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Archives for : March2017

The Legitimacy and Morality of Prof. Saibaba’s Conviction

by –

Prabhakar Sinha

I would not express any opinion on the legality of  Prof .Saibaba’s
conviction  and the  award of a  term for life in  prison because I
have not read the judgment , have not gone through the evidence before
the court and most importantly am not a legal expert.But I would like
to examine its legitimacy and morality because the judgment’s
legality is no the only question that  concerns   the people   .If the
legality of a law and judgment were all that should be of concern to
the people , then the  racial segregation in South Africa was sound
, Hitler’s anti-Jew laws causing death of millions of Jews were  sound
, slavery was was sound , anti-Hindu and anti-Christian  laws in
Pakistan are sound  .By the same token ,the Rowlatt Act enacted by the
colonial government to suppress the ‘revolutionary movement ‘was also
sound  ; but the people of India did not think so , rose in protest
against it ,which led to the massacre of more than a thousand peaceful
men , women and children, who had gathered at Jallianwalabag to
protest against the black law  .And the Rowlatt Act was a very liberal
and just law compared to the draconian laws enacted by  democratic
India .It is not enough that a law should be legally sound but it must
also be morally sound and legitimate must ensure justice .A law and
its operation , which do not deliver justice is immoral and
illegitimate and not a proper   law .

Prof.Saibaba of Delhi University is 90% physically challenged and is
bound to his wheelchair .He is incapable of a violent act unless one
is blind enough to say that he can fire from a gun sitting in his
wheelchair. He cannot kill , maim or break bones .Prof.Saibaba at best
or worst can only be a non-violent revolutionary   due to  his
physical handicap.He has not been found guilty of any violent act ,
but has been convicted of unlawful activity .Even the judgment  says
the accused had conspired ‘to create violence , cause public disorder
and spread disaffection towards the central goverment and the state
government.’ .’The court does not find him guilty of inciting any
particular violent incident , but inciting violence because of his
ideas , which support the  use of violence by the Maoists.I DO NOT
KNOW IF THE FINDING OF THE COURT IS TRUE , BUT WOULD ACCEPT ITFOR THE
TIME BEING  TO MAKE MY POINT.

Mahatma Gandhi was prosecuted and  charged with sedition ( Raj Droh
,1922) for creating hatred and disaffection against  the government of
India .He confessed to the  court that he was the biggest rebel
against the British Raj . He also confessed that he was in a way
responsible for the violence at Chaura Chauri and in Bombay despite
his commitment to non-violence . .He was prosecuted for his seditious
articles published in the  Young India .The punishment for sedition
was imprisonment for life , but Gandhiji was sentenced to  just six
years.Bal Gangadhar Tilak was also charged with sedition (1909) for a
number of articles published in the Kesari he edited .He had expressed
the view that violence by the young revolutionaries  was a reaction
against the  repressive government .Tilak was also awarded six years
of transportation ( imprisonment in Andman Nicobar ).

Compared to the award of six years of imprisonment to Tilak (1909) and
Gandhi for sedition by an imperial court , the life sentence awarded
to Prof .Saibaba by a court of democratic India  appears as nothing
short of judicial lynching.Our judges  in such cases appear  so devoid
of human feelings ,sense of proportion and  sense of morality .The
case of Tilak and Gandhi should be the measure for judging the
justness and legitimacy of a sentence in cases in which no violence is
planned or committed by an accused and is held only guilty of
inciting hatred or disaffection against the goverment .

Our Criminal Justice System is a Criminal Injustice System.Several
thousand innocent Sikhs were openly butchered in Delhi following
Indira Gandhi’s assassination , but the then P.M.Rajeev Gandhi and his
men continued to rule the roost despite the public knowledge that his
hands were blood-stained .Hundreds of Muslims were butchered in
Gujarat riots of 2002 , but Modi remains innocent in the eyes of law
because no court has found him guilty of the shedding of innocent
blood of the Muslims .But the people know the difference between truth
and judicial truth.The best example is the case of Md.Shahabuddin
,three or four time M.P.of Siwan ,and probably the most cruel and
savage criminal known .But he, too, was an innocent and respectable
leader like Rajeev and Modi till the arrival of Nitish Kumar as Chief
Minister , whose government got him convicted of  the crimes he had
been  committing  with impunity .

