IMMEDIATE RELEASE- Eleven tribal women political prisoners observe hunger strike #protest


IN ORDER THAT THE DEAF GOVERNMENT HEAR, 11 TRIBAL WOMEN PRISONERS OBSERVE A DAY OF HUNGER STIKE!*

 

On 13th December 2012, eleven tribal women political prisoners will be observing a one day hunger strike for the implementation of various demands including the central demand that the Gadchiroli district prison be opened despite over two years since its completed construction.

The series of atrocities by the Maharashtra government goes unabated, without any rectification despite numerous democratic protests and hunger stikes. Hence, during the winter session of the State legislative at Nagpur we are observing a one day long hunger strike for the deaf government to hear.

In the press note issued by the tribal women political prisoners they have made their position clear. It has been over two years since the construction of the Gadchiroli district prison and news of its opening within a few months has been published in the newspapers. The post of Guardian Minister of our Gadchiroli district is with Hon’ble Shri. R. R. Patil and affairs related to the prison are also handled by his (home) departed. Nevertheless there has been a failure to start functioning of the Gadchiroli prison despite over two years having lapsed. The newspapers have also carried news that materials worth almost Rs. 40 lacs have been stolen from the premises. If not the government, this question is of great value for us because by imprisoning us at Nagpur and other prisons our relations with our families and lawyers have been totally cut off. Besides, our constitutional right to be produced before the court during trial has been violated since the last 23 months causing us severe mental disturbance. We urge our guardian minister R. R. Patil to consider this grave situation and declare the Gadchiroli prison be opened within a fixed time.

On 1st April 2012, while replying to a question raised by Shobhatai Fadnavis of the Bharatiya Janata Party, State Home minister R. R. Patil informed the Legislative Council that the government has decided to investigate the cases of tribal youth imprisoned at the Nagpur prison. However it has been over a year and a half without any action in this regard. It would mean that the home minister made this empty promise only to silence the opposition. The arrests of innocents, like us has begun under his patronage ever since he has become the gadchiroli district guardian minister. On one hand, he has declared that he will not tolerate injustice on innocents to gather the sympathy of tribals and on the other; a cruel repression is being unleashed against the tribals. We call upon him to end this mockery and declare in this legislative session whether a commission for investigation has been appointed as promised.

Likewise since January 2011, the production of the Gadchiroli undertrials before the session’s court has come to a complete halt. There had been an attempt to conduct trials through video conferencing. However due to regular technical problems it never functioned smoothly. And now since March 2012, this mechanism too has come to an end. It is the total violation of the constitutional right of an undertrial not to be produced before the trial court. Our demands are not excessive. We merely demand that the government fulfill its minimum obligations of producing us before the court and that our endless trials be conducted speedily. The Union minister Jairam Ramesh has declared the central government has decided to conduct trials of tribals by setting up fast track courts. R. R. Patil too caught to and upheld this declaration. However rather than making new declarations the Maharashtra government ought to try to ensure the regular and speedy functioning of existing courts, so as to clear obstacles of us approaching them.

The practice of re-arresting persons acquitted after a prolonged legal battle has become the rule. The police do not show the intelligence to arrest the person in a new case when in prison or when in police custody. However after the person is acquitted and released, the police have the ‘wisdom’ to re-arrest the person at the gate. The police by dutifully doing this to inflate the number of arrests without any consideration of the violations of the prisoners human rights. This practice of re-arrest is shameful for a ‘democratic’ government. Hence we call upon the home minister to immediately put and end to this practice of re-arrest.

The home minister very well knows that all the charges leveled on us are false. Hence the government has employed a policy to conduct trials at snails pace, totally end the production of undertrials in court and the practice of re-arrest- all steps undertaken to make us rot in prison for maximum possible time. To keep illiterate and poor tribal youth away from justice and to see to it that they only get delayed justice is a violation of our constitutionally guaranteed human rights. Hence we take this opportunity to humbly appeal to all democratic and justice loving people and the peoples’ representatives to raise their voices in our support.

Yours faithfully,

Undertrial prisoners,

Saguna Pungati (Raji Reddy)- sd/-

Sunanda Bhovate- sd/-

Date: 8.12.12

Place: Nagpur Central Prison, Nagpur.

 

* This is a rough translation of the press note sent by the prisoners in marathi.

 

Press Release- Serial Hunger strike by 50 tribals of Gadchiroli district incarcerated at the Nagpur Central Prison. #Humanrightsday


( ABOVE IS THE POSTER MADE BY INMATES

Around 50 tribals of Gadchiroli district incarcerated at the Nagpur Central Prison as political prisoners have commenced a serial hunger strike from 10thDecember, International Human Rights Day to 21st December 2012 

These tribal prisoners have consistently protested since the last 2 years against the failure of the judicial process and high handedness of the local district police. It is not a coincidence that Shri. R.R. Patil, the State home Minister is also the guardian minister of Gadchiroli district and all such violations of Human Rights are happening under his very own patronage. In April 2011, Shri. Patil while replying to a question raised by Ms. Shobatai Fadnavis had promised the State Legislative Council that he would review all cases of tribals arrested under charges of naxalism in Gadchiroli. However, there has been no intent to fulfill this promise in the past 21 months.

Along with this demand the protesting tribals have also raised the following grievances:

  1. The practice of the Gadchiroli police to re-arrest tribals immediately after their release from prison still continues (See attachment No.2). Despite numerous petitions from prisoners and civil rights organizations this violation of Human rights goes on unabated.
  2. Inability of the State administration to inaugurate the Gadchiroli prison (See attachment No.3). Although this prison has been completed since the past 2 years, the government has still not started it. Hence tribals of Gadchiroli are incarcerated in the prisons of Nagpur, Amravati and Chandrapur– prisons which are more than 150 to 300 kms from the trial courts. Resultantly, these tribals are not being produced before the trial courts for the past 23 months. This distance has also caused their family links to be severed.
  3. The practice of handcuffing undertrials on their way to court also still continues, despite the Supreme Court directives against its use (See attachment No.4). Recently, due to this illegal practice four undertrials were severely injured in a road accident. However the responsible police officials are yet to be punished.
  4. A two year old boy born in prison to a tribal couple has been compelled to be separated from his father. While father was transferred to Nagpur prison, his mother remains at Amravati prison despite numerous requests pending in the trial court and jail authorities (See attachment No.5).
  5. The atrocities of the district police and especially the notorious anti-naxal C-60 commandoes go on unimpeded. A undertrial, Ramesh Naitam seeks justice in the custodial death case of his mother (See attachment No.6).

The protesting tribals have requested the State legislative bodies in session at Nagpur to look into the above issues on the occasion of International Human rights day.

On behalf of the protesting tribals,

Adv. Surendra Gadling- gsurendra12@yahoo.co.in

( attchments are in marathi if you need pl email )

Nagpur

 

Arup Patnaik saved Mumbai from burning


Jyoti Punwani | Agency: DNA | Friday, August 24, 2012

The morale of Mumbai’s police force must be sky-high now that police commissioner Arup Patnaik has been shunted out. The morale of the Muslim community, however, is at rock-bottom. This inverse equation best illustrates the relationship between the state and its largest minority.

But it needn’t have been so.

From security expert B Raman to super cop Julio Ribeiro, everyone praised Patnaik’s handling of the explosive situation at Azad Maidan on August 11. What more endorsement did the Maharashtra government need? Those of us who have seen communal violence in the city since the 80s, have rarely seen a senior policeman actually restrain his men in the face of dire provocation from a group of hoodlums belonging to a community they aren’t exactly fond of.

Commissioners who take the trouble to walk through mobs, take the mike and defuse a restive and emotionally charged crowd, are like legendary figures from the early years after Independence.

The city was lucky enough to have a person like that in charge on August 11. Had Patnaik not acted the way he did, instead of just two men dead, we would have had maybe 20. Add to this the anger of an entire community. Unlike in the past 20 years, that anger may not have remained simmering. The brazenness with which cops were attacked on August 11 — without provocation — indicates that for a section of Muslim youth, violence, even against policemen, is fun. They are too young to have seen the brutalities faced by their community in 92-93 or earlier, in 1984. Imagine if this section had come out on the roads if indiscriminate police firing on the Azad Maidan crowd led to high casualties. Imagine what would have happened if that section of Hindu lumpens who, thanks to their powerful backers, have always got away with hooliganism, had taken them on.

“The insensitive and harsh approach of the police while handling the protesting (Muslim) mobs which initially were not violent’’ was listed by theSrikrishna Commission Report (Vol I), as one of the immediate causes of the violence that broke out the day the Babri Masjid was demolished. With his sensitivity, Patnaik saved the entire city from a repeat of 1992-93. A grateful community turned against its ulema and shamed them into apologising for calling a rally which they could not control. This is the first time leaders – Hindu or Muslim — have apologised for mob violence.

Not all the Eid milans and iftaars held every year by the police since 1992 have changed the basic relationship of mistrust between the city’s police and its largest minority. Patnaik’s one act, and his repeated explanations after that, did so. Perhaps for the first time, Muslims (not informers) co-operated with the police who went hunting for the culprits. When Patnaik said on TV, after Raj Thackeray’s rally, that he had been worried about a potential clash between MNS supporters and Muslims celebrating the second day of Eid on Chowpatty, Muslims couldn’t believe their ears.

Under Patnaik, this relationship would have gone far. Imagine the benefits for society as a whole when an embittered community is won over. But that was not to be. The mobs baying for blood had to be appeased. A police commissioner who doesn’t “teach Muslims a lesson” is persona non grata for the entire establishment, including the (non-Urdu) media. Only two Muslims dead when they attack cops? The man has to go. Home Ministers, however, can continue patronising the most rabid Muslims. 

(The writer is a commentator on political and social affairs)

Poster purge: Mumbai targets Jism 2 #Censorship #Moralpolicing


 

 

 

 

 

MUMBAI: An NCP MLC has succeeded in goading the city’s mayor into playing the moral police. The latest victim is the film Jism 2, starring Sunny Leone, whose posters will now have to be removed from all BEST buses.

NCP MLC Vidya Chavan knocked on the doorsof chief minister Prithviraj Chavan, state home minister R R Patil, the special branch of Mumbai police, BMC commissioner Sitaram Kunte and ultimately city mayor Sunil Prabhu over the last couple of days, finally eliciting the response she was looking for from Prabhu.

The mayor took up the matter with the BEST and the BMC administrations and, by Wednesday evening, every “objectionable” poster was removed from 75 BEST buses and 25 depots, besides electricity poles and bus shelters.

The strange alacrity with which the BMC and the BEST responded drew sharp protests from legal experts and Bollywood fraternity and even other politicians.

IPS officer-turned-lawyer Y P Singh found the entire exercise a violation of personal freedom. “There are specific laws to deal with this. People having objections should have approached a court of law and it was for the court to give whatever directives it deemed fit,” he added.

A Congress MLA from the western suburbs thought it was unfair to judge the film by its posters. “Aren’t we jumping the gun and infringing on someone else’s freedom?” he asked.

Legal expert Mihir Desai felt it was completely unjustified. “The level of tolerance is going down in Mumbai and, instead of focusing on law and order, the administration wants to impose its own morality on the city,” he added.

Filmmaker and writer Mahesh Bhatt, whose daughter Pooja was the producer of the film, said he had decided to remove the posters from all over Mumbai as “it was a battle not worth fighting”. He said he had decided to replace the old posters with new ones.

“Censoring images created by the human mind has been going on since the dark ages. In recent times, I remember Qurban’s posters were pulled down by the moral police. I guess the more things change, the more they remain the same. Individual freedom has always been trampled upon under the name of larger good by the political class,” Bhatt said.

But will all this affect the film’s business? Trade analyst Amod Mehra said, “This will not affect the box-office business of the film.” Another trade pundit said there was a lot of curiosity about the film.

The moral brigade, however, saw things differently. “What is the film industry’s definition ofentertainment these days? Is making money their only motto? We talk about sexual harassment of women and the next thing we see nude posters on BEST buses and electric poles. What is the message we are giving to the youth? The Jism 2 posters are downright vulgar. Even school-going kids get to see them on roads,” was Chavan’s logic. Chavan was actively involved in closing of dance bars in the past.

Prabhu said instructions were issued to the BEST general manger to issue notices to advertising contractors to remove the posters immediately. BEST general manager Om Prakash Gupta said, “We received a message from BMC officials that the posters were objectionable and I immediately advised the contractors to remove them.”

A representative from Rakesh Advertising that handles the advertising rights for BEST buses, told TOI: “We had overlooked the posters and it was not done intentionally. I personally received a request from Gupta and ordered my men to go to all 25 depots and remove posters from 75 buses within an hour.” The posters were also removed from other areas including bus stops and electricity police subsequently.

Civic chief Sitaram Kunte said the BMC was “concerned only with properties belonging to the BMC”. “There was a complaint from Chavan and I asked the BEST general manager to check for violations in obscenity clauses and take the necessary corrective action on BEST stands, buses and electric poles. We have nothing against the movie. We shall verify about the obscenity,” he added.

(With inputs from Rebecca Sammerval)

 

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