Protest by Omkeshwar Dam affected Oustees


ओम्कारेश्वर बांध : घोघलगाँव में प्रभावितों की सभा और आन्दोलन की घोषणा

Posted by संघर्ष संवाद on शुक्रवार, मई 31, 2013

ओम्कारेश्वर परियोजना प्रभावित गांव घोघलगाँव में 30 मई को हजारों प्रभावितों ने रैली निकालकर आमसभा की. सभा में प्रभावितों हाल ही में राज्य सरकार द्वारा ओम्कारेश्वर प्रभावितों के लिए 212 करोड़ के पुनर्वास पैकज को विस्थापितों के संघर्ष की जीत बताते हुए भूमिहीन प्रभावितों को 2.5 लाख रूपये देने का स्वागत किया. प्रभावितों ने सरकार की किसानो को 2 लाख रूपये प्रति एकड़ देने को पुनर्वास नीति का उल्लंघन बताते हुए उसे अस्वीकार कर दिया. सभा में इंदिरा सागर, महेश्वर आदि बांधों के प्रतिनिधि भी शामिल हुए और सभी ने आगामी 18 जून से भोपाल में हजारों की संख्या में डेरा डालने की घोषणा की.
गत वर्ष के जल सत्याग्रह के लिए प्रसिद्ध ग्राम घोघलगाँव में हजारों प्रभावितों ने गाँव में रैली निकली और सत्याग्रह स्थल पर माँ नर्मदा की अर्चना की. सभी प्रभावितों में जश्न का माहौल था. रैली के बाद सत्याग्रह स्थल पर आमसभा का आयोजन किया गया. सभा को संबोधित करते हुए नर्मदा आन्दोलन के वरिष्ठ कार्यकर्ता श्री आलोक अग्रवाल ने कहा कि सरकार की घोषणा ओम्कारेश्वर बांध प्रभावितों के 7 साल के संघर्ष की जीत है पर यह पूरी नहीं आंशिक जीत है. भूमिहीनों के बारे में हमारी मांग पूरी तरह स्वीकार कर ली गयी है पर किसानो को पुनर्वास नीति के अनुसार न्यूनतम 5 एकड़ जमीन खरीदने के लिए सरकार ने सहायता नहीं देकर न सिर्फ पुनर्वास नीति बल्कि सर्वोच्च न्यायालय के आदेश का भी उल्लंघन किया है. सरकार द्वारा घोषित राशि से किसान किसी भी हालत में जमीन नहीं खरीद सकता है. उन्होंने इस आंशिक जीत के लिए देश- दुनिया से मिले समर्थन और मिडिया द्वारा संवेदना पूर्वक विस्थापितों की आवाज उठाने के लिए धन्यवाद् दिया.
आन्दोलन की प्रमुख कार्यकर्ता सुश्री चित्तरूपा पालित ने कहा सबसे गरीब को सबसे पहले सहायता मिलने से पुरे क्षेत्र में ख़ुशी है. जिस संकल्प और विश्वास से हमने अभी तक अपनी लड़ाई को इस मुकाम तक लाया है उसी के साथ हम अपने जमीन के अधिकार भी लेकर रहेंगे. उन्होंने मांग की कि सरकार भूमिहीनों को बसने के लिए न्यूनतम 6 माह का समय दे.ओम्कारेश्वर बांध प्रभावित श्री मंसाराम ग्राम एखंड, श्री केसरसिंह ग्राम टोकी, सुश्री सकुबाई ग्राम कामनखेड़ा, सुश्री नीलाबाई ग्राम घोघलगाँव ने भूमिहीनों की घोषणा का स्वागत करते हुए किसानो के लिए हुई घोषणा को नकार दिया और घोषणा की कि उनके न्यूनतम 5 एकड़ सिंचित जमीन के अधिकार के लिए वो संघर्ष तेज करेंगे.

इंदिरा सागर परियोजना प्रभावित हरदा जिले के श्री रामविलास राठौर, खंडवा जिले के श्री राजेंद्र पटेल, देवास जिले से श्री ललित आदि ने कहा की इंदिरा सागर बांध के प्रभावितों को भी उनके पुनर्वास के अधिकार न देकर पूरी तरह उजाड़ दिया गया है और आगामी 18 जून से भोपाल में होने वाले “जीवन अधिकार सत्याग्रह में इंदिरा सागर प्रभावित हजारों की संख्या में शामिल होंगे.
महेश्वर परियोजना प्रभावित श्री राधेश्याम भाई और श्री कैलाश पाटीदार ने कहा कि गत 16 साल की लड़ाई के कारण ही महेश्वर बांध प्रभावित उजड़ने से बचे हुए हैं और महेश्वर परियोजनाकर्ता 15% भी पुनर्वास नहीं कर पाया है. उन्होंने घोषणा की कि भोपाल सत्याग्रह में महेश्वर बांध प्रभावित भी हजारों की संख्या में शामिल होंगे.

भोपाल के जीवन अधिकार सत्याग्रह में 18 जून को पूरी ताकत के साथ पहुंचे के संकल्प के साथ सभा का समापन हुआ. भोपाल में ओम्कारेश्वर, इंदिरा सागर, महेश्वर, मान और अपर बेदा बांध के हजारों प्रभावित 18 जून से 22 जून तक 5 दिन का सत्याग्रह व् उपवास करेंगे.

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PRESS RELEASE- WESTSIDE’s Anti-disability, Anti-wheelchair Policy Continues


 

WESTSIDE’s Anti-disability, Anti-wheelchair Policy Continues

 

It is estimated that 15% of the population of India is disabled. A large chunk of them are wheelchair bound. Being bonafide citizens of the nation, it is the duty of the government to take care of them like any other citizens. Though slow on the uptake, the government has been moving in to take the most basic steps beginning with ensuring that all public places like public transport, parks and commercial establishments are accessible to people with disabilities including people on wheelchairs.

 

However, an accident last evening (7th May, 2013) highlights the callous way in which both government laws and public opinions are overlooked and sidestepped by businesses.

