Despite state pardon, J’khand activists sent to jail, get bail


Deepu Sebastian Edmond :  IEChaibasa, Thu Nov 29 2012

Six activists of the Jharkhand statehood movement, who were sent to jail on Saturday by a Railway Magistrate in a 1991 case, were on Monday bailed out from the Chaibasa jail. Xavier Dias, John Barjo, Basudev Devgum, Moso Munda, Rajaram Tanti and Indu Lagur were released at 6.30 pm. Three of the nine accused in the case have died.

They were sent to jail despite a pardon granted by the state government in all cases originating out of the successful movement to carve out Jharkhand from Bihar.

State Home Secretary J B Tubid said this was because this particular case was out of the purview of the state government. “The (Union) Railway Ministry has to take a call in this. We had written to them a long time ago, asking for special consideration in cases relating to Jharkhand movement activists. There must be 20-25 such cases. There has been no response,” he said.

The case relates to a protest that was organised on March 15, 1991. Some workers of the Tata Iron and Steel Company had allegedly invaded upon the privacy of tribal women while celebrating Holi. “According to Ho tradition unless the village head priest Duri performs the Baa puja villagers under his jurisdiction cannot participate in similar festivals elsewhere. It’s a sacrilege,” wrote Xavier Dias in a widely-circulated note drafted before his arrest.

The accused, then members of the All Jharkhand Students’ Union, organised the tribals of the area for the protest. According to the complaint by the Chief Security Officer of the TISCO’s Noamundi plant, which formed the basis of the FIR, the protesters “snatched the keys from the sepoy”, pushed him and “removed the fish-plates” of the railway track used for transportation.

The protest invited charges under Indian Penal Code sections 147, 148, 342, 448 and 427, along with sections 126 and 127 of the Indian Railways Act.

All accused have been on bail since 1991. Meanwhile, three accused — Kandey Laguri, John Tiria and Jeno Chatar — passed away.

The arrests took place as the accused had not been attending court proceedings for over a year. In response, the court cancelled their bail bonds and sent notices warning attachment of property, forcing the six to surrender before it.

 

HIV in Chhattisgarh jails, debate over what caused it


Ashutosh Bhardwaj, Indian Express Nov 12, 2012

A nationwide health survey in jails has found 80 of Chhattisgarh’s prisoners HIV-positive, out of 13,000-odd tested. Prison authorities insist that the inmates had probably arrived already infected, but health authorities don’t rule out the possibility that it was after being jailed that they got infected, with unsafe sex or drug use the likely causes.

This has turned into a contentious issue. The health authorities are contemplating distribution of condoms and syringes, but the jail authorities say there is no reason to do so. Their resistance comes apparently because allowing distribution of condoms would amount to an acceptance of the fact that homosexuality exists in jails.

The 80 found HIV-positive include women prisoners too. “This is the first instance of an ELISA test being conducted in jails anywhere in India. Figures for none of the other states are available,” said S K Binjhwar, additional project director, Chhattisgarh Aids Control Society.

“Of these 80 prisoners, 65 have a CD4 count less than 350. They are being given ART. So far we have tested only those we suspected to be from a high-risk group, but since the infection also spreads to others in jails we are expanding our sample size,” he said. “We counsel them about safe sex.”

The jail administration says the health authorities should focus on sources of infection beyond prisons. “Instead of focusing on jails, the health authorities should focus on red-light areas and drug addicts and on improving the health situation at village level, especially checking quacks who use old syringes. These are the major sources of spreading HIV infection,” said ADG (jail) Giridhari Nayak.

“A jail has a mobile population, like a train. People board at a station and get off at the next. Only a few remain till the final destination,” Nayak added. “Of the total HIV-positive inmates in Chhattisgarh jails, only 12 are convicts while the rest are undertrials; they keep getting released and new ones come in. The infection comes from outside; it is not spreading in jails.”

Dr K K Gupta, Raipur jailor, said that the possibility of homosexual behaviour in jails “is merely hypothetical”. Gupta said, “There is no question of distributing condoms or syringes as such activities are yet to be seen in jails.”

Homosexuality in jails has been discussed globally and opinions have been sharply divided. A California study notes that the rate of HIV prevalence among people who are incarcerated is nearly seven times higher than that of the general population. San Francisco jail authorities installed a condom-vending machine on their premises after HIV infection was found to be rapidly spreading in the area in the 1990s.

