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Archives for : Prison

Rejected Afzal Guru’s mercy plea on government’s advice: Pranab Mukherjee

Former president Pranab Mukherjee, who is against the continuation of the death sentence, also insisted that it was for lawmakers to amend the law and abolish capital punishment, which is in the Indian Penal Code.

Speaking about Kashmir, former President Pranab Mukherjee said the situation “definitely requires undivided attention” of all those concerned.
Speaking about Kashmir, former President Pranab Mukherjee said the situation “definitely requires undivided attention” of all those concerned.(PTI File Photo)

Former president Pranab Mukherjee said on Friday he rejected Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru’s mercy petition on advice from the government as he could not have assumed the role of the court which had already considered the death sentence at various stages.

Mukherjee, who is against the continuation of the death sentence, also insisted that it was for lawmakers to amend the law and abolish capital punishment, which is in the Indian Penal Code. During his tenure from 2012 to 2017, Mukherjee rejected 30 mercy pleas.

“Before a mercy petition comes to the President, it passes through various stages and different actions had already been taken. The President goes by the advice of the government,” he told HT in an interview.

“If the government advises rejection of the mercy petition, the President naturally will go by that. The President cannot assume the role of the court which had already considered the death sentence at various stages.”

A trial court sentenced Afzal, then studying medicine, to death on December 18, 2002, for his role in the terror attack on Parliament on December 13, 2001.

The Delhi high court later confirmed the sentence, which was upheld by the Supreme Court in 2004. The sentence was to be carried out on October 20, 2006 in Delhi’s Tihar Jail, but a mercy petition by the family to the President stayed it. Guru was finally hanged in Tihar Jail on February 9, 2013 after Mukherjee rejected his mercy petition on February 3 that year.

“I did not believe in keeping the files without taking any action. I disposed them off and accepted the government’s recommendations to reject mercy petitions except in 1 or 2 cases where I discussed with the then home minister and both of us agreed on commuting the death sentence. Rest all, I confirmed,” he said.

Speaking about Kashmir, he said the situation “definitely requires undivided attention” of all those concerned. “We were able to manage the situation during UPA-I and UPA-II. Similarly, this government is also making efforts. Let us see how the situation develops and how problems are resolved.”

“More than often the secessionist elements take advantage by constantly launching agitations but we shall have to resolve the issue with the cooperation of the people and the government in Jammu and Kashmir,” he added.

Asked about the revival of Congress, he said the party has the “capacity to face the situation, tackle adversities and come out with ideas and principles”.

“…whenever there is crisis the party had the capacity to overcome that. I have no doubt that Rahul Gandhi and other Congress leaders and workers will be able to overcome the crisis and Congress will play its own role.”

http://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/rejected-afzal-guru-s-mercy-plea-on-government-s-advice-pranab-mukherjee/story-8Y6pgE86jbtQz4kk3OoKPL.html

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SC shocked over non-release of undertrials  

The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed shock over non-release of a large number of undertrial prisoners languishing in Indian prisons in complete violation of fundamental right to protection of life and personal liberty and asked several states to explain.
A division bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta expressed concern as to why undertrials were not released by the states despite the apex court’s earlier direction to release them, or even after bail to them or completion of their sentences.
According to the recommendations made in a report filed by the National Legal Services Authority of India (NALSA) in the court, none of the undertrials who should have been granted bail and released on the basis of illness and mental ill-health have been released.
The bench asked Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Madhya Pradesh to file affidavits on the number undertrial prisoners, category-wise, languishing in their prisons and why they were not released.
“We will be compelled to seek the personal presence of Chief Secretaries of these three states if the affidavits are not filed by October 26,” said the bench while posting the matter for October 31.
The court referred the NALSA report to Attorney General K.K. Venugopal and asked: “What action the government of India is taking? We have issued necessary direction for the release. It seems the Centre is not taking any steps.”
“It is a shocking state of affair,” it added.
The Attorney General told the bench that the Centre has been issuing advisories to the states from time to time to release such persons but they were not doing so.
“We (Centre) can only issue an advisory; we have no power under the Constitution to issue directions to the states. It is for the Supreme Court to direct the states to release the undertrial prisoners, as recommended by the undertrial committee of NALSA,” he added.
To this, the bench said: “Your submission is very strange. If you think your advisory is not being implemented, then stop issuing any advisory because they are being ignored by the states.
“This is not the way the Centre should behave. When people are languishing in jail and their rights under Article 21 of the Constitution are being violated, you say the Centre will do nothing.”
Venugopal said the court should summon the state Chief Secretaries and call for reports to indicate why undertrials were not released despite recommendations.
The bench is hearing a 2013 public interest litigation on inhuman conditions prevailing in 1,382 prisons across the country.
Amicus curiae Gaurav Agrawal asked the state government what steps they were taking regarding overcrowding in jails, strengthening and training of prison staff, deaths of jail inmates, and legal aid to prisoners.