 

Malini Chib, my daughter who despite her cerebral palsy has not let that hamper her life garnering two masters degree and writing a best-selling book (One Little Finger), had gone to the Westside store in Fort to do shopping for women’s apparel. Finding no lift for the floor leading to the women’s section, she told her friend: ‘Lets try the escalator’. What she did not realize is that no person on a wheelchair who has problems of balance should do this.

 

The result was expected. Both of them had a massive fall leading to cuts and bruises on Malini’s shoulder, waist and arms. Her friend got her back muscle pulled.

 

This would have just been an unfortunate accident had it not been for two things: one is the law that stipulates that such establishments make their place disabled friendly, and secondly the fact that five years back the ADAPT Rights Group, that works to ensure rights for people with disabilities, had carried out a protest demonstration highlighting this and other issues that goes against the interest of the community of people with disabilities. The demonstration was held to alert Westside to how their international stores were anti-disability. This was followed with lengthy letters written to them about the law and how they can make their place disabled friendly by constructing ramps and lifts for their floor upstairs.

 

Sadly, Westside has continued to blatantly and flagrantly flout the law. My daughter and her friend were lucky to get away with no permanent damage but I dread to think what could have happened. I dread to think what might happen to other people with disabilities that might walk into the store unwittingly. I dread to think of what must be happening to thousands of disabled people across the country in hundreds and thousands of such establishments which show such blatant antipathy towards the disabled population.

 

It is high time that the gravity of the issue be understood and addressed. It is high time that the people responsible in Westside for this travesty of justice be seriously warned so that it becomes a lesson to others concerned.

 

This is in the interest of 15% people of the nation and thus in the interest of the nation itself. 

 

–          Mithu Alur, Founder-Chairperson ADAPT – Able Disabled All People Together (formerly the Spastics Society of India)

 

 

#India- Jammed Wheels #disability #rights


Outlook Magazine | Oct 29, 2012

 

Sanjay Rawat
Disabled girl in a wheelchair crossing the road in New Delhi
rights: disabled people
Jammed Wheels
Out in our streets, disabled people feel the pain everyday

The Gaping Holes

  • India yet to get a cohesive, standardised sign language
  • Barrier-free infrastructure yet to be implemented in public areas like bus stations, railway stations, schools, cinema halls
  • Lack of basic, inclusive civic facilities: no audio-enabled traffic signals, pavements with ramps, few disability-friendly toilets, negligible penalties
  • Poor functional entertainment accessibility, like no subtitling on local language TV channels
  • Reservation for disabled persons in govt posts is 3%, but only 0.5% utilised

***

Most of Ummul Kher’s childhood memories involve incidents of fractures—17 in all, and seven surgeries to fix them. The frequent accidents, spurred by a rare bone disease, had a plus though—it prodded her to deal with her insecurities by taking to books with a zeal never seen before in her family; neither of her parents, from an urban Delhi slum area, had even gone to school. And so she excelled at academics, served as headgirl at school, won numerous scholarships.

Six months ago, though, 22-year-old Ummul’s legs gave way and she landed up in a wheelchair. As a post-graduate student majoring in politics at Delhi’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, Ummul’s affection for books has only grown, except for one detail: a trip to the library, her “favourite” haunt on campus, is barely accessible anymore. “To get to class and the library, I need to take an autorickshaw, which I can’t afford everyday. So I step out of hostel only a few days a month.”


Pol science post-graduate student Ummul Kher’s biggest regret is that she can’t visit the JNU library as often as she wants. (Photograph by Tribhuvan Tiwari)

At the other end of town, in Delhi’s Rohini locality, 19-year-old Riya Gupta feels just as helpless, cooped up in front of the computer all day long. Except for one day a month, when she is driven to a spinal injuries centre which has counselling sessions for quadriplegics like her. An ace swimmer at 13, she was forced into a dive in a shallow swimming pool by her teachers, and that caused permanent damage to her spine. “I have been in a wheelchair for the last five years and in all this time accessibility has not improved one bit in public spaces, at least not enough to enable me to venture out on my own. People on the road still stare, awareness continues to be limited,” rues Riya.

Riya and Ummul both have a pressing, valid question: why has so little changed for disabled persons in India? Why does their lot, and they number roughly 70 million in the country, continue to be an ‘invisible minority’? Right now, a new disability bill draft submitted to the ministry of social justice is under consideration. Among other updated provisions, it speaks of widening the definition of disability, aims to ‘recognise legal capacity, establish national and state disability rights authorities’ and provide better access to information to the differently abled.

Meanwhile, the Indian Sign Language Research & Training Centre (ISLRTC) at IGNOU has been set in place just this month to ‘create a linguistic record/analysis of the Indian Sign Language’, the first effort of its kind in India. A few months ago, the ministry of social justice also set up a disability division (empowerment of persons with disabilities), to streamline all kinds of planning and integration in the area.


Bhola Nath Dolui, by turns autorickshaw driver and swimming coach in Calcutta. (Photograph by Sandipan Chatterjee)

In 2010-11, the percentage of students with disabilities in govt-run schools dropped from 0.75% to a dismal 0.26%.

But after decades of neglect and continued stigma, it’s just not enough, say disabled rights activists, calling it just more meaningless laws and regulations on paper. “Disability did not even get factored into the census till 2001. And even though the 1995 Disability Law clearly states that public spaces should be made accessible for persons with disabilities, how many in reality are actually accessible even now? How many of the new buildings that have come up post-1995 are barrier-free?” asks Javed Abidi, founder of the National Centre for Promotion of Employment for Disabled People, and Disability Rights Group. “Isn’t it appalling that India is yet to get a standardised sign language? The nuances of sign language in one city are different from that in another city,” points out Abhijit Dasgupta, who spearheads the Sukriti Foundation for disabled people in Calcutta.Even supporters of the current disability law, like ex-chief commissioner for persons with disability and founder of Amar Jyoti School in Delhi, Uma Tuli, admit that “while this law is currently the best in Asia, a drawback is the lack of provision for penalties for those who do not follow the rules”.

At a very basic level, the concerns go back to inclusion in the barest of daily activity. Shivani Gupta, founder of AccessAbility, ticks off all the places in India’s big cities that are inaccessible to her as a quadriplegic, and that the ‘abled’ take for granted: “None of the traffic lights are audio-enabled. Pavements are not smooth enough for a wheelchair. Even in supposedly inclusive systems like the Delhi Metro, there is only one entry-exit that has an elevator. What if you need to cross the road? The metro feeder buses are inaccessible. At most bus stops, there is no seamless movement from the platform into the bus. The Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system too is flawed—how will a person with physical disability get to a bus stop planted in the middle of the road? And now there is talk of replicating it, despite protests. Plus any movement towards better accessibility is sporadic, there is no sense of civic agencies coming together to build long-term, large-scale barrier-free infrastructure.”


Hearing-impaired Anurag Tripathi takes orders at Gurgaon’s Lemon Tree Hotel. (Photograph by Sanjay Rawat)

In Mumbai, Mahesh Umrania, 26, who lost his vision to glaucoma 15 years ago, faces a similar issue with the city’s local railway, where incidents of vision-impaired persons falling on the tracks are not uncommon. Worse, the sitarist and photographer continues to face discrimination each time he hunts for a new home to rent in the suburbs. “The landlords ask the strangest questions: how will you keep the place clean, what if you get robbed? How will you eat? How will you dress?” Asha Singha, a sign language interpreter in Delhi, has more subtle concerns. She wonders why TV programmes are still not subtitled.

Now here’s a shocker: in 2010-11, the percentage of students with disabilities in government-run schools dropped to 0.26 per cent, a sharp decline from 0.75 per cent the previous year, as revealed in an HRD ministry survey. “There is a systemic problem, in every aspect of nation-building, people with disabilities are always ignored. There is no strong law, no real planning, it’s all token charity,” feels Javed Abidi.

The annual Employability Fair will have about 45 companies this year to select nearly 900 people with disabilities.

Still, gradually today there is a sense that the private sector may be opening up to inclusion. The Deaf Way Foundation’s Namrata Patro reports that they have an increasing number of corporate employees signing up to learn sign language, to be able to communicate with colleagues with hearing disabilities. A range of fast food joints and hotels are signing up the differently abled to be part of their staff, even seeking out hearing- and speech-impaired people. Like Anurag Tripathi, 24, who’s been waiting tables at a star hotel cafe for the last four years. He keeps a special notepad designed for hearing-impaired employees close at hand, and places it in front of customers, where they can scribble in their order. “It’s difficult to adjust with new staff members, because it takes time for them to come to terms working with colleagues with hearing impairment but, yes, there are far more employment opportunities than before,” says Tripathi.Many private firms have approached organisations like Ability Foundation to look at their building plans and suggest changes. “But employers still need to look at giving jobs to disabled persons as an effective and compelling workforce, not just CSR,” says Jayshree Raveendran, founder, Ability Foundation, Chennai. In other words, there is movement, though slow. The annual EmployABILITY Fair, put together by Raveendran’s organisation, which will have about 45 companies this year to select nearly 900 people with disabilities, also challenges “tokenism”.


Mahesh Umrania, a vision-impaired musician and photographer in big, bad Mumbai. (Photograph by Apoorva Salkade)

There is an attempt to break other barriers too, however sporadic they may be. “In the last 15-20 years, we have had more social acceptance. Plus, with events like the Special Olympics, Paralympics, Abelympics etc that highlight their skills, there is a move towards integration,” feels Tuli. Technology has also tipped the scales, feels Bangalore-based G.K. Mahantesh, who is vision-impaired and runs Samarthanam, a centre for persons like him. “It has simplified life a little, especially tools like screen-reading software, educational and recreational devices, like the audio cricket ball.”

Meanwhile, in Calcutta, Dasgupta invites differently abled participants to an annual adventure expedition, likewise Partho Bhowmick of Beyond Sight Foundation trains blind people to take photographs with still cameras. “Learning photography gives them a certain confidence…to do something others believe they can’t,” the latter says. But these positive stories are too few and far between, often the result of a few individuals’ lifelong struggle. The state as a whole, and its people, continue to be prejudiced and unfeeling towards people who just need a little bit more attention.


Some Bright Spots, Some Less Dark Places

  • Blind With Camera Started by photographer Partho Bhowmick of the Mumbai-based Beyond Sight Foundation, Blind With Camera works with a simple idea: to provide vision-impaired people an artistic platform. In 48-hour workshops held in Pune, Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi, Bhowmick helps collate their work for display at exhibitions held across the country. The project also offers an online photography course; the plan is to introduce photography courses in blind schools. The Blind With Camera E-school, in compliance with web accessibility standard for the visually impaired, throws up basic and advanced tutorials, info about adaptive tools and a platform for students to upload and share their photographic work.
  • Beyond Belief Every year, young men like Bhola Nath Dolui, an autorickshaw driver in Calcutta with a lower limb disability, get together for the Beyond Belief project, a series of adventure programs and survival training that resembles a television reality show. Led by documentary filmmaker Abhijit Dasgupta, a team of differently abled persons undertake challenges that include scaling high mountains, hiking through deep forests, river rafting in West Bengal, all to prove that people with physical disabilities are differently abled, not ‘disabled’. The project also seeks to boost their employment opportunities.
  • Travel Another India This unusual travel outfit runs a ‘Journey Without Barriers’ initiative, reaching out to physically disabled persons across the world who may want to visit popular tourist hotspots in India, like Ladakh, Spiti, Mysore, Goa, and even lets you work out your own itinerary. One of the few such ventures in the travel sector in India, the idea is to “develop accessible tourism opportunities”, still in its infancy here. The team at Travel Another India works closely with AccessAbility consultancy firm to improve accessibility at various locations. Himalaya On Wheels, another one of their initiatives, makes mountains more accessible to tourists using wheelchairs.
  • EmployABILITY A one-of-its-kind professional annual employment fair, conceived by Ability Foundation in Chennai, it challenges the view that for the corporate sector, hiring persons with disability is merely good CSR. This one is a job fair for disabled persons with educational qualifications, which are duly matched with the vacancies available in 35-45 companies across banking, hospitality, retail, IT sectors. Nearly 900 disabled persons will take part in the fair this year, to be held in the first week of November in Hyderabad. The participants will also be trained beforehand on how to face job interviews. “The fair opens the corporate world up to a whole new pool of skilled persons,” says Jayshree Raveendran of Ability Foundation.

 

 

TB screening for Indians seeking UK visa


United Kingdom: stamp

HASAN SUROOR, The Hindu

From August 16, Indians planning to travel to UK for more than six months will be screened for tuberculosis before they are given a visa under a pre-entry TB screening programme extended to India. However, the screening will not be required for those travelling for six months or less.

The Home Office announced that all such applicants would be required to submit a certificate from a local clinic approved by the British Government to show that they are “TB-free’’. There will be a fee of Rs 1500 for screening, to be borne by the applicant.

The Home Office said, “If you want to travel to the UK for more than 6 months you must be screened and obtain a certificate from an approved clinic to show that you are free of TB before you make a UK visa application in the categories listed above. The UK Border Agency has set up a wide network of approved clinicians in India.”

The announcement followed a decision by the UK Government in May to extend its pre-entry TB screening to India and 66 other countries on the basis of the World Health Organisation figures of “high TB incidence” in these countries.

“The screening requirement will be extended to applications for work visas (Tiers 1, 2 and 5 of the points-based system) from 10 September 2012 and student visas (Tier 4) from 1 November 2012”, the Home Office said.

The great unmentionable in disability politics #mustread


 

English: Barnstar for WikiProject Disability

English: Barnstar for WikiProject Disability (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

RAHILA GUPTA , 31 July 2012

 

 “I felt there was no space for me to express grief at my son’s disability”. The grief of those who care for people with a disability is betrayal of the Cause.  Rahila Gupta asks: how do you value disability at the same time as mourn the loss of ability?

Most political movements at their inception demand radical resolution of the wrongs and injustices that they have been set up to overturn – and the disability movement is no different. My first brush with the movement happened in the 80s when I began the battle for a proper education for my son who had cerebral palsy as a result of a difficult and negligent birth. There was a huge amount of institutional oppression and individual prejudice which was hard to fight as an individual both in physical and emotional terms. There was no right to a mainstream education enshrined in the law and various groups of parents and carers of disabled children and disabled people themselves came to our support at critical moments in the struggle. As I had been involved in race and gender politics, it would have been a natural transition to become active in the wider disability movement, a transition I did not make and which I put down to a lack of time then. Gradually I became aware that there were some deep seated reservations which I had not articulated even to myself. Only now, ten years after I lost my son, I realise that the contradictions of the movement had me in a vice like grip which I can only now begin to untangle.

There is no doubt that the history of disabled people is littered with the most grotesque and inhumane attempts to wipe them off the face of this earth – even progressive socialists, like the Fabians, of the early twentieth century supported the idea of eugenics to create a super race until Hitler’s experiments with it consigned the idea to the scrapheap.  Of course, the first step towards unwinding this hatred would be to promote positive images of disabled people, of the excavation of a hidden history of great contributions, of heroic stories, of moving towards light and glory, of asserting the right to exist, of being and becoming visible. It has been the inevitable pattern, with some variations, of the feminist, anti-racist and gay movements among others. But this is where the similarity ends, or should end. Whereas the attributes of sex or race or sexual orientation become a ‘handicap’ because of patriarchy, racism or heterosexism, there is a point at which impairment becomes a ‘handicap’ not merely because of disablism but a condition which can cause pain, discomfort, aggravation and frustration to the individual concerned, regardless of how far society travels in its attitudes and how far technology succeeds in bridging that gap.

This is not to promote the suffering, helpless victims deserving of charity narrative. Important insights have emerged from the disability movement which challenge those narratives, namely the distinction between the medical and social models of disability. The medical model sees disability as an individual problem to be ‘cured’ and ‘treated’ whereas the social model recasts this as a problem inherent in the way that society and the physical environment have been structured, so wheelchair users cannot attend a meeting not because they are in wheelchairs but because no ramps have been provided.  As Vic Finkelstein puts it, ‘What was paramount was our focus on the need to change the disabling society rather than make us fit for society.’

I completely agree with the flaws of ‘the fit for society’ model. And yet, and yet what about being fit for your own sake?. Somewhere between the medical and social model stood individuals like me and my son. We did both: I campaigned for schools to admit him which meant they had to do a lot more to become accessible than merely provide ramps but devise and implement policies of inclusion and initiate a thoroughgoing change of attitudes. At the same time, I tried Botox on the advice of the doctors so that it might make his eating more efficient, his muscles less stiff and therefore less painful. He had operations on his leg muscles to prevent his hips becoming dislocated. He wore a variety of splints and braces, the line between chasing a ‘cure’ or increasing comfort often a blur.

The attempt to rescue disability from its tragic status tipped over into a glorification of disability. A similar trend was apparent in the early days of the women’s movement when it was impossible to be openly critical of mothers or to even admit the possibility that women could be violent. The great immigration lawyer Steve Cohen said towards the end of his life when severe arthritis had all but stopped his campaigning and writing, ‘I’m not disabled and proud, I’m disabled and pissed off!’ Like him, I felt there was no space for me to express grief at my son’s disability. It was the great unmentionable in disability politics – the grief of those who care for them. How do you value disability at the same time as mourn the loss of ability? By separating the disability from the person, by valuing the disabled person, would be one answer, another version of the biblical exhortation to ‘hate the sin but love the sinner’. It is, of course, hard to separate these in practice: the disability is so much a part of a disabled person’s identity that any comment on the disability feels like an assault on the person.  I raised these knotty questions in The Ballad of Nihal Armstrong,  a dramatic monologue performed at the Arts Theatre in London last June, in which I recount the story of our struggle and triumphs in the fight for my son’s rights. Perhaps it is the intense love for my son that permeates the Ballad that gives me the ‘permission’ to mourn his loss of ability.

There are some who see disability as a gift, a position which finds particular favour among religious groups. Eleanore Stump, an American Professor of Philosophy, argues that suffering makes one grow and narrates approvingly  the story of a mother with an autistic child ‘who came to see that even the suffering (i.e. her autistic child) of her life was a gift’ in her book, Wandering in Darkness: Narrative and the Problem of Suffering. The language and perspective of this position, while trying to be positive, would be dismissed by most disabled people because of its equation between suffering and disability.

