ranvir Sena .

 

This barbaric massacre was done in broad daylights in the presence of a large contingent of police; this clearly indicates the nexus between police and upper caste landlords in Bihar. The day after this ghastly massacre Kisun Choudhary registered a FIR in Sahar Police Station against 33 people involved in the massacre. In 2010 the Ara Sessions Court  has convicted 23 people for this massacre sentencing three to death and 20 to life imprisonment. But the Patna High Court has overturned the conviction and acquitted all the accused.

 

The fact that, 16 years after this massacre not a single person stands convicted for the brutal and barbaric slaughter of innocents, raises disturbing questions about whether the oppressed and the poor victims of massacres can expect justice in our courts.

 

It is relevant that the massacre was preceded by a series of attacks and a campaign of open terror against the people of Bhathani Tola by the Ranveer Sena, which enjoyed the support of several powerful politicians and parties. In spite of repeated intimations and appeals to the district police and administration no preventive action was taken. When the blood bath played out for hours and the mob of perpetrators used swords and guns to butcher people and set fire to homes, the police remained a mute and passive spectator. This complicity of the police and administration within the perpetrators continued after the massacre, leading to the weakening of the case against the accused, as noted by the Patna High Court. Shamefully, the three police eye witnesses to the massacre deposed in court as witness for the defense.

 

The verdict of the Patna High Court, acquitting the butchers of Bathanitola has shaken our faith in the judiciary and blatantly exposed its class/caste prejudice in this case.

 

In the past, respected judges of various courts have given similar verdicts of the cases of large scale massacres. In the decades of 1980s and 1990s many dreaded private armies of the upper castes, such as Brhmarshi Sena, Satyendra Sena, Savarna Libration front, Sunlight Sena, and Ranveer Sena had committed dozens of massacres. The victims of these massacres were the poor dalits and some of the most backward sections of the society. For example, the Ranveer Sena alone killed 116 people (with a large fraction of them being women and children) in 3 massacres of Laksmanpur Bathe (1997) Shankar Bigha (1999) and Miya Pur (2000).

 

The nexus between upper caste landlords, police and the judiciary is evident not only in the recent acquittal of the butchers of Bathanitola but also the acquittal of dreaded upper caste gangsters in the past. Ranveer Sena’s head Bramheshwar Singh had personally led over a dozen such massacres in Bhojpur, Jahanbad, Gaya and Aurangabad districts. He even admitted to his role to the police and the media. Even then he was released from prison in July 2010. Similarly, the head of the Savarna Liberation Front Ramadhar Singh alias Diamond, was also acquitted by the court. It should be noted that Savarna Liberation Front was directly responsible for brutal killings in Sawan Bigha (Jahanabad) and Main–Barsimha (Gaya). At present, most of the leaders of these criminal gangs have either been acquitted or granted very nominal punishment by the courts.

 

With immense anxiety and concern we underline the oppressive class/caste nature of the Indian state and its various organs like police, bureaucracy, and judiciary. Right to life, dignity and equality have proved to be a joke since the day one these rights were proclaimed by the constitution.

For decade we have been watching with horror the anti poor, dalit, women, minority judgments of various courts in India. Some glaring  example are like the Tamil Nadu High Court verdict in the Kilve mani massacre of 1969, which had found it astonishing and difficult to believe that rich men, owning vast extents of land, one of whom even possessed a car, could be guilty of burning alive 42 dalits. In the Bhawnri Devi case the learned judges of Rajasthan had said how upper caste men  can rape a lower caste women like Bhawnri Devi. The Durg Sessions Court had convicted Paltan Mallah and the owner of Simplex group for the murder of Shankar Guha Niyogi but the Jabalpur High Court let them scott off. The class and caste character of the Indian Judiciary is crystal clear.  On one hand while the perpetrators of Bhathanitola massacred are acquitted, on other hand the Indian State has witnessed brutal repression on the struggle poor like the Adivasi, dalits, minorities, women and oppressed nationalities. To sell of the natural resources to the national and international big business the Indian state has brutally launched Operation Green Hunt against the poorest of the poor who are struggling to save their land, forest, water, mines, dignity and livelihood.

We are watching with horror thousands of encounter deaths, torture, custodial rapes from Kashmir to North East and from Jangal Mahal to the forests of Odisha, Chhhatisgarh and Jharkhand. What happened to Soni Sori in police custody is a chilling reminder of this reality.

We condemn the blatant class and caste prejudice of the Bathanitola judgment and appeal to all the sensitive sections of the society to raise their voice against it.