In Chhattisgarh, the project began in March 2011, when the state AIDS control soc

 

Demand Release of PMANE Women activists from Trichy Jail #mustshare


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ACTION ALERT TO DEMAND RELEASE OF XAVIER AMMAL, SELVI AND SUNDARI OF  PEOPLE’S MOVEMENT AGAINST NUCLEAR ENERGY
On 18 October, 2012, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court heard  the bail appeals of 50 villagers from villages around Koodankulam. The  court released 47 villagers, but denied bail to three women — Xavier  Ammal, Selvi and Sundari. The women have already spent nearly two  months in jail, and given the High Court’s rejection, they are  unlikely to return to their families anytime soon. . .unless, we can  prevail on the Government to release them.
All 50 villagers had been arrested on the days following the September  10, 2012, police crackdown. Many of those arrested were not even part  of the protests. Those who were part of the protests were unarmed and  engaged in legitimate, non-violent demonstrations. Charges against  them vary from illegal assembly to shouting obscene slogans, sedition  and waging war against the state.

Send in your endorsement of the below letter to:
lalitagpi@gmail.com or geethv@gmail.com

***************************************************************************

To: Kum Jayalalitha,

Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu
Fort St. George, Chennai 600 009

To: Ms Mamta Sharma

National Commission on Women
No. 4, Deen Dayal Upadhyaya Marg
New Delhi-110 002.

Date: Nov 8 2012

Dear Sisters:
We are writing to urge you to facilitate the speedy release of three courageous women — Xavier Ammal, Selvi and Sundari — of Idinthakarai who are currently in the Trichy Women’s Prison. Their alleged crime was an act that most women would commit intuitively, namely acting to  protect their families, their communities and their future generations. Xavier Amma, Selvi and Sundari are strong, though gentle, women who have worked hard to keep their families together by rolling beedis, and selling fish. When the occasion demanded, as it did with the impending  commissioning of the Koodankulam reactors in the face of unanswered questions about its safety post-Fukushima, the women from villages around Koodankulam were galvanised into action. Among those thousands of women, these three have clearly stood out as leaders.

Following the September 10 police crackdown on the dharna by villagers opposed to nuclear energy, the police have arrested many villagers, including those who were in no way part of the protests. Across the board, the FIRs record that the villagers were armed with deadly weapons like “aruval (machetes), knives, sticks and crowbars.” Television footage of the September protests and police action bear testimony to the fact that the protestors were unarmed. Xavier Amma injured her hand after she ran and fell into the sea to escape the baton-wielding police. Both Selvi and Sundari have children that need taking care of. Selvi’s son is epileptic. It is indeed absurd that such women have been arbitrarily accused of sedition and waging war against the state. While releasing tens of others on bail at the same hearing of the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court, it is unclear as to why only these three have been denied bail.

We, the under-signed, are women from different walks of life who are very concerned at the increasing hostility of the various agencies of the State to democratic dissent, and the particular viciousness with which non-violent protests are being addressed. We are writing to urge  you to kindly act to restore justice by releasing these three women so that they can join their families, and by facilitating the return of a sense of normalcy in the villages around Koodankulam.

Sincerely

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Dayamani Barla’s letter from Ranchi Prison – Hindi and English


Photo courtesy- Tehelka

via- Faisal Anurag
जेल से यह पत्र मुझे कल ही दयामनी ने पाठ्य था. यह पत्र आप सब के लिए है मैंने साथिओं से इसे साझा करने को कहा था.

आप सबों को जोहार,

मैंने झारखंड की धरती को कभी धोखा नहीं दिया. झारखंड की जनता के सवालों से कभी समझौता नहीं किया. कोयल नदी, कारो नदी और छाता नदी का बहता पानी इसका साक्षी है. इस धरती के मिट्टी-बालू में अंगुलियों से लिखना सीखा. कारो नदी के तट में बकरी चराते-नदी के पानी मे

ं डुबकी लगा कर नहाते तैरना सीखा.
आकाश के ओस के बूंदों से नहाये घास-फूस और पेड़-पौधों की छाया ने मुझे प्यार दिया –
इसका कैसे सौदा कर सकती हूं?दयामनी की हिरासत बड़ी, नगड़ी में पुलिस के साए तले निर्माण का अदालती फरमान जारीदयामनी बारला: 3 अगस्त 2011 को भूमि अधिग्रहण के विरोध में जंतर मंतर पर पर दिया गया भाषण जिस समाज ने मुझे जीना सिखाया, उस समाज के दु:ख दर्द का साथी अपने को कैसे नहीं बनाती? इनके हक-हुकूक-जज्बातों की रक्षा करना भी हमारी (सबों की) जिम्मेवारी है. और जिम्मेवारी निभानेवालों के लिए शायद यही रास्ता है. इनके हिस्से सिर्फ संकट और परेशानी ही लिखी हुई है, यही जिंदगी का सच है.