This idea of disability as a gift, as something special and worth reproducing was taken to its logical, but in my view extremely troubling, conclusion by a deaf couple in 2008 who wanted the right to select an embryo with the deaf gene. They wanted their child to be part of a proud linguistic minority although it was not clear why a hearing child could not be brought up in that culture with the additional advantages that hearing brings such as the ability to enjoy music. The argument as seen from the perspective of the disability lobby is twofold: an interpretation of equality, if you have the right to discard a deaf foetus, you should have the right to discard a hearing foetus rather than an equality between people with more strings to their bow; and doing anything that reduces the number of disabled people in the world is evidence of discrimination, an argument that underpins the opposition to abortion and the right to die movement.

Definitions of impairment are becoming wider so that, from some perspectives, the size of the disabled community in most societies is larger than ever.  Laying claim to greater numbers has often been the strategy used by minorities to tackle their powerlessness – black people claiming powerful ‘white’ men and women rumoured to have black antecedents as their own, for example – although as we have seen numbers are no guarantee of increased bargaining power as women are still widely oppressed.

As political movements mature and strengthen, they move from striking either/or positions to a recognition of the complexity of human situations and responses. Having established its presence, a movement does not feel threatened by a multiplicity of opposing views. I believe the disability movement is at that point. Baroness Jane Campbell, Commissioner of the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said in 2008, ‘I believe our position as disabled people is fundamentally different to what it was 20, 10, even 5 years ago. I believe we have a powerful voice.’  She argues that is time for the disability movement to join forces with other disadvantaged groups, even carers, because ‘the ideas of the disability movement – barrier removal, reforming public services to give people greater control over their own lives, and equality legislation based on accommodating difference rather than ignoring it – are the blueprint for the next stages of promoting equality and human rights overall.’  The movement should be ready to accommodate a carer’s perspective without feeling threatened and to explore the contradictions that dishearten potential allies.

 

 

 

Manufactured Shame- Guwahati Incident


 

 

The telecast of a young girl’s molestation in the heart of Guwahati by a local news channel has jolted the nation’s consciousness. Ratnadip Choudhury exposes the sordid truth behind the horrific act

Public outcry Youngsters protesting the horrific molestation that shook up the city

Photo: Ujjal Deb

WHAT WAS initially touted by a news channel as an exposé on the depravity and moral turpitude in society is now emerging as an event which was manipulated by the channel to “create” news. On 9 July, the whole country was outraged by a video clip aired by News Live, a leading news channel of Assam, which showed a young girl being groped, clawed, beaten and molested in full public glare outside a pub on the busy GS Road of Guwahati, the Northeast’s biggest city.


People were shocked, the people of Assam more than anybody else. Public morality had hit an all-time low. How could this happen on a busy street of a state capital? How could bystanders watch as a mob of not less than 30 men humiliated a young girl? Where was the police in all this? There was a storm of outrage as social media sites went into overdrive. Questions were raised and debated, calling for a strong protest against this heinous act.

Amidst all this clamour, another question gnawing at the sides was the role played by the news channel, News Live, which filmed the whole episode. RTI activist and leader of the Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) Akhil Gogoi claimed to have laid his hands on video clippings that demonstrated that the News Live reporter who filmed the whole incident had instigated the mob. TEHELKA has reviewed these clips and the truth is horrifying.

Akhil alleged that Gaurav Jyoti Neog, the News Live reporter who had called in his camera unit to film the incident, had orchestrated the molestation to “manufacture” a “sensational news piece” to boost the channel’s TRP. “News Live is promoted by Health Minister Himanta Biswa Sharma, his wife Riniki Bhuyan Sharma is its chief managing director (CMD),” says Akhil. “The channel has been involved in false and fabricated news from the start, but this one has been the most unethical. News Live reporter Gaurav Jyoti Neog has instigated the molestation and I have video footage to prove that.” The raw footage has since been handed over to state DGP Jayanto Narayan Choudhury. Sources say that in its preliminary report to the Union home ministry, the police has hinted at the reporter’s involvement in instigating the molesters. Gaurav has been working for News Live since 2009.

Interestingly, the News Live office is located at Christian Basti, not far from Club Mint Bar where the incident occurred. The channel has admitted that Akhil got the footage from somebody in their office. TEHELKA has found that there were people in the office who were against this kind of unethical journalism, and these were the people who handed over the footage to Akhil to blow the lid off the whole episode. The channel’s Managing Editor Syed Zarir Hussain has admitted that it was a News Live reporter who shot all the raw footage. There are two shots of footages. One shot by an open camera used by channels to cover news, and the other footage, which actually indicts the news reporter was shot by the reporter himself on his own mobile camera. The digital camera visuals were shot by News Live reporter Dibya Bordoloi and his cameraperson Jugal, reporter Gaurav Jyoti Neog shot the other clips with his cell phone.

Permanent scar A video grab of the girl being molested by the mob in Guwahati

In a reconstruction of the hitherto unaired footage, we have tried to recount what happened outside the Club Mint Bar on the evening of 9 July.

According to News Live, reporter Gaurav Jyoti Neog was on his way home from work when he heard the ruckus outside Club Mint (the bar is about 200 metres from the channel’s office) and started shooting with his cell phone. Sensing something sensational afoot, he asked his office for a camera unit to be sent to the spot. Though the channel claims that Gaurav had asked the news desk to inform the police, nothing in the raw footage or otherwise that establishes this claim. The Assam Police has maintained that they received no calls from News Live or any other media organisation informing them about the molestation. The first calls it got, the police claims, came from Club Mint and later from the Hotel Gateway Grandeur, situated close to the pub.

