Change.org — Cat is out of the Bag


Change.org  Cat is out of the Bag, so let’s stop playing Ping Pong

May 12, Mumbai- Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Kractivism

  Its official now

After months of testing, Change.org is ready to launch a new revenue model that is geared to consumers, not organizations. By targeting consumers, the change.org team expects to pull in steady revenues in smaller dollar amounts. Contributions are capped at $1,000 per user per petition, but beta tests found that 98 percent of contributions were under $100. During the test period, a total of 5800 people contributed to promoted petitions. Read more here Now anyone can sponsor a petition on change.org

This is how petitions can be promoted and sponsored

Promoted Petitions allow anyone to promote their favorite petitions to Change.org users who may not otherwise come across them. Similar to promoted posts on Facebook or promoted tweets on Twitter, Promoted Petitions allows users to pay to feature any petition to other users on the site.

Sponsored Campaigns are similar to Promoted Petitions, but structured slightly differently to help organizations establish long-term relationships with Change.org users who are passionate about their work and sign their campaigns. Each Sponsored Campaign has an opt-in box allowing users to agree to find out more information about the sponsoring organization after signing. Organizations ready to connect with their next generation of supporters can head to Change.org for Organizations to learn more.

My open letter to Ben Rattray, last October, was precisely about this , #India- Open letter to #BenRattray, #CEO, #Change.org – “Et tu Brutus” #kracktivism when they announced change in advertising policies that ,there is no confusion that change.org is  not a business for a social cause but  like any for profit , they are making money on our database.

Now after my expose.#India – Change.org : Campaign Victory’s exposed #Vaw #Socialmedia, wherein I bought to notice two conflicting petitions on the same platform. I did get a reply on a tumblr.com  site ???  Wondering why  change .org  could not the responses  reply on an  official change.org site?  Also the tumblr.com   site with no  option to comment ,   My question,to   India director,  change.org Avijit Michael, that by replying to me, on another change/org staffs personal blog , with no option to comment,   this how change.org proposes to have a public engagement ?

The fact that  it was only after  I  pointed out that  two conflicting petitions, change.org looked into the matter and found that the  petition of voyeuristic  journalists managed  thousands  signatures by fraud  . They  have informed Information and Broadcasting  Ministry . Interesting but what if they would not be informed, will they know will  then and will they take action ?

For once let me make it clear I do not have a personal vendetta against change.org and neither people are confused by allegations they are concerned.

Here is a  Hoot investigative story on  change.org and how it operates  notes , Deconstructing Change.org

Change.org believes that to get the desired impact, online petitions should be supported by on ground action, exposure in local media and interactions with decision makers. However, in many cases, the offline or on-ground mobilisation may be completely missing, thus putting a question mark on sustainability of the impact generated. For instance, a petition by Video Volunteers against a discriminatory practice in a Rajasthan village where a traditional practice of Dalit women carrying their footwear in their hands while crossing the houses of upper caste families garnered 5,480 signatures.

Acting on the petition, the District Collector along with other officials held a meeting in the village apprising them of the law banning caste discrimination and ordered that the practice be disallowed. However, the villagers did not even know that there was a campaign running on this issue and unknown people were playing their saviours over the Internet. The impact has been that the Dalits are now much more scared to talk about the discrimination, as mentioned by this report in Times of India. Herman refutes this claim, saying that the correspondent of Video Volunteers had mobilised Dalit women against this practice and villagers might be scared of talking to the media due to local power equations. However, independent inquiries made by The Hoot confirm that the action taken by the officials was solely on the basis of the online petition and there was no local campaign against the practice.

I will let the responses to my  expose on change.org speak for itself. I got many emails, facebook messages , some of them are below

आपने जो उदाहरण दिया है उससे स्‍पष्‍ट है कि कोई भी चेंज डॉट ओआरजी का दुरुपयोग कर सकता है। वैसे भी ये या तो व्‍यवसाय कर सकते हैं या सामाजिक बदलाव में कोई भूमिका निभा सकते हैं। और किसी को भ्रम नहीं होना चाहिए कि ये प्‍लेटफॉर्म सामाजिक बदलाव के लिए है। it’s really selling you and me on change dot org. –sandeepsamvad, new delhi, emaiil

it is hard to believe that change.org is not selling signatures as you have not completely denied when you said “Kamayani’s claim that we sell email addresses to sponsors is also incorrect. Our business model has been clearly outlined on the site. We allow our users to voluntarily opt-in to receive mailing from organisations via sponsored petitions.”there is a strong reason for not believing your words as in first instance you said in your reply “partly because one of them was the subject to anattempt at fraud and manipulation over the last week — almost 5000 signatures were added by two IP addresses” AND in very next line you say ” We have multiple levels of systemic checks to prevent this kind of abuse and ensurethat the integrity of our platform is maintained. The fraudulent signatureshave already been removed to reflect the count of genuine signatures.” WHAT HAPPEND TO THE MULTIPLE LEVELS OF SYSTEMIC CHECKS when peoples were signing petitions from one IP , in this case you have deleted signatures but how do we believe that other “victories” petitions are signed by individuals ;with this whole incident I think there are strong flaws on change.org , you have believed , trusted and took actions on almost all points Kamayani higlighted and on other hand you said “We completely respect Kamayani’s right to a different view, although we regret that she is spreading misinformation about Change.org”

I would have trusted on your words , if you would have removed this fraudulent signature petition and all other such petitions;I myself have written a petition and I know it is very difficult for us to raise a issue and bring in people to spend a time and sign it ; with this whole incidence of Change.org my belief on online petitions is shattered .lastly I perceive it in this way and that is , I think you also believe less  on change.org , as you chose Tumbler to highlight such a big news about your own website .I am hoping for a fair dialogue about this whole issues with a thread of previous emails and replies on change.org homepage so that truth must come out …

( Rahul Deveshwar on Facebook )

Change.org platform is no longer on the side of justice, but neutral in the fight against oppression, and hence, has actually taken the side of the oppressor…( Aashish Gupta  via email)

The idea that the  change.org makes no judgment on the type of petition seems a bit strange. Do they not have some sort of system of checks and balances? How many people sign things just on trust? I know I have done. To personalise the mistake (if it was a mistake) that they may have made to an individual who points out the inconsistency of their position on a specific petition seems to me a policy of “shoot the messenger” No petition is a trivial issue to those who take the trouble of starting one, or signing one. Motives would seem a significant factor. therefore this personalisation also would appear to have a motive. Is the organisation afraid of criticism? In which case the attack on an individual would seem logical. Why could not have change.org  provided a coherent answer to the inconsistency highlighted and not personalise the matter to an individual. It is those who work on the ground with people who matter, the idea of holding “people power and democracy in high regard” seems to me bullshit, and appears to appeal to interest groups who have a neo liberal agenda of control.
Kamayani I think all such organisations to me are suspect and anyone who points a finger that may expose their inconsistencies would be demonised in some way. specially such democracy movements of recent past seem to have had bloody results when western interests are threatened, Middle East, Pakistan orange revolution etc etc come to mind. There is sometimes more at stake than rights of people and that is the jobs of those who run these corporate “rights” organisations almost across the world and they would always go with their sponser, who would be western based or financed.  Kamayani, May be you have touched a brick that could shake the edifice ? I am frankly unconvinced by Change-org’s response, and as a user of Change in the past, may be forced to rethink my use of this platform. The simple question that bothers me is: how ‘neutral’ can such a platform be? If there is a petition demanding action against, say, Hindutva hate-speech or anti-dalit violence, will Change also host a petition by the same accused persons, as long as the language they use is not ‘hateful’? I would be much more comfortable with a clear, though broad, policy by such a platform.   I have closed by change.org account  (Satish Barot on FB)

” I am a little shocked that we bothered Mr. Tumbler. When I think, you own change.org. It would be more official when you post it there. Innit ?” (Harish Iyer, Facebook)

I am frankly unconvinced by Change-org’s response, and as a user of Change in the past, may be forced to rethink my use of this platform. The simple question that bothers me is: how ‘neutral’ can such a platform be? If there is a petition demanding action against, say, Hindutva hate-speech or anti-dalit violence, will Change also host a petition by the same accused persons, as long as the language they use is not ‘hateful’? I would be much more comfortable with a clear, though broad, policy by such a platform.    ( Kavita Krishnan, New Delhi email )

I completely agree that the case of the NALSAR students whose privacy was invaded and who were morally policed by these mediapeople shows exactly why change.orgshould not accept petitions from all sources. Many of us followed Kamayani’s use of change.org because we believed the organization had an explicit pro-justice bias in the campaigns it took on. Having change.org be a neutral platform to be used by anybody, or accepting paid sponsorships means that the platform indeed becomes something like Facebook – a profit seeking platform which we can use but which is not by itself an ally. I urge change.org to discard labels like neutrality, openness and democracy- all of which are used in our current socioeconomic system to mean that those with money will have the loudest voice – and to take an explicit stand on promoting justice through their petitions…( Kaveri, Bangalore )

It is sad that every space has been taken over by the BUSINESS and MONEY MAKERS…. we think we are playing in a free ground but that ground is also owned by the same corrupt minds… Amir Rizvi, Mumbai

It is indeed time that the issue about online petitions was addressed in more detail. Having read your blog and the response by change.org leaves me to conclude that change.org is definitely on the back foot as it has not bothered to explain the selling of email ID’s names etc for proit to other NGO’s. This is the business model of all the online petition sites and that is how they manage to have fancy pay packages for their employees and maintain their infrastructure. Sure, change.org may well be a technology oriented, democratic organization, but that does not absolve it from carrying out unethical practices.

The argument that change.org allows opt-in is not a favor done by the organization towards its users. It is legally mandated that such services should opt-in rather than opt-out services (throw back to Google, Facebook and other litigation’s and their results)

What happens to these online petitions (apart from creating a few seconds of “awareness”) is also debatable. I wonder if change.org has devised any metric to track what effect their online petitions have made. Being a “technology driven” organization, they should have the the means to track the effects of their petitions and should release such audits from time to time to their users.

In summary, the business model of change.org appears to be simply that of any other aggregator/mass e-mailer. To cloak this behind a veil of social consciousness and activism is doing dis-service to others who actually get their hands dirty doing real work and not sit behind computer terminals in air-conditioned offices selling their databases to the highest bidder. (Anuj Wankhede, Delhi)

I am completely with you and also understand the concern you raised in your narration. Media being one of the institutions operated and controlled by capitalist and patriarchal values certainly is not going to take pro-women, pro-equality stand. The argument of change.org that they provide space for ‘activism’ seem to be not true unless they take a critical position on issues being raised in and through their space. What if tomorrow anti-women, anti-dalits, anti-muslims, anti-abortion, anti-poor, anti-rights, anti-tribal, anti-minority people start putting up their petitions through change.org? What would be the position of owners/facilitators of this space?

Request to change.org from my side is to upload their position on many of the issues they feel are the result of inequalities, historic and systemic nature of discrimination, coercive hierarchies and culture of violence. Anand Pawar, Pune

Change.org has crossed the line between change-making and profit-making  .

So people are not confused by my expose ,but more concerned !

Change.org – Sign the change you want to see #onlineactivism


The concept of online petitioning is riding high on the wave of social change sweeping the world. MANU MOUDGIL says that while the impact is promising, there are several roadblocks to be negotiated.
Posted/Updated Saturday, Apr 27 , thehoot.org
Every other day, a new mail drops into the inbox asking you to ‘change the world’ by signing a petition. It can be as serious an issue as seeking justice for an acid attack victim or as trivial as asking Justin Bieber to have a live concert in India. For an increasing number of urban Indians bred on concepts of equality and justice but frustrated by trappings of age-old power hierarchies of this country, the idea is promising. You don’t need to be a kurta-wearing social activist sitting on dharnas or a donor writing cheques to fund campaigns. Just filling in your name, email Id and postal code would do.
Petitioning around social campaigns has been in practice for decades but never has its impact been more pronounced than today when a call to ‘stop rape’ can gather 59,000 signatures in just 24 hours (On last count, the petition had 6.64 lakh signatures). For every signature, the decision makers get an email (many petitions also request the supporters to call the officials) thus ensuring constant pressure on them to act.
Two government school teachers in Jharkhand get paid after four years, five asphalt factories in Rajasthan shut down for causing air pollution, a discriminatory temple ritual is banned in Karnataka…the list goes on about the impact online petitions have made, though not singularly.
Online petitioning picked up pace in India after 2011 when Change.org, the world’s largest e-petition platform, started its operations here. Today, it has close to 6 lakh users with 600-800 petitions started every month, up from 11-15 petitions two years ago. Worldwide, it has operations in 18 countries and boasts of 35 million users.
Change.org also scores over other online platforms because of its support team, which helps build a communication strategy around selected petitions. In India, a small five-member team sends emails to users, talks to the media and suggests ways to engage with decision makers around campaigns which are bound to get popular support like the anti-rape petition started in wake of the Delhi gang-rape. The team works on 14-16 campaigns a week.
Everyone’s invited
 
One palpable difference online platforms have made in the field of campaigning is democratisation of the petitioning tool. Anybody can mobilise support for a cause they strongly feel about. Namita Bhandare, who started the anti-rape petition, had never participated in protest marches or candlelight vigils. She wrote the petition just to give vent to her anger and feeling of helplessness after the Delhi gang-rape. “At first, I questioned myself what would a petition do. In fact, now I realise that the recommendations we made in the petition were very basic and the Justice Verma Commission went much beyond as it factored in marital rape, action against armed forces and redefined sexual assault. However, filing that petition was cathartic for me. The tool lends power to the people who were earlier completely dependent on media or NGOs to mobilise support,” she says.
However, critics believe that e-petition promotes slacktivism or armchair activism which is also the reason it is so successful. It gives “false power” to those who feel helpless in face of problems they can’t control and prevents many of the supporters from participating in on-ground action. Preethi Herman, Campaigns Director at change.org laughs off such criticism. “We tend to assume that people just sign petitions. Online platform is the first point of engagement. They make telephone calls to decision makers, participate in offline events and help spread the word further. You can’t equate mobilisation with activism as it’s more about developing a larger support base for your cause. Most of the supporters are not activists but they do want a change,” she says.
Bhandare agrees: “ E-petition does sensitise one to the cause. You can’t just start a petition on rape and go to a cocktail party. I am sure many of the signatories to my petition also joined the on-ground protests.”
Change.org also collaborates with Video Volunteers and CGNet Swara, the two grassroots-level organisations which use video and audio media to highlight issues in rural India. “It was important for us to adapt to Indian conditions where Internet penetration is still very low. We work with Video Volunteers and CGNet Swara to identify issues in their areas which could be promoted online and hence bridge the gap between rural and urban population,” Herman says.
Tania Devaiah, the impacts manager at Video Volunteers, confirms that getting numbers behind a cause through online petition lends an institutional approach to the campaign. “Constant flow of emails and phone calls does build pressure on decision makers in comparison to a single approach of making and screening of videos. We pick up issues for online campaigns where either it’s difficult to make the authorities act or the cause has a universal appeal,” she adds. The next frontier change.org wants to conquer is to make the platform available in Hindi and adapt it to mobile phones.
The loopholes
Change.org believes that to get the desired impact, online petitions should be supported by on ground action, exposure in local media and interactions with decision makers. However, in many cases, the offline or on-ground mobilisation may be completely missing, thus putting a question mark on sustainability of the impact generated. For instance, a petition by Video Volunteers against a discriminatory practice in a Rajasthan village where a traditional practice of Dalit women carrying their footwear in their hands while crossing the houses of upper caste families garnered 5,480 signatures.
Acting on the petition, the District Collector along with other officials held a meeting in the village apprising them of the law banning caste discrimination and ordered that the practice be disallowed. However, the villagers did not even know that there was a campaign running on this issue and unknown people were playing their saviours over the Internet. The impact has been that the Dalits are now much more scared to talk about the discrimination, as mentioned by this report in Times of India. Herman refutes this claim, saying that the correspondent of Video Volunteers had mobilised Dalit women against this practice and villagers might be scared of talking to the media due to local power equations. However, independent inquiries made by The Hoot confirm that the action taken by the officials was solely on the basis of the online petition and there was no local campaign against the practice.
Verification of facts reported in the petition is another sore point. Though some petitions do carry images and videos related to the issue, there are chances that you might end up supporting a wrong cause. For instance, an incident in Hyderabad got two separate petitions running on the website. Girl college students coming out of a pub after a farewell party were accused by the regional news channels of creating nuisance at a public place and depicted as uncultured while the students blamed the media of moral policing and wrongful depiction. The chances are you may end up signing one of these petitions without getting to know the other side. Herman says since numerous petitions are created daily, it’s not possible to substantiate the facts presented in each of them but whenever the Change team works on and pushes a petition, the facts are verified in detail.
Values shortchanged?
Change.org claims to be a corporation using the power of business for social good. It made revenue by allowing sponsored petitions from progressive groups willing to shell out dollars to promote their campaigns. The concept has helped the company generate enough profit to make its functioning self-sustaining.
However, something changed in October last year when a leaked internal documentrevealed how the organisation was replacing its value-based advertising policy to an ‘open’ approach allowing even conservatives and corporates to use its resources. This invited widespread criticism from the progressive community which felt that the vast user database it helped build through the years was being sold to the opposition camp.
On the other hand, as underscored by Isaac Luria of Groundswell, organisations running social campaigns don’t get a full contact list of their supporters whom they could later invite to attend meetings, join local groups, or donate. “Of course, I could have bought the names that signed the petition on Change.org for around $500,000 or about $2 per name if I had the foresight before the campaign was launched or had the money,” he adds.
Change’s founder Ben Rattray responded to the criticism by arguing that the organisation “cannot maintain an open platform and simultaneously block all ads that don’t fit a particular political view” and ads from controversial groups would only be accepted if the platform has users interested in their work. He also emphasised that an open advertiser policy was essential to avoid being “regularly forced into unsustainable positions.”
However, not everybody was impressed with these clarifications. Kamayani Bali Mahabal, an online campaigner who has initiated a petition asking Rattray to come out clean, says the definition of openness pushed by Change.org is not in consonance with progressive principles. “I used to laugh at some of the inane petitions like the ones promoting homophobia or anti-abortion, as I was sure change.org will not give any support and the petition will die its own death. But with the new policy, anyone is eligible to advertise. So, after I sign a petition for human rights, I might find a link to a sponsored petition on giving legal recognition to khap panchayats,” she says.
Mahabal has now been trying other online platforms but is not happy with their technical support. For the time being, she is using her own blog to mobilise online support and is hopeful that Indian activists will have their own independent platform soon.
Meanwhile, as they say, every change is accompanied by discomforts. The question is how well can we deal with these.
Official recognition

Online petitioning is officially recognised in the US where the right to petition your government is guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The White House hosts an online platform ‘We the People’ where any petition which gets 1,00,000 signatures within 30 days elicits a government response. The threshold before January 2013 was 25,000 signatures and one of the petitions which got the White House speaking was seeking ‘genocide’ status for the 1984 Sikh riots in India. The petition had more than 30,000 signatures.

original article http://thehoot.org/web/Signthechangeyouwanttosee/6753-1-1-12-true.html

#India- FREE APARNA MARANDI , Human Rights Violation by Jharkhand Police


PLEASE SIGN ONLINE PETITION  BELOW  SHARE WIDELY

http://petitions.halabol.com/2012/12/15/free-aparna-marandi-and-her-4-year-old-son

aparna1

URGENT APPEAL*

*| India |, 11 December 2012*

Aparna Marandi, her four year old son Alok Chandra, Satish (16 years old)
her distant relative and her two friends Baby Turi and Susheela Ekka were
picked up the police on 8th December. The manner in which they were picked
up, interrogated and detained, are in clear violation of all established
procedures and rules. Aparna was forced to sign a confessional statement on
the basis of which she has been taken away to Dumka prison. All of them
were mistreated and mentally tortured during this unlawful interrogation.

Earlier in the day I and my colleagues at Video Volunteers, Anand Hembrom
and Tania Deviah, spoke at length with Baby Turi and her husband Damodar
Turi. Their detailed narration of the last 3 days (below) gives us enough
evidence of grievous human rights violation by the Jharkhand police :
illegal detention, violation of arrest guidelines, forceful confession,
intimidatory and abusive interrogation, threatening to seriously hurt and
kill.

Given that this is not an isolated incident, and marks a pattern of
silencing rights activists who challenge repression and exploitative
‘development’ projects , we must take strong and urgent action on this
matter. I urge you all to take this matter up in your respective individual
or collective capacities to ensure justice to all affected.

*Backstory:*

Aparna Marandi is the wife of cultural activist Jeetan Marandi. Jeetan was
a composer and singer and  sang about poverty, starvation, corruption,
oppression – realities of life in some of the most marginalized regions in
the country. The state reacted to his activism with draconian force and
incarcerated him. Despite being acquitted by the Jhakhand High Court,
Jeetan continues to languish in prison. It has been four long years since
he was arrested.

Since Jeetan’s arrest, Aparna has been indefatigable. With her son in her
arms, she would go from courts to police stations to government officers to
conferences to rallies in the streets in an effort to secure justice for
Jeetan. She is one of the most outspoken voices for human rights and
justice in grassroots Jharkhand.

Baby Turi is the Mukhiya (village council head) of Jitpur panchayat in
Tundi block, Dhanbad district of Jharkhand. Damodar Turi, a well known
human rights activist specifically working against displacement and forced
eviction, is Baby’s husband. Damodar is also accused of being a ‘Maoist
sympathizer’ and has baseless cases slapped on him since the last four
years.

*Baby Turi’s Statement [Given on 11 December]*

On 8th December 2012, I along with  Aparna Marandi , her four year old son
Alok,  Sushila Ekka and Satish Kumar were to take a train from Hatia
railway station to go to Hyderabad to attend the Rajnitik Bandi Rihayi
Samiti (Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners) meeting. At 4pm,
while we were still sitting in the train and waiting for it to move, we
were approached by plain clothed police officers. They told us that they
were Railway Ticket Examiners and that we needed to be interrogated for
traveling on unconfirmed tickets. We were all were made to remove our
luggage and get out of the train. They asked us why we are going to
Hyderabad. Aparna said she is attending the meeting as her husband is a
political prisoner. ‘I will try everything I can to get my husband out of
jail because he is innocent’, she said.

From the railway station we were moved to the CBI office in Ranchi where we
were interrogated about our links to Maoist groups. They kept throwing
names at us but we did not know any of those people. We said that we have
no links or connections with any Maoists group or person. Through out that
questioning they used foul language and kept cursing. Their whole approach
was to scare us, intimidate and to make us to accept their charges and
allegations.

At 10.30 pm on the same night (8th December 2012) they moved us to the
Women’s station in Ranchi. They kept us in the lockup room. We were given
very little food and after demanding it several times. They did not even
give some biscuits to Alok. They used abusive language and wouldn’t allow
us to use the toilet. They said we were faking the urge to use the toilet
because we wanted to walk around.  That night we slept in the lockup room
with one male guard outside. The guards took turns to keep an eye on us.

Next morning, on  9th December, Aparna was called out individually. They
started asking her about her connection to Maoists. They cursed her and
threatened her a lot. The poor thing was very scared. Aparna was asked to
sign a document stating that she was part of group who set a company’s
dumper (truck) on fire in Dumka and in the shoot out in Khatikhund. Aparna
was forced to sign it. She told us later that she had no choice but to sign
it because she felt her life ws in danger. The camera that you (Video
Volunteers) had given her was confiscated. They asked us to us to sweep the
lock up and do things like this. They weren’t giving us food. We told them
that we’ll give them money, just buy us some food! Aparna had picked up the
broom but we told her to drop it. Are we sweepers?

I overheard the police officer talking to her superiors on the phone. She
said ‘we have captured four Naxals and we are taking good care of them
Sir.’ Although it was a women’s police station, there were many CRPF men
guarding both the inside and outside the station. Through that day we were
photographed many times by the police.

When the media persons came, there was more tension. They told us we had
informed the media and that we were lying that we hadn’t contacted anyone.
We know that many activists in Ranchi and elsewhere were calling the SP to
know about our whereabouts and that the SP said that he doesn’t know about
any such arrests. All that time we were in the lock up.

Sushila too was interrogated. ‘How come people from different districts are
here together’, they asked. We explained that we knew each other since
Jeetan and Damodar were arrested under false charges in 2008.

They asked me if I knew about a CRPF camp near my village. I said yes. They
asked if I knew about the murder of a landlord there. I said no. They said,
‘how come you don’t know about it when you are the Mukhiya of the village’.
I said that I was not the Mukhiya (village council head)  at the time of
that killing. The police woman accused me of wining the election with the
support of the Maoists. They were trying very hard to make us accept that
we are Maoists.

Only women police officers were interrogating us. But CRPF men were all
over the station. They even accompanied us even when we went to use the
toilet.

On the evening of the 9th I and Susheela and Satish were asked to write and
sign a document stating that we were taken in for interrogation with Aparna
Marandi and were released without harm and that the police had not
misbehaved with us. We were asked to write that we had gathered in Hatiya
railway station to meet Jeetan Marandi. But we refused to write that part
because this was not true. Jeetan Marandi has been in jail for 4 years so
how can we have gone to meet him at the railway station?!  We protested
vehemently. We insisted that we will only write the facts and they
relented. However, they made us write that we were picked up for
questioning on the evening of the 9th. We told them that we want to put the
actual date which was the 8th. But they started cursing us again and even
threatened to kill us and so we relented to this and allowed them to put
the date as 9th .  We wrote and signed that statement because the three of
us were totally scared for our lives.

That night we were again made to sleep in the lock up. We were not allowed
to contact any our relatives nor did they inform any of our relatives of
our whereabouts or charges on us.

The following day, on 10th of December, at about 11am Aparna was taken away
to be produced before the magistrate in Ranchi. We came to know later that
she was taken to Dumka jail from there.

One police officer wanted the three of us to also a sign the confession
document of Aparna Marandi wherein she was made to write that she was
involved in the two incidents of Maoist attack. We started worrying badly.
Just then another police officer told her that the 3 of us need not be
added to Aparna’s. ‘We’ll slap some other case on them’, she said.

At 4pm on 10th December , Sushila, Satish and I were released. We don’t
know what will happen next. We just know that they have taken our photos
and our signatures on this document. We don’t know how Aparna is doing.

*Damodar Turi statement:* *[Given on 11 December]*

I am the State Convener of the Visthapan Virodhi Janvikas Andolan (People’s
Campaign against Displacement). I have charges under UAPA and under section
17 and 18 CRPC Act filed against me since 24th June 2008.  No FIR was made.
No information was given to me or anyone about this. That night at 9pm,
police surrounded my office in Ranchi and arrested me. Police officers from
5 stations were present, about 100 police men.  They started beating me in
the office itself. They beat me in the vehicle on the way. In the station
they beat me in various ways, kicks, slaps, with sticks. Then they took me
to Lalpur Police Station and began third degree torture. They kept throwing
names of Moist leaders at me and asked me how I knew them. I said I don’t
know any of them and that my work is against displacement and for the
development of Adivasis and Dalits. ‘So you are against all the companies
that want to come to Jharkhand is it”, they asked me. I said that my work
is to secure the rights of the marginalized people. They then asked me how
I met various activists and leaders and where we get funding from. I showed
them receipts of how people donated small funds to the movement. They did
not listen. They confiscated the cash in my office and claimed that it was
“levy ka paisa” (money collected as levy*). I felt upset and protested that
this is not levy money. They tortured me more and made me sign a statement.
The same night they moved me to the Muffosil police station. They
threatened me that they will kill me in an encounter. I told them who I was
and and what my work was and that this fact will not change no matter how
much they tortured me. I told them to go ahead and kill me in an encounter
if they want.

The next morning they took me to a press conference. At first the hall was
empty. Then they took me out of the room and when they brought me back in,
on each of the tables they had laid out *Lal Chingari* pamphlets, alongside
brochures of my organization. Lal Chingari is the pamphlet brought out by
the Moists. I tried to protest and told the press who I am and that the Lal
Chingari pamphlets were not mine. SP (Superintendent of Police) MS Bhatia
told the media persons gathered there that the Lal Chingari were recovered
from my office. The fact is that they did not find any such thing on me or
in my office. This was the only evidence they produced to prove that I am a
Maoist. The press then wrote both sides of the story.

This is the context under which my wife’s recent arrest plays out. In the
biggest democracy in the country, there is a lot of suspicion against the
Adivasi and Dalits. A lot of us are targeted as Maoists and Naxals. We have
no forum to voice our sorrow. There is a report stating how 100s of
Adivasis have been jailed with such charges. All the armed operations
against Maoists have targeted defenseless Adivasis and Dalits in this
state. That is the systematic attempt of the Government. My wife and her
companions are being treated this way because they are Dalits. If they were
women from upper class or upper caste families, I don’t feel they would
have been looked at with such suspicion.

My wife and others were detained illegally. They were picked up police men
in plain clothes, they had no name tags, there were no women police at that
time. This is a blatant violation of law and laid down procedures. They
were not told the reason of their arrest. They weren’t allowed to use the
toilet and were mentally tortured. They were not given adequate food and
had to fight for it. They police used abusive language. They were detained
for more than 24 hrs and were not produced before a Magistrate. The police
kept talking about their connection to Maoist leaders. There were threats
to beat kill them.

Stalin K.DirectorVideo Volunteers – Empowering CommunityVoices

Archives

Kractivism-Gonaimate Videos

Protest to Arrest

Faking Democracy- Free Irom Sharmila Now

Faking Democracy- Repression Anti- Nuke activists

JAPA- MUSICAL ACTIVISM

Kamayaninumerouno – Youtube Channel

UID-UNIQUE ?

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 6,246 other followers

Top Rated

Blog Stats

  • 1,668,528 hits

Archives

October 2017
M T W T F S S
« Jun    
 1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
3031  
%d bloggers like this: