PRESS RELEASE- Jharkhandi Organisation against Radiation , Jadugoda


 Press release – JOAR (Jharkhandi Organisation against Radiation, Jadugoda) 

“ A person standing on tailing dam for a period of one year would still not be affected by any radiation” (Translated from hindi)

 Mr. S. K. Malhotra (Head of Public awareness, Department of Atomic Energy (13th April, 2013, Dainik Bhaskar)

This remark came on the concluding day of the much hyped International seminar, first of its kind hosted by UCIL in its long history of its operation in Jadugoda and surrounding areas.

In  Collaboration with International Atomic Energy Agency **(1), UCIL held a  hyped five day Seminar cum Training so called “ Uranium Exploration Strategy, Mining and Processing Techniques in India ” in a Posh hotel in Jamshedpur between 8-12 April. According to Media coverage, this Seminar saw attendance of close to 50 delegates from 25 countries and also 9 scientists from India. 

This Seminar was quite contrary to the way it was promoted as it turned out to be a covert event conducted under high security and no one was allowed to enter the premises without the pass. When students and members of the JOAR tried to attend the seminar, they were prohibited and even became target of threat by the Intelligence Officials. This raises question on choosing a posh hotel in Jamshedpur, when this could have been conducted in their own compound in Jadugoda. This programme actually turned nothing but just a propaganda to counter JOAR’s claim of severe health and environment catastrophe due to uranium mining in the region based on community experience, supported by studies conducted by reputed International organization and Universities** (2). U.C.I.L reiterated the old rhetoric that Jadugoda had low radiation, it had low grade ore here, no harmful impact of radiation, and radiation level was similar in Jaduoda and Jamshedpur…! U.C.I.L once again came aggressively that myths regarding radiation were part of an International conspiracy which was creating those misconceptions among the local People through their agents working in this region. These agents lifestyle has suddenly improved during the last few years and they even go for a foreign trip once a year. In fact CMD of U.C.I.L even said that PMO was aware of the protest happening here and other parts of country and it was keeping a close eye on it. UCIL believes unemployment is one of the main reasons for the protest and not impact of uranium mining on culture and environment.

This high voltage drama took place for five days.  On one of the days, all the delegates were taken for a visit to the Jadugoda Mines. A Foreign delegate was so overwhelmed by the visit to the mines that he later spoke to the media that this was the first time any country had given such open access to the mines. This raises a big question when the UCIL didn’t allow even media enter the public hearing in Bhatin (May 26, 2011), forget about  members and activists of JOAR and others.

.  Why this kindness and whole heartedness of the government has come up after 40 years?  On one hand, UCIL uses crores of taxpayers money to host this lavish seminar inviting foreign delegates whose credibility is unknown, but had it announced an independent study done by independent experts who have good acceptance among the all,  this would have gained  trust of the people and it could have washed some of its old sins.

What seems bizarre is UCIL blowing the same tune regarding health in this  so called International seminar which It has been doing for the last few years. It once again rejected any claim of health hazard prevalent in the region and  said that it had done health check up of 3000 people during the last one year and still no cases of female sterility or cancer was detected in anyone and there were few  cases only related to malnutrition and Malaria ( Weekly test are done and sent to environment ministry), on the other hand  IDPD studies have clearly shown that these health hazards have increased in the area compared to distant villages. (ippnw.org/pdf/jadugoda-health-survey.pdf)   U.C.I.L claimed that there is increase in the number of children in schools every year, that Jadugoda had one of the lowest drop out rate of students and that U.C.I.L has even built four marriage halls in the past one year.

In the seminar, a statement by a UCIL official which has raised alarm bell is that there are plans to not have a separate tailing pond and looking for solution to store the radioactive waste in the mines itself. They will be cautious about the amount of acid leaching and alkali leaching being used, proper care would be taken to  ensure that the rocks beneath don’t melt. With no current remedy for the three tailing dams which will have radioactive waste for thousands of years, this plan may be disastrous for the  entire ecology as the dangerous toxic chemicals may  pollute the underground aquifers, affecting ground water which will impact the entire region. In fact in newspapers(Prabhat Khabar and Hindustan dated 12th April , 2013 ), It has been reported by one of the  Expert who participated in the conference that they are ready with a technology where the uranium tailings can be mixed with sand and chemicals which would be ready for cultivation of diverse plants  and  also an already mentioned remark that even if a person stood on tailing dam for a period of one year,  one would still be not  affected by radiation, on the other hand  the research by Kyoto university professor Koide (http://www.jca.apc.org/~misatoya/jadugoda/english/koide.html ) says that the bank of tailing pond contains 10 to 100 times higher amount of  gamma radiation above normal  permissible levels.

All throughout  the seminar when U.C.I.L repeatedly said that Uranium mining is safe and there is no harm due to radiation, why couldn’t it proceed with mining in Nalgonda ( Andhra Pradesh ) in the recent past  . Why couldn’t they convince the educated people of Hyderabad who have immense pride for the nation compared to Jaduogoda ? These well- off people may not have any vested interest in going for foreign trip once a year. U.C.I.L would not have to invest on building public schools or four marriage halls in the region.

