#India – Activist, PMRD fellow, being victimised in Gadchiroli mining row #TISS #WTFnews


Gadchiroli, June 25, 2013

Pavan Dahat, The Hindu 

The mining row, which saw a senior executive of a company and two others being killed by the Naxals last week, has taken a new twist with the police now targeting an activist and a Prime Minister Rural Development Fellow (PMRDF) for alleged links with the Naxals.

A team of the Gadchiroli police’s special anti-Naxal unit — C-60 — claimed to have raided a village, Kovunwarsi, in Etapalli tehsil of the district on June 20 and arrested Sunil Yeshu Hichami (27) and Paika Majhi Pungati (45) over the allegation of collecting funds for the Naxals.

Police also claimed that Mahesh Raut, a PMRDF, and Harshali Potdar, an activist from Mumbai, were present in the village when they arrested the Naxals.

A leading English newspaper on Sunday reported that Ms. Potdar and Mr. Raut had been booked under Sections 13, 39 and 40 of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).

But Aheri Additional Superintendent of Police Rahul Shreerame said that both of them were just questioned for some time and let off. Mr. Shreerame denied having registered any offence against Ms. Potdar and Mr. Raut.

Contrastingly, Superintendent of Police (SP) Suvez Haque said the police had, in fact, booked them under various offences “because they were found in the same village from where other two Naxals were arrested.”

However, Gadchiroli police PRO Dharmendra Joshi told The Hindu that both Ms. Potdar and Mr. Raut had been let off after some “preliminary questioning.”

A top district official of Gadchiroli told The Hindu on the condition of anonymity that the police had not registered any offence as reported by the English newspaper and as claimed by the SP.

This district official also questioned as to why both Ms. Potdar and Mr. Raut had not been taken into custody if the police booked them for such serious offences.

But Ms. Potdar and Mr. Raut (both alumni of Tata Institute of Social Sciences) and the villagers of Kowanwarsi had an entire different chain of events to narrate.

“As a PMRD Fellow, I often visit these interior areas. On June 20 also, I went to visit these villages one by one. Harshali, who is studying the environmental threat caused by the proposed mining projects in this area, also accompanied me to these villages. At around 9.00 a.m., we reached Kovunwarsi and decided to take a nap at the house of the village Patil. At 10.00 a.m., a team of C-60 came to the village and arrested some people. They asked for our identity cards and told us to proceed with our work,” Mr. Raut told The Hindu .

“When we were returning to Allapalli in the evening, the police stopped us and took us to the Pranhita Police Headquarters where they questioned us for more than 30 hours,” he added.

Police alleged that Ms. Potdar and Mr. Rauthad gone to Kovunwarsi village to meet senior Naxal leader Narmada Akka.

But Ms. Potdar, Mr. Raut and the villagers have denied these claims.

“They came to inspect village infrastructure. They were sleeping in my house when the police arrested some Naxals from another house,” said Joga Buklu Hedau, the village Patil.

Even the District Collector of Gadchiroli, Abhishekh Krishna, said that Mr. Raut often visited interior areas in the Aheri division for his work.

“His work has been the best among all other PMRD fellows who work under me,” said Mr. Krishna.

According to Amol Marakwar, a Zila Parishad member of Gadchiroli, Ms. Potdar and Mr. Raut were being targeted for their “visible opposition” to the proposed mining projects in Surajagad Gatta range.

“Harshali had very strongly raised objections to these projects in a public hearing in Allapalli last month. Now she has been harassed for publicly opposing it” said Mr. Marakwar.

Mr. Haque did question Ms. Potdar and Mr. Raut’s open opposition to the proposed mining projects in this area.

“How can they oppose the government’s projects despite being a part of the government?” asked the SP.

Ms. Potdar confirmed that the majority of questions addressed to her were related to mining.

“They even asked me why we had two CDs of Kabira Kala Manch and why I saved some of the contacts in my mobile phone as ‘Comrades’. They even had problem with some people greeting me with Lal Salam and Jai Bhim . They searched our house and our laptop is with them now,” said Ms. Potdar.

Presently, the police at Aheri headquarters calls the duo for questioning on a regular basis. Some times Ms. Potdar is asked to come to the police station even after 6.00 p.m.

The duo has not been told if they have been booked or not.

“They asked us to sign on a blank paper, but we refused” said Mr. Raut.

Mr. Marakwar called the police exercise “an attempt to destroy roadblocks against the proposed mining projects in the area” and a “blatant violation of Human Rights.”

 

TISS Turmoil – Botched investigation – Termination of two Professors #Guwahati


Horn Tata Not OK! — Hartman de Souza

APRIL 29, 2013, KAFILA.ORG

This is a guest post by HARTMAN DE SOUZA

If you were to say that the right we give to those younger, to be contrary and different to those older, is not just their right after they turn eighteen, but that it is our need to let them speak so that learning continues, you would probably get a bigwig from the Tata’s sensing the USP of that and  using it in his next PPP to jack himself up the ladder.

So it’s a little puzzling that the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, a major beneficiary of the munificence of the Tata’s would not only fail to see the veracity of that statement, but appear to actively work against it.

Let me give you the background and context to that connection, and indeed to this post:

Some 10 days or so back, in the middle of pressing work, I get an email from an old friend, Vidyadhar Gadgil. Vidya’s the kind of friend I like to have; in his forties; well read, salt and pepper in his hair, scraggly beard, nice grin, heart left of centre, and with a laugh that goes from tenor to baritone depending on how funny he finds something.

A respected assistant editor with the Herald, Goa, he later moved to Himal magazine in Kathmandu, where he was as well regarded for his professional and meticulous ways. He’s commissioned and edited articles of mine at both publications, so I know what I am talking about.

I lost touch with him for a year and some, though I heard he had joined the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Guwahati as an Associate Prof. Our relationship is such, that when I saw his mail in my inbox, I clicked on it, saying one quick reply to catch up again, then back to my work.

There was also a file attached to Vidya’s troubled but measured mail that hinted that his services were terminated somewhat unfairly. The attachment kept promising much but was even more tempered, as if narrated by a somewhat detached barrister. It was exasperating to say the least. While on the one hand, one sensed a current of skulduggery as sharp as piranha under the water, everything was so damn veiled it revealed nothing. I said this much to Vidya, and got back to my work.

His next mail had another attachment, this one consisting of a wikileaks quantum of emails that went between four main protagonists from April 4 to April 11 or so and a few others this side and that side of the spectrum.

On the one side, Vidya, his teacher colleague, Uma Maheshwari, and later, by implication, Vidyadhar’s spouse, Mariette Correa – like Vidyadhar, fairly distinguished alumnus of TISS Mumbai and also independently appointed faculty at TISS, Guwahati.
Ranged against them was Dr. Virginius Xaxa, the deputy director of TISS, Guwahati, which, one can now see, was something like an extension counter of TISS, Mumbai, and actually administered by its Director, Dr. S. Parasuraman, the fourth and indeed major player who remote controlled matters from Mumbai.

Two hours later, three cups of tea and one cigarette too many, I was to mail Vidyadhar a terse: “Thanks for screwing my morning!!!!”

In fact Vidya did more than screw my morning: he ruined my entire day, and an undue part of the later evening better spent in mellower fashion at the local village bar. Maybe it makes more sense if I tell you I’ve been down this road that Vidya’s on and maybe much more unfairly.

How many people you know have the distinction of being sacked from an international school in Bangalore after getting them the best results ever in India for students doing the IGCSE exams for theatre? And that too, over the telephone by the Proprietor and Chairman…

You have to give me reasons for sacking me, I tell this shit…

Reasons, he shouts in his shrill, squeaky voice? You want reasons? I’ll give you reasons! You are making some of my students rebellious, you are making some of my teachers rebellious, and I don’t like all these plays you are doing with my students talking about caste and racism and all these social issues…I want happy plays…

You want to give me that in writing?

You want it in writing? You want to take me to court? You know what I can do to you?

