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Archives for : August2017

An army of fake profiles attempt to discredit NBA and Medha by impersonating the ousted people

 

I’ll never be able to forget my house, the place I grew up. But I understand how important Sardar Sarovar Dam is for development of 3 states.” When you first read this tweet it may seem like an emotional appeal from someone who lost his home to the Narmada dam project and is yet supportive of it in view of a larger objective. But then the second tweet saying, “Since we had to lose our houses on opening of gates of Sardar Sarovar Dam, chief minister @ChouhanShivrajensured we got best facilities” makes you wonder is there is anything fishy out here. By the time you read the third tweet, saying, “It is not easy to leave behind everything, but when you have a thoughtful CM @ChouhanShivraj, you can put your apprehensions behind,” you are sure about it.

Identical words have been tweeted close to 300 times by different twitter handles at the time of writing this article.

The adulation for the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh doesn’t stop there. Scores of accounts also tweeted, “Chief Minister @ChouhanShivraj‘s concern for our rehabilitation proves how he lives by the title ‘Mama’. I am grateful to him”

If these twitter handles are to be believed, they have lost everything but thanks to Shivraj Chouhan, they are so delighted that they have decided to share their feelings on social media. And all of them have the same script to say. Another one goes, “Mamaji @ChouhanShivraj‘s effort in providing every facility to people like us, who left our homes behind on banks of Narmada is appreciable”

 

Daniel Bhardwaj, Arjit Fernandes, Arindam Sengupta, Ishita, Jasmin, Parveen Khan and dozens of other such profiles who have supposedly lost their homes, also switch to chaste Hindi with complete ease, even if it means repeating the same grammatical mistake. विस्थापितों की देखभाल प्रशासन भली-भाँति कर है। यह संभव हो पाया है हमारे मुख्यमंत्री @chouhanshivraj जी के अथक प्रयासों से।

They also don’t miss an opportunity to take an identical collective dig at Congress

भड़काऊ कांग्रेसी मेधा की शहादत में जुटे हैं और सीएम उनकी सेहत को लेकर चिंतित हैं। आँखे खोलिए मेधाजी कि कांग्रेसियों का असल चरित्र क्या है.

And yet another set of identical tweets attacking Medha Patkar.

There are many interesting patterns in these tweets. Other than being identical tweets, each handle has also tweeted the the same tweet multiple times. If you look at these accounts a little more closely, you realize that they tweet nothing other than praises for Shivraj Chouhan.

There is clearly a network of fake profiles at work here. We don’t know if it is the Madhya Pradesh IT cell or someone contracted by them. We have seen such organized effort earlier in Rajasthan as well.

An army of fake profiles attempt to discredit Narmada Bachao Andolan and Medha by impersonating the ousted people

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Demand dignity for tea workers on Tata tea plantations in Assam

Ask International Finance Corporation: End Labor Abuse on Indian Tea Plantations
150 YEARS OF EXPLOITATION
Image result for Demand dignity for tea workers on Tata tea plantations in Assam

Do you relish a cup of tea when you wake up in the morning? Did you know that the tea you are drinking could be produced by workers who suffer exploitative conditions?

 

In Assam, the world’s largest tea growing region, there are nearly 1 million tea plantation workers and their families who depend on a meagre cash wage of 126 Rupees a day, that is less than 2 British pounds and lower than the minimum wage mandated by law. In addition, they live in appalling conditions with poor access to basic services like water, health and sanitation, which expose them to malnutrition, disease, and preventable deaths. These conditions are common across most tea plantations in Assam, and result in the region holding India’s highest maternal mortality rate and one of the highest rates of infant mortality.

 

Tea workers in Assam mostly belong to adivasi or indigenous communities forcibly brought from central India over 150 years ago under British rule. Ever since, workers have been entrapped in a cycle of servitude for generations, depending on their employer for almost every aspect of their lives.

 

You can help to break this cycle!

CAO Investigation into Tata-World Bank Plantations

In 2009, through a US$7.8 million investment by the World Bank Group, Tata – a multinational corporation which owns the Tetley brand – created Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (or APPL). Over 155,000 tea workers live and work on APPL’s 25 tea plantations in the North-East of India. Tata and the World Bank Group planned to empower tea workers by improving their living and working conditions, and providing them with ownership of the company. In theory, if workers became shareholders of APPL, they would gain decision-making power, increase their earnings, and lift themselves out of poverty.

Unfortunately, this plan has failed, according to a report released in November 2016 by the World Bank Group’s accountability watchdog, known as the “CAO” (Compliance Advisor Ombudsman). Following an investigation process started in 2013, the report found that living and working conditions continue to be sub-standard on APPL plantations, that wages on the plantations do not protect the health of workers, and that APPL workers were not given proper information about the risks of share ownership and their rights as shareholders.

The World Bank Group was supposed to create an action plan that would directly, and in a timely fashion, address the CAO’s findings. Unfortunately, its response is very limited in scope. It largely mirrors an action plan, called “Project Unnati”, agreed upon by Tata Global Beverages and APPL in 2014, which has failed to bring meaningful and timely improvements to the lives of workers. Most importantly, the plan does not address the root causes of workers’ poverty.

Today, the workers need your support to carry their voices to those in power. Raise your voice to demand accountabiliTEA for workers in Assam and end exploitation on Assam’s tea plantations!

Image result for Demand dignity for tea workers on Tata tea plantations in Assam
Bring digniTEA to those who bring you tea

Tea workers in Assam depend on the tea industry as their sole source of livelihood. Don’t abandon them by boycotting Assam tea. Instead, continue to proudly drink Assam tea but use your voice to demand change. Amalgamated Plantations Private Limited (APPL) is owned by the Tata Group and the World Bank. We urge you to reach out to them to demand living wages, decent housing, adequate health care and better education for workers.

 

Show your support by signing this Care2 petition

 

Please see our campaign website http://accountabilitea.org/ for more information.

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India’s new coastal law threatens Mumbai’s ancient fishing villages

Fishermen say changes will lead to environmental damage, displace coastal communities and hurt the livelihoods of millions who depend on the sea for their survivalBy Rina Chandran

MUMBAI, Aug 9 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – At the end of the monsoon rains every year, Mumbai’s fishing community perform a traditional pooja ceremony to mark their return to the sea, with offerings of coconuts and flowers, and prayers for safety and bounty.

This week, as they launched their freshly painted boats into the water, there was an added prayer: the preservation of their homes and livelihoods as a new coastal law threatens them.

Changes to India’s Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) rules this year have lifted the ban on land reclamation for commercial purposes, will allow tourism in ecologically sensitive coastal areas and permit construction of the world’s tallest statue on an artificial island near Mumbai.

The fishermen – known as kolis – say the changes will lead to environmental damage, displace coastal communities and hurt the livelihoods of millions who depend on the sea for their survival.

“The coastal lands are ours by tradition. The state plans to take them away with this law,” said Rajhans Tapke, general secretary of the Koli Mahasangh association.

“Our land will be lost, our access to the sea will be affected, our catch will be affected. How will we live?” said Tapke, who lives in Versova koliwada, or fishing village, home to his family for generations.

The kolis are among the city’s earliest inhabitants, with settlements dating back more than 400 years. The name Mumbai is believed to derive from Mumba devi, patron deity of the kolis.

Yet most kolis do not have titles to their homes or the land on which they spread their nets and dry their catch.

Boats at the Versova koliwada, or fishing village, which is under threat from a new coastal regulation notification that encourages developments on the beaches in Mumbai, India. June 29, 2017 Thomson Reuters Foundation/Rina Chandran

CONTENTIOUS

Versova is one of nearly 40 koliwadas in Mumbai, its squat homes and colourful boats dwarfed by towering apartment blocks and malls in the city which boasts some of the priciest real estate in the world.

City officials have long clashed with the kolis’ right of use of coastal land.

The kolis, whose song and dance are part of Mumbai tradition and who have featured in Bollywood movies, have lost swathes of land over the years to railway stations, schools and parks.

They have resisted attempts by city officials to classify their settlements as slums, so they can be redeveloped with some land taken for commercial developments.

“Use of coastal land has always been tenuous, with the state pushing against people who have traditional land-use rights,” said Manju Menon, a senior fellow at the Centre for Policy Research, a think tank in Delhi.

“In an urban area like Mumbai, with competing interests of the tourism and real estate industries, it is particularly contentious,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

India’s coastline is more than 7,500 km (4,660 miles) long, and about 3.5 million people make a living from fishing and related activities.

There are more than 3,000 fishing villages along the coast, from remote rural hamlets to bustling urban settlements in cities such as Mumbai and Chennai.

Boats at the Versova koliwada, or fishing village, which is under threat from a new coastal regulation notification that encourages developments on the beaches in Mumbai, India. June 29, 2017 Thomson Reuters Foundation/Rina Chandran

TALLEST STATUE

The set of rules regulating coastal development, known as the CRZ notification, was first issued in 1991.

The 2011 notification, which placed greater limitations on development, came about after consultations with kolis, and created coastal committees that also represented them.

Amendments to the notification this year, permitting reclamation of seabed land for coastal roads and tourism facilities, were made despite objections from fishing communities and environmentalists, analysts say.

Kolis in Mumbai say they will be badly hit.

The notification also allows Maharashtra state to build a proposed 192-metre (630 ft) tall statue to commemorate Shivaji, a 17th century warrior king.

Fisherfolk say construction will disturb their catch, and pollution will increase from ferries plying to and from the statue.

Separately, a 10-km sealink that is part of a proposed coastal road to connect the city’s southern tip to the suburbs will destroy mangroves and affect their catches, they say.

Fishermen are already battling industrial effluents and solid waste that drains into the sea, pollutes the mangroves and washes up on the beach.

“The CRZ was meant for our protection, but now they have diluted it so much we have lost all protection,” said T. Peter, general secretary of the National Fisherworkers’ Forum.

“They want to smash the fishing villages and build hotels and flats; where will we keep our boats and nets?”

Fishermen and environmental groups have filed a petition against the sealink with the National Green Tribunal (NGT), a special court handling environmental cases.

The court has ruled in favour of kolis in some earlier cases, and is becoming an important way to appeal the CRZ, said Menon.

“But it is not an easy option. They have to mobilise, and it takes time and money,” she said.

SPECIAL PROTECTION

The CRZ notification comes as fishermen have to go further out to sea for a decent catch, and more are turning to other means to supplement falling incomes.

Mumbai fishermen have called for the 12-mile nautical limit to be increased to improve their catch.

They have also long demanded that the koliwadas be mapped and given protection in the CRZ III category which will preserve the settlements while allowing for redevelopment.

The kolis also want to be recognised as indigenous people, so their land and rights are better protected.

But this is a politically fraught issue, even though India’s newly elected president, Ram Nath Kovind, is a Dalit koli.

The federal government has earmarked more than 12 billion rupees ($188 million) for developing tourism at India’s beaches.

Maharashtra Revenue Minister Chandrakant Patil said a committee has been set up to demarcate Mumbai’s koliwadas.

For now, the kolis in Versova are celebrating their return to the sea with feasting, song and dance that reminds the community of their long history in the city.

“Mumbai began as a fishing village – this is its culture, its history, its tradition,” said Tapke.

“We protect the sea, the coast, the marine life; now our lives, our livelihoods are threatened because they want to give our land to movie stars and wealthy people who want sea views and beach sports.”

($1 = 63.7617 Indian rupees)

http://news.trust.org/item/20170809000521-pg1bn/

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After release from Hospital ,Medha Patkar arrested again on her way to Badwani #WTFnews

Madhya Pradesh Government has no shame and completely lost any sense of propriety. Early today, Medha Patkar was discharged from Bombay Hospital by the Indore Police, after Habeas Corpus application was filed in the Court there. Earlier CM and administration had claimed she was on hospitalized given her failing health, but then the fact was that she was denied access and was under complete arrest. Only after much pressurizing that one of our colleague was given limited access to her.

 

Today after discharge from hospital in the afternoon, Medha ji started at 4 PM from Indore after meeting her supporters and resting a bit. All this while she continues to fast and today is the 14th day of her fast. All 9 other activists fasting continue under arrest at Dhar District Hospital, where limited access has been given to them.

 

As their vehicle was moving towards Barwani, Medha ji’s vehicle was intercepted by nearly 35 police vehicles and been now taken over by them. The vehicle’s driver was forced out and now TI is driving them all towards Dhar to be produced infront of the SDM. They are now pressing charges for the violence they unleashed on 7th evening on the protesters where they injured 42 people. Police refused to file any FIR from the Andolan side but in their FIR have named 35 people and another 2500 unknown persons.

 

This is complete travesty of justice and nothing else but every attempt at intimidating and terrorising the Andolan.

 

Call or send a message to Dhar Collector : 7694868888  / 07292 – 234702 [email protected]

 

Dhar SP : 9425072424 / 07292-235228 [email protected]

 

Condemn and Demand them to release Medha Patkar and 9 others who have been arrested by them on false charges.

 

Medha Ji, just after her release …

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India -Today, we do not talk of inclusive nationalism: A.P Shah

Justice A P Shah   | Photo Credit: Prashant Nakwe

The former Chairman of the Law Commission on how enforced cultural nationalism will harm India in the long run

Former Chief Justice of the Delhi High Court Ajit Prakash Shah was hailed as the co-architect of the landmark judgment in 2009 that decriminalised homosexuality. Justice Shah, also a former Chairman of the Law Commission, may have retired but he continues to speak openly on a range of issues, including free speech. In this interview, he discusses the current debate on the right to privacy, the Supreme Court judgment on the national anthem, and “enforced cultural nationalism”. Excerpts:

In your M.N. Roy Memorial Lecture on ‘Free Speech, Nationalism and Sedition’ this year, you began with his words and said Roy’s views on nationalism and its attendant dangers still resonate today. What worries you?

What is of utmost concern in the so-called “nationalism” debate is what (Nigerian writer) Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie calls “the danger of a single story”, or the danger of understanding an idea only from one perspective. If we restrict our understanding of nationalism, we ignore the multiplicity of views that exist. Nazism and fascism were both ugly manifestations of nationalism. They were irrational and excessive. In contrast, we have Gandhi’s and Nehru’s nationalism, which was anti-colonial and sought to be all-inclusive; it was not based on religion.

Today, in India, we do not talk of inclusive nationalism. What we have is a situation of enforced cultural nationalism. It is a culture of hate that is being perpetrated in the name of nationalism. There are repeated lynchings in the name of cow protection — from Mohammad Akhlaq to Junaid Khan, it is all very disturbing, to say the least. There is an invasion of university space. Independent thinking is being killed. We seem to have forgotten the all-inclusive nationalism from half a century ago, and we have inverted it into something that is undesirable.

As Tagore said, when the nation becomes powerful at the cost of the harmony of social life, that day is an evil day for humanity. What do we have today instead? People speak of removing the thoughts of Tagore from textbooks!

You posed a question on the defining characteristic of a nation, whether it’s the territorial boundary or the people. What does nation mean to you?

The defining characteristic of a nation changes with time, situation and context. About 150 years ago, countries were still isolated from each other, and an identity based on geography was necessary to bring about order in chaos. But in a world that is increasingly international, where identities of ordinary people have intermingled so greatly that they are no longer distinguishable from one another, it becomes hard to defend the idea of a nation based only on territorial boundary. Indeed, as M.N. Roy put it, the idea may even well be regarded as an “antiquated cult”. If we allow territorial identity to overwhelm our narrative, we may regress into a situation where people become blinded by a nationality driven by irrationality, which in turn may have extreme consequences. Sadly, this is the situation we seem to have found ourselves in today.