 In a democratic country like ours, U.C.I.L and DAE can’t just ignore the long suppressed voices calling them anti-national, backward etc. The children in Jadugoda will one day raise these questions and the nation have to answer those queries and it can’t  just pull things under the carpet as it did in the just concluded so called international seminar. We want to say that truth can’t be hidden for long especially during these times when people can access information from any part of the world  and know  the truth. U.C.I.L can do a concrete programme showing concern and being  accountable to the people rather than wasting common man’s tax to do these kind of event which is just to boast about its achievements

 JOAR has the following demands :

1. UCIL should follow the international safety standards like  other countries like USA (Like Church Rock clean up –( health, soil and water), Wismut Uranium mine clean up ( Former East Germany Uranium mine)

2. Stop  Uranium mining in new regions and in the existing mines. Follow the latest regulations and safety standards of health and environment.

3. A new law should be passed in the Indian parliament to compensate the workers and community members affected by uranium mining (similar to one like RECA of USA.) Form a high level constitutional committee to investigate the death/sickness of the people in the region.

4. Do base line studies in the recently opened uranium mine sites and comprehensive health and environment study by independent groups of specialist.

5. Give justice to the demands all displaced people by UCIL mining in East Singbhum and West Singhbhum

6. UCIL should declare the future plans, as after few years when mining will cease, People would be left to face the hazardous radioactive waste.  How does it  plan to clean up the waste and reclaim it to same condition as it existed before mining. What about the Plans regarding economy as prior to mines there was an agrarian economy where people were dependent on land, water for survival. Will it abandon the mines? In that situation people would be left with no choice of livelihood .

Ghanshaym Birulee,

Dumka Murmu,

Tikaram Soren

JOAR

Tilai Tand, Jadugoda Jharkhand (India)

 

 

Jharkhand: The failed promise of an adivasi state #indigenous #tribalrights


Jharkhand's Resourse Curse.

 

Richard TOPPO

A tribal perspective from Jharkhand describes how the creation of the state, ostensibly for the welfare of tribal populations, has only led to their exploitation and displacement.

 

Almost a century ago, Katherine Mayo published a book titled Mother India that criticised the Indian way of living. Such were the author’s views that even Gandhi described it as “the drain inspector’s report” which examined only the drains of the country. Conflating with Mayo’s discriminatory work was another contemporary piece by Rudyard Kipling titled White Man’s Burden. Things would have been different had these works been considered the mere fancy of creative minds. But they were perceptions that became the paradigms of the western perspective, veiling the ground realities and on-going brutalities and actually making people believe that what the colonisers did was in the best interests of the colonised. As a result, most westerners were alienated from the plight of the colonised. Purpose well served – unopposed exploitation.

 

Years later, India seems to walk the same line that it once so bluntly lambasted. Tribal communities in central areas of Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh have been exploited, displaced and dispossessed of their resources by the state. But the government has successfully created an illusory perception of ‘development’ that has alienated the middle class from the plight of the tribals. As a result, the government ruthlessly exploits tribal populations, and does so almost unchallenged by other sections of society.

 

Placating tribals

 

On November 15, 2000, tribals, mostly from central India, had something to rejoice about. A demand articulated for over a century saw the birth of the state of Jharkhand.

 

Demands for separate statehood for Jharkhand were first raised in 1914 by tribals, as mentioned in the State Reorganisation Committee Report 1955-56. Tribal politicians vigorously took up the cause, supported by other indigenous communities. For long, the mineral-rich areas of Chota Nagpur and Santhal Pargana had been exploited and the tribal people displaced in the name of development. Racial discrimination of tribals by outsiders, referred to as dikus in the tribal tongue, was rampant. The demand for separate statehood was not merely to establish a distinct identity but also to do away with years of injustice.

 

However, the creation of Jharkhand has only increased the vulnerability of tribals. The token concessions of a tribal chief minister and a few reserved constituencies were deemed a green signal to displace tribals for so-called ‘development’. According to reports of the Indian People’s Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights, a total of 6.54 million people have so far been displaced in Jharkhand in the name of development. The ongoing land acquisition at Nagri village (near Ranchi, Jharkhand) for the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and National University of Study and Research in Law (NUSRL) may seem like development projects in the eyes of the educated and the affluent. But these elite educational institutes have displaced over 500 tribal villagers. The displacement in the name of dams, factories, mining, etc goes largely unreported.

 

In a place where displacement and development have become synonymous, the strategic reasons for such oppressive measures go beyond monetary gain. One senses, quite palpably, consistent attempts by various corporate firms to exert control over the policy formulation process. This political-corporate nexus was very apparent when 42 MoUs were signed as soon as Jharkhand came into being. According to a human rights report published by the Jharkhand Human Rights Movement (JHRM), the state government of Jharkhand has so far signed 102 MoUs which go against the laws of the Fifth Schedule. Vast tracts of land will be required to bring these MoUs to fruition.

 

People’s opposition and various constitutional laws against land acquisition have always been impediments to the corporations. In 2011, a people’s movement forced Arcelor Mittal to pull out of a proposed project in Jharkhand. The corporate sector has been trying hard to change the status quo in its favour, and in doing so has adopted some dubious means. The Chota Nagpur Tenancy (CNT) Act is one of several laws provided by the Constitution to safeguard tribal interests. It was instituted in 1908 to safeguard tribal lands from being sold to non-tribals. The law was meant to prevent foreseeable dispossession, and preserve tribal identity. Loss of land would naturally lead to loss of tribal identity as the issuance of a community certificate requires proof of land possession.