He sounds positively apoplectic, so even as I’m wishing he drops dead from a seizure and chokes on his slimy tongue, I calmly say, no you stupid bastard, that’s exactly what good teachers ought to be doing…I want to frame your letter and hang it on my living room wall…

Yeah, I know, pity Kafila wasn’t around those days.

That night though, I mailed Vidya. Edit the emails, I told him, keep them in the same sequence, and post them on Kafila. They are self evident enough to work at many levels. A manual for instance, on how an institution can, without a by your leave, put a cloak over things. There one day, not there, the next.

Or maybe Vidya’s colleague, Uma Maheswari’s longer emails to the director and the rest. Her correspondence would be a beacon for younger teachers, showing on one hand, her fierce commitment to teaching at TISS, Guwahati, and on the other hand, her articulate, impassioned defence of the right to dissent, the urgency to embrace critique rather than shy away from it.

Would you not be left with a bitter taste in your mouth, if you knew that sick of the way she was being hounded, Uma, in sheer disgust, put in her papers? So what are we doing here then by letting her go, exulting in mediocrity?

I still don’t know how the brain sometimes associates something like this chain of mails, with visuals that form a parallel to the narrative.

Vidya saw William Blake in water colours, Behemoth and Leviathan, a visual of which he duly attached together with the mails. At the village bar that night, overlooking a sky with the embers of a sunset still visible, I thought of Zoltan Fabri’s The Ant’s Nest, a film set in a convent; the mother superior’s body lying in chapel and a camera catching brush strokes of pew, detail of statue, kneeling nuns praying with bowed head, and the sparse interiors of rooms. You see a commune, even as a battle for her successor rages between nuns who want change, and those who want things to be as they are.

I will still strongly argue that Vidyadhar and Uma make this correspondence public, if only to send clear signals to those who administer our institutes of higher learning that they cannot trample on the rights of either student or teacher or, for that matter, non-teaching worker.

You can wish as I do that some Owners of an International School-Factory will drop dead like gassed mosquitoes. It is possible to throw stones on some school administrators and frighten them into the hills. But try as you might, you cannot deny the primacy of the Kiswahili proverb from Tanzania that simply says “Without a student you cannot have a teacher; and without a teacher, you cannot have a student”.

This symbiotic relationship, whether parent, teacher or student, one does not mess with.

Like too many of those in their forties today, intent on avoiding confrontation even at the level of ideas and still looking if not hoping and praying for negotiation and due process to bear fruit, because it is, after all, negotiation and due process and we must give it a fair chance, Vidya lost the moment.

Maybe too many have forgotten the 60s demolition of value neutrality in the social sciences. We need to realize again that the other side, whether in pro-industry government or pro-industry education, is never value neutral; that they can’t be when the primary issues revolve around ownership and often wealth, the misuse of power and more effective control if not repression.

The net result therefore, even as this is being written, is that TISS Mumbai’s director has sent to Guwahati an enquiry panel set up by him to investigate matters pertaining to people who were supposedly to be investigated after they have first been silenced, and if that was not bad enough, then terminated from service.

Is it as simple as that?

Actually it’s even worse…

It all began simply enough: students at the campus, with good reason, complaining that standards of teaching were being compromised at TISS, Guwahati. This was raised by Vidyadhar at staff meetings and indeed brought it to the attention of the deputy director, Dr. Virginius Xaxa several times. This was apart from the students themselves complaining to the deputy director.

When the complaints from the students persisted, Vidyadhar emailed the director, TISS, Mumbai, Dr S Parasuraman on April 4, 2013, requesting him to conduct, at the earliest, an independent review of the academic programme as well as the functioning of TISS Guwahati.

Typically Vidyadhar, he mentioned he was making this request after following due process with the appropriate authority.
He listed the following reasons for seeking the review:

That the interests of the students were being severely compromised, and there existed a feeling of being short-changed by an institution of repute. Substantial parts of some courses for instance, and almost entire courses had not been taught to the students, and no adequate action had been taken to either complete the teaching hours or to take the necessary action against defaulting faculty.  In fact, Vidyadhar noted, whatever action had been taken compromised the integrity of the academic programme of the institute.
He mentioned the unethical practices in the classroom, of taking attendance and telling students to go and study on their own, using the register then to prove lectures were actually taken. Vidyadhar told Dr. Parasuraman in his measured tone that there was a complete lack of transparency in communication, decision-making processes, formation of committees, and other administrative matters; and that decisions on important academic matters were communicated to most faculty post-facto, if at all.

In what can only be termed a rigorously honest debriefing to one’s superior, Vidyadhar duly communicated the perceptions of both students and faculty that deputy director, Virginius Xaxa was partial towards certain faculty members; that there was a crisis of leadership in running the academic programme on sound lines, and in setting up transparent and fair systems and processes in the Guwahati campus.

He also sounded the warning notes that such a review be conducted ensuring absolute confidentiality to the students as well as faculty, since there was a genuine and strong fear that complaints against specific faculty were not entertained, and that the students or faculty who raised their voices on these issues were either belittled or victimised.

His concluding paragraph ought to have convinced Dr. Parasuraman that Vidyadhar had no personal axes to grind.

“Given that the academic programme at TISS Guwahati is in its first year,” Vidyadhar told Dr. Parasuraman, “and that decisions taken at this stage will have a bearing on the future course of the new campus, sorting out the above issues expeditiously is essential for the healthy growth of the institution”.

Dr. Parasuraman as he did later with great alacrity, sometimes even within the hour when he was issuing instructions to his IT managers to block Vidyadhar and a few others from using the intranet facilities for instance, did not respond.

Matters on campus however continued to fester with students on the Guwahati campus stonewalled by the deputy director in Guwahati, silence from Mumbai, and students complaining, as is their right, to faculty whom they respected.

Should we write to the director too, they asked. Faculty told them it was their right to do so, but refused to conceive, draft, edit or even read such a complaint before it went out. When this student’s letter did go out though, the what-you-may-call-it hit the fan.

More pertinently, germane in fact to what happened, is for us to consider and put on the backburner for now, the fact that we may just not be equipped to take criticism from students or those younger, and maybe that’s our real flaw – that we don’t even think twice of evaluating, assessing, grading and damning students every bloody day if we could but baulk at the thought of them doing the same thing to us…

It is tragic, as we shall see, that this poor kid who had the guts to put his neck on the line, who was doing his master’s in ecology, environment and sustainable development, has also had his spirit destroyed by something as simple as a lack of due process, and a total breach of confidentiality. His letter in fact must be seen in its entirety because its sincerity is palpable. It also provides empirical evidence to what Vidyadhar had already communicated in more general terms.

Even though a kangaroo enquiry is now in progress, names of both student and faculty have been deleted and his letter appears as it went out, warts and typos and all:

He titled his subject line: Attn Prof. Parsuraman: Student grievances for your kind consideration (TISS – Guwahati), and went on to write:

“Dear Prof. S. Parsuraman,

“Greetings Sir! Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is ******* and I am a student of MA in at the TISS – Guwahati campus.

“Sir, I am writing this letter to you to express before you my grievances (which are also generally felt by other students) regarding the conduct of the course as well as the overall academic atmosphere at TISS Guwahati Campus. I write to you as a student in distress as well as; as a well-wisher of the institute seeking for your kind intervention and help.

“Sir, please find below some of the important issues concerning the students regarding the manner in which some of the courses have been conducted and also regarding the overall atmosphere at the institute. The main issues revolve around how the courses have been conducted by Prof. ************* and Prof. ********** and also aspects considering conflict resolution by the deputy director – Prof. Virginius Xaxa

“The first and foremost thing that I would like to bring to your notice is the sheer lethargy with which the course on Common Property Resources and Ethno ecology has been conducted. This course is shared by ******, *****  and ***** Out of the allotted 30 hours of mandatory teaching hours, Prof. ***** conducted only 12 hours of teaching during the second semester. Prof. ****and Prof. **** did complete their 30 hours and 8 hours of teaching hours. But here I would like to bring to your notice that Prof. ***** has regularly been late at reaching to the class and classes which are supposed to begin by 9.30 am usually start by 9.45 or as late as 10 am and the classes are always interrupted with his cell phone ringing invariably. Here I would like to mention that the students are very happy with the way Prof. ***** has conducted her classes and we have no complaints regarding her teaching.

“Though Prof. ***** did conduct his 30 hours of teaching in the semester there have been serious problems with his teaching methodologies. The entire topic of biodiversity was taught using a single chapter from a single textbook called ‘Ecology and Environment’ by P.D Sharma. Apart from this particular chapter in biodiversity from the book mentioned; Prof **** distributed 4 other papers on some aspects of biodiversity; but vital topics like measurement of biodiversity, topics on scientific measures of conservation have not been taught. I find myself inadequately equipped on this topic and I fear this would eventually affect my future research pursuits and employability on the whole.

“Also there have been serious flaws on the front of field works. During the second semester we just had one field work to a place called Chandubi apparently to understand issues of ecotourism and man-elephant concept. The very unplanned and mismanaged nature of the field trip eventually brought it down to being a mere ‘picnic’. Along with the disastrous field work where the students learn ‘nothing’ (which also  meant monetary loss for the students as well as the institute) there were a range of other interpersonal issues (some leading to gender issues) among students were fuelled as well as mishandled by Prof. ***** post-field trip.

“Sir, the above mentioned points which I am raising here; I have personally talked about each of these to Prof Xaxa. Also Prof Xaxa had talked to the entire batch (all 20 students of EESD) about these issues and had promised us ‘confidentiality’ as well as ‘action’ of these issues. Raising of these issues before him led to a series of faculty meetings at the institute which gave us hope that something positive would come out of this. But on Monday April 1, there was a sudden turn of events that left us students shocked and we felt betrayed. Prof. Xaxa conducted a meeting of the students with the entire faculty bringing up the issues in an open forum. The students (who were hand-picked by Prof Xaxa) were asked (almost forced) to talk in front of all the professors the issues concerning us and thus murdering the very idea of ‘confidentiality’ and betraying our trust in him.
“The nature of the conduct of the meeting between the students and the staff exposed a series of biases that are taking roots in the institute.

“First Prof. Xaxa through his very mild (in)action seems to be shielding Prof ****** on his lethargy who is conspicuously known as his ‘son’ at the institute.

“Also the closeness and consequent shielding was very evident among the Assamese professors – i.e. between Prof. *****, Prof. **** and Prof. **** and this is an evidence of the bias that these professors have against the so called mainland students which has been seen at various occasions.

“It was also a surprise to hear Prof Xaxa defending Prof. **** not taking classes as his mistake to apply the pedagogy used for M.Phil or PhD students at the MA level!
“The entire method conflict resolution adopted by Prof Xaxa and his intent to maintain ‘transparency’ and ‘fairness’ are seriously doubtful as this is embedded in a certain politics of regionalism and favouritism.

“Things have not much changed after all these processes and representations made by the students. Prof. ***** eventually conducted 4 hours of classroom teaching to cover the issues of CPR where still many issues remain uncovered. In fact I wonder if there is any particular syllabus that he is following as he keeps asking students what topics we want to be covered instead of him following a structured syllabus and topics!

“Prof. ***** still does not seem to indicate his intentions to cover any of the vital issues on the subject of biodiversity as he still asks students to make presentations on national parks in India!!!

“Dear Sir, I would be very grateful to you if you could please look into these issues as they have been suffocating us a lot for the past few days and I seek for your kind intervention and help. I also would be very grateful to you if you please keep my communication with you on this matter confidential as I fear vindictive behaviour from the concerned staff at the institute here.”
(Letter ends)

When you read that letter, you ought to ask yourself why matters couldn’t have ended right there and then, with the student’s letter the palimpsest over which you make sense of Vidyadhar’s earlier letter. Yet, within two hours of mailing out his letter, after expressly requesting strict confidentiality, Dr. S. Parasuraman, director, TISS, Mumbai, forwarded the student’s complaint to Dr. Virginius Xaxa, deputy director, TISS, Guwahati.

The student, terrified, mentioned this to at least three faculty members. He had reason to be scared. The next working day, April 8, Virginius Xaxa had a private discussion with the student who wrote the letter, then spoke to the class for three hours. Supposedly with the permission of the student who wrote it, he read the letter aloud. The students were then made to offer apologies to faculty mentioned in the student’s complaint letter.

This is when things get different from being sacked over the telephone by the Proprietor of an International School in Bangalore.

Vidyadhar followed due process again. He sent a mail that night to the larger TISS community with reference to the abuse of power shown and indeed, the totally unethical breach of student confidentiality.

These are the mails that then make up the heart of the correspondence that I have argued be made public. From here on, matters slide quite rapidly…
Vidyadhar and now, his spouse, Mariette Correa both had their email IDs on the TISS server blocked from the afternoon of April 9, 2013.
That night too, the student was made to write a brief letter to the director and deputy director apologizing, whereupon the director, TISS, Mumbai, magnanimously pardoned him, copying the email to Vidyadhar and Mariette.

The next day the student was tutored to write another letter stating he had been misguided and misled by Prof. Gadgil to whom he had shown the draft of his letter.  Dr. S. Parasuraman promptly gave instructions to send this across to TISS faculty listed on the server.

Sitting in Mumbai, not having visited the Guwahati campus since July 2012 when the academic programme began, Dr. Parasuraman was not to know that the student was forced into hiding for some days, wanted by those who complained in the first place and were now in trouble, and others, because he had falsely implicated Vidyadhar. When he did come back, he was always accompanied by a faculty member. Will this be a blight he now carries for the rest of his life?

There are several words that come to mind if one wishes the synonyms for this attitude displayed by the director of TISS, Mumbai, Dr. S. Parasuraman, and his deputy in Guwahati, Dr. Virginius Xaxa. ‘Autocratic’, ‘dictatorial’, ‘authoritarian’, ‘domineering’ and ‘arrogant’ all come readily to mind.

The word ‘farcical’ however, springs when you think of the panel intended to investigate matters on campus between April 25 and today, April 27, 2013, opaquely set up by the director TISS, Mumbai whose own role in this episode must be put first under scrutiny.

Students on the Guwahati campus got to hear about his panel on their notice board; informed that a team of senior faculty from TISS, Mumbai were visiting and would like to meet them. Did Dr. S. Parasuraman, and his deputy director and the panel not know that examinations at Guwahati would get over on April 26, and most students leave that very evening itself?

Faculty in TISS Guwahati received a mail from the deputy director’s research assistant saying very much the same thing and to keep themselves available for a meeting. No mention of a review, no mention of any terms of reference.

Interesting too, that the so-called review is being conducted after all dissenting voices have been silenced.  From the time he sent his first mail out protesting Dr, S, Parasuraman’s breach of the student’s confidentiality, Vidyadhar’s right to reply within TISS were denied to him. Given the age we live in, that information, thankfully, did go out.

Now matters become so pitiable, it could be any one of our governments at state or centre covering up one of the many scams. By the evening of April 11, both Vidyadhar and Mariette received letters terminating their appointment with immediate effect, with no explanation given, and instead some vague references made to an earlier letter of April 9 terminating their services – which they only got several days later after specifically asking to see it.

Not only was the project they administered closed, citing some bureaucratic nicety, the appointments of the rest of the project staff , one project officer and three administrative staff were also terminated on April 9 without even the one-month notice period as per their contract.

The closure of the project is the main reason cited for getting rid of two or three unnecessarily troublesome faculty who were there in the best traditions of TISS Mumbai. Had the project come to its natural and full closure, Vidyadhar and Mariette would have wound things up by the end of May, and both ready to move to Hyderabad, closer to where their children go to school, primed perhaps for a new adventure.

I ask Mariette in one of my mails to give me the names of TISS alumni that graduated with her and Vidya and she gives me a random list of six or seven, and why don’t I find it surprising that two of them are really well known to me – and this is without knowing that they also know Mariette and Vidya.
If you knew TISS from the late 70s because of people you knew who went there, or other people who knew them and knew you and told you about them, and if you sat down and seriously searched for your memories, say in a village bar, you would be surprised just how much is thrown up.

