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#SundayReading – 1993 Mumbai blasts –  When Justice is a Fading Light

Twenty-four years after Mumbai was shattered first by riots and then the bomb blasts, there seems to be no closure for the survivors of either
At an anti-terror court in Mumbai set up un der the Terrorists and Disruptive Activi ties (Prevention) Act, the counsel for the prosecution has been arguing this past week for the maximum punishment for six people convicted by the court in the 1993 Mumbai blasts, which includes gang sters Abu Salem and Mustafa Dossa. Spe cial CBI counsel Deepak Salvi has said the death sentence should be awarded to five of the accused, arguing that the court needs to keep in mind that 257 people lost their lives and 713 were injured in the co ordinated bomb blasts that tore what was then Bombay apart on March 12, 1993. The blasts were unlike any terror attack the country had seen till then and wreaked large-scale damage on India’s financial nerve centre and its people’s psyche. Ac cording to investigators, it had been car ried out at the orders of underworld don Dawood Ibrahim and his henchmen, and was held to be retaliation for the commu nal riots sparked by the Babri Masjid dem olition, in which over 900 people, largely Muslims, had died.Tushaar Priti Deshmukh couldn’t agree more with Salvi. It has been 24 years now, but that has not blurred the edges of the Dadar resident’s memories of that day. He was 13 then and on his way back home from school when he and his friends saw the aftermath of the bomb blasts at Plaza Talkies and Shiv Sena Bhawan, two of the targets. By 4 pm, the family and his neigh bours in the chawl they were staying, de cided to step out to look for Tushaar’s mother, Priti, who had not yet returned from her job at Jindal Canteen at Mahalak shmi. At KEM Hospital, where the injured had been taken, Tushaar’s uncle was di rected to the mortuary after he had been unable to locate her among the wounded.

“But there was no body, only parts. It was brought home the next day but I wasn’t allowed to see her or do any of the last rites,“ says Deshmukh. His mother had taken the No. 85 bus from Mahalakshmi to Dadar after her work, as was her routine. At around 3 pm when the bus was at Century Bazaar in Worli, an explosive planted on the road blasted it to pieces, killing the passengers, including Priti.In one afternoon, D e s h mu k h’s l i f e changed forever.

With a traumatised father who soon turned to alcohol, the responsibility of running the household fell on the 13-yearold’s shoulders. When his father remarried, Deshmukh says the situation was such that he had to leave home as soon as he could, which was after he had finished the board exams. A friend’s family took him in, and he is currently helping them run their real estate agency in Dadar. In 2015, when civil society was debating the death sentence to blasts accused Yakub Memon and petitions were being drafted to waive it, Deshmukh says he collected 2,200 signatures in a single hour at Shivaji Park in support of Memon’s hanging. “The guilty should be punished, and that includes Dawood (Ibrahim) and `Tiger’ Memon. I had given a petition to the governor earlier, saying Sanjay Dutt should also be hanged,“ says Deshmukh at his two-room office, near which a few saffron flags of the Shiv Sena hang limply in the monsoon rain and posters of its late founder Bal Thackeray adorn walls, indicative of the location in Sena heartland. “If they are guilty and there is evidence, why not hang them? That would be a deterrent.“ Though it has taken 24 years for the wheels of justice to come close to some kind of verdict, he believes the system has not fully let down the blast victims.

Lone Battle

If a narrow lane near Shafi Masjid off Dockyard station, where Farooq Mapkar waits, feels like a world away, so has his experience been, at the hands of the very same “system“. Mumbai’s legendary resilience and tenacity find a form in the weathered face and frame of Mapkar, who has been fighting for justice in the 1992-93 riots that preceded the blasts, for over two decades. “It is good that the blast victims have got some kind of justice but what about us? Not a single one of us has got justice,“ says the 50-year-old.It is just one of Mapkar’s many questions to which there are no satisfactory answers.

Like Deshmukh, Mapkar too reels off the date, time and other details of the day two decades ago which destroyed life as he knew it. On January 10, 1993, Mapkar had gone to Hari Masjid for the noon prayers after visiting a friend in the vicinity. He had performed his ablutions and stepped in to pray when a team of the city’s police under the supervision of the then inspector Nikhil Kapse entered and allegedly began firing, without any warning. A boy in front of Mapkar was shot in the chest and had just keeled over when another bullet found its target below Mapkar’s left shoulder. All those in the mosque were then corralled into police vans in batches and taken to the police station, outside which a mob of Hindus was waiting, hurling abuses, according to Mapkar. “We were beaten by the police in the station with hockey sticks, lathis and whatever they could lay their hands on. One of us, Ismail, was beaten so badly that he died at the station,“ he recalls. It would be 15 days before the bullet inside him would be removed by a doctor. That was just the tor turous beginning of his ordeal. For the next 16 years, till 2009, he waged a long legal battle to get his name cleared in the charges the po lice had pressed, including that of attempt to murder and rioting. Though he has been “honourably acquitted“, Mapkar continues to fight legally to fix responsibility on the policemen for his predicament, including Kapse. “When the CBI stepped in, we had faith in it, being a Central body. But we were never called to give evidence. Kapse was not arrested even for a day, nor was he removed from his department,“ says Mapkar, who filed another petition in the Bombay High Court last year.Asked whether his family and friends support this never-ending quest for elusive justice, he says they have never tried to stop him. “People ask me what is the point of spending all my time on this case. But six people were killed in front of me. If I stay silent, I can’t claim justice has not been done. And I won’t get justice by sitting at home, I have to come out on the streets and fight for it,“ he says. Recent events in which minorities have been targeted have exacerbated his anguish and strengthened his belief that Muslims do not get justice.