 

The private sector seems to have taken a special interest in drastically reforming or abolishing the CNT Act. Corporate-owned newspapers like Prabhat Khabar and Dainik Bhaskar have campaigned vigorously for reforming the Act to make transfer of land from tribals to non-tribals more flexible. Needless to say, any reform in this direction would directly benefit corporations that own mines in the tribal lands of Jharkhand, and pave the way for future land acquisition.

 

The state government, irrespective of party banner, has been part of such threats to tribal interests. Non-inclusion of the Sarna religion in the religion category of census data has drastically downsized tribal populations. There have been lapses on the part of the administration to provide accurate data on tribal populations, many of which are underreported.

 

With the never-ending displacement, the tribal population figure has dropped to a mere 28% on paper.

 

The dark side of anti-Naxal operations

 

There is little doubt that the Naxal menace has increased over the years. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has good reason to declare Naxalism the biggest internal security threat. In Jharkhand alone, since its formation, a total of 4,430 cases of Naxal violence have been reported so far; 399 police personnel, 916 Naxalites, and 395 common people have lost their lives in such violence. The brutal way in which Naxal violence is perpetrated – beheading, mutilating body parts, slitting throats – has greatly amplified people’s fears. Splinter groups like the People’s Liberation Front of India (PLFI), Jharkhand Liberation Tiger (JLT) and Tritiya Prastuti Committee (TPC) have further intensified the problem and led to the administration using counter-violence.

 

The security forces deployed in Maoist infested areas face constant threat to their lives. While the terrain here is conducive to guerrilla warfare, the local police finds itself inadequately armed and trained to engage in such warfare. Hence, central forces armed with superior firepower and equipment and better training are called in.

 

People are told that the Naxalites wish to overthrow the government by violent revolution and undemocratic means, and that they need to be stopped to sustain India’s ‘bright future’. But some facts go unheard. According to a report by JHRM, since the creation of Jharkhand a total of 4,372 people have been arrested on the charge of being Naxalites. Of these, 315 are hardcore Naxals for whom the government had announced prize money. The remaining 4,057 have no record of any criminal offence; even the police has been unable to establish their Naxal involvement  (1). In an extreme case, sources claim that the government was instrumental in sustaining the PLFI during the initial days of its formation, to counter the CPI (M). The move backfired and the PLFI became a prominent terror group in Jharkhand.

 

In other instances, countless innocent people (mostly tribals) have been killed during anti-Naxal operations. The incident that occurred on April 15, 2009 at Latehar, Jharkhand, exposed the dark side of these operations. Five tribals were picked up from their homes by the CRPF and district police, taken to a nearby place and shot dead. The initial police investigation tried to cover up the act, claiming the tribals were Maoists. Following protests, the Jharkhand police finally accepted that they were ordinary villagers who had no links with Naxalites.

 

The recent exposure of anti-Naxal operations in the Saranda jungle, home to over 125,000 tribals, is even more disturbing. Central and state forces deployed here under Operation Monsoon and Operation Anaconda destroyed homes and killed innocent people, not sparing even the food the tribals had. As revealed by JHRM, during Operation Anaconda, 33 villagers were arrested on charges of Naxal involvement. The police has been unable to provide any evidence to support this claim.

 

The problem with an over-hyped ‘Red Corridor’ is that it justifies the actions of the security forces: they are seen as deployed in enemy terrain to ‘protect’ India’s ‘bright’ future. And so, a ‘few’ innocent casualties at the hands of the security forces are deemed inevitable. The victims are labelled ‘Maoist supporters’. As the Red Corridor mostly falls under tribal areas, a general, albeit fallacious, perception exists that the tribals in these areas are Naxalites or Naxalite supporters. What worsens the situation is the exclusion of such areas by the concerned state administration which, after 64 years of independence, has failed to establish any communication with people living in these areas. A district mostly falls in the Red Corridor zone not because the people here support the Naxal ideology, but because the administrative units in these areas are nowhere to be seen, giving a free hand to the Naxalites. It is the failure on the part of the state administration to reach out to rural tribal areas that has provided ample opportunity for Naxalism to flourish.

 

Decades after their exclusion, the government is trying to bring tribal societies out of their so-called ‘museum culture’ into the mainstream. But the methods being adopted are displacement, and the giving away of lands to multinational companies to set up factories, thereby reducing even the most affluent farmer to a petty labourer. The fact that abundant mineral resources sit beneath these tribal lands hardens the government’s stance, making it determined to counter any opposition with a heavy hand.

 

There is a dual strategy behind the tag ‘Red Corridor’. Multinational companies and mining corporations have incurred huge losses, mostly in tribal areas: firstly, as levy amount to several Naxalite outfits amounting to hundreds of crores in a single year; secondly, uncertainty over land acquisition even after signing MoUs with the concerned state government due to tribal laws and people’s opposition. By declaring districts Maoist zones, the government clears the ground for future operations to be conducted by the security forces. The mission: to ‘liberate’ such zones from the evil clutches of Naxalites and ‘anti-developmental’ forces. The ‘anti-developmental forces’, as termed by the government, are tribals whose protests are solely aimed at retaining their land; they have no intention whatsoever to topple the government. Several cases of tribals protesting against forcible land acquisition and being killed or imprisoned for allegedly being Naxals have been reported across the state of Jharkhand.