मैंने तो सरकार को बताने की कोशिश की थी कि आपका सिस्टम अपने नागरिकों के प्रति-अपनी जिम्मेवारी का निर्वहन नहीं कर रहा है. रोजगार गारंटी योजना के तहत ग्रामीणों का पलायन रोकने के लिए ग्रामीण इलाकों में ही 100 दिनों का रोजगार उपलब्ध कराना है, जिसके लिए अनगड़ा के ग्रामीणों ने जॉब कार्ड मांगने के लिए रैली की. उन पर केस हुआ. उस आंदोलन में मेरे साथ कई साथी उपस्थित थे. सर्वविदित है मनरेगा योजना के घोटाला के बारे में. सच्चाई यही है कि ग्रामीणों को कुछ भी नहीं मिला. लेकिन, हक मांगनेवाले अपराधी करार दिये गये हैं. मैं जेल पहुंच गयी.
नगड़ी में सरकार गलत तरीके से नियम-कानून को ताक पर रख कर 227 एकड़ कृषि भूमि पर कब्जा कर रही है. सरकार को बताने की कोशिश की कि आप गलत कर रहे हैं. कानून और मानवता के आधार पर. खेती की जमीन छोड़ दीजिए और बंजर भूमि पर लॉ कॉलेज और आइआइएम बनाइए, आप का स्वागत है. हमार गुनाह बस इतना ही है. इसी अपराध में हमारे चार साथी पहले ही जेल काट चुके, कई के हाथ टूटे. आज मैं जेल में हूं.

राज्य के लुटेरे आज सरकार और संवैधानिक संस्थाओं की नजर में देश के शुभचिंतक हैं. राज्य के संसाधनों को लूटनेवाले, मानवाधिकारों का दमन करनेवालों को सरकार और संवैधानिक संस्थाएं संरक्षण दे रही हैं और इस धरती के भूमिपुत्र/पुत्री- शुभचिंतकों को अपराधी करार दिया जा रहा है. सिदो-कान्हू-बिरसा मुंडा सहित तमाम स्वतंत्रता सेनानियों को भी यही ताज पहनाया गया था.

क्या सच है, क्या गलत है, मैं नहीं समझ पा रही हूं, लेकिन यही जिंदगी की हकीकत है कि मैं आज पत्थर हो गयी हूं. पूरी दुनिया सो रही है. रात का एक बजा है अभी. बिरसा मुंडा केंद्रीय कारा के महिला वार्ड में बंदी भी सो रहे हैं. मैं अकेली बैठी हूं. जिंदगी में किसी के दु:ख से अपने को अलग नहीं किया. दिन हो या रात, हमेशा लोगों का आंसू पोंछने के लिए रात का अंधकार भी मेरा रास्ता कभी नहीं रोक सका. लेकिन आज मेरे पैर बंधे हुए हैं. हर आंख का आंसू पोछनेवाले हाथ जकड़ दिये गये हैं. मेरे घर में भाभी की लाश पड़ी हुई है, मेरा परिवार भय से डूबा हुआ है और मैं जेल में निसहाय मूक-बधिर बन कर रह गयी हूं. आंख में आंसू हैं लेकिन बह नहीं पा रहे हैं. आज 6/11/12 को कोर्ट में जाना है. मुझे समझ में आ गया है कि कोई नया केस मेरे ऊपर चढे.गा, जिसके लिए मुझे कस्टडी में लिया जायेगा या रिमांड में या प्रोडक्शन वारंट जारी किया जायेगा. मैंने आज भाभी के अंतिम संस्कार माटी में शामिल होने के लिए कोर्ट को आवेदन दिया है. मुझे नहीं पता अनुमति मिलेगी या नहीं. मेरा भरोसा अब ‘भरोसा’ से भी उठ रहा है.

हां, फैसल दा, बासवी जी, नेलसन, अलोका, प्रवीण, सुशांतो, मीडिया के साथी सहित सभी साथियों (सबका नाम नहीं ले पा रही हूं जो नजदीक में हैं और दूर में हैं) ने मेरा हौसला बुलंद किया है. मेरी आंख के आंसू पोछे हैं.

जेल में बंद कई लोग दुआएं दे रहे हैं कि तुमको यहां नहीं, बाहर रह कर काम करना है. मैं कोशिश करूंगी अपने को उसी तरह खड़ा रखने की, जिस तरह नदी, नाला, पहाड़, जंगल, गांव-गांव में खड़ा होकर नारा बुलंद करते रहे हैं. हम अपने पूर्वजों की एक इंच जमीन नहीं देंगे. आशा है आज का, अभी का यह क्षण ही जिंदगी का अंतिम पड़ाव नहीं है. जब तक कोयल, कारो और छाता नदी की धराएं बहती रहेगी, जिंदगी की जंग जारी रहेगी.

आप लोगों की बहन
दयामनी बरला
6 नवम्बर 2012, बिरसा मुंडा, केन्द्रिय काराग्रह, रांची (झारखंड)

Translation – Newzfirst

I have never deceived my homeland. I never overlooked the questions raised by the Jharkand people. The flowing water of the Koyal, Karo and Chata rivers is a witness to this. I learnt to write with my fingers in the mud and sand of this land. On the banks of the river Karo, while grazing my sheep, I learnt to bathe and swim. The shade of grass and trees covered with dew filled in the sky, gave me love; how can I sell this? How couldn’t I make the pain and suffering of the society which taught me how to live, a part of myself?