Let Down By All Quarters

Lawyer and activist Shakil Ahmed, who has supported victims of the riots in their attempts for justice, sounds more cynical about the turn of events over the years. The son of a single mother who had dropped out of Class VII because of poverty, Ahmed had been in Sion-Koliwada in 1993 and had lost his home in the riots. “Law is not for revenge but for justice. And justice should be for all,“ says Ahmed, outside the advocates’ chambers at the Thane court where he practises. “There have been a couple of convictions on paper but no real justice,“ he says.The 47-year-old seems equally bitter about the report of the Srikrishna Commission, set up to investigate the riots, and which had not held back in pinning responsibility for the mayhem on the Shiv Sena and its founder, Bal Thackeray. When the Sena came to power in 1996, it did away with the commission but was forced to reconstitute it, though it widened its ambit to include the bomb blasts.

The 800-page report led to hardly any convictions, despite testimonies against the Sainiks and the police. Madhukar Sarpotdar, the lone Shiv Sena leader who was convicted for inciting communal hatred, did not serve even a day in prison and died in 2010. “If nearly 1,000 people have died and no one has been convicted, the judiciary is equally responsible for that failure. Who do we seek justice from?“ asks Ahmed. There is a case in the Supreme Court to convict at least the policemen mentioned in the Srikrishna Commission Report but Ahmed is not very hopeful of the outcome. “When Bal Thackeray, who the commission indicted for his role in the riots, died, he was given a state funeral and his body was draped in the Tricolour. How, then, can minorities even raise their voice?“

Perception & Reality

Though the Srikrishna Commission left no room for doubt about the Sena’s role and that Muslims were targeted in the riots, that is not how everyone perceives it. Manoj Kumar Singh, a commercial manager at a publishing house in Mumbai, says the Shiv Sena under the leadership of “Balasaheb“ was at the forefront to fight against those rioting.“The Hindus also suffered a lot -75% of the victims were Hindus,“ says Singh, who also feels politicians are responsible for fomenting communal violence. “We had friends in Berhampada (badly affected in the riots), who told us about bodies of Hindus, including policemen, thrown in ditches,“ he says.Singh does add that those who are guilty, whether in the riots or the blasts, should be punished. In the elections following the blasts and the riots, the Shiv Sena was voted to power in an alliance with the BJP.

Deshmukh echoes the sentiment and denies that the riots or the blasts may have widened the rift between the majority community and the city’s Muslim minority. “It hasn’t changed my personal relationships. I still go to dargahs to pray. When blasts happen, we know it is Pakistan, not Indian Muslims,“ he says. Even during the riots, which he recalls as a period of sleepless nights spent on guard against rumoured attacks, he believed it was outsiders who carried out the assaults.

Despite his frustrating legal battle, Mapkar says the atmosphere in Mumbai is now relatively better than in other areas in India.“If a person falls on the railway tracks, it is not as if people will check whether he is Hindu or Muslim before rescuing him,“ he says. But he does not intend to give up his lone fight even after repeated disappointments, and that is for a reason. “I know I will not get justice. But I want to keep fighting because I want to tell the system, the world, that we have not got justice even as other victims may have. And that is because we are Muslims.“

http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/index.aspx?eid=31818&dt=20170625#

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Indian Workers Association (Great Britain) demand Release of Bhim Army Leader Chandrashekar ‘Ravan’ Azad

Image result for Bhim Army Leader Chandrashekhar ‘Ravan’ Azad‘Immediately Release Bhim Army Leader Chandrashekar ‘Ravan’ Azad, Unconditionally’

Statement by Indian Workers Association(Great Britain)

Chandrashekar Azad, one of the leader and founder of the Bhim Army in UP, was arrested from Himachal Pardesh on Thursday 8th June. He has been falsely accused of spearheading the Saharanpur violence. All he and his Bhim Army were asking for was the right to hold a mahapanchayat to discuss the recent Hindutava violence on the Muslim and Dalit community and demand the culprits be brought to justice.

April 20: BJP MP Raghav Lakhanpal led a march of some rightwing Hindu activist in a Muslim dominated village of Sadak Dudhli. The rally was taken out to mark Ambedkar Jayanti with a deliberate aim of driving a wedge between the Dalits and Muslims in the area. The Dalits realised this and were not interested in taking part. The Dalits did not want to upset the recently formed unity in action with the Muslims community. In fact the Dalits had already celebrated Ambedkar Jayanti on 14 April. Clashes broke out between the BJP supporters and the Muslims.

May 5: Thakurs in a clear act of asserting their upper caste dominance, egged on by the Yogi Adityanath government in UP, organised a procession to mark the birth anniversary of a Rajput king in the Dalit neighbourhood, village Shabbirpur. Some reports say that Ambedkar’s statute was attacked and that anti-Ambedkar slogans were raised by the BJP supporters. Other reports allege the processions were held without permission from the administration and were therefore illegal. According to Bhim Army national president, Vinay Ratan Singh, this provocative act took place under the watchful eyes of the police. The incident led to violence between the two sides, resulting in one Thakur killed, 15 Dalits in hospital and 22 Dalits homes burnt. Ratan says that there needs to be a proper unbiased enquiry to establish how the violence was started and those guilty of burning, looting and causing grievance injuries must be brought to account.

