has resulted in needless contradiction and defeat of the core environmental objective. Shripad Dharmadhikary analyses the reports.
has resulted in needless contradiction and defeat of the core environmental objective. Shripad Dharmadhikary analyses the reports.
On the second day of her visit to the State, social activist Medha Patkar visited Kalpakkam. While she was interacting with the people from the fishing community, she said, “More and more scientific data over the effects of radiation must be coming from Kalpakkam, and thereby, it should be made a ‘case study’ for other nuclear reactors.”
Addressing the people, she said, “Going to the seashore was once tourism and an entertainment. But now, the ‘man-made tsunami’ has changed that pleasure. The struggle of the fishing community against nuclear plants either in Kalpakkam or in Koodankulam, has turned a service to the environment and to the whole of mankind.”
“During the Narmada Valley protests, we had said it was in the quake-prone zone. But officials denied it. Later, there was a quake at Latur, where the place has been pointed as not in the quake-prone zone. It clearly shows that we cannot estimate the possibility of a quake at any given region. When there are scientific reports that showcases Kalpakkam is under such a hazard, why should we want to take the risk?,” she asked. She further said, “In the past, there were judges like V R Krishna Iyer and P N Bhagwati who ordered investigation committees to go to the ground and inspect. Such practices are not followed in today’s judiciary.”
According to members of NAPM, Medha Patkar had written to the Chief Secretary and got an appointment for around 5.30 pm on Thursday. But due to work exigencies, it is said the chief secretary cancelled the meeting.
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- Medha Patkar exposes 70,000 crore Maharashtra Irrigation Scam #Ajitpawar #Nitingadkari #Video (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Medha Patkar Fast at Golibar- Govt has agreed to stop demolition but not given in writing yet (kractivist.wordpress.com)
Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Violence against Women, Women Rights Tagged: Activism, Chief Secretary, Kalpakkam, Koodankulam, Krishna Iyer, Latur, Medha Patkar, Thursday
When 20-year-old Sarah Smith got into an accident with a motorcyclist in 2008, it was nothing but bad news—she was driving with a suspended license. It got worse. When police showed up, officer Adam Skweres took Smith aside and implied that he could either make it look like the accident was her fault or give the other party a ticket. It depended on whether she’d agree to perform unspecified sexual favors. Skweres also threatened that if she told anyone, he’d “make sure you never walk, talk, or speak again,” and looked at his gun. That scared her enough that she immediately reported what he’d done to the police, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
Another four years passed before the department arrested Skweres and suspended him without pay, and then only because he tried to rape a woman while on duty. By that time, Smith had moved out of the city for fear of running into him again. Three other women told stories similar to Smith’s, and on March 11 Skewers pleaded guilty to bribery, indecent assault, and other charges.
Stories of cops propositioning, harassing, and sexually assaulting women turn up every week around the country. February 18 saw the arrest of Houston officer Victor Chris for allegedly telling two women he would tear up their traffic tickets in exchange for sexual favors, according to the Houston Chronicle. Police chargedSergio Alvarez, an officer from West Sacramento, California, on February 25 with allegedly kidnapping and raping six women while on duty. On March 1, Denver cop Hector Paez got eight years in prison for driving a woman he’d arrested to a secluded spot and forcing her to perform oral sex.
“Police sexual misconduct is common, and anyone who maintains it isn’t doesn’t get it,” says retired Seattle police chief Norm Stamper, author of the book Breaking Rank.
Since no one is investing resources in learning how many victims are out there, we’re left with estimates and news accounts. As part of a 2008 study, former police officer Tim Maher, a criminologist at the University of Missouri-St. Louis, asked 20 police chiefs whether police sexual misconduct was a problem; 18 responded in the affirmative. The 13 chiefs willing to offer estimates thought an average of 19 percent of cops were involved—if correct, that translates to more than 150,000 police officers nationwide. An informal effort by the Cato Institute in 2010 to track the number of police sexual-misconduct cases just in news stories counted 618 complaints nationwide that year, 354 of which involved forcible nonconsensual sexual activity like sexual assault or sexual battery.
The news steadily filtering in from around the country has forced police leaders nationally to take notice. The U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women funded the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) to develop a guide for police chiefs, issued in 2011, that encourages them to adopt specific policies in their departments to prevent police sexual misconduct. The DOJ funded the report after noting “recurring accusations of sexual offenses implicating law enforcement officers.”
Two years later, the IACP can’t tell whether its recommendations are making any difference.
No one keeps data on the number of victims of police sexual abuse, and the IACP says it can’t track the number of police departments that have adopted its recommendations. “We think there’s a good-faith effort by police departments out there to be more accountable,” says the IACP’s John Firman. But how would the IACP know, given that there’s no data on the number of victims or departments with such policies? Replies Firman, “Well, we could say the opposite—we don’t see a groundswell from people who are protesting their police departments for this kind of activity.”
If there’s no pushback, one reason may be that the victims fear retaliation. “Women are terrified and won’t come forward,” says Diane Wetendorf, an author and advocate who has worked with victims for many years. Even in cases that don’t involve cops, only about a third of rapes and less than half of sexual assaults are ever reported, according to a 2004 DOJ study. The number of women reporting sex crimes involving cops likely is far lower. “Can you imagine how much harder it is to report abuse by a police officer?” asks New York City civil-rights attorney Andrea Ritchie, co-coordinator of Streetwise and Safe, a program trying to change the city’s policing practices toward LGBTQ youth of color. One tactic of abusive cops makes that especially true—extorting sexual favors from women who fear they could be charged with a crime, in exchange for leniency. Victims think that if they report what happened, their favorable treatment will disappear.
Advocates say only a radical shift—stronger federal laws that force better oversight of local police departments—will prevent more cases like Sarah Smith’s. Ritchie, for example, wants to see the federal 2003 Prison Rape Elimination Act—which established “zero tolerance” for sexual abuse and sexual misconduct by prison and jail staff—expanded to apply to anyone in police custody, not just those in lockups.
States also need to communicate with each other about cops who have been fired or allowed to resign for sexual misconduct. That’s not happening now—only 34 states contribute to the National Decertification Index, first implemented in 2000. That database holds the names of officers who have lost their certification for any type of misbehavior, including sexual misconduct, which allows police departments that are hiring to screen out bad-apple candidates. But without a national database to which all states contribute, the decertification system nationally will never work as it should. “It’s just nuts that we haven’t come together as a society on this,” says Roger Goldman, a law professor at the Saint Louis School University School of Law who’s an expert on police-licensing laws and has worked for 30 years to convince states to contribute to the database.
Maher thinks it’s time to create a mandatory federal database. In 1996, in fact, Senator Ben Nelson and Representative Harry Johnston, both Democrats, introduced bills to create a national registry of officers whose certification had been revoked. Both bills died in committee, in part because opponents said there was a lack of evidence that unfit officers were moving between states, notes Goldman in a 2001 paper in the St. Louis University Law Journal. That was the last attempt of its kind.
Advocates like Wetendorf think the only way to change the boys-will-be-boys police culture is to hire more women cops. Today women represent about 13 percent of the force, and that figure is growing at less than half a percent per year, according to the IACP. A report last year from the Rand Corporation said police departments appear to be doing too little to recruit women into the force. It also found that police hiring tests may be biased against women and that police culture may be marginalizing and discriminating against woman officers. Meanwhile, female officers continue to file discrimination and sexual-harassment lawsuits and are winning the majority of them, according to the IACP.
Activists have tried to draw attention to the issue in international forums, says Ritchie. In December 2007, 38 organizations submitted a report to the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination documenting ongoing incidents of police sexual assault and harassment. They made the case that the federal government’s failure to address the issue violates its obligations under the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. The groups submitted similar reports to two other U.N. committees.
Local grassroots groups also continue to organize. After a woman accused two Chicago officers of sexually assaulting her in March 2011, the group Campaign Against Police Sexual Assault held demonstrations in support of her during the subsequent court hearings. In Oregon, the group Portland Copwatch monitors and documents incidents of local cops involved in sexual harassment and assault. And Ritchie says that after years of talking to New York City’s police department about the issue, the department has finally told her it’s open to a conversation about developing a specific sexual misconduct policy—which is particularly important in a city where young women are summarily stopped and frisked by male cops.
Without those efforts and more, what Stamper says is needed—“a profound, radical change in policing”—isn’t likely. And thousands of abusive cops will continue to intimidate and take advantage of women they’re supposed to protect
Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Violence against Women, Women Rights Tagged: IACP, International Association of Chiefs of Police, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Police, Steve Yoder, United States Department of Justice, University of Missouri–St. Louis, West Sacramento California
He was detained and his cassette was snatched away at company’s behest
The public hearing for the first phase of Ultratech’s proposed cement plant in Tamil Nadu on Thursday appeared to be a stage-managed event. Officials and police at the event did not allow a volunteer from Delhi-based non-profit Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), Senthil, to film the proceedings. He was detained at the venue and his cassette was snatched away.
The public hearing was for the proposed integrated greenfield cement project of UltraTech Cement. The project will include a facility for the production of clinker, cement (of 5.5 million tonnes per annum production capacity) and a captive power plant capable of producing 75MW power. The project is planned in two phases at Vellianai in Karur district and D Gudalur in Dindigul district of Tamil Nadu.
Site of the proposed cement plant
Members of the press present at the venue of the public hearing were permitted to take photographs. However, the CSE volunteer was stopped from filming by an officer of the state pollution control board (SPCB), who refused to disclose his name. The volunteer was asked for his credentials and was told that permission from higher officials was required before he could film the hearing.
The volunteer explained that the video was being made as part of the project of the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF). The project, Green Clearance Watch http://www.greenclearancewatch.org/ , is a public information system to track environmental and forest clearances given to industrial and development projects in key sectors from April 2007 onwards. Part of its work involves the documenting public hearings.
The volunteer’s explanations were completely ignored, and the assistant engineer of the SPCB called in the police. Company officials instructed the state government officials at the venue not to allow him to leave until he surrendered the recorded cassette, says the volunteer. The cassette was then snatched away.
A public hearing is usually organised by the respective SPCB, and includes representatives of the company pursuing the project, residents of the affected areas and others who may wish to attend. The hearing takes place in the presence of the district collector.
Law allows video-recording
According to the EIA notification, a public hearing needs to be recorded by an SPCB and the video has to be sent to MoEF. Activists and communities allege that these videos are often tampered with. There is nothing in the EIA notification that bars a person from video recording during the public hearing as it is a public event.
Pravin Patel, an activist from Chhattisgarh says, “The friend who has been threatened and obstructed in his work should report the matter to the MoEF as well as to the member secretary of the SPCB and file his objections for not granting the environmental clearance. The public hearing that was conducted is unfair where voices of the people have not been heard in a stage-managed show in the name of public hearing.”
Show of power
According to the CSE volunteer, several MLAs and local goons were assembled at the venue. People were made to register themselves before the hearing, and were called by name to state their concerns regarding the project, he says.
“The company served people biryani at the public hearing venue,” says the CSE volunteer. “People were asked about potential issues with water, air and rehabilitation because of the plant. Officials just kept replying: “The project is good. The project will not cause any issues and the environment would improve,” he says.
The volunteer was on his way out, but was then detained by police and made to sit through the proceedings of the hearing. He was assured that he would be allowed to leave in a while. After the hearing was over, he was further detained by officials who noted his details, as well as those of the CSE researchers who had sent him to the venue.
S Kowsalya, resident of Dindigul, rues the lack of documentation of the company’s assurances. “Industries are not willing to be accountable. The area is already water starved. We get water only once in 15 days and rivers in the area have dried. We don’t get labourers for agricultural land as there are several polluting spinning mills and leather industries around the district which give people a higher salary. Now this upcoming plant will add to the list of struggles in our daily life,” she says.
Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law Tagged: Cement, Dindigul, Ministry of Environment and Forests (India), Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body, SPCB, Tamil Nadu, Ultratech, UltraTech Cement
NAGAPATTINAM, May 22, 2013
P. V. Srividya
Mani Shankar Aiyar-led committee prescribes a mechanism for panchayat control
How relevant is panchayat raj in the everyday lives of the people? What is the role of panchayat raj institutions (PRIs) in poverty alleviation and human development? Is poverty alleviation possible through a peripheral role for panchayats as conceived in various Central sector schemes?
Taking up these questions, the Mani Shankar Aiyar-led Expert Committee on “Leveraging Panchayat Raj Institutions for effective delivery of public goods and services,” which submitted its report to the government recently, has suggested that the Gram Sabha should be empowered to monitor and make decisions on all the social sector schemes — Central and State. Citing MGNREGA (Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act) scheme as the model for other schemes, Mr. Aiyar told The Hindu in Mayiladuturai that this move will remove the lacunae in the ‘last mile delivery’ of the schemes.
A panchayat-driven social sector expenditure model empowers the community with a sense of ownership as against the bureaucracy-driven, top-down model currently inbuilt in the Central sector schemes. It calls for a rethink on the way central sector schemes (CSS) on poverty alleviation are designed and the need to retrieve PRIs from the fringes to their rightful place as drivers of rural welfare.
Outcomes are not in sync with the outlays, says the report. The multifold increase in social sector expenditure has barely translated into positive outcomes. There was no tangible rise in the Human Development Indices, despite the exponential increase in social sector expenditure.
The Committee — drawing its template from the Prime Minister’s address to the Conference of Chief Ministers in 2004 that calls for a rethink on the top-down design of programmes — prescribes Activity Mapping for each CSS. Activity Mapping envisions clear delineation of “functions, finances and functionaries,’ shifting the ownership of Schemes from the line departments to elected Panchayats. The report illustrates model Activity Mapping for eight CSS to lead the way.
When the Panchayat Raj experiment was started two decades ago, there was a certain degree of naïveté in believing that effective devolution would just happen, Mr. Aiyar recalls. “Unlike the West, with its local government experience in parishes and counties, here local government was imposed from above. We had to devolve, while the West evolved from local governments.” But, ours was the first such experiment at grassroots devolution leading to tangible social engineering, says Mr. Aiyar.
The Committee’s recommendations include a Centre-drafted model Gram Sabha law to motivate State legislation; freezing of rotation of reserved seats to two or three terms to incentivise good work and facilitate capacity building of panchayat leadership; incentivise PRIs for transparency and accountability and the States to devolve; reorient the outlook of lower bureaucracy to panchayats. The report also prescribes collateral and institutional measures such electronic tagging of funds, setting up of a National Commission for Panchayat Raj, and strengthening Gram Sabhas in PESA areas (tribal areas to which the Panchayat system has been extended by law).
The report recommends the MGNREGA scheme and BRGF (Backward Regions Grant Fund) model that locate PRIs as central to implementation. “We have wonderful examples in MGNREGA and BRGF. MGNREGA was initially worked out without a role for Panchayats. On my personal intervention and literally in a midnight, government’s amendment to the Bill, (and) a strong role for Panchayats came by. Today, it is a highly functional scheme,” says Mr. Aiyar.
While the Committee advocates strong Gram Sabhas that the panchayats are accountable to, the Bill on Land Acquisition lends only consultative powers to the Gram Sabhas.
Even as Mr. Aiyar sees no inherent conflict between intent and action, he does believe there are vested interests. ‘The Sub Committee under me strongly recommended consent by Gram Sabhas. But, there are always vested interests.” Also, most States have not legislated on powers for the Gram Sabhas.
According to the report, effective devolution leads to better outcomes, which in turn engenders political will. It was lack of bureaucratic will and not political will that has stalled effective devolution, says Mr. Aiyar. “My recommendations as chairperson of the Empowered Sub Committee of the NDC (National Development Council) were not acted upon by the Planning Commission. The Deputy Chairperson of the Planning Commission and the Cabinet Secretary are not elected and their inability to enforce their own circulars reflects lack of bureaucratic will.” The political class did not bear down on the bureaucracy like it did with MGNREGA.
“It is bureaucracy that will have to produce the methodology of devolution. But they did not. Now our report illustrates how to do it through Activity Mapping. They just have to implement it.” Recounting a personal conversation with Rajiv Gandhi in 1989, Mr. Aiyar says the former Prime Minister envisioned a generation’s time for effective devolution. “It is only 20 years now; we have five more years to realise that dream, if our recommendations are implemented.”
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Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law Tagged: Aiyar, Gram panchayat, Gram Sabha, Mani Shankar Aiyar, Mayiladuthurai, National Development Council, Panchayati raj, Rajiv Gandhi
Are you a disruptive person? Are you occasionally reluctant to part with possessions? Is your child defiant, or prone to temper tantrums? Are you grieving from the death of a close friend? Well, don’t worry; you can get drugs for all of this soon.
On Friday 17 May, the American Psychiatric Association published the fifth edition of its highly influential Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) – the first major update in 13 years. Although a US manual, DSM has global influence.
And that may not be good news. The new DSM has several new additions, including ‘Oppositional Defiant Disorder’ (when a child repeatedly says ‘No’ and acts defiantly), ‘Major Depressive Disorder’ (the experience of grieving) and Disruptive Mood Dysregulation Disorder (temper tantrums).
The DSM is put together by panels of experts in psychiatry. But there is evidence that many of them serve as paid spokespeople for pharmaceutical companies, or conduct industry-funded research.
A recent study showed that ‘some of the most conflicted panels are those for which drugs represent the first line of treatment, with two-thirds of the mood disorders panel, 83 per cent of the psychotic disorders panel and 100 per cent of the sleep disorders panel disclosing “ties to the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture the medications used to treat these disorders or to companies that service the pharmaceutical industry.”’
Angry at the scandal, over 10,000 mental health professionals have signed a letter against DSM-5. Allan Frances, the author of DSM-4 and a psychiatrist with 45 years’ experience, is deeply opposed to the changes.
Stooping this low would not be new for ‘Big Pharma.’ Between 1994 and 2005, large pharmaceutical companies spent over $1.3 billion on lobbying politicians in the US alone. Only last week it was revealed that Western pharmaceutical companies used Communist East Germany for illegal drug trials in state-run hospitals in which several test subjects died. These companies do not have our best interests at heart.
In a world where most people assume that the development of new drugs can only ever be positive, they have the power to mass-medicate our entire society. If they can use their influence to convince you that a state of mind is a mental illness, they can sell you something to make it better.
Taking a pill is no substitute for proper mental-health care. This zenith of corporate control over healthcare pushes us one step closer to a dystopian world of mass medication. As the concerned author of the previous DSM Edition (DSM 4) has pointed out, this attempt to medicalize normal everyday experiences is reminiscent of the ‘Somapills’ from Aldous Huxley’s dystopian novel Brave New World – a world where the entire population takes drugs.
Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Law, Violence against Women, Women Rights Tagged: Aldous Huxley, American Psychiatric Association, Brave New World, Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, DSM, DSM-5, Major depressive disorder, Mental health, Oppositional defiant disorder, United States
1-06-2013, Issue 22 Volume 10
If the protector becomes (the) predator, civilised society will cease to exist… Policemen who commit criminal acts deserve harsher punishment than other persons who commit such acts, because it is the duty of the policemen to protect the people and not break the law themselves
- Supreme Court of India, 2010
Marked man Harak Chandra Chakma, who was arrested and tortured by the police for taking part in a tribal celebration in Tripura, ended up in hospital for 10 days
On 14 May, police rounded up four men in Etah district of Uttar Pradesh, 260 km west of the state capital, Lucknow, in connection with a month-old case of murder. Three days later, one of them, a 33-year-old farmer named Balbir Singh, lay dead in a hospital in Lucknow. “The police gave him electric shocks and injected acid and petrol in his body,” says his brother- in-law, Sunul Kumar. “They forced him to sit on an electric heater that burnt his body horribly.” According to Kumar, Singh told him before dying that the police wanted him to confess his involvement in the murder.
So critical was his condition that Singh was moved to three hospitals in as many cities before he died. He named the policemen who tortured him in a dying declaration before a magistrate. The police were forced to register a case of murder. Five lowly policemen were suspended. No arrests are yet made. A sub-inspector is on the run. Devendra Pandey, who heads the police station of the alleged perpetrators, was merely transferred, though, according to Kumar, it was Pandey who gave Singh the electric shocks. Singh has left behind a one-year-old son and a pregnant wife.
The scourge of torture by police and prison officials is routine, random and vicious across India. On 18 May, Khalid Mujahid, 32, fell dead on his way back to a prison in Lucknow from a court in Faizabad. His death has generated unusual focus and political attention on the issue of police torture and custodial deaths. For the most part though, police torture hardly ever features as a red-button issue for Indians. First, there is a sense that torture only happens to the deserving. Second, there is a common perception that torture is the only — even if illegal — way of extracting crucial information from deadly terror suspects or mafia gangsters. Both these assumptions are false. Torture almost never yields accurate information. In fact, it is a security hazard as victims often confess in utter desperation to crimes they have not committed, while the real perpetrators roam free. Equally, torture is not restricted to rare cases. Often, it is perpetrated on those caught on trivial charges. According to the NHRC, over 14,000 people have died in police custody and in prisons in the decade ending 2010. This translates to a rate of more than four deaths a day. In the past three years, the NHRC has recorded 417 deaths in police custody and 4,285 deaths in judicial custody.
The story of Ratanji Vaghela is symptomatic of the sheer randomness of this brutality. On 27 April, Gujarat Police arrested Vaghela, a patient of depression and amnesia, for crossing the path of an official convoy in Gandhinagar. The family alleges torture, due to which he had to be hospitalised with severe wounds. “There are very few countries in the world where torture is as systematic and endemic as in India,” says New Delhi based campaigner Suhas Chakma. Rights activist Teesta Setalvad of Mumbai agrees: “Torture is not the exception, but the norm in jails as well as prisons across India.”
Vaghela may still turn out lucky. On a plea from Chakma, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), an autonomous statutory watchdog, has ordered the state government to pay him an interim compensation of Rs 3 lakh and probe the allegation that he was tortured. But for the tens of thousands of citizens subjected to brutal torture across police stations and prisons in India, there is virtually no end to the tunnel.
“I have seen people beaten until they collapsed. I heard a prisoner was beaten until he died,” says Binayak Sen, a rights campaigner in Chhattisgarh, who spent two years in prison and was sentenced to life imprisonment in 2010 for sedition. “There is no question of natural justice. It is done with impunity. This is the everyday reality of torture in Indian jails.” Sen, whose incarceration became a global cause and who is on bail having appealed his conviction, says he was called crazy when he protested the torture of fellow prisoners. He says he never saw a victim of torture try to seek justice.
While the rest of the world is no stranger to torture by State agencies, India has the dubious distinction of sticking out as a sore thumb in the comity of nations. Along with half-a-dozen tiny nations such as Comoros and Guinea-Bissau, India is the only big country that has failed to ratify the UN Convention Against Torture, by outlawing torture and legislating punishment, despite signing it. An attempt to legislate to outlaw torture went into deep freeze in 2010 after rights campaigners pointed out howlers in the draft Bill and a parliamentary committee began to sift through it.
As a result, an architecture of torture dominates India’s law enforcement, and the judiciary turns a blind eye. “We have seen the courts demand action against the police, but in most cases, torture invokes only a verbal outrage on the part of the judiciary,” says Supreme Court lawyer Vrinda Grover, a long-time campaigner against torture. “It does not necessarily lead to effective prosecution of the perpetrators of torture.”
If ever a stink stirs judicial and quasi-judicial agencies, compensations are paid out, but any prosecution of the guilty drags forever. Stunningly, data from the National Crime Records Bureau, a government agency, shows there have been no convictions despite numerous cases filed against policemen and prison staff.
Activists reckon that most deaths emanate from torture, though, of course, officials always deny that. Most deaths are written off as suicides; very many are put down to illnesses and diseases. And the number of those who survive is exponentially larger and highly underreported. For most victims, torture begins a never-ending nightmare.
Mukesh Kumar, 21, was arrested on 24 January in Sheikhpura, a district in Bihar 120 km south of state capital, Patna, for bootlegging. According to a complaint he later filed with the State Human Rights Commission, Kumar was taken to the official residence of the city’s Superintendent of Police (SP) Babu Ram and thrashed. A baton was pushed into his rectum. (The police deny the charge.) Doctors at a hospital where he was brought four days later found his intestines had ruptured. He was told they might never heal.
Kumar’s relatives admit that, desperate to feed his family of five, he had taken to plugging moonshine. They were forced to bring him to the State-run All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in New Delhi for surgeries that have already cost Rs 2 lakh. “He passes stool through a pipe and can’t walk to the toilet,” says Kumar’s uncle, Dhiraj Singh. “What do you do when the guardians of law commit such a crime?” After newspapers wrote of the torture, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar ordered the SP transferred out. “All the policemen involved in the case, including the SP, have been transferred,” says Sheikhpura’s new SP, Meenu Kumari. “I cannot comment further.”
With 11 crore people, Maharashtra has just over half the population of Uttar Pradesh. Yet, it tops the country in the number of cases of custodial deaths and torture by police and in prisons, beating even India’s most populous state. Recurrent bombings, supposedly by homegrown Islamic fundamentalists, and a Maoist rebellion in the state’s east have stoked the appetite for torture among the law enforcement agencies.
On 26 March 2012, a bomb exploded in Gadchiroli district, killing 12 members of the paramilitary Central Reserve Police Force. It responded by raiding surrounding villages with the police, who arrested 11 men. “Every morning and evening, we were hung upside down and our feet, ankles and back caned,” Nanaji Chambrupadha Bapra, 28, told this reporter on a visit to his village. “After four days, the police stopped the torture but still won’t release us,” adds Shatrugan Rajnaitham, 18. The men were instead charged with waging war against the State. They were bailed after three months.
“There is no evidence against them but they were picked up because it was convenient,” says their lawyer, Jagdish Mishram. And fruitful. “When they caned the soles, the pain shot up here,” says Naresh Sank Kujuri, 26, pointing at his head. “Three days later, I told them I had planted the bomb.” The families of these men, all poor farmers, have run up debts of lakhs of rupees on legal and health expenses. Of course, the police reject the charge. “None of the men were tortured,” Gadchiroli SP Suvez Haque told TEHELKA. “We arrested them on the basis of evidence.”
Kujuri’s story illustrates how torture is entirely self-defeating. Bandhu Mishram, 46, a tailor in Nagpur district and a veteran of torture, describes how the police set about implementing their regime of torture. He has been arrested thrice in a short life: in 1984, 1996 and 2010. In his early years he was targeted, he says, for his trade unionism and activism to demand a separate state of Vidarbha in the east of Maharashtra. In 2010, the police named him a Maoist rebel and arrested him.
“They break you down scientifically when they want a confession,” he says. “They know how to make you feel hurt and anxious.” Mishram was hung upside down between a tyre and his feet were caned for an hour. They made him believe his wife and mother were being raped in the next room. For hours he heard screams as the policemen laughed. A fellow inmate told him his wife had been raped and killed, and her body chopped and dumped. “I wanted to kill myself. Thankfully, I saw my wife in the court the next day.” Mishram spent three months in jail before being bailed. In 2012, he was acquitted of all charges. He has filed a petition against his tormentors.
Does Indian law allow torture? Actually, no. Activist Arun Ferreira, who spent four years in Nagpur prison until January 2012 and was charged under the Unlawful Activity Prevention Act (UAPA), witnessed many fellow inmates suffer torture. “Even solitary confinement is illegal but every prison in India has cells for solitary confinement,” he says. “The State uses torture as a weapon. It is systemic for a reason.” He points to the hypocrisy of the State in an anti-torture Bill that the government rushed through Lok Sabha in 2008 and that, activists found, actually exempted torture in some cases.
‘At the 2008 UN Human Rights Convention, many countries asked India why it still hadn’t ratified the convention on prevention of torture. Then India had said it would legislate a domestic law. Five years later, there’s no law yet’
Vrinda Grover Human Rights Lawyer
‘Doctors ought to provide relief and recourse but medical services available to prisoners are inadequate. The medical staff treats them with disdain. By and large, doctors reinforce the messages imposed by jail authorities’
Binayak Sen Pediatrician and Public Health Specialist
‘Torture needs to be defined under the IPC. An amendment is pending in Parliament and that needs to be enacted. There is a proper definition of torture that is universally accepted, and it should be brought in as an offence’
Teesta Setalvad Civil rights activist
‘The worst thing is that courts don’t take notice of complaints. When undertrials are presented before them, they invariably complain about custodial torture. Courts brush aside these claims. They don’t pay any heed to such grievances’
SR Darapuri Former IG, Uttar Pradesh
Former Indian Police Service officer-turned-activist, SR Darapuri of Lucknow, has a rare insider’s perspective on torture. “The worst thing is that the courts do not take notice of the complaints. When these victims appear before the courts, invariably they make these complaints and the courts just brush them aside. Our whole system is infested.” As for the courts, although they have begun to take greater cognisance of torture by police and prison staff, they are still far from being in an overdrive to end the practice. A public lawsuit against custodial torture filed by lawyers Rebecca Gonsalves and Vijay Hiremath is gathering dust at the Bombay High Court since 2003. Over six years ago, the Supreme Court directed all states to set up a Security Commission as a watchdog for law enforcement to free it of political control. That is yet to happen.
“We must recognise that our criminal justice system has all but collapsed,” says the petitioner in that case, former Uttar Pradesh Director-General of Police Prakash Singh. “Even simple cases take three to five years.” Then, the society expects quick results. “Decent people have asked me why don’t we just take out criminals and terrorists. Torture is easy closure because they know justice won’t be delivered otherwise.”
Singh says reforms alone would make the police democratic and accountable and not dance to political masters. But says Supreme Court lawyer Grover: “More than reforms, we need accountability. The police have an institutional bias against minorities, the Dalits, the poor and the women. And the political class uses the desensitised police to push its agenda.” Mumbai lawyer Yug Mohit Chowdhry, who has represented several victims of custodial torture, says the police are understaffed, under-equipped, underpaid and stretched. “They have to manage everything from law and order to domestic disputes,” he says. “When we make them work like animals, they behave like animals.”
Actually, animals behave better.
When Naushad Sheikh, 45, accused of being a thief, died in custody in Navi Mumbai on 16 March, police said he had banged his head on an iron grill. The autopsy showed wounds across the body. A co-accused told the Maharashtra Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) that Sheikh was subjected to “bhajirao”, a severe lashing with police uniform belts whose buckles caused deep wounds on his head. The co-accused also said Sheikh was hung upside down and beaten with a cricket bat.
“Custodial death is inhuman. Nobody should be subjected to torture,” Additional Commissioner of Police Qaiser Khalid told TEHELKA. “Let us wait for the CID findings.” But will a probe be impartial? Not in the experience of the family of Rafiq Sheikh, 35, a cosmetic company executive in Mumbai, who was arrested on 28 November 2012 in a fake currency racket. When his brother, Majhal, went to meet him on 2 December, Sheikh was dead. “The deepest wounds were on his legs. The soles of his feet had blackened from the beating,” says Majhal. “I want those cops to pay for what they did.”
In this case, too, a co-accused testified that policemen belted and caned Sheikh for hours. A judge of the Bombay High Court noted that the wounds appeared inflicted by others. When Sheikh’s family filed a criminal case, the police assigned the probe to a CID team that includes an officer who was himself once charged with the killing of an accused named Khwaja Younus in January 2003. Now Assistant Commissioner of Police, Praful Bhosale was known as an “encounter specialist”, who had killed 74 alleged criminals. Bhosale was suspended for four years and reinstated in 2010.
On 15 April 2011, police in the northeastern state of Tripura arrested Harak Chandra Chakma, a 32-year-old tribal, for taking part in a tribal celebration. He claimed the police attacked him with a blunt object. Photographs showed injuries on his thighs, back and below the knees. He was hospitalised for 10 days. Four days after the torture, the Asian Indigenous and Tribal People’s Network, an NGO, moved the NHRC. An inquiry proved Chakma’s torture by the police. What happened then to the guilty? One of the three named in the report was suspended. No action was taken against the others.
A hair-raising account of torture has come from a Bengaluru journalist, Muthi-ur- Rahman Siddique, who was released in February after being in prison for six months allegedly for a terror plot. In all, there were 14 accused in the case. “One was beaten, hung upside down, and had petrol poured into his private parts,” Siddique told TEHELKA. Another accused, Obaid-ur-Rehman of Hyderabad, had his finger broken. “Most were given electric shocks on their genitals.” The police deny the allegations.
Justice typically eludes victims of torture for decades. In 1989, a domestic worker named Sarfaraz went to the police in Navi Mumbai to report that his wife had hanged herself and died. Instead, the police accused him of being responsible for his wife’s death. They allegedly called his mother to the police station, stripped both of them, and forced them into sexual positions. “After some time, a constable took me into a room where my mother was being held,” reads Sarfaraz’ shocking statement to the court. “She was in the nude. I was forced to strip naked even as I begged them to let us go. An inspector took me to my mother and put my hands on her breasts. After making her lie down on a bench, he asked one of the constables to shake my penis. They tied me up and beat me again. I was untied after a point and they pushed me on my mother. The inspector was forcing my chest to her breasts and my penis into her private parts. The inspector kept shouting ‘rape her’ the whole time.” It is a narrative that Sarfaraz reproduces with a kind of clarity as though it happened yesterday. He was then paraded naked in his neighbourhood. After he was acquitted in 1991 of trumped up charges, he filed cases against the three policemen who were instrumental in making him suffer. It was only last year that the case was finally taken up by a fast-track court.
Policemen long enjoyed impunity from prosecution because the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), a set of rules coded in 1973 to administer criminal jurisprudence, stipulates that officials cannot be prosecuted for acts committed in the discharge of their duties. The Indian Penal Code of 1860 had allowed sentences of up to seven years for a range of acts that can be considered as torture. But to prosecute cops under these laws has traditionally been next to impossible. Few victims are forensically examined. A lack of a witness protection mechanism deters the victims from taking on the guilty. Compensation is yet not a fundamental right. The courts have taken a minimalistic view on claims for compensation from acts of torture. As such, awards vary across India.
In 2005, an amendment to the CrPC mandated a judicial probe on the death or disappearance of a person or rape of a woman in custody. But it has hardly lessened the use of torture. Deaths from torture are almost always passed off as suicides. “What led them to the extreme act and how they commit suicide with strange objects like shoe laces, blankets, jeans, etc are (questions) never answered,” says a report by Asian Centre for Human Rights, an NGO that activist Chakma heads. “How the victims had access to the means like poisons, drugs, electric cables, etc in custody remain(s) unknown.” Many victims, who are healthy prior to their arrest, develop medical complications once in custody. “They are subjected to torture and murdered. With the acquiescence of the medical fraternity, the police are able to describe the death as medical complications.”
Internationally, it is becoming hard for India to escape censure. As early as 1997, the UN Human Rights Committee voiced anguish over the extensive use of torture by India’s law enforcement agencies. The Committee on Elimination of Racial Discrimination in 2007 and the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 2008 expressed serious concern over the impunity that India afforded to its men in uniform who tortured citizens in custody. In March, Henri Tiphagne, a leading global activist from the Geneva-based World Organisation Against Torture, joined a public hearing against torture at Madurai city in Tamil Nadu. “Torture is inflicted not only on the accused but also on petitioners and complainants,” he told the gathering. Of course, the government has long turned a deaf ear to domestic and international voices against the culture of torture. And unless it is shaken out of its complacence, tens of thousands more will continue to be brutalised by the men in uniform.
With inputs from Virendra Nath Bhatt, Nupur Sonar, Imran Khan and Ratnadip Choudhury
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- NHRC asks #Chhattisgarh Govt to provide doctors for inmates in Prison (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- UP murder suspect allegedly injected with acid by police dies, 3 suspended #WTFnews (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- NHRC has not given clean chit to Chhattisgarh Govt on Soni Sori as reproted in Media (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- #Chattisgarh Explain ‘unnecessary’ hysterectomy surgeries: NHRC #Vaw #Womenrights (kractivist.wordpress.com)
Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights Tagged: Binayak Sen, Gujarat Police, India, Lucknow, National Human Rights Commission of India, NHRC, Supreme Court of India, Teesta Setalvad
Led by Ramon Magsaysay award winner Dr Sandeep Pandey and others prominent activists of the state, locals of as many as 38 villages restricted Mandla district administration to organise a public hearing on controversial Chutka nuclear power project.
According to the protesters, agitation against the 1,400 MW Chutka nuclear power project (450 km east from Bhopal) was boiling up. They are likely to intensify agitation against land acquisition process launched by state government.
“Locals now understand that this project poses several health risks and is not in their favour. As propagated by state authorities and champions, nuclear power is no more a cheaper option. If it is why United States has not come up with any new nuclear power project since 1979. After Fukushima disaster in 2011, most of the countries are now exploring possibilities in renewable energy sources. Why India is looking at nuclear option? Is it due to those private players of the US that have entered some suspicious deals with India? This project should not come up at any cost,” Pandey told Business Standard over telephone.
The NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation India Limited) plans to commission the Chutka project in Chutka which falls under highly seismic zone. Local administration launched a process to acquire land by issuance of land acquisition notices to local people. Reportedly, the administration has completed documentation formalities by ignoring the fact that the site and affected people are tribal and come under scheduled area, the protestors calimed.
Local people were protesting against the public hearing on Friday as they had been slapped a NEERI (National Environmental Engineering Research Institute) report which is beyond their analyzing abilities. The hearing was called to invite claims, objections and suggestions on the project. “We will now intensify our protest under Chutka Parmanu Pradushan Sangharsh Samiti and would now stall land acquisition process. When they have not obtained environment clearances how can they acquire land?” said Sunil, another activist of Madhya Pradesh Jan Sangharsh Morcha.
- Controversy looming large over Chutka nuclear project (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Chutka Locals to disrupt public hearing for nuke project on the Narmada (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- #India – Nuclear shadow over Gujarat village (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Mithivirdi project: Charges fly, MoEF seeks NPCIL reply (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Koodankulam:A Court in the Supreme Contempt of its People (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- HC rejects petitions against nuclear plant in Haryana village #WTFnews (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Fishermen protest SC nod for Kudankulam (kractivist.wordpress.com)
Filed under: Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights Tagged: CHUTKA, India, Madhya Pradesh, National Environmental Engineering Research Institute, Nuclear Power Corporation of India, nuclearpower, Sandeep Pandey, United States
The very enactment of the historic Forest Rights Act, 2006 by the Indian Parliament in the country
after the 60 years of India’s independence is a landmark constitutional reform. Campaign for
Survival and Dignity (CSD) played a vital role in mobilizing the tribals, forest dwellers and people’s
representatives at different levels in whole country and successfully got this Act passed by the Indian
Parliament which admitted for the first time in the history of India to have done historical injustice to
the tribals and forest dwellers before and after India’s independence. We believe that FRA aims at
reddressal of a numbers of problems arose due to the draconian Acts like Indian Forest Act, 1927 and
Land Acquisition Land, 1894 which were used to evict the tribals and the forest dwellers from their
homes and shelters like goats and cattle. The Forest Rights Act, 2006 not only revived the tribal self
governance regime in scheduled 5th area enforced by the Central PESA Act, 1996 but also it extended
the provisions of the PESA even to the non scheduled area(whole State) empowering the Village
Council, the Gram Sabha to decide over their fate and fate of their resources which has been upheld
by the Supreme Court, the highest Court of the nation in the Niyamgiri case on 18th April 2013.
All the State’s Apparatus has now to accept that “Gram Sabha” is the lowest unit or form of
“Government” having its own exclusive legislative, executive and judicial power and authority over
its stipulated areas like any other forms of Government at Block, District, State and Central level.
The FRA has also raised fundamental questions over the on-going Panchyatitaj systems;
representative system runs in different State and aims at implementation of direct democracy
sidelining the over empowered bureaucracy. Forest Rights Act, 2006 has also challenged the age-old
State hegemony over forest protection and conservation in the name of “scientific forest
management” and has strengthen the conservation regime handing it to the community people who
live and die in the forest.
As per the India State of Forest Report, 2011, the recorded forest area of the country is
769,538 km2, accounting for 23.41 % of the Country’s geographical area. The State of Odisha
constituting only 4.73 of India’s geographical area have around 7% of the total forest area of the
country. While the reserved forest is spread over 26329 km2 constituting 45.28%, Protected forest
spread over 15525 km2 constituting 26.70% and the Un-classed forest is found in 16282 km2
constituting 28% of the total forest area which is 37% of the total geographical area of the State.
However, as per the Odisha Government Report there is 15022058.35 acres constituting 39.16 % of
forest land in the State to its total geographical areas. It is reported that out of this 39.16 % of forest
land, the State Forest Department have 43.32 % of forest land including the reserved forest in the
State while around 52.26 % are Revenue forest land including the protected forest and rest 4.40 %
District Level Committee (DLC) forest land, the revenue land mentioned as DLC land in 1997 as per
the direction of the Supreme Court in connection with WP(c) No. 202/1995.
There is in total 8.21% of tribal population in India. Likewise the tribal population in Odisha
constitutes 22.13 % as per the 2001 census report mostly residing in the rural area. Also Govt. of
Odisha while targeting the implementation of the historic Forest Rights Act, 2006 in the State
referred the State of Forest Report, 1999 which stated that out of 46,989 villages in the State, there
are 29,302 villages located in close vicinity of forest which are to be covered under FRA. The GoO
also has estimated that out of 6420514 rural households, there are 1762342 ST households
constituting 27.44 % in the State. Besides, there is large number of Other Traditional Forest Dwellers
in the State depending on the forest for their subsistence needs to be covered under FRA. Besides,
Odisha has been the hub for the experiment of all the sensational issues in the country and always
been in the limelight of media may be for its ample deposit of mineral and natural resources or for
displacement, poverty, protest etc.
We believe that the effective implementation of this historic Act in its true letter and spirit would
definitely change the scenario of Odisha and resolve most of the socio-economic problems being
faced by the State including the problems of Outlawed Naxal. There has been much progress of
settlement of Individual forest rights of tribals and convergence of developmental progrmmes in the
State from last 2008 in comparison to the Other States of the country. However, still the State has
miles to go before reaching to the destination. After the enactment and implementation of the forest
rights act in the State, Campaign for Survival and Dignity (CSD), Odisha is engaged in making forest
dwellers aware on FRA and actively watching the development and progress of FRA implementation
in the state. And whenever found loopholes in FRA implementation, we have appraised the GoO
through discussion and even through Protest Rally and Dharana. Besides, in many districts, the
different community based and civil society organizations affiliated to the CSD, Odisha have played
a vital role in facilitating forest dwellers in filing forest rights claim. Whenever and wherever we
found rights violations of FRA, we have rush the place, met with our aggrieved people and have tried
to resolve them discussing with the concerned SDLCs/DLCs. We also documented the violations
stories and have shared them with the SLMC and also with the media. We have had special Interface
and discussion with the SLMC on the various FRA implementation issues on 28th Feb 2009, 9th Jan,
2010 and 13th Jan, 2011 etc.
We appreciate Government of Odisha, especially the SCST Department for sincerely
bringing monthly FRA Progress and Status Report which is again unique in comparison to other
State of the country. We also sincerely appreciate the Department for bringing a number of positive
circulars, clarification, guidelines to facilitate the FRA implementation process in the State. Thanks
are also due to the Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Govt. of India for looking after the implementation of
the FRA in the State and guiding the State Government for its better implementation.
This “Critical Observations Report” is based on our involvement and experience in last 10
years of struggle and engagement in the grounds FRA implementation. We have been analyzing the
monthly FRA implantation Progress report, identified a number of issues and have appraised the
government of Odisha time and again to resolve them. Even the GoO has considered some of them
and have brought changes too i.e issuance of ST certificate by the Gram Sabha, segregation of CFR
titles distributed under Section 3(1) and 3(2) etc. Of course a lot more has to be done. This time, our
“Critical Observations and Comments” are made against the monthly “FRA Progress Report Table”
produced by the SLMC from last 2009. Basically the comments are based against the data shown in
different Columns of the latest “FRA Progress Report Table up to 30th April, 2013” and issues
involved therein with the information that we have from the grounds. Besides, we have requested and
sought more information and clarification on the status of other important forest rights recognized
under the forest rights act. We expect the GoO, especially the FRA Nodal SCST Department would
appreciate our efforts and act upon the issues being raised.
We are very much thankful to all of the individual members of the CSD, Odisha, and other
civil society organizations working on FRA in different districts of the State for sharing with us all
necessary information to complete this observation report. Hope, friends interested to know and
understand the various FRA implementation issues in the State of Odisha would find this “CSD,
Odisha’s Observation Report” useful one.
20th May 2013 CSD, Odisha
- Odisha to seek six more weeks to conduct Niyamgiri Gram Sabhas (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Tribal affairs ministry gets cracking on apex court’s order on Vedanta #goodnews (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Letter to President of India- Protect Rights of Indigenous People or Shoot all of them (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- PRESS RELEASE – Fact Finding Report- Scrap Posco Project (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Odisha – Governor reviews Government Move on Niyamgiri verdict (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- #India – Tribals set to decide Vedanta project’s fate #forestrights (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Odisha -Protests Against Posco Steel Plant Mount In India (kractivist.wordpress.com)
Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law Tagged: Forest Rights Act, FRA, Gram Sabha, India, Ministry of Tribal Affairs, Odisha, State, Supreme Court, The Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006
It is alleged that the removal of uterus has been carried to siphon off money under the Rajiv Gandhi Insurance Scheme. Tathapi worker Medha Kale claimed that the study showed that government hospital were not carrying out the uterus removal operation and even if such a procedure was carried out due to medical emergency, the cost was very low. But such operations were carried out on a large scale in private hospitals as they used to charge a big sum of money for the same.
In Andhra Pradesh, too, about 1,100-1,200 such cases have been found.
According to Tathapi doctors were carrying out the operations after telling the patients that if they don’t undergo surgery, they could die. Almost 50 per cent of the women were told that their uterus needs to be removed to stop excessive bleeding during their menstrual cycle while 21.8 per cent women being told that they suffered from white discharge. Almost six per cent women were told that they could suffer from uterine cancer if they did not get their uterus removed.
After this the doctors used to charge several thousand of rupees for the surgery. Most the women who underwent surgery are aged between 20 and 30 year
Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights Tagged: Andhra Pradesh, Asia, Latur, Maharashtra, Menstrual cycle, Rajiv Gandhi, Usmanabad, Uterus
Published: May 24, 2013
London, United Kingdom (May 24, 2013): The Sikh Federation (UK) has urged all those concerned with the death penalty in India and the case of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar to push for not only the death penalty to be commuted, but for his immediate release given how long he has been in prison and the state of his health.
The statement by the Sikh Federation (UK) follows the ruling by the medical board set up by the Indian Government to look at Professor Bhullar’s health, which it has been reported has come to the conclusion that he suffers from severe depression with psychotic symptoms and suicidal tendencies.
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK) said:
Bhai Amrik Singh, the Chair of the Sikh Federation (UK)
‘What this should mean in any civilised society is that Professor Bhullar cannot now be executed. Someone on death row who is declared not to be physically and mentally fit cannot be executed.’
‘Professor Bhullar’s family and his doctors have repeatedly stated he has almost certainly become severely psychiatric because of the delay in deciding his mercy petition. The Indian state is directly responsible for the state of his health and the Home Minister; Sushilkumar Shinde should do the decent thing by recommending to the Indian President that the death penalty should be commuted. ‘
Shinde has already had many official approaches and stated recently he was considering Professor Bhullar’s case. He now has the verdict of their own three-member board comprised chairperson Dr S K Khandelwal of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), and psychiatrists from Maulana Azad Medical College and G B Pant Hospital.
There have also been many unprecedented statements from former and current senior judges, former leading police officers and others in support of Professor Bhullar that have gone as far as to say as far as they are concerned he is innocent and deserves to receive compensation from the Indian state for his false imprisonment and for the mental and physical suffering or torture he has endured in the last 18 years.
The Sikh Federation (UK) has also welcomed the statement yesterday in the European Parliament in Strasbourg by EU Commissioner Gunther Oettinger on the death penalty in India and the case of Professor Davinderpal Singh Bhullar. Bhai Amrik Singh said:
‘The EU has also commented on their concerns about Professor Bhullar and that his mental health has come about as he has had to wait for more than a decade for the decision on his mercy plea.’
In the European Parliament yesterday it was stated:
‘The EU has constantly sought to engage with the Indian authorities on the capital punishment and its application in the country, and will continue doing so. To this end, we must make full use of the Human rights dialogue that takes places locally. We look forward to receiving a date from the Indian government to hold the next meeting, postponed several times in the recent past, as rapidly as possible.’
‘Direct contacts with the Indian government, including by way of diplomatic representations and demarches, will continue too. The EU Delegation in Delhi has been proactively asking the Indian government to set up a meeting to be appraised on the developments on capital punishment in India. Once again, our hope is that such a meeting can take place urgently.
- 8 facts about Devinderpal Singh Bhullar (niticentral.com)
- Germany opposes death penalty for Devender Singh Bhullar (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- PRESS RELEASE- PUDR on Rejection of Devinder Pal Bhullar’s plea by the Supreme Court (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- It was “most inappropriate” and “judicial error” to confirm death sentence in Prof. Bhullar’s case: Public Prosecutor (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s wife moves SC for stay on execution of death penalty (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- #India – Suprme Court rejects Devinderpal Singh Bhullar’s appeal #deathpenalty (kractivist.wordpress.com)
Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Violence against Women, Women Rights Tagged: All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Bhullar, Devinderpal Singh Bhullar, European Parliament, India, Indian government, Maulana Azad Medical College, Sikh Federation
By Q. Isa Daudpota
25 May, 2013
Trickle-down economics invariably fails in poor countries. For long-lasting progress, development policies that are bottom-up, those that ‘put the last first’, often succeed. Ideas supportive of this thesis are presented in the post-election Pakistani context.
Good development experts have failed to get across a basic truth to Pakistan’s politicians and economic planners: If you are on a dirt road, fill the ruts – don’t dream of bullet trains and flyovers! One has to get the basics right before anything else can work. This obvious fact failed to register with the government and the Election Commission as it set in motion the recent ballot-box democracy exercise, allowing law breakers of all shades a free hand in returning to parliament. They overlooked the fact which every cook knows: clean the pans before preparing fresh meals! For those undaunted by this recent failure and blessed with an optimistic spirit, a potpourri of home truths is laid out.
A poor country like Pakistan cannot have sustainable development without reducing its population significantly through enlightened family planning. (It is best not to use the euphemism ‘developing country’, which we were in the 1960s when an attempt was made at population control.) How can we get back on track? A global perspective will help.
About 3 million children in poor countries die annually of diseases that can be prevented by basic healthcare and vaccination. The cost of providing a package of basic vaccines to a child is about Rs. 3000 – the price of a good meal in a luxury hotel. Pakistan has about 3% of the world’s population of 7 billion. Therefore roughly 250 kids die here daily. What’s the cost of avoiding these deaths? Just the price of one lavish wedding reception daily! And as for the basic healthcare for all, nothing is more important than providing potable water through community outlets, which is easily affordable.
Enlightened education, particularly of females, that encourages critical thinking is another key area needing urgent attention. Attempts at improving higher education level over a decade have overlooking the more critical lower levels where irreversible damage is presently done to impressionable minds. Education when viewed holistically should integrate all levels of education, including informal education, which brings the adult population up to steam and encourages lifelong learning. But who is going to do this?
The standard of pedagogy at all levels is poor. This failing can be corrected by a nationwide program of teachers’ training, principally in English communication skills. The world’s knowledge will continue its exponential growth in this language and we need to build on our advantage in English from the colonial era. Shortage of master trainers will require importing talent and where better to find it economically than India. Even more important is the provision of fast internet access nationally in neighborhood community cybercafés — that double up as cultural centers.
Large-scale provision of inexpensive multi-media projectors in institutions would allow students to view off-line programs of the best teachers globally with the local teacher acting as a facilitator. Our teachers and professors should use them as role models, while weaving the knowledge from the Net into the Pakistani context for their students. Above all we need a rethinking of the curriculum across the board, cognizant of the amazing range and quality of knowledge now on the Net.
Pakistan’s radio and TV are largely news and entertainment outlets than need redirection towards worthier goals of enlightening, lifelong learning. The models of the BBC in the UK and PBS and NPR in the USA – live and on the Net – can show us how this can be achieved. Such tools of the new media will help achieve full literacy in the country faster than the mere 5 years that it took some South American countries to do so using the ideas of Paulo Friere.
I conclude with brief reference to three commonly voiced concerns: energy, human and environmental security.
Instead of lurching forward into dangerous technologies such as nuclear and coal, we need to focus on our natural abundance of sunshine and hydropower (about which much has been written). While wind technology needs exploration, the area calling for immediate implementation is solar thermal, i.e. direct capture of heat energy from the sun’s rays to turn turbines for power generation – an option cheaper than wind energy. It has the advantage of our engineers accomplishing this largely themselves. At the other end, appropriate technologies such as green roofs (or simply oil painting or installing reflective high insulation tiling) could cool our homes and reduce cost, as can improving efficiency of industry, vehicles and other energy guzzlers. Some complex problems have cheap, simple solutions, see: http://tinyurl.com/kg4ows4.
Human security issues require that we establish not just peace but cordial relations with India, Afghanistan and Iran and open our borders to free exchange of people and commerce. Let’s be honest and admit that Kashmir cannot be snatched from India – ask the experienced retired general under house-arrest in his farmhouse in Islamabad [Musharraf]! Money for wasteful military gadgets can then be diverted towards human development.
Human security would be best advanced by providing decent livelihood to the poor and disadvantaged — gimmicks such as the expensive Income Support Program will fail. What are needed are low-cost projects which provide employment and honorable income for the multitudes of unskilled and uneducated, coupled with literacy and skills training. One such project ought to be for countrywide reforestation – green cover is well below 5% of the land-area; it ought to be at least 5 times higher. The environmental and social benefits of it would be enormous.
Publicity-attracting expensive mega-projects have been dear to our leaders. The real skill of wise leaders, though, lies in generating a sense of self-worth among the citizens. Ensuring self sufficiency through transforming the country from the bottom up is the way. The new government must take up this challenge.
The author is an Islamabad-based physicist and environmentalist.
Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Violence against Women, Women Rights Tagged: Afghanistan, BBC, Education, Human security, India, Islamabad, Pakistan, United States
Islamabad: Pakistan on Saturday released 45 Indian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill though confusion surrounded the move as Indian authorities in Islamabad were not informed about it.
The prisoners, most of them fishermen, were freed from a jail in Karachi and put on a bus to take them to the eastern city of Lahore.
However, official sources said Pakistani authorities had not formally informed the Indian High Commission about their release till this afternoon.
The verification of the identity of several of the fishermen had not been completed while others had not completed their jail terms, the sources told PTI. Several formalities have to be completed before the fishermen can be allowed to cross over to India via the Wagah land border crossing tomorrow, the sources said.
Footage on television showed the fishermen coming out of Malir Jail in Karachi and boarding the bus. On May 7, caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan Khoso announced that Pakistan would release 51 Indian fishermen who had completed their jail terms.
The figure was subsequently revised to 49 and later, 45 prisoners were freed. India and Pakistan frequently arrest fishermen for illegally crossing the maritime boundary.
There are currently 482 Indian prisoners in Pakistani jails while 496 Pakistanis are in Indian jails. When Khoso announced the release of the Indian fishermen, he expressed the hope that the Indian government would reciprocate by freeing Pakistani prisoners.
Following his death, Pakistani prisoner Sanaullah Ranjay was assaulted in a jail in Jammu and died later in a hospital in Chandigarh.
Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights, Political Prisoners, Prison Tagged: Caretaker government, Government of India, India, Karachi, Lahore, Pakistan, Sarabjit Singh, Wagah
UN experts call for strengthened protection of more than 260 million victims of caste-based discrimination
GENEVA (24 May 2013) – They occupy the lowest levels of strict, hierarchical caste systems founded on notions of purity, pollution and inequality. They face marginalization, social and economic exclusion, segregation in housing, limited access to basic services including water and sanitation and employment, enforcement of certain types of menial jobs, and working conditions similar to slavery.
They are the Dalits of South Asia, who constitute the majority of victims of entrenched caste-based discrimination systems which affect some 260 million stigmatized people worldwide, people considered ‘untouchable’.
“Caste-based discrimination remains widespread and deeply rooted, its victims face structural discrimination, marginalization and systematic exclusion, and the level of impunity is very high,” a group of United Nations human rights experts warned today, while urging world Governments to strengthen protection of the hundreds of millions of people across the globe who suffer from discrimination based on work and descent.
“This form of discrimination entails gross and wide-ranging human rights abuses – including brutal forms of violence,” they said. “Dalit women and girls are particularly vulnerable and are exposed to multiple forms of discrimination and violence, including sexual violence, on the basis of gender and caste. Children victims of caste-based discrimination are more at risk to be victims of sale and sexual exploitation.”
On this day, two years ago, the experts recalled, Nepal adopted the ‘Caste-based Discrimination and Untouchability Bill’, a landmark legislative piece for the defense and protection of the rights of Dalits. A recent decision by the British Government in April 2013 to cover caste discrimination by the Equality Act serves as a good practice to protect Dalits in diaspora communities.
“We urge other caste-affected States to adopt legislation to prevent caste-based discrimination and violence and punish perpetrators of such crimes, and call on world Governments to endorse and implement the UN Draft Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination Based on Work and Descent.”*
The UN experts expressed concern about a serious lack of implementation in countries where legislation exists, and called for effective application of laws, policies and programmes to protect and promote the rights of those affected by caste-based discrimination. “Political leadership, targeted action and adequate resources should be devoted to resolving the long-standing problems, discrimination and exclusion faced by Dalits and similarly affected communities in the world,” they stressed.
“Caste-based discrimination needs to be addressed as a major structural factor underlying poverty,” the expert said, while welcoming the acknowledgment of caste-based discrimination as a source of inequality by the global consultation on the post-2015 development agenda.
However, they expressed hope that the agenda will also include specific goals for the advancement of Dalits and particularly affected groups. “Their specific needs require tailored action to lift them out of poverty and close the inequality gap between them and the rest of society,” they underlined.
“We will pay specific attention to the particularly vulnerable situation of people affected by caste-based discrimination and advocate for their integration and inclusion so that they can fully enjoy their human rights in accordance with international human rights law and national legislation”, the UN independent experts said.
“No one should be stigmatized; no one should be considered ‘untouchable’”.
The experts: Rita IZSÁK, Independent Expert on minority issues; Rashida MANJOO, Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences; Gulnara SHAHINIAN, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of slavery, including its causes and its consequences; Najat Maalla M’JID, Special Rapporteur on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography; Mutuma RUTEERE, Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; Catarina de ALBUQUERQUE, Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation; Magdalena SEPÚLVEDA, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights.
(*) UN Draft Principles and Guidelines for the Effective Elimination of Discrimination Based on Work and Descent:
For further information on the experts mandates and activities, log on to: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/SP/Page
- A call on States to ratify new instrument to enhance protection of ESCR (kractivist.wordpress.com)
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- Narendra Modi – Manual Scavenging is a Spiritual Experience #WTFnews (kractivist.wordpress.com)
Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Disability, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Violence against Women, Women Rights Tagged: Caste, Dalit, Government of the United Kingdom, Human Right, India, Special Rapporteur, United Nation, United Nations Special Rapporteur
The informal settlement with about 300 households gets its name from Ali talao (a pond) situated next to the basti. Ali talao basti has been in existence for more than 6 years now. Epitome of how any post-2005 basti will be like; it has people from all corners of the country, Tamils, UP walas, Bihars, Marathis and other migrants who flock to the city in a bid to survive our country’s rural deprivation. Situated in one of the most underdeveloped wards of Mumbai- P north; it was only recently that the settlement obtained some sort of services in the form of electricity. But compared to the rosy picture painted of Mumbai, and its imminent World-classness, this settlement was still without water and other basic services. The settlement stood on public land (NDZ) as per the 1991 Development Plan (DP), and has been now demolished 6 times in its short span of six years, and once it was burned, allegedly by the authorities themselves.
The demolition and the current crisis
There were no demolition notices, only threat orders and summoning from the police station thus raising apprehension of an impending demolition. Kharodi Ali talao was razed – again – on 20th May 2013. With about 1000 souls living in open tents, Ali talao now looks like refugee camp. The demolitions violated many principles as laid out in the UN Principles and Guidelines on Evictions and Displacement. (http://www.ohchr.org/EN/Issues/Housing/P
The Existing Land Use (ELU) survey and the ‘cleansed’ Development Plan (2014-34)
Ali talao residents in the last couple of months have given countless letters to the BMC to include them in the Development Plan revision process. They were happy that their settlement was mapped on the Existing Land Use (ELU) survey, which they considered as the first step to legalization! But unfortunately, the state is now on a demolition drive as if to correct the ELU where some informal settlements were mapped. It seems that rather than being obliged to offer a solution to the marginalized communities mapped in the ELU survey, it is using the same ELU to locate and demolish them using the draconian 1995 January cut-off date. This method of cleansing and planning is detrimental to this city, when about 25 lakh or about 20% of the city lives in informal settlements that have emerged after 1995. And we know that it impossible to rid the city of its 20% citizenry. But then we all are astonished on why some communities are selected and erased of the planning process.
By- Aravind Unni, YUVA,
- Demolitions and the English press (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Golibar Demolition Protests spread in Maharashtra- Andolan lays Seize to CM Residence in Mumbai (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- PRESS RELEASE- Under pressure Maharashtra government initiates dialogue with Medha Patkar and NAPM (kractivist.wordpress.com)
- Mumbai – Demolition of a dream house (kractivist.wordpress.com)
Filed under: Advocacy, Announcements, Health Care, Human Rights, Justice, Kractivism, Law, Minority Rights, Violence against Women, Women Rights Tagged: BMC, Business and Economy, Demolition, law, Maharashtra, Medha Patkar, Mumbai, Shanty town
By Andrea Plaid
Like I’ve said before, Fridays are light days around here: it’s the beginning of the weekend, and this Friday is the beginning of the first three-day summer weekend–the Memorial Day weekend–in the US. To send you off to celebrate the unofficial start of summer in fine and fun fashion, here’s a clip of actor Morgan Freeman, whose played God twice in movies, doing what quite a few of us feel like doing when we’re in boring situations, especially boring work situations.
Hosted by Tami Winfrey Harris and Andrea Plaid
This week, Matt Weiner thought he’d counter the continued criticisms that he and his creative team aren’t dealing with race and racism by…fleshing out one of the worst racial fears about Black women. Tami, Renee Martin from Womanist Musings and Fangs For The Fantasy, and I give this foolishness some serious side-eye while shouting out Benedict Cumberbatch.
Read on, with spoilers in mind.
Tami: No. No! No! No!
You cannot have a show nearly devoid of black characters for multiple seasons and then, apropos of nothing, drop in a walking amalgam of Mammy and thief stereotypes and give her, seemingly, more screen time, character development, and dialogue than any black character to date. It’s just…damn, Matt Weiner! This show is supposed to be better than that.
The most egregious thing about Grandma Ida is that she was both unnecessary and unbelievable. There were countless other ways to show how often unsupervised the Draper children are when visiting their father. And something about menacing middle-aged black women rolling up in tony Upper East Side doorman buildings, single-handedly breaking into likely occupied homes, seems ridiculous. If nothing else, Ida’s methods seem destined to land her in jail.
More ink and conversation have been spent on Grandma Ida and Pete Campbell’s “200 lb. Negro prostitute” that on Dawn at this point. She and Peggy’s secretary remain ciphers. If the other option is marginalization and stereotype, then Weiner is making me want to choose invisibility in Mad Men for black characters.
I just…I need a Cumberbatch break…
Aaaahhhh….that’s better. Poor race casting in Star Trek: Into Darkness aside, The ‘batch makes everything better.
I will credit the Grandma Ida storyline with giving us the episode’s best bit of dialogue, though.
Bobby Draper: “Are we Negroes?’
As someone who enjoys genealogical research, I can tell you, Bobby, you well may be. Still…hee.
Andrea: Tami, you come to New York City for a couple of days, and you just act allll the way up, huhn?
Back to this latest Black character to cross the Mad Men universe: compared to, say, Carla, Dawn, and Peggy’s secretary, the Mammy Thief (the name I give Grandma Ida) damn near had a soliloquy on the show. I mean, you had to suss Carla’s backstory, though her firing over nothing was a common story from Black domestic workers during that time. Dawn gets something of a backstory, with her wanting to find a partner of her professional standing, which speaks to her having some desires, specifically aspirations.
But the way Weiner physically presented the Mammy Thief–the slovenly coat and clothes, the hair sticking out under her worn-out hat, the puzzled way she talked. like she sort of didn’t know where she was–one could construe her as possibly having an untreated mental illness or, worse, pulled an ableist move and affected that in order to appear less of a direct threat. (Though that didn’t stop some commenters from saying that she’s “menacing.”) She is definitely presented as the worst fears about Mammy, that of a Black woman who violates the trust of white people–specifically of white children, who are supposed to be the object of Mammy’s unconditional motherly love–for her own gain. Grandma Ida’s the precursor to that other bit of GOP-generated social fiction, The Welfare Queen.
Renee: I felt that this character affirmed everything I have ever said about Mad Men and race. Weiner does not include people of colour because he does not know how nor is he willing to try.
Tami: Renee, I told Andrea that I’m beginning to think that the only reason Weiner and Co. have been subtle about race thus far is that no actual PoCs have been included in the narrative. Now that we are, they’re going ham with stereotype and bias.
Andrea: But I think that that’s sort of how some white folks function. They’re all cool and “liberal” until the people of color show up–and, sometimes, it only takes one person of color–then the racist foolishness start flying. Weiner seems to have enacted that scenario in his award-winning creation.
Tami: So, Cutler Gleason & Chaough comes with its very own Dr. Feelgood. I tell you, this episode made me suspect someone had slipped me some of the good doctor’s proprietary “vitamin mix.” I was certain Ken Cosgrove’s soft shoe was, at the very least, my evening Benadryl allergy meds kicking in.
Andrea: The hell was that? Was it Weiner’s acknowledging the 60s drug culture through the prism of SCDPCGC, or whatever they’re call the agency nowadays? Considering the “sped up” reaction to the “vitamin mix,” will the Mad Men crew usher in the cocaine-fueled late 70s and 80s early, since next season is the last one?
Renee: Let’s be honest, these people have never done anything sober. So far, we have only seen the occasional usage of pot, but alcohol has been a mainstay since the first episode. I really see it as pointing out that, even though people tend to think of this as a time of change.
Tami: Enough with the bordello flashbacks! I’m beginning to think we are being shown Don’s wretched childhood as a way to mitigate, or at least explain, his unbridled assholishness. I really don’t like that. There were (and are) plenty of real-life Don Drapers whose mother figures weren’t prostitutes, whose fathers weren’t kicked to death by horses and who weren’t molested as children. And there are plenty of people with difficult pasts who aren’t horrible people.
And Don is a horrible person.
Andrea: This goes back to my hating the psychological reasons for villianery: I could give zero fucks about why the person is evil–they are, and that’s enough for me. Telling me why actually bores me. And I feel the same way about Don. I don’t need his psychological profile to understand why he is the way he is. And I really feel like they’re really using his impoverished background to explain his assholishness, much in the same way that they use Roger Sterling’s wealthy background to explain his assholishness, without the flashbacks.
Tami: I wonder–given the new merger and the fact that Ted Chaough seems like an infinitely more together person, creative and with a better management style–how long is Don going to be able to flounce around, working on campaigns to win back mistresses and deciding he can’t be arsed with newly won auto clients.
Andrea: But I think that Chaough is going to worm his way into a partnership position and move Don into a partner emeritus position, which gives the agency a reason to retire Don with some modicum of dignity.
Tami: Our Pegs could have her pick of men: The New Agey, turtleneck wearing ad exec; the pot smoking, fun guy or the lefty, liberal journalist. Sadly, she has more chemistry with both Stan and Ted, but both of those relationships would be all sorts of problematic.
Andrea: But are they really picks? Mr. Turtleneck is married, though closest to Peggy’s temperament and desires; the fun pothead is someone she think of as too much of her equal, so would hold no interest for her; the lefty journalist apparently isn’t keeping her interest in general, the way she’s acting all restless around him.
My contemporary sensibilities just about flipped when pothead dude told Peggy she had a “nice ass”…and all she could do is smile. I had to remember that the idea of even reporting sexual harassment in the workplace is a very recent thing, thanks to Professor Anita Hill.