You would get Medha Patkar from the NBA and Brian Lobo and Pradeeep Prabhu of the Kashtakari Sanghatana, whom you would have met and are, in any case, better known. By the time you have finished your second and ready to head home though, even later, climbing the hill back, you end up with close to fifty people you know who are TISS alumni. They’re the kind of people whose names I see in my inbox I am going to click on them. I’d do this because I know they are people, even in the thick of the shit happening around us, who still walk the talk.

Maybe somebody should tell Drs. Parasuraman and Xaxa that TISS is a ‘brand’. You don’t even have to write ‘Tata Institute of Social Sciences’ and then put TISS in parenthesis. You just write TISS. Everyone knows what that is.

That, when you cut through the faff, is what ‘brand’ means, a quality or even edge for which a business house, say the Tata’s would pay serious money to build. Unlike the imperatives that dog business however, TISS as a brand was created by concerned faculty, students and alumni, and that you cannot buy.
Dr. Parasuraman, unfortunately, as too many ageing administrators, perhaps even many heads of government departments, appears to want, above all, to keep matters on an even keel and ensure that the boat is not rocked. What happens after he retires is the other guy’s problem. He’ll take his benefits, his perks, and his whatever, and go for evening walks with his dog.

He prattled at some length about “disturbing the academic environment” in one of his mails.
Vidya’s colleague Uma, in one of her responses asked him what this really meant. Would protest on the streets tomorrow against state oppression also come under disturbing the academic environment? She also asked him whether it was a teacher’s duty to support students who came to them with their problems, of whatever nature? Or were they to just turn a blind eye?

Most pertinent though are her remarks that take us back to the opening paragraph of this posting, namely, the right of the young to speak because it is our need to hear them.
Is suggesting a standard procedure to be followed, she asked Dr. S. Parasuraman, as indeed seen in both Vidyadhar’s and the student’s first letters in early April, a “disturbance to the academic environment” as he referred to it or, on the contrary, the only means to protect this? It is quite likely that Dr. S. Parasuraman, as many other teachers in our schools and colleges too, have not realized that dissent too, is something students need to be tutored in. Or maybe they know that too well…
By the time you read this, Dr. S. Parasuraman’s panel will have met; rubber stamped some papers, and fully exonerated him and his deputy director of all blame, wrongdoing, and whatever, when any tin-pot marketing executive in Tata’s would tell him this is a sure-fire way of severely diminishing a ‘brand’ .

From the Village of Moira, Goa, April 27, 201

 

Safdar Hashmi And The Theatre Scene #sundayreading


 

pic courtsey- Jan Natya Manch

By Vidyadhar Date

12 April, 2013
Countercurrents.org

April 12 marks the birth anniversary of Safdar Hashmi, the radical theatre actor, who was murdered by Congress supporting goons near Delhi in 1989 during a street theatre performance. The day is observed as the national street theatre day.

That brings back some memories. Some time ago in Mumbai a police vehicle came along and asked a cobbler sitting on the footpath to get out as a so-called VIP motorcade was arriving. Surprisingly, the tone was not very rude but the order to him was undemocratic enough.

Obviously, all oppressive ruling classes are afraid of common people . In the very first scene in Shakespeare’s play Julius Ceasar, Flavius shouts at common people, calling them idle creatures. Imperial Ceasar is about to arrive in a triumphant procession.. Later, Flavius talks of driving away the poor from the streets, calling them vulgar.

A cobbler in the crowd is more than match for the arrogant Flavius. When confronted he describes himself as a surgeon of old shoes, a mender of bad soles. I can mend you, he says.

The system is trying to make the poor invisible, trying to drive them away in real life and in the media. In the numerous sickening television serials dominated completely by vulgar, selfish, consumerism-obsessed upper class, even the domestic worker is banished. As if this parasitical class does not depend on the toiling people.

The question is where can the lives of the poor be reflected in this set up ? They have to create their own spaces, their own plays, their own writers. The issue unfolded the same evening as the President’s motorcade when I attended the release of a book on street theatre written by Avinash Kadam and presided over by reputed film and stage director Dr Jabbar Patel at Bhupesh Gupta Bhavan at Prabhadevi.

Kadam has done remarkable service with his book giving a lot of information and some really satirical, comic and serious scripts. The book appropriately has on its cover a painting done by M.F. Husain on the killing of actor-director activist Safdar Hashmi .

The street theatre is truly a democratic theatre, it is performed free, in fact it invites the people to see the performance , it asserts its right to a public space and it gives voice to people’s problems generally in a highly entertaining way. Quite a few of these grow as part of people’s struggles and campaigns.

The Marathi theatre is the most vibrant theatre in the country but not every body is happy with the state of affairs.We have not created a single major playwright after Vijay Tendulkar, declared Premamand Gajwi, himself a radical dalit playwright, in Mumbai some time ago.

He said Tendulkar questioned the establishment and paid the price for his rebellion. There has been no real challenge to the establishment since Tendulkar, we have failed to tackle themes like the plight of Muslims and the attack on the World Trade Centre, Gajwi said.

Dr Shreeram Lagoo, eminent actor said in 1973 he was already a big name in theatre but when he approached producers with G.P. Deshpande’s significant play Udhwasta Dharmashala no producer was ready to take it because it did not have the commercial element.. Ultimately, Lagoo and others themselves did the play brilliantly at Chhabildas experimental theatre in 1974. I still remember the production showing the tragedy of a radical professor who is subjected to an inquiry by the university because of his radical views.

Mr G.P. Deshpande said that though Marathi drama had much a much bigger impact nationally than the Marathi novel, Marathi drama was not given enough importance in the literary discourse. Presidential addresses at Marathi sahitya sammelans sometimes did not even refer to Marathi drama.

Playwright Shafaat Khan said we are in such a situation that our grandmother’s fairy tales sound true today but real stories in theatre and television sound fake.

Last year I spent a lot of my own money to participate in a seminar on theatre spaces at the famed Ninasam, drama theatre complex, in a rural area in Shimoga district in Karnataka.

This seminar in Karnataka was different. It was held in very basic, simple surroundings. Most of the complex which includes drama theatres and training institute, does without fans and I heard that fans were specially installed in the campus for the first time in its history for our benefit of the seminar.

The participants including many Westerners and reputed Indian theatre personalities,who ate simple but tasty vegetarian meals served by a very courteous staff.

Ninasam is a very innovative, democratic venture. Set up by Kannada theatre personality Subanna half a century ago and nurtured by stalwalrts like Sivaram Karanth , it has brought serious international theatre and cinema to villagers. Villagers enjoy the best of Shakespeare and Satyajit Ray and De Sica, locally trained young students enact plays like Chekhov’s Seagull in Kannada with a lot of innovation. The barrier between the audience and spectators is broken. One day we saw an enactment of Chekhov’s Cherry Orchard in which we shifted our chairs between scenes, we sat on the other side of the theatre and so it was clean, good enjoyment.

Ninasam is set amidst greenery near Sagar town in Karnataka in one of the nicest areas in the country. I had a lovely journey from Honavar in coastal Karnataka by bus to Sagara, past the famaous Jog falls.

The odd part of the seminar was that much of the deliberation was submerged in so much bombast and jargon that I came away in dismay after two days instead of the scheduled five days. I had to cancel my train reservation and spend more money in the process. Over the years, I have heard so much highfalutin nonsense at seminars that I am now losing my patience. But this is not something that bothers me at a personal level only. What should bother all of us is the tremendous national waste of resources that these seminars involve. So much needless expense, especially when the seminars are heavily sponsored with air travel, accommodation in luxury hotels, lavish meals and so on and often the quality of deliberations is quite mediocre. There are a few seminas organized at a low cost as the one organized by geography scholar Swapna Banerjee Guha at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences a few years ago. The discussions were held in class rooms, so no expenditure on air conditioning and every one paid for his or her own lunch in the food stalls in the complex. We desperately need to transform the whole seminar culture. I am against compulsion and censorship but there is really a serious need to ask some of the academics to just shut up for some time and start speaking in a language which people can understand. Leftists are not free from the sin of talking in a high flown language with jargon. I remember a short story by left wing writer Ranganayakamma in which a sympathetic court acquits some armed revolutionaries of the charge of violence but convicts them for another offence – speaking in a language which people cannot understand.