The footage starts at the point after two girls have been thrown out of the pub following a scuffle over a lost ATM card as the victim recollects later. The girls are waiting on the road for an autorickshaw, when ambient noises are heard in the background. The conversation is not very clear. Later, one can see that a group of boys, who were standing outside the bar at a wine shop, had been recording the girls’ movements with their cell phones and had passed some comment. One girl in a white T-shirt and a pair of shorts slaps one of the boys. The footage then shows the girl engaged in a physical struggle with the boys. The other — the victim — is wearing a black top and shorts. A male voice is heard: “Send a camera immediately near the income tax office.” Akhil claims this is the voice of the News Live reporter Gaurav, a fact admitted by the channel, which has aired the same visual with the same voice claiming it to be Gaurav’s.

FURTHER, THE raw footage shows the other girl being chased by a group of boys. Someone shouts: “Catch her, make her naked, make her naked, catch her.” This voice is strikingly similar to the voice the channel admits belongs to Gaurav. (The authenticity could only be proved by a forensic examination, but ex facie it does appear to be Gaurav’s) This can be deduced from the circumstances around the clippings. In a situation where there is a lot of noise in the background, it is likely that the most audible voice will be of the person holding the phone. Also, most of the people voice matches the earlier male voice that News Live had itself identified as belonging to Gaurav.

‘Please come quickly, she has been caught… (to the mob) the camera is here. Hold her. Hold her,’ the voice in the footage is heard saying

What follows there after are horrific scenes of the girl being pulled from all sides, thrashed and fondled. Someone pulls her top to expose her bra, another man gropes her private parts when she is pinned down. She cries and shouts for help, and tries her best to free herself. A voice is heard saying: “Make her naked, let people see her… she is a prostitute and she dares to do this.” The molestation gets even more violent, more brutal. The frame, albeit shaky, is clear enough to see the girl struggling all the while screaming “help, help!” This blood-curdling scene plays out again and again. Bystanders can be seen watching, some from a distance, some to get a ringside view. No one comes forward to help the traumatised girl.

Hunter-to-hunted Rup Kanta Kalita (27), Deba Das (22), Nabajyoti Barua (22), Jitu Moni Deka (30) and Dipak Deb (50), five of the alleged accused being produced before the CJM Court on 17 July

As the recording continues, the same male voice is heard again, this time distinctly: “Please come quickly, she has been caught… (to the mob) the camera is here, hold her, hold her.” Circumstances suggest that this could again be Gaurav’s voice, because he has called his colleague at the News Live office, Dibya Bordoloi to come to the spot with a camera team.

Night duty reporter Dibya Bordoloi arrives with the cameraperson. The camera rolls, this time with the lights on. The face of the main accused Amarjyoti Kalita becomes distinct here. Kalita in a red T-shirt and a cap, takes charge of what has by now become a circus. The footage shows how the girl breaks away twice from the molesters, only to be brought back each time. Pulled by her hair, her jacket ripped apart, her undergarments visible, the mob was enacting a “live act” in its most horrific form. Amarjyoti was pulling the girl by her undergarments, another assaulter was pulling her by her hair. This part of the raw footage caught on News Live cameras holds the key for the police investigation. This is the part that Akhil has not released to the media and News Live has not aired.

Many questions arise out of this. Did any of the molesters personally know the reporter? Police sources confirmed that almost all the molesters whose faces have been identified did not have prior criminal records. A well-placed source in the Assam Police has confirmed that Gaurav knew prime accused Amarjyoti pretty well; a few others in the mob knew each other since they worked in the same area. So the question automatically veers towards the intent of “manufacturing” news. Or does it go deeper than that? Only a forensic test of the raw footage will throw up conclusive answers. Managing Editor Hussain defends his reporter. “It is because News Live had aired the visuals that the molesters are behind bars,” he says. “If we had given the footage to the cops directly, it would have been put in cold storage as has happened frequently in the past.”

Even after Mukul Kalita and some other people restore order and call the cops, Amarjyoti Kalita is still seen trying to grab the girl from behind

In the open camera footage, the perpetrators were clearly enjoying being filmed. Some were even smiling at the camera. Gaurav is also seen wearing a black T-shirt and a pair of jeans. “Initially, Gaurav tried to protest, but things went out of control so our reporters kept rolling,” defends Hussain. TEHELKA found no video frames or audio streams in the raw footage, to remotely suggest that Gaurav tried to dissuade the mob at any time. Though the footage does show that the other reporter Dibya shouts at the molesters and even tries to rescue the girl. Despite numerous attempts to contact Gaurav, the reporter was not available for any comment.

The footage then shows the girl running towards traffic on the busy GS Road asking car drivers for help. The mob follows her shouting that she is a prostitute. Incredibly, this seems reason enough for people not to intervene in what they could have seen as an act of moral policing. A man on a motorcycle tries to stop the crowd, but in vain. It is only when vernacular daily Ajir Axom’s senior journalist Mukul Kalita, who happened to be passing by, interferes, that some other people also come to the rescue of the girl. Dibya also tries to bring some order. No such effort is made by Gaurav.

After some order has been restored, Gaurav is heard shouting at Dibya for not carrying the channel mic ID (channel logo attached to the mike) and snatches the gun mic before asking the victim: “Please tell me what happened.” What the girl says is perhaps the most telling statement in the footage. “I was returning home after attending a birthday party, you have done it… you people have done it,” she says. This is a shocking revelation. Akhil claims that the victim was talking about Gaurav and the molesters. News Live claims nothing is conclusive; traumatised as she was, the girl might have meant all the people or some people around her, or may be venting at the constant rolling of the camera.

Atanu Bhuyan Tarun Gogoi
Former News Live Editor-in-chief Atanu Bhuyan; Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi addressing the media

TEHELKA has in its possession a copy of the victim’s statement at the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s court. Written in Assamese, one section of the statement reads thus: “…they started to tear off my clothes; a media team was shooting the scene instead of helping me. The mob tore my clothes and started groping my private parts. I somehow saved my face from being exposed by the camera. I was shellshocked. A gentleman saved me, the police arrived and dropped me home.”

The footage reveals people led by Mukul Kalita trying to convince cops to reach the spot fast and also trying to ensure the girl’s safety. Even then, Amarjyoti Kalita is seen smiling and grabbing the victim from behind.