To protect the interests and rights of these people is our (everyone’s) responsibility. And I think this is the only way for the persons who try to fulfill this responsibility. Only dangers and troubles are written in their fate, this is the reality of life. I tried to tell the government that their system is not fulfilling its responsibility towards its citizens.

When the villagers of Anagda took out a rally demanding job cards under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gaurantee Act (MGNREGA), which was started to prevent the migration of people from rural areas by providing them work for 100 days, a case was lodged against them. Many of my friends were present in that rally. The MGNREGA scam is clear before everyone. The truth is that the poor rural people did not get anything except that they were declared as culprits.

Then I was put in jail. Violating the laws of the land, the government was forcefully acquiring 227 acres of agricultural land from the villagers of Nagdi. I tried to tell the government that they are doing a wrong thing. On the basis of law and human values, I asked them to leave the agricultural land alone. You are welcome to build the Law College and IIM on an infertile and unproductive land, I said. My crime was this, because of which four of my people were already behind bars, many lost their hands and today I am behind bars. Today, looters of the state have become well wishers in the sight of the government and its institutions. On one hand, the exploiters of state’s resources and human rights violators are being given protection by the government, and on the other hand the sons and daughters who are the well wishers of the land are being declared as criminals. Every well wisher of the country is being treated in the same manner as Birsa Munda, who was termed as a criminal when he fought for the people.

What is right and what is wrong I am not able to understand. But I Know this much that I have turned into a stone today. The whole world is sleeping. It is 1’o clock in the night and the captives are sleeping in the women’s ward of Birsa Munda Central Jail. I am sitting alone. I have never kept myself away from the pain and suffering of others, whether it be day or night. Even the darkness of the night could not stop me from wiping the tears of others, but today my legs have been tied. Every hand which used to wipe another’s tear, has been chained. My sister-in-law’s dead body is lying in my house, my family is engulfed with fear and I am lying in the jail both helpless and speechless. I cannot shed tears even though I have tearful eyes. Today, on 6 November 2012, I have to go to the court. I have a feeling that a new case will be lodged against me, for which I will be taken into custody or be remanded or a production warrant will be issued against me. I am losing trust on trust itself.

I thank all my friends, near and dear, who have extended their support to me in this time of sorrow. All my jail inmates are persuading me to fight this battle from outside the walls of this jail. I will try my best to be as steadfast as the mountains, rivers and forests which stand firm in the villages and towns, elevating the voice of this struggle. We will not give even an inch of our ancestral land. We hope that this moment will not be the end of our lives because until the streams of Koyal, Karo and Chata continue to flow, we will fight this battle.

Your Sister,

Dayamani Barla

(This letter was written to Faisal Anurag and was also first published in the Hindi Newspaper ‘Prabhat Khabar’)

 

Calcutta High court grants ‘political prisoner’ status, to seven members of PUDR


 

PEOPLE’S UNION FOR DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS

                                                7TH November 2012

 

Calcutta High Court Judgement and Political Prisoners

The West Bengal High Court judgement of August 2012 granting ‘political prisoner’ status to seven members of the People’s Committee against Police Atrocities (PCPA) clarifies and reinforces the provision of law as stipulated in West Bengal Correctional Service Act 1992 and the definition  of political prisoner therein.

PUDR welcomes the judgement to the extent that it brushes aside the mystique woven by lower courts in denying the status of political prisoner to PCPA members on insubstantial grounds despite the law being vivid and clear on it. Section 24 of the West Bengal Correctional Service Act 1992 takes a broad and encompassing view of what constitutes a political offence. It includes all political and democratic movement that crusades to further social and economic justice without any personal greed or motives and despite the ideological persuasion and means or orientation towards established legal order to be political movement. Consequently, any one detained for being associated with these movements is to be political prisoner. The High Court judgement therefore brings forth the irony and contradictions of the justice delivery mechanisms in India.

The West Bengal High Court Judgement however has its own perils. The high court in its judgement refrained from striking down the category of political prisoner because the said category was not challenged on valid grounds in the legal matter before its disposal. The court found the category of political prisoner to be discriminatory and reinforcing inequality. It held that basic minimum facilities that are stipulated for the political prisoners under West Bengal Correctional Service Act 1992 shall be moderated and made accessible to all prisoners. In this concern PUDR would also like to draw attention on the colonial practice of discriminations in Indian jails, entirely based on class and various categorisations of prisoners.   While the notion of equality is no doubt welcoming, HC judgment is conspicuously silent on upholding of prevalent structured inequality in Indian Jails. Secondly it would be quite disingenuous to reduce the struggle for the status of political prisoner to the notion of equal access to facilities inside prison.  Contestations over status of a political prisoner or category of ‘political offence and offenders’ goes beyond prison entitlements. It is about defining the domain of ‘legitimate’ politics and diverse politics of dissent and resistance being constitutive of such domain.