 

Tribals stand on a thin line between Naxalites and the government, exploited and destroyed by both. In areas where the Naxalites have a presence, not following their orders could result in gruesome killings. Thus, any meeting called by any of these outfits is an unspoken compulsion for the village, not an option.

 

In such a scenario, resorting to indiscriminate firing and blaming Naxalites for using innocent villagers as human shields is not only a failure on the part of the security forces but also on the state to provide safety to its citizens. The illusion presented to the common man has entwined tribals and Naxalites in such a complex manner that any number of killings in tribal areas fails to generate much sympathy among the people. The recent killing of 18 alleged Naxalites at the hands of the security forces in Chhattisgarh, and its aftermath, is evidence of the general perception that even if these people are not Naxalites, they are definitely supporters.

 

All in the name of ‘national interest’

 

In an interview with Shoma Chaudhary from Tehelka in 2009, Home Minister P Chidambaram made the following comment: “No country can develop unless it uses its natural and human resources. Mineral wealth is wealth that must be harvested and used for people.” But who are the ‘people’ for whom mineral wealth must be harvested? The middle class and elites who own multinational corporations.

 

The mineral resources have more to do with profiting private firms than national growth. For example, the royalty fixed by the central government for iron ore is just 10% of the value of mined iron ore, extraordinarily benefiting private mining firms. Tribals have always remained outside the loop of beneficiaries. This was evident in the non-implementation of the PESA Act until recently, for more than 10 years, in scheduled areas of Jharkhand even after a 2010 directive from the Jharkhand High Court. Adding to this was non-implementation of the Samatha judgment across areas under the Fifth Schedule, which would have hugely benefited tribals. Tribals have repeatedly been exploited, displaced and ruined in the name of ‘national interest’.

 

Jawaharlal Nehru once exquisitely explained the meaning of ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’, or ‘Victory to Mother India’, as victory to millions of people spread across the vast tract of India. The privileged classes who are fervently nationalistic must understand that their fellow nationals are being bludgeoned into a war-like situation. These wars are not only perpetrated by the juggernaut of so-called ‘development’ but are sustained by false myths that have blinded the general public. In a brilliant piece by George Monbiot, published in The Guardian, the author speaks about the injustices of the British Empire and the myths so well established that “we appear to blot out countervailing stories even as they are told”.

 

In order to sustain an actual inclusive growth, people need to do away with such false perceptions and not let exploitative action go unchallenged. Only then will the true essence of ‘Victory to Mother India’ materialise. National development is not just about showcasing the country’s economic growth on paper. A massive GDP growth rate is meaningless if tribals and other underprivileged peoples continue living underdeveloped lives. As a tribal, I expect the government to set aside its false perceptions of development that encourage exploitation of tribal communities, and bring about real meaningful growth.

 

Editor
Khan Kaneej Aur ADHIKAR
(Mines minerals & RIGHTS)

 

 

#Poem- Now its dangerous to be #Dayamani Barla #Jharkhand #Tribal #Indigenous


 

Below is the poem by By Himanshu Kumar, On Dayamani Barla, The iron Lady of Jharkhand who  is behind bars now and has  been fighting for the land rights of the tribal people, and is now behind bars.Dayamani Barla is an indigenous tribal journalist and activist from the Indian state of Jharkhand. She came from very humble backgrounds and worked as a maid to pay her way through the University. She became notable for her activism in opposing Arcelor Mittal‘s steel plant that tribal activist say would displace forty (40) villages. She has won a number of prestigious awards for journalism.

Born in Arhara village in Jharkhand, Dayamani Barla, 44, could have been one of the faceless thousands displaced by India’s largest steel plant.Today, she leads the mass movement against it. She could have been another Adivasi with a crumbling house and a buried story. Instead, she chose to become a storyteller, the voice of Jharkhand, the first tribal journalist from her state. Barla paid for her education by working as a domestic help in Ranchi. She washed dishes for the police, ate leftovers, stayed in a shed with buffaloes and coolies, learnt to type in English and Hindi, and worked as a typist for one rupee an hour. With a rural reporting fellowship and a bank loan of 25,000, she founded the Jan Hak Patrika. “I wanted to present the point of view of Adivasis, Dalits and women,” she says.

The money lasted two years. By then, she had convinced established local media like Prabhat Khabar to give space to Adivasi and Dalit issues. Barla is also at forefront of the Adivasi Mulvasi Astitva Raksha Manch, a people’s movement that unites thousands of Adivasis, Dalits and farmers across Jharkhand. In the past decade, she has trekked from village to village, alerting those who stand to be displaced by a steel plant, protesting against dams on the Koel and Kari rivers, against delimitation that would reduce the number of seats for scheduled tribes, against corrupt MGNREGA middlemen. Death threats from shadowy unknown figures have not deterred her.