Above the din, Dibya is heard telling Gaurav: “This girl’s career, future is ruined.” After a brief pause, a voice, probably Gaurav’s, is heard: “Ruined meaning?” Leaning towards Gaurav, Dibya’s face is visible for a second. “I have done all this!” someone says. Though TEHELKA cannot independently verify this, a comparison with other audio streams in the clip gives the impression that the voice making this boast belongs to Gaurav. The footage ends with the girl being taken away by the police. The molestation even then and the mob groped the girl even while she was seated in the police van.

THE COPS have already taken voice samples of Gaurav and confiscated the News Live camera, tapes and computers where the video footage was processed. The memory card of the cell phones that he was using has also been sent for forensic tests. After Akhil handed over the raw footage to the cops, Gaurav resigned from News Live. In his defence he said he had quit to ensure “a free and fair investigation”. On 18 July, he applied for an anticipatory bail at the Gauhati High Court, though he still has not been named an accused or detained by the police.

Launched in January 2008, News Live gained reputation for its smart presentation, vast coverage and a knack for breaking news before anyone else. The past few months had seen the channel dedicating huge chunks of airtime to what many describe as “on-air moral policing”. From stories of young girls getting drunk and unruly scenes inside bars and on the streets to hosting regular panel discussions on what women should wear, the channel was almost on a moral crusade.

In 2011, News Live Editor-in-chief Atanu Bhuyan made it to the headlines of national dailies after he made unsavoury comments about Aahom girls from upper Assam. The Tai-Aahom Students’ Union had even locked down News Live bureau offices in upper Assam towns.

Interestingly, Akhil’s claims of “manufactured” news got approval from an unexpected quarter. In a press conference, Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi came down heavily on the news channel. “I cannot approve the fact that the TV crew went on rolling their tapes for almost 45 minutes without making efforts to save the girl,” said a stern-looking Gogoi. The chief minister has asked the CID to investigate the role of the channel in the molestation. A team of police officers led by DGP Choudhury has been entrusted with the task of nabbing the culprits. The chief minister has said that a crackdown will happen without infringing on the freedom of the press.

Of the 14 molesters who have been identified, the cops have already arrested 12. At the time of going to press, two, including prime accused Amarjyoti Kalita — a casual employee of the state government’s information technology agency AMTRON — were still absconding.

Angry wave Social activist Akhil Gogoi leading a demonstration in front of the News Live office on 15 July

Photo: Ujjal Deb

Editor Atanu Bhuyan quit his office, not owning moral responsibility, but citing apprehensions that the chief minister would “pressurise” the management to sack him. For his part, the CM got the Chairperson of the National Commission for Women (NCW) Mamta Sharma to visit Guwahati and meet the victim, after an earlier NCW fact-finding team led by Alka Lamba left Guwahati without meeting him. Lamba was later removed for naming the victim during a press conference. Shockingly, even the CM’S office repeated the same callousness. After Tarun Gogoi had met the victim, the CM’s office released pictures of the girl with Gogoi. Not only this, they even revealed her identity. Though Gogoi later apologised for the slip-up, asking the media not to publish the pictures, he continued naming her.

THE INCIDENT has scarred Assam. The state that prides itself on its treatment of women has now been reduced to a group of bystanders. “The rest of the country protested violently, people started calling Guwahati a city of bystanders,” says Guwahati-based author Ayushman Dutta. “People watched with voyeuristic pleasure the horrific scenes of a girl being ravaged on the streets. Some even took photos and made the odd MMS, but no one stopped their car to help her, they did not even bother to lower their car windows.” The incident has also sparked a debate on the mad race of news channels for TRPs.

Interestingly, the All Assam Students Union (AASU) and the Assam Jatiyatabadi Yuba Chatra Parishad (AJYCP), both of which have never missed a chance to issue diktats on New Year’s or Valentine’s Day, have maintained a stony silence on this.

But, it is with the police that the buck finally stops. The government has put the wheels in motion. The SSP, Guwahati city, Apurba Jibon Baruah has been transferred. “We are looking at all aspects of the evidence. If the reporter and the channel are found guilty, we will act,” says DGP Choudhury.

The brutality was not confined to the street. NCW member Alka Lamba, and even the CM’s office, named the victim without a care for her reputation

Tarun Gogoi has declared that he will create the position of a City Police Commissioner. But many of the recommendations of the expert committee constituted after the 2008 serial blasts in Guwahati has been kept in cold storage. “Almost all our recommendations have not been implemented,” says HK Deka, former DGP and member of the expert committee on police reforms. “With the city moving fast to becoming a metro, police modernisation is a must, transferring the SSP is not a solution.” In size and population, Guwahati is similar to Bhubaneswar. However, where the Odisha capital has 3,500 dedicated police personnel, the Guwahati City Police has 210 sub-inspectors and 1,300 constables manning the streets. Nowhere is this void felt more than in the pubs and clubs of the city.

But for all this, if it turns out that the media has behaved in a callous manner, its very relevance will be questioned. If proven true, this would perhaps be the first incident in which a media house has had a frighteningly complicit role in a despicable crime against a woman. While it is almost sure that this is our News Of The World moment, media houses, especially electronic media, need to rethink their priorities: higher TRPs or news ethic. Until that happens, the spectacle will continue.

Ratnadip Choudhury is a Principal Correspondent with Tehelka.
ratnadip@tehelka.com

 

FAQ -Copyright Amendment Act and impact on print Impaired persons


English: A collection of pictograms. Three of ...

English: A collection of pictograms. Three of them used by the United States National Park Service. A package containing those three and all NPS symbols is available at the Open Icon Library (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Some Frequently Asked Questions to the Amendment to the Copyright Act of India, 1957 and its Impact on Print Impaired Persons


1. Who benefits?

All print impaired persons be they totally blind, low vision, learning disabled or orthopedically challenged in certain ways are covered by this clause.

2. What can be done now that was not possible earlier?

Print impaired individuals, or authorized service providers / organizations can suitably modify a work under Copyright so as to make it accessible to meet the specific needs of the print impaired person concerned. This means that a standard printed book, for example may be converted to an alternate format (not necessarily a special format) including Braille, large font, text readable by screen reader, audio (be it synthetic audio or human voice recording) without seeking the permission of the rights holder.