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Why is RSS-BJP scared of KRISHAK MUKTI SANGRAM SAMITI (KMSS) and Akhil Gogoi ?

I’m gonna tell you fascists, You may be surprised

The people in this world, Are getting organized

You’re bound to lose, You fascists bound to lose!!!

Akhil Gogoi, leader of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS), has been booked under the National Security Act (NSA) on 25 September 2017. A total of 122 cases against him have been clubbed together under the NSA including charges like “giving protection to illegal foreigners in Kaziranga National Park,” “having links with ULFA and the Maoists,” “instigating people to take up arms against the government” during his address in a Mass Rally on 12th September at Moran, etc. Gogoi was arrested on fabricated charges of sedition on 13 September and is currently lodged in Dibrugarh jail in Assam. He has been arrested for old cases registered in Guwahati, Jhaklabanda, Lakhimpur, Dhemaji, Golaghat, etc. None of the cases are new but have been included to accuse him of instigating against the State for some time.

Last year, Gogoi was arrested and incarcerated in various jails for 78 days since 2 October for protesting against forceful evictions and police killings of citizens in Kaziranga as well as raising his voice against the communally motivated Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016. The state government booked him with serious charges – criminal conspiracy, rioting, being armed with deadly weapons, attempt to murder, and resorting to assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of duty. In addition, he had also been sentenced to prison in connection to cases registered against him in 2015, 2013 and 2006.

Why is Akhil Gogoi being repeatedly incarcerated by the current government? Why is NSA being slapped on him? Why is the BJP so afraid of Akhil Gogoi and KMSS, the largest and left-leaning social movement in Assam in the twenty first century? What is the threat that Akhil Gogoi is posing to the Indian State?

We have been observing that the current regime is not only afraid of social activists trying to raise voices against communalism and the injustice and oppression meted out to people by the BJP–RSS, but is ruthlessly misusing state apparatuses to silence its critics and oppositions. If one goes through this maze of arrests, re-arrests, one can easily identify the malafide and nefarious design of the current BJP-RSS regime to catch Akhil Gogoi in loop of extended prison terms so as to stifle any voices of dissent and difference. It is not that Akhil Gogoi has directed all his energies towards resisting the anti-people policies and actions of this government. He was a staunch critic of the previous Congress government as well. The erstwhile Tarun Gogoi led Congress government in Assam had also slammed cases against him. But, it seems that there is a difference between the arrests then and now. The new government is working like a fascist one. The Supreme Court had observed in a recent verdict that opposition to the policies of the government cannot be treated as an act of treason. But, the process of arresting Akhil and the bid to lengthen his jail term indicate that the government is treating opposition to its policies as acts of treason.

The BJP–RSS are well aware with the mass support KMSS have and their capacity to mobilise masses. It seems the BJP government is very afraid of Akhil Gogoi and other such mass leaders in Assam and rest of India who oppose and call out on the government’s nefarious designs against people. Therefore, this regime has left no stone unturned to stop Akhil and KMSS. As a result, Akhil is being repeatedly arrested and imprisoned. NSA becomes a handy tool for the government to silence any dissent, criticism and opposition to itself. The use of NSA is a gross travesty of justice, and a blatant political misuse of police and criminal justice system by the BJP Government in Assam to muzzle voices of dissent. What threatens it is packaged as a threat to the government. Typical of a fascistic regime, it collapses the distinction between country, nation and the government and the State. This current regime, which has no respect for constitutional processes and behaves in quite the opposite direction of democratic ideals and values, is hell bent on creating a no country for those who oppose or even criticise it. While it continuously absolves all those elements, including ITSELF, which actually threaten the society and the country, it unleashes all its power towards sections and movements in the country which uphold people’s rights and equality. It is in fact the BJP–RSS who are the real threats to national security, and not activists like Akhil Gogoi.

If a person like Akhil Gogoi and the likes of him are conveniently booked under NSA, it is not very distant future when everyone else ‘harbouring’ such ideas may all be behind bars and moving in a loop from one case to another. Unknown to most of the country he may be, his incarceration is evident of a rule that potentially subsumes each one of us. 

Statement issued by – Delhi Action Committee for Assam

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#GORKHALAND DEMAND: Three GJM Leaders Arrested From Gurugram

from facabook

In a most undemocratic manner a team of CID officers from West Bengal have arrested three senior Gorkha Janmukti Morcha (GJM) leaders from Gurgaon; Haryana on 22ndSeptember 2017 in connection with Bhanu Bhavan (Darjeeling) violence case. Mr. Dhan Kumar Pradhan, Mr. Tilak Chandra Roka and Mr. PT Ola have been arrested by the CID. All those who have been arrested had met Home Minister Mr. Rajnath Singh in Delhi on 20th September 2017. They have been arrested from sector 56 of Gurgaon in Haryana. As reported that they brought to Kolkata on transit remand.

 

Mr. Chandra Roka is the Chief Advisor of planters Associations, while Mr. DK Pradhan is the newly elected Municipal Chairman of Darjeeling Municipality. Mr. Ola is the former Gorkhaland Territorial Administration Sabhasad from Ghoom-Jorebunglow.

 

A five member delegation of GJM as well as Mr. SS Ahluwalia, MP Darjeeling, had met Mr. Rajnath Singh recently. Along with Mr. Roshan Giri and Mr. Swaraj Thapa, these three leaders too were a part of the team. During the meeting, the GJM delegation had raised the issue of Gorkhaland and the need for a tripartite dialogue to resolve the long pending demands of the Gorkhaland. The members had also sought immediate central intervention to end the indefinite strike.

 

However, as per CID sources, they had procured an arrest warrant against them. A warrant was issued against GJM chief Mr. Bimal Gurung, his wife Ms. Asha Gurung and six other party leaders including these three senior leaders in connection with the Bhanu Bhawan case, which was registered at Sadar police station of Darjeeling after GJM supporters clashed with police outside the government office on 9th June 2017.

 

Reports says that the GJM leaders have been arrested under sections 147-149 (rioting with arms and unlawful assembly), 153-153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 323-326 (voluntarily causing grievous hurt), 332-353 (Assault or criminal force to deter public servant), 436 (mischief by fire and explosive substance), 506 (criminal intimidation), 120B (criminal conspiracy) and a few other sections of the Indian Penal Code. Sections of the West Bengal Maintenance of Public Order Act (WBMPO) and Prevention of Damage to Public Property Act (PDPP) were also imposed.

 

The GJM recently saw a breach in its ranks after Mr. Binay Tamang, the party’s then chief coordinator participated in talks with Chief ministerMamata Banerjee. He was subsequently expelled by Mr. Bimal Gurung.

 

MASUM issuing this statement to express its serious concern regarding the continuity of onslaughts on the protests by the agitating Gorkhaland separate state supporters with heavy hands of West Bengal Government’s machinery denouncing the democratic and human rights doctrine. The gruesome killings at Darjeeling hills by the men in uniform from different hues and infringement of Constitutional rights of the populace is another major concern of MASUM.  The hill of Darjeeling is under seize of Central Forces as well as the West Bengal provincial police for more than three months. On the other hand the government blocked internet services on 17th June 2017 and ban continues till date; which is clear violation of Article 19 of Indian Constitution.

Demand for Gorkhaland separate state is a political demand and having sanctity within the international conventions like Article 1 of International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights as well as our domestic constitutionality under Article 3 of Indian Constitution; thus the impasse should be solved through dialogue. The country experienced several agitations for separate statehood from its independence to till date and in almost all such instances the then provincial governments and union government tried to curb those movements by brute force but later gave in before the popular demand and new provinces have been demarcated within democratic set up.

 

MASUM wishes that sobriety will prevail over the West Bengal government and they will initiate a dialogue with the agitating faction of Gorkhaland movement without imposing any conditions and settle the issue under democratic and constitutional ambit of the country.

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India – Jail Reforms- SC Issues Slew Of Directions

Jail Reforms- SC Issues Slew Of Directions: Directs Compensation To Next Kin In Custodial Deaths , Medical Assistance, Phone & Video Conferencing With Family For Prisoners [Read Judgment]

The Supreme Court, on Friday, agonized over the expanding collection of custodial or unnatural deaths within the prisons throughout India and issued a slew of instructions to curb them.

“…we do hope that the highlighting of this issue will bring about awareness in the mind and heart of the powers that be and consequential reforms in prisons which may ultimately reduce, if not eliminate, the number of unnatural deaths in prisons and also improve the conditions of prisoners all over the country,” the Bench comprising Justice M.B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta noticed.

The Court took under consideration the knowledge on unnatural deaths in prisons to be had from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) site and the knowledge supplied by means of National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on suicide in prisons.

Highlighting a number of such details and statistics to be had handy, the Court highlighted the desire for an overhaul, with a view to ameliorate the prerequisites of prisoners around the nation and thereby scale back the collection of unnatural deaths.

“It is time for the State to go beyond projections through circulars and advisories and actually come to grips with reality as it exists in a very large number of prisons. What is practiced in our prisons is the theory of retribution and deterrence and the ground situation emphasizes this, while our criminal justice system believes in reformation and rehabilitation and that is why handcuffing and solitary confinement are prohibited. It is this ‘rejection’ of the philosophy of our criminal justice system that leads to violence in prisons and eventually unnatural deaths,” the Court noticed. It then issued the next instructions:

Compensation

  • The Secretary General of this Court will transmit a replica of this choice to the Registrar General of each High Court inside one week with a request to the Registrar General to position it ahead of the Chief Justice of the High Court. We request the Chief Justice of the High Court to sign up a suo motu public hobby petition to be able to figuring out the following of relations of the prisoners who’ve admittedly died an unnatural demise as printed by means of the NCRB all the way through the duration between 2012 and 2015 or even thereafter, and award appropriate repayment, except good enough repayment has already been awarded.

Awareness, sensitization and counselling

  • The Union of India in the course of the Ministry of Home Affairs will be certain that stream inside one month and in any match by means of 31st October, 2017 of (i) the Model Prison Manual, (ii) the monograph ready by means of the NHRC entitled “Suicide in Prison – prevention strategy and implication from human rights and legal points of view”, (iii) the communications despatched by means of the NHRC referred to above, (iv) the compendium of advisories issued by means of the Ministry of Home Affairs to the State Governments, (v) the Nelson Mandela Rules and (vi) the Guidelines on Investigating Deaths in Custody issued by means of the International Committee of the Red Cross to the Director General or Inspector General of Police (because the case is also) in control of prisons in each State and Union Territory. All efforts will have to be made, as steered by means of the NHRC and others, to cut back and perhaps get rid of unnatural deaths in prisons and to record every demise in prisons – each herbal and unnatural.
  • The Union of India in the course of the Ministry of Home Affairs will direct the NCRB to give an explanation for and explain the glory between unnatural and herbal deaths in prisons as indicated at the site of the NCRB and in its Annual Reports and in addition give an explanation for the sub-categorization ‘others’ inside the class of unnatural deaths. The NCRB will have to even be required to subcategorize herbal deaths. The sub-categorization and rationalization will have to be complied with by means of 31st October, 2017.
  • The State Governments will have to, together with the State Legal Services Authority (SLSA), the National and State Police Academy and the Bureau of Police Research and Development behavior coaching and sensitization programmes for senior police officers of all prisons on their purposes, tasks and tasks as additionally the rights and tasks of prisoners. A replica of this order be despatched by means of the Registry of this Court to the Member-Secretary of every SLSA to follow-up and make sure compliance.
  • The necessity of getting counselors and beef up individuals in prisons can’t be over-emphasized. Their products and services can be used to recommend and recommendation prisoners who could be dealing with some disaster scenario or would possibly have some violent or suicidal dispositions. The State Governments are directed to nominate counselors and beef up individuals for counselling prisoners, specifically first-time offenders. In this regard, the products and services of identified NGOs will also be taken and inspired.

Visitation rights

  • While visits to jail by means of the circle of relatives of a prisoner will have to be inspired, it could be profitable to believe extending the time or frequency of conferences and in addition discover the potential for the usage of telephones and video conferencing for communications now not simplest between a prisoner and members of the family of that prisoner, but in addition between a prisoner and the legal professional, whether or not appointed in the course of the State Legal Services Authority or differently.
  • The State Legal Services Authorities (SLSAs) will have to urgently behavior a find out about at the traces carried out by means of the Bihar State Legal Services Authority in Bihar and the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative in Rajasthan in appreciate of the entire prerequisites in prisons within the State and the amenities to be had. The find out about will have to additionally come with a efficiency audit of the prisons, as has been completed by means of the CAG. The SLSAs will have to additionally assess the impact and have an effect on of quite a lot of schemes framed by means of NALSA when it comes to prisoners. We request the Chief Justice of each High Court, within the capability of Patron-in-Chief of the State Legal Services Authority, to absorb this initiative and, if essential, arrange a Committee headed ideally by means of the Executive Chairperson of the State Legal Services Authority to put into effect the instructions given above.
  • Providing scientific help and amenities to inmates in prisons wishes no reaffirmation. The proper to well being is unquestionably a human proper and all State Governments will have to be aware of making this a truth for all, together with prisoners. The studies in Karnataka, West Bengal and Delhi to the impact that scientific amenities in prisons don’t meet minimal requirements of care is a sign that the human proper to well being isn’t given good enough significance in prisons and that can also be one of the crucial reasons of unnatural deaths in prisons. The State Governments are directed to check the supply of scientific help to prisoners and take remedial steps anyplace essential.
  • The charter of a Board of Visitors which incorporates non-official guests is of substantial significance in order that eminent individuals of society can take part in starting up reforms in prisons and within the rehabilitation of prisoners. Merely converting the nomenclature of prisons to ‘Correction Homes’ won’t get to the bottom of the issue. Some proactive steps are required to be taken by means of eminent individuals of society who will have to be integrated within the Board of Visitors. The State Governments are directed to represent a suitable Board of Visitors when it comes to Chapter XXIX of the Model Prison Manual indicating their tasks and tasks. This workout will have to be finished by means of 30th November, 2017.

Open Jails

  • The recommendation given by means of the realized Amicus of encouraging the status quo of ‘open jails’ or ‘open prisons’ is for sure price taking into consideration. It used to be dropped at our understand that the experiment in Shimla (Himachal Pradesh) and the semi-open jail in Delhi are extraordinarily a success and wish to be moderately studied. Perhaps there could be similarly a success experiments performed in different States as neatly and, if this is the case, they require to be documented, studied and emulated.

Custodial demise of youngsters

  • The Ministry of Women & Child Development of the Government of India which is desirous about the implementation of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 is directed to speak about with the involved officials of the State Governments and formulate procedures for tabulating the collection of kids (if any) that suffer an unnatural demise in kid care establishments the place they’re saved in custody both as a result of they’re in battle with regulation or as a result of they want care and coverage. Necessary steps will have to be taken on this regard by means of 31st December, 2017.
  • http://mesotheliomalawsuitfunding.com/jail-reforms-sc-issues-slew-of-directions-directs-compensation-to-next-kin-in-custodial-deaths-medical-assistance-phone-video-conferencing-with-family-for-prisoners-read-judgment/

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Assam – RTI leader Akhil Gogoi arrested on sedition charges, activists demand immediate release

He is believed to have said that people from the state would take up arms if Hindu migrants from Bangladesh were ‘forced upon Assam’.

The Assam Police arrested anti-corruption campaigner and Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi on charges of sedition on Wednesday. He was arrested from Golaghat city for his speech about an armed struggle in Assam’s Moran town on Tuesday. He has also been accused of spreading religious animosity, police said.

During his speech, Gogoi is believed to have said that if Hindu migrants from Bangladesh were forced upon Assam, people from the state would be forced to take up arms. In 2016, the Union government proposed to amend the Citizenship Act to grant citizenship to people without valid documents belonging to minority communities from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Pakistan after six years of residence in India.

Former United Liberation Front of Assam militant Jiten Dutta was also present during the event at Moran.

Gogoi has been a vocal critic of the Bharatiya Janata Party-led state government.

Accusations against the state government

During the past few weeks, Gogoi has addressed a number of public gatherings, where he accused the ruling BJP of spreading the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh’s agenda in the state. He rebuked the state’s decision to name colleges in the state after former Jan Sangh leader Deendayal Upadhyaya.

Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti President Bhascojyoti Saikia said a team of police officials accompanied by paramilitary forces apprehended Gogoi from the organisation’s Golaghat office on Wednesday evening. Gogoi had arrived there after a public meeting in Jorhat district. Gogoi, who was dressed in a lungi and a vest, was not allowed to get dressed by the team, claimed Saikia.

Sections 153, 153 A, 120 B, 121, 124 A and 109 of the Indian Penal Code have been applied, said Dibrugarh Superintendent of Police Gautam Borah, adding that that police acted on its own.

Gogoi has been leading an agitation against the government’s handling of the farming crisis in Assam. He has also been fighting against the building of dams, land mafia and corruption in public life, The Wire reported. In 2012, he collaborated with Anna Hazare who supported his organisation’s blockading of equipment meant for the construction of the Subansiri Lower Dam.

KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi arrested for allegedly instigate people to take up arms- Assam Police

 

 

 

 

NAPM condemns arrest of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti leader Akhil Gogoi on sedition charges

Demands immediate unconditional release 

New Delhi | September 15, 2017: Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) for more than a decade has fought for the rights of the people and their sovereign control over land, water and forests. It has exposed corruption in PDS and other government welfare schemes and have remained committed to people’s rights. It is a mass organisation that is made up of farmers, workers and students spread across various districts of Assam and is part of various national organisations and networks including National Alliance of People’s Movements, All India Kisan Coordination Committee, Bhumi Adhikar Andolan, Sangharsh and many others. Their democratic movement has received support from across the country.

The role of KMSS in raising issues of people’s right to their lands has been central, whether in opposing the Lower Subansiri Hydro Power Project and demanding the protection of people’s right to their livelihood, or in opposing the forcible eviction of cultivators from the Kaziranga National Park that took place under extremely violent and coercive conditions, has been central and critical in giving people the strength to oppose powerful forces that seek to deprive them of what is rightfully theirs. KMSS has had a particularly important role in exposing the resource grab currently taking place in Assam, with the full support and backing of the state government and its institutions, and in defending the rights of the indigenous and cultivating population of the region.

It is their growing popularity and acceptance across various classes and sections in Assam that this BJP government and earlier Congress government has always feared. Akhil Gogoi and KMSS activists have faced repression over years and this is not the first time they have been targeted for posing a sharp critique of the undemocratic policies of the state. Repeated arrests and muzzling of dissent has been a consistent strategy whether by the previous government, or the current government. KMSS has opposed the saffronisation move of the BJP government – in its attempt to name 21 government colleges after RSS ideologue Deen Dayal Upadhyay, or in its attempt to amend the Citizenship Act that uses a communal basis to grant citizenship to refugees of one religion and not another. In opposing this polarising and communal politics of the ruling BJP government, KMSS has worked hard to bring together secular and progressive forces and that is the main reason why they are miffed and have arrested Akhil once again on fabricated charges.

NAPM stands in solidarity with Akhil Gogoi and KMSS in their struggle to secure people’s rights and protect their livelihood. We condemn this brazen attack on the people’s movements by the Assam government and demand immediate release of Akhil Gogoi and withdraw all false charges.

************************************************************************************ 

Medha PatkarNarmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)

Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh, Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), National Campaign for People’s Right to Information and NAPM

Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan, and NAPM, Odisha

P.Chennaiah, Andhra Pradesh Vyavasaya Vruthidarula Union-APVVU and National Centre For Labour and NAPM (Andhra Pradesh)

Ramakrishnam Raju, United Forum for RTI and NAPM (Andhra Pradesh)

Binayak Sen and Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL)

Gabriele Dietrich, Penn Urimay Iyakkam, Madurai and NAPM (Tamilnadu)

Geetha Ramakrishnan, Unorganised Sector Workers Federation, NAPM, (Tamilnadu)

Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party and NAPM, Uttar Pradesh

Sister Celia, Domestic Workers Union, and NAPM, Karnataka

Maj Gen (Retd) S. G. Vombatkere, Mysuru, NAPM, Karnataka

Arundhati Dhuru, Manesh Gupta, NAPM, Uttar Pradesh

Vilayodi Venugopal, CR Neelakandan and Prof. Kusumam NAPM, Kerala

Anand Mazgaonkar and Krishnakant, Paryavaran Suraksh Samiti, NAPM Gujarat

Vimal Bhai, Matu Jansangathan, NAPM, Uttarakhand

Dayamani Barla, Aadivasi-Moolnivasi Astivtva Raksha Samiti, NAPM Jharkhand

Dr. Sunilam and Adv. Aradhna Bhargava, Kisan Sangharsh Samiti, and NAPM, Madhya Pradesh

Samar Bagchi and Amitava Mitra, NAPM West Bengal

Suniti SR, Suhas Kolhekar, and Prasad Bagwe, NAPM Maharashtra

Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan

Gautam Bandopadhyay, NAPM, Chhattisgarh

Anjali Bharadwaj, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information and NAPM

Kaladas Dahariya, RELAA, Chhatisgarh

Meera Sanghamitra, NAPM Telangana-Andhra Pradesh

Bhupender Singh Rawat, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, NAPM, Delhi

Faisal Khan, Khudai Khidmatgar, NAPM Haryana

J S Walia, NAPM Haryana

Lingraj Azad, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, and NAPM, Odisha

Guruwant Singh, NAPM Punjab

Richa Singh, Sangatin Kisan Mazdoor Sangathan, NAPM Uttar Pradesh

Arul Doss, NAPM (Tamilnadu)

Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand

Sister Dorothy, NAPM Bihar

Kamayani Swami and Ashish Ranjan, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan, and NAPM Bihar
Mahendra Yadav, Kosi Navnirman Manch, NAPM Bihar

Bilal Khan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Mumbai and NAPM

Rajendra Ravi, Nanhu Prasad, Madhuresh Kumar, Sunita Rani, Amit Kumar, Himshi Singh, Uma, NAPM, Delhi

Aaquib Zabed Mazumder, Rajesh Serupally, NAPM, Telangana – Andhra Pradesh


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Lawyer Who Worked for Egypt’s Disappeared Himself Vanishes #WTFnews

coutesy- https://twitter.com/orhamilton

By DECLAN WALSH

CAIRO — For years Ebrahim Metwally Hegazy, an Egyptian human rights lawyer, documented the plight of Egyptians who vanished into the hidden recesses of his country’s powerful security apparatus.

Mr. Hegazy had a personal stake in the issue: one of his sons disappeared at an Islamist rally in central Cairo in 2013 and has never been found.

Then this week Mr. Hegazy himself suddenly disappeared without a trace and for a brief time joined the ranks of the people he has represented.

Human rights activists have frequently been harassed by the Egyptian authorities, and Human Rights Watch issued a report just last week that accused the police and security forces of torture and other abuses.

Mr. Hegazy, 53, went to Cairo’s international airport on Sunday to catch a flight to Geneva, where he was scheduled to testify before the United Nations working group on enforced or involuntary disappearances, which investigates such cases.

Hours later one of Mr. Hegazy’s friends received a message, sent from Mr. Hegazy’s phone, saying he was about to take off.

But Mr. Hegazy never landed in Geneva.

He turned up two days later when another lawyer, having heard of Mr. Hegazy’s disappearance, saw him at the office of a state prosecutor in Cairo. Mr. Hegazy had not been allowed to see a lawyer or make a phone call.

On Wednesday, the prosecutor said Mr. Hegazy was being detained for 15 days on charges of disseminating fake news and running an illegal organization. He is being held at the maximum-security wing of the Tora prison outside Cairo.

The harassment of human rights activists is common in Cairo, but Mr. Hegazy’s case comes at a delicate moment for President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, whose notoriously poor human rights record has come under intensified international scrutiny of late and even earned him a rare punishment from the United States.

The State Department said last month that it was cutting or suspending $300 million in annual aid to Egypt, partly in reaction to a harsh law, signed by Mr. Sisi in May, that makes it impossible for some civil rights groups to operate in the country.