Connected to this is the trend of manufacturing affection for the state and government — be it the Prime Minister’s office, the Army, the police, to call them to question is to spread disaffection against the state. And linked to that is: what prevents us from striking down the law on sedition?

We are in a situation today where any criticism of certain offices is branded as anti-national and sedition. Whether it is any wrongdoing, fake encounters in the Northeast, even speaking about these is enough to label you seditious. We are also acquiring a reputation of being singularly humourless, where even a parody is not tolerated!

In India, we have had a long, celebrated legal history of fighting against the law of sedition. Gandhi, Tilak and their ilk have all been part of building the jurisprudence around this. The [Supreme] Court agrees that mere criticism is not sedition. But that does not prevent prosecutions from taking place. Any dissent is taken as sedition. This tendency is very disturbing.

Gandhi said that we cannot expect the law to manufacture affection for the state, that we must allow disaffection to be fully expressed unless it incites violence. This is also what Kedar Nath Singh v the State of Bihar (1962) says. The law is clear that mere sloganeering is not enough, and has to be accompanied by a call for violence. But when an FIR is registered, the question of interpretation of the law in line with the Supreme Court does not arise. While the court may eventually acquit the person accused, the trial itself becomes the punishment. And worst of all, through the harassment it causes, the trial acts as the deterrent against any voice of dissent or criticism. As a result, the broad scope of Section 124-A (of the IPC) allows the state to go after those who challenge its power, whether it is the JNU students, activists such as Hardik Patel and Binayak Sen, authors such as Arundhati Roy, cartoonists such as Aseem Trivedi, or the villagers of Idinthakarai in Tamil Nadu protesting against the Kudankulam nuclear power plant.

You are defending free speech, yet we are all aware of the restrictions imposed by Article 19(2) of the Constitution. Has the time come to review it?

Agreed, 19(2) has its restrictions. But the court has also read these restrictions very narrowly. The court has always said the restrictions to free speech must be reasonable and not excessive or arbitrary. And free speech itself has always been linked to democratic ideals by the court. For example, in Anand Dighe’s case (in 2001, relating to the prohibition of performance of the Marathi play Mee Nathuram Godse Boltoy), the court highlighted that respect for, and tolerance of, a “diversity of viewpoints” was essential to sustain a democratic society and government. Similarly, in Anand Patwardhan’s case (in 1996, relating to the refusal of Doordarshan to telecast his documentary film In Memory of Friends), the court said that the state cannot prevent open discussion, regardless of how hateful such discussion was to the state’s policies. But the Supreme Court put it best, perhaps, in S. Rangarajan v P. Jagjivan Ram (1989), when it said that “in a democracy it is not necessary that everyone should sing the same song”.

The response to criticism is not to shut it down, but to engage with, and respond to, the speaker. Free speech must be countered by more speech, not by acts of moral vigilantism. Such acts have absolutely no place in our constitutional polity and democracy.

What prevents us from striking down the law on sedition, you ask. The immense power that the state wields through this provision makes it difficult to let go of the law entirely. It’s as straightforward as that.

You said that the interim order of the Supreme Court on the national anthem has actually undermined patriotism. How?

The right to free speech and expression also includes the right not to speak or express ourselves. However, under the guise of “law”, with this order, the court has now restricted our fundamental rights. Making something compulsory, like standing up when a national anthem is sung, undermines the very meaning of that action, and the respect that is normally accorded to it. It is a form of what I would call “conscripted nationalism”.

The Madras High Court has replayed this with its recent order that ‘Vande Mataram’ must be sung regularly in educational institutions and elsewhere, including workplaces like factories and offices! The courts have failed to recognise that such actions — of singing or standing up — are now no longer genuine acts of nationalism. They have now become a performance. People now sing or stand not because they truly respect the sentiment that these songs or poems convey, but because they are afraid of being beaten up. In effect, orders like these have actually undermined patriotism amongst fellow Indians.

The judiciary is supposed to be the protector of individual liberties. It is indeed disturbing that it should itself mandate such restrictions.

Do you see this as a consequence of majoritarianism?

I strongly believe that actions like these — preventing people from eating the food they want, effectively forcing a life choice on them — undermine any feelings of nationalism and unity. This is nothing but enforced cultural nationalism. It is unimaginable to expect that a country as diverse as India can be expected to lead a homogenised existence, with a single ideology or monochromatic way of living, or a standard diet.

I practise yoga regularly, for example, and I believe it is a holistic practice. But that does not mean that I will spend the rest of my time foisting yoga upon others. I do not endorse the idea of making yoga compulsory, as if it were a badge of nationalism and Hindu pride.

In the same vein, recent reports of installing a military tank on the JNU campus to “instil nationalism” in the students is absurd! Enforced nationalism cannot promote true culture. People and cultures, regardless of belonging to a particular class or geography, can truly grow and evolve only if they can transcend all social and territorial limitations.

The right to privacy is currently being looked into by the Supreme Court. Is it absolute?

The right to privacy has historically been read under Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution by the court. From Govind v State of Madhya Pradesh (1975) to NALSA v Union of India (2014), the Supreme Court has repeated the existence of a right to privacy under the Constitution. One concept emerging throughout is that the right to privacy cannot be absolute. It must be restricted by law, and must be within the parameters of Article 19(2).

The court itself, in the latest hearing, has observed that one of the immediate consequences of declaring privacy a fundamental right could be the creation of a corresponding obligation on the government to bring in a regulatory framework. Of course, a regulatory framework is needed. India is one of the few countries which does not have a privacy law or data protection law.

There are many kinds of privacy: privacy of space, privacy of behaviour, privacy of decisions and privacy of information. Privacy even exists in the right to be left alone, or the right to be forgotten. Underlying all concepts of privacy is the principle of dignity. The lawyers in the present matter have argued that it would be more proper if the court, after recognising the right, does not define the contours of this right, and decides its delineation on a case-to-case basis instead. I agree. This is a case involving the citizen versus the state. The court must stand by the citizens.

http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/interview/today-we-do-not-talk-of-inclusive-nationalism/article19452167.ece

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AIDWA demands inclusion of non-bailable sections against the accused in Varnika Kundu case

Panchkula/Chandigarh,
——————————————————
The members of All India Democratic Women’s Association (AIDWA), led a protest march today against Chandigarh Police for diluting charges against the two men accused of stalking and harassing Varnika Kundu.

The members of Punjab and Haryana units of AIDWA jointly marched from Yavnika Garden, Sector 5, Panchkula, towards the residence of Haryana Chief Minister in Chandigarh.

The Chandigarh Police stopped the protesters at the Housing Board Chowk assuring them of a meeting with the Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar. The protesters staged a demonstration on the spot raising slogans against the Chandigarh Police and the Haryana government.

“The Chandigarh Police should add non-bailable sections in the FIR against the two men. Accused’s father, Subhash Barala, should resign from his post as the president of BJP’s Haryana unit. As his party is in power at both Centre and Haryana state, Barala has the power to influence the case and investigations,” said Subhashini Ali, the national vice-president of AIDWA. She also went on to condemn the BJP for shaming the victim on the social media by using her old photos and questioning her lifestyle.

“This incident and subsequent statements by the BJP leaders show that the party’s slogan of ‘Beti bachao beti padhao’ is hollow. The Chandigarh Police also seem to be working under political pressure as it earlier claimed that CCTV cameras were not working but has now come up with a footage showing the two cars. Had there been no pressure from the media and the people, the police would have forced a compromise on the victim,” Ali added.

The AIDWA delegation also met the victim. Varnika Kundu, and her family members at their home in the morning and assured full support in the fight against the politically influential accused.

A five-women delegation, including AIDWA vice president Subhashini Ali, national general secretary Jagmati Sangwan, general secretary (Haryana unit) Savita and Subhash Mattoo, general secretary (Punjab unit), gave a memorandum of demands to the Haryana Chief Minister. The memorandum sought inclusion of charges of kidnapping and outraging modesty of a woman in the FIR, issuance of non-bailable warrants against the accused and impartial probe in the case.

In the evening, another delegation of AIDWA met SP, Chandigarh, Eish Singhal, and gave him a memorandum of demands.

Image may contain: 7 people, people smiling, crowd and outdoor

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Condemn the abduction of Tushar Kanti Bhattacharya , renowned writer and journalist

 

 

-Varvara Rao

 

DEMAND FOR HIS IMMEDIATE RELEASE APPEAL TO WRITERS AND DEMOCRATIC FORCES

 

 

Tushar Kanti Bhattacharya aged 62 was abducted by Gujarat Police while he was arriving to Nagpur from Kolkata by Gitanjali express at 7.30 AM. I quote here the message sent by Prof. Soma Sen, Nagpur University “Thushar, my Husband was mysteriously arrested this morning by Gujarath Police I have been trying Thushar mobile from 6AM. But it was unreachable. At about 8.30AM, Senior Advocate Prakash Meghe informed me that Tushar called him to inform that he was arrested by Gujarat Police and at Nagpur airport. The police will take him by flight to Gujarat and may be produced him in the court tomorrow. …”

 

Prakash Meghe, a senior lawyer informed that “Tushar was abducted by Gujarat police team between Gondia and Nagpur. They allegedly forced him to turn off his mobile phone, and after showing him a arrest warrant issued by a Surat court in connection with a 2010 case, whisked him away to Gujarat via Mumbai.

 

Bhattacharya was earlier arrested by the Bihar police in September 2007 in Patna and later handed over to AP police in connection with a four-decade-old Maoist raid on landlords at the historic Tappalapur village, now located in Telangana. He was lodged at the Cherlapally Central Prison in Hyderabad. He was implicated in some concocted cases and spent six years in Warangal and Cherlapally Central Prisons and later acquitted in all the cases.

Tushar Bhattacharya was born and brought up in Kagaznagar as his father was an employee in Singareni Coal Mines. While he was a student at Advance Training Institute (ATI), Shivam Road, Hyderabad, he was attracted to Radical Student movement in early 70s itself.  Afterwards, he joined CPI (ML-COC) lead by Kondapally Sitaramaiah. He organized the peasant struggles in Adilabad district and later worked in Maharastra. In Bombay, he oragnised the trade unions and other mass movements.