Veteran theatre critics Rustom Bharucha and Sadanand Menon expressed serious reservations over the languge of the presentations of the Ninasam seminar. It is true that some of the presenters were highly talented people but what is the use of all the intelligence if one cannot communicate with common people and when one is in the field of communication ?

Vidyadhar Date is a senior journalist and author of the book Traffic in the era of climate change. Walking, cycling, public transport need priority.

 

Socio Economic Profile of Muslims in Maharashtra- A Study


An Overview By-Prof. Vibhuti Patel

 

Maharashtra’s multicultural milieu is marked by crucial contribution made by Muslims. The Sachar Committee Report, 2006 stated that the condition of Muslim in Maharashtra demands special attention of the state where the Muslim members are the biggest religious minority. Seven surveys commissioned by the Maharashtra State Minority Commission to Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) , Nirmala Niketan’s College of Social Work of Mumbai University and Research Centre for Women’s Studies of SNDT Women’s University that were submitted in 2011 discovered that a very large proportion of Muslims live in very dismal economic conditions. Nearly 1/3rd of the respondents in the TISS research reported an annual household income of less than Rs.10,000, 24.4% between Rs. 10,001-Rs.20,000, 7.5% between Rs.20,001-Rs.30,000, 3.8% between Rs.30,0001-Rs.40,000, 1% between Rs.40,001-Rs.50,000 and 5.6% above Rs.50,000. In the 21st century, limited occupational diversification is noticed among educated middle class Muslims in the cities of the state due to new openings in IT and construction industry.
As per the census 2011, Maharashtra’s Parbhani and Nanded districts had 30% Muslim population and Malegaon and Bhiwandi were Muslim majority Cities. Mumbra and Kashi Mira in thane district are emerging as new hub for economic activities, technical education institutions and community work among Muslims. In Malegaon block of Nashik district, highest percentage of Muslim community is to be found (42.5 %) as a proportion to the total population followed by Bhiwandi in Thane (35.8 %), Nanded (26.5 %), Aurangabad (25.5 %) and Parbhani (25.1 %). Marathwada as a region had a late integration and betrays a story of neglect. In Malegaon of Nashik district Muslims are mainly concentrated in the urban area (70.96%) as compared to rural areas of Malegaon (3.6%). Among the tehsils, highest percentage of Muslim community is found in Shrivardhan tehsil of Raigarh district (20.26%),and nearly similar in percentages in both the rural and urban areas. In Vidarbha region, in Akola, Yavatmal and Amaravati Muslims constitute 8.3% of the total population.

Work and Employment Profile

In a state level survey by the Minority Commission in 2011, it was found that nearly 32.4 per cent of Muslims reported as being ‘a worker’ as compared to 42.5 per cent of total population in the state. Among Muslims the work participation rate was reported higher among men (49.97 %) as compared to women (12.67 %). Muslims in rural Maharashtra reported nearly 38.12 per cent as worker as compared to 29.97 per cent in urban areas. Among Muslim men not much difference was observed in rural and urban areas as compared to Muslim women population. Nearly one forth of Muslims women living in rural areas reported as workers, while it was only 6.3 per cent in urban areas.
Among Muslims in Maharashtra, nearly 70.7 per cent engaged in category of work activities such as semi skilled and skilled informal sector work such as carpentry, masonry, electrician, plumber, mechanic, manual labour, coolie job, solid waste management, butchery, weaving, beadwork, jari and embroidery work, tailoring, hawking, petty trade, pulling cycle rickshaws and handcarts, driving four wheelers and heavy vehicles ; nearly 8 per cent as cultivators, mainly small and marginal farmers; 17.6 per cent as agricultural labourers and 3.6 per cent in household industry. The proportion of Muslim population involved in cultivation and agricultural activities is lesser than their counterparts in Hindu as well as total population in Maharashtra, however, Muslim’s involvement in household industry and other category of activities is higher than them. In rural areas a higher percentage of Muslim population has reported as agricultural laborers as compared to Hindu population, while the proportion of Hindu population reported as cultivators is more than double than the Muslim population.

Nearly 44 per cent of Muslim women workers reported as agricultural labourers, and their proportion in rural areas is 61.6 per cent. Among Muslim population, the involvement in other category of activities is higher among men as compared to women, in both rural and urban areas. It should be noted that nearly 70 per cent of Muslim population in the state of Maharashtra is found in urban areas where non-agricultural activities dominate.

Unemployment:

Census collects data on persons seeking or available for work among non workers. In 2001 census, those who reported as marginal worker were also asked about seeking or available for work. About 39.9 per cent marginal workers among Muslim community in rural areas reported as seeking/available for work. Among Muslim non-workers, nearly 6 percent reported as ‘job seekers’ in rural areas. The age wise job seekers were highest in 20-24 years followed by 15-19 and 25-29 years. Thus unemployment among Muslim youth is a most challenging problem faced by the state. In urban areas, Muslim job seekers among marginal and non-workers were little higher as compared to rural areas. The age specific rate of job seekers among marginal workers was observed much higher level as compared to non-workers. Muslim men were found to be actively seeking /available for work in higher percentage than their women counterparts.

As per NSS 61st Round in 2004-05, unemployment rate was found much higher in urban areas with wider difference by gender and community. Muslim men reported nearly two times higher unemployment than their Hindu counterparts. The unemployment rate was higher in urban areas for both men and women as compared to rural areas.

Pattern of Landholding

In the NSS 60th round in 2004 in which information on land cultivated was collected revealed that ‘having no cultivable land’ percentage was much higher among Muslim household in Maharashtra as compared to their situation in the rest of India. From 1993-94 to 2004-05 the situation remained similar. In 2007-08, land possession data showed that Muslim household possessed less land or no land in higher proportion than Hindu households. In urban areas possession of land was much less.

Housing:

In Greater Mumbai (NFHS 2 and NFHS 3) and Nagpur (NFHS 3) data were collected from slum and non-slum areas. Both survey clearly show that Muslim household in these districts were living in much higher percentage in slum areas as compared to Hindu and Christian households. Large majority of Muslims in Bhivandi, Mumbai, Malegaon and over 40 towns declared as minority population concentrated, live in ghettos without basic amenities such as safe drinking water, electricity, toilets, proper roads, closed gutters. The ghettoization is detrimental to the long term well-being of the community as well as for national integration. Very small percentage of other minority groups lives in slums. It indicates that majority of Muslim in the cities in Maharashtra is mostly engaged in the low paying skilled, semi skilled or unskilled jobs owing to their low educational qualifications.

Migration

As per NSS data of 2007-08, 84.5 per cent women in rural areas and 65.7 per cent in urban areas reported marriage as reason for their migration. The family migration in urban areas is second most dominating reason among females. Among men, economic reason was most dominating reason for migration as reported by nearly 53 per cent in rural and 73 per cent in urban areas. Migration due to education was reported by little higher percentage in urban areas as compared to rural areas. Migration among Muslims women due to economic reasons was reported by about 1.5 per cent in rural areas and 3.5 per cent in urban areas. Bank loans
The reluctance of banks to grant loans to Muslims is another factor for their economic backwardness. In all studies commissioned by the Minority Commission, the respondents have stated that in most cases, banks are biased, and there are no well-defined and objective criteria for rejecting loan applications of Muslims resulting into arbitrariness, bureaucratic bungling, corruption and leakage. The average amount of loans banks disbursed to the Muslims is found to be lower than the one given to other minorities, especially Buddhists and Sikhs.


Socio -economic Infrastructure

Muslims in Maharashtra are a highly deprived community in terms of several socio-economic indices. Their employment pattern is highly skewed towards lower level activities in the tertiary sector with hardly any occupational mobility. The access of Muslims to bank credit is low and inadequate; the community has one of the lowest monthly per capita expenditure (MPCE), and lowest representation in the public sector employment. In response to persistent exclusion of Muslims from development efforts, the Ranganath Mishra Commission Report (2007) had asked for 10% reservation for Muslims in central and state government jobs and 6% within OBC quotas for Muslim OBCs, and the inclusion of Muslim and Christian dalits in the scheduled castes list and Equal Opportunities Commission to be set up expeditiously. But these recommendations are yet to be implemented. Muslim communities throughout the state have complained that to avail any government scheme, agents charge Rs. 1000/- for fulfillment of formalities/paper work and if the amount is granted by the state, they disappear with money. Hence it is important to monitor the implementation of the schemes thro’ voluntary organizations/NGOs/potential beneficiaries. The Muslim community lags behind severely in political representation. The number of Muslim MLAs is 5. The number of Muslim MLCs is 11. Representation of Muslims in Indian Administrative Services has been less than 1% for the last three decades. The number of Muslims in Maharashtra cadre IAS in 2011-12 is one among total 288 IAS officers. One Muslim officer resigned in July 2011. The sanctioned strength for IAS officers is 350 – there is a shortfall of 62 officers in the cadre. In 2010-11, there were 2 Muslim officers out of total strength of 350. In 2009-2010 also there were 2 Muslims out of 340 IAS officers’ posts. The number in the IPS is 4 out of 203 officers in 2011. The sanctioned cadre strength for police officers in Maharashtra state is 302.

Head if Department of Economics, SNDT Women’s University, Mumbai-400020
E mail: Vibhuti.np@gmail.com

Download Full Study here

#India -Lack of safeguards in ID cards questioned #UID #Aadhaar


Lack of safeguards in ID cards questioned

Data base of 1.2b people’s fingerprints and iris scans has never been created

    • By Pamela Raghunath, Correspondent,Gulf news
    •  March 18, 2013

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today directed the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) and central government to decide within three months on a representation questioning the lack of safeguards in the Aadhar card and Unique Identity Number (UID).

The court was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Vickram Krishna, Kamayani Bali Mahabal, human rights activist, Yogesh Pawar, journalist, Dr Nagarjuna G., and Professor R. Ramkumar, Tata Institute of Social Sciences. The PIL was filed to challenge the government notification of January 29, 2009 that created the UIDAI, an agency established under the aegis of the Planning Commission to issue UIDs to every Indian citizen.

Advocate for the petitioners, Mihir Desai, told the court that there were serious concerns on the issue of safety systems, privacy and security of the people. A data base of this scale of 1.2 billion people’s fingerprints and iris scans has never been created. Thus, the entire proposition for a population base such as India is completely untested and unproven. The ID system in UK ID Cards’ non-duplication was entirely scrapped. It is estimated that approximately five per cent of any population has unreadable fingerprints, either due to scars, ageing or illegible prints. In the Indian environment, experience has shown that the failure to enrol is as high as 15 per cent due to the prevalence of a huge population dependent on manual labour.

“We, therefore, ask that the project be halted; a feasibility study done covering all aspects of this issue,” urges the PIL.

The Standing Committee of the Parliamentary Report has found the project to be “full of uncertainty in technology as the complex scheme is built upon untested, unreliable technology and several assumptions”. The PIL has held that this is of serious concern given the project is about fixing identity through the use of technology, especially biometrics.

Advocate Desai argued that the UID was promoted as a “voluntary entitlement”. Now, people are being threatened that they cannot access any services or institutions unless they are enrolled for a UID. The petition submitted stated the enrolment for Aadhar is working on an extremely fast pace and that it has become impossible to avoid attempts at enrolment.

The petitioners have submitted that such mandatory, non-voluntary and coercive enrolment for Aadhaar is an affront to their personal integrity, right to make decisions about themselves and the right to dignity enshrined in the Right to Life under Article 21 of the Constitution. The PIL has also indicated that the Supreme court of India has repeatedly upheld the right to privacy within the right to life in Article 21 and any restriction must be justified through rational and reasonable statutory procedure.

 

Dear Sisters (and brothers ?) at Harvard #mustread #Vaw #justiceverma


FEBRUARY 20, 2013

Letter from some Indian feminists to their siblings at Harvard

We’re a group of Indian feminists and we are delighted to learn that the Harvard community – without doubt one of the most learned in the world – has seen fit to set up a Policy Task Force entitled ‘Beyond Gender Equality’ and that you are preparing to offer recommendations to India (and other South Asian countries) in the wake of the New Delhi gang rape and murder. Not since the days of Katherine Mayo have American women – and American feminists – felt such a concern for their less privileged Third World sisters. Mayo’s concern, at that time, was to ensure that the Indian State (then the colonial State) did not leave Indian women in the lurch, at the mercy of their men, and that it retained power and the rule of the just. Yours, we see, is to work towards ensuring that steps are put in place that can help the Indian State in its implementation of the recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee, a responsibility the Indian State must take up. This is clearly something that we, Indian feminists and activists who have been involved in the women’s movement here for several decades, are incapable of doing, and it was with a sense of overwhelming relief that we read of your intention to step into this breach.

You might be pleased to know that one of us, a lawyer who led the initiative to put pressure on the Justice Verma Committee to have a public hearing with women’s groups, even said in relief, when she heard of your plans, that she would now go on holiday and take a plane ride to see the Everest. Indeed, we are all relieved, for now we know that our efforts will not have been in vain: the oral evidence provided by 82 activists and organizations to the Justice Verma Committee – and which we believe substantially contributed to the framing of their report – will now be in safe American hands!

Perhaps you are aware that the Indian State has put in place an Ordinance on Sexual Assault that ignores many recommendations of the Justice Verma Committee? If not, we would be pleased to furnish you a copy of the Ordinance, as well as a chart prepared by us, which details which recommendations have been accepted and which not. This may be useful in your efforts to advise our government. One of the greatest things about sisterhood is that it is so global, feminism has built such strong international connections – such that whenever our first world sisters see that we are incapable of dealing with problems in our countries, they immediately step in to help us out and provide us with much needed guidance and support. We are truly grateful for this.

Perhaps you will allow us to repay the favour, and next time President Obama wants to put in place legislation to do with abortion, or the Equal Rights Amendment, we can step in and help and, from our small bit of experience in these fields, recommend what the United States can do.

Vrinda Grover (mere lawyer)

Mary E. John, Senior Fellow, Centre for Women’s Development Studies, New Delhi

Kavita Panjabi, Professor of Comparative Literature, Jadavpur University, Kolkata

Shilpa Phadke, Assistant Professor, School of Media and Cultural Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mubmai

Shweta Vachani, Senior Editor, Zubaan

Urvashi Butalia, Director, Zubaan

And many others.

PRESS RELEASE-Police Complaint regardingg burning of houses in Bijapur #Chhattisgarh #mustshare


Police complaint  submitted in the Gangalur police station on 1 February 2013 regarding the burning of houses and destruction of household items in Pidiya village (Bijapur block, Bijapur district) by a large contingent of police force that stayed in the village from 21-23 January 2013.

 

 

Police Station In-charge

Gangalur police station

Gangalur village

Bijapur, Chhattisgarh

 

Friday, 1 February 2013

7.45 pm.

 

Respected Sir,

1.  I am a researcher and honorary professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bombay. I have spent the last two days visiting Pidiya village (Pidiya panchayat), Bijapur block, Bijapur district.

2. During my visit, I found that a large contingent of police force came to this village on 21 January. From the direction the force came, the villagers estimate that they came from Gangalur and Basaguda police stations. Seeing the forces come, most villagers ran to the forests. Force stayed in the village for two days (21, 22 January). They left on 23 January at around 4 pm.

3. In the duration the police force stayed in the village they burnt houses in 4 hamlets. These hamlets are: Maragudem (8 houses, 9 huts); Pantamuram (1 house, 1 hut); Oyampara (6 houses, 2 huts) and Kuppapara (2 houses, 2 huts). I have seen all the houses. In total, 17 houses and 14 huts were burnt.

4. 19 villagers have suffered losses. In the case of 5 persons only their household belongings were destroyed (or taken). In the case of 14 others their houses were burnt along with all their belongings. These household items included:

(i) Food items (unhusked rice, rice, korsa – lentil, tamarind, chillies, salt, turmeric, roots- tubers,  kutki – lentil, barbatti beans, corn, cumin seeds, channa – gram, tora, etc.)

(ii) Agricultural implements (kulhari – axe, hassia – sickle, rope used to tie cows and  bullocks, the mat on which unhusked rice is threshed, etc.)

(iii) Trees (banana trees, mango and lemon saplings)

(iv) Vessels (large vessels such as aluminium or steel gundis and mud handis; cooking    vessels such as aluminium or steel ganjis, etc.)

(v) Clothes (shirts, lungis, children’s’ clothes, etc.)

(vi) Ornaments (nose-studs, neckalace, anklets)

(vii) Money

I have a list of the total losses of each family.

Besides, 2 goats, 63 hens and 59 eggs were also consumed by the police force during their stay in the village. In one instance, when a woman protested on her hen/s being taken, she was paid Rs. 150 by one policeman.

5. A community-run school was burnt. School related items such as books were also burnt or destroyed. The sheet-roof of the school was broken to bits. Holes were made in the large aluminium cooking pots used to cook food for the children and aluminium, steel and mud containers to store water and other things rendering them useless.

In Pidiya, I also met the teacher of a similar community-run ashram school in neighbouring Tumnar village. From him I learnt that the school building as well as items had also been burnt and destroyed by the police force on 21 January, 9.30 am.

6. On 23 January when the police force left the village they took two villagers with them. One of them, a person named Aandha of Idiumpara, was released on 26 January when his family members went to the police station to enquire about him. But nothing was known of the second person, Aavlam Sannu, until this evening. His wife and two other female members of the extended family had come with me today and they were informed [by the ASI] that Aavlam Sannu had been sent to Dantewada prison. He said that the Bijapur police station had sent the information only that morning.

7.  I believe that burning of houses in villages, destroying food and other household items of the public, and other action taken by the police force as elucidated above is against the law. That is why I am writing this complaint. Please admit this as an FIR or register one as per procedure.

Many thanks,

 

Bela Bhatia

Honorary Professor

Tata Institute of Social Sciences

V.N. Purav Marg

Deonar, Bombay – 400 088.

 

[Residential address and telephone numbers were provided on request.]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

* Details contained in Annexure 1 were submitted to the police station the following morning (2 February) on request.

 

 

Annexure 1

 

Names of those whose house/s and huts were burnt with household items

Hamlet Name House Hut
1. Maragudem 1. Aavlam Pandru 2 3
2. Oyam Lakhmu 1
3. Aavlam Lakhmu 1
4. Aavlam Budru 1 3
5. Aavlam Aaiti 1 1
6. Aavlam Podiye (w/o Mangu) 1 1
7. Aavlam Lakhmi 1 1
2. Pantamuram 8. Lekham Sukku 1 1
3. Oyampara 9. Oyam Gubral 2 1
10. Oyam Budhu 1
11. Oyam Chaitu 1 1
12. Oyam Ungu (w/o Lakmu) 2
4. Kuppapara 13. Sodi Hungal 1 1
14. Sodi Mangu 1 1
Total 14 17 14

 

 

Names of those whose household items were destroyed (or taken)

Hamlet Name
1. Pantamuram 1. Lekham Budru
2. Aavlam Kova
3. Lakhmu
2. Oyampara 4. Oyam Bhimal
3. Gaitapara 5. Oyika Mangu
Total 5

 

Total affected persons: 19

Names of those who lost ornaments and money

Hamlet Name Item
1. Ornaments Gaitapara 1. Oyika Mangu Nose-studs (3 pairs)
Silver anklets (1 pair)
2. -na- Necklace
2. Money Oyampara 1. Oyam Gubral Rs.

3000

Maragudem 2. Aavlam Aaiti 2000
3. Aavlam Pandru   300
4. Lekham Budru   300
5. Lekham Sukku   150
Total                                                        5,750

 

#Mumbai- TISS students protest assault on dalit couple #Vaw


 

You must be aware of the case of physical violence on Mr. Vaibhav Ghadage
at Maharashtra’s Satara district. Mr. Vaibhav Ghadage was one of the TISS
alumina (batch – 2008-10). He was allegedly attacked by a group of goons
belonging to particular caste. This attack was in relation with the earlier
case of him being a key witness to his uncle’s murder (Mr. Madhukar) on
April 26, 2007.

The TISS community is deeply disturbed by the brutal assault to one of his
family member. Therefore, we would like to condemn this incident by having
a protest demonstration at Azad Maidan on 4th February 2013. We would also
like to announce the charter of demands that we want, so that justice can
be given to Mr. Vaibhav Ghadage. Along with that this demonstration will
also condemn caste based violence and the inactiveness of the state to
respond to it.

The approximate number of students expected to come for the protest is
around 200 to 300. We will also be joined by some local students and
activists.
Therefore, on behalf of the institute we would like to invite you for the
demonstration. The details of demonstration are given below:

Date: 4th February 2013
Time: 3:00 PM
Venue: Azad Maidan, Mumbai

We will be looking forward for your presence.

Warm regards
Executive Body 2012-13
TISS Students’ Union

Contact details:
Niraj Lakra – 7738551343
Gayatri Balu – 9594580940
Lokapriya P. Kanungo – 7303010325

PRESS RELEASE- Newly Married Dalit Couple brutally assaulted #TISS


FOR IMMEDIATE PRESS RELEASE
NEWLY MARRIED DALIT COUPLE BRUTALLY ASSAULTED
PFA the Fact Sheet and the Detailed Report of the case of Physical Assault of Vaibhav Ghadage, TISS alumnus SW Batch 2010 and his newly wed wife Mohini Ghadage.They were married on the 20th.of January 2013 in Baramati. On the evening of 22nd.January 2013, they were brutally beaten up and left to die by three local goons in Vaibhav’s ancestral village Kulakjai, Maan Taluka, Satara district, Maharashtra.The Ghadge family has lodged an FIR and the police has charge IPC section 394 (robbery) and Section 34(common intent) against the three accused. Vaibhav, with fatal skull injuries and Mohini with injuries all over her body are currently out of danger, although still hospitalized in YNTC, Satara town.
 
Assaulted, near fatally injured, molested, pushed off a cliff and left for dead.
These were definitely not the thoughts that were running through Vaibhav’s and Mohini’s minds before they set out on the evening of January 22, 2013 to their village temple. But these words simply describe what happened to them on that fateful evening, just two days after their much anticipated wedding.
 
The Incident
They were followed by three men on motorcycles as they traveled to the temple situated along the cliffs near Kulakjai Village (Maan Taluka, Satara District, Maharashtra) around 5.30pm. The temple is situated outside the village.  The area is generally deserted. As they finished visiting the temple the three men attacked the newly wedded couple without warning or provocation. Vaibhav and Mohini were taken to edge of the cliffs. There they were beaten repeatedly and assaulted with stones. Mohini was forced by the men to watch as they continued to brutalize Vaibhav. While their phones were taken away, Mohini was forced to hand over all the gold she was wearing. The assaulters then tried to pull her sari off.  She was told that if she did not “cooperate” with them she would have to watch Vaibhav being done to death, and that she would be responsible for that happening. In trying to resist them, she held on to one end of the sari. Vaibhav threw a stone at the one doing this. Following this the man let go of the sari because of which Mohini fell off the cliff from a height of 300 feet and lost consciousness. Thinking her to be dead, they turned their focus completely onto Vaibhav and kept hitting his head with rocks. When it seemed to them that he was passing out to all the injuries, including a serious head injury (later identified as a cracked skull), the three men threw him off the cliff. Believing the couple to be dead, they left the place.
Mohini regained consciousness after about an hour and began climbing up the cliffs. She did this in spite of the serious injuries she had suffered all over her body, in addition to the various internal injuries. Vaibhav, who was slipping in and out of consciousness at that time, was able to call out her a couple of times before passing out completely. This allowed Mohini to find him, who then pulled Vaibhav up to a place of relative safety amongst the cliffs. Upon reaching the top, Mohini was able to make contact with some people living near the temple, with whose help she called her maternal home. They then alerted Vaibhav’s family, who put together a search party to find and rescue him. Vaibhav was found and rescued a couple of hours later and both of them were rushed to the hospital. Vaibhav was admitted to the ICU due the grievous nature of his injuries.
Their condition stabilized only two days after the incident. Vaibhav is at present out of the ICU. Mohini has suffered many internal injuries and is unable to eat solid food to date. An FIR was lodged with the Dahiwada Police Station on January 24, 2013. Statements from Mohini and Vaibhav have been recorded by the police. The police have registered a case of robbery with grievous injury. The couple has identified the perpetrators and one arrest has been made as of January 26, 2013.
 