The Egyptian authorities reacted furiously last week to the Human Rights Watch report, based on interviews with 19 former detainees, that accused Egypt’s police and security forces of committing torture and other gross abuses.

Egypt blocked access to the Human Rights Watch website, adding it to a list of more than 400 websites banned in the country since June.

Officials and pro-government media outlets attacked Human Rights Watch, which responded by making copies of the report available via websites that the Egyptian government has not blocked.

Mr. Hegazy’s case has greater resonance for its ties to the case of Giulio Regeni, an Italian student whose battered body was found in Cairo in February 2016, nine days after he disappeared, leading to a diplomatic furor with Italy that still dominates relations between the countries.

Mr. Hegazy helped to investigate the circumstances of Mr. Regeni’s death, said Mohamed Lotfy, executive director of the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms, which is representing the Regeni family in Egypt.

Mr. Hegazy had intended to testify about the case before the United Nations panel in Geneva, he said.

The Regeni case, which has become a news media sensation in Italy, is back in the headlines as Italy and Egypt make tentative efforts to repair relations after a bruising period. Italy’s ambassador to Egypt, Giampaolo Cantini, arrived in Cairo on Wednesday after an absence of nearly 18 months.

Italy withdrew its ambassador to Egypt in April 2016 in protest at what Italian officials called Egyptian obstruction of the Regeni murder investigation. Italian investigators, and some senior American officials, believe members of the Egyptian security forces tortured and killed Mr. Regeni.

Mr. Regeni’s parents criticized Italy’s decision to send the ambassador back to Cairo, saying the government had surrendered its main leverage against Mr. Sisi. Italian officials countered that they need a full diplomatic presence in Cairo to help solve the case.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Paolo Gentiloni of Italy said the Regeni investigation remained “a duty of the state.”

Many Egyptians who have taken up the Regeni case — as well as the cases of hundreds of Egyptians who have also disappeared in recent years — have suffered harassment or been otherwise silenced.

Mr. Hegazy became active in July 2013 after his son, Amr, disappeared during the military’s ouster of the Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood, which paved the way for Mr. Sisi to come to power.

As he searched for his son, Mr. Hegazy founded the Association of the Families of the Disappeared, a prominent campaigning group that has taken legal action on behalf of many people who have vanished.

Such work is increasingly perilous in Egypt, and many journalists, lawyers and civil society activists have been detained at Egypt’s airports or prevented from traveling abroad.

Mr. Lotfy said he warned Mr. Hegazy last week against going to Switzerland, saying that the authorities might not let him onto the flight.

“He wouldn’t listen,” Mr. Lotfy said. “He told me ‘I’ve got nothing to lose. They’ve already got my son.’ ”

https://mobile.nytimes.com/2017/09/13/world/middleeast/egypt-lawyer-disappeared.html?emc=edit_tnt_20170914&nlid=50706

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Let us intensify our protests: Thirumurugan Gandhi from Puzhal Prison

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Thirumurugan Gandhi, the convenor of ‘May 17 Movement‘. May 17 Movement is a prominent Tamil National Civil rights activist group fighting for the rights of Tamils in particular Eelam Tamils. It was formed in May 2009 during the war in Sri Lanka when thousands of Tamils were killed.I’May 17 Movement’ hold sa candlelight march at Marina beach every year during the last week of May., peacefully with volunteers carrying candles and slogans supporting Lankan Tamils. But this year Thirumurugan Gandhi and others  who marched on Marina beach and were arrested on May30.Though many were detained, 17 people were arrested and Thirumurugan Gandhi and three others were booked under Goondas Act.h

After three months in prison Thirumurugan Gandhi writes from Puzul  Prison Following is the translation of his letter from prison .

Courtesy – Rupavahini Shyamala and  Newbin Santhosh

Friends,

I salute the fighter Anitha  who sacrificed her precious life fighting bravely against NEET Examination system cunningly imposed by “Hinduthuva” RSS-BJP mobs of Indian-Aryan supremacy & chauvinism, to block  the progress and development we Tamils have gained in education and healthcare sectors through reservation system and social justice policies.

This BJP-RSS nexus  is trying to bring down the equality that Tamilians have earned in the field of education. We have started to lose our children in the battle that we have against the Indian Modi government.

Tamil farmers were killed, Tamilians were attacked in Karnataka, Tamil fishermen are killed, the language is being attacked, kiladi excavation site is being closed down, ban on jallikattu, destruction of cauvery delta, the series is now continuing to destroy and loot India’s one of the best infrastructures we have in medical education and health department.

 

Now Tamil students are also getting killed like our farmers and our fishermen.

The prime reason for these killings is the central government, Modi, RSS, Nirmala Sitharaman, H.Raja, Pon Radhakrishnan. Tamil people must rise up against these Aryan supremacy.

 

In 1951 Thandhai Periyar along with 4500 Dravidian friends were in prison for more than three years to get these reservations right.