The State follows a double standard in the application of law .With
the coming to power of Modi , the terrorists associated with the
Parivar, who were charged with the bomb blast at Malegaon ,Samjhauta
Express and Ajmer ,are being bailed out or acquitted with the open
support of the government .The NIA persuades the Public Prosecutor to
help the terrorists involved in the bomb blast at Malegaon and
Samjhauta Express secure acquittal .The NIA did not oppose the bail
application of Pragya Thakur, an accused in Malegaon terror attack
.The Public Prosecutor , who had been conducting  the case , resigned
because she was being persuaded to collude with the accused .The
culprits of 2002 Gujarat riots are receiving full protection  of the
State, and the state agencies are changing their stand to help the
accused .

There is discrimination in dealing with the people accused of the same
or similar crimes .The policy being followed is to kill and rape those
who are suspected to be Maoists or their supporters and to protect
those who do the killing ,maiming  or raping  and also to instigate
the police to kill, rape and maim with impunity in Bastar,
Chhattisgarh  as has been discovered  by the National Human Rights
Commission .Prosecute Zakir Naik for ‘spreading communal hatred ‘and
give a free hand to the RSS, BJP and the other members of the Pariwar
to not only spread communal hatred but to engineer communal riots .

Communalism has become the ‘Raj Dharm’ and its adherents are above the
law while the Minorities and the Maoists are the   enemies of the Raj
not entitled to the protection of the law and to be witch-hunted .

The discriminatory criminal justice system has robbed the judiciary of
its majesty and credibility and made its judgment devoid of legitimacy
and morality .It is not in command of the criminal justice system and
cannot be blamed for its ills , but it must find some way to prevent
its  ‘ Cheer Haran ‘( Disrobing ) because  Shree Krishna  would not
come to its rescue.

And finally , why is the judgment in Prof.Saibaba’s case  devoid of
legitimacy and morality ? Because while Tilak and Gandhi , the
towering  and formidable enemies of the British empire , were awarded
only six years of imprisonment by the judges of an imperial government
, Prof. Saibaba , a 90% disabled person  and the co-accused in the
case were sentenced to life by the court in democratic India .The
judiciary must change its mindset and do justice uninfluenced by the
ideology of the power that be if it does not want to become  a
handmaiden of the government .The judiciary must act as a protector
not only of  legal rights but of justice by cutting through the maze
of technicalities  created by  the Executive,  which has made justice
captive to serve its interest .

Prabhakar Sinha

Member, PUCL

* I am not a suporter of the Maoists, do not support violence as a
means of solving political problems, but believe in adherence to  the
rule of law to ensure justice to all without discrimination . I
believe that adherence to the rule of law is the way to prevent
violence as emphasized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in
the following words:

WHEREAS IT IS ESSENTIAL IF MAN IS NOT TO BE  COMPELLED TO HAVE
RECOURSE , AS A LAST RESORT , TO REBELLION AGAINST TYRANNY AND
OPPRESSION , THAT HUMAN RIGHTS SHOULD BE PROTECTED BY THE RULE OF LAW
.

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Aadhaar made mandatory for a host of farm sector schemes #WTFnews

Farmers without an Aadhaar card have to apply for it by the end of March and till that time they can avail welfare schemes by furnishing a proof of their application


More than 1.12 billion people have so far been enrolled under Aadhaar. Photo: Mint

More than 1.12 billion people have so far been enrolled under Aadhaar. Photo: Mint

New Delhi: For better targeting of central subsidies, the government has made Aadhaar mandatory for a host of schemes under the agriculture ministry, from soil health card and horticulture development to the Prime Minister’s flagship crop insurance scheme launched last year.

The notifications mandating Aadhaar for availing benefits under these schemes were issued last month, simultaneous to similar orders for big ticket schemes like food subsidy and mid-day meals for school going children.