May 9: The Bhim Army had asked for a mahapanchayat in Saharanpur to protest against the atrocities on Dalits and police inaction. The police denied permission but many people had gathered anyway. Clashes took place between the Bhim Army supporters and the police. Dalits were beaten up, rubber bullets were fired and at least six Dalits protesters arrested. In response to police violence the Bhim Army led a rally in Jantar Mantar, Delhi, where tens of thousands attended. Shaken by the organising power and the huge following of the Bhim Army, claimed to be at least 10 lakh nationally, the UP state authority has registered several FIR against the Chandrashekar Azad. The charges are all trumped up and designed to put the leader behind bars in order to inflict damage on the Bhim Army and silence their protest.

It has now become routine police procedure that any Muslim resistance is labelled as Islamic terrorist and any Dalit resistance is labelled as Naxalism. All progress people must raise their collective voice against the fascist Hindutava forces and against the state forces that are eroding the democratic space of the Dalits, Tribals, Women, Muslims and other oppressed minority sections India.

We demand immediate unconditional release of Chandrashekar Azad and other members of the Bhim Army.

Lekh Pall
General Secretary
Central Organising Committee
Indian Workers Association (Great Britain)

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Odisha- Condemn the arrest of mine workers in Sukanda Valley

 

Coordination of Democratic Rights Organisation strongly condemns the arrest of three mine workers Rabi Murmu, Abhimanyu Mohanto and Ramesh Majhi on June 12, 2017 on false and fabricated charges of conspiring to wage a war against the Indian state and inciting violence. We understand this arrest and the imposition of severe charges as an attempt by the ruling BJD and BC Mohanty & Sons, the company operating the mine in Sukinda valley to intimidate and prevent the mine workers from forming a trade union and challenging human rights violations resulting from mass tribal displacement in the region.
Rabi Murmu is the President and Abhimanyu Mohanto is the General Secretary of the Aancholiko Khoni Khadaan Mazdoor Sangh, a union that has been organizing in the pursuit of regularizing the wages of mine workers as well as their registration in the B Register. The union has also been drawing attention to rights violations of persons displaced by the mines, with an eruption in mining licenses over the past few years in Sukinda valley, which is the chromite-rich belt of Odisha in Jajpur district. Odisha has 98% of the total chromite reserve in India, 97% of which is found in the Sukinda valley. Currently, there are 14 chromite mines in the Sukinda valley of which 12 or 13 are in operation.
According to information gathered by us, on the morning of June 12, Rabi Murmu, Abhimanyu Mohanto and Ramesh Majhi had gathered at the gate of the Kamarda Chromite Mines Company to participate in a peaceful protest demonstration and were carrying with them a memorandum of demands on behalf of the workers. Before the protest could begin, police personnel from Kaliapani Police Station led by IC Yuvraj Swain arrived at the spot and threatened to book them under Maoist cases if they did not abide by the will of Pritiranjan Gharai, the local MLA from the ruling party BJD. In the week leading up to the protest demonstration, the workers had been getting threatening calls from local BJD supporters to back down on their demands. The Police executed their threat, and arrested the three mine workers for possessing Maoist literature, and for inciting tribals to join their union to fight for their rights against displacement, under Ss. 25-27, Arms Act; and Ss. 147, 506, 121 (A), 124 (A), 120 (B) and 149 (17), IPC. See Odisha POST dated June 14, 2017: 3 Ultras held in Kaliapani.https://www.orissapost.com/tag/3-ultras-held/. The said Maoist literature is, in fact, some copies of Nua Duniya, a weekly newsletter of the CPI, and a journal of the Chaasi Mulia Adibaasi Sangh.
On June 19, 2017, Rebabati Murmu and Padmabati Mohanto, wives of Rabi Murmu and Abhimanyu Mohanto, respectively, petitioned the Odisha Human Rights Commission in Bhubaneswar demanding an inquiry into the arrest, and for proceedings to be initiated against the police personnel, in order to determine the complicity of political parties under whose direction the arrests have taken place. The petition further demands that all phone calls of the police personnel be tracked to establish the nexus of police, administration, mining authorities and the ruling BJD MLA.
CDRO unequivocally endorses the rights of workers to form a trade union as a fundamental right, to fight for their interests, engage in collective bargaining for regularization of wages and to improve working conditions. The witch-hunt launched against the workers, and the baseless accusations of being Maoists foisted upon them by the Police, are an assault on workers’ rights, and is directed to prevent people from collectively struggling for their rights. The complicity of state authorities and political parties in such intimidation is a carte blanche to the mining authorities and the district administration to engage in further rights violations of the mine workers and displaced persons through exploitation and unfair labour practices. The Odisha police follows the old strategy of stifling any challenges to the ruthless exploitation of natural resources, displacement of peoples and the pursuit of unfair labour practices by simply labeling activists/dissidents as Maoists.
C. Chandrasekhar (CLC, Andhra Pradesh), Asish Gupta (PUDR, Delhi), Pritpal Singh (AFDR, Punjab), Phulendro Konsam (COHR, Manipur) and Tapas Chakraborty (APDR, West Bengal) (Coordinators of CDRO).
Constituent Organisations: Association for Democratic Rights (AFDR, Punjab), Association for Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal); Asansol Civil Rights Association, West Bengal; Bandi Mukti Committee (West Bengal); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Andhra Pradesh); Civil Liberties Committee (CLC, Telangana); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR, Maharashtra); Committee for Protection of Democratic Rights (CPDR,Tamil Nadu); Coordination for Human Rights (COHR, Manipur); Manab Adhikar Sangram Samiti (MASS, Assam); Naga Peoples Movement for Human Rights (NPMHR); Peoples’ Committee for Human Rights (PCHR, Jammu and Kashmir); Peoples Democratic Forum (PDF, Karnataka); Jharkhand Council for Democratic Rights (JCDR, Jharkhand); Peoples Union For Democratic Rights (PUDR, Delhi); Peoples Union for Civil Rights (PUCR, Haryana), Campaign for Peace & Democracy in Manipur (CPDM), Delhi; Janhastakshep(Delhi).

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My Son a Dalit Revolutionary, Says Bhim Army Chief’s Mother

 

New Delhi: While Bhim Army’s Chandrashekhar Azad is lodged in a jail cell for his alleged role in fanning the caste-based Saharanpur riots, his outfit has been demanding his release. On Sunday, Bhim Army hit the streets again, in a massive show of strength, with another demonstration at New Delhi’s Jantar Mantar. In the absence of the 30-year-old lawyer-turned-activist, Chandrashekhar’s mother Kamlesh Devi and brothers Bhagat Singh and Kamal Kishor addressed supporters. Kamlesh Devi spoke to News18’s Uday Singh Rana. Edited excerpts:

When did Chandrashekhar the lawyer become an activist?

Five years ago, Chandrashekhar was just another lawyer in Dehradun. There was a school in Chutmalpur, our hometown in Saharanpur, where Dalits sent their kids to study. The local Rajputs kicked up a storm about their children studying alongside ours. They would not allow the children to go to school and considered them ‘untouchables’. They told the kids to continue doing the work their parents did. The kids, who looked up to Chandrashekhar, came running to him and told them about what was happening. When things did not improve, my son launched an agitation and ensured that the kids got their rights. After this incident, there was an awakening inside him. Soon after, he formed the Bhim Army.

Your son is the activist in the family but this time, even you felt compelled to hit the streets. Why so?

I am in a very difficult position. I had no other option left. If someone’s son is branded a terrorist and is lodged in jail, what choice does a mother have? Will she not hit the streets?

What are your demands from the UP government?

First of all, the government must ensure that officials do not behave in a partisan way. Secondly, all innocent persons must be released. That includes not only my son but also many innocent young Dalit men from Saharanpur.

But the state government has levelled pretty serious charges against your son. They accused him of rioting.

All allegations are false. There is no truth in them.

You have three sons. Two of them — Chandrashekhar Azad and Bhagat Singh — are named after revolutionary freedom fighters. Was that a conscious decision?

Their father, who was a primary school teacher in Chutmalpur, named them after freedom fighters. He saw discrimination first hand. Dalit teachers were asked to get separate utensils for food and separate lotas (mugs) for water. He named his eldest son Bhagat Singh and his second son Chandrashekhar Azad. These are names of revolutionary freedom fighters. He wanted his sons to bring some change. Today, Chandrashekhar is a Dalit revolutionary. I am proud that my sons, including Kamal Kishor, the youngest, are working for the betterment of Dalits.

But Chandrashekhar went ahead and added ‘Ravan’ to his name. Why identify with the villain in the Ramayana?

Ravan was someone who was a scholar and was ready to fight for his sister’s honour. Chandrashekhar can go to any lengths to protect the honour of his community and yet, he won’t do injustice to anybody else.

As a mother, what do you hope for his future?

We were always poor but I made sure my sons never slept on the floor. But today, he is sleeping in a jail cell for the sake of his community. Only a revolutionary can go through so much suffering for his people. As a mother, I am very proud of him.

Do you think he should join politics and fight elections?

No. He has no interest in fighting elections or joining politics. I would also advise him not to join politics. He is doing work for his community and is happy with that work. I am proud of what he does. What is the need to join politics?

A lot of women have been turning up at the Bhim Army protests recently. What is your message to them?

Women have to play a very important role in the movement. Look at me. I am an old lady and have been meeting Chandrashekhar’s followers wherever I go. I have been speaking so much that my throat has started to hurt. But women have to be equal partners in the movement, especially when the men are in jail. I want to tell all Dalit mothers and sisters that now is the time to hit the streets. The time to tolerate oppression has gone.

Source-https://in.news.yahoo.com/son-dalit-revolutionary-says-bhim-082545635.html

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Sentencing of RTI activist Nikhil Dey is a devastating irony for Indian democracy

The case is a Kafkaesque fable of the travails of idealism and activism in India.

SHIV VISVANATHAN

A social scientist, as witness and analyst, often confronts the fact that progress and irony blend together in Indian democracy. As spectators and citizens, we have witnessed major institutional reforms and yet watched with distress when the mentality required to energise these reforms lags years behind.

In that sense, one of the greatest achievements of modern Indian democracy is the passing of the RTI Bill. Yet one of its greatest ironies have been the sentencing of Nikhil Dey for pushing through the same ideas. Most papers gave the sentencing of Nikhil Dey a few lines. They probably saw it as non-news referring to a case which was 19 years old.

It is true that as cynics say a week might be a long time in politics, but in law, 19 years, given the gestation period of our cases, might sound like yesterday.

Poignancy

The poignancy of the news and the surprise and consternation it caused was manifold. First, it dealt with a case that had almost been forgotten. Second, it deals unfairly with a man who was one of the main protagonists behind the RTI Bill.

Nikhil Dey is probably the most civilised activist in India. Gentle, a perfect listener, ready to see the humour in any situation, Dey lacks a sense of hysteria, rhetoric or ideological fundamentalism which we associate with many activists today. His gentleness is deceptive because his commitment to democracy and to truth is rigorously impressive.

To accuse such a person of violence and assault is not only surreal but also creates a sense of hypocrisy as a response around the RTI cases. The facts of the case are simple. Remember today we take RTI for granted, proud of it as a fact of life, grateful that such a guarantee exists for the Indian citizen.

But go back 19 years and imagine the situation on May 6, 1998, Dey and six other activists confronted a local sarpanch. As a community they wanted clarity and information about the sarpanch’s activities. The sarpanch, who ironically yet predictably turns out to be the local liquor contractor, had a whole string of allegations confronting him.

dey_061617022324.jpgIt took Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and MKSS decades of struggle to make RTI part of the letter and even the spirit of the law.

These included the usual cases of corruption and inefficiency, including labour payments for development activities, payments for toilets, and Indira Awas houses. Since the office of sarpanch was predictably closed during working hours, the activists visited him at home. The sarpanch and his cohorts assaulted the group.

The case is classic because RTI as a ritual involves talking truth to power and extracting truth from power. Even more impressive is the rituals of dialogue, and persuasion the activists adhere to. They adhere to all the norms and rules of dialogue and display a patience, an openness which is classic.

Despite the assault, Dey decides not to file an FIR or indulge in force, because the spirit of RTI demanded it.

Strange

It was a strange case of a gentleman activist confronting a corrupt sarpanch committed to bully boy tactics, convinced of power of might over the right to information. The case is typical of how entrenched power at the local level reacted to citizens seeking a normative frame of accountability.

The sarpanch retaliates by filing a string of false cases against the activists. His contempt for them is also obvious in the slurs he casts against the woman present. It is a typical act of sarpanch machismo against the gentle but insistent demands of activists pursuing a vision of RTI.

I confess 19 years ago RTI must have sounded like a vision from Mars. It took Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) decades of struggle to make it part of the letter and even the spirit of the law.

Today when RTI is almost every day in its impact, the old cases come back like a bad dream. Oddly, the case was closed on June 30, 1998, and strangely reviewed in 2001. It is a clear case that the powerful neither forget nor forgive those who assert their democratic rights.

The sarpanch, out of his magic hat of corruption, produces a string of false witnesses and the case drags for two decades. The Damocles Sword of revenge and corruption is something activists have to be perpetually sensitive and alert to.

Verdict

The verdict is devastating, even ironic, returning to plague MKSS. The perpetrator of violence pretends to be victim and, worse, wins a verdict. The sentence has been suspended, pending an appeal by four activists in the court of Kisenganj. The case becomes a Kafkaesque fable of the travails of idealism and activism in India.

Power, especially local power, never seems to forget or forgive an act of resistance or affrontery. Worse as a resident group, it has the resources to fight battles for long periods of time, realising that goodness has its limits, boundaries beyond which it cannot go, norms of decency it has internalised and which it will uphold at all cost.

Nikhil Dey and Aruna Roy are exemplars of such a way of politics. They also represent the stamina and the quiet courage of the MKSS as it battles local forces of authoritarianism and corruption. Their track record is impressive but one can sense their desperation and despair as their struggle almost becomes a ceaseless epic.

I think it is time civil society across India responds to the implications of such a case.

First, one is astonished at the meek way in which media reports it as if the case was from yesterday’s newspaper. One needs publicity and storytelling for while the law unravels its viscous self, democracy at least asserts its faith and pride in the integrity of these activists and the remarkable life-giving institutions they have introduced.

(Courtesy: Mail Today)

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Tamil Nadu- Human Rights activists arrested when they went to meet jailed Maoists #WTFnews

Janakeeya Manushyavakasha Prasthanam (People’s Human Rights Movement) Kerala State president comrade C. P. Rasheed and activist Hariharasharma were arrested in Tamil Nadu as they went to meet jailed Maoists Shyna and Anoop

Janakeeya Manushyavakasha Prasthanam (People’s Human Rights Movement) Kerala State president comrade C. P. Rasheed and activist Hariharasharma were arrested in Tamil Nadu as they went to meet jailed Maoists Shyna and Anoop.

The Q Branch police of Tamil Nadu arrested them over a strange allegation  that they were trying to hand over a pen drive to the jailed Maoists. Its learned that both are likely to be remanded . Widespread protests have been raised over the arrest.

Few months back Adv. Murugan, a human rights activist and  lawyer appearing for Maoists had been arrested alleging that he was aiding Maoists. He is still in jail

In December a fact finding team comprising Advocates and journalists, who went to Bastar region in Central India were arrested and the allegation was the same, aiding the Maoists. They too are still in jail

India is fast turning out to be a graveyard of human rights. Its obviously an undeclared emergency as they went to meet jailed Maoists Shyna and Anoop. The Q Branch police of Tamil Nadu arrested them over a strange allegation  that they were trying to hand over a pen drive to the jailed Maoists. Its learned that both are likely to be remanded . Widespread protests have been raised over the arrest.

Few months back Adv. Murugan, a human rights activist and  lawyer appearing for Maoists had been arrested alleging that he was aiding Maoists. He is still in jail

In December a fact finding team comprising Advocates and journalists, who went to Bastar region in Central India were arrested and the allegation was the same, aiding the Maoists. They too are still in jail

India is fast turning out to be a graveyard of human rights. 

Its obviously an undeclared emergency

http://democracyandclasstruggle.blogspot.in/2017/06/janakeeya-manushyavakasha-prasthanam.html

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International Court of Justice stays Kulbhushan Jadhav hanging

Kulbhushan Jadhav’s death sentence triggered a sharp reaction from India which said that if he was executed, it would be “premeditated murder”

Written by Shubhajit Roy |

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Kulbhushan Jadhav, 46, was sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan for “espionage and subversive activities (File Photo)ACTING on an Indian petition, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) at The Hague has written to the Pakistan government to, effectively, put on hold the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav, the retired Indian Navy officer who was convicted of espionage charges by a Pakistan military court.

India on Tuesday had approached ICJ and asked it to intervene. It had accused Islamabad of violating the Vienna Convention on consular relations and not giving Jadhav his right to defend himself. This came exactly a month after Jadhav, 46, was sentenced to death by a military court in Pakistan for “espionage and subversive activities”, triggering a sharp reaction from India which said that if he was executed, it would be “premeditated murder”.

The government had also handed over a mercy petition to Islamabad by Jadhav’s mother.

In an order late tonight, ICJ President Ronny Abraham wrote to the Pakistan government: “In my capacity as President of the court, and exercising the powers conferred upon me under Article 74, paragraph 4 of the Rules of Court, I call upon your excellency’s government, pending the court’s decision on the request for the indication of provisional measures, to act in such a way as will enable any order the Court may make on this request to have its appropriate effects.”

Referring to this, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said: “I have spoken to the mother of Kulbhushan Jadhav and told her about the order of President, ICJ under Article 74 paragraph 4 of the Rules of Court.” She said that Harish Salve, senior lawyer, is representing India at the ICJ.

I have spoken to the mother of and told her about the order of President, ICJ under Art 74 Paragraph 4 of Rules of Court.

India approaching the ICJ is a tactical shift since it refrained from doing so on the Saurabh Kalia case saying that the ICJ had no jurisdiction over disputes between India and Pakistan.

According to the statement released by the ICJ, India has sought “relief by way of immediate suspension of the sentence of death awarded to the accused”, “relief by way of restitution in interregnum by declaring that the sentence of the military court arrived at, (is) in brazen defiance of the Vienna Convention rights under Article 36…and in defiance of elementary human rights of an accused which are also to be given effect as mandated under Article 14 of the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.”

 

It has also sought to restrain Pakistan from giving effect to the sentence awarded by the military court and directing it to take steps to annul the decision of the military court as may be available to it under the law in Pakistan.

“If Pakistan is unable to annul the decision, then this Court (should) declare the decision illegal being violative of international law and treaty rights and restrain Pakistan from acting in violation of the Vienna Convention and international law by giving effect to the sentence or the conviction in any manner, and directing it to release the convicted Indian National forthwith,” the application said.

New Delhi also contended that it was not informed of Jadhav’s detention until long after his arrest and that Pakistan failed to inform the accused of his rights. “It further alleges that, in violation of the Vienna Convention, the authorities of Pakistan are denying India its right of consular access to Jadhav, despite its repeated requests,” the ICJ said.

India also pointed out that it learned about the death sentence against Jadhav from a press release.

It then reiterated that Jadhav was “kidnapped from Iran, where he was carrying on business after retiring from the Indian Navy, and was then shown to have been arrested in Baluchistan” on March 3, 2016, and that the Indian authorities were notified of that arrest on March 25, 2016. It claims to have sought consular access to Jadhav on 25 March 2016 and repeatedly thereafter.

The application states that Jadhav “will be subjected to execution unless the Court indicates provisional measures directing the Government of Pakistan to take all measures necessary to ensure that he is not executed until the Court’s decision on the merits” of the case. India points out that Jadhav’s execution “would cause irreparable prejudice to the rights claimed by India”,” the ICJ said.

India further indicates, the ICJ said, that the protection of its rights is a matter of urgency as “without the provisional measures requested, Pakistan will execute Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav before the Court can consider the merits of India’s claims and India will forever be deprived of the opportunity to vindicate its rights”.

So, India requested that “pending final judgment in this case, the Court indicate that the Pakistan government will take all measures necessary to ensure that Kulbhushan Sudhir Jadhav is not executed,” the ICJ said. “Also, that Pakistan report to the Court the action it has taken and that no action is taken that might prejudice the rights of the Republic of India or Jadhav with respect of any decision the Court may render on the merits of the case”.

India has once taken a case to the ICJ — even though it has been a party to a total five cases, three of them with Pakistan, at the ICJ. In 1971, India filed a case against the jurisdiction of International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) to decide on Pakistan’s demand that India could not deny it overflight and landing rights. India had withdrawn Pakistan’s overflight rights after the January 1971 hijacking of an Indian Airlines flight to Lahore, and the gutting of the aircraft by the hijackers. The ICJ ruled against India, saying that ICAO had jurisdiction in this case.

Pakistan also took India to the ICJ in 1999, after India shot down an Atlantique patrol plane of the Pakistan Navy in Indian air space over the Rann of Kutch. India contested the case, and the ICJ upheld India’s position that the Court had no jurisdiction to entertain Pakistan’s claim.http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-moves-international-court-of-justice-to-stop-kulbhushan-jadhav-death-sentence-stay-pakistan-4648501/

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Need law in national interest to prevent custodial torture: SC

New Delhi, Apr 24 (PTI) Pointing out that there was no law on torture, the Supreme Court today said there was “extreme urgency” in national interest to frame of an effective law to prevent torture and inhuman treatment of individuals in custody.

“We do not have a law on torture. This is a matter of national interest,” a bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud said.

“Several issues are pending with the Law Commission. This is a matter which is required to be dealt with in extreme urgency. This is a matter of human rights,” the bench further said.

The remarks were made after Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar told the court that Law Commission was examining the issue.

The bench was hearing a PIL filed by senior advocate and former law minister Ashwani Kumar, who has sought directions to frame an effective law on the issue and empower agencies like NHRC with necessary enforcement capabilities and mechanisms to implement its orders and directions.

During the hearing, the solicitor general said that the government has referred the matter to the Law Commission which would come out with recommendations on the issue.

“We have said it categorically that we have sent it (the matter) to the Law Commission and they are considering it,” he said.

The SG also said that a Bill on the issue was in the Lok Sabha in 2010 and the erstwhile UPA-II government, in which Ashwini Kumar was himself a minister, could not get it passed.

To this, the bench said, “but it has to be non-partisan. This is an important issue.”

Ashwani Kumar, a senior Congress leader, contended that the Centre should have a comprehensive and stand-alone legislation against torture.

The solicitor general said, “we are not shying away. We are not saying that we will not do it”.

The Congress leader also said the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has said that they were in support of framing of such a law.

When the Centre said they were committed for framing of law on the issue, Ashwani Kumar said, “mere commitment is not enough. There has to be concrete steps”.

The bench fixed the matter for further hearing on May 5 after the solicitor general sought time to take instructions in the matter.

The government had earlier told the bench that a writ petitioner cannot seek a legislation through the court as the issue fell under the domain of the Executive and the Legislature.

The petitioner had told the apex court that despite being a signatory to the United Nations Convention Against Torture, 1997, India has not ratified the convention so far since ratification requires an enabling legislation to reflect the definition and punishment for torture, Kumar said.

The “absence of a standalone, comprehensive, and purposeful municipal legislation in India for prevention of custodial violence, and disinclination of the Executive and Legislature to enact a law in this regard has resulted in a disturbing void in law endangering the constitutional right of persons affected by custodial violence and torture,” the plea has said.

It sought a direction to the Centre to ensure an effective law and its enforcement to fulfil the constitutional promise of human dignity and prevention of custodial torture.

The petition has sought issuance of guidelines for timely and effective investigation of complaints of torture and custodial violence and directions be given to the government for rehabilitation and compensation for the victims.

It has further sought direction to the states and union territories to establish and ensure an independent mechanism for investigation into complaints of custodial torture and to take necessary steps

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Assam: Arrest of activists Soneswar Narah and Pranab Doley and brutal lathicharge on the protesters – #MediaBlacksOut

 

COMPLAINT TO NHRC 

 

The Perpetrators: Assam police, DFO, Bokakhat and Govind Kakoti, Traffic Inspector

Date of Incident: April 24 – 27, 2017

Place of Incident: Bokakhat Police Station

On April 19, 2017, members of JKSS held demonstration in front of the Bokakhat Agriculture Office (BAO) and Bokakhat Divisional Forest Officer (DFO). Their demands were – immediate release of State Disaster Relief Fund (SDRF) for the poor peasants who had lost their life and property during the 2016 flood, immediate loan waiver for the farmers, 100% reservation to the locals of Kaziranga National Park in the recruitment of 90 Assam Forest Protection Force (AFPF) personnel from the 5 adjoining districts, immediate compensation and job to the members of the victim family who have lost life due to animal depredation and excesses of forest department, disclosure of the clearance papers of highlands being constructed inside the core zone of Kaziranga. The demands were made by JKSS in a democratic assemblage.

On April 21, 2017, during the visit of Hon’ble Forest Minister, Ms. Pramila Rani Brahma, at the DFO Bokakhat, members of JKSS, Takam Mising Porin Kebang (TMPK) and Mising Mimag Kebang (MMK) were gathered there and put forwarded their demands to the Forest Minister in front of the press. The Forest Minister assured the members on 100% reservation for the posts of AFPF to the Kaziranga locales and that the advertisement for these posts would be published again with this criterion. The Bokakhat DFO gave a written assurance to the JKSS, TMPK and MMK members to handover the minutes of this meeting to them on April 24, 2017. Soneswar Narah and Pranab Doley were present in the meeting.

Around 2 PM on April 24, 2017, the members of JKSS, TMPK and MMK went to the office of the DFO to collect the resolution of the previous meeting. After much deliberation with the DFO, it was found that except one demand, other demands were not agreed by the ministry. In the meantime, Pranab Doley received a phone call regarding arrest of five innocent boys from the vicinity of Kaziranga National Park by the Bokakhat Police without the knowledge of the family members. He immediately went to the Bokakhat police station and found that family members were denied access to their children. Pranab Doley had some arguments with the police for not allowing the family members to meet with their children; the police dragged Pranab Doley into the lockup of the police station.

When Soneswar Narah went to ask about Pranab Doley, he was dragged too to the police lockup. Later on, it was found that Pranab Doley and Soneswar Narah were arrested by the Bokakhat Police based on a complaint given by Mr. Dharanidhar Bora, DFO, Bokakhat on April 19, 2017, alleging that Pranab Doley and Soneswar Narah along with 50- 60 Jeepal members forcefully entered the office premise of the Bokakhat DFO, put their banner and disrupted the functioning of government office and also threaten to burn the office. Bokakhat police had registered the case against Pranab Doley and Soneswar Narah on April 19, 2017. The case number is 82/2017 under sections 147/447/353/506 IPC.

The arrest was made without any warrant when Pranab Doley and Soneswar Narah themselves went to the police station to inquiry into another incident about the arrest of the five innocent boys. They were produced to the court of SDJM (M) Bokakhat, where their bail was rejected on the ground of illegally using force with the intention to destabilise the function of the government establishment and threaten the officials of the concerning office. They were sent to Golaghat Jail and continue to remain there.

Pranab Doley is a law student and his internal examination is starting from May 5, 2017. It is worth to mention here Pranab Doley and Soneswar Narah were present in the meeting with the Forest Minister on April 21, 2017. Both of them were arrested on April 24, 2017, when they themselves were visiting the police station in another case mentioned above.

The police registered the case against them on April 19, 2017. This itself is a clear evidence to show that DFO, Bokakhat and police misused the power to suppress the democratic voice. On April 27, 2017, around 200 protesters of JKSS, TMPK and MMK staged protest in front of the Bokakhat police station demanding immediate release of their leaders Pranab Doley and Soneswar Narah.