The High Court Judgement in totality circumvents what it asserts in the first instance. It  subverts the broader understanding political offence as defined in the West Bengal Correctional Service Act 1992  by proposing trampling of boundaries between ‘political’ and ‘routine’/ non political offence.  Following this judgement the Ministry of Home Affair, Government of India swiftly moved to direct the West Bengal Government to either  consider an amendment of the West Bengal Correctional Service Act 1992 or to appeal against the high court judgment in order to prohibit the conferment of the status of political prisoners to those who question and revolt against the state. Paradoxical it may seem but overall picture around West Bengal High Court Judgement and the MHA directive represents a continuum of subverting a law- (West Bengal Correctional Service Act) 1992- with democratic potential. More so it aims at redefining the contours of the political by ironing out the politics of resistance and dissent.

 

PUDR demands:

1.      That the provision of West Bengal Correctional Service Act 1992 be adhered to and implemented in right spirit rather than cultivating pretext for its subversion.

2.      That overall living conditions inside prison be made just and humane and rights of prisoners be upheld rather than simply juxtaposing and inducing unsubstantiated contradiction with privileges of political prisoners.

3.      Release all political prisoners and initiate dialogue with them to comprehend and redress the fundamental causes of political unrest.

 

 

Paramjeet Singh and Preeti Chauhan

(Secretaries)

 

 

 

#India Tarique Quasmi’s Letter addressed to the People Sent from the Lucknow #Prison #Torture


Dated: 22nd September 2012, Sanhati.com

Salaam!
We are also humans. We are patriotic citizens and innocents who have been forcefully trapped in unholy plots and charged with terrorist cases. Today we are so distressed due to the never-ending torture that we are even considering commitment of suicide. Inhuman treatment is being meted out on us by the jail authorities which has depressed us so much that suicide seems to be the only option left to us.

Each of us here has been thrown behind bars in a somewhat similar manner. We have been illegally abducted from our houses, markets, fields, or streets, kept in illegal custody, made part of manufactured stories by violent means, and then after many days shown arrested with illegal materials in possession, from places like Barabanki, Lucknow, Unnav and others.

We have been miserably tortured in ‘high security’ wards. The torture continues even today in the form of intentional communal remarks.

Snapshots from 2008-09
Continuously locked in a moist, dark and dull cell measuring just 8 by 12 ft, we were never allowed to move out for even a minute. On 13th of June 2008, Friday we were beaten up with leather hunters and lathis, our bodies torn and broken down. The holy Quran was made unholy; its pages were torn and thrown in the toilet. All our clothes, bedsheets, books were confiscated. In fact, in the initial days itself restrictions were imposed in this regard – only 2 pairs of clothes, a lungi, a towel and not more than two underwears were allowed.

Troubled so much, we sat on a long hunger strike whereby we completely boycotted food in protest. Then from 27th January 2009 onwards we were let open for half an hour every day in a small verandah surrounded by walls so high that sunlight disappeared after 12 noon, let alone even a single trace of greenery. From December 2011 onwards after many requests our stay in the verandah was extended to an hour.

It must be brought to your notice that, keeping in sync with the prison manual, on the jail register we were always shown freely moving like other co-prisoners. But as said earlier, were always continuously locked in the small cell. Due to this people had started falling ill here. Whereas some have gone in to depression, others’ memory has been affected. Some others have started losing their vision.

Many years have passed since the magistrate responsible for jail investigation last stepped into the ‘High Security’ ward. High officials and authorities are not brought to this side to prevent us from complaining. Our requests are not forwarded to the authorities so that we remain deprived of human rights.

As per Supreme court guidelines, any under trial must not be kept in isolation when imprisoned. Even the convicted must be kept in isolation for not more than three months. Why are we being subject to illegal, inhuman and criminal behaviour when we are citizens framed under a plot?

Friends, in a situation marked by shortsightedness of authorities, inaccessibility to higher officials, delay in decisions regarding cases and unavailability of medicines, many of us are depressed. This has led to frustration and restlessness amongst us and we have been forced to consider the validity and scope of suicide. This question about suicide is often raised to me during our conversations. How and what does one explain to such people? When they go out in fresh air for whatever little time they are let free during the day, they request for medical care and plead for their life. They are mocked at and told that even if they commit suicide or die otherwise, it would get covered up. They are openly told that they can complaint to whoever they like.

My heart is shaken seeing the helplessness of my co-prisoners and my own self here. Are we in an Indian jail or a British jail? Are we living in a secular state or a communal one?

We request you to help us. Actions taken on government dictates or with the help of authorities and courts, that are against human rights can be put to an end.