For the flagship soil health card scheme, which seeks to inform farmers about nutrient levels in their land and check imbalanced use of fertilizers, a notification mandating use of Aadhaar was issued by the ministry on 20 February.

According to the notification, farmers without an Aadhaar number have to apply for it by end of March and till that time they can avail services under by furnishing a proof of their application.

Similarly another notification was issued on 8 February requiring beneficiaries to furnish their Aadhaar numbers for availing subsidies under all six sub-schemes of the mission for integrated development of horticulture (MIDH). However, for these schemes the notification does not mention any cut off date and says farmers will continue to get benefits till the time they have an Aadhaar number.

On 8 February, the ministry issued another notification mandating the use of Aadhaar for the flagship crop insurance scheme, Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana (PMFBY). Here too, farmers can continue to avail benefits till the time they have an Aadhaar number by furnishing alternative identity documents such as employment guarantee cards or voter id cards.

Aadhaar is a 12-digit unique identification number issued by the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) after collecting biometric data of residents. Its for availing subsidies got legislative backing in March last year after the Aadhaar Bill was passed by Lok Sabha.

Earlier this week, government said that no one would be deprived of benefits of various welfare schemes due to lack of Aadhaar. So far, more than 1.12 billion people have been enrolled under Aadhaar.

http://www.livemint.com/Politics/Vfg2JAuQ3hLCxd3pLQCCTO/Aadhaar-made-mandatory-for-a-host-of-farm-sector-schemes.html

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India – Woman Photographer Molested at Holi in UP #Vaw

 Un-Holi and Un-safe in Vrindavan, Uttar Pradesh

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I was born in Lucknow and grew up in Bareilly and so, there is no doubt about my perfect UP roots. I did choose to leave UP, as I had enough of eve-teasing and living in the constant fear of my safety. However, I decided to go back to visit Barsana and Nandgaon (near Mathura) to cover its famous Holi celebrations. The festival is famous for its thousand-year-old traditions and photographers from across the world come over to capture the beautiful faces immersed in colors.

 

Lathmaar holi in Barsana, where men volunteer to be beaten by Lathi covering themselves by Dhal; following an age old tradition.
Lathmaar holi in Barsana, where men volunteer to be beaten by Lathi covering themselves by Dhal; following an age old tradition.

 

Women wear their wedding dress every Holi, covering their faces in long parda.
Women wear their wedding dress every Holi, covering their faces in long parda.

 

The women with covered faces being escorted by men to reach the ground for Lath-maar Holi
The women with covered faces being escorted by men to reach the ground for Lath-maar Holi

 

Being a photographer, it was something that I always wanted to capture and was even planning to organize an all women photography tour from next year onwards. However, after what I saw and faced here, I wouldn’t encourage any woman to go and experience it. I have been a solo traveler for the last 4 years and have traveled in more than 21 states of India, and there hasn’t been any place (except Kasol in HP to an extent) where I have personally felt unsafe or have been discouraged to travel as a solo-woman.

 

Like always, I was fully prepared covering my camera gear to protect it from water and colors and I was dressed as locally as possible in the traditional dress of Salwar-kurta and a dupatta. However I was not prepared for the nakedness of the mentality of people there. As soon as I entered Nandgaon , accompanied by two other photographers, I was surrounded and alienated by a group of men on the stairs. One after another buckets of color were poured over me, the pichkaaris were specifically targeting my breasts and posteriors and before I could understand what was happening, someone gave a pat on my bottom. That’s when I shouted back, my eyes were filled with Gulaal and I had no clue who did it. One of the photographer guys helped me escape or else there would have made more advances.

 

A group of women being targetted by menwomen being targetted in Nandgaon.

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I found a safe place for me to sit on the roof of the temple at Nandgaon and I was almost shaking in fear. Each female there a perfect target whether she was an 8-year-old kid or a 60-year-old woman. Surrounding a girl in a group and drenching her from top to toe; targeting her assets from their pichkari was the routine for them there. It all looked so obscene as a viewer for me, and I was in same situation just a couple of hours ago.

 

Jean wearing women are the primary targets.
Women wearing jean are the primary targets.

 

The women were panicking, a few mothers had their babies with them as well and somehow a few photographers found this situation as a perfect opportunity to photograph panicked girls instead of saving them. Such a bizarre society we live in, a society that finds these acts perfectly all right. The foreigner women were the most preferred targets, and I was wondering what impression would they carry about India and her hospitality. I didn’t move from my place for hours and waited for all this to be over, soon the police vacated the rooftop and I came down.

 

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Women with kids

 

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I was standing among four photographers shooting the transgenders who were dancing in front of the temple. Suddenly a hand came from behind and groped my breasts. I managed to catch the hand and saw two young boys, half my age, giggling. I shouted in my full capacity and questioned them on how dare they touched me? And the reply was “You are standing here in Holi, what do you expect?

 

I was in utter shock and then I looked around to find police; I saw that they were far away guarding the entrance of the temple. I wish someone could make them understand that it’s the women there who need to be guarded more than anything or anyone else. There was no announcement about women safety, not even once policeman came in to ask the boys to control their behavior. Apparently they were all following the age-old tradition when Krishna teased Radha and her friends on Holi and many stories and songs were written about them. But I am sure Krishna wouldn’t have grabbed, groped and outraged the modesty of Radha and her friends!

 

 

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So Holi was a perfect opportunity for them to touch women, and wouldn’t they do it any other day if they get a chance? I have been invited by UP Tourism twice in their annual conclave, which I haven’t been able to attend due to other commitments but I would surely be going next year to address the issue of women safety. As a women traveller we don’t need hot-air balloons flying over the Taj, we need safety and assurance for traveling in UP, else it has been and would always be avoided by women travellers.

 

Update: After I shared my account, hundreds of women came forward to share their horrific story about mass molestation in Nandgaon. I have always endorsed solo travelling for women, but now I am at loss of words. There are few places un-safe for women for travelling, but the list will keep growing if we don’t do anything about it. What kind of society are we building for our future generation? Lock up the girls at home, as it is not safe to go out!! Don’t speak up about molestation, as it is shame for the family. It is high time to think and act now.

the post first appeared in http://datravelography.com/

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Appeal from the Maruti Suzuki Workers Union: Justice for Jailed workers

We are writing with an appeal, and update on the legal case. The Maruti Suzuki workers case (‘State of Haryana vs Jiyalal & Others’) is going on since July 2012 through a maze of evidence-less lies and clear pro-corporate anti-worker intent. Since 2012, 216 workers face possible convictions by a pro-corporate system, besides the terminations (and labour cases) of 546 permanent workers and 1800 contract workers, and a separate case of offences against 111 more workers in Kaithal since 2013.

. We are apprehensive and have grounds to believe that it will be a politically motivated anti-worker Judgement. The hand-shaking between the Maruti Suzuki company management and the Police, administration, the government and Judiciary could not be more clear as in this case. We are apprehensive about a Pricol-type ‘life sentences’ and long-term convictions against hundreds of workers and are preparing with a call for unity of all workers and all pro-worker forces. We appeal to you from the Provisional Working Committee, Maruti Suzuki Workers Union to be present in the Gurgaon Sessions Court premises on the day of the Judgement in the case on the 10th of March. We also appeal to you to be united and take solidarity actions in support of Justice for all Maruti Suzuki workers facing repression by the Central and State Government and the Company.

Update on the Legal Case as it Stands during the Final Arguments:

Context: We had 3 strikes in 2011 where we raised voice against the system of exploitation in the factory, and had to face continued management attacks on our Trade Union rights with complicity of the administration. We finally formed our Union – Maruti Suzuki Workers Union, Manesar (Reg. No.1923) on 1 March 2012. In April, we submitted their Charter of Demands, where the Union said abolition of contract worker system as one of its central demands, among others. This kind of assertion of our rights against their exploitation was not being taken lightly by the Company management, as it challenged their power and profits. They wanted to attack the Union through their power and conspiracy, which resulted in the incident on 18 July 2012, of a clash inside the plant and the death of an HR manager. Since then, 147 workers have been in Jail without having got bail for more than 3-and-a-half years on charges ranging from murder, attempt to murder, rioting, looting, setting fire to private property and various Sections of the IPC. Currently, 11 workers continue to be in jail without bail, which includes the members of the then Union Body. 66 more workers other than the 147 have similar charges under various non-bailable sections. Along with this criminalization of labour, 546 permanent and 1800 contract workers were terminated from their jobs, whose labour cases are also ongoing. 2500 working class families faced constant repression and penury on top of exploitation of the workers in the factory which created the basis for the management-labour conflict. We have had a movement against this regime of exploitation and repression till today.