The Background
While prima facie this incident is being considered as a case of robbery, the magnitude of brutality meted out to Mohini and Vaibhav should force one to examine the larger context of the case in detail. Motive of robbery alone instigating such violence is questionable. Mohini has stated to the police that the men who assaulted them were speaking and laughing to each other before throwing Vaibhav off the cliff. One of them reportedly said, Aata yanchya gharcha dusra gela! (There! One more person of the family is now dead!)” This statement by itself should be seen as one that weakens this case as one of mere robbery. A brief look into the family history will provide further clarity.
Vaibhav’s paternal uncle, Shri Madhukar Ghadage, was murdered in April 2007 over a land dispute with a family belonging to the dominant Mali caste (Kulakjai Village is home to 30 Dalit families, while the rest are Malis). This murder definitely had caste based overtones and the case was registered under the Prevention SC/ST Atrocities Act. Eleven persons were arrested. The prime accused in the murder case, Mr. Bhivaji Kapse, is the maternal cousin of the sitting MLA of Maan, Mr. Jaikumar Gore. Mr. Gore exercises significant clout and influence over government officials in the area. He is known to be close to  Mr Prithviraj Chavan, presently the sitting Chief Minister of Maharashtra. There were many obstructions to the process of investigation in this case which can only be traced back to pressure from higher authorities. Consequently, all the accused were let out on bail by the Sessions Court. The case is presently pending at the High Court with the hearing date yet to be set. Meanwhile all the accused remain to out on bail.
Last year, around October, the farming equipment and fields of the Ghadage family at Kulakjai were sabotaged. This led to the family incurring financial losses. The perpetrators of the farm incident could not be positively identified, though the family has strong suspicions that the family of the prime accused in the murder case is involved.
The prime accused in the Mohini-Vaibhav assault case, Navnath Kapase, is also an accused in the murder of Shri Madhukar Ghadage. He is the son of Bhivaji Kapase (who is the the prime accused in the murder case) and nephew of the MLA, Mr. Jaikumar Gore.
With this background thus established, the alleged motive of robbery in the latest incident of violence on Vaibhav and Mohini comes under serious doubt. The impunity with which Navnath Kapase has dared to commit such a crime while out on bail for murder, should give one further food for thought.
 
Implications
The Ghadage family is in constant fear of further harm befalling them. They are worried about the safety and security of all family members. The social and economic progress of the family has been thwarted at every step. Members of the family are being systematically targeted one after another, at regular intervals. Yesterday it was Shri Madhukar Ghadage and today it is Vaibhav. Tomorrow it could be anyone else in the family. The perpetrators need to get the message that they cannot expect to go scot free for the crimes they commit just because of their upper caste affiliations and the resultant connections in high political places.
 
Action Required
1.      The case is presently been registered under very weak sections in comparison to the nature of crime i.e. sections 394 (robbery) and Section 34 (common intent). Also the caste overtones in the case need to be examined. This incident cannot be considered an event in isolation, but one in a series of actions aimed at systematically disrupting the lives and livelihood of the various members of the Ghadage family in Kulakjai Village.
2.      That this case be brought under the purview of the Prevention of Atrocities Against SC/ST Act.
3.      That the case be registered as one of attempted murder, as the details clearly imply.
4.      It should be ensured that the Investigation Officer and investigation process in the matter of the Mohini-Vaibhav assault is not influenced by politicians.
5.      That the Shri Madhukar Ghadage Murder case pending with the High Court is fast tracked and hearing dates set immediately.
6.      That the bail of all accused in the murder case be cancelled with immediate effect as they are a constant threat to the family, as they have already demonstrated.
7.      That the safety and security of the Ghadage family is ensured at Kulakjai village.
Please contact the following people if you can be of proactive assistance in ensuring justice for this family at the earliest.
Tushar Ghadge – +91 90962 49712 /  +91 75886 96559
Mayank Sinha – +91 80802 67769
The above piece is based on inputs from Tushar Ghadage.

 

Five years after kin murder, Dalit family attacked again, for pursuing justice


ALOK DESHPANDE, The Hindu 29,10213, Mumbai

The ghosts of the past continue to haunt the Ghadges, a Dalit family, of Kulakajai village in Maharashtra’s Satara district. They are still threatened and beaten up by caste Hindus.

The police have refused to invoke the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act against the accused, claiming that the victims did not ask for it.

On January 22, as part of the family tradition, newly wed Vaibhav Diwakar Ghadge, a postgraduate from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), and his wife Shalini (name changed), an M.Com student, went to the Sitamai temple, three km from their village in Man tehsil. Three persons on a motorbike followed them to the temple. One of them was Navnath Kapse, an accused in the case of murder of Vaibhav’s uncle Madhukar and nephew of the local Congress MLA, Jaykumar Gore. Vaibhav is the complainant and only eyewitness in the case.

(On April 26, 2007, Madhukar was brutally murdered by 12 caste Hindu villagers for digging a well on his field. Three years ago, the lower court at Satara acquitted all the accused for lack of evidence. In 2010, the Bombay High Court admitted the appeal of the Ghadge family and is expected to give its ruling soon.)

Navnath and two other unidentified persons attacked the couple at an isolated spot near the temple. At first, Vaibhav was hit with a stone on the head. He fell down unconscious. The one who was holding Shalini demanded that she hand over her jewels and threatened to kill Vaibhav, if she refused. After robbing them, the assailants threw Vaibhav and his wife into a valley, and left them for dead. After some time, Shalini climbed up the hill and approached the nearby hamlet. She rescued her husband with the help of the villagers. Both are being treated at the Yashwant Neurological and Trauma Centre at Satara and said to be out of danger.

The incident occurred in the home district of Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and in the constituency of the Congress MLA.“We are a joint family. After the murder of my father, our family didn’t bow to [the pressure from] the caste Hindus… We continued tilling our land. Though we are Dalits, ours is the most educated family in the village. All my cousins are postgraduates. We consistently pursued our fight for justice, and this does not seem to have gone down well with these people. They want us to withdraw that [murder] case,” said Tushar Ghadge, son of Madhukar and cousin of Vaibhav, who is also a postgraduate from the TISS.

Meanwhile, the police have arrested Navnath on robbery charges. “The accused did not make any casteist remark. How can we book them under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act? The victims did not ask us to charge them under the Act,” said Shahid Pathan, investigating officer of the Dahiwadi station.

But Tushar told The Hindu that the police ‘under pressure from the local MLA’ refused to invoke the Act. “They should also have slapped attempt-to-murder charges. The robbery charge will set them free in a few days,” he said. Navnath has been remanded in police custody till Tuesday. Despite repeated phone calls to Mr. Gore, he was unavailable for comments.

The Ghadge family owns around three acres. Tushar alleged that the caste Hindu families went all out to torture his family and to prevent their farming activity. “They destroyed new machines we brought, began disputing our purchase of new land, threatened us, and once [we] even came to blows.”

Keywords: Kulakajai Dalit family, Maharashtra caste Hindus, crimes against Dalits, India Dalits

 

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