3. How is this different?

In the past, any alternate format creation could have been defined as an infringement unless it was backed up by prior written permission from the rights holder. One had to seek the permission if one had to be on the right side of the law. Now thankfully we do not need permissions.

4.  Are there any restrictions?

Yes, there are reasonable restrictions such as
– conversion should be a not for profit activity. In case it is a for profit activity, there is a separate clause under which a special license can be obtained.
– the beneficiaries has to be a bonafide print impaired person or organizations that serve them.
– reasonable precaution need to be taken by all that the accessible copy is not misused commercially.

5. Does this mean that the publisher has to give soft copy?

No. The copyright law does not cover the delivery of books which is the purview of another department and another law. We are planning to take it up as well. For the present, these exemptions allow an existing work which is not accessible to be made accessible without permission.

6. Can accessible copy be shared?

Effectively yes, as long as it is not misused for commercial purposes and is available to print impaired persons only.

7. What is the wording of the clause?

It runs as follows.

Section 52 (1)The following act shall not be an infringement of copyright, namely:
(zb) the adaptation, reproduction, issue of copies or communication to the public of any work in any accessible format, by —
(i) any person to facilitate persons with disability to access to works including sharing with any person with disability of such accessible format for private or personal use, educational purpose or research; or
(ii) any organization working for the benefit of the persons with disabilities in case the normal format prevents the enjoyment of such works by such persons:
Provided that the copies of the works in such accessible format are made available to the persons with disabilities on a nonprofit basis but to recover only the cost of production:
Provided further that the organization shall ensure that the copies of works in such accessible format are used by persons with disabilities and takes reasonable steps to prevent its entry into ordinary channels of business.
Explanation. For the purposes of the sub-clause, “any organization” includes an organization registered under section 12A of the Income Tax Act, 1961 and working for the benefit of persons with disability or recognized under Chapter X of the Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities Protection of Rights and Full Participation) Act, 1995 or receiving grants from the Government for facilitating access to persons with disabilities or an educational institution or library or archives recognized by the Government.

8. What provisions affect the creation of accessible cop[ies when it is undertaken as a not for profit activity?

The following new section involving a compulsory license would be applicable

³31B. (1) Any person working for the benefit of persons with disability on a profit basis or for business may apply to the Copyright Board, in such form and manner and accompanied by such fee as may be prescribed, for a compulsory license to publish any work in which copyright subsists for the benefit of such persons, in a case to which clause (zb) of sub-section (1) of section 52 does not apply and the Copyright Board shall dispose of such application as expeditiously as possible and endeavor shall be made to dispose of such application within a period of two months from the date of receipt of the application.

(2) The Copyright Board may, on receipt of an application under sub-section (1), inquire, or direct such inquiry as it considers necessary to establish the credentials of the applicant and satisfy itself that the application has been made in good faith.

(3) If the Copyright Board is satisfied, after giving to the owners of rights in the work a reasonable opportunity of being heard and after holding such inquiry as it may deem necessary, that a compulsory license needs to be issued to make the work available to the disabled, it may direct the Registrar of Copyrights to grant to the applicant such a license to publish the work.

(4) Every compulsory license issued under this section shall specify the means and format of publication, the period during which the compulsory license may be exercised and, in the case of issue of copies, the number of copies that may be issued including the rate or royalty:
Provided that where the Copyright Board has issued such a compulsory license it may, on a further application and after giving reasonable opportunity to the owners of rights, extend the period of such compulsory license and allow the issue of more copies as it may deem fit.

 

Compiled By:

The Xavier’s Resource Centre for the Visually Challenged (XRCVC)
Dr. Sam Taraporevala
St. Xavier’s College, 5 Mahapalika Marg, Mumbai 400001
#+91-22-22623298/22626329

Saranda Action Plan mockery for six villages


, TNN | May 18, 2012,

NOAMUNDI (SARANDA): Patras Nag is probably the most educated man in Cherwalor village in Saranda. A village that is non-existent on the government revenue map along with five other has not seen any form of administration since Independence. Having passed standard VIII, Nag runs a school here in which 78 children from the adjoining villages attend classes. Nag was picked up by security forces for interrogation when CRPF operations began in the area earlier this year. While he was terrorized, villagers were angry for their respectable teacher being harassed by the forces.

Apart from Cherwalor, five other villages like Kododih, Dharnadiri, Jumbaiburu, Belyatu (chingri) and Hojomdih are also non-existent on the administrative map. These villages are neither included in Noamundi block nor in Manoharpur. Consequently, the villagers are deprived of all possible government schemes and projects. The villagers do not have BPL or ration cards nor do they have the job card of the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA).

None of them have been included on the voters’ list and no villager has ever exercised their franchise. To top it all, this time when Union rural development minister Jairam Rameshannounced the Saranda Action Plan, these six villages were once again left out.

The district administration asked Noamundi BDO Ajay Tirkey to conduct a survey of these villages and submit a report to the deputy commissioner. Talking to TOI, Tirkey admitted that the six villages in Saranda were non-existent till date. “A detailed survey report has been submitted to the DC and we expect these villages will be considered under the action plan,” he said.

Villagers in Jambaiburu have been provided with MGNREGA job cards. Interestingly, the state code, category code and registration number are mentioned there but not the district code, block code and panchayat code. Tupra Surin of Jambaiburu said, “My village comprises nearly 28 families and recently they have been enrolled for jobs under the MGNREGA. We are not sure whom to contact for a job because when we approached government officials of Noamundi, they told us that our village doesn’t come under their jurisdiction,” he added. The village doesn’t have a school or any facility for ration.

After Patras Nag of Cherwalor was picked up by security forces, the CRPF arranged outreach programmes to give away sewing machines and utensils to the villagers. Though the villagers accepted some of the gifts and dividends, later they boycotted such camps to express their anger. “My husband used to work in the mines and was never absent from duty. Once when he was grazing cattle, he was picked up by security forces and sent to jail,” said Gurbari Nag citing the reason for her decision to boycott the goods distribution camp of the CRPF in Thalkobad organized in February this year.

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