The final legal arguments in the Maruti Suzuki workers Trial case concluded on 18 February, 2017 with arguments by Advocates Vrinda Grover, Rebecca John and RS Cheema against the State Prosecution. Find here some facts on the case as it stands in the Courts:

1. It was established during the final arguments that there is no direct evidence linking ‘murder’ or ‘setting fire’ to the factory on any worker. No prosecution witness could establish any worker involvement in the same. Neither was any CCTV footage produced by the Prosecution even after Defence asked for the same. The management person Deepak Anand from GM Vigilance who filed the FIR against the 55 Maruti workers named therein, could not identify any worker. The witness Salil Vihari who named the main accused Jiyalal, could not identify him.

2. On 18 July 2012, the incident of conflict happened at 7.20pm. But Police was called by the Company management at 11am itself, but Police was not allowed inside until the entire incident came to a boil. It has already been said by workers that it was a pre-planned conspiracy on behalf of the management so that a conflict is generated and workers can be implicated on this basis. Bouncers in workers clothes were also brought inside in the morning itself without IDs.

3. The FIR mentions that 400–500 workers with rods, batons and sticks in hand entered the HR and beat the management but no witness mentions these weapons. Instead all the witness uniformly said that workers were carrying shockers and door beams – each doorbeam and shocker weighing over 4kgs, so around 4000kgs of weapons were supposedly recovered. On top of this, Police show that a major section of workers took all these weapons to their respective homes and kept them under their beds and almirahs. For another set of workers, Police showed that they caught 20 workers simultaneously siting under a tree conveniently possessing all these weapons.

4. Also, witnesses had said that each manager was beaten up by 4-5 workers with these weapons with intention of murder. The also stated that no one came to rescue them. But if this was so, then how did they manage to rescue themselves with no serious injury? To this, they said that the workers themselves let them off, which clearly is no intention to murder! The witnesses testified that all of them uniformly stopped the attacks with their left hand. In the MLC done on management injuries show absurdities as a dental root canal as injury!

5. It has been established how 89 of the 147 workers have been arrested on the basis of names given alphabetically by 4 contractors. None of these workers were identified. Court documents show witness Virendra alias Rajender Yadav has named 25 workers such that all workers’ names fall in the alphabetical range of A-G. Another witness contractor Yaad Ram testified that he saw 25 workers rioting, all of whose names fall in the next range G-P. Witness Ashok Rana names 26 workers who were allegedly rioting whose names range from P-S. The final witness Rakesh of Tirupati Associates who supplied 900 contract workers to MSIL testified to allegedly seeing 13 workers whose names, continuing the alphabetic sequence, are in the range S-Y.

6. The lists of workers arrested thus was provided by the Company to the Police, and not on the basis of its own investigation, pointing to an active collusion between the two.

7. On ‘setting fire to the factory’: There was no evidence whatsoever as to setting fire and no witness could explain how the fire was lit and who did it. First, there were contradictory statements as to where the fire was lit – in the conference (M1) room in the first floor, or outside it, or in the ground floor. Awanish Dev’s dead body was recovered from the M1 room, and the witnesses claimed that the room was lit on fire from inside where fighting was taking place, but while testifying they argued that the room caught fire from the outside.

Fire lit and burnt everything down but the match box (a new one) was conveniently unharmed and lying there to be discovered. This recovery of the match box itself was not immediate. At the place of the incident, when the security on-watch, Om Prakash, went on 19th July 2012 in the morning at 6 am, to the M1 store with a photographer nothing was recovered. Then on that very day at 12 pm FSL authority D. Sonu searched and recovered a new match box and a door frame, and where the room was entirely burnt there was no sign of the matches itself being lit. He neither signed the recovery report nor did he testify in court on the recovered matches and door beam.