The protesters gathered in the police station at around 10.30 AM and were ordered by the police to leave the place within five minutes. When the protesters refused to leave the place, police snatched their banner and the traffic inspector Mr. Govind Kakoti started beating up the protesters. Parboti Khaklari, who was one of the protesters, mentioned that the police started beating up the protestors brutally.

Women protesters were beaten up by male police personnels. Only one woman police personnel was present when police started lathi charge. Govind kakoti, the traffic Inspector caught hold of one woman protestor from the back and tore her blouse. Three members of JKSS were arrested and later they were released. Appeal: HRDA most respectfully appeals that this Hon’ble Commission to immediately take necessary steps to ensure that:

 

• Order an immediate, thorough, transparent, effective and impartial investigation, by NHRC’s Investigation Wing, into the abovementioned incident of illegal and arbitrary arrest under fabricated charges on Soneswar Narah and Pranab Doley of Jeepal Krishak Shramik Sangha and brutal use of force on the peaceful protestors; • Take immediate action on the perpetrators, in this case the police personeel of Bokakhat police station, for arresting activists Soneswar Narah and Pranab Doley on fabricated charges, and brutal use of force on the peaceful protestors. Use all provisions of law to ensure that the defenders are not harassed and threatened by the police official or their associates in future;

• Immediately appoint a competent senior lawyer practicing on the criminal side in Assam to defend HRDs Soneswar Narah and Pranab Doley in all the criminal cases registered against him at state cost. The counsel so appointed should report to the Hon’ble Commission in periodic intervals as determined by the Hon’ble Commission on the development in the case;

• Urge that this complaint is not transferred to the State Human Rights Commission for disposal or routinely sent to the Commissioner of Police for investigation since this matter involves police officials in position;

• Ensures provision of reparation, compensation, apology to Soneswar Narah and Pranab Doley for the psychological sufferings they are undergoing; • Take steps to withdraw the cases filed on Soneswar Narah and Pranab Doley;

• Put an end to all acts of attack and harassment against all human rights defenders in Assam especially in Kaziranga area to ensure that in all circumstances they carry out their activities without any hindrances;

• More generally, ensure in all circumstances the respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in accordance with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and with international human rights instruments ratified by India is strictly adhered to in the state of Assam.

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SC describes incarceration of Kashmiri man for over 16 years as ‘shame’

What A Shame, No Evidence In 10 Of 11 Cases: CJI

  A bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud ordered for release of Gulzar Ahmad Wani from November 1, 2017 on bail if the prosecution failed to record evidence of material witnesses in the Sabarmati Express train blast case lodged against him Uttar Pradesh's Barabanki district.

Gulzar Ahmed Wani of Srinagar has been in jail for nearly 16 years since his arrest in July 2001 on charges of involvement in a series of terror attacks. He has since been acquitted in 10 of the 11cases brought against him by UP and Delhi police. His co-accused have been granted bail in the remaining one too, but Wani continues to be behind bars as prosecution in Uttar Pradesh has not finished examining even half of the 96 witnesses.Wani’s plight due to the snail pace of trial drew outrage from the top court on Tuesday .“What a shame! He has been acquitted in 10 out of 11serious cases slapped on him. No cred ible evidence has been found against him by the trial court in all these cases. The problem with police is that they keep persons in jail and do not produce evidence against them in court,“ said a bench of Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice D Y Chandrachud.

In the last case where Wani is being tried, the bench took the unprecedented step of granting him bail with effect from a future date. “If the prosecution does not complete examination of witnesses by October 31, Wani will be released on bail on November 1, 2017 on the terms and conditions to be imposed by the trial court,“ it ordered. Only one case–Sabarmati Express train blast of 2000–is pending against him but his co-accused have been granted bail, argued Wani’s counsel Mohd Irshad Hanif.

Wani was acquitted in the 10th case–the Agra blast case of 2000–in April last year.

CJI Khehar said: “What you say may be correct. But explain why does a person require half-a-dozen aliases?
You have six of them.“

In the cause list of the Supreme Court, Wani is also shown as Irshad, Ashraf and Abdul Hamid.

Advocate Hanif explained: “He was a bright student at Aligarh Muslim University and was pursuing PhD course in Arabic after completing his postgraduation when he was arrested. All these aliases have been given to him by police.“

Wani’s plight made the CJI-headed bench turn the spotlight on UP police counsel P N Misra, who said Wani had not been in jail for the last 16 years for the Sabarmati Express blast case but for other cases.

The bench said: “In this case (Sabarmati Express blast), in 2015, the prosecu tion had examined six of the 96 witnesses, by September last year you had examined 20 witnesses, and till now you have completed examination of 29 witnesses. The Supreme Court had requested the trial court in September last year to complete trial in six months. The problem is you keep him in jail and yet don’t produce evidence in court.“

When Hanif reiterated that Wani, who was 28 years old at the time of his arrest and now turned 44, should be granted bail as the co-accused in the case had got relief, the bench ordered: “We consider it just and proper that one last opportunity be given to the prosecution to examine material witnesses by October 31, 2017. Whether or not the examination is complete, Wani shall be released on bail on November 1, 2017, on such grounds as may be considered appropriate by the trial court.“

Wani was arrested in 2001 by the Delhi Police and on the basis of alleged confessional statements given by him and other accused under Section 161 of CrPc (inadmissible as evidence in court), he was made accused in the serial blasts that rocked several towns and trains in UP on the eve of Independence Day in 2000.

 http://epaperbeta.timesofindia.com/index.aspx?eid=31804&dt=20170426

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