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October-December 2009 Bi-Monthly

The

Movement of India News Magazine of National Alliance of People’s Movements

O p e r a t i o n

Vol. 4, Issue 4 October-December 2009

On Kashmir

Struggle for Equity

T r i b Rice to Ash a Like most of the villagers of Tatemargu, Sodi Idma lost his rice to the fires that ravaged their l homes when the village was attacked by the security forces

H u n t

Rs. 20

Women & Sexual violence

Bhopal after 25 years

- Democracy Encountered in Manipur - Tibetan People’s Movement : Past & Future - Land Struggle in Chengara - People’s Movements, Democracy & Non-violence Tributes : Prabhash Joshi and K. Balagopal

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October-December 2009

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Articles, Reports, News and Analysis We welcome articles, reports, news and analyses relating to people’s issues of livelihood, communities’ right over natural resources, democracy, human rights, justice, sustainability, ecology and the environment. We publish articles that raise concern against injustice (struggle) and those that present alternative experiments and models (reconstruction).

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October-December 2009

Editorial Team

Who is the problem? The Maoists or the State

5

Sexual Violence & State Repression

9

Operation Tribal Hunt : Fact Finding Report

12

Violence and Non-violence in Political Movements

14

Climate Change & Agriculture Trade

17

Tibetan People’s Movement

18

Tributes : K. Balagopal & Prabhash Joshi

21

Bhopal - 25 years After

22

Democracy Encountered in Manipur

23

Chengara Land Struggle

24

News & Notes from People’s Movements

28

Kolkata Hawkers’ March

31

Calamity Unanswered : Karnataka Floods On Kashmir Telangana : Struggle for Democratic Rights Mounting Pressure Against Nuclear Power Questions Raised by Kaiga Contamination Misery in the Name of SEZ’s Jurmil Morcha Express

36 37 40

S.R. Darapuri Joe Athialy Madhuresh Kumar Mukta Srivastava C. Balakrishnan Clifton D’Rozario Siddharth Narrain Rahul Pandey Manish Jain T.K. Dayanand Doddatti

Advisory Team Medha Patkar Aruna Roy Sister Celia S.G. Vombatkere Gabriele Dietrich S.R. Suniti Sandeep Pandey U.R. Ananthamurthy Trilochan Sastry Ajit Sahi Neelabh Mishra Cover Photo Javed Iqbal Page Design T. K. Dayanand Doddatti

43 44 46 48 50

Images Courtesy ajilal.blogspot.com boston.com outlookindia.com telanganatour.blogspot.com hindu.com nowpublic.com tehelka.com aid97400.lautre.net criticalstew.org 3

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October-December 2009

The green hunt strategy is evidently backfiring while inflicting grave economic, cultural and psychological damage to tribal communities’ lives. This poses extreme threat to the future of tribal communities and democratic governance.

The situation in tribal areas, especially in Chattisgarh, is worsening by the day. Tribal people are bearing heavy brunt of operation green hunt and Salwa Judum. Instead of tackling the causes of alienation and deprivation of tribal people and spread of Maoists, the government has launched an armed offensive against Maoists as its main strategy. There is no effort either to take tribal people in confidence on mining investments and operation green hunt

or to rehabilitate them. Even Gandhians and those working peacefully to address tribals’ problems are facing state repression. With spaces for democratic and non-violent struggle and agitation shrinking, people’s movements face strategic challenge. As this issue was going to press we got news of State colluding with Salwa Judum to scuttle a padyatra being taken out by Himanshu Kumar’s Vanvasi Chetna Ashram in Dantewada. The objective of the padyatra was to document the injustices done to tribals so that they may legally and administratively be addressed. Human rights activist Kopa Kunjam and advocate Alban Toppo were picked up by Bijapur police from Vanvasi Chetna Ashram’s office and beaten up. Kopa Kunjam was charged with murder of a Salwa Judum leader Punem Hunga whose life Kopa actually tried to save. Kopa has been raising several cases of fake encounters and exposing frauds in NREGA, ICDS and PDS. The Constitutional right of citizens to come and join the padyatra was blatantly violated on 14th December. It is quite clear that the vested interests who do not want the atrocities being committed on tribals by the security forces and Salwa Judum to be exposed want to close the area from any outside inspection. The tribal hunt strategy is evidently backfiring while inflicting grave economic, cultural and

psychological damage to tribal communities’ lives. Given the extreme threat this poses to the future of both tribal communities and democratic governance, we have made it the cover theme in this issue. An atmosphere of peace and justice needs to be restored in the area to make the tribals feel secure. From end of December to early January several people’s organizations like Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, NAPM, PUCL and CMM are holding a relay fast and public hearing. Other articles and reports are on issues of Land Acquisition Act, problems with SEZ Act, Chengara land struggle, human rights violation in Manipur, Telangana, Tibetan people’s movement, India’s nuclear energy policy, BT Brinjal, food security, Karnataka floods, 25 years of Bhopal gas tragedy, and impact of agricultural trade on climate change. We pay heartfelt tributes to Prabhash Joshi and K Balagopal – both uncompromising defenders for the rights of disadvantaged communities – who spent lifetime fighting for people’s causes. Their passing away is an immense tragic loss for people’s movements. Our effort is to progressively cover people’s issues and genuine efforts of struggle and reconstruction from all corners of India. With every issue we are becoming a bit more representative. Kindly note the new mailing address of MOI. - Editorial Team 4


October-December 2009

The Supreme Court has ordered the government to rehabilitate the villagers, compensate them. Not one village was rehabilitated, nor one adivasi compensated. On 10 June 2008, the Supreme Court gave instructions that the National Human Rights Commission investigate the conditions in Dantewada in the wake of Salwa Judum. Our activists took tribals from Dantewada and some of those who had fled to Andhra Pradesh to meet the NHRC team. On 11 June, when the villagers of Nendra were returning, some Salwa Judum people stopped the jeep and beat up the tribals.

Seventeen years ago I went to Dantewada following Gandhiji’s belief that the real India lies in the villages and young people must go there to rejuvenate them. The villagers gave me land to build my ashram. Under the Fifth Schedule, the gram sabha was empowered to do so. But the government demolished the ashram this year, sending a force of 1,000 policemen and antilandmine vehicles. In the forests of Dantewada, people live in tune with nature. Natural justice prevails there. In the jungles, there is no police, no crime. I went to Dantewada a month after my marriage. My wife and I built a hut without any walls, just a roof. I would leave my wife to

travel all over Madhya Pradesh, for five to six days at a time. She never felt afraid. Forci rcibl bly Fo rci bl y Emptying the Vi ll ages Vill lla In 2005, the Chhattisgarh government started the Salwa Judum to counter the Maoists. They decided to empty the villages. They forced the villagers out of their villages and tried to shift them into camps near police stations, at the edge of the village road. But adivasis are used to living in the midst of nature, near a stream, on top of a mountain. Each adivasi house is far away from the other. Here, the government had built sheds; you step out of one and face the next; behind yours is another one.

Himanshu Kumar, a Gandhian, has been working among tribal people in Dantewada region of Chattisgarh for the past 17 years. Here are extracts of an article that appeared recently in the Economic and Political Weekly, based on his talk at the Press Club, Mumbai on 31st October 2009. He was invited to Bangalore in mid October where he participated in similar talk and discussion at Indian Institute of Science, Alternative Law Forum, and other places. 5


October-December 2009

When the adivasis tried to run away from these sheds, this “patriotic” force would shoot on them, catch them and put them in jail, rape them. At one point, there were 54,000 people in the camps, from 1,000 villages. The government claimed it had “sanitised’’ 644 villages. Fifty thousand adivasis had run away to the jungle. That is when the Chief Minister (CM) Raman Singh declared that those who have come to the camps are with us, and those who have run away are with the Naxalites. The Salwa Judum forces want liquor, chicken, mutton, women every day. They take these from the adivasis. We are blind to that. But when the adivasi picks up a lathi to oppose the police, we cry foul. The State talks of the violence of the Maoists, but it is the State which is violent too. The home minister keeps on talking about peace. But how can peace come when you are all the time attacking the adivasis? St ate O ppositi on t o Sta Oppositi ppositio to Rehabi lit ati on Rehabilit lita tio The Supreme Court has ordered the government to rehabilitate the villagers, compensate them. Not one village was rehabilitated, nor one adivasi compensated. On 10 June 2008, the Supreme Court gave instructions that the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) investigate the conditions in Dantewada in the wake of Salwa Judum. Our activists took tribals from Dantewada and

some of those who had fled to Andhra Pradesh (AP) to meet the NHRC team. On 11 June, when the villagers of Nendra were returning, some Salwa Judum people stopped the jeep and beat up the tribals. We phoned the director general of police, asking, is it a crime to talk to the NHRC? Nothing happened. Those adivasis were made to sign a paper saying that they were forced to give statements to the NHRC. As a Gandhian, I got furious. In front of me people are being assaulted for talking to an official fact-finding team. We persuaded the villagers to come back. On 1 July, we formed a human shield around the village. We stayed in Nendra for six months. We sent volunteers to bring the villagers back from AP. To their credit, they came and stayed. For three years they had been unable to cultivate their land. They had no seeds; their cattle had run away; their village had been burnt repeatedly. We arranged for their rehabilitation. That is how the first village was settled. Nearby villagers gathered courage and approached us. Our activists began repeating the same experiment there.

The Salwa Judum forces want liquor, chicken, mutton, women every day. They take these from the adivasis. We are blind to that. But when the adivasi picks up a lathi to oppose the police, we cry foul. The State talks of the violence of the Maoists, but it is the State which is violent. The home minister keeps on talking about peace. But how can peace come when you are all the time attacking the adivasis?

The government does not want peace; it wants land. It is so arrogant; it does not want to accept the crimes it has committed. We have tried to file 1,000 first information reports (FIRs) – all serious crimes such as rape, abduction, setting fire to homes. They were not registered. The superintendent of police (SP) said the police would not register them because they are false complaints. Ad ministr ative and Administr ministra Jud al Bi as Judiici cial Bia A girl came to us saying she had 6


October-December 2009

In the first phase of Operation Green Hunt held in September, the forces had attacked an entire family. First, they stabbed the father, then the mother, then the young daughter. With rifle butts, they broke the teeth of her two-year-old son and chopped off a part of his tongue.

In January, 19 adivasis were killed. Four girls were raped. We went to court. The government pleader keeps taking adjournments. The judge keeps changing. The special police officers (SPOs) killed three adivasis, and their widows filed a writ in the high court. The government replied that they were killed by Naxalites, and the women were forced by the Naxalites to file a writ against the police. The judge swallowed this. Ordinary villagers are killed and passed off as Naxalite commanders. All we have asked for is a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry and ex gratia compensation. But the judge tells the villagers – “choose which camp you want to stay in; the government will look after you”! Oper ati on t o pera tio to ‘Hunt iv asis ‘Hunt’’ Ad Adiv iva In the first phase of Operation Green Hunt held in September, the forces had attacked an entire family. First, they stabbed the father, then the mother, then the young daugh-

ter. With rifle butts, they broke the teeth of her two-year-old son and chopped off a part of his tongue. I wanted the press to hear their stories, so I decided to take them to Raipur. The Raipur Press Club asked me for proof that they were not Naxalites. I told them even the government is not calling them Naxalites! They decided not to allow me the use of their premises. So now adivasis cannot go even to the media. Who will they go to? All roads are closed for them. The police beat them. The political leaders – be they Congress or Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) – are with the Salwa Judum. The courts do not give them a hearing. In September, they began Operation Green Hunt. They could not kill a single Maoist. But six COBRA jawans got killed. All they could kill were old adivasis and children. A sixyear-old was stabbed; an 85year-old was bayoneted and killed in his be. The police are committing cold-blooded murder. Then the government asks

been gang-raped for two days in the police station. The SP did not register our FIR. We went to the Supreme Court, which asked the state government to reply. The SP said in his reply: “We asked the accused, have you raped this girl? [The accused were Salwa Judum leaders] They said, No. She’s slandering us.” So that is how our police investigate rape complaints – they now ask rapists if they have raped. 7


October-December 2009

– are you with us or with the Naxalites? Driven t o the W all to Wall My personal practice is non-violence. My work in the last 17 years has been to strengthen democratic institutions, to create awareness among the villagers about the constitutional rights guaranteed to them; about welfare schemes, how to fight for their rights in a democratic way. Because the Naxalites had taken up guns, we went there to strengthen nonviolence! But the government called us Maoists! That is how the state works – they drive you to the wall, they harass you, and then call you a Naxalite. People talk about Maoist violence against the police, against innocent citizens. You must go to the depth of the violence to understand it. If an SPO is killed, the government declares that an innocent was killed and the media goes to town. If an old adivasi is killed, the police say a Maoist area commander was killed. The adivasis live in perpetual fear.

For carrying one bundle of firewood, the forest guards would punish an adivasi woman by raping her. If they did not pay a three-rupee fine, the guards would extort Rs 300.

have nothing to eat. They are the ones who have picked up arms. These people have been deprived for years. If you were to ask – whom does all the land on this earth belong to? The answer would be, to all of us. Yet, the reality is that some have more land, some less. You live in the city, so you have more. You are a brahman, so you have more. You are educated, so you have more. The child who is born in Marine Drive can demolish the home of the child born in Dharavi. But not vice versa. Inequality is inbuilt into the system. All these notions about who can command more resources have become part of our value system, and then our

wants peace, it can be got in a week. They should go and spread happiness among the adivasis. Aanganwadis, health services, schools – open all these again. What is happening in Chhattisgarh is not without the middle class’ consent. You are sowing the seeds of violence and mayhem. Before Salwa Judum, Maoists numbered only 5,000. After Salwa Judum, the Maoist strength grew to 1,10,000 – a 22-fold increase. After Operation Green Hunt, they might grow even more. I feel sorry for the young men in the forces too. You are making young people fight other young people so that the big corporations who own the mines may accumulate more

the reality is that some have more land, some less. You live in the city, so you have more. You are a brahman, so you have more. You are educated, so you have more. The child who is born in Marine Drive can demolish the home of the child born in Dharavi. But not vice versa.

Onl y Justi ce C an nly Justice Can Bring Pea ce Peace Why have lakhs of citizens taken up arms? We middle class people find it inexplicable. We live in cities; the police are for us; the government is for us. We are on one side. On the other side are those for whom there is no police, no government. They

political system. Both are supported by our economic system. These constitute the basic structure of the society. It is this structure that keeps the poor poor and the rich rich. We are content with this structure. But what of those who bear its brunt? If the centre really

wealth. I appeal to you, come to Bastar; stand with the adivasis. Excerpted from Economic and Political Weekly, November 21, 2009, Vol XLIV, No. 47. Reported and translated by Jyoti Punwani, jyoti.punwani@gmail.com 8


October-December 2009

Statement of women’s organizations on the increasing state violence on people’s movements and sexual violence on women by the police, paramilitary and army

We, the undersigned representatives of women’s organizations and individuals, are deeply shocked and disturbed by the Indian government’s armed offensive by paramilitary and armed forces in the adivasidominant forest areas of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. This attack is ostensibly to “liberate” these areas from the influence of Maoist rebels, and to undertake “development” activities there. There are reports of massive deployment of troops in these parts for this repugnant war of the State against its own citizens. For the past half century, the Indian government has used various pretexts of insurgency to stifle the democratic aspirations of the people and given a free hand to military, para and other security forces and the police. In recent times,

in land acquisition, in privatization of natural resources and water and in clearing traditional settlements to suit national and multinational capital, new laws have been introduced to suppress any resistance, peaceful or otherwise; these laws have vested enormous and arbitrary power with the police and the military. Since the neo-liberal turn of the1990s there has been an increased onslaught by the state on the lives and livelihoods of large sections of the our population in the name of “development” projects such as mining and special economic zones, and large communities are being deprived of their lands, rivers, forests and other common property resources, regardless of deforestation and biodiversity impact, water security and pollution. Pushed to desperation people are organizing in several ways to resist this large-scale displace-

ment and dispossession. Presently, driven by aggressive corporatisation, sustained state violence in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal and other states is being used to evict people from their land and livelihood. While this is being done in the name of “development” or “maintaining law and order”, the real design is to appropriate resources and dispossess people in the area. In several cases women have been at the forefront of these struggles. It has been seen that women are specifically targeted in such cases and their political participation is being repressed by use of rape and other kinds of violence on women in mass movements. In this bleak scenario, as women’s organizations, we are enormously concerned about the worsening situation for the women of these regions, particularly due to the presence of large 9


October-December 2009

number of paramilitary and military forces. Women are the worst sufferers of the lack of livelihood, food, shelter and security, of draconian laws and of state-abetted violence, specially the increasing use of sexual violence to intimidate communities. In the past 25 years, despite severe incidences of mass rape and murder, for example in Manipur and in Jammu and Kashmir, no justice has been accorded to the women and no punishment meted to the perpetrators. The brutal torture, gangrape and killing of Manorama, in July 2004, by Assam Rifles personnel in Manipur (which has been under the armed forces act (AFSPA) for several decades now) and the courageous protest of the Manipuri lence inflicted by the military and the police on women in the name of counterinsurgency operations. While Manorama’s ghastly death was highlighted, incidents of sexual violence in the daily life of the women in states under the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA) largely go unreported. In the recent gang rape and murder of two women in Shopian in Jammu & Kashmir, ignoring strong protests by the local community, the state’s agencies have blatantly tried to protect the accused. Tribal women in Bastar in Chhattisgarh have been subjected to the most extreme forms of violence since 2005, by Salwa Judum, a civil militia cre-

ated and funded by the state to ‘counter’ the ‘Maoists’. Villagers here have reported to local activists and NGOs of incidents of gang rapes, custodial rape, mutilation of private parts, murder and continuous sexual abuse in villages, police stations and the relief camps set up by the state government in the area. The murder in 2006 of a tribal for being a ‘Maoist’ and the subsequent gang-rape of his wife in front of their child for several days inside a police station in

In the meanwhile these women and their entire villages are being threatened and intimidated by the accused and other Salwa Judum criminals and Special Police Officers that the entire village would be burnt down and that the villagers implicated in Naxalite cases – a threat which they know is not an exaggeration. Sexual violence comes handy to those in power to quell women’s increasing participation in resistance movements

Sarguja by police personnel (including the SP) is one such documented case. Despite more than 90 sworn affidavits filed in cases pending before the Supreme Court, despite statements made before the National Human Rights Commission and despite letters to the Superintendent of Police, the police in Bastar refuse to register cases of rape against the Salwa Judum goons. Even with six women daring to file private complaints and make their statements before a Magistrate in Konta, there is inexplicable and inordinate delay of months in registering the cases.

and struggles. Rape and sexual violence are being systematically used as a repressive measure by the police and the armed forces in all forms of opposition and resistance to state policies. The security forces, a law unto themselves in many remote areas, operate with impunity as if they have a “license” to rape women, especially those belonging to the tribal and dalit communities. It is also seen that if the police are not themselves inflicting violence, they are abetting it, either by being mute spectators, or ignoring these incidents, or simply refusing to register the FIRs. 10


October-December 2009

State’s attempts to label all forms of opposition and resistance to its policies as ‘Maoist’ and ‘Naxalite’ to suppress any form of dissent. People’s movements are being labeled as ‘Maoist’ while democratic rights groups, activists and journalists reporting state atrocities are being called ‘Maoist sympathisers.

We have no trust in police personnel and find police stations most unsafe for women even in situations which are not ‘insurgency’ based. The increasing incidence of custodial rape is evidence of the police attitude to women, especially when it pertains to dalit, adivasi and working class women; even mentally challenged women have not been spared. It is a matter of great concern to see the state’s attempts to label all forms of opposition and resistance to its policies as ‘Maoist’ and ‘Naxalite’ to suppress any form of dissent. People’s movements are being labeled as ‘Maoist’ while democratic rights groups, activists and journalists reporting state atrocities are being called ‘Maoist sympathisers’; they are all facing repression, criminal intimidation and brutal atrocities. In the current con-

text, we, the undersigned, demand that the Indian government and state governments: 1) Take immediate legal and punitive action against all accused and perpetrators of sexual assaults against women already registered in AFSPA zones, under Prevention of atrocities against Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribe Act 1989, or under Indian Penal Code section 376 (A) and 376 (B) including against those in the government and the judiciary as co-perpetrators of crimes against women. 2) Repeal the Armed Force Special Powers Act from the concerned states immediately. 3) Immediately withdraw its armed offensive in the adivasidominant areas of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Orissa, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. Instead, as expected of a democratic government, address po-

litically the long-standing socioeconomic grievances of these populations which have been explicitly pointed out in the government’s own reports, including strict implementation of Indian labour laws. We strongly urge all democratic minded women’s groups and organizations to join us in this urgent appeal to the Indian government. - AIPWA, AISA (Delhi), Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, Chhatisgarh Mukti Morcha (Chhatisgarh), Dalit Stree Shakti (Hyderabad), HRLN (Madhya Pradesh), Human Rights Alert (Manipur), IRMA (Manipur), IWID, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (Badwani, Madhya Pradesh.), Kashipur Solidarity (Delhi), Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch (Madhya Pradesh), Nari Mukti Sanstha (Delhi), Navsarjan (Ahmedabad, Gujarat), NBA (Madhya Pradesh), Pratidhwani (Delhi), PUCL (Karnataka), Saheli (Delhi), Sahmet (Kesla, Madhya Pradesh), Samajwadi Jan Parishad (Madhya Pradesh), Sangini (Bhopal), Vanangana (Chitrakut, Uttar Pradesh), Vidyarthi Yuvjan Sabha, Women’s Right Resource Center (Madhya Pradesh), Yuva Samvaad (Bhopal), Stree Adhikar Sanghatan (Uttar Pradesh) Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch. lganesh1@yahoo.in, sree.sathi@gmail.com, rinchin@gmail.com 11


October-December 2009

This young man was a resident of Singanpalli village ber Two days later, a Patel from another village informed the family that he had been shot and killed by and had gone out in the the security forces and his body was buried in the compound of Chintagufa Police station. morning of 17th. Two days later, a Patel from another village informed the family that he had been shot and killed by the security forces and his body was buried in the compound of Chintagufa PS. This young man was a resident of Singanpalli village and had gone out in the morning of 17th Septem-

No substantive information has been given in the media regarding the Gachanpalli killings of 17 th September 2009 (during Operation Green Hunt) and 1 st October killings at Gompada and Chintagufa villages by security forces. The fact that on both these days, security forces (Cobra, local police and SPOs and Salwa Judum leaders such as Bhoddu Raja) went on a rampage stabbing and killing people, looting, burning houses and forcibly picking up young men, is the other side of Operation Green Hunt which has been carefully kept away from public scrutiny. In order to ascertain these facts, a 15 member factfinding team visited Dantewada area between 10th and 12th October 2009. The team comprised

members from PUCL (Chhattisgarh), PUDR (Delhi) Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (Dantewada), Human Rights Law Network (Chhattisgarh), Action Aid (Orissa), Manna Adhikar (Malkangiri) and Zilla Adivasi Ekta Sangh (Malkangiri). The team was initially denied permission and was repeatedly questioned and interrogated at Dornapal and Errabore police camps on the way. The team spent a night in Nendra village (a rehabilitated village) and met witnesses and victims from several villages and gathered testimonies from them. Subsequently, the team spoke to the District Collector and the Superintendent of Police, Dantewada. Following are only some of the

significant findings. 17th September 2009: 1. Gachanpalli murders:

In the early hours of 17th September, 6 villagers were murdered by security forces in this village. Dudhi Muye (70 yrs) who could hardly walk was murdered after her breasts were cut off. Family members who had fled the scene on seeing the security forces, found her lying dead in a pool of blood. Similarly, Kawasi Ganga (70 yrs) who could barely see was stabbed and murdered in his bed. Madvi Deva (25 yrs) was tied to a tree and shot at three times and then beheaded. His grandfather who was accompanying him back to the village was a witness to this. The family hasn’t found his 12


October-December 2009

body. Three other villagers, Madvi Joga (60 yrs), Madvi Hadma (35 yrs) and Madkam Sulla were stabbed and murdered. The last two were killed in front of one witness, the wife of Madkam Sulla. Madvi Joga was killed after being stripped naked while ploughing his little plot of land. 2. The case of Madvi Deva: This young man was a resident of Singanpalli village and had gone out in the morning of 17th for some family work. When he did not return his family searched for him. Two days later, a Patel from another village informed the family that he had been shot and killed by the security forces and his body was buried in the compound of Chintagufa PS. 3. Forced displacement and terror: Families of those who were murdered by security forces and those whose houses have been burnt down vengefully, have fled the village and are living in make shift sheds in the forest. 1st

October

2009:

1. Gompada ‘encounter’: SP Dantewada described the operations in Gompada village on 1st October as an ‘encounter’. An encounter with a difference: while 9 villagers were killed by the security forces in the village, no casualties were inflicted on the security forces. 4 members of one family, Madvi Bajar, his wife, Madvi Subbi, their married

daughter, Kartan Kunni and their young daughter, Madvi Mutti were stabbed and killed inside the house. So too were two other villagers from Bhadarpadar, Muchaki Handa and Markam Deva, who were staying the night over at Madvi Bajar’s house on their way home from Andhra Pradesh where they had been working. Another couple, Soyam Subba and Soyam Jogi, were stabbed and killed inside their house. Yet another villager, Madvi Enka was stabbed inside the house and then dragged all over the village. Before leaving the village, the security forces shot him and left his body. When the team asked the SP about recovery of bodies from the encounter site, the SP stated that Naxalites ‘take them away’. 2. Travails of a 2 yr old: Madvi Bajar’s grandson was not spared. He is all of two and yet the security forces beat him, cut four of his fingers, broke his teeth and cut off part of his tongue. 3. Looting and burning of property and houses: As many as 9 instances of looting and burning by security forces were reported to the team. Burning down of houses was carried out in as many as seven instances. 4. Forced displacement and terror: Several families are living in makeshift sheds in the forest area as their houses have been burnt down. Those who are

unable to run and flee are living in terror in the villages.

Conclusion

:

While the team could only meet residents of some of the villages, there is apprehension that a much larger number of people were killed. The same is true for instances of torture, loot and detentions. The clamp down on information makes it impossible to know what exactly is happening in distant and far flung villages. However, what is clear is that the operations conducted by security forces have compelled villagers to leave their villages. Instead of rehabilitating people, the government, in the name of combating Maoism, is bent upon unleashing its lethal paramilitary forces and evicting people from their villages. It is imperative to immediately end to this policy of eviction and terror and enable people to settle in their villages.

Demands

:

1. That the government must accept responsibility for murders committed on 17th September and 1 st October by security forces and file FIRs against those responsible. 2. That an impartial inquiry (comprising civil society representatives and representatives of organizations working in the area) be conducted into the incidents of murder and acts of arson, loot and torture by security forces.

- Fact-finding team pucl.cg@gmail.com 13


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This article, excerpted from a piece written by K Balagopal in early 2009, reminds us of the criticality of untiring, non-violent agitational movements and mobilization of masses for making the state accountable to the people. We reproduce it here as a tribute to his unflinching lifetime service to the cause of people’s democratic rights and civil liberties. This is an apt commentary in the present times when fundamental rights of tribal people in several states are being brutally suppressed by the state in the name of war against Maoists, and when consequent shrinking of democratic spaces is increasing the challenge for non-violent people’s movements to raise voice against injustice and mobilise people.

The public arena is witness to dispirited discussion of the ineffectiveness of people’s movements, which are at the most able to slow down things, and nothing more. The discussion often turns around violence and non-violence, not as moral alternatives but as strategic options. Those who are sick of sitting on dharna after dharna to no effect are looking with some envy at violent options, while many who have come out of armed groups find the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) fascinating. The plain and stark fact is that while all strategies have been effective in curbing some injustice, none has succeeded in forcing the government to take back a single major policy in any sphere. And none has been able to reverse the trends inherent in the structures of society and

economy. Yet no serious political movement or social struggle we know of is only for softening oppression or improving relief. The general understanding is that governance of the country – and may be the systemic infrastructure of society – is fundamentally wrong and needs remedying, maybe overturning. Do we know of any effective strategy for that? I am not talking of political strategies, but strategies of struggle that will successfully put pressure upon the State and the polity to stop them in their tracks. The struggle may be built around class or caste or any other social combination. It may in the end seek reform or the upturning of the polity. It may operate mainly or in part within the polity or keep out of it altogether. Whichever it is, the common problem is this: the experi-

ence of this country is that governments do not stop doing something merely because it has been demonstrated to be bad. Or even contrary to constitutional directives and goals. They stop only if going along is made difficult to the point of near impossibility. No democratic dispensation should be thus, but Indian democracy is thus. This is the question that haunts all movements, and none has an answer. All strategies, whether violent or peaceful, have found that they are not without success, if by success is meant stemming of local forces of oppression or the local manifestation of global forces, and improving the situation of its victims at the margin or even more. But any attempt to go beyond that has been faced with an insuperable wall which defines 14


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the limits of Indian democracy. The naxalites – in particular the largest of them, the Maoists – are generally credited with having used strategies of violent struggle to great effect. That they have had substantial effect on the local social and political structures is beyond doubt. From Telangana to Bihar, local society would not be what it is but for their effect in turning much of it upside down. But looking back on nearly forty years of the naxalite movement, one is surprised how few are the

Yet it is also true that even if they tried they would not know how to go about stalling such decisions or forces. To put it simply, you can hold a gun to a landlord’s head but Special Economic Zones or the Indo-US Nuclear Deal have no head to put a gun to.

important policy decisions of the State or tendencies inherent in the logic of unequal development that the naxalites have been able to stall. In fact, one cannot off-hand think of even one. They themselves may answer that it is because they have not tried. It is true that their strategic thinking does not turn around defeating the State politically but mobilizing against it militarily. Yet it is also true that even if they tried they would not know how to go about stalling such decisions or forces. To put it simply, you can hold a gun to a landlord’s head but Special Economic Zones or the Indo-US Nuclear Deal have no head to put a gun to. It is not just the abstractness of these issues that makes violence ineffective as an option against them. After all they do have concrete manifestations that can be confronted by violent mobilisation or armed action. But the subtlety of forms of power other than the feudal makes focused confrontation of a violent kind difficult to operationalise. Violence may be good or bad, necessary or unnecessary, but it is always crude. Intelligent exercise of power, on the other hand, is subtle. So is capitalist rationality, in general. It is sometimes but not always crudely oppressive. It also comes with promises of a better life for the middle classes and employment for the poor. It spreads its operational incidents all over and each of them offers its own rationality. It gives a little and takes a lot but it gives at one

place and takes at another. It speaks in a dozen tongues, each offering a limited rationality, while the totality is hidden behind layers or opacity and subterfuge. Its lies require intelligent nailing, and its logistics requires subtle handling to immobilize it. And then there is the law and its machinery of enforcement. The law of course does not turn the other way when violent mobilization is used against a landlord or a local oppressor. But neither are the stakes as high nor is social disapproval so strong then as when alleged schemes of development or alleged policies of national security are obstructed by violent mobilization. Agitations disrupt normal life, violent agitations more so. The insecurity and uncertainty this creates can be exploited by the State to either incite the people against the agitators even to the point of getting them lynched or to cover up for the violent methods of suppression it employs. It can even get righteously suppressive. And when the stakes are high social disapproval can be engineered beyond its normal levels. Peaceful mobilization has one advantage over violent mobilisation. A larger number of people can participate in it, and it can choose its targets and devise its methods of agitation more subtly. It gives space for dialogue even the while agitation goes on, dialogue not so much with the establishment as with society, and so the vital di15


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mension of critique is alive without suspending the agitation to clear space for it, and this is essential in any struggle against an opponent who operates in a universe of intelligent rationality. This is one reason why peaceful methods of struggle are not only morally but also politically healthier. But in terms of its effectiveness in reversing policy decisions or structural trends, peaceful methods are even more ineffective than violent methods. Quite plainly, dharnas and street plays and hartals and halfan-hour-at-a-time road blocks and street corner speeches and jathas can go on forever and ever and neither the State nor the Ambanis lose anything. Can we turn to the law to make governance answerable to popular disapproval other than at election time? Constitutional democracy as we know it in India gives little scope for such a hope but PILs have held a lot of fascination for activists. Much of it is born of out of ignorance of the law as much as the sociology of adjudication. The average intelligent Indian thinks of PIL as the modern equivalent of the bell which the

better kind of king is reputed to have strung outside his palace for the desperate citizen to tug at and get an instant hearing and instant justice. Desperation can be the only reason for these illusions. Less excusable is the ignorance of the sociology of adjudication. Judges, taken as a class, are at one with most of the political and economic tendencies since liberalisation for no more subtle reason than that they belong to the social class that has benefited and will benefit much more from these tendencies. Extremely derisive comments about PILs are made with juvenile exuberance by the Supreme Court these days to send out a signal that the activist or desperate citizen need not take the trouble to go all the way to New Delhi. There is no option but to devise ways of stopping the system in its depredations. Since Indian democracy has not learnt to respect reasoned criticism unless it is armed with the strength to physically prevent the execution of the policies criticized, ways of achieving such strength must be sought by agitational movements. In principle the best method is to mobilize the people likely to be affected in large numbers and physically sit in the path of the State and Capital. But then the people in their concreteness are driven by diversity of interests and insularity of communities, crushed by poverty and misery, weakened by the disease of opportunism even at the lowest levels which has been the greatest contribution

of the Congress party to Indian political culture, enfeebled by attachment to their political patrons, and disillusioned with empty rhetoric and moral corruption of agitations and movements. In particular, they see that activists who were in an earlier generation characterized by sacrifice of personal concerns are no longer the same. To my mind, this is the greatest disservice done by the NGOs, but this culture is now common to a large section of political activists, too. On the other hand, the very effect of politicization has been that the people have lost their innocence and often weigh the costs and benefits of struggle with greater caution than in the past. One cannot blame them, especially when the caution is reinforced by the fact that activists themselves exhibit the same attitude these days. All this combines to make strong mobilisation difficult and tempts honest activists to look for short cuts, ranging from armed action to PILs. But there are no short cuts. - This article was published in early 2009 in South Asia Citizens Web (SACW). K Balagopal was a well known democratic rights and civil liberties activist and public intellectual. A mathematics professor turned lawyer, he founded the Human Rights Forum in Andhra Pradesh in 1998. He died of lung aspiration following bleeding of stomach ulcer in Hyderabad on the night of 8 October 2009. rightsforum@gmail.com 16


October-December 2009

Every time a Boeing 747 roars off the runway, the energy it needs for the twominute lift off can run 2.4 million lawn mowers for 20 minutes. Considering that more than 40 aircraft take off every minute around the globe, the colossal amount of fossil fuel burned and the resulting accumulation of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere is mind-boggling. The World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects report estimates that success at Doha Development round of WTO is expected to generate $291 billion in economic gain. Such projections have been made earlier too. Knowing that trade does not happen on bullock carts, the amount of fossil fuel burned to trade goods, including agricultural commodities, would in any case bring the world closer to the tipping point. Felling forests for pastures, converting food for biofuels, and acerbating industrial farming practices, both for crops and animals, have already added a quarter of greenhouse gases in the environment. Food travels roughly 3,000 miles before it reaches our table. Over the past few decades, export-oriented agriculture has done extensive damage to farmlands, destroying soil health and guzzling groundwater, thereby, intensifying desertification. More trade means more industrially produced farm goods and products. More

trade also means subsidizing farming systems that lead to more global warming. For instance, fertilizer consumption is expected to double in the next 30 years, which means nitrous oxide, 300 times more potent than carbon dioxide, will also double in the atmosphere. Meat production alone, for which trade barriers are being removed under the WTO and the bilateral agreements, is environmentally devastating. The Economist reports that meat production gobbles up 17 times as much land, 26 times as much water, 20 times the fossil fuels and 6 times as many chemicals than tofu (extract of soya beans) production does. Similarly, encouraging trade in rice, which requires 5,000 litres of water to produce one kg of grain, is like exporting scarce water resources. And yet, the Copenhagen summit simply refuses to even acknowledge the environmental disaster waiting to happen from an increased push to global trade in agriculture. Neither did the recently concluded WTO ministerial meeting at Geneva (November 30 to December 2), nor the World Food Summit at Rome in mid-November, make even a passing reference to the direct correlation between trade, climate change and good security. The reason is simple. The UN says the world will need $200 billion to fight climate change, an euphemism for corporate investment. A

- Devinder Sharma

successful completion of WTO Doha round rings the cash register with another $291 billion. Both Climate Change and trade therefore provide business opportunities for $491 billion. No wonder, not many economists and policy makers, including ministers, are willing to even accept that the two international agreements on climate change and global trade are at cross purposes. The International Assessment of Agricultural Knowledge, Science and Technology for Development (IAASTD), a collaborative effort of FAO and World Bank, has already provided a road map for sustainable farming. Instead of going by the industry-driven prescription to fight climate change, this comprehensive report suggests a viable and ecologically safe alternative. Courtesy: Excerpted from The Times of India, December 17, 2009, Devinder Sharma is a food & trade policy analyst. 17


October-December 2009

As a schoolboy in the standard Thousands of Tibe tans Tibetans were massacred in the f ollo wing da ys and ollowing days months. This public awak ening is honoured akening in e xile e ch 1 0 eryy Mar March 10 exile evver as the Tibe tan National Tibetan Uprising Da Dayy and continues tto o inspire a ne w new generation of yyoung oung Tibe tans. The spontanebetans. otests in Lhasa in ous pr pro 198 7, 1 988, 1 989 and 1988, 1989 987, 1993 ha havve all been resurgences of this public indignation.

VII, my first serious Tibetan history lesson was one of provocation. I used to listen to Professor Samdhong Rinpoche’s Tibetan history lectures on audio tapes sent by a scholar uncle in Varanasi. In one anecdote, Professor Rinpoche tells of the 1950 fall of the eastern gate of KhamChamdo to crack Chinese invasion troops. A messenger in Lhasa ran to deliver the Morse code alert to the Tibetan cabinet. As he stood gasping for air at the door to an official hall, the doorkeeper blocked his entry, stating that this news would disturb the aristocrats’ party within. Last March, protests swept across the entire Tibetan Plateau in a people’s movement that was reminiscent of the citizens’ uprising that erupted in Lhasa in March 1959. The international media descended on the Dalai Lama’s exile residence in Dharamsala to ask him, “Do you support this ‘riot’? Can you

stop it?” His Holiness replied: “No, I can’t. I have no magic power.” He was right. The Dalai Lama had expressed a similar powerlessness back then in 1959 when the occupying People’s Liberation Army ordered him to “control the rebels.” Tibet’s unofficial resistance movement began with monks, nomads and farmers taking up arms when China first invaded Tibet in 1949. Tibetan soldiers later organised themselves with the CIA and Indian government’s help. In exile they fought for India: in 1962 against China, in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation war, and in 1975 against Pakistan. When President Nixon befriended Mao Zedong, the CIA dumped the Tibetans, and when the Nepalese army threatened to flush out Tibetan camps, His Holiness the Dalai Lama ordered an end to violent resistance with the camps’ disbandment. Today 6,000 Tibetan soldiers serve the Indian army forming declassi-

18


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fied Sector 22, a paramilitary force mostly posted in Siachin Glacier. The Lhasa Government officially did protest Beijing’s imposition of the 1951 17-Point Agreement for the “Peaceful Liberation” of Tibet but tried to live with newly-Communist China in an arrangement of autonomy until 1959, when citizens rebelled against Chinese bullying and arrogance. The otherwise During the last half century, Tibetans have repeatedly proved that the real issue of Tibet is not the status of the countrys high-profile leader apolitical farmers and nomads rapidly spread word: “The Chinese military plans to kidnap His Holiness Kundun. We must protect him.” The next morning, people gathered in unprecedented numbers and made history. In Lhasa, the anxious crowds gathered in front of the Dalai Lama’s summer palace shouting slogans and begging their leader not to leave his abode. When government officials from inside the Norbulingka walls requested the crowd to disperse, war cries arose of “China get out of Tibet!” The protective gathering lasted for many days and the mounting tension between PLA soldiers and Tibetans resulted in the Dalai Lama escaping to India. Thousands of Tibetans were massacred in the following days and months. This public awakening is honoured in exile

every March 10 as the Tibetan National Uprising Day and continues to inspire a new generation of young Tibetans. The spontaneous protests in Lhasa in 1987, 1988, 1989 and 1993 have all been resurgences of this public indignation. During the last half century, Tibetans have repeatedly proved that the real issue of Tibet is not the status of the country’s high-profile leader, but the wishes of the ordinary citizens themselves, sometimes even over-riding official statements and agreements. The protestors of the March 2008 uprising across Tibet knew they too would suffer loss of life, incarceration and torture, yet shepherds born under Mao who had never seen the Tibetan flag photocopied the design from a book smuggled into Tibet and flied it in the air. A friend’s uncle, a nomad from a

remote mountain region in Amdo reported on the phone that since there was no Chinese in the mountains he was running about with other nomads searching for some Chinese to demonstrate their emotions on. The 2008 Uprising in Tibet happened in the wake of the failing “dialogue process” between the Dharamsala and Beijing. It historically signifies Tibetans rejection of Beijing’s bribes of material comforts and individual security. They repudiated Beijing’s lofty development claims and its “gifts” like modern schools, hospitals, highways, shopping malls, discotheques and the much-admired railway linking Lhasa and Beijing. The Chinese government described the People’s Uprising as a “disturbance” instigated by the “Dalai Clique,” thereby belittling the Tibetan nation’s aspirations and insulting the intelligence of the 19


October-December 2009

six million Tibetans inside Tibet. This is symptomatic of colonial powers that treat colonies as treasure islands and their citizens as exotic beasts on leashes. In 2002, after the resumption of “dialogue” with Beijing leadership, the Dalai Lama’s envoys were scolded by Chinese counterparts for masterminding anti-PRC protests within the international community, including the pro-independence activities of the Tibetan Youth Congress. The envoys replied that, as a democracy, Dalai Lama can’t dictate terms as the Chinese government does in its own country. Upon the promise of further dialogue and a possible “give and take” solution in the future, the exile government “requested” Tibetans not to stage protests during visits by Chinese presidents and prime ministers of foreign countries. But many of us who have utterly no trust in this corrupt Communist leadership continued to protest. The exile government created such high hopes for the “dialogue” that some of us “rebels” have even got tagged as “anti-Dalai Lama” by our own community. By keeping our political stand steadfast through this criticism, we appreciate only too well that China itself lacks the will to negotiate, using the charade of promised talks simply to fend off western criticism of their appalling human rights record. Today, the Dalai Lama himself is saying that he is losing hope in the Chi-

nese government. Most Tibetan youths believe they can regain their identity and dignity of life through independence and without that Tibet will die under the weight of the PRC. China is not confident of itself to invite the Dalai Lama to Tibet, or even China, therefore Beijing repeatedly rejected Dalai Lama’s autonomy proposal. Tomorrow, even if it’s granted, the people’s struggle for Independence will continue in Tibet. The Tibetan people’s struggle to re-establish their lost independence is therefore not secessionist movement – the difference is more philosophical than ideological. Following the non-confrontational Buddhist way of conflict resolution, His Holiness has repeatedly tried to stop Tibetan youth from sitting on hunger strikes, marching to Tibet, and even requested Tibetans inside Tibet to restrain from mass street protests as they would result in huge losses of life. What perhaps remains misunderstood is that even though Tibetan youngsters take up aggressive and confrontational actions, our common credo remains Nonviolence. The Dalai Lama has gone out of his way in introducing, nurturing and successfully raising a vibrant democracy-inaction in the exile Tibetan community. We will bring this gift to Tibet when independence is achieved. With such strong democratic safeguards now en-

shrined in our exile community, how can the Chinese government expect to continue thriving on its childish propaganda that the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet would re-establish “serfdom and feudalism”? After graduating from Loyola College in Madras in 1997 reading Shakespeare and AK Ramanujan I went to Tibet to start a revolution. The romantic rebellion soon got arrested, beaten and thrown into jail in Lhasa. My neighbour prisoner advised me “do not let the smoke out even if free Tibet burns in your heart.” By then inexperienced prisoner, a Bhagat Singh fan had already boasted he had come to free Tibet. For both Tibetans inside and outside our land, the undeclared common strategy of the movement is to live through this difficult struggle with patience, and outlive the dictatorial Chinese leadership to witness changes in China. His Holiness has now called for people-to-people contact between Tibetans and Chinese. Our future leaders may not be as brilliant, dynamic or unifying as the 14th Dalai Lama, but Tibet will have passed successfully through one of the most difficult periods in its long history. - Tenzin Tsundue is Tibetan writer and activist. tentsundue@yahoo.com This article first appeared in Tehelka March 2009 20


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Tribute

K.Balagopal: A Campaigner for the Human Rights Movement

K.Balagopal, the synonym for the human rights movement in Andhra Pradesh is no more. He passed away suddenly on October 8th to Lung Aspiration following a bleeding Stomach Ulcer. His death at the age of 57 has left everyone associated with human rights and democratic movements in a state of shock. In a short span after his death, it is impossible to come to a comprehensive assessment of his life, three decades of his rights activism and its characteristics. Our attempt here is therefore only tentative. After completing M.Sc. and Ph.D. in Mathematics at the Regional Engineering College in Warangal, he joined Indian Statistical Institute at New Delhi for research. Dissatisfied with life there, he came back to Warangal to be with the democratic movements and joined the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee (APCLC). After joining Kakatiya University as a lecturer in Maths, he started taking a much more active role in the rights movement. He remained unfazed in the face of direct repression. Arrested under TADA, he spent three months in Warangal prison but always believed that it is quite natural for activists to be arrested or imprisoned. His response to attacks on his person exemplified his democratic

temperament. When he was attacked by ABVP activists in 1984, kidnapped by the Khammam police in 1989, fatally attacked in Kottagudem in 1992 and even mauled in the presence of National Human Rights Commission in 1993, he refused to pause even for a day. Balagopal’s success lay in making the Andhra Pradesh Civil Liberties Committee stand by the people of Andhra Pradesh, especially in opposing the repression unleashed by the state government in the name of containing naxalism. Working relentlessly, he sought to extend the civil liberties activism and practice from the confines of urban intellectual debates onto a much broader basis. During the anti-Mandal agitation he wrote the first analytical essay in support of reservations for backward castes from a human rights perspective and thereby widened the horizons the human rights movements. Under Balagopal’s leadership the perspective and practice of human rights movement grew to become interdependent. He strongly believed that the perspective of the movement should be reconfigured through practice, while practice needed to move in step with changes in perspective. In this process of reflection he came to recognize that the absence of rights did

not arise solely from class dominance but also from other modes of dominance and oppressive practices therein. As all forms of institutionalized dominance impede enjoyment of rights, human rights movement should desist from choosing one kind of violations as its priority, he cautioned. He envisaged a broad based and autonomous human rights movement which would be accountable to the people. Due to the differences of opinion emerging from such a reflection, he left APCLC to form Human Rights Forum (HRF) with a few comrades. Over the last ten years, HRF’s growth from 32 member organization to an active and energetic 300 member strong organization owes a lot to the untiring efforts of Balagopal. He chose to live a simple and ordinary life. He practiced what he believed in his everyday life. He did not have any life outside the movement. Explaining the philosophy of Narendranath, his long standing friend in the human rights movement, who passed away in July this year, Balagopal said, “As long as people are suffering, one cannot rest in peace”. These words describe Balagopal’s philosophy of life too - Human Rights Forum. murali.karnam@gmail.com. 21


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Tribute

Prabhash Joshi: An uncompromising media institution

1980s were the most turbulent days in the history of Independent India. Indira Gandhi’s return of power after emergency was not great. Her grip over power was slipping. Sanjay Gandhi had died in a tragic air crash. The separatist Khalistan movement was growing in Punjab. Delhi had probably turned into an unsafe place when bomb blasts in buses, trains and other places became a regular feature. The issue of Kashmir was growing and in Assam we had seen the worst ever massacre where thousands of Muslims were butchered to death in Nellie, with state just witnessing it helplessly. In between, some happy moments happened like the Asian Games in Delhi in 1982 which changed the city, and the historic moment of 1983 world cup triumph under Kapil Dev at Lords. Amidst this was one more happening in the Hindi heartland. It was the emergence of a new daily ‘Jansatta’ under Prabhash Joshi. In 1984 Indira Gandhi was assassinated and Delhi witnessed the worst ever massacre of Sikhs in the street. The newspapers were not able to do justice except that Indian Express and Jansatta carried stories about these ghastly murders.

Along with Arun Shourie, Prabhash Joshi spearheaded the campaign against corruption in Rajiv Gandhi’s government but unlike Arun Shourie, he was not really ready to write Fatwas guiding the political leaders. And unlike Arun Shourie and his highly self promoting individualistic style, Prabhash created a team of youngsters. Joshi’s finest hours in the journalism came after 1992. Actually, in 1983 when Jansatta was launched and after which the campaign against government and Ambani brothers picked up, it was Arun Shourie who was leading the campaign. Joshi remain a pale shadow that time. Yet, after the demolition of Babari Mosque on December 6th, 1992, Jansatta was perhaps the only paper which became the biggest voice of the secular forces apart from Vinod Mehta’s Pioneer. Most of the other newspapers including Indian Express had turned saffron. Editors were singing praise of Advani and Atal Bihari Vajpayee but Prabhash Joshi became more vocal. He wrote against Sangh Parivar and all those journalists who went to the brigade for green pasture. One may disagree with his arguments as coming from a Gandhian view point, he felt that RSS and other members of

the Parivar do not represent the Hindu view of life. He wrote ‘Hindu hone ka dard’ which many of the media friends describe as one of the finest book in recent years on the growth of Hindu fundamentalism and what we should do. In the recent year, Prabhash Joshi was more and more interacting with communities. He had closely associated with late prime minister VP Singh and social movements against WTO, SEZs, land acquisitions and media manipulations by the industrial houses. In his last important intervention, Prabhash Joshi wrote against selling of space in media. But the biggest contribution of Prabhash Joshi to Indian media is its secular character, its freedom of ideas, creation of some professionals who are now everywhere in media and developing a language which changed the spectrum of Hindi media and forced those in power to give respect to vernacular view points. In the age of marketing where everything is a commodified by the market, Prabhash Joshi remained an unpurchaseable brand of Indian media. - Vidya Bhushan Rawat ww.manukhsi.blogspot.com 22


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Till date, neither proper compensation has been awarded nor have appropriate arrangements been made for their treatment and rehabilitation. Instead of attempting to medically, economically and socially rehabilitate the gas victims, the Central and State governments are working against their own people and defending the interests of Union Carbide.

The culprits responsible for the crime are yet to be punished. · The gas-victims have not been awarded just compensation. · 6000 gas-victims continue to seek medical treatment for disaster-related ailments. · Scores of gas-victims continue to die due to lack of proper medical treatment. · Government’s financial rehabilitation program has almost come to an end. · No provision to provide pension to thousands of widows of gas-victims, orphans and other handicapped. · Under environmental rehabilitation programme, the Government has failed to provide safe drinking water, toilets or clean environment to the needy gas-

victims. · Large quantities of toxic materials lying in and around the Carbide plant and toxic waste discharged into the Solar Evaporation Pond has leached into the ground and contaminated thousands of tones of soil and ground water near the plant in approximately 5 sq. km of area. Till date, neither proper compensation has been awarded nor have appropriate arrangements been made for their treatment and rehabilitation. Instead of attempting to medically, economically and socially rehabilitate the gas victims, the Central and State governments are working against their own people and defending the interests of Union Carbide. The Claims Courts es-

tablished by the Welfare Commissioner, Bhopal, has determined that there were in all 574,367 gas-victims including dead, which meant that the magnitude of the dead and injured was at least FIVE times more than what was assumed at the time of the Settlement. Now the legal struggle for enhancing compensation by a factor of FIVE has shifted to the Madhya Pradesh High Court at Jabalpur. Abdul Jabbar is Convener, Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udhyog Sangathan, that is carrying out agitational as well as legal struggle in association with Bhopal Gas Peedith Sangharsh Sahyog Samiti, for justice for the gas victims. Write to him at swabhimankandra@rediff.com 23


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A team of concerned citizens comprising Dr.K.S. Subramanian, I.P.S (retd.), formerly of the ManipurTripura cadre and currently Visiting Professor, Jamia Millia University, New Delhi, Sumit Chakravartty, Editor, Mainstream, Kavita Srivastava, human rights activist and National Secretary of PUCL, and Vasundhara Jairath representing the Delhi Solidarity Group, went on a factfinding mission to Manipur from November 5 to 10, 2009 in the wake of heightened tensions in the State since July 2009. The visit was broadly confined to Imphal and not the other districts. Prabhash Joshi, the veteran journalist and a consistent voice in favour of freed o m of the press and against the violation of human rights was to have joined the team on November 6. He had expressed grave concern over the situation prevailing in Manipur and had requested that he would take the permission of his doctor for this trip. However, he sadly passed away due to a massive cardiac arrest on November 5 night, leaving the team members and other human rights workers in Manipur deeply shocked and greatly saddened by the sudden loss. Excerpts from this Indepedent Citizens’ Fact Finding Report, published in November 2009 by Delhi Solidarity Group.

Manipur has been home to sustained conflict and an exceptionally high degree of violence and is today amongst the worst affected by the imposition of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act, 1958 (AFSPA). The political situation in this tiny conflict-affected state (population: 2.6 million) in the north-eastern region of India has been all the more explosive ever since the market shootout in Imphal on July 23, 2009 that resulted in the killing of a five-month pregnant woman, Thokchom (o) Rabina Devi, and a young man, Chungkham Sanjit, alleged to be a militant insurgent, along with injuries to five persons in what is widely believed by the public at large to be a fake encounter, even as the authorities continue to brand it as an encounter between the alleged insurgent, Sanjit, and police commandos. It was because of the people’s sustained campaign against the coldblooded killings that the government

- Delhi Solidarity Group

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Several hundreds had been picked up and detained under the NSA on the ground that they were allegedly working with or supporting militant groups. Even eminent environmental activist Jiten Yumnam was picked up and booked under the NSA.The message to the human rights community was very clear – that activists and human rights defenders were also being targeted.

eventually suspended the seven police commandos involved in the incident and instituted a one-person Judicial Commission headed by Justice (retd.) P.C. Agarwal to investigate the matter. The killings of Sanjit and Rabina in July 2009 evoked people’s anger that spilled on to the streets, thereby bringing Imphal and Manipur to a halt. This was not a stray incident that just happened in a random shoot out. According to media reports and human rights activists, Imphal and other hill districts have had about 300 extra judicial killings since January 2009, literally averaging the count of one to two such killings a day. There was a sense of frustration amongst the people that there existed no Rule of Law and the State Police was functioning with complete impunity. Apart from such a large number of extra-judicial killings, several hundreds had been picked up and detained under the NSA on the ground that they were allegedly working with or supporting militant groups. Even eminent envi-

ronmental activist Jiten Yumnam was picked up and booked under the NSA. The message to the human rights community was very clear – that activists and human rights defenders were also being targeted so that the voices of protest are throttled. Our main concerns were centered on two key questions: 1. To examine allegations of fake killings and illegal detentions in the State by looking at a few cases. 2. What was the response of the State machinery to these allegations? While in Manipur, we met Irom Sharmila Chanu, who has been on indefinite fast since November 2000 demanding repeal of the AFSPA; Okram Ibobi Singh, the Chief Minister; Yunman Joykumar Singh, the Director General of Police; Anand Prakash, the Inspector General of Prisons, Arms and Operations and Human Rights; the families of Sanjit and Rabina; members of the ExtraJudicial Execution’s Victim Families’ Association, Manipur

(EEVFAM); members of the Joint Action Committees (JAC) of Sanjit and Rabina’s killings; the family of NSA detainee Yumnam Jiten; Retired Sessions Judge C. Upendra, who has headed twelve judicial enquiries relating to law and order in Manipur; member of the Manipur Human Rights Commission, Lt. Col.(retd.) R.S. Rajkumar; the family of former NSA detainee, Lourembam Nganbi Devi; and senior civil society leaders, academics and mediapersons. Major Findings: • There exists a huge gap between the official version and the version of the families of victims and public opinion in Manipur with regard to the practice of alleged encounters. In order for democracy to sustain in the light of the massive public protests, the government must necessarily investigate each one of these questionable killings. • The precedent set by the Government of Manipur has been to engage the public in magisterial (judicial or executive) enquiries 25


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or commission of enquiries, none of which has ever been made public. This has shattered the faith of the people of Manipur in such processes. Cr.P.C. 2006 Amendment of Section 176 provides for mandatory judicial enquiries in all incidences of custodial deaths and rapes. (As in most of the cases studied by us the person was picked up from one place and shown to have been killed in another implying custodial killing.) This Amendment has brought in transparency to the entire evidentiary part in an investigation and it mandates the victim of the kin to get a report. The ease with which the Manipur Government at the highest level confirmed that more than 260 people were killed in encounters in 2009 in the State of Manipur and that they were all insurgents implied that killing an insurgent was justified under any circumstance and that from being a law-enforcing agency the police was acting as an executioner without following the due process of law. Even in case of insurgents there is no reason why the normal legal procedure should not be followed instead of killing them outright. Manipur today should be a cause for a great deal of anxiety to the people of India, since democracy in the State is at a discount; additionally the alienation of the people from the state seems almost complete. In this connection the Government

of India appears to be as much indifferent as the State Government of Manipur to the agony of the people. The imposition of the AFSPA which grants legal immunity to the Central armed forces has bred a culture of impunity that has percolated right down to the State Police force. While the Manipur Police enjoys no special provisions of legal immunity, the complete absence of Rule of Law in the State as an extended consequence of the imposition of a draconian law like the AFSPA for over 25 years in the valley and for over four decades in the hills and the protection granted to it by the State authorities have given it a high degree of impunity. It is worth mentioning here that where the July 23 killings took place – in Khwairamband market of Imphal – the AFSPA was not in force. Following the rape and murder of Thangjam Manorama by the Assam Rifles in 2004, the AFSPA was lifted from the Imphal area in seven assembly seats. But more importantly, the Manipur Police commandos are a part of the State Police force and are not covered by the AFSPA. Such a degree of impunity has resulted in the alienation of the citizens of Manipur from the State. • The ratio of security forces to civilians is exceptionally high in the State of Manipur which has a population of 2.6 million; there is approximately one security personnel for every 40 civilians.

• In a situation where the state in Manipur traces all forms of peaceful public protest to armed insurgent groups, the call for dialogue with agitationists is rendered meaningless. By its behaviour and actions reflected in its refusal to accept the people’s voices of protest and even the existence of a democratic Opposition, the state is ensuring that there remains no space for democratic forms of articulation of people’s desires. Laws like the National Security Act (NSA) and the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) which deny the basic human rights guaranteed under the Constitution and open up avenues for misuse of arbitrary powers have been repeatedly applied to smother the citizens’ aspirations, engendering a stifling atmosphere. Such an environment can only reinforce the prevailing insurgency and armed militancy. There is a strong public perception of a high degree of corruption in the police in Manipur. This is buttressed by the large number of gallantry awards (reportedly 74 out of 220 in the country) won by the Manipur Police personnel this year. This is alleged to be a kind of material incentive to the extra-judicial measures being allowed to be taken by the guardians of law and order. • There is apparently a complete breakdown of the Rule of Law instead of arresting those claimed to be insurgents and 26


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The restoration of peace and order must go hand in hand with the promotion of Rule of Law and justice for the sustenance of democracy. While the state highlights the importance of national security even as a substantial number of people continue to assert the demand for self-determination, the high degree of violence, breakdown of the Rule of Law, and the climate of impunity have together resulted in a vicious circle.

following such procedures as shooting without the intent to kill, State security forces are resorting to indiscriminate killing, protected as they are by extraordinary powers derived from Manipur’s ‘disturbed area’ status. The restoration of peace and order must go hand in hand with the promotion of Rule of Law and justice for the sustenance of democracy. While the

state highlights the importance of national security even as a substantial number of people continue to assert the demand for self-determination, the high degree of violence, breakdown of the Rule of Law, and the climate of impunity have together resulted in a vicious circle with multiple actors (state and nonstate) capitalizing on the existing lawlessness for furthering their own vested interests, which have no relationship with either national security, safety of citizens, or the political right to self-determination. • This situation breeds a sense of fear psychosis among the citizens and security forces alike, thereby aggravating instability and frustrating the efforts at normalization for a return to peace, justice and stability.

Recommendations: • Repeal the AFSPA. • Ensure the Rule of Law. • Transparent and thorough probe into each one of the alleged fake encounters. Strictly

enforce the procedural guidelines issued by the NHRC with regard to “encounters”: a) treat every such death as a cognisable offence and take immediate steps to investigate the circumstances leading to the death; b) as the police themselves are involved, entrust the investigation to an independent agency. Enforce Cr.P.C. 2006 Amendment. • Make public reports of all magisterial (judicial or executive) enquires and commission of enquiries set up to investigate incidents of fake encounters. • Take action against those found guilty. • Revoke the NSA and false charges slapped on those demanding justice for Sanjit and Rabina as well as those fighting for democratic rights. • End all intimidation to those resorting to peaceful and democratic forms of protest and engage in meaningful dialogue to address their concerns, redress their grievances and resolve outstanding problems. • Halt the practice of fake encounters. • Withdraw the paramilitary forces from the Manipur University. • Provide a just rehabilitation for the families of the deceased and injured. • Hold the Ibobi Singh Government accountable for the deteriorating situation in the State. • End Irom Sharmila’s custody and restore her civil liberties. Footnotes- http://delhi solidaritygroup.wordpress.com 27


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The recent agreement Chengara Solidarity Samiti, Kerala reached with the Left Front government in Kerala, after a struggle that lasted for 26 months, no doubt, will be a subject of much public scrutiny for a long time to come, especially since it involves the same Left Front that had done land reforms in Kerala several decades ago. A statement of the struggle leader Laha Gopalan sums up the present situation: “despite a struggle that lasted against such odds ranging from outright violence against women, youth and children to serious health issues (from living inside a rubber plantation), it is a reality check for Dalits and Adivasis of kerala that this is all that we can achieve through such democratic struggles. This agreement is nothing but a conspiracy of the left (CPM led LDF) and the right (Congress led UDF) against the people. However, we are accepting it, in the current circumstances…”

The struggle for land launched by the Sadhu Jana Vimochana Samyukta Vedi (SVSV) has made history in that the ruling left front government (LDF) has yielded to the movement’s demand for agricultural land to

the landless. The struggle, first of its kind in Kerala, launched by Adivasis and Dalits for rights over land for cultivation went on and on for 26 months. The ruling front and the opposition had to work out plants to settle the

- M J Joseph long drawn out struggle. The ruling front that refused to consider the ‘Chengara land struggle’ as a peoples’ struggle and that which used the dirtiest of epithets to condemn those struggling masses as ‘encroachers’, ‘scoundrels’ and a ‘bundle of goons and criminals’ was nailed down to sit with the movement leaders and negotiate. The final agreement arrived at, on the 5th of October 2009, leaves much to be desired – like providing one acre land for SC families and also a better deal for the other landless people. But, what has been achieved is no small victory. Some key elements from the struggle that lasted past more than two years: 28


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1. To raise the land issue in Kerala, in the given situation today, is a courageous act. 2. The LDF would at no cost allow any space for anyone other than the party ‘gangs’ to take up people’s cause. The SVSV and the solidarity/support groups showed that the Left Parties are way behind in identifying and spearheading the cause of the marginalised sections – especially vis-à-vis their struggle for land. 3. The Communist Parties were exposed before society at large through the struggle course. With all their recent affirmations to ‘protect’ the SCs & the STs, the public saw them using the muscle power of the Trade Unions to humiliate and destroy the struggle in Chengara – spearheaded by Dalits and Adivasis. The heinous crimes the TU leaders and the goons of the Harrison Management committed against the Dalits have parallels only in the era of slavery, the landlords march against the landless, peasants and workers on land issue, in the days of feudal landlordism which were backed by brutal violence and rape. 4. The Communist Parties on ideological basis and the Congress because of their social hegemony cannot accept the claim for land by the Dalits and other landless. The Communist Parties were trying to collapse the categories of Dalits/Adivasis visà-vis workers, without acknowledging the historical specificity of each category, where these categories often overlap. For ex-

You can’t expect every problem of the Dalit Community to be solved by chengara’ struggle alone. There should have been a stronger network of involvement and action – including solidarity. ample, categorisation of agricultural workers (only talking ‘labour/workers issue’ as against taking up issues of land ownership). The Congress on the other hand, which essentially has its voters belonging to the Nair and Syrian Christian communities, anyway cannot allow the erstwhile untouchables to enjoy ownership of land. In that sense the fact that the CPI-M and the Congress were forced to negotiate with and agree to 50-75 cents of land for SCs indicates a larger social change in the right direction. Of course this 50 cents could have been more, at least one acre. In Chengara, on the 6th, when the whole struggling Sangham was celebrating the victory, what was pronounced mostly was that this is only the beginning. Now that the SCs and STs can possess more than 5 cents, the struggle must continue. Chengara will be re-

peated on other fronts too. Many a finger will be pointed towards the struggle leader ‘Laha Gopalan’, who succumbed to the combined scheming of the LDF and UDF. But it requires closer perusal and sharper understanding of the situation in hand. Of course to say that it is for one’s own life security and also to avoid another ‘Nandigram’ that be given, is begging the question, ‘why did you then venture out on this’ ‘fire-play’: you had ‘Nandi grams’, Singurs’ before you could have got wind of it and retreated, long before. But the fact that you ventured to launch the struggle, and made epochmaking demands risking your lives, declaring to the whole world – ‘come what may, Nandigram, Muthunga or what not – we are here’. The main slogan of the struggle, one may recollect was: “Either you give us agricultural land, or you shoot 29


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and kill us”. The struggle has gone on for 793 days. The Party and the Government keeps on saying that they never attempted to drive the people out using ‘violence’ or by force. This is not quite true. At least once, swords were drawn. Information was passed on to assemble police force in huge numbers and stage a forceful eviction. But the move had to be called off in the early hours of the day. The agitating group was exposed to this type of experiment for the first time. When challenges came incessantly, to watch out and combat them on time requires endless spirit. There are occasions when you are pushed to the edge. This is the struggle – may be one has to give in, to avoid situations that will lead to severe causalities. Again, those who point their fingers from the outside, from their own ‘arm chairs’, must pause for a moment. There ought to have been more ‘Chengaras’ during the course of the last 26 months. You can’t expect every problem of the Dalit Community to be solved by ‘Chengara’ struggle alone. There should have been a stronger network of involvement and action – including solidarity. Then it would have been possible to change the 50 cents to one acre. It is the pressure of the people that brought the authorities to the ‘50 cents’. When the pressure grows more, they will have to accommodate 100 cents (one acre).

When you say that, ‘Chengara’ sends a challenge, what is envisaged is several ‘Laha Gopalans’ and ‘Chengaras’ have to put pressure on the social fabric. The social and class hegemony necessitates a hundreds Chengaras. The agreement that is arrived at now, does send ‘sparks’ that must, sure, light the fire. It needs mention that Laha Gopalan is a leader with a unique style. He has grown with the struggle. From being called a ‘drunkard’ and ‘extortionist’, to being recognised as the symbol of the Dalit and Adivasi land struggle in Chengara and aspirations is a phenomenal growth in struggle. The struggle has to grow in to a People and to a Politics. That is where leadership leads to. Chengara has to stand up to the land struggles going on in other parts of the country today and has to go on to tomorrow.

The Party and the Government keeps on saying that they never attempted to drive the people out using ‘violence’ or by force. This is not quite true. At least once, swords were drawn. Information was passed on to assemble police force in huge numbers and stage a forceful eviction. But the move had to be called off in the early hours of the day. The agitating group was exposed to this type of experiment for the first time. When challenges came incessantly, to watch out and combat them on time requires endless spirit. There are occasions when you are pushed to the edge.

30


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fro m Peo ple’ s from People’ ple’s M ovement s Movement ovements October 28, Jabalpur, M.P.: High Court Orders No Land Acquisition on Narmada Canals A Bench of Hon’ble Chief Justice Shri A.K. Patnaik and Justice Ajit Singh of the Madhya Pradesh High Court passed a major interim order in the case of the Indira Sagar (ISP) and Omkareshwar (OSP) Canal Projects, their impacts on the environment and thousands of families affected by the twin projects, demanding compliance of environmental measures and upholding many of the contentions of Narmada Bachao Andolan on land acquisition and excavation for the canals. The Jabalpur High Court ordered that no land will be acquired or excavated in these canal areas until command area development plans and R&R Plans are ready, approved and executed along with engineering aspects. The Court also ordered that canal-affected are also entitled to land and livelihood based rehabilitation as the reservoir-affected people. The Narmada Control Authority was directed to submit three monthly reports on all aspects of environment and rehabilitation to the High Court. The High Court ordered that rehabilitation policy including alternative land will be applicable

to the canal affected families and GRA (Grievance Redressal Authority) shall be constituted to hear all grievances. The Court said that consultation of Gram Sabhas before land acquisition to be applicable only after M.P. amends its Panchayat Act. Courtesy: Ranveerbhai, Mangilalbhai, Kailashbhai, Mukeshbhai, Jamsing Richa, Ram Singh Gendya, Shankarbhai, Jagdishbhai of Narmada Bachao Andolan. nba.ashish@gmail.com October 29, Khandwa, M.P.: Police Assault on NBA Activists and Displaced People On October 28 thousands of people displaced or affected by the Indira Sagar and Omkareshwar dams on the Narmada river marched to the Khandwa district administration office. They demanded that the Madhya Pradesh government fully comply with a court order to complete, by December 2009, rehabilitation measures for communities displaced by the two dams. The protestors were also demanding that officials consult the affected communities and sought an audience with the District Collector. The police used batons to disperse the demonstrators, injuring seven persons. They also arrested 19 protestors, including

key activists of the NBA. The police pressed charges for offences under Sections 323 and 332 (voluntarily causing hurt to deter a public servant from discharge of duty), 353 (assault or applying criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of duty and 294 (performing obscene acts and songs) of the Indian Penal Code, 1860. The following day, the anti-terror squad of the state police raided the NBA office in Khandwa. The police also charged all 20 activists with more serious offences with regard to the previous day’s incidents, under Sections 147 (rioting) and 333 (causing grievous hurt to deter a public servant from discharge of duty) of the Code. During this period innumerable citizens and organizations demanded the Madhya Pradesh government to stop the harassment of NBA activists and order an independent, impartial and thorough inquiry into the use of force by the police. The 20 arrested activists, including Alok Agarwal, Chittaroopa Palit, Kamla Yadav and Ramkuwar Rawat were detained for a week before being released on bail on the orders of various courts on 6th November. Courtesy: Narmada Bachao Andolan, Khandwa, M.P. 31


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nbakhandwa@gmail.com November 10, New Delhi: March by ‘Unauthorised Colonies’ Residents and Workers In Delhi there are 1639 colonies which are devoid of basic amenities. After relentless struggle the agitating groups have been able to get development work started in 1200 colonies, but it is yet to start in other colonies. Now the government has also stopped the subsidized electricity supply to these working class colonies. As a result, children are forced to study in the street light or not study at all. The affected people from these colonies and the working class populations of Delhi who have been severely impacted took out a long March to Chief Minister’s residence starting from Ramlila Maidan near Delhi Gate. The marchers demanded that Delhi Government include 439 unauthorised colonies into its development programme and provide basic amenities; Roll back the sharp increase in bus fare and increase number of buses in the city; and Continue to supply subsidized electricity to residents of the working class unauthorized colonies. Courtesy: Bhupender Singh Rawat, Nanu Prasad Gupta, Mahendri, Nirmala, ramakant Sharma, Mehar Singh, Phool Kumari, Phooldevi, Shobha and others from Jan Shangharsh Vahini. jsvindia@gmail.com

November 18 – 20, New Delhi: Convention and Demonstration on Land Acquisition The gathering of hundreds of farmers, small agriculturalists, and farm workers, adivasis, fish workers, labourers and women in the National Capital echoed the voice and anguish of thousands of displaced people, protesting against the UPA Government’s efforts to hurriedly pass the Land Acquisition (Amendment) Bill and Rehabilitation and Resettlement (R&R) Bill. The Convention organised by Sangharsh, a group of about 150 social and people’s movements and groups, involved people from the states of Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, West Bengal, Orissa and Tamil Nadu. They were also joined by leaders of peoples’ movements like Medha Patkar from Narmada Bachao Andolan, Ashok Choudhury (National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers), Gautam Bandopadhyay from Nadi Ghati Morcha (Chhattisgarh), Sandhya from Adivasi Mahila Mahasangh (Orissa), Rupam Chowdhary from Paschim Bangla Buddhi Jibi Manch (West Bengal), Amita from Singur Krushi Zameen Bachao Samiti, Sister Celia from Domestic Workers Union and NAPM (Karnataka), Kavita Krishnan from CPI (MLLiberation) and Bhupinder Singh Rawat from Jan

Sangharsh Vahini, among other supporters from Delhi. On 18th November, the leadership from movements met with Dr. C. P. Joshi, Minister of Rural Development. Despite the fact that the Ministry’s own Parliamentary Standing Committee Report is extremely critical of the two bills, the Minister said that the bills had been approved by the Cabinet, while it is public knowledge that this too was opposed by many people’s movements, joined in by Trinamool Congress. A delegation also met with Mamata Banerjee, Minister of Railways and Jairam Ramesh, Minister of Environment and Forests and submitted a Memorandum in the office of Shishir Adhikary, Minister of State for Rural Development. The delegation demanded that a national level consultation be organised with the peoples’ groups to arrive at a comprehensive and just and Land Acquisition and Resettlement Policy. Abani Roy, Rajya Sabha MP, Sandeep Dixit, MP from New Delhi and Tarun Modul, MP from West Bengal also addressed the dharna to give their support to the cause of just rehabilitation. Listing the five key principles for rehabilitation legislation, the movement representatives stated that “Options assessment, free and prior informed consent of affected communities, minimum displacement, resource for resource compensation and prior, comprehensive and just rehabilitation” are then only ways to avoid further civil conflict in 32


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the country. Courtesy: Sangharsh November 26, New Delhi:

Rally for the Right to Food More than 5000 people from 18 states, representing a wide range of grassroots organisations, came together for a rally and public meeting in New Delhi on 26th November. They marched nearly 3 kms from Mandi House to Parliament Street, demanding legal food entitlements in the face of structural hunger and malnutrition and urgent intervention in 278 drought affected districts across India. The stage was also shared by some invited MPs and leaders of different political parties like Brinda Karat (CPM) and D.Raja (CPI), who promised to raise these issues in the parliament soon by broadly endorsing the collective demands of the right to food campaign. A delegation consisting of Annie Raja, Jean Dreze and Kavita Srivastava met Dr M Veerappa Moily, Law Minister on 2nd December with the message of the rally and the broader demands of the campaign. Courtesy: The Right to Food Campaign. righttofood@gmail.com

November 29 - December 5, Orissa: Padayatra against Predatory Corporations Orissa, the ancient land of Kalinga, had been under attack in recent years in a way not seen since over two thousand years ago when King Ashoka’s army laid waste to the region. This time the marauders are large corporations, both domestic and foreign, preying upon the province’s vast natural resources – iron ore, bauxite, water, fertile agricultural lands and marine wealth. The resistance to all this planned plunder has also been strong – be it the antiPOSCO movement in Erasama, anti-Vedanta movement in Puri and Lanjigarh, the anti-Tata movement in Kalinganagar and Naraj, the farmers’ movement in Hirakud, anti-UAIL movement in Kashipur, anti-Mittal movement in Keonjhar, anti-Bhusan movement, anti-Sterlite, antiReliance or anti-dam movement in lower Suktel area, everywhere

people are in struggles. The UPA government at the Centre and Orissa Government are using brutal force to compel people to vacate their ancestral lands in proposed POSCO and Vedanta project areas. With a purpose to create awareness among the people, to

involve them and to unite all the movements continuing throughout coastline from Paradip to Puri, a Mass Rally or Padayatra was organised by the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), Rajya Jana Andolan and Collective of Mass Organisations. Hundreds of farmers, fisherfolk, agricultural workers and the women of villagers affected by the corporate invasion of coastal Orissa took part in the 7-day protest Padayatra that started on 29th November from Dhinkia, Erasama block, Jagatsinhgpur district, one of the affected villages of proposed Steel Plant by POSCO. The week-long padayatra culminated at Puri on 5th December at Beladal in Sadar block, the proposed Vedanta University project area of about 6000 acres. Courtesy: Prafulla Samantara, NAPM. psamantara@rediffmail.com November 30, Varanasi, U.P.: Community Rallies against Coca-Cola Armed with banners demanding “Climate Justice Now!” and “Shut Down Coca-Cola”, over 2,000 villagers marched to the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Mehdiganj near Varanasi on 30th November 2009, demanding its closure. Villagers have accused the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Mehdiganj of worsening the water conditions in the area by over-extraction of groundwater as well as pollution. Coca-Cola 33


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has continued extraction of groundwater even as the area faced severe drought this year and thousands of farmers experienced failed crops. The groundwater levels at Coca-Cola’s bottling plant were at 23.75 meters below ground level in 2008. Two Coca-Cola bottling plants in India have been shut down and a proposed plant was stopped from completion as a result of community opposition. The rally was preceded by a conference on Climate Justice and Water Rights in Mehdiganj on November 29, attended by key leadership from the region including village heads and government officials. Rajendra Singh, a prominent expert on water, addressed the conference and called CocaCola’s rainwater harvesting initiatives a “sham”. Courtesy: Nandlal Master, Lok Samiti, UP. napm_up@yahoo.com December 3, Bhopal, M.P.: People remember Bhopal’s dead; vow to fight for the living People in nearly 200 locations in 20 countries, including 80 locations in 22 states of India, took action in the first week of December in support of the struggle for justice by survivors of the 1984 Union Carbide gas disaster. Supporting the call for “Justice in Bhopal,” people across the world urged the Government of India to demonstrate its commitment to fairplay by fulfilling the long-stand-

ing demands of the Bhopal survivors. Seen as the world’s worst industrial disaster, the tragic gas leak of December 3, 1984, killed more than 8000 people in its immediate aftermath. At least 500,000 were exposed to the poisonous gases. Nearly 150,000 people remain chronically ill. Two new reports, by New Delhibased Centre for Science and Environment (www.cseindia.org) and London-based Bhopal Medical Appeal (www.bhopal.org), confirm increased contamination of soil and groundwater by Carbide’s toxxic wastes in Bhopal. This indicates that the Union Carbide site was leaking poisons more than two decades after it was shut down. Rehabilitation of survivors, their children and people affected by Carbide’s water contamination and exemplary punishment for Dow and Union Carbide for their negligence will be the key agenda of the campaign and its supporters in the years to come. “Dow can bribe, threaten and win over our politicians and scientists. But youngsters will make Dow pay,” said Javed Naqi, student coordinator for the International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal. A mobile exhibition titled “Bhopal blues” toured campuses in New Delhi. In Chennai, more than 40 students went on a “We all live in Bhopal Toxic Tour” of the blight spots in Chennai. December 8, A.P.: People’s Audit of SEZs in Ananthpur District

A People’s Audit of Special Economic Zones was held in Ananthapur District, falling in the Rayalaseema region of AP, jointly organized by the Andhra Pradesh Dalit Samakhya (APDS) and the Ananta Paryavarana Parirakshana Samiti (APPS), supported by NAPM-AP. Around 350 people from several villages, affected due to the above SEZs participated in the audit, apart from local media, representatives of other civil society organizations working in the district, members of farmers’ union, and others. The audit of each of the three SEZs began with the local activists of APDS providing an overview of the SEZ which was followed by testimonies and case studies from affected communities. In addition, local communities affected due to Science City project (which has been abandoned) also presented their testimonies. Close to 22 testimonies were presented by representatives of various communities during the day. December 9, Narayanapatna, Orissa: Police Assault Women Fact Finding Team A 9 woman fact-finding team and their driver were assaulted in the Narayanpatna Police Station premises when they went to enquire into the conditions leading up to the police firing of 20 November, 2009, in Narayanpatna, Orissa. According to reliable reports, the Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangh 34


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(CMAS), a peaceful, democratic movement fighting for the dignity and rights of adivasis, is being branded extremist by the State in a prelude to unleashing terror on the tribal inhabitants of the area. Platoons of state police, CRPF and the dreaded Cobra battalions have been posted in the area. The routes to the areas were sealed off and many reports of the area from adivasis spoke of atrocities against adivasis. The team somehow managed to escape through Andhra Pradesh where they held a press conference and demanded action against the police officials responsible for the incident. In Delhi, on 16th December PUDR, NAPM Delhi, DSG and other groups staged a demonstration in front of the Orissa Bhawan and submitted a memo to the Orissa Government. December 12: Note on Narmada Struggle on the Eve of 25 years Narmada Bachao Andolan issued a note on the eve of 25 years of the movement, chronicling key events, achievements and challenges. The note stated that struggle in the Narmada Valley continues with full vigour to this day. The Sardar Sarovar Dam remains stagnant at 122 metres with no permission by the Central authorities for further construction of piers, bridges and erection. While not less than twolakh people (adivasis, farmers,

fish workers, potters, landless labourers) in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat stay put in the submergence area till date, the project cost has risen from Rs. 4,200 crores to Rs. 45,000 crores as per the Planning Commission’s latest estimates (2007-08). The social and environmental costs too have multiplied. Neither proper rehabilitation plans, with alternative land and livelihood for all the affected, nor the environmental mitigation measures, are yet fully prepared or approved. The Government of Gujarat now (as per official information) is able to use only 7% of the entire reservoir water and irrigate only 10% of the area expected to be under irrigation at the present height. As no command area development plans are in place, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has forbid any further irrigation and the farmers of Gujarat have themselves denied permission for acquisition of their lands (30,000 ha) for canals. Drinking water supply too has managed to reach only 10% of the villages and the people of Kutch have approached the Supreme Court for the water that was promised, but never delivered. Power generation as well is low which is notable from Maharashtra’s recent claim of Rs. 1,800 crores compensation from Gujarat. Thus, the benefits and economics of the Project are in doldrums.

On the other hand, the Government of Madhya Pradesh has gone back on the promise of rehabilitation and has stooped to encashment of land entailments, resulting in corruption of hundreds of crores. About 900 fake registries were dug out, along with the obvious evidence of poor quality civic amenities at the R&R sites and numerous other forms of corruption, resulting in the appointment of a Judicial Commission of Inquiry after a massive PIL was filed and fought for two full years in the Jabalpur High Court. The farmers and activists of NBA were recently awarded the NDTVPCRF National RTI Award for unearthing crores of corruption scandal through effective use of RTI. December 14, Dantewada, Chattisgarh: Police Detains Women Campaigning Against Sexual Violence and State Repression Some 40 members of the Campaign on Sexual Violence Against Women and State Repression who were travelling to Dantewada to show solidarity with the women who have stood up against sexual violence and sought justice through democratic means, who were also to later join the peaceful padhyatra seeking rehabilitation for displaced villages beginning at the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram were stopped at Charama Thana, Kankar. The police constantly threatened them and said that 35


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there was great danger and risk for the women if they went further as local groups would create problems for them and so they are being detained for their own safety December 16: Declaration of the Leaders of Climate Communities The Coalition of Climate Communities from Asia, Africa and Latin America issued a statement on the even of the UN Climate Summit at Copenhagen. These are grassroots communities in the forests, the women, small farmers, pastoralists, nomads and fisher communities. They affirmed that their strengths are great plant and animal biodiversity, rich ancestral knowledge, heritage of seed saving and exchange system, sustainable agriculture and forests. They demanded that the global communities (i) recognize the diversity and integrity on their farms, livestock, forests and seas as civilizational assets; (ii) endorse the multifunctional, ecological and diverse agriculture they practice as the greatest defense against climate change; (iii) respect pastoralism and mobility as distinctive sources of cultural identity, integrity and rights; (iv) recognise that traditional fishers are the stewards of the coast and waters; and (v) honour these community members as Frontline Warriors against Climate Change and enact policy measures to provide them with incentives to practice and promote this diversity. - napmindia@gmail.com .

On 24th November 2009, 10,000 Hawkers (as reported by Kolkata Police and Press) marched from Wellington Squire to Writers Building to claim for a State Level Legislation for Hawking and also to demand for Indian Government’s positive act in the Climate Convention in Copenhagen (COP-15). 14 years back, on the same day, 24th November, Kolkata Municipal Corporation and West Bengal Government denied 100000 hawkers right to life by evicting them from their only source of livelihood “hawking”. In one night more than 30000 hawkers were evicted with the help of 10000 Police, RAF, Paramilitary, KMC Force and Ruling party cadres. The eviction operation was named “Operation Sunshine”. At that time, a federation of all major and minor hawkers unions named “Hawker Sangram Committee” accepted the challenge and waged the battle for survival against the West Bengal

Government and Calcutta Municipal Corporation. In Kolkata alone there are 275,000 vendors on which at least four times the number of citizens depend directly for livelihood. So we are talking about over a million people just in this Metropolis who sustain themselves by selling goods and services in an informal sector. In the state of West Bengal there are 16 Lakh vendors and at the national level there are about 4 crore Urban and Rural Street Vendors, Railway Hawkers, Pheriwala, Weekly and monthly markets (Huts) etc. As the conflict with the Law has increased the hawkers also started to organize. Currently all the urban areas are being beautified by a process that removes poor people living in the urban area. The state itself is making way for large retail corporates to operate with little restrictions. - Saktiman Ghosh. National Hawkers federation. nationalhawkerfederation@gmail.com napmindia@gmail.com 36


October-December 2009

There is no questioning the fact that the recent disaster in North Karnataka due to incessant heavy rains and floods, is one of the biggest that the State has ever seen in the recent past. As many as 14 districts, namely, Belgaum, Gulbarga, Bijapur, Raichur, Dharwad, Bagalkot, Bellary, Koppala, Haveri, Bidar, Gadag, Davangere, Uttara Kannada and Dakshina Kannada have been affected resulting in the loss of more than 200 lives, about 5 lakh houses either fully or partially destroyed and thousands of acres of standing crops either washed away or destroyed. The district administrations have attempted to deal with the situation in the possible best way known to them. The State Government has announced a relief package and reached out to the private sector and the Central Government for funds to rehabilitate the affected families. The other disaster that is yet to even be acknowledged, is the massive destruction caused by the heavy rains and the subsequent inundation of thousands of houses and hutments in slums across most of the major cities in North Karnataka during the same period. Between 29th September and 2nd October 2009, the nonstop heavy rains that lashed the region causing the floods in these rivers also resulted in waters entering into and submerging slums across most of the cities. The rains coupled with the fact that most of the slums are

in low-lying parts of the cities and further complicated by inadequate surface drainage systems, have caused havoc in the slums with scores of slums being completed submerged by the rain waters mixed with the overflowing sewage waters. These gushing waters through the slums have washed away houses, food grains and possessions, caused collapse of dozens of houses and taking lives in the bargain. Poor drainage facilities have further meant that the slums continue to be inundated and surrounded by the rain water mixed with sewage water owing to the fact that there is possibility of the water draining out. We are bringing this report out in a situation where the Government’s attention has turned away from this major disaster to other political upheaveals which most people are famiular with. The MLAs of the affected regions are not even in their constituencies and in-

In respect of some of the flood-affected villages, it was found that the floods due to the discharge from the upstream dams are a recurring feature. Even this time, though large discharges of water from the upstream dams took place there was no warning issued to the villages that are prone to floods. This is a very serious aspect that needs to be looked into and rectified. Prior flood warning systems have to be developed providing the residents of the floodprone villages ample time to move out with their livestock and belongings. The lack of this prior warning system resulted in waters suddenly rising over a matter of few hours and submerging.

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stead are in hotels and resorts as the game of political bargaining and power is played out in Bangalore and Delhi. This has also resulted in a grave neglect of this situation even by the bureaucrats who seem to be part of this political game.

In several villages separate camps and ganji kendras were set up for dalits since the dominant caste people refused to allow them to enter the camps and ganji kendras already established.

Issues that need to be addressed:

1.Caste and communal politics in relief and rehabilitation: It has been observed that caste and communal politics are playing a major role in relief and rehabilitation and even in the determination and distribution of compensation. In several villages separate camps and ganji kendras were set up for dalits since the dominant caste people refused to allow them to enter the camps and ganji kendras already established. Further it is now seen that in several villages which are to be relocated, the lands of the dalits are being targeted for this purpose. The Constitution of India permit such discrimination, further in particular, section 61 and 66 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 expressly prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, caste, community, descent or religion in the provision of compensation and relief to victims of any disaster. Under such circumstances it is necessary that: a. In the relocation of the affected villages, caste and religion cannot be allowed to become the basis for determining the rights

and entitlements of people. b. It must be ensured that lands of dalits and other vulnerable sections will not be targeted for relocation. c. That compensation will be distributed to all affected persons in accordance with their loss. d. Any plans for relocating, designing of proposed relocated villages, estimates, funds allocations, etc. must be decided with the active participation and consent of the Flood relief and rehabilitation Committee, representatives of all castes and communities in the village through a participative and democratic process.

2. Flood relief and rehabilitation Committee:

A Flood relief and rehabilitation Committee must be formed in each and every village having as its members people from every caste and religion. Further, atleast half its members must be women while there must also be representation of other vulnerable sections in the village, namely physically handicapped,

elder persons, etc. All the work of relief distribution, preparation of affected persons lists, preparation of lists of property – house, land and livestock – affected and any rehabilitation process must be carried out with the participation and consent of this Committee. 3. Non-implementation

of the Disaster Management Act, 2005: The Disaster Management Act, 2005 was enacted to provide for the effective management of disasters in 2005. However the Act has not been implemented in letter or spirit and this is clearly seen from the manner in which the Government has respondent to this disaster. There is failure on the part of the State Government to carry out all the steps under the Act required in identifying the disaster-prone areas and initiating measures to firstly prevent these and then mitigate the impacts of the same. Further, e. Each and every district is supposed to have a District Disaster Management Authority un38


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der section 25 of the Act, which would then prepare the District Plan (u/s 31) for providing measures to be taken for prevention and mitigation of disasters. This has not been done and is clearly evident from the fact that several of the worst affected villages today are actually flood-prone villages. f. Further under section 34 of the Act, the District Authority is empowered to undertake steps necessary in assisting and providing relief to the victims among others. g. Under section 41 it is statutorily required for the Local Authority i.e. panchayats, etc. to be trained in disaster management and to carry out the State and District Plans. These too have not been done.

4. Lack of prior warning systems and mechanisms: In respect of some of the floodaffected villages, it was found that the floods due to the discharge from the upstream dams are a recurring feature. Even this time, though large discharges of water from the upstream dams took place there was no warning issued to the villages that are prone to floods. This is a very serious aspect that needs to be looked into and rectified. Prior flood warning systems have to be developed providing the residents of the flood-prone villages ample time to move out with their livestock and belongings. The lack of this prior warning

system resulted in waters suddenly rising over a matter of few hours and submerging entire villages resulting in the loss of life and personal belongings and property of the villagers.

5.Lack of information and transparency in processes undertaken by the Government and district administration: h. There is a grave lack of information in the affected villages in regard to the compensation that has been declared and steps to be taken in relief and rehabilitation. This has to be immediately addressed and posters declaring the compensation amount sanctioned must be put up at prominent places in all localities in all the affected villages. Further all relevant Government Orders, Circulars, etc. must be distributed to all the affected Panchayats to be prominently displayed and also in the affected villages. i. The process of preparation of official lists and the distribution of compensation is taking place in an ad hoc manner. The Team found that in several villages cheques were distributed to some and not to others while there is general ignorance about the compensation scheme and relief and rehabilitation plans of the district administration and government. To address this, the Deputy Commissioner, Assistant Commissioner, Tahsildar, Chief Executive Officer and other officials must hold village-

level meetings to clarify the same with the affected persons. j. Further, it is found that there are several discrepancies in the surveys carried out thus far. Each of these discrepancies must be immediately correct through a process involving the participation of the village representatives and the concerned affected persons.

6. Opening of Bank Accounts for affected persons: The local banks must open zerobalance accounts for all the affected persons who do not have bank accounts. This is absolutely necessary since it is seen that those persons who have been issued cross cheques and do not have bank accounts are being forced to engage middlemen who encash the cheque and take commission for the same.

7. House related: Thousands of houses have been affected due to the rains and the floods. When the Team visited the villages it found that community sheds had been provided in some villages but not for all. Further there was also the need for temporary individual housing in several villages especially for those whose houses have fully collapsed or unsafe to live in, but this is not being provided by the district administration. Further;

- Clifton D Rozario R.V. Chandrashekhar T.K. Dayanand 39


October-December 2009

Kashmir, a region that could have been the confluence of three cultures – Buddhist-Tibetan, Hindu & Islamic – has been turned into a battleground. Close to 70,000 people have lost their lives only in the last two decades.

Kashmir means many things to many people and evokes extreme emotions from most. To some it is a beautiful tourist place that, unfortunately, cannot be visited because it is in the ‘clutches of terrorists’, and to their counterparts, a lost business opportunity. To some others it is either an ideal political issue to whip up passions or a hot potato better left untouched, for disturbing the status quo can amount to political suicide. To the international players it is a

dispute that can be used to further their own geopolitical interests. And to yet others it is an unmitigated tragedy in which innocent blood of tens of thousands continues to be spilled. And then there are those who will spill others’ and if necessary their own blood to try to achieve their goal. India and Pakistan have fought wars over it. It belongs to the list of festering conflicts which the key players on both sides did not have the statesmanship and foresight to resolve and caused untold suffering to common citizens. What people in Kashmir have suffered is not just Indo-Pak conflict but also suspicion of disloyalty, military & paramilitary repression and an internal conflict and all its fallouts. Succeeding generations

have therefore inherited tragedy from history. Like many conflicts between remote players human life is, directly or indirectly, considered expendable. There is little meeting-ground, apart from rhetoric about dialogue and peaceful resolution, between the entrenched positions of both countries. They, at best, only seem to reach as far as talking about talks rather than having actual dialogue. Kashmir, a region that could have been the confluence of three cultures – Buddhist-Tibetan, Hindu & Islamic – has been turned into a battleground. Close to 70,000 people have lost their lives only in the last two decades. The tragedy does not end there. Around 6000 people are said to have disappeared, there are at least 15,000 widows and we see the tragic phenom40


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enon of 1000 ‘half widows’, women whose husbands have disappeared, 25,000 children who are orphans, and 250,000300,000 displaced Kashmiri Pandits. The suffering and loss of life happens on all sides, viz., militants, military, paramilitary forces, innocent people of all communities and religions. Clearly though, the worst suffering, both in terms of disruption of normalcy and loss of life is borne by innocent people. That’s something that concerns the States the least, and should concern conscientious citizens the most. To top this, the picture presented to us by the mainstream media is very one-sided and unrepresentative of the reality on the ground. Unfortunately the Kashmir issue has always been

misrepresented in fact, context, and perspective. Both the states of India and Pakistan seem never to have been interested in the people there but only in land, self-vindication, and pulling the other side down. Both states have matched mistake for mistake, wrong for wrong. If the then Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir dithered on signing the instrument of accession, Pakistan attacked through the Razaakars. We, in the rest of India, have always been told that fairness and justice require Kashmir to be ‘an integral part of India’. An objective look at the facts would reveal that pursuing the ‘our side is always right’ line over the last 60 years not only leaves a problem unresolved but results in incalculable human tragedy

and suffering, not just today but threatens to pass down to succeeding generations with a multiplier effect. We have the tendency to blame the ‘outside hand’ for most of our problems, especially Pakistan with regard to Kashmir. The reality seems to be that neither is without blame. If India is blamed for not holding the promised plebiscite, no mention is made of a similar exercise in the Pakistan-held part of Kashmir. We blame Pakistan for training militants and abetting terrorism in Kashmir but we do not talk about the Indian State rigging the 1987 elections. It must be understood that the 1987 elections were a turning point in Kashmir’s recent history. Many losing candidates are said to have been declared winners. Parties like the Jamaat-e-

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Islami, the People’s Conference and the Ittihad-ul-Muslimeen which participated in the polls with great enthusiasm are now part of the main separatist alliance, the All Party Hurriyat Conference, campaigning for self-determination of the Kashmiri people. Key figures in militant groups fighting against Indian rule, it must be remembered, had taken part in those polls. They then turned to violence. Rest is history. Living in peace and harmony, concentrating on development of the region and its peoples, preventing infliction of any more suffering on the people of the state, freedom from terrorism today (a desire mentioned in every statement, resolution, draft agreement by every party – state or non-state, local or international) requires that we do not remain hostage to history and repeat past follies. The way forward, therefore, is predicated on the following: No o ut si de interferout utsi sid ence in the regi on regio

The region went through successive invasions and interference – the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, the US training of Mujaheedin, who then turned against the US and its allies, including Pakistan, and who also infiltrated into India. It does not help us to blame only Pakistan for the imbroglio in the region. Rising above the narrow na ti onalisti c nati tio nalistic ‘Ind ways ri ght ‘Indiia is al alw right and P akist an is al ways Pakist akistan alw

wro ng’ jingo ism wrong’ jingoism ism.

Every State takes principles and morality at a discount in pursuit of geopolitical advantage for itself. We would have a moral right to blame Pakistan for everything only if our record in Sri Lanka, Nepal and Bangladesh were as clean. A pro per appreci ati on proper apprecia tio fo rd iver sity in the for diver iversity st ate o f Ja mm u-K ashsta of Jamm mmu-K u-Ka mi r and the regi on mir regio of Leh and L ad akh Lad adakh

is sine qua non. The diversity pertains not just to religion but to region, local economy and lifestyle and they have their own aspirations, e.g., Legislative Assembly members of Poonch, Rajouri and Doda have all sought separate regional status for their own areas, as have people from Ladakh. The tragedy is that people belonging to each of these regions do not properly know and understand each other. What follows from the above is that religion is not the only determinant as far as people’s aspirations are concerned. Religious stereotypes have only complicated the problem. How else can the paradox of the Hindu ruler Hari Singh wanting Kashmir to be independent from both India and Pakistan whereas Sheikh Abdullah, a Muslim, and considered to be representing the public opinion choosing to join India for its secular and socialist values, be understood? Kashmiris culturally have always been liberal and syncretic. Yet, some people

would have us believe that religion determines State-loyalty. Ind s a secul ar, Indiia a as secular, ate dem ocr ati c st emocr ocra tic sta must ha ve full rehave spec t fo r ri ght so f spect for right ghts of mino riti es minoriti rities

all sections of society, especially its political parties and religious organisations. Therefore, there must be no threats to Muslims , Christians and others in the rest of India and similarly Kashmiri Pandits must have equal rights and security in Kashmir. Any solution to the Kashmir problem has to include do justice to their just aspirations and needs. There m ust be zero must toler ance o f arm y of army lerance and p ar ami lit ar y par ara milit litar ary atrociti es o n civi ltrocities on civilians

Otherwise the very forces that secure our borders against foreign powers would be hated by people within. That unfortunately is a serious problem in Kashmir as well as the North East. Kashmir being such a controversial issue with the history it has, no politician worth his or her salt would like to take radical decisions and commit political suicide. The onus therefore is on people-to-people contact and relationships. State-actors on both sides cannot be expected to show the foresight or vision to resolve the issue. - Anand Mazgaonkar is National Convener, NAPM anandpss@gmail.com 42


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W

e, the people’s movements welcome the decision of the UPA Government to declare Telangana as the 29th state in the country. The cause of Telangana is not only one of separate statehood for smaller states, but of equity and justice. It’s unfortunate that mere declaration of the State too required much agitation and struggle by the people of Telangana and the Telangana Rashtra Samiti. The Centre has finally taken a decision which symbolizes a political and moral victory for the region, suffering of inequity in all ways. The latest controversy only shows that inspite of BJP and Congress having promised the creation of Telangana to the people, they both went back and forth on their promises amounting to cheating the people. Now when an indefinite fast by KCR and the larger support and involvement by millions in Telangana has compelled UPA to take a position, if it is argued and accused

that all parties / legislators were not taken into confidence, it may be a serious issue reflecting the present party politics and internal party democracy, but that by itself certainly cannot prove the decision to be wrong, which was long-pending and unjustly delayed. However, we must warn the leaders and the people together that the experience of Jharkhand, Chattisgarh etc. clearly indicates that mere scale does not bring in decentralization. The development of the population and natural resources of Telangana to be just and sustainable would require that the paradigm followed by many a ruling party today should be revisited and reviewed and the planning process should be truly democratic. How would the Krishna waters or land of

Telengana be harnessed and in whose favour? Will the toiling masses receive primacy in all economic and political decisions, will have to be answered. Inequities within Telangana will also have to be addressed boldly. It is, therefore, with caution, yet appreciation for the persevering struggle of Telangana from land reform to political rights and self-reliance that we welcome this decision and wish a future bringing true sovereignty and justice to the people of Telangana. - Medha Patkar, Anand Mazgaonkar, Sandeep Pandey, P Chennaiah, Ramakrishnam Raju, Jeevan Kumar

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T

here is a growing civil society movement against the new uranium mining and nuclear power plants in India. The National Alliance of Anti-nuclear Movements (NAAM) is mobilizing citizens to protest against the reported decision of the government of India to take a quantum leap in installed capacity for nuclear power generation, from the current level of 4,120 MW to 63,000 MW by 2032. “This decision is but an invitation to disaster” says activists. “Nuclear power, contrary to orchestrated hypes, is actually costlier than power from conventional sources like coal, gas and hydro. And once all the hidden costs are factored in, it would be costlier than even from renewable sources, like wind, in particular” says the NAAM petition that is swelling with citizens signing and endorsing it. “More importantly, it is also intrinsically hazardous, as large amount of radiation is routinely released at every stage of the nuclear fuel cycle. An even more intractable problem is that of safe storage of nuclear waste and safe disposal of outlived power plants, given the fact that the half-lives of some of the radioactive substances involved are over even millions of years” further reads the petition. “Considering the complexity of the technology of a nuclear reactor; there is no way to ensure that a major accident at a

nuclear power plant will never take place. And a major accident, given the nature of things, will just turn catastrophic affecting a very large number of people, over a large territory, over a very long period. The disastrous accident at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, in the Ukraine province of the then USSR, on April 26 1986 is a chilling illustration.” “ The promise of nil greenhouse gas (GHG) emission

is also nothing more than a myth if the entire fuel cycle - including mining, milling, transportation and construction of the power plant - is considered. Moreover, nuclear energy with its highly centralized power production model would only further aggravate the problem by accentuating the current development paradigm reliant on mega-industries and actively blocking any possibility towards ecologically benign decentralized development.” reads the sig44


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nature petition of NAAM. The petition further adds, “As nuclear power is economically unattractive and socially unacceptable, on account of radiation hazards and risks of catastrophic accidents, no order for new nuclear reactors was placed in the USA and most of West Europe during the last 30 years, since the Three Mile Island accident in the US in 1979.” The US and European companies in nuclear power plant equipment and nuclear fuel business are thus looking to Asia for markets - India, China and Japan spearheading the current expansion programme. It is unfortunate that the Indian government is becoming their willing collaborator in this in pursuit of its megalomaniac hunt for nuclear power and weapon. It has thus, over a period of just one year, rushed to enter into agreements with as many as seven countries, viz. the US, France, Russia, Kazakhstan, Namibia, Mongolia and Argentina. So far, nuclear power production capacity in India is very small, only about 3 percent of the total electricity generation capacity; and the veil of secrecy surrounding the existing nuclear power plants in the country, and absence of any truly independent monitoring agency, has seriously hindered dissemination of information on accidents large and small - at these plants and their public scrutiny. That

explains the current low level of popular awareness as regards the grave threats posed by the nuclear industry. Taking advantage of this, the government of India is now set to steamroll its massive expansion program. The contention that nuclear power is indispensable to meet future energy needs is false; for energy demand, and “need”, is obviously a function of the development paradigm chosen and pursued. And “energy security” is not an autonomous entity or objective, but must be in alignment with other chosen objectives which must include equitable growth and concerns for ecology. Viewed thus, “energy security” may be achieved by: (I) Increasing efficiency of electricity generation, transmission and distribution. (II) Doing away with extravagant and wasteful use of energy. (III) Pursuing a path of low-energy intensity and decentralised development. (IV) Making optimum use of alternative energy options. (IV) Radically raising investment in development of sustainable and renewable energy sources and technologies, especially wind and solar energy. As a part of its expansion program, the government of India has announced plans to expand the nuclear power plant coming up at Koodankulam (Tamil Nadu). Additional four reactors from Russia of 1,200 MWe each, in the immediate or near future, are to come up over

and above the two of 950 MWe each, presently under construction. The process for setting up a nuclear plant at Jaitapur (Ratnagiri district, Maharashtra) has also reached an advanced stage. The French company Areva is set to supply two new generation reactors of 1650 MWe each, to be followed by another two. Land acquisition notices have been served on the local people to acquire 981 hectare of land. The government has reportedly already approved 15 new plants at eight sites. The mad rush for more and more power plants is matched by an accelerated drive for uranium mining in newer areas: Andhra and Meghalaya, in particular. And this, despite the horrible experience of uranium mines in different parts of the world, as also in our own Jadugoda where appalling conditions continue despite strong popular protests, spanning decades. The signatories of this NAAM petition demand that the government of India put a complete stop to the construction of all new uranium mines and nuclear power plants, and radically jack up investments in renewable and environmentally sustainable sources of energy. - National Alliance of AntiNuclear Movements (NAAM) Excerpts from reports by S P Udaykumar and Sukla Sen sukla.sen@gmail.com 45


October-December 2009

The contamination of at least 55 workers at the Kaiga nuclear power plant is a personal tragedy for them and their families. Everyone of us who have been opposing this dangerous and unforgiving technology, are sympathetic to their plight and wish them a speedy recovery and no long term health costs due to this accident. The incident does raise some serious questions regarding safety practices at nuclear installations in the country. The explanations offered by various functionaries in the nuclear establishment have been rather inadequate and sometimes fanciful. It needs to be noted that nuclear power plants have been under a state of ‘high alert’ ever since the arrest of Mr David Coleman Headley and Mr

Tahawwur Rana on suspicions of terrorist activity. Newspaper reports have spoken of nuclear power plants being mentioned in the papers found during interrogation of these two. Supposedly, security has been ‘beefed up’. So it is all the more surprising that anyone can ‘cause mischief’ by adulterating drinking water at a cooler with tritium. The official explanation of a ‘disgruntled’ employee causing ‘mischief’ raises more questions than it answers. Firstly, if some ‘insiders’ are so callous as to indulge in an attempt to cause serious bodily harm to random fellow workers, does it not say something on the process of recruitment itself and also on the level of employee job satisfaction within the nuclear power corporation? What is to prevent more ‘disgruntled’ ele-

ments from sabotaging vital reactor safety systems and putting the public and surrounding countryside at grave risk? If the heightened security system is so lax as to allow such shenanigans, how can the public have trust in their abilities to provide vital fool-proof security. An ‘accident’ whether caused by a natural calamity, or by operator error, or by instrument or design failure or through a deliberate act of sabotage can cause serious damage whose effects would last a long, long time to come. Secondly, heavy water is expensive. It costs well over Rs 20000 to produce a liter. The fact that such precious materials are easily available to any mischievous insider, does throw a light on the culture of casual disregard for waste and corruption in the organisation. Heavy water

Tritium is a dangerous toxin because it is chemically identical to hydrogen and hence is part of water and can go anywhere in the body. Let us not forget that the human body is over 70 percent just water.

- Surendra Gadekar

gets tritiated only after use in the reactor either as moderator or coolant. The fact that this heavy water was not inside the reactor indicates that it had been stored on the premises after use perhaps for purification/up-gradation prior to reuse. There is no need to use reactor premises as storage space for used heavy water. Newspaper reports of Dr Kakodkar’s explanation have not been very clear as to how tritium contaminated a drinking water cooler. There has been a 46


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mention of ‘tritium vials’ having been added to the cooler. If this be true, it would be even more worrying since although heavy water is expensive, its cost is peanuts compared to the cost of producing tritium. Estimates of these costs vary from $30,000 per gram in Canada to $100,000 per gram in the United States. If purified tritium vials which are a vital component of thermonuclear weapon systems, are available to any disgruntled element we have indeed a much larger problem on our hands. The authorities both nuclear and civil have acted true to form. They probably have a written format for such emergencies. The first step is to attempt to suppress all information if possible. So although the ‘incident’ took place on the 25th of November, it was only on the 28th that newspapers and television media got hold of the story. My guess is that since a lot of people needed hospitalization, it became impossible to continue efforts at entirely suppressing the story. The second step is to immediately ‘allay’ public fears. How much tritium activity was found in the urine samples taken from the affected workers? Not one concrete number, just that it was ‘mild’, people have been treated and were now back at work. However, an extensive Google search revealed that 53 out of the 55 people admitted had been discharged so presumably two were probably more heavily contaminated. Third

step: confusion through inadequate and sometimes misleading information. How many people were hospitalized? Numbers in various newspapers vary from ‘about 30’ to ‘about 55’. There is of course the confusion about how the mischief maker was able to get access to either tritiated heavy water or the tritium vials. The ill effects of radio activity of Tritium have always been underestimated by the radiation community. That is because it has a ‘short’ biological half life inside the body. Half of it is out within ten to twelve days of ingestion. However, Tritium is a dangerous toxin because it is chemically identical to hydrogen and hence is part of water and can go anywhere in the body. Let us not forget that the human body is over 70 percent just water. Secondly, tritium can sometimes get bound to organic molecules and spend much longer time in the body. Thirdly it can cross the placental border and severely affect growth and development of babies in the womb. This is why it is the most likely suspect in the spate of congenital deformities observed around CANDU type nuclear power plants and other military nuclear facilities that use tritium to produce thermonuclear bombs. Another pet sentence from the nuclear establishment is that all such accidents are studied and their ‘lessons

learnt’. Unfortunately, this incident gives a lie to such facile sloganeering. In 1991 on July 27 th , something very similar took place at the Heavy water plant run by the Department of Atomic Energy at Rawatbhata in Rajasthan. There drums of tritiated heavy water were stored in a room that needed a whitewash. Outside labourers were hired to do the whitewash and found that the taps were (as usual) not working. They mixed the lime with the water in the drums, did the whitewash, then cleaned their brushes and faces with the same water and went away. All this without any supervision from plant authorities. It was only later when the radiation counters started screaming that these worthies surmised that their rooms had the costliest whitewash in history and instituted a search for the ‘errant’ labourers who of course hearing of the hullabaloo decided to remain incognito and suffer the injuries to their health in silence. Since they were only ‘casual’ outside labourers and since the incident did not cause any ripple in the English language media, the nuclear establishment was able to laugh the matter off. With the proposed nuclear expansion very much in the cards, such incidents are bound to become a regular feature in the future. - Surendra Gadekar anumukti@gmx.net 47


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- Kathyayini Chamaraj

What does one say when the state thinks nothing of de-housing its people without providing them alternative shelter; goes back on its own promises to them to provide jobs and compensation; threatens them with dire consequences when they complain against its misdoings; beats them up and imprisons them when they protest against the injustice meted out to them?

Sixty-two years seem to have dulled the country’s desire for Independence: The government appears to be having a bout of nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ and has decided to bring back ‘foreign territories’ a la East India Company in the form of Special Economic Zones. A coastal corridor of

they deem fit. In return, the SEZs will spew poisons into the land, water and air and ruin the land’s ability to sustain life. The government then calls this ‘public purpose’.

‘Special Exploitation Zones’ or REZs (Real Estate Zones) — as those concerned about this regressive development prefer to call them — are all set to affect 4.17 crore persons living in these sensitive areas. In a policy unveiled in 2007, these SEZs were demarcated for creating Petroleum, Chemicals and Petrochemicals Investment Regions (PCPIRs). A contented people, who ask for nothing from the government, make their living in these areas, carrying on sustainable fishing practices or cultivating their little plots of land, nurturing and nourishing the earth that sustains them. Into this self-sustaining system, the government wants to plant these SEZs, which will be given huge subsidies, tax exemptions, incentives and freedom from several laws to maraud the land as

Generating wastelands The SEZ will create a few thousand jobs for outsiders while displacing thousands more who are currently surviving on that land. The government locates the SEZ on fertile land and converts it into a wasteland and then gives wasteland to those displaced, on which they can grow nothing. The government calls all this ‘development’. The government doesn’t seem to have learnt any lessons from the two-decadelong struggle against the Sardar Sarovar Project as it is continuing to repeat the same mistakes. Critics are not against value addition per se. While a food processing unit near agricultural land would be welcome, a petrochemical or IT company on wellirrigated land would be an anachronism, when the government has 69 per cent of land, which is arid in India, to choose from. What is being questioned is also the undemocratic process of land acquisition. A 48


October-December 2009

series of public hearings by civil society groups, led by the NAPM and the NCPRI, is in progress around the country to look into the pros and cons of these ‘foreign islands’ on Indian soil. At the public audit of the Mangalore SEZ, for instance, farmer after farmer spoke of how the draconian KIADB Act and other coercive measures are

A government-funded study itself says that the quality of life index of the people will improve by 0.02 as a result of these projects. No one seems to have paused to think whether it is worth spreading such havoc in people’s lives for this alleged improvement of 0.02. Destroying crops

If an ordinary citizen had committed offences, he would have been jailed immediately with a dozen cases under various sections of the IPC filed against him. But there are no jails to which one can send an errant state. The insolence, arrogance, contempt and violence with which the state treats its own poor people are incomprehensible. being used to acquire their land. The Tamil Nadu audit revealed that revenue records are being fudged to show wet lands as dry. A referendum at Raigad had 96 per cent farmers saying ‘no’ to the project, because of which the government kept the result of the referendum under wraps.

What can one say about a state that violates its own laws and procedures with nonchalance; fudges its own revenue records and master plans to cheat its own people; colludes with the greedy rich to defraud the helpless poor of their meagre assets; levels with bulldozers

— without so much as a byyour-leave — the food crops the poor have grown through hard toil on their land? What does one say when the state thinks nothing of dehousing its people without providing them alternative shelter; goes back on its own promises to them to provide jobs and compensation; threatens them with dire consequences when they complain against its misdoings; beats them up and imprisons them when they protest against the injustice meted out to them? All these were realities revealed by the sufferers during the public audits. If an ordinary citizen had committed all the above offences, he would have been jailed immediately with a dozen cases under various sections of the IPC filed against him. But there are no jails to which one can send an errant state. The insolence, arrogance, contempt and violence with which the state treats its own poor people are incomprehensible. Courtesy: Deccan Herald, December 4, 2009 Kathyayini Chamaraj is a freelance journalist and writes on socially relevant issues. kchamaraj@gmail.com 49


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ment. They have been actively engaged in demanding for implementation of Famine Code in all drought hit areas of Chhattisgarh, delayed payments of wages under NREGA scheme, women and child - Ekta Mittal rights. State repression on people’s voices of rights and jusurmil Morcha, a people’s tice is the prime concern. They front from Rajnandgaon dishave been voicing their concern trict in Chhattisgarh travelled against both State and the across Bangalore tirelessly Maoist violence in that region. from the 3rd to 5th of December. “If we demand for our rights, we Jurmil Morcha resorts to folk are branded as Maoists. If we stay forms like Paandvani, pupquiet, we are with the state. Either petry and storytelling, as tools ways adivasis in our area are getin their ‘fight’ for justice and ting caught in between the two. peace. People are scared to live in their Brutal and merciless own homes and have started leavkilling of adivasis, land grabing their villages,” says Bhan bing, rapes, lack of educational Sahu, leader of Sangwaari and health facilities in their Pariwaar and a member of district has hurled up this exJurmil Morcha, disappointedly. pression within them. Jurmil “Even though the Maoists do not Morcha emerged from a 10-day persecute adivasis in the way that workshop in January 2009 in State does; we still don’t take sides. Rajnandgaon, as a response to We stand for people, and we have injustice villagers faced directly our own point of view,” says and on a personal level. From Budhan Bhai. 250 women who attended a In Bangalore, they parworkshop, five women stuck ticipated and led the Campaign on and today live together in an for Peace and Justice. They exashram in Paangri, a small pressed the plight of adivasis adivasi village of Tatekasa, who were being displaced after close to Ambagarh Chouki the implementation of Operatown. tion Greenhunt. “They want to Supported by people’s replace our forests with glass palcontributions in cash and kind, aces when people don’t have food they have sustained this move-

J

to eat in our villages. We don’t want more than we need,” says Budhan Bhai. After Operation Greenhunt has come into play, the Salwa Judum, Special Police Officers and other military forces has been attempting to “purify” the region off Maoists. They have license to kill and shoot at sight. This has led to creating a fear psychosis and a repressive environment. The rage is augmented further when instead of rehabilitating them and providing for better living conditions, they are being attacked, taken to camps and are being treated as slaves. “ Ye dharti, Ye jungle, Ye nadiya hamrai hai,iInhe chhodiye poonjipatiyo kyun jae kyun jaye hum?” (These lands, these forests, these rivers are ours. Leave them, O industrialists, why should we go, why should we go, why should we go?), they question. “We have come all the way from Chhattisgarh to strengthen our voice against such violence - where rapes, deaths and displacement have become redundant - where people’s identities are reduced to numbers and facts, devoid of emotion and feeling,” says Budhan Bhai. Always smiling and raring to go, they passed on hope, inspiration and strength to carry on. Shades of grey to grapple with and the will to pursue this quest for justice… - Ekta Mittal, A Member of Maraa and Campaign for Justice and Peace, Bangalore.( with inputs from Richa Taneja)

jurmilmorcha@gmail.com 50


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Assert will against violence for people’s rights, resources & power Excerpts from a message Medha Patkar wrote for the Convention on Lalgarh organized by the Forum of Artists and Intellectuals of West Bengal on 16th October 2009. Almost every state has been facing some form of violence which is a backlash of wrong policies full of injustice, inequity and discrimination. The common thread passing through all this is the distorted relation between the State and its people. Singur, Nandigram and Lalgarh in West Bengal, as well as violence in Chattisgarh to Northeast especially Manipur and Assam indicate the same. While the scare of Maoism and Naxalism is raised partly on the ground-level situation where their armed struggle is growing in intensity, the response, rather reaction to it by the State in the form of more violence through Salwa Judum in Chattisgarh or the Party army known as Harmad Vahini in West Bengal is much more perverted. It is legitimizing violence as the only solution to problems. Grabbing people’s resources such as land, water, forests, minerals and aquatic wealth has become a normal practice for the State, howsoever unconstitutional and inhuman it may be. And this is furthered in the name of development. The non-displacing and least destructive options are ignored. On this path and paradigm, the State is being challenged and confronted by the common people, especially the dalits, adivasis, farmers and fish workers, with women at the forefront many times, asserting their rights and freedom to choose the option of equitable development. All those who are following non-violence as the only sustainable strategy even for a radical transformation must condemn any move to deal with human problems with arms and war. We must propagate dialogue and democracy along with non-violent mass movements, as the only way out. Let us come forward and take proactive steps to push for a truly democratic and humane dialogue amongst the State and the struggling masses, involving all those including Maoists who are, we believe and hope, for a genuine change in the situation as well as power relations. All-round dialogue on the real basic issues of equity, justice, land and human rights and civil liberties, which are close to the heart of all the oppressed sections of our population and cannot be ignored by any party, forum or organization that claim to be acting on their behalf, is the only way forward. Medha Patkar is a leader of Narmada Bachao Andolan and National Convener, NAPM nba.medha@gmail.com

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Reg. No: MAHENG/2006/18083

Poem

Fear Not, Friend Pirs are saying, Fakirs are saying Bulleh is Saying, Kabirs are saying Ranjhas are Saying and Heers are saying Arrows of Birsa Munda, Tilka are saying Fear Not, Friend Walls of the burnt up homes are saying Flames in the Adivasi tears are saying Destinies erased by the bullets are saying East-west north-south, all four are saying Fear Not, Friend Lalit is saying, Binayak is saying Bars and the chains of prisons are saying Slogans written on the walls are saying The lines in the raised up hands are saying Fear Not, Friend Farms are saying and the mines are saying Dead dried springs in the forests are saying The soil that is crying and Machines are saying Dreams of your life and mine are saying Fear Not, Friend By :

Translated from the song “Saathi dar mat jaana” originally written in Hindi

Vinay Mahajan Charul Bharwada

For Dr. Binayak Sen and late Lalit Mehta who have inspired us and many others. On the eve of 2 years of Dr. Sen’s imprisonment and 1 year of Lalit’s murder. On 23 March, 2009; as part of Raipur Satyagraha, Dr. Sen’s mother Ansuya Sen sang an inspiring Bengali song before courting arrest “Aami Bhoy korbo na...” which meant we are not scared and will continue to speak up. This song is inspired by that moment, Ilina Sen, wife of Dr. Sen and by all those who have chosen to speak truth. The song is relevant wherever people are struggling against the present development model and its violence. The M ovement o f Ind Movement of Indiia c/o Clifton D’Rozario, 122/4, Infantry Road, Opp. Infantry Wedding Hall, Bangalore - 560 001, Karnataka (India) Email: movementofindia@gmail.com, Phone: +91 97317 38131 52

Movement of India, Oct-Dec 2009  

October-December 2009 issue of Movement of India

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