On the setting of fire inside the M1 room, of the 16 witnesses that had stated that the room was lit on fire, and 3 witnesses took names of those who did it. None of these witnesses could identify any worker or wrongly identified.

8. According to the postmortem report, Awanish Dev’s death was due to asphyxiation. The injury he had is below the knee on the right leg, which cannot lead to death which proves that neither is there a murder case possible against the workers nor is their intention to murder in this case. So Sections 302 (murder) and 307 (attempt to murder) clearly do not hold. At max, only 2 people can cause such an injury, while 216 workers have been accused of murder and attempt to murder.

Thus even though this is, on the face of it, pertaining to the case on 18 July 2012 where a general manager of the company Awanish Kumar Dev died in the conflict that erupted that day after a Dalit worker Jiyalal was suspended from duty unilaterally when a supervisor attacked him and gave casteist abuse. But as is evident by now, it was a conspiracy from the management against assertion of workers for our Trade Union rights.

Even so, the considerations of the Judiciary are suspect as is evident from one of the High Court orders in May 2013 rejecting bail said “this is one one of the unfortunate incident that has lowered the reputation of India in the world. Foreign direct investment is likely not to happen due to fear of growing labour unrest”. The State has already spent crores of public money all these years against the workers. As per RTI, the government paid Advocate KTS Tulsi R.5.5 crore in just 2 years – s. 11 lakh per appearance – just in the Gurgaon Additional District and Sessions Court, Mr Tulsi’s three assistants Rs. 66000 for each appearance and “clerkage” of over Rs. 1 lakh for his expenses each appearance. If this was not enough, instead of the Public Prosecutor from the State, Private Prosecutor from the Company, Vikas Pahwa again kept the ‘last word’ on their behalf in the Sessions Court Gurgaon during the final arguments.

Will there be Justice for Maruti Workers?

The 147 workers who have spent over four years in Jail, and 11 who continue to be jailed without bail since July 2012, the total implicated 216, the 2500 families, those who have lost their family members in that course of time or not been able to see their children grow up for those years or have not been able to part of the joys and sorrows of their family for that time – will there be justice?

In this industrial belt, workers struggle have happened from Rico Gurgaon (2009) to Shriram Pistons Bhiwadi (2014) to Honda Tapukhera (2016) and countless others against regime of exploitation on workers by the profit-hungry MNCs. Management. In all these cases, to control the simmering tension, there have been outright repression through terminations, violence, murders, lathi-charges, false criminal cases and prison terms by the Police-administration-government and local goons on the company’s payrolls. In current workers struggles, while the management says, “we will make Maruti-like situation for you” (repress you like the Maruti workers), the workers also say right back, “This can turn into a Maruti-like situation” (Workers will wage a collective movement relentlessly against exploitation-repression). We say this will be a ‘political judgement’ since this judgement becomes a measure and signal of which version of ‘Maruti-like situation’ stands.

On 1st March 2017, we marked 6 years of the formation of our Union with a gate meeting in front of the factory in Manesar, where thousands of workers and Unions participated. After this, the company has moved a stay order against 10 terminated workers in the leadership of the Provisional Working Committee, MSWU to stay 2kms away from the company gate. On 7th March, various Unions met in Gurgaon and resolved to hold factory gate meetings and give warning letters to their managements in solidarity with Jailed workers which happened on 8th March. There is lunch and dinner Boycott in various factories on 9th March. Hundreds of workers will gather in the Court premises at 10am and in the afternoon on 10th March.

We appeal to you to be united and resist this onslaught by capitalists and the government, and stand with the workers class movement in this crucial and decisive situation. We appeal to you from the Provisional Working Committee, Maruti Suzuki Workers Union to be present in the Gurgaon Sessions Court premises on the day of the Judgement in the case on the 10th of March. We also appeal to you to take solidarity actions in support of Justice for all Maruti Suzuki workers facing repression by the Central and State Government and the Company.

Provisional Working Committee,
Maruti Suzuki Workers Union

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