 

While in Kagaznagar, he was a student of two great Hindi poets, K. Venugopal and Tej Rajendra Singh in School and through them came into contact with M.T. Khan, who influenced him not only in politics, but Art and Literature. He is a prolific writer in Telugu and Hindi. He is proficient in his mother tongue Bengali and Marathi since he was long time political activist of Maharashtra.

 

He had many ailments. He shifted to his wife’s place in Nagpur in 2013 and staying there pursuing freelance journalism, translations and literary writing.

 

Gujarat police alleged that he had association with the activities in the tribal areas of Surat, Navsari and Dangs. Since Nagpur is the head Quarter of Vidharbha the drought stricken most backward area of this country with coal mines and tribals, he is seen by the State and the RSS headquarters as a pro-Dalit and pro-Adivasi activist which alone is sufficient to name anybody an extremist or a terrorist.

 

He contributed short stories, poetry, memoirs to Srujana and Arunatara.

 

I demand the release of Tushar Kanth Bhattacharya, a 40 year acquaintance and a friend forthwith without implicating him in any false cases.

 

I appeal to the writers and democratic forces to raise their voice for release of Tushar Kanth Bhattacharya.

 

Varavara Rao

President – Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF)

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A Modern-Day Genocide is Unfolding in the Narmada Valley

Image result for Genocide Narmada Valley

Nearly 40,000 Families are Still Living in Thriving Narmada Villages :: Rehabilitation Sites are in Shambles.

Yet the Madhya Pradesh Govt Prepares to Evict or Drown these Villages based on Falsehoods, Even Before Rehabilitation is Done, Even When Many Deserving Affected Families are Yet to be Compensated.

In Delhi on August 7th, National Alliance of People’s Movements and Bhumi Adhikar Andolan together organised a press conference in Delhi to expose the lies of Madhya Pradesh Govt regarding the status of rehabilitation of more than 40000 families in Narmada Valley and Rehabilitation sites. Hannan Mollah, Former MP and Gen. Secretary of All India Kisan Sabha, Soumya Dutta, Environmentalist and Energy Expert, Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha, and Annie Raja, Gen. Secretary at National Federation of Indian Women together briefed the journalists about the present situation of Narmada Valley and exposed the lies of Madhya Pradesh Govt.

The Madhya Pradesh government is going ahead with its preparations for a state-engineered modern-day genocide in the Narmada valley. The waters of the Sardar Sarovar Dam reservoir is rising after the closing of the dam-gates, as more rain water flows in. There are about 191 villages and the small town of Dharampuri which are threatened with submergence, mostly in Nimad region – some completely, some in large parts. The Narmada Bachao Andolan estimates that about 40,000 families are still living in these villages, who have either not been given rehabilitation entitlements, or given in part. The government estimates a far lower 18,000+ families that still needs to be rehabilitated.

Hundreds of temples-mosques-adivasi religious places, schools, health centers, thousands of shops, small business places, very well developed fruits & vegetable farms which are still being actively used…….. are all to be drowned latest by 1st or 2nd week of October, as per the schedule issues by the Govt.

Some of the villages have yielded rich archaeological evidences of pre-historic human habitations. From times very ancient to the present day, innovative farming communities have made this valley a treasure house of productivity. And yet, today we are witnessing its insane destruction, just for a few MW of electricity and the elusive irrigation that is still a mirage.

The MP govt also have attempted condemnable acts of demolishing Mahatma Gandhi Samadhi by the banks of Narmada in Badwani district, in the dead of night, using construction machinery!.

The Honourable Supreme Court had – in its 2000 and 2005 orders, made it clear that every project affected family losing land will have to be rehabilitated based on land for land principle, six-months before their displacement, along with house plots in fully developed rehabilitation sites, containing a minimum of 17 listed facilities. Other oustees were also to be rehabilitated in terms of their livelihoods lost. These were also the original awards of the Narmada Water Disputes Tribunal (NWDT), in its 1979 order.

The MP and Union governments earlier repeatedly lied to the SC, claiming that there is “ZERO BALANCE” for rehabilitation, meaning everyone deserving rehabilitation, have already been rehabilitated. The Narmada Control Authority (NCA) authorized the closing of the 17 meter high dam gates, effectively raising the dam height to 138.68 meters, based on the latest report of the R&R subcommittee, housed in the Social Justice Ministry. This also apparently claims rehabilitation is complete or nearly so !

The Secretary of the same Union Social Welfare Ministry (who heads the R&R sub-committee) later admitted – on June 27 – that “they know” there are still 18,000+ families living in the submergence threatened villages, who needs to be rehabilitated. Tens of thousands of fully grown trees are also standing in these villages, contrary to claims by the MP government.

In the last 4 months, several independent (of NBA) groups and committees have visited the affected area of Narmada valley, and found these govt claims to be largely false. Out of 88 rehab sites, most are not even levelled, not to talk about being provided with the 17 listed facilities, including drinking water, approach and internal roads, drainage, electricity, schools, health care facilities etc.

In its last order dated 8th February 2017, the Supreme Court had ordered the Governments to compensate Rs.60 lakhs (estimated price of 5 Acres of agricultural land there) to all those losing over 25% of land and who have not taken any compensation yet. As per repeatedly clarified orders, these were to include adult children as separate families. Those who took the earlier meagre compensation of 5.58 lakhs, but were cheated by the collusion of officers and land-agents, were awarded 15 lakhs each family.

To know how these massive scams happened with collusion of high govt officials, one can refer to the well investigated report of the Justice Jha Commission, appointed by the MP High Court.

The MP Govt is deliberately mis-interpreting the last SC order, which mentions the right of the state to evict villagers by force, once rehabilitation is done. The moot point is REHABILITATION IS FAR FROM DONE, IN MOST CASES – THIS HAS NOT EVEN BEGUN IN RIGHT EARNEST. BUT – the MP govt has amassed large police forces in the area, conducting intimidating drills in the villages, threatening villagers to vacate or else…….

VACATE, BUT WHERE TO? Many rehab sites are not even approachable by road. Many are undulating rocky terrain, with large ditches as allotted house plots!. Many have deep layers of black cotton soil, on which you cannot place a house foundation without huge investment. Barsaati nallahs run through some sites and house plots. One such site in Dharampuri town is just by the side of a fast flowing hilly stream, which destroys its surroundings every good monsoon! Tales of inhuman treatments to prosperous, hard-working, peaceful farming communities abound in the threatened valley.

After all this, Even the reservoir in Gujarat are already filled and some of the canals are broken which increased the intensity of floods in Gujarat. This proves that the decision of closing Sardar Sarovar Dam gates is not for the water supply to Gujarat or Rajasthan but a mere tool to influence the Gujarat elections. This is a shameless politics of governments, when the same decision can drown lakhs of people in Narmada Valley

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Global Day of Action against Vedanta  – August 14th , AGM in London #mustshare

Global day of action against Vedanta’s AGM

 

The annual Global Day of Action against Vedanta will take place on Monday 14th August 2017, as their AGM is conducted in London.

While the Vedanta board try to don the ‘cloak of respectability’ of their London listing, communities affected by the company’s pollution, human rights abuses and tax evasion around the world will raise their voices through protests and reports showing the true face of this deadly British mining company. As usual we will bring the defiant energy and demands of these communities to London, in our theatrical protest outside the London AGM, and shareholder activism inside it.

JOIN US OUTSIDE VEDANTA’S LONDON AGM WHILE COMMUNITIES PROTEST ACROSS AFRICA AND INDIA!

Monday 14th August 20172 – 4pm .
The Lincoln Centre, 18 Lincoln’s Inn Fields, London, WC2A 3ED

Bring drums, placards and loud voices.

Please join our Facebook event page if you can come to London on 14th August.

Why we are opposing Vedanta’s 2017 AGM:

This year Vedanta was again excluded from the Norwegian Pension Fund investments following a report which found “numerous reports of Vedanta’s failure to comply with government requirements” at four subsidiaries in Odisha, Chhatisgarh, Tamil Nadu and Zambia.

In Zambia, Vedanta has appealed against a precedent May 2016 judgment allowing thousands of farmers suffering eleven years of pollution by Konkola Copper Mines (KCM) to have their case against the company heard in the UKDuring the London appeal hearing they claimed no connection between the parent and subsidiary, stating that corporate governance reports were just for show to comply with London listing rules. Meanwhile the pollution goes on in Zambia, where Vedanta have also been found guilty of widespread transfer mispricing and tax evasion according to a recent UNCTAD report. KCM have never published their annual accounts.

Sonshi villagers

Gowda women in Sonshi, Go

In Goa, India, resumption of iron ore mining by Vedanta subsidiary Sesa Goa has already led to protests by Gowda Adivasis (a tribal group) suffering from air and water pollution, and accusations that the company is already exceeding its quota and continuing illegal mining under the guise of removing waste dumps. After being found guilty of widespread illegal mining Vedanta is already demanding that the resultant cap on mining is lifted.

 

In Niyamgiri, Odisha, harassment of tribal activists who succeeded in stopping Vedanta’s bauxite mine in a precedent referendum in 2013 is increasing, and key activists have been jailed and tortured this year, accused of being Maoists. Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS) and the Dongria Kondshave held major blockades of Vedanta’s refinery in reaction demanding an end to harassment and the decomissioning of the refinery.

Parallel demonstrations are already planned in Zambia and India on the 14th August for this Global Day of Action and questions raised by the communities will be asked inside the AGM meeting.If you would like to plan a demonstration or organise any event in solidarity with any Vedanta affected community, in any part of the world please get in touch.

Vedanta is a FTSE 250 British mining company controlled and owned by Anil Agarwal and his family through a series of tax havens and holding companies. It has become infamous for its violations of law, pollution and human rights abuses across India and Afrika. Vedanta is controlled and 69.6% owned by Brit Anil Agarwal and his family through a series of tax havens and holding companies. It was launched on the London Stock Exchange in 2003 with the assistance of the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID) and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), who continue with their  support for the company.

Courtesy: FOIL VEDANTA

 

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Protests across India against arrest of Medha Patkar and others fasting since 27 July on August 9, 2017

Protests in various parts of India against the brutal arrest of Medha Patkar, Pushpa Bahan, Dharmendra Bhai and 7 more people sitting on fast since 27th July.

Bhagwati Bahan and Rukmani Bahan continuing fast along with 10 people at Chikhalda

Medha Patkar hospitalized in Indore Bombay Hospital and rests are kept in Dhar, Police not allowing anybody to stay with Medha.

Chinmay Mishra and Bilal Khan interrogated for half an hour at separate places when tried to meet Medha.

Shivraj Singh Govt. lying again in the name of showing concern for health of fasting people, whereas illegally detained them and not allowed anyone to stay with them.

Submitted petition to National Human Rights Commission, asked to take strict actions against violent attack by Police officials and others involved.

Representation made to Indian Ambassador in Rome and Harare, and representation to UN Rapporteur on Housing

New Delhi | August 08, 2017 : Today people across the country protested against the high handed action of MP Police of the Dhar and Badwani administration which used excessive force leaving 48 people injured, some of them were admitted to ICU in Badwani.

In Delhi, more than 50 protestors marched to the MP Bhavan and submitted the memorandum demanding immediate release of all the people from the hospital and allow them to discuss their next course of action. Also take action against the District Magistrate, SP and other officials responsible for the high handedness of the Police forces and initiate dialogue with the Narmada Bachao Andolan and solve the problems of the 40000 Saradar Sarovar Dam affected families. With this, a delegation of Hannan Mollah (former MP), Yogendra Yadav (Swaraj Abhiyaan), Kavita Krishnan (AIPWA), Satyavan Ji (AIKKMS), Manimala Ji and Snehlata Shukla (DSG) submitted the memorandum to the Deputy Resident Commissioner and Joint Resident Commissioner under signed by more than 30 representatives of people’s organization. Shabnam Hashmi (ANHAD), Rajendra Ravi (NAPM), Sandeep Pandey (Socialist Party of India), Faisal Khan (Khudai Khidmatgar), Bhupendra Singh Rawat (Jan Sangharsh Vahini), Ramesh Sharma (SUCI (C)) and many others were part of the protest.

Madhuresh Kumar, National Convener, NAPM gave a brief account of yesterday incident and said that the Govt. have used these violent tactics before but we will keep our fight on. Since yesterday Medha Patkar and others admitted in Indore and Dhar hospitals respectively, with limited access. The Govt. has maintained that they are concerned about their health and they are only hospitalized. If they are hospitalized then shouldn’t they be treated like a normal patient with visitation rights by their colleagues, friends and, family? Govt. claim that they are concerned about their health would have meant that, all 12 should have been kept in the same hospital at least, but no, 9 of them are in Dhar district hospital and two Rukmani Bahan and Bhagwati Bahan were left at the Dharna site itself where they continue to fast.

Yogendra Yadav, expressed a serious concern and said that the we are asking very basic things, rehabilitation of all the affected people and on the issues, MP Govt. is lying all over and using forces on peaceful protestors. The movement has exposed the development model and given us courage to ask what development means for us?

Sandeep Pandey said that Govt. is not acting for the benefits of the people but as Gujarat Govt. destroyed the Sabarmati River, now the MP Govt. and Govt. of India are doing the same with people of Narmada Valley.

Kavita Krishnan extended her full solidarity to the people of Narmada Valley and said that she believes that the movement will fight out the atrocious govt and win the battle for the rights of people.

Satyavan Ji, Bhupendra Singh Rawat and many others also extended their solidarity to the Narmada Bachao Andolan and the people and asked strict actions against the brutal attack on the people happened yesterday evening.

We believe the whole use of force was to break their peaceful protest and there was no concern for their well being, otherwise Govt would have initiated dialogue much before this. Shivraj Singh’s claim to be a sensitive CM but it is not visible in your actions. Words don’t mean anything to us. We condemn the high handed action of police forces who came with baton fixed with nails. This is a serious violation of human rights of the people sitting on peaceful fast fighting against the illegal drowning of more than 40000 families in Narmada Valley.

Series of action protest demonstration all over the country and internationally:

1. Rome, Italy : Representation made to Indian Ambassador

2. Harare, Zimbabwe : Representation made to Indian Ambassador

3. Representation made to UN Rapporteur on Housing

4. Bengaluru, Karnataka : Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) and Green Brigade announced full pledged solidarity to Narmada Bachao Andolan and Medha Patkar.

5. Tumkur, Karnataka : Protest demonstration by people of various organisations in support of NBA.

6. Hyderabad, Telangana : Protest demonstration by Human Rights Forum and other organisations.

7. Pune, Maharashtra : Rally by people in support to NBA by Lokayat, Rashtriya Seva Dal and other supporters.

8. Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh : Silent Protest and Human Chain by sensitive people against the brutal attack of police forces on people of Narmada Valley.

9. Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh : Solidarity fast against the arrest of Medha Patkar and people of Narmada Valley by NAPM and Joint Action committee, Varanasi.

10. Bhubneshwar, Odisha : Protest in support of Narmada Valley by Lok Shakti Abhiyaan and NAPM, Odisha.

11. Chikhalda, Dhar, Madhya Pradesh : Protest by students of Salsabeel Green School against arrest of Medha Patkar and others.

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