For the strength and success of this nation, please be kind and pay attention to helpless lives sobbing and crying in this hearth full of hatred. Because it is justice that gives strength to the nation and the State.

By
Mohd. Tarique Quasmi
Prisoner
High Security Cell
C Block District Jail
Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh

Released by RIHAI MANCH, Lucknow
Contact- 0941501266, 09415254919, 09452800752,

Sexy letters and Men’s Health? — banned by new #prison #censorship rule


By Alan Prendergast Thu., Sep. 27 2012
Thumbnail image for prison clip art 5 long shot of corridor with cells on either side.JPG

A recent push by state prison officials to crack down on the sexual content of inmates’ mail has greatly expanded the range of books and magazines intercepted by prison censors, including such staid fare as Rolling Stone and Men’s Health. The move has also prompted complaints from inmates’ loved ones that even the most innocuous references to sex in personal letters are being censored.The Colorado Department of Corrections has had a ban on hardcore porn — anything visually more explicit than Playboy or Penthouse — in place for years. But concerns about female staff being exposed to a hostile work environment or sexual harassment evidently prompted a major revision of administrative regulation 300-26, which dictates what publications inmates can receive.

Venus de Milo.jpg
Inappropriate.

The new policy goes much further, prohibiting not only sexually explicit photographs but any nudity or descriptions of intercourse, oral sex, masturbation, bestiality, necrophilia, S&M or “discharge of bodily fluids” — a ban that would seem to encompass everything from soft-core “laddie” mags like Maxim to the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue to a drawing of the Venus de Milo to James Joyce’s Ulyssesto a Depends ad. Since the new rule went into effect in June, publication review committees at various prisons have rejected a staggering array of incoming materials. Laurell K. Hamilton‘s bestselling novels about vampire hunter Anita Blake have run afoul of the censors. So has a not-so-sexy article in Men’s Health about skin. Muscle and Fitness turned out to be unfit, or maybe too fit. Even an issue of Reason was found to be unreasonable because the cover illustrated an article about entitlement programs with a cartoon of an elderly woman in a wheelchair pointing a gun at a young worker. (This last one wasn’t too sexy, though; it was just politically incorrect enough to be labeled as “promotes violence, generational.”)

Inmate families and supporters say the worst part, though, is that the ban also applies to any references to sex in personal letters, whether incoming or outgoing. Diane Martin of Golden says she’s had letters to her inmate boyfriend rejected for sexual content for statements no more explicit than “I want to kiss you.”

“Our letters are the only form of intimate contact that we have,” Martin says. “He can’t write anything personal to me any more, and I think that’s going a bit far.”

Since the new rule doesn’t allow for “grandfathered” porn, prisoners are expected to surrender any ragged issues of Playboy or Maxim they may have squirreled away under the old policy. Although the regulation spells out a laborious appeal process, the decision to ban a publication can also be designated as unappealable.

Complaints have piled up at the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, which has successfully sued the DOC before over its publication policies (including its frequent censorship of Westword). “We have spoken to DOC officials,” says ACLU legal director Mark Silverstein, “and they acknowledge that the new regulation has problems. We have urged them to make substantial changes.”

As of this writing, DOC officials have not responded to a query about the new policy.

Political Prisoner Judgment Calcutta High Court


English: Gandhi meeting political prisoners at...

English: Gandhi meeting political prisoners at Dum Dum (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

8th august, 2012

CRR 463 of 2012
With
CRR 1312 of 2012
With
CRR 4000 of 2011
Mr. Subhasish Roy.
… for the petitioners.
Ms. Anusuya Sinha.
… for the State.

What are political offences? Who are political
prisoners? What is the role of political violence for
achieving the political goal professed by its believers?
What is the treatment which State should administer to
those who use political violence/activities to terrorize
others for achievement of their objective? Should means
defeat the end? What is the state of affairs in prison? and
How the prisoners should bedealt within socio-economic
realities of our nation? are a few questions which, being
unpalatable, have been thrown as dice on the board of
this Court.
These questions also test the ability of the
believer of liberty and democracy to keep his prejudices
and bias at bay to strictly confine to the provisions of the
statute believing in the maxim “those who believe in the
system, it is their duty to ensure fairness to those who
question the system”.