STUDENTS   FOR   RESISTENCE-  DELHI

INDIAN SOCIAL ACTION FORUM- (INSAF)

Chittaranjan Singh-               National organising secretary PUCL

Arjun Prasad Singh-             PDFI

Ajit Jha-                              Samajwadi  Jan Parishad

Kiran Shaheen-                    Media Action Group, Delhi

Vijay Pratap-                       Socialist Front / Lok Rajnitik Manch

Kamayani Bali Mahabal-      Lawyer, Activist Mumbai

Nayan Jyoti-                       Krantikari Naujawan Sabha

Sourav Banerjee-                Bigul Mazdoor Dasta

Sunil Kumar-                      Pragatishil Mazdoor union, Delhi

P.K. Sundaram-                  Research Scholar JNU

Mohamed Usman-              Research Scholar JNU

Anand Krisna Raj-              Research Scholar JNU

Rashid Ali                          Independent Film Maker, Delhi

Shah Alam-                        Independent Film  Maker, Delhi

Shahnaz Malek-                 Armaan Mahila Sanghathan, Ahmedabad

Asit Das-                           Writer Activist, Delhi

 

 

(Please send your endorsement to- asit1917@gmail.com )

Profiteer Vedanta will destroy tribals and spawn Maoists


Kondh Lady

Kondh Lady (Photo credit: ramesh_lalwani)

ETHICS & POWER
RAM JETHMALANI– in Sunday Guardian

A woman from the Dongria Kondh tribe watches a gathering near the Niyamgiri hills to protest against plans by Vedanta Resources to mine bauxite from that mountain near Lanjigarh in Orissa on 23 February 2010. (REUTERS)

he low, flat-topped hills of south Orissa have been home to the Dongria-Kondh tribe before there was a country called India or a state called Orissa. The Kondh worshipped and watched over the hills as living deities; the hills made their life possible. The Niyamgiri hills are covered by cool forests which induce moderate rainfall, and provide water for the rivers and rivulets that flow from them and irrigate the lands below. The hills, ancient and only home of the Kondh, have been sold to a company, called Vedanta, British, but owned by Anil Aggarwal, the Indian billionaire who lives in London in a mansion that once belonged to the Shah of Iran.

Vedanta is after the tribes of Orissa, their hearth and home and their pots and pans. The destruction of ecology, disturbance of environmental harmony and the death and destitution of lakhs of Dongra-Kondh are imminent.

Vedanta’s response is cruel: Why not? It is only the price of progress. America, Europe and Australia have a history of killing indigenous populations: why not India?

The Niyamgiri hills have been sold for their bauxite while Government has announced an Operation Green Hunt, a war purportedly against the Maoist terrorists headquartered in the jungles of Central India. In reality, it is a cruel, avaricious and corrupt war against the landless, the Dalits, workers, peasants and weavers of the region. These weak, downtrodden, almost-forgotten people are pitted against a juggernaut of injustice by a cruel society and corrupt politicians. I regret that even the Supreme Court, presided over by a Dalit Chief Justice is unwittingly supportive of a policy which involves wholesale corporate takeover of these people’s land and resources.{ Maoists draw their power from the atrocities perpetrated on the poor. Corrupt Governments are not the solution. They are the problem. Society has to reform itself and eliminate insane, caste-ridden cruelty.

ear what Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has had to say. Two and half years ago he said, “Maoists are the single largest internal security threat to the country.” On 6 January 2009 he thought that Maoists had only modest capabilities. On 18 June 2009, at a meeting of state Chief Ministers and in Parliament he was more forthright about what he really felt: “If left wing extremism continues to flourish in parts which have natural resources of minerals, the climate for investment would certainly be affected.” Does it not sound like a sell-out to crony capitalism?

Of course one condemns the  violence of the Maoists. The recent atrocity which killed more than 70 of our guardians of law and order must be condemned. But let us not forget that in 2004, when the ban on the Peoples’ War Group (the earlier incarnation of Maoists) was lifted in Andhra Pradesh, their rally was attended in Warangal by 15 lakh Indian citizens. Maoists draw their power from the atrocities perpetrated on the poor who, decimated by overwhelming force, have been forced to flee into the jungles of Chhattisgarh and join the comrades already working there.

Read more here

Next Newer Entries

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,229 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,836,492 hits

Archives

March 2021
M T W T F S S
1234567
891011121314
15161718192021
22232425262728
293031  
%d bloggers like this: