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Archives for : July2014

#Budget2014 – CPI- ML Statement on Union Budget 2014-2015

CPI(ML) Statement on Union Budget 2014-15


The Modi Government’s first Union Budget has continued and severely intensified the offensive on common people and benefits to corporations that marked the previous UPA-II regime. The Budget has opened the floodgates of disinvestment of PSUs to the tune of 43000 cr, with FDI being increased to 49% in defence, insurance and e-commerce.The Budget is remarkably silent on MNREGA and Food Security that directly affect the poorest sections, also on concrete measures to quell inflation, such as taking essential items off the list of commodities that can be traded in the futures and forward trading market. The Finance Minister, on being asked, said that the existing allocation for MNREGA will stand. Allocations for MNREGA have not been increased for years, in spite of steep inflation, and the Modi Government has continued with the same policy.


Total social sector expenditure has plummeted steeply from 10.8 % in 2013-14 to 4.42 % of the total budget in 2014-15, and from 26.7 % in 2013-14 to 16.7 % in 2014-15 of total planned expenditure.


The huge infrastructure outlay in railways, roads, and ports has been allocated in the PPP framework. Experience has shown that PPP has been a system which has involved huge corruption, and which has meant private profits at public cost. In this case, the huge outlay will prove a bonanza for the real estate sharks who will use the PPP model to milk profits.


The allocation for schooling and higher education is highly inadequate and reflects the Modi Government’s lack of any concern for the country’s youth. The Budget allocates a mere 500 cr for 5 new IITs – contrast this with the 200 cr allocation for a single statue of Sardar Patel, a pet project of Modi’s Gujarat Government that the Centre has now adopted! The Budget indicates that education will be left to predatory mercies of privatisation, which will put it out of reach of the vast majority of students in the country.When it comes to employment too, the Budget fails to recognise the vast army of para teachers, ASHA, anganwadi and other rural health and education workers as government employees. The Modi Government continues with the model of insecure, casualised employment that exploits youth and women and also affects the quality of education and health services. Similarly, the Budget allocates a mere 500 cr for 5 new AIIMS like medical institutions in 5 states. Again, this amount can be put in perspective by contrasting it with the 200 cr allocation for a single statue. Some of the Budgetary decisions have immediate benefits to specific corporations.


FDI in e-commerce has also been introduced; this in spite of an earlier white paper by the Department of Industrial Policy & Promotion (DIPP) stating that FDI in E-commerce would go against the spirit of restrictions imposed on FDI in multi-brand retail. BJP’s posture has been one of opposition to FDI in multi-brand retail, yet it is allowing it in by the back door with FDI in e-commerce. Modi’s team is known to have close connections with the e-commerce giant, eBay CEO Pierre Omidyar, with BJP MP Jayant Sinha having earlier served as head of the Omidyar Network in India. The Finance Minister has also virtually put a hold on the restrospective taxation legislation that was enacted after the Supreme Court’s ruling in favour of Vodafone in 2012. This legislation allowed for retrospective taxation of overseas transactions which involve assets primarily in India. Now, the Finance Minister has set up a high-powered committee to vet each case before invoking this law. It may be remembered that the Finance Minister Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley recently recused himself from matters pertaining to the Rs. 20,000 crore Vodafone tax dispute and delegated decisions in this matter to his junior Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. It may be presumed that he recused himself because of a conflict of interest emerging from possible prior association with the corporation in his capacity as a lawyer. Surely a conflict of interest is also indicated if the retrospective taxation legislation that directly pertains to the Vodafone case and similar matters, is weakened by the present Finance Minister?


The Budget extends the 10-year tax holiday to power companies.The Finance Minister has also indicates that ‘hurdles’ in the path of mining will be removed and mining will receive a boost. Those hurdles, of course, have been the adivasis fighting for their survival and their rights to forests and land. The need of the hour was the nationalization of mining, to end the open plunder of our precious mineral resources by corporations and MNCs, resulting in huge corruption. Instead the Budget Speech indicates that hurdles in the path of this plunder will further be removed.The Economic Survey also indicates a shift to a regime of cash transfers and erosion and undermining of the MNREGA.All in all, the Modi Government’s first Budget is openly pro-corporate and anti-poor in its orientation, and does nothing to alleviate price rise and usher in the relief promised to the people by Modi’s election campaign. -CPI(ML) Central Committee


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Gujarat pogrom Modi is accountable – A G Noorani

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The crimes of 2002 cannot be forgotten. It is still not too late for Narendra Modi to make amends by a sincere, thorough programme of rehabilitation of the victims and by a sincere apology, however belated. Accountability brooks no exceptions. By A.G. NOORANI


WHEN, on February 4, 2000, Jog Haider’s Austrian Freedom Party, described by The Economist as “a party with Nazi echoes”, joined Austria’s new coalition government, 14 countries in the European Union imposed sanctions on Austria. If Narendra Damodardas Modi’s assumption of power as Prime Minister of India, on May 26, 2014, has not incurred the same measures, it is not because any one in this wide world has any illusions about his communal and blatantly autocratic tendencies. It is because India is far too great and powerful. Hence the ostentatious welcome from those who had once scoffed at him, and rightly so. He is a man with a past.

Modi demands accountability from one and all: Ministers, civil servants, and the rest. His scorn for accountability is evident in his choice of confidants like Amit Shah, charge-sheeted by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the Sohrabuddin-Prajapati fake encounter case, and a couple of Ministers who should have no place in any Cabinet. It would be most appropriate if Amit Shah is made the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) president (The Hindu, June 26, 2014). As it happened, even as he raced unchecked towards power, there suddenly emerged his Banquo ghost—of all places in the United States. In May 2014 was published a report entitled “When Justice Becomes the Victim: The Quest for Justice After the 2002 Violence in Gujarat” with intimidating documentation—477 footnotes—of Modi’s responsibility and failure of accountability for that pogrom. It cannot be ignored, so impeccable are its credentials.

The report was authored by Stephan Sonnerberg, Clinical Supervising Attorney and Lecturer in Law with the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic (IHRCRC). The Stanford IHRCRC is one of 10 clinics in the Mills Legal Clinic at Stanford Law School. It provides direct representation to victims, and partners with communities that have suffered or face potential abuse, or human rights advocacy organisations. Indian non-governmental organisations (NGOs) can collaborate with it. It seeks to train Stanford law students to be effective human rights advocates while simultaneously advancing the cause of human rights and global justice worldwide.

This report was drafted with the support of several student-attorneys in the IHRCRC and was prepared in partnership with various human rights lawyers, community activists and non-profit organisations. The IHRCRC’s research was conducted independently of these actors. “The views expressed in this report are those of the author alone,” he writes. He and his colleagues visited Gujarat.

The author of this report and clinic students werewitness to dozens of conversations between primary victims and survivors of the violence, as well as their family members. These interactions, which took place during meetings held by a civil society group, deepened and contextualised the analysis that informed this report. The traumatic events described by these individuals represent just a small fraction of the totality of the violence that engulfed Gujarat in early 2002.” Besides, he and his team studied the mass of documentation on the subject; court papers, press reports, reports by human rights bodies, and so on.

“The author also sought out many of the lawyers involved in litigating these cases. The author travelled to Delhi, Mumbai, and Ahmedabad. Interviews took place in each of these locations as well as the United States. Given the significant risk that victims and survivors still face when speaking about the events of 2002, all interviewees remain anonymous in this report” (Emphasis added, throughout).

According to the analysis detailed in this report, “the State of Gujarat has failed to pursue accountability vigorously for what transpired in 2002, nor has it effectively acted to alleviate the suffering of riot-affected victims in the past twelve years. The fragility of the situation in Gujarat today suggests that necessary reforms may not be implemented absent serious attention and oversight from outside of Gujarat. Such oversight would necessarily involve the Central Government of India.”

The report highlights the fact that the “communal violence followed a strikingly similar pattern across the State. Mobs of several thousand people arrived in trucks, often dressed in saffron scarves and khaki shorts (the uniform of the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), a paramilitary Hindutva volunteer corps), and attacked the Gujarati Muslim population. Muslim homes and shops were selectively identified, looted and burned. Mosques and dargahs (Muslim pilgrimage sites) were destroyed. Muslim women and girls were brutally raped—often publicly. Muslim children and adults alike were butchered and burnt alive.” Only 1.2 per cent of the complaints filed with the police resulted in convictions in the courts.

Shortly before the report appeared came Manoj Mitta’s book The Fiction of Fact Finding: A Study of the Gujarat 2002 Investigations (HarperCollins; Rs.599), a model of thorough research and rigorous analysis, ably reviewed by V. Venkatesan in Frontline. The author has painstakingly analysed the record and pinpointed the failures in accountability.

Ministerial accountability is of two kinds, as Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court Justice M.C. Chagla held in his report as Commission of Inquiry into the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC)-Mundhra case (1958). It is actual or personal when the Minister is personally guilty of dereliction of duty. It is constructive when he is responsible for the action of a civil servant. Modi is responsible in both respects. Ivor Jennings opined in his classic Cabinet Government that “the most elementary qualification demanded of a Minister is honesty and incorruptibility. It is, however, necessary not only that he should possess this qualification but also that he should appear to possess it (third edition, page 1060). This is not confined to financial corruption. It extends also to moral corruption, wilful dereliction of duty, falsehoods and refusal to account. A Minister under a cloud is a menace to the polity of public life.

Modi has a lot to answer for. Unimpeachable evidence proves his personal and active culpability for the progrom as well as his constructive responsibility for the actions of his Ministers and officials, especially the police. This is capped by Modi’s statements—evasive and untruthful—and meaningful silences. This aspect was noted by the amicus curiae appointed by the Supreme Court, one of the most highly respected counsel, Raju Ramachandran.

International law has reached out to such persons (see Accountability for Human Rights Atrocities in International Law by Steven R. Ratner and Jason S. Abrams and The Responsibility of States for International Crime; both published by Oxford University Press). Crimes are committed by persons, and by juridical entities, through persons who run them.

What does Indian law have to say about abetment of a crime? Section 107 of the Indian Penal Code says abetment consists of any of these three acts—instigation; conspiracy; intentional aid “by any act or illegal omission’’. Read this with Section 43 which says that “a person is said to be ‘legally bound to do’ whatever it is illegal for him to omit”. Wilful neglect of duty is illegal; more so when it amounts to connivance; worse still, when it is part of instigation.

The record on Modi’s conduct in 2002 is a most unflattering one. Two scholars, Christophe Jaffrelot and Charlotte Thomas, record with precision: “This was not a riot but a pogrom which did not remain confined to a city, but spread to many others and even to the countryside. Twenty-six towns in all were subject to curfew’’ (Christophe Jaffrelot and Laurent Gayer (ed.); Muslims in Indian Cities; Trajectories of Marginalisation; Hurst & Co., London; 2012. An excellent collection of scholarly analyses; page 57).

All were engulfed in the carnage. “Everything went according to a military-like plan. The troops were perfectly disciplined and incredibly numerous: groups of attackers often included up to 10,000 men. These squads generally arrived in the Muslim neighbourhoods by truckloads. They wore a basic uniform—the RSS khaki shorts and saffron headband—and carried daggers and pitchforks as well as bottles of water to quench their thirst en route. The lists that the ringleaders had in hand attested to the premeditated nature of the assault: these indicated Muslim homes and shops, some of which bore Hindu names, thereby proving that investigation had actually been undertaken beforehand to ascertain the owner’s identity. These lists—on computer print-outs—had partly been drawn up on the basis of voters registration lists” (page 58).

Modi carried a very heavy baggage of unsavoury firsts when he became Prime Minister of India. He was the first to earn international notoriety for a pogrom of Muslims on his watch and thus to drag the nation’s reputation to mud.

International condemnation

Professor Richard Bonney of the University of Leicester edited and published, under its auspices, an excellent compilation of material (Harvest of Hatred; Media House, Delhi). In his comprehensive introduction, this is what he wrote under the section on a “pre-planning, instigation and coordination of the Hindu mob response from 28 February 2002 onward”:

“The violence, far from being spontaneous, was planned, possibly months in advance, carried out by an extremist Hindu organisation with the support of theState government. The aim was to purge Muslims from Hindu areas…. This was the verdict of a report prepared for the U.K. High Commission in Delhi by a group led by Peter Holland, First Secretary in the mission’s Political Section. They were assigned the fact-finding task after a British national of Indian origin was burned to death and two of his family went missing. The report was leaked to the press and reported by the BBC and others on 25 April, 2002. The number of victims was stated as higher than in other reports, reaching at least 2,000. The violence, the report contended, had ‘all the hallmarks of ethnic cleansing’, while it concluded that ‘reconciliation between Hindus and Muslims is impossible while the Chief Minister remains in power’. The report added that if the Sabarmati [train] tragedy had not happened, another flashpoint would have been created to justify the pre-meditated violence as ‘reaction’.

“Expressing concern, a European Union draft statement remarked, inter alia, that ‘the carnage in Gujarat was a kind of apartheid… and has parallels with Germany of 1930s’. The E.U. draft statement concluded that ‘Godhra served as a pretext for triggering the violence that followed in the State; the post-Godhra violence was pre-planned and the pattern suggests that the attempt was [made] to purge Muslims from Hindu areas; the Chief Minister instructed senior police officers not to intervene in the rioting; the State and Central governments failed to meet the immediate humanitarian needs of the victims and the Prime Minister visited Gujarat only on April 4’, that is, more than a month after the eruption of the riots. ‘India cannot plead that the events in Gujarat are an internal matter as what has happened is a human rights issue as it was a kind of genocide and ethnic cleansing. And as a signatory of the U.N. Convention on Human Rights, it is forbidden to conduct such violence’, an E.U. source said. “The E.U. draft declaration demanded the removal of the BJP Chief Minister of Gujarat. The E.U. source, Finnish Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomiojaa, however, explained to The Indian Express on 22 April, 2002, that the European Union would not be satisfied with the removal of Modi and would urge his entire government’s dismissal since several Ministers were also indicted by riot victims. The European Union intervention was dismissed by India as interference in its internal affairs: ‘We would like to make clear that India does not appreciate interference in our internal affairs, including the utilisation of the Indian media by foreign leaders as well as by visiting dignitaries to make public statements in order to pander to their domestic lobbies,’ Foreign Ministry spokesperson Nirupama Rao told reporters. The Prime Minister was reported as being livid at ‘sermonising’ from abroad. The European Union backed down and diluted its declaration, merely registering its concern over the continuing sectarian violence in Gujarat.

“The British and European Union documents demonstrated several common themes: that the rioting was not spontaneous but pre-planned and coordinated; that Muslims were the principal targets; and that the result was akin to ‘ethnic cleansing’ or genocide.” Apparently, broadly similar conclusions were reached by the German and Dutch Missions in New Delhi. (Batuk Gathani, “E.U. diplomats call it planned violence,” The Hindu, April 2002; Saurabh Shukla, “Muslims specific target of riots, says Germany”, Hindustan Times, April 23, 2002; “E.U. draws parallel with Apartheid, Nazis,” The Indian Express, April 22, 2002; The Telegraph, May 22, 2002.)

V.K. Malhotra of the BJP criticised the foreigners’ use of the word “genocide” to characterise the pogrom. Article 2 of the Genocide Convention (1948) says: “Genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such: (a)Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the groups; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part….” India is a party to this convention.

Gautam Datt of The Asian Age reported (May 3): “The proposed move to try Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi in the Belgian courts on charges of ‘crimes against humanity’ might not hold ground in light of the recent ruling of the International Court of Justice that Belgium cannot take up charges against a foreign government Minister, who enjoys international penal immunity.

“Diplomatic sources told The Asian Age that the world court’s ruling in the case of former Foreign Minister of Congo, Yerodia Abulaye, has set a precedent of sorts which would be considered if a case is filed against Mr Modi.

“The Belgium court had issued international warrants against Yerodia for his alleged involvement in the 1998 killings of hundreds of ethnic Tutsis under its controversial law which claims universal jurisdiction in human rights cases. In its ruling on February 14, the International Court of Justice asked Belgium to withdraw the warrant, saying the Congo Minister enjoyed diplomatic immunity. … Sources said that with this precedence the filing of a case against Mr Modi may prove a futile exercise. There were reports recently that some of the Britain-based Gujaratis were planning to bring cases against Mr Narendra Modi in the British High Court, the Belgian courts and the International Court of Justice. Sources also pointed out that moving the ICJ is also ruled out as it can be done only by a state.”

In the entire history of democracy all over the world, which other Prime Minister entered office after such widespread international censure, including denial of visas, having tarnished his country’s name?

Supreme Court censure

Secondly, which other Prime Minister had incurred censure from the highest court in the land in such stinging terms? Thanks to the dedicated labours of Teesta Setalvad we have the Supreme Court’s judgment in the Best Bakery case as well. It was delivered on April 12, 2004, (Zahira Habibulah H.Sheikh vsState of Gujarat and Ors (2004) 4 SCC 158). The implications of the court’s observations are so far-reaching that the Gujarat government applied for their expunction and failed. This is what the court said:

“The role of the State government also leaves much to be desired. One gets a feeling that there was really no seriousness in the State’s approach in assisting the trial court’s judgment. This is clearly indicated by the fact that the first memorandum of appeal filed was an apology for the grounds. A second amendment was done, that too after this court expressed its unhappiness over the perfunctory manner in which the appeal was presented and the challenge made. That also was not the end of the matter. There was a subsequent petition for amendment. All this sadly reflects on the quality of determination exhibited by the State and the nature of seriousness shown to pursue the appeal. Criminal trials should not be reduced to mock trials or shadow-boxing or fixed trials. Judicial criminal administration systems must be kept clean and beyond the reach of whimsical political wills or agendas and properly insulated from discriminatory standards or yardsticks of the type prohibited by the mandate of the Constitution.

Those who are responsible for protecting life and properties and ensuring that investigation is fair and proper seem to have shown no real anxiety. Large numbers of people had lost their lives. Whether the accused persons were really assailants or not could have been established by a fair and impartial investigation. The modern-day ‘Neros’ were looking elsewhere when Best Bakery and innocent children and helpless women were burning, and were probably deliberating how the perpetrators of the crime can be saved or protected. Law and justice become flies in the hands of these ‘wanton boys’. When fences start to swallow the crops, no scope will be left for survival of law and order or truth and justice.”

No prizes for guessing the identity of the Nero. The application for expunction revealed an awareness that the cap fit Modi perfectly. During the hearings, the Chief Justice of India, Justice V.N. Khare, said, “I have no faith left in the Gujarat government.” After his retirement, he said in an interview to Hindustan Times(March 5, 2004): “I tried to give a new dimension to criminal jurisprudence considering the fact that there was total miscarriage of justice in the case.”

Historians have written extensively on Nero’s foibles. Shakespeare’s characterisation defies improvement: “Nero is an angler in the lake of darkness.”

Culpable inaction

Which other Prime Minister had to undergo police interrogation as Chief Minister before entering the Prime Minister’s Office? A Special Investigation Team was set up by the Supreme Court because it distrusted Modi’s police. On March 27, 2010, eight years after the pogrom, Modi had to visit its office in Gandhinagar. This was exactly 11 months after the SIT was directed by the court on April 27, 2009, to “look into” a criminal complaint by Zakia Jafri, widow of the Congress MP Ehsan Jafri who was hacked to death outside his home in Gulberg Society in Ahmedabad on February 28, 2002. His 200 phone calls went unanswered. The interrogation was conducted very gently by an SIT member, A.K. Malhotra. Manoj Mitta has devastatingly exposed the SIT’s entire work under the leadership of R.K. Raghavan, former CBI Director, whose report was torn to shreds by the court’s amicus curiae, Raju Ramachandran.

It is to Raju Ramachandran’s great credit that he revealed in measured words asmoking gun—Mod’s culpable silence when it was his duty to explain: “There is nothing to show that the Chief Minister intervened on 28 February 2002 when the riots were taking place to prevent the acts. The movement of Shri Modi and the instructions given by him on 28 February 2002 would have been decisive to prove that he had taken all steps for the protection of the minorities, but this evidence is not there. Neither the Chief Minister nor his personal officials have stated what he did on 28 February 2002. Neither the top police officials nor bureaucrats have spoken about any decisive action by the Chief Minister.”

This alone suffices to damn Narendra Modi—proof of calculated, deliberate and culpable inaction. (Communalism Combat rendered a service by publishing the full text of Ramachandran’s interim and final reports. The quote is from the interim report to the Supreme Court; April-May 2012; page 19).

Notoriety for a pogrom under his watch was compounded with an unprecedented series of hate speeches by a Chief Minister on a minority, the Muslims, and with a record of hostile discrimination against them. Nothing was done to rehabilitate the victims.

Never before were the investigative and the law enforcement agencies and the prosecutorial arm of the state so complete subverted.

To these firsts, add the decimation of the party, the BJP, and its veterans, the undermining of the Cabinet, the nexus with corporate India and its allies in the media, and you have the spectacle of a personage of unique distinction with a remarkable, unsavoury past. Reflect on the indices of his culpability and the picture becomes clearer still.


1. On February 27, 2002, 58 Hindus were burnt to death in Coach 5-6 of the Sabarmati Express at Godhra, triggering the pogrom of Muslims in Gujarat. After an extraordinary six-month investigation through sting operations, Ashish Khetan reported in a special issue of Tehelka of November 3, 2007, the truths he had unearthed about both crimes “in the words of the men who did it”. In Tehelka of March 5, 2011, he picked apart Judge P.R. Patel’s judgment on February 22, 2011, in the Godhra case. (The Godhra Verdict; Tehelka, March 5, 2011.) We are here concerned with the Chief Minister’s reaction to the Godhra outrage. He was Home Minister as well.

Narendra Modi, very properly, rushed to Godhra, but instantly delivered judgment in the form of a press release by the government, ahead of any inquiry at all. It was a “pre-planned inhuman collective violent act of terrorism”. Two days later (March 1) he delivered an offensive judgment on the Muslims of Godhra as men of criminal tendencies. It is not surprising that a Chief Minister with such an outlook failed, rather refused, to control the pogrom that followed.

2. To add to this provocation, the bodies of 54 of the 58 people killed in the coach at Godhra were brought to Ahmedabad in five trucks. Who gave that order? The Executive Magistrate of Godhra, Mahendra Nalvaya, gave a letter that evening to Jaydeep Patel, joint secretary of the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP), which played a stellar role in the pogrom. It authorised the VHP to take over the custody of the dead bodies, which should have been given instead to the families of the deceased. Why was the VHP, of all the organisations, given the bodies?

Manoj Mitta marshals the facts (Chapter 6). The SIT’s final report (May 2012) coyly holds that the decision had been taken “unanimously” at a meeting held by the Chief Minister (page 127). P.C. Pande, the Commissioner of Police, and Ashok Narayan, the Home Secretary, voiced their concerns in statements recorded in August 2004 by the Nanavati Commission of Inquiry. This episode is of crucial importance, for, it nails to the counter Modi’s prevarications effectively. Manoj Mitta writes: “This was how Narayan described the fears he had about the VHP’s intentions on the eve of the post-Godhra massacres. ‘I knew that VHP members had died in the Godhra incident and that the VHP had called for a bandh the next day. The combination of these two factors raised an apprehension of law and order in my mind.’ Then why did he not take any preemptive action? ‘The decision to shift the dead bodies to Sola Civil Hospital had been taken at a high level’, Ashok Narayan said, adding, ‘I was not at the highest level in the government. This decision to bring the bodies to (Ahmedabad’s) Sola Civil Hospital was taken by the Chief Minister himself.’

“P.C. Pande, too, made no bones about the reservations he had on the same issue. ‘I have no idea why the bodies were brought that night to Ahmedabad. Nor have I tried to find out the reason. I don’t know who took the decision to bring the bodies to Ahmedabad. When I came to know that nearly 58 [sic] dead bodies were being brought to Ahmedabad or had already been brought, I feared serious repercussions because Ahmedabad was a communally sensitive city and was in fact like a tinderbox.’”

Modi could not have been oblivious to the consequences of his permission. Nearly 30 years earlier, there was a similar episode in Sri Lanka for which the Indian establishment blamed President J.R. Jayawardene. Indira Gandhi began actively to intervene in Sri Lanka’s affairs. The facts are set out in the scholars K.M. de Silva and Howard Wriggins’ biography J.R. Jayawardene of Sri Lanka (Leo Cooper, London, Volume 2; pages 559-560).

Jayawardene was no Modi. In the last week of June 1983 he said on TV: “Some fools are attacking innocent Tamils. This [has] compelled me to deploy the Army and the police all over the country to prevent untoward incidents, when these security forces should really be in the north to apprehend Tigers.”

He had planned a Round Table Conference for a settlement for the end of July. While the Tamil United Liberation Front’s (TULF) convention was in progress at Mannar, on July 23, 13 soldiers were killed by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in an ambush, obviously to abort the peace process. Reprisals by the army and ethnic clashes followed. The authors record: “Bringing the bodies of the 13 soldiers killed on that occasion for burial or cremation at the principal cemetery in Colombo proved to be a serious mistake. Who recommended it we do not know, but the consequences proved to be disastrous, for it provided a crucial focal point for the outburst that followed. But the outburst may not have been so ferocious if the arrival of the bodies had not been delayed, as happened on this occasion. J.R. had preferred to see the bodies taken to the respective villages or towns for burial or cremation rather than be buried in Colombo’s principal cemetery. In any event once the decision to bring them to Colombo was taken, he urged that they be brought in by 4 p.m. It was 6:30 p.m. when they came in. That delay enabled the crowds to increase enormously in size, and since darkness had fallen there were greater opportunities for mischief-makers to gain an advantage they may not have had if the bodies had arrived at the time they were expected to and the next of kin permitted to remove them to their respective home towns or villages. These delays were a critically important factor in explaining why a containable situation assumed the proportions of an uncontrollable outburst of ethnic hostility. … For the first time since he came to power in 1977 J.R. was in very real danger of being overthrown by the upsurge of anti-Tamil feeling that swept through the Sinhalese areas of the country” (pages 559-560). Riots erupted near J.R.’s private residence. “His own house became a haven for some of his Tamil neighbours” (page 564).

Haren pandya’s revelations & mysterious murder

3. The chain of events on February 27, 2002, culminated in a meeting held by Modi about which the truth came out when, on May 13, 2002, the Minister of State for Revenue, Haren Pandya, spoke to Justices P.B. Sawant and Hosbet Suresh, two judges on the Concerned Citizen’s Tribunal–Gujarat 2002 set up by Citizens for Justice and Peace. Its report in two volumes is based on 2,094 oral and written testimonies (Crime Against Humanity, two volumes, 2002, a most useful document). The Tribunal was headed by Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, a former judge of the Supreme Court. Outlook of June 3, 2002, carried a report on the conclave by Manu Joseph, but without disclosing the Minister’s identity. “Information with Outlook shows that a senior Minister from his own Cabinet has blown the whistle. Last week, the Minister deposed before the Concerned Citizens Tribunal headed by a former Supreme Court Judge Justice Krishna Iyer.

“The Minister told Outlook that in his deposition, he revealed that on the night of 27 February, Modi summoned DGP K. Chakravarthy, Commissioner of Police, Ahmedabad, P.C. Pande, Home Secretary, Ashok Narayan, Secretary to the Home Department, K. Nityanand (a serving police officer of IG rank on deputation) and DGB (IB) G.S. Raigar. Also present were officers from the CM’s office: P.K. Mishra, Anil Mukhim and A.K. Sharma. The Minister also toldOutlook that the meeting was held at the CM’s bungalow.

“The Minister told the Tribunal that in the two-hour meeting, Modi made it clear there would be justice for Godhra the next day, during the VHP-called bandh. He ordered that the police should not come in the way of ‘the Hindu backlash’. At one point in this briefing, according to the Minister’s statement to the Tribunal, DGP Chakravarthy vehemently protested. But he was harshly told by Modi to shut up and obey. … According to the deposition, it was a typical Modi meeting; more orders than discussion. By the end of it, the CM ensured that his top officials—especially the police—would stay out of the way of the Sangh Parivar men. The word was passed on to the mobs. (According to a top I.B. [Intelligence Bureau] official, on the morning of 28 February, VHP and Bajrang Dal activists first visited some parts of Ahmedabad and created minor trouble just to check if the police did in fact look the other way. Once Modi’s word was confirmed, the carnage began.) …

“The Minister went on to tell the Tribunal that Modi was convinced that since he started the riots, he would be able to control the violence within a day or two … The more shocking aspect of the Minister’s testimony, says a Tribunal member, was: ‘Scores could have been settled in Godhra itself. Perhaps 100 people may have died there on the whole and that may have been the end of it. But Modi brought the riots to Ahmedabad. He took the riots to rest of the State.’”

R.B. Sreekumar, ADGP, Intelligence, stated in an affidavit before the Nanavati-Shah Commission that the then Director General of Police (DGP), Gujarat, K. Chakravarty, had told him about the crucial meeting held by Chief Minister Modi on February 27, 2002. The Chief Minister had said at the meeting that “in communal riots, police takes action against Hindus and Muslims on one-to-one basis. This will not do now, allow Hindus to give vent to their anger” (paragraph 84 of R.B. Sreekumar’s fourth affidavit). Once Haren Pandya came under suspicion, he resigned on August 2, 2002. Seven months later, on March 26, 2003, he was mysteriously murdered.

Sanjeev Bhatt’s testimony

No minutes were kept of this important meeting. However, present also was none other than DIG Sanjeev Bhatt (Ashish Khetan; Tehelka, February 19, 2011; “I was there. Narendra Modi said let the people vent their anger”). When the SIT’s Malhotra questioned Modi in March 2010, he named seven officers who were present but volunteered that Bhatt was not present. The SIT poured cold water over Bhatt’s testimony. The amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran differed pointedly. “There is no reason for him to make a wrong statement.” A former BBC journalist who interviewed Bhatt at 9 p.m. filed an affidavit to confirm that Bhatt had said he needed to go to the Chief Minister’s residence. Bhatt’s chauffeur corroborated this. The reason for challenging Bhatt is simple—he testified to Modi asking the police to lay off.

4. Of a piece with this meeting was the presence of two Cabinet Ministers, I.K. Jadeja and Asho Bhatt, in the DGP’s office as well as the Ahmedabad City Control Room on February 28. The SIT merely said that there was no evidence of interference, which alone suffices to show up the SIT. Raju Ramchandran’s observations damn Modi as well as the SIT:

“The positioning of two Cabinet Ministers having nothing to do with the Home portfolio in the office of the DGP and the State Police control room respectively is another circumstance which reflects that there was a direct instruction from the Chief Minister. Though Shri Jadeja says that he had gone to the DGP’s office on instructions of Shri Gordhan Zadaphiya, MoS (Home), this is highly unbelievable. It is obvious that the Chief Minister had positioned these two Ministers in highly sensitive places, which should not have been done. In fact, these two Ministers could have taken active steps to defuse the riots but they did nothing, which speaks volumes about the decision to let the riots happen. It does not appear that these two Ministers immediately called the Chief Minister and told him about the situation at Gulberg and other places.

“The SIT merely relied upon the statements of the police officers to conclude that these two Ministers did not give any instructions to the police department, but it appears highly unlikely that two Cabinet Ministers of the Government of Gujarat would have not given some kind of directions when the Chief Minister had directed them to remain present.

“It is obvious that the two Ministers were fully aware of the developing situation in Gulberg Society, Naroda Patiya, etc. in Ahmedabad city. They were duty-bound to convey the situation to the Chief Minister and were required to do everything possible to save loss of lives. If the stand of the Chief Minister that these two Ministers were positioned so as to effectively control the law-and-order situation is correct then there would have been a far quicker action to control the riots in Gulberg Society and Naroda Patiya at least.” An SIT which accepts blatantly false pleas by the state reveals itself.

SIT exceeds its mandate

The SIT was set up by the Supreme Court on March 26, 2008, on a petition filed by Zakia Jafri, widow of Ehsan Jafri. It was mutilated at its birth. Its chief, R.K. Raghavan, inspired no confidence even then, still less now (see Mitta, chapter 7, “Investigator himself is indicted”). Among its five serving officers, three were from Gujarat. Two were dropped after their bias was revealed. Another, Noel Parmar, DSP in Gujarat Police, was the Chief Investigating Officer of the Godhra carnage, who had constructed the premeditated conspiracy theory which was under independent review by the SIT. A probe officer was inducted into the SIT to review his own investigation. When the petitioners protested, the SIT reluctantly dropped him from the probe team, inducted his aide, Ramesh Patel, instead. Ashish Khetan reported in Tehelka on March 5, 2011: “On 27 May 2002—five days after the first charge sheet—a new investigating officer was appointed: Noel Parmar, ACP, Vadodara city control room, took over from K.C. Bawa, Western Railway Deputy Superintendent of Police.

“Parmar was far from neutral: he was highly communal. These are snatches of what he told Tehelka’s hidden camera in 2007. ‘During partition, many Muslims of Godhra migrated to Pakistan…In fact, there is an area called Godhra Colony in Karachi… Every family in Godhra has a relative in Karachi…They are fundamentalists…This area, Signal Falia, was completely Hindu but gradually Muslims took over…In 1989 also there were riots…Eight Hindus were burnt alive…They all eat cow meat since it comes cheap…No family has less than ten children.’ Little wonder then that far from doing a fair job, Parmar bribed the pump attendants to change their testimonies.”

The Stanford report points out a fundamental flaw. The SIT was set up to investigate, not adjudge and pronounce verdicts, least of all libel people as it did. It sought to discredit Zakia Jafri several times, describing her allegations as “nothing but fiction created by three four persons”, and for “instigating” potential communal disturbances in the State. It even accused her of having “no respect” for the judiciary (page 111 of report).

The report says: “The SIT, as highlighted by the Ramachandran report, assumed for itself the quasi-judicial function of evaluating the credibility of the evidence crucial to Ms. Jafri’s allegations of criminal conspiracy. As described above, the Supreme Court mandated the SIT only to ‘reinvestigate’ the high-profile cases identified in its order, stating that ‘[f]or the purposes of the cases covered by these directions, the SIT shall take over the functions of the concerned Police Station investigating agencies and accordingly exercise powers and jurisdiction in consonance with the scheme and provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973.

“Under the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure, all police investigations—regardless of whether the police believe the allegations to be well founded—are handed to a Magistrate’s court. The Magistrate has the power to commission a renewed independent investigation under his or her direction, and decide whether to proceed to trial or dismiss the complaint.

“At the same time that the SIT exceeded its mandate by assessing the evidentiary value of the testimony it had gathered, it also fell short of its mandate to fully re-investigate the alleged crimes in the cases assigned to it. The Supreme Court twice reconstituted the SIT in response to serious allegations of bias among the SIT’s members. The evidence suggests that the SIT failed to conduct a proper investigation.”

On September 12, 2011, another Bench of the Supreme Court, headed by Justice D.K. Jain, abruptly ended its monitoring of the case. We are left with Raju Ramachandran’s observations on the SIT’s findings. His credentials are beyond reproach and his observations cannot be ignored. He was appointed precisely to evaluate the SIT’s report independently.

‘Awfully busy’ Modi

5. To the four indices of culpability, add four more. Modi told the SIT: “I was informed in the law and order review meeting held in the night (28 February) about the attack on Gulberg Society… and Naroda Patiya.” Modi’s claim that he was unaware of major outrages in his city for nearly five hours is an admission of incompetence or condonation; unless, of course, the claim itself is untrue.

6. “Though he had rushed to Godhra within hours of the train burning on 27 February, Modi did not visit the next day—or indeed for some days—any of the places ravaged by post-Godhra violence, although three of them were right in Ahmedabad. This was because he was, as the SIT put it, ‘awfully busy’ holding meetings and taking decisions related to the escalating crisis. Significantly, this excuse of his having been ‘awfully busy’ was offered by the SIT only in its 2012 closure report. This was a far cry from the finding in its 2010 enquiry report, which said: ‘Modi has admitted to visiting Godhra on 27 February 2002. He has further admitted to visiting Gulberg Society, Naroda Patiya and other riot-affected parts of Ahmedabad city only on 5 March 2002 and 6 March 2002… This possibly indicates his discriminatory attitude. He went to Godhra, travelling almost 300 km in a day, but failed to go to the local areas where serious incidents of riots had taken place and a large number of Muslims were killed.’ In a separate note accompanying the 2010 report, SIT chairman R.K. Raghavan added: ‘Modi did not cite any specific reasons why he did not visit the affected areas in Ahmedabad city as promptly as he did in the case of the Godhra train carnage’” (Mitta; page. 232).

7. The army authorities were alerted on a possible need for their assistance on February 27. Modi also called Union Home Minister L.K. Advani about the deteriorating law and order situation. This was followed by a fax message on February 28, 2002, to the Centre. Army columns started arriving in Ahmedabad during the intervening night of February 28-March 1. However, once the Army arrived, it needed logistical support. The Modi administration could arrange all of this only by 2:30 p.m. on the afternoon of March 1. At Godhra, this took up to the afternoon of March 2. By then, a lot of the horror had already struck. This inaction has been widely criticised.

Consider these seven indices in their totality, and an irrefutable case of wilful connivance appears—Modi’s speech at Godhra on February 27; his decision that day to send the bodies in a procession to Ahmedabad; his green signal to the police at the conspiratorial meeting in the evening on February 27; as a follow-up, the planting of two trusted Ministers in the police control room on February 28; the deliberate failure to visit the affected areas; the incredible claim to ignorance of the carnage at the Gulberg Society and Naroda Patiya; and the farce of the deployment of the army. To these add a consistent record of Modi’s hate speeches in the charged atmosphere from February 27 night up to September 9, 2002.

Hate speeches

1. On March 1, 2002, while violence had broken out all over Gujarat, Modi said in an interview to Zee News: “The process of action and reaction is on. I would say if action doesn’t happen there would be no reaction. The people in this area of Godhra have criminal tendencies. First, these people killed a woman teacher. And now they have committed this heinous crime.” This speech was reproduced in the Éditors’ Guild’s Report.

2. The Chief Election Commissioner J.M. Lyngdoh, easily one of the best we have had, was treated to derision, in gross bad taste, because he had declared on August 16, 2002, that the E.C. was not in a position to conduct a free and fair election in the State. “At a rally held within a week near Vadodara, Modi launched a personal attack on the Chief Election Commissioner. The Times of India and The Indian Express reported on August 23, 2002, that Modi referred to him by his full name—James Michael Lyngdoh—no less than six times. It was to emphasise his Christian religion and suggest that he was biased in favour of Italian-born Congress party president Sonia Gandhi. In no-holds-barred language, Modi said: ‘Someone asked me, has Lyngdoh come from Italy? I said we would need to ask Rajiv Gandhi. Some asked, is he a relation of Sonia Gandhi? I said, perhaps they meet in church’” (Mitta; page 220).

3. The infamous Becharaji speech on September 9, 2002, takes the cake. Modi said: “We have resolved to destroy and stamp out all forces of evil who are a threat to the self-respect of Gujarat…. There is allegation against us that we are Hinduwadis. Oh! Brothers, for the development of Becharaji Devi temple, our government has allotted 8 crore rupees. Is it a crime done by us? They say, this Narendrabhai has brought Narmada water to Sabarmati river and this man is so much clever that he brought the water in the month of Shravan (a holy month for Hindus). My dear brothers, we built the dam and so water is available. Let me ask a question to my Congress friends, if water is brought during Shravan month, those mothers/ladies residing on the banks of Sabarmati river can take bath in Narmada water and feel holiness and blessedness. Then what is paining them? Since, we (means BJP) are here, we brought water in Sabarmati during the month of Shravan, when you are there, you can bring it in the month of Ramdan (the holy month of Muslims)… What brother, should we run relief camps? Should I start childrenproducing centres there, (i.e., relief camps)? We want to achieve progress by pursuing the policy of family planning with determination. We are five and our 25!!!! (Ame panch, Amara panchisreferring to Muslim polygamy). On whose name such a development is pursued? Can’t Gujarat implement family planning? Whose inhibitions are coming in our way? Which religious sect is coming in the way? Why money is not reaching to the poor? If some people go on producing children, the children will do cycle puncture repair only. Here some people say no no, are we religious fundamentalists. Brothers, in this matter, how religion is involved? In Gujarat, madrasas are coming up in large numbers. The children have right to get primary education. But, madrasa-going children are deprived of primary education. What will such a child do, when he grows up? Suppose, normal education is not available and only religious education is available, will it not be a burden on Gujarat. We are scrutinising madrasas from Kutch (district) onwards. … We cannot permit merchants of murder to freely operate in Gujarat. … I will not allow those plotting to destroy Gujarat and harm the innocent, to carry out their plans. Gujarat wants happiness, Gujarat wants peace, five crore Gujaratis are united and progressing. … This daughter of Italy (Sonia Gandhi) had given us open certificate that we had insulted the land of Mahatma Gandhi and Sardar Patel. We have to demand your answer in this matter. … If you want to save Kashmir, you have to walk in the path of Sardar Patel. If you want to bring unity in Gujarat, you have to adopt the path of Sardar Patel. If you want to contain and check the merchants of murder, we have to follow the path of Sardar Patel. Our motto is to pursue the path of Sardar. … if we raise the self-respect and morale of five crore Gujaratis, the schemes of Alis, Malis and Jamalis (referring to Muslims) will not be successful to do any harm to us. These five crore Gujaratis will decide about their future. The buffoons of Delhi will not decide the future of Gujarat.”

The amicus curiae Raju Ramachandran said in his final report of July 25, 2011: “The question to be examined is whether the making of the statement by the Chief Minister in the meeting on 27.02.2002, by itself, is an offence under law. In my opinion, the offences which can be made out against Shri Modi, at thisprima facie stage, are offences inter alia under sections 153A (1) (a) & (b), 153B (1) (c), 166 and 505(2) of the IPC. However, it would be for the court of competent jurisdiction to decide whether Shri Modi has to be summoned for any or all of these offences or for any other offence(s).”

That is unlikely to happen. In December 2013 the Magistrate rejected Zakia Jafri’s protest petition against the SIT Report. She deserves all the help she can get. Civil society and the media can move actively in three respects. First, mobilise men and money to improve the lot of the Muslims ghettoised in Gujarat. Secondly, keep a close vigil on the Sohrabuddin Sheikh-Prajapati and Ishrat Jehan cases.

Lastly, prepare a “White Book on the Godhra Crime and the Gujarat Pogrom” containing all the court documents, Zakia Jafri’s massive protest petition in two volumes, with a lucid resume of the perversion of justice. The Stanford report is available online at

It should be published in India and widely circulated.

Arvind Pandya, the Modi government’s special prosecutor in the Justice Nanavati-Shah Commission, was captured on a spycam saying it was Modi’s strong leadership that had made the post-Godhra pogrom possible. Indeed. The evidence supports his claim.

The crimes of 2002 cannot be forgotten. It is still not too late for Narendra Modi to make amends by a sincere, thorough programme of rehabilitation of the victims and by a sincere apology, however belated. Accountability brooks no exceptions.

Printable version | Jul 10, 2014 6:36:44 PM |

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Monsanto’s Herbicide Linked to Fatal Kidney Disease Epidemic: Could It Topple the Company?

Thursday, 10 July 2014 09:18By Jeff Ritterman, M.D.Truthout |

2014 710 mons fw(Photo courtesy of Vivien Feyer)

Also see: Dahr Jamail | Salvadoran Farmers Successfully Oppose the Use of Monsanto Seeds

Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup has been linked to a mysterious fatal kidney disease epidemic that has appeared in Central America, Sri Lanka and India.

For years, scientists have been trying to unravel the mystery of a chronic kidney disease epidemic that has hit Central America, India and Sri Lanka. The disease occurs in poor peasant farmers who do hard physical work in hot climes. In each instance, the farmers have been exposed to herbicides and to heavy metals. The disease is known as CKDu, for Chronic Kidney Disease of unknown etiology. The “u” differentiates this illness from other chronic kidney diseases where the cause is known. Very few Western medical practitioners are even aware of CKDu, despite the terrible toll it has taken on poor farmers from El Salvador to South Asia.

Dr. Catharina Wesseling, the regional director for the Program on Work and Health (SALTRA) in Central America, which pioneered the initial studies of the region’s unsolved outbreak, put it this way, “Nephrologists and public health professionals from wealthy countries are mostly either unfamiliar with the problem or skeptical whether it even exists.”

Dr. Wesseling was being diplomatic. At a 2011 health summit in Mexico City, the United States beat back a proposal by Central American nations that would have listed CKDu as a top priority for the Americas.

David McQueen, a US delegate from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention who has since retired from the agency, explained the US position.

“The idea was to keep the focus on the key big risk factors that we could control and the major causes of death: heart disease, cancer and diabetes. And we felt, the position we were taking, that CKD was included.”

The United States was wrong. The delegates from Central America were correct. CKDu is a new form of illness. This kidney ailment does not stem from diabetes, hypertension or other diet-related risk factors. Unlike the kidney disease found in diabetes or hypertension, the kidney tubules are a major site of injury in CKDu, suggesting a toxic etiology.

2014 710 mons 2Salvadoran farmer returning from the fields, Palo Grande, El Salvador. Photo courtesy of Vivien Feyer.CKDu is now the second leading cause of mortality among men in El Salvador. This small, densely populated Central American country now has the highest overall mortality rate from kidney disease in the world. Neighboring Honduras and Nicaragua also have extremely high rates of kidney disease mortality. In El Salvador and Nicaragua, more men are dying from CKDu than from HIV/AIDS, diabetes, and leukemia combined. In one patch of rural Nicaragua, so many men have died that the community is called “The Island of the Widows.” 

In addition to Central America, India and Sri Lanka have been hit hard by the epidemic. In Sri Lanka, over 20,000 people have died from CKDu in the past two decades. In the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, more than 1,500 have been treated for the ailment since 2007. Given the rarity of dialysis and kidney transplantation in these regions, most who suffer from CKDu will die from their kidney disease.

2014 710 mons 3Mural celebrating traditional agrarian life, Juayua, El Salvador. Photo courtesy of Vivien Feyer.

In an investigation worthy of the great Sherlock Holmes, a scientific sleuth from Sri Lanka, Dr. Channa Jayasumana, and his two colleagues, Dr. Sarath Gunatilake and Dr. Priyantha Senanayake, have put forward a unifying hypothesis that could explain the origin of the disease. They reasoned that the offending agent had to have been introduced into Sri Lanka within the last 30 years, since the first cases appeared in the mid-1990s. The chemical also needed to be able to form stable complexes with the metals in hard water and to act as a shield, protecting those metals from metabolism by the liver. The compound would also need to act as a carrier and be able to deliver the metals to the kidney.

We know that political changes in Sri Lanka in the late 1970s led to the introduction of agrochemicals, especially in rice farming. The researchers looked for likely suspects. Everything pointed to glyphosate. This herbicide is used in abundance in Sri Lanka. Earlier studies had shown that once glyphosate binds with metals, the glyphosate-metal complex can last for decades in the soil.

Glyphosate was not originally designed for use as an herbicide. Patented by the Stauffer Chemical Company in 1964, it was introduced as a chelating agent. It avidly binds to metals. Glyphosate was first used as a descaling agent to clean out mineral deposits from the pipes in boilers and other hot water systems.

It is this chelating property that allows glyphosate to form complexes with the arsenic, cadmium and other heavy metals found in the groundwater and soil in Central America, India and Sri Lanka. The glyphosate-heavy metal complex can enter the human body in a variety of ways. The complex can be ingested, inhaled or absorbed through the skin. Glyphosate acts like a Trojan horse, allowing the bound heavy metal to avoid detection by the liver, since the glyphosate occupies the binding sites that the liver would normally latch onto. The glyphosate-heavy metal complex reaches the kidney tubules, where the high acidity allows the metal to break free of the glyphosate. The cadmium or arsenic then damages the kidney tubules and other parts of the kidneys, ultimately resulting in kidney failure and, most often, death.

At this point, this elegant theory advanced by Dr. Jayasumana and colleagues can only be considered hypothesis-generating. Further scientific studies will need to confirm the hypothesis that CKDu is indeed due to glyphosate-heavy metal toxicity to the kidney tubules. For the present, this may be the best explanation for the epidemic.

Another explanation is that heat stress may be the cause, or a combination of heat stress and chemical toxicity. Monsanto, of course, is standing behind glyphosate and disputing the claim that it plays any role whatsoever in the genesis of CKDu.

While the exact cause of CKDu has not been proven conclusively, both Sri Lanka and El Salvador have invoked the precautionary principle. El Salvador banned glyphosate in September 2013 and is currently looking for safer alternatives. Sri Lanka banned glyphosate in March of this year because of concerns about CKDu.

2014 710 mons 4Mural celebrating traditional agrarian life, Palo Grande, El Salvador. Photo courtesy of Vivien Feyer.

Glyphosate has had an interesting history. After its initial use as a descaling agent by Stauffer Chemical, scientists at Monsanto discovered its herbicidal qualities. Monsanto patented glyphosate as an herbicide in the 1970s, and has marketed it as “Roundup” since 1974. Monsanto retained exclusive rights until 2000, when the patent expired. By 2005, Monsanto’s glyphosate products were registered in more than 130 countries for use in more than 100 crops. As of 2013, glyphosate was the world’s largest selling herbicide.

Glyphosate’s popularity has been due, in part, to the perception that it is extremely safe. The Monsanto website claims:

Glyphosate binds tightly to most types of soil so it is not available for uptake by roots of nearby plants. It works by disrupting a plant enzyme involved in the production of amino acids that are essential to plant growth. The enzyme, EPSP synthase, is not present in humans or animals, contributing to the low risk to human health from the use of glyphosate according to label directions.

Because of glyphosate’s reputation for both safety and effectiveness, John Franz, who discovered glyphosate’s usefulness as a herbicide, received the National Medal of Technology in 1987. Franz also received the American Chemical Society’s Carothers Award in 1989, and the American Section of the Society of Chemical Industry’s Perkins Medal in 1990. In 2007, he was inducted into the United States’ Inventor’s Hall of Fame for his work on the herbicide. Roundup was named one of the “Top 10 Products That Changed the Face of Agriculture” by the magazine Farm Chemicals in 1994.

Not everyone agrees with this perception of glyphosate’s safety. The first “Roundup resistant” GMO crops, soybeans, were introduced by Monsanto in 1996. The same year, the first glyphosate resistant weeds began to emerge. Farmers responded by using increasingly toxic herbicides to deal with the new super weeds that had developed glyphosate resistance.

In addition to the concern about the emergence of super weeds, a study in rats demonstrated that low levels of glyphosate induced severe hormone-dependent mammary, hepatic, and kidney disturbances. Recently two activist groups, Moms Across America and Thinking Moms Revolution, asked the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to recall Monsanto’s Roundup, citing a host of adverse health impacts in their children from the herbicide, including failure to thrive, leaky gut syndrome, autism and food allergies.

Glyphosate is no ordinary herbicide. Besides being the most used herbicide on earth, it is also the central pillar of Monsanto’s temple. Most of Monsanto’s seeds, including soy, corn, canola, alfalfa, cotton, sugar beets and sorghum, are glyphosate resistant. As of 2009, Monsanto’s Roundup (glyphosate) products, which include its GMO seeds, represented about half of Monsanto’s yearly revenue. This reliance on glyphosate products makes Monsanto extremely vulnerable to research challenging the herbicide’s safety.

Glyphosate-resistant seeds are engineered to allow the farmer to drench his fields in the herbicide to kill off all of the weeds. The glyphosate resistant crop can then be harvested. But if the combination of glyphosate and the heavy metals found in the groundwater or the soil destroys the farmer’s kidneys in the process, the whole house of cards falls apart. This may be what is happening now.

An ugly confrontation has been unfolding in El Salvador. The US government has been pressuring El Salvador to buy GMO seeds from Monsanto rather than indigenous seeds from their own farmers. The US has threatened to withhold almost $300 million in aid unless El Salvador purchases Monsanto’s GMO seeds. The GMO seeds are more expensive. They are not adapted to the Salvadoran climate or soil.

The only “advantage” of Monsanto’s GMO seeds is their glyphosate resistance. Now that glyphosate has been shown to be a possible, and perhaps likely, cause of CKDu, that “advantage” no longer exists.

2014 710 mons 5Mural, Concepcion de Ataco, El Salvador. Photo courtesy of Vivien Feyer.

What is the message from the United States to El Salvador exactly? Perhaps the kindest explanation is that the United States is unaware that glyphosate may be the cause of the fatal kidney disease epidemic in El Salvador and that the government sincerely believes that the GMO seeds will provide a better yield. If so, a sad mixture of ignorance and arrogance is at the heart of this foreign policy blunder. A less kind interpretation would suggest that the government puts Monsanto’s profits above concerns about the economy, environment and health of the Salvadorans. This view would suggest that a tragic mix of greed and callous disregard for the Salvadorans is behind US policy.

Unfortunately, there is evidence to support the latter view. The United States seems to be completely behind Monsanto, regardless of any science questioning the safety of its products. Cables released by WikiLeaks show that US diplomats around the world are pushing GMO crops as a strategic government and commercial imperative. The cables also reveal instructions to punish any foreign countries trying to ban GMO crops.

Whatever the explanation, pressuring El Salvador, or any country, to buy GMO seeds from Monsanto is a tragic mistake. It is foreign policy not worthy of America. Let’s change it. Let’s base our foreign and domestic policies on human rights, environmental stewardship, health and equity.

Post script: After articles about the seed dispute appeared in the media, The New York Times reported that the United States has reversed its position and will stop pressuring El Salvador to buy Monsanto’s seeds. Thus far, the aid money has not been released.

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BJP- Crime and Double Standards #Vaw

Published: July 9, 2014 12:30 IST | Updated: July 7, 2014 12:24 IST


Double standards

Even as the outcry for the resignation of a Union Minister accused in a sexual assault case grows, the Bharatiya Janata Party tries to play it down as a conspiracy. By T.K. RAJALAKSHMI

AFTER all its grandstanding about upholding high standards of propriety and morality, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) finds itself in a tight spot as far as Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertilizers Nihal Chand Meghwal is concerned. There has been a growing outcry for the Minister’s resignation after a Jaipur court summoned him and 17 others in a sexual assault case. The case relates to the complaint by a 20-year-old woman from Sirsa in Haryana accusing her husband and 17 others, including the Minister, of raping her over several months in 2011.

According to the woman, she was subjected to sexual assault soon after her marriage, and her husband, Om Prakash, used to offer her in a drugged state to the accused persons. Some Congress party workers, too, are among the accused. The opposition, including the Congress, the Biju Janata Dal and the Left parties, have demanded the resignation of the Minister, but the BJP’s zero-tolerance dictum does not seem to be applicable in this case.

It is to be seen whether Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s latest dictum to have a Parliament free of tainted MPs and the Union Home Ministry’s notice to all States to fast-track cases against sitting and former Members of Parliament and Members of Legislative Assemblies will be taken seriously in the Union Minister’s case.

Frontline met the rape survivor at an undisclosed location in Rajasthan where she has been staying in hiding with some relatives. A resident of Abubshahar village in Sirsa district, the tall and attractive woman from the Bishnoi community was studying in Class 12 in her village when the marriage proposal came. She told Frontline that she was married on December 20, 2010. Her husband was a BJP worker who wanted to make it big in the party. No one in the village knew the antecedents of the young man apart from the fact that he had been married earlier and was separated from his first wife.

Having lost her father when she was six years old, the girl was brought up by her uncle. She told Frontline she wanted to complete her studies and become a lawyer. But with two younger sisters to be raised, she had little choice but to accept the proposal. “We live in dhaanis [homesteads built on agricultural land] and are cut off from the main village as such,” she said. “His character changed completely after marriage. He used to harass me for dowry even after being given so much,” she said.

Within three months of the marriage, she was brought to Jaipur in Rajasthan. “He used to lock the door from outside each time he stepped out. He mixed some intoxicants in the food, after which I felt drowsy, but I knew something had happened to me when I woke up,” she said, tears welling up in her eyes.

She was shifted from house to house in the dead of night, where she would not be allowed to meet or talk to anyone. “I was from a village. The city was completely strange to me. I knew no one, had no means to contact anyone. He kept me prisoner,” the woman said.

On one occasion she refused to eat. Soon after, she found her brother-in-law molesting her and trying to abuse her. To her protests, her husband remarked that “this had been happening for a long time, that he did not consider her as his wife and that he was using her for his political ambitions”. Her husband had recorded all the instances of sexual abuse with the accused persons. He bragged about this to his wife. “He showed it to me on the television once,” she said, breaking down.

She said they used to stay in one establishment for 10 to 15 days and would move out. According to her, he always had the most expensive of vehicles and used multiple phones and SIM cards, which he kept in the seams of his pyjamas.

Om Prakash had meanwhile graduated from being an ordinary BJP worker to an elected member of the Pilibanga Zilla Parishad. His connections with Meghwal, a four-time MP, had consolidated over time. Meghwal was after all an old friend, and his presence had been recorded in the marriage video of Om Prakash and the rape survivor. For eight months, her ordeal continued—from February 2011 to September 29, 2011. Nine months into the marriage, her family gathered courage to file a dowry case against Om Prakash.

The young woman managed to narrate her plight to her uncle, who decided to deal with the problem. He was called to Jaipur by the husband. After her marriage, this was the first time she was allowed to meet a close relative of hers. “My uncle was beaten up and forced to say that he had illicit relations with me and that he had sold me for Rs.8 lakh,” she said. The uncle was also kept captive for days. When he reached the village without his niece and narrated what happened, the community was incensed. Meanwhile, as local panchayats in Ganganagar got involved in the matter and news spread of the incident, Hetram Beniwal, district secretary of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) who belongs to the Bishnoi community and had led several farmers’ struggles in Ganganagar, intervened.

To file an FIR

The Bishnoi panchayat at Abubshahar tried to get the victim back home, but their attempts were thwarted by Om Prakash, who used his influence with the police. In one particular instance, at a panchayat called at Pilibanga, where her marital home was located, the girl managed to escape the clutches of her husband and reached home with the help of her community members. The Dabwali police at Sirsa refused to file a first information report (FIR) based on her complaint of sexual assault. They said she would have to go to Jaipur for that.

It was not easy getting an FIR registered in Jaipur either. “They made us sit the whole day in the Sham Nagar police station. They told us, ‘kyon baeizzati karwatey ho?’ [Why do you want to dishonour yourselves?],” the woman said. “I want all of them punished. I have named them. I can identify each one of them. The Minister is putting pressure on my village because he is a powerful man. But I am not changing my statement. What has happened to me has happened. It should not happen to anyone else,” she said. She has named all the locations where she was taken to in Jaipur.

Inderjit Bishnoi and Navrang Chaudhary, both of whom are lawyers in Sri Ganganagar, and Hetram Beniwal pursued the matter and raised funds to help the family.

The Congress remained quiet until the BJP leader was made a Minister at the Centre. Congress workers were among the accused. The police never investigated the matter properly at any stage. The Haryana Police claimed that the alleged assault had taken place in Jaipur and not in its jurisdictional area. Despite an order from Jaipur Police Commissioner B.L. Soni on February 29, 2012, directing the Rajasthan Police to investigate the allegations of the rape survivor, they did not do so. The Commissioner’s letter, a copy of which is with Frontline, directed the police to investigate the role of the husband, the sources of his disproportionate wealth, the mobile phones and the SIM cards he used, the obscene videos allegedly recorded, and the vehicles used in the alleged offence. His letter urged that a deep and thorough investigation be conducted and a report produced within 10 days. Needless to say, nothing happened.

“We filed a writ petition in the High Court. The DSP [Deputy Superintendent of Police] of Rawatsar threatened the girl, saying that he would put her kith and kin in jail,” said Navrang Chaudhary, adding that only after the intervention of the court was the girl’s statement recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure. Hetram Beniwal and Inderjit Bishnoi said they had met Kuldeep Bishnoi, the leader of the Haryana Janhit Congress (HJC), to seek his intervention in the matter, but he did not do anything. The HJC had an alliance with the BJP in the recent Lok Sabha elections. Ashok Tanwar, the Congress MP from Sirsa, also did not help them. But the Congress unit of Sirsa has taken up the case actively after the elections.

Meghwal, the MP from Sri Ganganagar, held a press conference denying that he was the one who was named in the FIR, but the rape survivor is certain that he was among those who assaulted her. All the accused named have revealed their association in some form with the husband of the rape survivor, including the Union Minister. He does not deny that he attended the marriage of the couple.

“We took her to the NCW [National Commission for Women] as well as the Rajasthan State Women’s Commission, but apart from a few statements, they didn’t take this up actively. Eighteen persons are involved in sexually abusing this girl. Is it a small matter?” asked Hetram Beniwal. Women’s organisations have demanded the resignation of Meghwal.

AIDWA’s letter

A statement issued by the All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA) urged the Prime Minister to intervene urgently in the matter as the rape survivor was being “intimidated and threatened”. The letter said that it was because of her relentless efforts that a legal summons had been issued to Meghwal. “In this context, when such a serious accusation has been made and legal proceedings are under way, it is imperative that the Central Minister step down, pending investigation. This alone can facilitate a free and fair inquiry into the matter. The complainant and her family members must be provided full security, and all support required to fight the case must be extended to her,” the AIDWA statement says. The BJP continues to maintain that it is a conspiracy. Apparently, at the time of the sexual assault, the woman was a minor. Her date of birth was sought to be tampered with. The crime of sexual assault on a minor would attract harsher punishment under the amended laws.

While Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh gave a clean chit to the accused Minister and some within the BJP hinted at a conspiracy within the Rajasthan unit of the party, a television news channel famous for its regional feeds interviewed a lookalike of the woman, who claimed that the Minister was not involved. The truth was out when the actual rape survivor said that she had not been interviewed by this particular channel and denied making any such statement.

The girl breaks down whenever she is reminded of her harrowing experience. “This man did this to her along with others. We Bishnois support people who do good but do not forgive wrongdoers,” said Brijlal Bishnoi, grandfather of the rape survivor. “I am 86 years old. I was 14 when the country got Independence. All that we know is agriculture. Why should we be scared of the Minister? He should be worried. We won’t forget or forgive even if the law pardons him. These people did this to a girl from our family,” he said.

A senior Minister in the Congress government from Haryana had apparently sought to put pressure on the family through the sarpanch of Abubshahar by giving a clean chit to one of the accused, a Rajasthan Youth Congress president. Among the other prominent names listed are Radheyram Godara, former president of the Jat Mahasabha; Vivekanand Sharma, associated with the media cell in the BJP office in Rajasthan; Jogeshwar Garg, former MLA of the BJP from Jalore; Anil Rao, DSP, Sodala, Jaipur; and Pushpendra Bharadwaj, former Youth Congress president.

All the accused, including the Minister, have to appear in the district court on August 20. The girl’s family has been given no security whatsoever; she is in hiding and fears for her life and that of her sisters. Her courage in the face of all this remains exemplary. It is strange that the BJP leadership has sought to whitewash an offence as serious as gang rape and sexual assault claiming it to be a conspiracy.

Printable version | Jul 10, 2014 6:51:13 PM |

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Jharkhand – Rape of Dalit Girl sanctioned by Caste Headman #Vaw #WTFnews

Headman ‘sanctions’ retaliatory rape of Dalit girl, a village watches

Written by Deepu Sebastian Edmond | New Delhi | July 11, 2014 11:09 am
Nobody dared intervene, say villagers.Nobody dared intervene, say villagers.


Nakabandi went up to the mukhiya and demanded that he be allowed to rape the girl.

It is  a rape that no one denies. The parents and neighbours of the 14-year-old Dalit girl raped in this hamlet on July 7 evening say their caste headman sanctioned the act and that everyone watched as she was dragged away. Accused and fellow Dalit Nakabandi Pasi’s wife agrees, justifying it as a revenge rape as the girl’s brother had allegedly tried to molest her.

The father of the girl and a neighbour add that Nakabandi met the caste headman Ghosal, also his father-in-law, and demanded that he be allowed to perpetrate “retaliatory rape”. While agreeing to the rape, Nakabandi’s wife denies her father had any knowledge of it.

“The girl’s brother came into my house at 12 in the  night on July 6 and tried to rape me. He forcefully tried to disrobe me and had a knife with him,” she said, adding that Nakabandi was sleeping outside at the time. “The brother ran away when I started screaming. I told my husband what he had done. The next day, when the girl was walking towards the village after collecting water, my husband caught hold of her, took her into the forest and raped her,” she said.

Ghosal’s wife Asha Devi also claims her husband was not in the hamlet on July 7 and had gone to attend a wedding in adjoining Phusro town. Nakabandi, Ghosal and the girl’s brother have since been arrested and sent to judicial custody.

While there is some disagreement over Ghosal’s presence at the time of the rape, most of the girl’s neighbours back her family’s version. They say Ghosal was sitting under a tamarind tree that stands between where the girl’s house is and where Nakabandi lives when Nakabandi approached him. “It was evening, so a lot of people were gathered around the tree.

Nakabandi went up to the mukhiya and demanded that he be allowed to rape the girl. The mukhiya gave him permission,” said Sulochana Devi, as the mukhiya’s supporters tried to shout her down.

“The whole village saw the girl being dragged to the spot, about half a kilometre from Nakabandi’s house. Nobody — including me — dared intervene as the mukhiya is a dangerous man,” said Sulochana. The girl’s mother reportedly wailed and pleaded with those under the tree as the girl was taken away. Afflicted with tuberculosis, she was unable to talk, but her husband did.

The rape victim’s father, who scavenges coal for a living, says he was in the coal field when, at about 4.30 pm, he heard what was happening. “My wife told me she was at home with my daughter when Nakabandi and his wife got there,” he said. “The wife caught hold of my daughter’s hair, dragged her, handed her to her husband and told him to seek revenge as my son had taken her honour.”

The rape victim is the fourth of his five children. An hour after she was taken away, at around 5 pm, her parents found her in the woods. They walked an-hour-and-a-half to reach the Gomia police station.

Shiwani Singh, the attending doctor at the Tenughat Sub-Division Hospital where the girl is admitted, said: “She was bleeding and in pain. We discharged her after first aid. She had to be readmitted on Wednesday night after the bleeding began again. She has been struggling to walk.”

The girl could be discharged on Saturday. Dalit Pasis make up the entire population of this hamlet of 100 houses in Bokaro district’s Gomila block. Most of them do odd jobs, including travelling with monkeys that perform tricks.

Meanwhile, in the presence of The Indian Express, a young man claiming to represent local Congress MLA Madhav Lal Singh visited Nakabandi’s family with a gift of assorted vegetables.

Read more here –

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#Budget2014 – Health components of Union budget 2014-15

Compiled by Dr Anant Bhan’


HIV/AIDS drugs and diagnostic kits will be cheaper

– Portable X-ray machines will be more expensive

– Health budget 2014-15 Rs 30,145.00 cr; AIDS Control: 1,785 cr; AIIMS like inst 1,456 cr (Rupee figures via Vidya Krishnan on Twitter)

– The science and technology department has received an allocation of Rs 3,544 crore, an 11 per cent increase over last year’s figures, and the highest increase among the departments associated with scientific and medical research. The allocation for biotechnology is Rs 1,517 crore, only Rs 15 crore (0.9 %) higher than last year’s outlay (Source:

-“In an attempt to provide Health for All, the Government will introduce two key initiatives i.e. the Free Drug Service and Free Diagnosis Service which would be taken up on priority.

-The Government is to set up two National Institutes for Ageing at AIIMS, New Delhi and Madras Medical College, Chennai

– A national levelresearch and referral Institute for higher dental studies would be set up in one of the existing Dental institutions.

– It is also planned to set up AIIMS like institutes in Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh (Rs 500 crores allotted). ”

-The Central Government has decided to set up fifteen Model Rural Health Research Centres in the States for better health care facilities in rural India, which shall take up research on local health issues concerning rural population

–  At present, 58 Government Medical Colleges have been approved and proposed to add 12 more such colleges. In addition, dental facilities would also be provided in all the hospitals.

– The Central Government will provide assistance to strengthen the States Drug Regulatory and Food Regulatory Systems by creating new drug testing laboratories and strengthening the 31 existing State laboratories

– Proposed to establish National level institute for Mental Health Rehabilitation

– Pay more for #tobacco products, pan masala and aerated drinks with sugar (“I propose to increase the specific excise duty on cigarettes in the range of 11 percent to 72 percent. Similar increases are proposed on cigars,cheroots and cigarillos. Likewise, the excise duty is being increased from 12percent to 16 percent on pan masala, from 50 percent to 55 percent onunmanufactured tobacco and from 60 percent to 70 percent on gutkha and chewingtobacco. I also propose to levy an additional duty of excise at 5 percent on aeratedwaters containing added sugar. These are healthy measures and I hope everyonewould welcome them from the point of view of human and fiscal health.”)

– The Government intends to cover every household by total #sanitation by the year 2019, the 150th year of the Birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi through Swatchh Bharat Abhiyan

-. It is proposed to earmark Rs 3,600 crore under National Rural Drinking Water Programme for providing safe drinkingwater in approximately 20,000 habitations affected with arsenic, fluoride, heavy/toxic elements, pesticides/ fertilizers through community water purification plants in next 3 years.

– Biotech clusters in Bangalore and Faridabad

– Global partnerships will be developed under India’s leadership totransform the Delhi component of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) into a world-leader in life sciencesand biotechnology.

– A national programme in Mission Mode is urgently required to halt thedeteriorating malnutrition situation in India, as present interventions are notadequate. A comprehensive strategy including detailed methodology, costing,time lines and monitorable targets will be put in place within six months.


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Punjab – Ekta Club – Young Rebellion group of assertive Dalit Women #Vaw

The Ekta Club comes of age

The rebellion by a group of young women over common land in Sangrur exemplifies a newly assertive Dalit youth. The author witnesses the clash of the castes in Punjab


 Aman Sethi, BS

Sandeep Kaur (in blue dupatta) and other Dalit girls from the Ekta Club try to convince the police that the auction of land meant for them is a farce

The middle-aged Sikhs, seated on plastic chairs in Matoi village’s panchayat office, take dainty sips of Limca and try their best to ignore the tall, slender, 24-year-old woman dressed in a floral kurta, red salwar, blue and white polka dot dupatta and red flip-flops. Sandeep Kaur sits 10 feet away from the men, on the floor, chanting slogans from behind a cordon of burly policemen.

“The auction for 17 bighas [3.4 acres] of panchayat land reserved for scheduled castes is open,” mutters Jasbir Singh Bhanju, Matoi’s block development and panchayat officer (BDPO).

“Thieves!” Sandeep interrupts. “Thieves, thieves, thieves.”

The Punjab Village Commons Land (Regulation) Act of 1961 allows panchayats to rent village land to the highest bidder on the condition that a third is reserved for the scheduled castes and auctioned separately. Yet, for years now, villagers allege and government officials privately admit, dominant Jat-Sikh farmers have subverted the process by bidding for the reserved lands through Dalit intermediaries.

This summer, auctions have been disrupted in at least five villages in Sangrur alone. On Friday, 12 people, including four women and seven policemen, were hospitalised in a clash between villagers and the authorities during the auction of 100 acres of reserved land at Balad Kalan, 20 km from Matoi. Punjab’s Minister for Rural Development Sikander Singh Maluka is investigating the unrest in Sangrur as he fears the movement could gather momentum across the state, says his aide.

Thirty two per cent of Punjab’s population is Dalit, the highest proportion in the country, and inter-caste friction is often sparked by rival claims to village resources. Yet, activists say, most violence slips beneath the radar until the conflict spirals out of control; in part, because the police are reluctant to register complaints under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989.

In 2009, for instance, 1,300 mostly Dalit landless labourers were arrested when the administration cracked down on an agitation for homestead plots for poor families evicted from panchayat land. In 2003, two clashes broke out – one over the control of the finances of a shrine in Talhan, Jalandhar and the other over the right to till common land in Hasanpur in Sangrur.

In Matoi, a routine exercise in rubberstamping has turned into a public confrontation between dominant castes entrenched in Punjab’s bureaucracy and the Ekta Club, a group of 10 young Dalit women, all aged between 18 and 24, who assemble each week at Sandeep’s beauty parlour.

On the streets, a crowd of Jat men hums with quiet menace; at the auction, the Jat sarpanch of Matoi sits alongside Jat officials and Jat policemen. The two Dalits present say they are here to make bids with their own money.

Amarjeet Kaur, a homemaker, says she has sold her bridal jewellery to bid for the right to till this land for one year.

Why? “Just.”

The other bidder, Parsha Ram, is a landless labourer who says he will take a loan – “at whatever interest rate” – to grow “something or the other”.

The bid opens at Rs 7,000 per bigha. Parsha Ram offers Rs 7,100; Amarjeet looks to the Jat farmer sitting behind her and makes a winning bid for Rs 7,200 once he nods his assent.

“No Dalit has this much money,” Sandeep says, “These people are stooges for the Jats. Stop the auction!”

But this auction is over. “There is no proof that upper caste Sikhs are behind this auction,” Bhanju tells me before driving off in a red SUV, “There is no truth to these allegations.”

Fifteen minutes later, a mob of lathi-wielding men bursts out from village sarpanch Jora Singh’s home. I watch in horror as three Dalit men are thrown to the ground and pummelled with sticks, fists and kicks to the head. The police take their time before bestirring themselves.

“Now you know everything about our village,” says Sandeep, shaken but defiant, “Now you know why we are fighting for our land.”

But what will she grow on the land?


Read more here -

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Fatwas and Muslim Women #Vaw

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Irfan Engineer

The Supreme Court on 7th July 2014 ruled that fatwas had no legal sanctity and the defiance of fatwas would not have civil or criminal consequences as it had no place in independent India under our constitutional scheme. Though the Apex Court did not injunct Islamic religious authorities like the Dar-ul-Uloom Deoband, Dar-ul-Qaza or Nizam-e-Qaza from issuing fatwa as issuance of fatwas per se were not illegal in its opinion, it clarified that “it is not a decree, not binding on the court or the state or the individual. It is not sanctioned under our constitutional scheme”.

The Supreme Court seems to have taken balanced view by clarifying that the fatwas may be issued by any religious authority or individual but it cannot be enforced and the courts would disregard it. The Apex Court cannot prevent anybody form expressing her/his religious views as Article 25 of the Constitution guarantees freedom of every person to freely profess, practice and propagate religion of her/his choice. Those views however cannot be enforced on a third person through any means. However, given the state of literacy, education and socio-economic backwardness of the community, lack of security, having very limited access to secular institutions, the poor in the community take the opinion of the even improperly trained imams (prayer leaders of the mosque) are prone to accept fatwas as divine law. Religious organizations and institutions play prominent role in their daily lives providing solace and support. Women are more vulnerable given the patriarchal values and huge gender based inequality within the community. A bizarre fatwa was issued by the imam of a mosque in Assam. A woman shared her husband’s dream in which he pronounced the word talaq (divorce) thrice with her neighbour. Both – husband and wife had laughed off the dream. The dream was reported by the neighbour to the imam who promptly issued fatwa that such a pronouncement even in a dream amounted to irrevocable divorce and the husband and wife were haram (prohibited) to each other and must separate immediately. Such a ridiculous fatwa also carried weight for the community and can cause irreparable damage. There is no homogeneity in fatwas and often contradictory fatwas are issued by muftis and imams based on one of the four school of jurisprudence they belong to – Hanafi, Hanbali, Shafi or Maliki among the Sunnis or a Shia Ulema would follow their respective jurisprudence, viz. Ja’fri, Ismaili or Zaidi.

There is lot of misunderstanding about fatwas. Fatwa and mediation in matrimonial disputes are separate issues. The former is done by Dar-ul Ifta whereas the latter is done by Dar-ul-Qaza or Nizam-e-Qaza and often by biradari based mediations. Mediation by Dar-ul-Qaza is often popularly referred to as shari’ adalat or sharia courts. The petitioner – Adv. Vishwa Lochan Madan had approached Supreme Court with a prayer to ban the shari’a courts, qazis, naib qazis from functioning and thereby dictating social behaviour of citizens.


Fatwa in Arabic literarily means opinion. Fatwa is opinion of the issuer on some issue of shari’a or the other. As there is no clergy in Islam, the opinion is not binding, howsoever learned and qualified the issuer of the fatwa may have been. A fatwa issued by Dar-ul Ifta normally ends with the words “but Allah knows better” after the opinion is expressed. These words itself shows that the issues accepts the opinion expressed in the fatwa to be his best judgment on the issue, but not binding, as Allah knows better than him.

Fatwa is issued in response to a query about matters relating to everyday life in accordance with shari’a. The query may emanate from any person, even a third person unconcerned with the query. Often journalists approach a local imam of a mosque with minimum training in Islamic religious affairs for his opinion on matter pertaining to a third person. The objective may not be to educate himself with the opinion of the maulvi but to publish the “fatwa” later for TRP of his channel or increase the sale of his paper. Other media then pick up and discuss the “fatwa” for days and weeks if not months. Fatwa on Imrana was sought by a journalist and not by Imrana or her husband or Imrana’s rapist father-in-law.

Fatwa can only be given by Islamic scholars on the basis of Islamic law. The persons authorised to give fatwas hold position of mufti. Person issuing fatwa should have pure intention to guide the seeker of fatwa; he should have deep insight; equanimity and tranquillity; he should have a firm religious background and deep knowledge and should be aware of daily life and contemporary issues. Allama Iqbal suggested in his Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam that every generation of Muslims should re-think the issues and legislate according to their own needs. Poorly paid imams of mosques in rural area often do not meet these qualifications. They are not men of vision nor understand the issues involved and follow the rule book mechanically. A fatwa encompasses every aspect of life such as creed, worship, transactions, the economy, family, politics, governance, etc.

A fatwa may relate to a individual’s conduct or to the community as a whole. Maulana Hussain Ahmad Madani collected 100 fatwas issued by Ulemas of various sects against partition of the country and published the compilation. Madani argued that it was sin to call a geographical area as “pak” or holy as the Muslim country was sought to be called Pakistan. Allah’s entire creation was holy. He also argued that the first state which the Prophet of Islam built was based on the concept of composite nationalism as in the Madinese covenant, the Muslims, Christians and Jews agreed to jointly defend Madina if attacked by its enemies but at the same time, all were free to follow their faith and religion. Indian nationalism too was composite with all faiths co-existing and flourishing and Muslims enjoyed freedom of conscience. He toured length and breadth of the country addressing public meetings and educating Muslims that it was their religious duty to oppose creation of Pakistan.

Similarly there have been numerous fatwas to oppose terrorism targeting innocents issued by Ulama in India as well as others in Islamic world. In the Mardin conference 15 leading scholars from countries including Saudi Arabia, Turkey, India, Senegal, Kuwait, Iran, Morocco and Indonesia gathered. Among them were Bosnian Grand Mufti Mustafa Ceric, Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah of Mauritania and Yemeni Sheikh Habib Ali al-Jifri and rejected the earlier fatwa of Imam Ibn Taimiyyah that was used by Osama bin Laden and his followers in support of their jihad. Imam Ibn Taimiyyah’s fatwa justified use of violence against an unjust ruler in the circumstances when the only way to address injustice and to bring about regime change was to use counter violence. Imam Hanbal had prohibited rebellion against an unjust ruler as it would promote anarchy and bloodshed. The Mardin conference rejected mindless violence targeting innocents and non-combatants condemned terrorism. In a democracy other means of changing unjust regimes is possible. Such fatwas merit little attention in the media – both, for the lack of knowledge, and because they go against the conventional wisdom that Islam is a backward, violent and aggressive religion. Media also thrives on negative news. Coverage of conflicts rather than events that are conducive to harmony and peace increase the TRPs.

Fatwas and Muslim women

However, everything is not hunky dory within the community. The Muftis issuing fatwas mechanically follow the rules of their respective jurisprudence without applying their mind to the changed context and circumstances in which the fatwas are sought. To be fair to the Dar ’ul Ifta, the problem lies with the fact that the doors of ijtehad (creative interpretation and application of teachings of Islam to changed circumstances) have been closed during the medieval period itself. In India, Islamic jurisprudence was an evolving science till the colonization of the country under British. The Warren Hastings’ Plan of 1772 provided for establishment of civil and criminal courts and protected the right of Hindus and Muslims to apply their own personal laws in inheritance, marriage etc. In the year 1791 under directions of Hastings, Charles Hamilton translated from Arabic the Hedaya (The Guide) into English. With the reliance of the British courts on written text, the evolution of shari’a came to a halt. Darul Uloom Deoband was established by Maulana Muhammad Qasim Nanotvi and others to conserve the faith against the possible western onslaught.

Since then, the fatwas issued by the Darul Ifta established by Darul Uloom have been drawing from wahabi conservative Islam and Hanafi School of jurisprudence. Muslim Women have been worst sufferers as the conservative fatwas restrict their freedom and liberties. Women in the fatwas are conceived as duty bearers towards their husbands having little rights. Moreover, the fatwas enable men to exercise considerable control over the bodies of their wives and control their movement reducing them to object for sexual gratification for their husbands, bearing them children and carrying out domestic chores. Needless to say this does not necessarily reflect the true spirit of Islam. Dr. Asghar Ali Engineer would argue that Holy Quran gives equal rights to Muslim women and complete freedom to earn their livelihood, right to manage their earnings and use it as they please without any obligation, right to maintenance from their husbands, wear clothes they liked except they were require them not to display their zeenah (bodily charms and adornments), right to unilaterally divorce their husbands (khula), right (nay, duty) to acquire knowledge, right to pray in mosque and even lead mix group of namazis in mosque, liberty to act and officiate as Qazis, etc. For lack of space, we are not giving references.

Recently a fatwa was issued which called women working in establishments with other male colleagues to be haram if their earnings were not necessary to maintain the family, and if it was, they should be covered from head to toe during their working hours! A fatwa was issued banning a popular all-girls Kashmiri band leading to its disbanding. Viewing of most TV channels, listening to Music, etc have been prohibited by fatwas. What was most disturbing was the fatwa that restricted women from entering even sufi dargahs – a most inclusive space. In August 2005, Darul Uloom issued a fatwa forbidding women from voting, and if they must, they should wear a veil. This would of course prohibit them from contesting elections. Thankfully, the community does not always subject themselves to these fatwas.

What should we do?

First of all, we must welcome the Supreme Court Judgment which reminds the Muslim community that though it is not unconstitutional to issue fatwas, they are merely opinions of the issuer and not binding on anybody. The Apex Court has also advised the institutions and persons inclined to issue fatwas, not to do so at the instance of a third person or party unconnected with the opinion to be expressed as there is ample scope for mischief.

We must particularly educate the women in particular and the community in general, particularly in the rural and semi-urban areas, that fawas are not binding, and wherever possible, hold celebratory meetings welcoming the Apex Court judgment on the issue. The courts functioning under the constitutional framework have done far more for Muslim women’s rights and entitlements and without deviating from Islamic principles – be it on the issue of granting maintenance to divorced Muslim women, holding oral pronouncement of divorce in one sitting illegal, custody of children, right of inheritance, protection of Muslim women facing domestic violence etc. Muslim women should utilize all spaces where they get better rights.

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Remembering Thangjam Manorama On The 10th Anniversary Of Her Rape And Murder By The Indian Paramilitary

By Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression




Ten years ago, in the early hours of 11th July 2004, the bullet riddled body of 32- year old Thangjam Manorama Devi was found in Laipharok Maring of Imphal East district of Manipur. She had been picked up by the paramilitary Assam Rifles from her home in Bamon Kampu Mayai Leikai and was raped and killed. Manorama was suspected of links to an underground separatist group. Soldiers raided her home around midnight, asking the family to wait outside while they questioned her. They signed an “arrest memo”, an official acknowledgement of detention, put in place to prevent “disappearances”, and took her away. Later that day her semi clad body was found in a nearby village. She had been fired with several bullets. There were gunshot wounds to the genitals and semen on her skirt suggesting she was raped before being tortured and killed. Mass protests in Manipur broke out as people demanded an immediate investigation and prosecution of the guilty.

Collective anger and shock over Manorama’s rape and murder gripped the world only as media reports poured in of the most spectacular and militant protest of our times. On July 15, women from the MeiraPaibi stripped themselves naked outside the 17 th Assam Rifles headquarters holding up the banner “ Indian Army Rape Us ”! Known as the Mother’s Front, Meira Paibi had started as a support group for women family members of the disappeared and arrested, but had eventually also become involved in fighting against human rights abuses. They had soon joined the campaign to repeal the Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act more popularly known as the AFSPA.The case pertaining to the rape and murder of Manorama is pending before the Supreme Court. The army and central government have gone all the way to the Supreme Court to dodge prosecution, even though a judicial enquiry appointed by the state of Manipur has found the army personnel guilty. Meanwhile the people of Manipur still await justice even after 10 years.

It was for the repeal of the same AFSPA that Irom Sharmila started a fast, a fast that continues to date to demand with no response from the Indian state.

The Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), 1958 gives the army special powers and liberties, such as:

•  Arrest and search warrants are not required for any operation.

•  Army officers can fire upon and use lethal force on an unlawful assembly of five or more people and for the illegal possession of firearms, if they feel the need.

•  No criminal prosecution is possible against army personnel who have taken action under this act, unless sanctioned by the central government.

Friends, acts such as the AFSPA are known to be draconian precisely because of the power they invest the army with in areas of armed conflict. First, the impunity enjoyed by army personnel protects them from the crimes they commit on civilians and the injurious consequences of the crimes. Secondly, the impunity given to the army implies that women in these areas are being denied of any legal redress that might have been available to them under the Indian legal system, however uphill it might be to access those legal remedies and legal protection. Sometimes, proving a case of sexual assault itself becomes the toughest struggle waged by a community.

On May 30, 2009, two young women – Neelofar and Asiya – went missing in Shopian in Kashmir and were found early next morning in a stream that no one had ever drowned in, in the midst of a high security and heavily guarded area; spontaneous protests broke out as the women appeared to have been raped and murdered. Almost the entire town was on the roads demanding an enquiry and it was a tough proposition for the administration to even get the post mortem done. After two post mortems and an exhumation of the bodies 5 months later an entirely manipulated CBI enquiry concluded that death had happened due to drowning. Long years of militarization and the continuing imposition of AFSPA since 1989 in the Kashmir Valley have provided impunity to security personnel in countless cases of rape, murder, disappearances and fake encounters. The methods of torture used by the army in interrogation procedures during detention involve brutal sexual violence on men as well. It would be hard to estimate how many women have been raped and killed in the valley. Even the notorious incident in Kunan Poshpura, where the 4th Rajputana Rifles during its search and combing operations on 23 February, 1991, had gang-raped a large number of women in these two small villages of District Kupwara have only started coming to light.  Early this year, the Kupwara deputy commissioner broke his silence and disclosed publicly that he had been threatened and offered promotions to change his report on the alleged mass rapes in Kunan Poshpura in February 1991. Justice still awaits the women from Kashmir.

While on one hand, the armed forces deployed in different parts of India act with complete impunity terrorizing local residents in the name of national security, the Indian state is also unleashing terrible repression on people’s right to dissent in its frenzied pursuit of neo-liberal policies in the name of development. In addition to AFSPA, e xtra-juridical violence of the state continues to be supported by draconian laws such as Disturbed Areas Act (DSA), Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA), Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA), National Security Act (NSA) and National Investigative Agency Act (NIA). The pursuit of “development” that has meant the plunder of natural resources by corporations – national and international – has brought in its wake untold misery and human suffering through state repression on dalits, adivasis, OBCs and other poorer sections across the country, especially in the mineral-rich states of Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Odisha. The p erpetrators and state actors continue to be immune from any legal action whatsoever. They all enjoy de facto immunity from criminal liability. Capitalist advancement is thus clearly characterized by the use of sexual violence as part of state repression on one hand and violation of all environmental laws and other mandatory provisions that the Constitution decrees on the other. This continuum of violence is evident as we go from areas of armed conflict to other states in India. Custodial rape and sexual violence at the hands of paramilitary and within police stations continues unabated.

The 36-year old school teacher Soni Sori from Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh, who is today acquitted completely of six of the seven cases against her alleging links with Naxalites, stayed in prison for almost two and a half years. She was tortured so brutally that accounts of the sexual violence inflicted on Soni Sori sent a chill down the spine of people across the country. During interrogation, the police had shoved stones deep inside her private parts causing immense abdominal pain and discomfort in walking. She also sustained annular tears on her spine. Women’s groups demanded severe punishment for SP Ankit Garg who was responsible for the repressive tactics used. Far from investigating his role in the custodial violence suffered by Soni Sori, the Union of India awarded him the Police Medal of Gallantry on the 63 rd Republic Day of the nation, on the recommendation of the Chhattisgarh government. The open rewarding of the perpetrators of sexual violence speaks volumes of the patriarchal state that endorses sexual violence and does not hesitate to use it as a weapon of war.

On the morning of August 20, 2007, eleven Kondh women of Vakapalli village in Visakhapatnam district, Andhra Pradesh were raped by Greyhound personnel. A sustained agitation came up across the State seeking justice to the women by punishing the rapists. After four years on April 26, 2012, the AP High Court ordered in the women’s favour. The policemen moved the Supreme Court and obtained a stay. The role of the state administration and police was as complacent as it always is in such cases. The women still await justice in this long struggle to bring the perpetrators of sexual violence to book.

A PIL filed against the operations of Salwa Judum in Chhattisgarh had testimonies of 99 adivasi women alleged to have been raped by the members of Salwa Judum. Five women had bravely filed private complaints after their complaints were not acted on by the police, but conviction is a far cry in Chhattisgarh. After repeated adjournments over a period of six years, they have now finally been forced into withdrawing the cases. Such rampant sexual violence is an integral part of the offensive launched by the Government of India in the name of curbing “Maoism” and ushering in “development” involving not only the army and police personnel but also state protected vigilante groups and private armies.

In this culture of impunity and immunity where perpetrators of sexual violence go scot-free, the domination of the upper caste is often manifest in sexual violence. Sexual assault on minor dalit girls and women by the Jats and Yadavs is on the rise in parts of North India like Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh. The complicit role of the district administration and police is evident as WSS findings reveal. The rape and murder of two minor girls who were found hanging from a tree in Badayun district of UP is an open display of patriarchal and casteist power that is endorsed by a patriarchal state. It is a reminder of the brutality of medieval times that will not go unchallenged: resistance to such gruesome acts is growing every day. Evidently, perpetrators of sexual assault who are the upper caste enjoy the same immunity and the police and the administration work hard for their protection. Even the record or evidence of sexual violence gets completely erased out as seen in the casteist violence unleashed on 29 September, 2006 at Khairalanji of Maharashtra. Surekha Bhotmange was brutally assaulted and killed along with her two sons and daughter in Khairalanji village of Bhandara district by the dominant caste people of the village. They were dragged from their hut, strapped on to a bullock cart and paraded naked. This humiliation was followed by an orgy of violence, sexual assault and murder. The sexual assault of the mother and daughter went ignored as it was turned into a murder case alone. The administration and police failed to file charges of sexual assault or even invoke the Prevention of Atrocities Act as it sought to let the perpetrators go off on light charges. In the barbaric communal violence wreaked out on Muslims by sections of the Jat community on 6 – 7 September, 2013, in the villages of Muzaffarnagar district in UP, there was a huge exodus of Muslim dalit landless families living in those villages since hundreds of years. Several women have been reported to be sexually assaulted in these incidents. There is no desire to return back to the villages as the most palpable and outspoken fear is the safety and security of the women. These women and families continue demanding justice even as they are being evicted from the camps that were made for them in the aftermath of the violence.

You, I and each one of us have a role to play in ending such systemic violence against women. There is no other way but to intensify our struggle as women for dignity and liberation! We cannot leave it to the legal machinery alone as we see how some of the significant recommendations made by women’s organizations and all other democratic organizations and individuals to the Justice J.S. Verma Committee in 2013 were blatantly ignored. The government had constituted this Committee after the   Nirbhaya   case in Delhi in December 2012 and the widespread protests,  to look into the possible amendments in the criminal laws related to sexual violence against women.

The   Committee   (2013)   observed that   ‘impunity for systematic or isolated sexual violence in the process of internal security duties is being legitimised by the AFSPA’ and ‘women in conflict areas are entitled to all the security and dignity that is afforded to citizens in any other part of our country’.   The committee recommended that the requirement of sanction for prosecution of armed forces personnel should be specifically excluded when a sexual offence is alleged and they   should be tried under normal law,   and also suggested to ‘take special care for the safety of complainants and witnesses in cases of sexual assault by armed personnel’. However the Central government discarded these   important recommendations given by Justice   Verma   Committee.   The complete lack of political will of the state and its military and administrative apparatus has to be torn asunder to put an end to sexual violence on women. At the same time, let us also resolve to make people conscious that our bodies are no longer to be assaulted, lynched and mutilated in the deepening orgy of patriarchal violence.

Friends, let us seek to strengthen all democratic movements against state repression by drawing attention to the continuing sexual violence inflicted on women. Today, on July 11, as we remember Manorama in Manipur who was raped and killed ten years ago by the Indian Army, let us resolve to unite across all states and raise our voices against:

•  The increasing use of sexual assault by the state forces and other perpetrators as a means to intimidate the community and suppress struggling women, especially in areas and situations of conflict.

•  The daily atrocities and sexual violence faced by the dalit community at the hands of the upper caste and their protection in a caste-biased patriarchy.

•  The police who do little to secure justice for survivors of sexual assault and consistently undermine the struggle for justice by deliberately fouling upinvestigations.

•  The draconian laws that permit the presence and provide impunity to the armed forces amidst civilian populations, which have been responsible for the burgeoning of sexual crimes against women, torture and killings, and also the complete disruption of normal life throwing safety, security and even livelihood options to the wind.




About WSS

Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is a non-funded grassroots effort initiated in November 2009, to challenge and put an end to the violence being perpetuated upon women`s bodies and societies. We are a nationwide network of women from diverse political and social movements comprising women’s organizations, mass organizations, civil liberties, student and youth organizations, mass movements and individuals. We unequivocally condemn state repression and sexual violence on women and girls by any perpetrator(s).


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Mumbai Court refuses divorce to man who claimed wife was insane #Vaw

 Mumbai Court refuses divorce to man who claimed wife was insane
By Sharmeen Hakim Indorewala, Mumbai Mirror | Jul 11, 2014,
Court refuses divorce to man who claimed wife was insane
The woman says her husband wanted her out of his life, but didn’t want to pay alimony
The woman alleged that she was tricked into undergoing treatment, which included shock therapy.

The Bandra family court recently rejected the divorce petition of a 46-year-old man from Marol, who had claimed that his wife was mentally unstable and “extremely violent”.

The petitioner, a senior manager with a multinational company, moved court in 2007 alleging his wife would beat up their sons, then aged 13 and 7, and didn’t bother to keep the house clean.

Seeking divorce citing cruelty, the man said that his wife’s mental condition had deteriorated to such an extent that she underwent shock therapy at a south Mumbai hospital in 2004.

The woman, 46, however, said that her husband was so desperate to end their 21-year marriage that he tricked her into seeking the treatment. “I realised that I was being labelled insane only through the petition copy. I was told that the treatment is for a minor ailment. The truth is, my husband wanted me out of his life without paying alimony,” she said.

The couple fell in love while working for a multinational courier company, and got married after a two-year courtship. “A few years into marriage, we realised there were irrevocable differences. In 2007, my husband left our Kalina house and shifted to Marol after filing a divorce petition. My children also went to live with him after a few years. For three years, between 2004 and 2007, he continued to torture me, and it is a miracle that I’m still alive,” she said.

The woman, who resides in the couple’s Kalina apartment with her ailing mother (she is the joint owner of the property), said that her elder son had started smoking and consuming alcohol and that the boy supported her husband because of money.

The woman, who was represented in court by advocate Anita Dalvi through a non-government organisation called Human Rights Law Network, said that her husband was “never around” when their children were growing up.

“I was the one who took care of them. In fact, it was me who informed him that our son had started smoking and drinking while in his custody. My children told me that they wanted to be with my husband because he spent money on them,” she said.

Husband’s allegations

The man got the couple’s elder son to testify against her in court, where he said that he had been thrashed by the woman on several occasions. However, during cross-examination, the boy was confronted with several letters he wrote to his mother from boarding school, wherein he said how loving and caring she had been.

The man alleged in his petition that his wife’s “extremely violent nature” led to an “irretrievable breakdown of their marriage”. He further said that his wife’s nature had made her psychologically ill, and their sons’ suffered “indelible scars on their personalities” due to physical and mental abuse.

The court, however, said that the man couldn’t prove that his wife was mentally unstable, despite medical certificates. He didn’t even question her testimony, the court noted, adding: “The couple’s son’s testimony makes it clear that the respondent was caring and loving to both her children. Hence, the story stated by the petitioner regarding the respondent’s misbehaviour with their children is not worthy of acceptance,” Judge S Kafre said.

The court further said that unwashed utensils and a messy house didn’t amount to cruelty.

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