Before a humble effort is made to answer
these questions, it will be appropriate to divide this
judgment into five parts, (a) Facts, (b) Broad background,
(c) Provisions of the West Bengal Correctional Services
Act, 1992 (hereinafter referred to as, ‘the Correctional
Services Act’); its classificationof political prisoners; their
rights and the conveniences extended to them, (d)
Remedial measures which this Court propose as
recommendations, and (e) Conclusions and the prayer
clause.
(a) Facts
By this common judgment, three petitions,
viz. (1) Criminal Revision No.4000 of 2011, (2) Criminal
Revision No.463 of 2012 and (3) Criminal Revision
No.1312 of 2012 shall be decided together.
The petitioners herein, at one point of time,
claimed themselves to be Maoists and are dubbed by the
State as Naxalites. Maoists or Naxalites, being
interchangeable words, are tobe broadly understood in
reference to those persons who take up arms to dislodge
the existing system being aggrieved of socio-economic
disparities prevailing in the State.
The petitioners in all the three revisions
petitions have assailed the orders passed by the Courts
3below, whereby their prayer tobe declared as political
prisoners has been declined. They have approached this
Court with a prayer that they be treated as political
prisoners within the meaningof Section 24 of the
Correctional Services Act and a few conveniences which
the Correctional Services Act ensures to the political
prisoners be granted to them over and above the ordinary prisoners.

More Below

Political Prisoner judgment Calcutta High Court

Sarabjit, Kirpal may get life as Pak commutes death penalties #goodnews


 

, TNN | Aug 13, 2012, 05.25AM IST

AMRITSAR: The Pakistan government has provided a fresh lease of life to Indian death row prisoners Sarabjit Singh and Kirpal Singh when it began the process of commuting all death sentences into life imprisonment.

According to Pakistan’s former federal minister for human rights Ansar Burney, it’s for the first time that Pakistan has taken such a step. The move comes four years after former PM Yousaf Raza Gilani had announced to commute all death sentences into life imprisonment.

Burney told TOI on Sunday over the phone from Khartoum in Sudan, where he is on a humanitarian mission, that Pakistan government has sought advice from relevant ministries and provincial authorities by Monday, August 13.

He said that Ansar Burney Trust International had also filed several petitions with President Asif Ali Zardari requesting that all death sentences be commuted to life imprisonments considering that a large number of those condemned to death were either innocent or had spent decades awaiting death.

Gilani had announced during an address to the national assembly on June 21 2008, soon after assuming office, that his government would take a proposal to the presidency to convert all death penalties into life-terms. Burney informed that over 7,500 prisoners in Pakistani jails were on death row.

“Many are innocent and victims of false testimonies or circumstances like Sarabjit and Kirpal. Hundreds are now physically and mentally disabled due to decades of imprisonment in the harshest conditions,” Burney said.

ABOVE– kirpal caught in 1991 and today

 

Rejoinder to story on #SoniSori in Indian Express: (IADHRI)


 

 

The  International Alliance for Defence of Human Rights in India (IADHRI) is based in the US and has participated in the campaigns for the release of Dr. Binayak Sen, Kopa Kunjam and now more recently Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi.

On August 5th, The Indian Express published a disturbing, supposedly investigative story on Soni Sori, implying both that she was guilty of the charge of being a Maoist as well as casting doubt on the activists in India and outside who support her, and who are mainly responsible forbringing into the open the fact that she was and continues to be tortured in prison.

The IADHRI has written this response to the story, rebutting it point by point.

That the media often compromises its integrity for corporate interests and the political elite is not news any more. The recent Sunday Express report titled ‘Soni’s Story’ is symptomatic of a belief that if a lie is repeated often, it becomes the accepted truth.  The report talks of Soni Sori, the Adivasi school teacher from Dantewada, Chhattisgarh, who has been arrested and accused of being a Maoist conduit. With a clever sprinkling of truth, a report can seem unbiased- the reporter appears to be the warrior fighting to find facts and settling for nothing less. It is, however, imperative that fallacies be broken down, and the casual picking and choosing of facts be exposed for what it is. Let us use the same structure that the story uses.
  1. Sori, the police and the Maoists
    1. The report paints a picture of Soni Sori, a vocal, educated school teacher with an influential family. It mentions that “Villagers in Palnar say Sori was not a Maoist, but like most people in these parts, she had links with the rebels.”
    2. However, in the quest for truth, the reporter does not remain satisfied, and to substantiate charges of Sori’s Maoist links refers to the incident where Maoists shoot her father in the leg but spare her as a subtle insinuation that there is something wrong brewing underneath. How exactly one’s father being shot is a sign of camaraderie we will never know, but the Sunday Express seems to have some ideas.
    3. The report does not stop at this, but cites an unnamed Palnar-based journalist and family-friend who says that “Madam was a bridge between Maoists and the local company contractors. She helped them levy taxes and was also close to the police,” which of course is sufficient evidence to incriminate Sori as a Maoist.
    4. The report exonerates Sori of the attack on Avdesh Gautam’s house, stating that “Evidence suggests both Sori and Futane were not involved in the attack. But curiously, while Futane was arrested and continues to be in jail, Sori remained free. She was slapped with several offences in a series of cases from July to September 2010—all false, say her lawyer and even the police.” Curiously, this does not prevent the reporter from quoting the same Gautam saying that “She was playing to both sides. She could not have managed it for long.” This begs the question: how does one take Gautam’s words to be credible when it was his FIR that led to charges being slapped against Sori for the first time in 2010?
    5. The report does reinforce the claim made by activists that Lingaram Kodopi (Sori’s nephew – a co-accused in the Gautam case and also arrested for being a Maoist conduit) was not arrested at Palnar market when handing over 15 lakhs to BK Lala, an Essar contractor, as suggested by the police. Relatives have confirmed that Kodopi was arrested from Sori’s father’s house, and Sori fled. What the report fails to inform readers is that after fleeing to Delhi, Sori sought out the office of Tehelka magazine and helped conduct a sting operation- the recorded conversation clearly suggests that she was framed through the conspiracy of SP Ankit Garg and a constable by the name of Mankar. It was also here that Sori spoke of repeated harassment by the Chhattisgarh police and their attempts to coax her to implicate her nephew Kodopi as being a Maoist.
  2. Sori and the activists
    1. This is perhaps the most intriguing part of the Sunday Express report. The journalist seeks to discredit activists for bringing attention to Soni Sori’s medical report, furnished by the NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata. Sori was examined there between October 26th and 28th and it was through this report that Sori’s torture became evident after stones were recovered from her private parts. The medical report, contrary to what is mentioned in the report, was never “leaked”. The report was only made available after being produced before the Supreme Court. (It is also worth noting here that after the medical report was dispatched by speed post, it took a good two weeks for it to reach the Supreme Court.) One does not know what to make of the story’s suggestion that there was a “selective leak” of the medical report. What parts of the report that were of relevance were omitted by the various petitions? The report goes on to say, “While the four-page confidential report, submitted to the SC, a copy of which is with The Sunday Express, recorded in detail her medical condition and did not confirm the torture charges, only a sentence about the “foreign bodies” was leaked.” Is the Sunday Express trying to suggest that Sori inserted these foreign bodies into her body herself? If one were to also carefully read the four page medical report, it can be seen that the only sentence the Sunday Express chooses to mention is in the summary of the report. The foreign bodies are mentioned along with other details, throughout the rest of the report. The recovered stones themselves were also submitted to the Supreme Court by the  hospital.
    2. The other means of discrediting the NRS medical report is to cite the medical report from hospitals in Dantewada and Raipur, where no foreign object was discovered. It is also worthwhile to note that the scans from Raipur have not been made available to Sori’s lawyers despite repeated appeals for the same. To ward off the charges made by activists that these reports were “doctored” (no pun intended), the Sunday Express interviewed a private practitioner Dr. Rakesh Gupta who finds the NRS medical report to be contradictory. One is of course supposed to ignore the fact that Dr. Gupta has not examined Sori himself. But to lend credibility to his claims, the report cites that Dr. Gupta is the “state president of the Naagrik Sangharsh Samiti who supports “social and economic causes of Maoists”. We are now being coaxed to believe an alleged Maoist sympathizer! Ironic one would say, but irony is only every bright morning that Soni Sori spends in darkness behind bars in prison.
  3. The case of the letters
    1. The Sunday Express seems more interested in learning how the letters came from prison and were released through Himanshu Kumar rather than the contents of the letters themselves. It leaves no stone unturned in attempting to discredit these letters. At first the report attacks the handwriting, citing Himanshu Kumar as not recognizing the handwriting. Himanshu Kumar, in a response to this piece, has categorically stated that he recognizes the handwriting as that of Sori’s. It is not surprising that no one would confess to being a courier for Soni’s letter, considering that Dr. Binayak Sen spent two years in jail on similar allegations.
    2. While questioning Sori’s letters, the report had no problem in quoting a purported letter from Sori’s husband, who is currently in jail,  without explaining how they got hold of it.  Curiously, no one other than the Sunday Express seems to have seen this letter.
  1. The waiting family
    1. The journalist somehow manages to summon all his compassion for this last section to sign off on a sympathetic note. To show the readers that it really is the all-powerful “jholawalas” that are playing Sori. To do this again, the uncredible Avdesh Gautam is quoted as “feeling sorry for her”. Mr. Gautam could perhaps be more concrete in his sympathy if he drops Sori’s name from the FIR he filed. But perhaps that is wishful thinking.
At the end the story, one if left wondering what primary purpose such a report serves. Whether or not Sori is innocent (and indeed, the report itself questions some of the charges against her), why not question the administration and the judiciary that places thousands of Adivasis in the conflict zones behind bars, prolonging their detention and often refusing them any trial at all? It has been almost a year since Soni Sori was arrested. Months have passed since the Supreme Court expressed its anguish over the NRS Medical Report. No investigation has been initiated against those accused of this custodial torture, no response has been forthcoming from the government of Chhattisgarh. If the purpose is only to malign individuals who raise their voices against these injustices, the Sunday Express  has served the purpose very well.

 

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