Since 2010, Ms. Barla has led a movement against Jharkhand government acquiring 227 acres of paddy farmers’ land in Nagri village, 15 kms from Ranchi, for the campuses of Indian Institute of Management, Indian Institute of Information Technology and the National University of Study & Research in Law (NUSRL). The government claims it acquired the land from them in 1957-58 to build an extension to Birsa Agricultural University. However, Right to Information (RTI) applications filed by Ms. Barla revealed that of the 153 families to whom the government had offered a total compensation in 1957, only 25 families in Nagri took it and the rest had refused.

 

 

There is anEenglish translation below, and you can also here the recitation at cgnetswara here

http://www.cgnetswara.org/index.php?id=14427

अब बड़ा खतरा है दायमनी बरला होने में

अब आदिवासी होने में खतरा है

अब गाँव में रहने में खतरा है

गाँव में ज़मीन है

गाँव में पेड है

गाँव में नदी है

गाँव में खनिज है

गाँव में लोग हैं

गाँव में दायमनी बरला भी है

गाँव की ज़मीन पर कम्पनी की नजर है

गाँव की नदी पर कम्पनी की नजर है

गाँव के पेड़ों पर कम्पनी की नज़र है

गाँव के खनिज पर कम्पनी की नज़र है

लेकिन गाँव में दायमनी बरला रहती है

सरकार कम्पनी से डरती है

पुलिस कम्पनी से डरती है

अखबार कम्पनी से डरते हैं

दयामनी बरला कम्पनी से नहीं डरती

कम्पनी का राज है

कम्पनी नाराज़ है

इसलिये कम्पनी बहादुर के हुक्म से

पुलिस बहादुर ने दयामनी बरला को

पकड़ कर जेल की सलाखों के पीछे डाल दिया है

आओ शुक्र मनाएं

दायमनी बरला अब जेल में है

अब दायमनी बरला कम्पनी बहादुर को रोक नहीं सकेगी

अब कम्पनी बहादुर दायमनी बरला के गाँव की  नदी को छीन लेंगे

अब कम्पनी बहादुर दायमनी बरला के गाँव की ज़मीन को छीन लेंगे

अब कम्पनी बहादुर दायमनी बरला के गाँव के खनिज को छीन लेंगे

अब कम्पनी बहादुर देश का विकास कर देंगे

अब कम्पनी बहादुर सब ठीक कर देंगे

पता नहीं आखिर हमें इस देश की सारी दायमनी बरलाओं से कब मुक्ति मिलेगी ?

कब हमारी सारी नदियाँ

सारे पहाड़

सारी ज़मीनों

और सारे जंगलों पर

कम्पनी का कब्ज़ा होगा

कम्पनी के कारखाने

कम्पनी की नौकरी

कम्पनी की कारें

कम्पनी के शापिंग माल

कम्पनी की सड़कें

कम्पनी के टोल बूथ

कम्पनी के कालेज

कम्पनी के आई आई एम्

कम्पनी के आई आई टी

कम्पनी की यूनिवर्सिटी

जिसमे पढ़ने वाले बनेगे

कम्पनी के गुलाम

कम्पनी के मतलब की शिक्षा

कम्पनी के मतलब का ज्ञान

कम्पनी के फायदे के लिये विज्ञान

कम्पनी की मर्जी की सरकार

कम्पनी के हुकुमबरदार कोतवाल

अब तुम ही बताओ

हमको दयामनी बरला से क्या काम ?

Translation by Priyanka

It is a grave danger now to be Dayamani Barla
It is a danger to be an adivasi
It is a danger now to reside in the village

There is land in the village
There are trees in the village
There are rivers in the village
There are minerals in the village
There are people in the village
There is also Dayamani Barla in the village

The company is eying the land of the village
The company is eying the rivers of the village
The company is eying the trees of the village
The company is eying the minerals of the village
But Dayamani Barla resides in the village

The government fears the company
The police fears the company
The newspaper fears the company
Dayamani Barla does not fear the company

It is the rule of the company
So the company is angry
That’s how with the order of the company chief
The police chief put Dayamani Barla
Behind the bars of prison

Come, let’s celebrate
Dayamani Barla is now in jail
Now Dayamani Barla won’t be able to stop the company chief
Now the company chief will snatch the river of her village
Now the company chief will snatch the land of her village
Now the company chief will snatch the minerals of her village
Now the company chief will develop the country
Now the company chef will make everything alright

When will be relieved of all the Dayamani Barlas of this country?
When will all our rivers
All our trees
All the land
And all the forests
Be taken over by the company

Company’s factories
Company’s jobs
Company’s cars
Company’s shopping malls
Company roads
Company’s toll booths
Company’s college
Company’s premium technology institutes
Company’s premium management institutes
Company’s university
In which those who study will become
Slaves of the company

Education as needed by the company
Knowledge as needed by the company
Knowledge to profit the company
Government to suit the will of the company
Cops to shout “Sir yes sir” to the company

So now, you tell me
Why do we need Dayamani Barla..?

No place for Dayamani, in mainstream media why ?


No place for Dayamani, Media Watch, Thehoot .org
A significant agitation against land acquisition and the bail and re-arrest of its leader were barely noticed by mainstream media.
 Isn’t it the media’s disdain for lower caste/class dissenters, wonders ARITRA BHATTACHARYA. Pix: Dayamani Barla, Indiatogether.org
 Friday, Oct 26 11:16:49, 2012

I remember my first glimpse of Dayamani Barla: there she was on the screen, fierce, stoic, talking about the ravages the Koel Karo dam and hydel power project would bring to the people of the region. I remember thinking of her as a charismatic-yet-grounded activist then, taking my cue from the images flickering on the screen. She was featured on a documentary on radical women writers, poets, and activists I think, but I may be wrong; I remember nothing of the documentary except that I encountered Dayamani Barla (and Putul Murmu) there for the first time.

Since that day in 2007, I encountered Barla on numerous occasions–in news reports on agitations against land acquisition, in meetings and agitations against excesses committed by the state, in newsletters of grassroots NGOs, and in her own writings on numerous issues.

And so, it wasn’t so much of a surprise when I came across this news report stating that she’d been sent to jail in a 2006 case. Of late, the convener of the Adivasi-Moolvasi Astitva Raksha Manch and one of the national conveners of National Alliance for People’s Movement had been camping with villagers in Nagri, who were protesting against the “acquisition” of fertile agricultural land for the Indian Institute of Management (IIM) and the NationalUniversity for Study and Research in Law (NUSRL). Barla’s activities as a journalist turned anti-displacement (tribal, woman) activist had been a sore point for the Jharkhand government, and her participation in the Nagri agitation perhaps tested the State’s patience, which sent the police to hound her. She evaded arrest and surrendered before the court on October 16 and was granted bail two days later.

The jail authorities, however, refused to release Barla on October 19, and instead said that she had been arrested in a fresh case. Among similar instances, my mind went back to the occasion when activist Arun Ferreira was re-arrested in front of the very jail he was released from this January. Like Barla, Ferreira had spent years exposing the excesses of the state, and it’s no secret that the state’s machinery tries to keep such elements behind bars.

Barla’s bail and her re-arrest, however, were hardly noticed by the mainstream media. None of the big three among the English papers—The Times of IndiaHindustan Times, and Indian Expresscarried a story on Barla’s bail and re-arrest. There was no story either on the two English television news networks–NDTV and CNN-IBN.

What was more surprising, however, was the fact that while Dainik JagranHindustan andAmar Ujala had no story on her surrender, bail, or re-arrest, Dainik Bhaskar and Navbharat Times reported her surrender before the court, but had no story on her being granted bail, and her subsequent re-arrest. Only Prabhat Khabar, the paper Barla used to write for, carried ashort article on October 19 on her being granted bail. But even here, there was no report on her being re-arrested thereafter.

Holy cows

It has often been observed by media analysts that the regional media is more sensitive to local happenings, and the spurt in the regional media’s readership and circulation owes a lot to the localization of content. What might the exclusion of news about Barla’s re-arrest tell us about the regional media then?

For one, it might point to the fact that across the board, the media considers the IIMs and such educational institutions as holy cows; they are, like the Kudankulam nuclear power plant, a matter of prestige, and essential to the progress of the country. Anyone opposing these is viewed with deep suspicion therefore. So also Barla.

Another factor to keep in mind perhaps in the context of localization of the regional media’s content and the exclusion of Barla’s bail and re-arrest is numbers. Barla surrendered before the court against the backdrop of the Nagri agitation. Arguably, the 153 families that are the landowners–or project-affected in the land acquisition for IIM and NUSRL, on paper–do not constitute a large enough number for the regional media to take notice and tweak their content.

Also, when a paper carries an article on someone being sent to a 14-day judicial custody, mentioning the charges she is accused of, but chooses not to report on her being subsequently granted bail and then re-arrested–like in the case of Dainik Bhaskar and Navbharat Times–where does that leave the reader? Does such partial news serve to discredit/malign the activist in the eyes of the reader?

Since the IIM is a matter of prestige, it comes as no surprise that The Times of India did cover the Nagri protest. The article in the paper, however, does not mince words about which side it is on, when it states, “All the protesters, led by Barla, were carrying traditional weapons and attacked the policemen on duty”. With this one statement, an alleged act of attacking the policemen on duty, in a case for which the accused has not even appeared in court, is converted into an undisputed fact.

Still more curious is The Times of India’s attribution of a quote to Barla for a story datelined October 20. How did the paper manage to speak to Barla when she was supposedly in jail? Are we, as readers, to disregard the Asian Human Rights Committee report which states that Barla has been in jail since October 16? In the TOI’s scheme of things, Barla was clearly still leading the protesters!

Pecking order

Does the exclusion of Barla’s bail and re-arrest reflect the social hierarchies that the media is deeply entrenched in? Tehelka happens to be the only mainstream media outlet in English that has carried a story on Barla and the Nagri agitation. (Or is it Nargi? Why does Tehelka say it’s Nargi, when everyone else across the Hindi and English media calls it Nagri? Further, why doesTehelka state that Barla surrendered before the Jharkhand police when everyone else says she surrendered before the local court?).

In the media’s pecking order perhaps, Barla is not a credible activist; at least she’s not big enough for her case to be reported.  

To be considered powerful/ credible in the mediascape, an activist has to be based in Delhi, and/or take potshots at big politicians (readers might recall how the national media “discovered” Anna once he shifted “base” to Delhi; we might recall Kejriwal too. And also think of how the media ignored P.V. Rajagopal and his march though the numbers he was commanding was more than Anna Hazare’ s).

It has often been said that non-violent agitation requires an audience to be effective, and in the context of agitations in rural areas, this audience is absent. And so is the media, which does not bother to report on an agitation unless the numbers are big enough for it not to ignore. The absence of media reports often becomes a credible ploy in the hands of the state in its efforts to criminalise dissent. No media coverage could very well feed into the theory that the dissenter was carrying out activities secretively and illegally.

Of course, agitators could resort to spectacles; they could work towards creating images that capture attention. Think of the jal satyagraha in Madhya Pradesh, and how the national media honed in on the story then, only to forget all about it once the spectacle was over.

Then again, even a spectacle offers no guarantee of coverage; the jal satyagraha in Kudankulam was hardly used by the media to raise questions it ought to have, as this recent Hoot storyshowed.

Barla’s exclusion from newspapers and newsreels also points to another factor: the thousands of activists and dissenters lodged in jails and the systemic ignoring of their cases by the media. Binayak Sen has often been at pains to explain that his case is just one among thousands in the country. Yet why is it that we never hear of Dayamani Barlas, Jeetan Marandis, Sudhir Dhawales, Anjali Sontakkes, or Sheetal Sathes in the same way as we heard of Sen?

Is it the media’s bias–against people from a lower caste-class background, against “people not like us”? For, the one thing common between all the names mentioned above is the fact that none of them comes from the middle class. They are from among the tribal or lower caste sections of society, and have/had been leading struggles against state excesses in various ways before being branded Maoists by the state and arrested.

Barla hasn’t been called a Maoist as yet–at least there’s no government propaganda in the media labeling her of leading a Maoist cell or indoctrinating the youth. But her case isn’t so different from the few mentioned above. And in ignoring her case, the media has once again shown itself to be part of the systematic disdain with which lower caste-class dissenters are treated.

 

#India- Woman of Steel #Dayamani Barla #Jharkhand #Tribal #indigenous #aboriginal


The Other Half

Woman of steel

 

KALPANA SHARMA, The Hindu

 

Using her pen to fight for displaced tribals and to expose corruption, Dayamani Barla could teach even Mahendra Singh Dhoni a lesson or two about how to fight back…

Different possibilities: Dayamani Barla with the Chingari Award for Women Against Corporate Crime, 2008.

The State of Jharkhand, that mineral rich southern part of the former State of Bihar, which was hived off into a separate State in 2000, has become famous recently for the achievements of Mahendra Singh Dhoni, the Indian cricket captain who seems to be on a permanent winning streak.

But Dhoni is not the only remarkable individual from this State. In the wake of the 26/11 terror attack on Mumbai, when the media was understandably concentrating on developments surrounding that tragic incident, a woman from Jharkhand was honoured at a ceremony in New Delhi. This went virtually unnoticed. She is not part of the glitterati, the “beautiful people” who seem to dominate our television screens these days. She will not be invited to television chat shows to give a sound byte. She will not feature on the front pages of our magazines and newspapers.

Yet, this exceptional 44-year-old tribal woman, a journalist and an activist, could probably teach even Mahendra Singh Dhoni a lesson or two about how to fight back even when you are down and everyone expects you to lose.

 

Worthy recipient

 

Dayamani Barla was chosen for the Chingari Award for Women Against Corporate Crime 2008. The award itself is remarkable because it has been instituted by two women who took on one of the biggest corporations in the world, Union Carbide in 1984 after one of the worst industrial disasters killed thousands of people in Bhopal. Rasheeda Bee and Champa Devi Shukla won the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2004 for their work in Bhopal to get justice for the victims. Instead of using the sizeable award money for their needs as they could have given that they were victims of the gas disaster, they decided to invest it in a trust that would recognise each year a woman struggling on the same issues as them.

In Dayamani Barla they have found a worthy recipient for the award. Like Rasheeda Bee and Champa Devi, Dayamani knows the cost of fighting against the powerful. Born in a village in Gumla district of Jharkhand to a landless family, Dayamani’s father was forced to give up his house to usurious moneylenders when she was still young. Her mother had to find work as a domestic in Ranchi and Dayamani had to work to supplement the family income from the age of nine. But she also continued to study, and worked to support her family by giving tuitions and typing, at the rate of Rs. 1 per hour. Many children under such circumstances would have given up education. But Dayamani persisted and cleared not just high school but even university. She did her Masters in Commerce from Ranchi University and went on to be an award-winning journalist and author. She was clear from the start that she wanted to use her pen to give a voice to those who are otherwise not heard.

There are many lessons one can learn from the struggles and lives of women like Dayamani. Currently, she is leading the fight against Arcelor-Mittal’s plans to set up a giant steel plant in Jharkhand. Why should she oppose industry that will create jobs in her State? Because she believes that the price that the tribals pay when they are displaced from their lands cannot be compensated through a few jobs or money. “Natural resources to us are not merely means of livelihood but our identity, dignity, autonomy and culture have been built on them for generations,” she is reported as saying. She believes that the location of such a huge plant will adversely affect the forests and water sources in the region.

Dayamani honed her skills for such a struggle when she joined the tribal groups opposing the Koel Karo dam in the 1990s. The dam would have submerged 66,000 acres and displaced 135,000 tribal families from their lands. Because of their determined struggle, the plans to build the dam were finally shelved.

 

Relevant journalism

 

As a journalist, she has used her pen to write about not just the injustices meted out to tribals resisting efforts to displace them, but also to expose the corruption in several government-run schemes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Here fake muster rolls allow contractors to claim money on behalf of the poor. Only vigilance by local groups or by the media can ensure that the scheme actually serves the purpose for which it was designed. Through her writing, primarily in the newspaper Prabhat Khabar, Dayamani has set a standard for the kind of relevant journalism that is rare at a time when celebrity and sensation dominate all media.

In Jharkhand as in other tribal dominated States, while State governments are busy signing deals with industries and mining companies to barter away tribal lands, the local people are organising resistance to these projects. The winners and losers in these struggles could well shape the future of economics and politics in this country. These battles represent an opportunity to devise a process of development that is inclusive, that is environmentally benign, that acknowledges the rights of people who have cared for the forests and the rivers, and that ensures that even if there is industrial development, it is not at the cost of these irreplaceable natural resources and vulnerable lives.

So as 2008 ends, I would like to salute women like Dayamani, for reminding us that there are other ways to “develop” and that it is possible to fight peacefully but with determination for your convictions.

 

Email the writer: sharma.kalpana@yahoo.com

 

Harassment of Dayamani Barla (Jharkhand) by local police


Dayamani Barla - the firebrand

Image by Joe Athialy via Flickr

On 14th January, in the evening, a Police Mobile Van of Chutya Thana (Ranchi) landed at her hotel on Club Road, Ranchi, and started to harass her staff asking about her links with anti-social elements. The Sub-Inspector making the ‘enquiries’ had neither no written permission or order. The following day, when Ms. Barla, met SSP Ranchi, Mr. Saket Kumar at his residence to ask why she was being harassed in this manner, his response was that the allegations were being made on the basis of an complaint and the fact that she participated in the “Free Jiten Marandi Convention”, in which Varavara Rao was also present.

Harassment of activists on flimsy pretexts and on grounds that they exercised their Constitutionally guaranteed democratic rights is a dangerous trend and will be resisted robustly by human rights activists everywhere.

Who is Dayamani Barla ?

Dayamani knows the cost of fighting against the powerful. Born in a village in Gumla district of Jharkhand to a landless family, Dayamani’s father was forced to give up his house to usurious moneylenders when she was still young. Her mother had to find work as a domestic in Ranchi and Dayamani had to work to supplement the family income from the age of nine. But she also continued to study, and worked to support her family by giving tuitions and typing, at the rate of Rs.1 per hour. Many children under such circumstances would have given up education. But Dayamani persisted and cleared not just high school but even university. She did her Masters in Commerce from Ranchi University and went on to be an award-winning journalist and author. She was clear from the start that she wanted to use her pen to give a voice to those who are otherwise not heard.

She  has lead the fight against Arcelor-Mittal‘s plans to set up a giant steel plant in Jharkhand. Why should she oppose industry that will create jobs in her State? Because she believes that the price that the tribals pay when they are displaced from their lands cannot be compensated through a few jobs or money. “Natural resources to us are not merely means of livelihood but our identity, dignity, autonomy and culture have been built on them for generations,” she is reported as saying. She believes that the location of such a huge plant will adversely affect the forests and water sources in the region.

She believes that the price that the tribals pay when they are displaced from their lands cannot be compensated through a few jobs or money.

Dayamani honed her skills for such a struggle when she joined the tribal groups opposing the Koel Karo dam in the 1990s. The dam would have submerged 66,000 acres and displaced 135,000 tribal families from their lands. Because of their determined struggle, the plans to build the dam were finally shelved.

As a journalist, she has used her pen to write about not just the injustices meted out to tribals resisting efforts to displace them, but also to expose the corruption in several government-run schemes like the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme. Here fake muster rolls allow contractors to claim money on behalf of the poor. Only vigilance by local groups or by the media can ensure that the scheme actually serves the purpose for which it was designed. Through her writing, primarily in the newspaper Prabhat Khabar, Dayamani has set a standard for the kind of relevant journalism that is rare at a time when celebrity and sensation dominate all media.

We, strongly condemn the harassment of social activist and human rights’ defender, Dayamani Barla by the Jharkhand Police. Dayamani, a well known and noted journalist-turned-activist and human rights’ defender based in Jharkhand, is one of the leaders of anti-displacement movements. She is also part of many organisations, movements and federations, INSAF and NAPM.

In solidarity

 

In solidarity,

1. Kavita Srivastava, National Secretary,PUCL

2. Manisha Sethi, President, Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (JTSA)

3. Harsh Dobhal, Human Rights Law Network

4. Mahtab Alam, Coalition for Protection of Human Rights’ Defenders (CPHRD)

5. Viya Bhushan Ravat, Human Rights’ Activist and Writer, Delhi

6.Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human Rights lawyer and Activist, Mumbai

 

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