Ambedkar fought amidst so many tribulations and brought in the reservation system. The Needhi katchi won against the caste supremacy that prevailed on the University of Madras. RSS also tried to brutally burn the then Chief Minister Mr. Kamaraj, who played a massive role in the education of Tamil people.

 

Let us now unite to bring down the Modi government which tries to stomp the educational rights of the Tamils. Let us strengthen the protests against Mrs. Nirmala Sitharaman who promised and us of the NEET right, the Modi government which has not forwarded the resolution passed in the Tamil Nadu assembly and the group of people edappadi palanisamy, o panneerselvam and thambidurai who keep their mouths closed about this burning issue.

 

When the protest against the central Goverment has turned in issues like killing of fisherman, demonetization, farmers death, Kiladi, Jallikattu and even when people opposed the BJP… Ila Ganesan, H Raja, Nirmala sitharaman, KT Raghavan, SV Shekar, Narayanan, avoided meetings with the public and they sent only Tamil Isai Soundararajan, Vanathi and Pon Radhakrishnan who are the slaves of the upper caste Brahmins.

 

Where is Nirmala seetharaman who promised an exemption from Neet examinations? why did she not attend the funeral of Anita? where are the people of BJP RSS party who pretend to be friends of the dalits? where is ramagopalan of Hindu munnani? where did Arjun Sampath the slave of the brahmin’s run?

 

These people run away at the very mention of Tamil rights should we allow these people to grow in our state?

 

Let us reveal the true identity of these rowdies who carry the idol of Ganesha and cause hindrance to the common people and the Muslims.

 

The Tamils cannot sustain their growth without chasing these people like SV Shekar and H Raja who trumpets that ‘I will disrespect Thanthai Periyar’

Thanthai Periyar is the person who played a noble role in making us all literate by making us doctors and engineers.

At this juncture we cannot forget or forgive the deceiving by the Congress Party the most sought-after criminal Mrs Nalini Chidambaram wife of P Chidambaram senior leader of Congress speak speaks against the Tamils in many cases which is also reason behind the Killing of Anita.

She is the person who spoke against the Tamil in a case against making Tamil a compulsory language in Tamilnadu she argued against the reservations for the students who studied in state board medium and argued in favour of the CBSE students.

 

Let us fight against the attacks by the hindutva government on the Tamils and the Social Justice. Let us win justice for student Anita. Let us win against the Neet examination and various other rights. Let us make all educational campuses commercial buildings are protest grounds.

Let us convert or schools, colleges, work places and commercial establishments as protest venues in coming days. Students! Youth!!, boycott schools and colleges. Strike and boycott workplaces. The only option to prevent Tamil kids being killed in future is to intensify protests. Flock in streets and roads, paralyze Central government offices, Expose BJP and block their offices.

Students, youngsters ignore your classrooms and go on strikes. Making our protests strong is the only way to save our Tamil children from getting killed. Let us come together in the streets and on the roads. Let us unmask the BJP government. Let us block all the central government offices.

 

The English national media is also conspiring against the Tamil people and are keeping these protests from being telecast so let us now reach out for the International Media.

Let Us save our children. Join forces and intensify  our  protests

 

I salute Anita

Oh Rise Up Tamil people.

Thirumurugan Gandhi

Coordinator-MaySeventeen Movement,

Puzhal Central Prison

3-9-2017

The original letter is below

 

போராட்டத்தை தீவிரப்படுத்துவோம் – புழல் சிறையிலிருந்து திருமுருகன் காந்தி

போர்க்குணம் மிக்க தோழர்களே!

கல்வி, சுகாதாரத்துறையில் இட ஒதுக்கீட்டின் மூலமாகவும், சமூக நீதிக் கொள்கையாலும் தமிழர்கள் ஈட்டிய வளர்ச்சி, முன்னேற்றத்தை சூழ்ச்சியாலும், அதிகாரத் திமிரிலும் கைப்பற்றும், இந்திய ஆரிய உயர்சாதி வெறி கொண்ட’இந்துத்துவ’ ஆர்.எஸ்.எஸ்-பாஜக கும்பலுக்கு எதிராக நீட் தேர்வினை எதிர்த்து போராடி தன்னுயிர் நீத்த போராளி மாணவி அனிதாவிற்கு வீரவணக்கம்.

இந்திய மோடி அரசு தமிழர்கள் மீது நிகழ்த்துகிற தொடர் தாக்குதலுக்கு தமிழ்க் குழந்தைகள் பலியாக்கப்படுகிற அவலம் ஆரம்பித்திருக்கிறது. தமிழ் விவசாயிகள் கொல்லப்பட்டனர், கர்நாடகத்தில் தாக்கப்பட்டார்கள்,மீனவர்கள் கொல்லப்படுகின்றனர், தமிழ் மொழியின் மீது தாக்குதல், கீழடியை மூடுதல், சல்லிக்கட்டு எனும் ஏறுதழுவுதலை தடை செய்தல், காவிரி டெல்டாவை அழித்தல் என நடக்கும் இந்த தாக்குதல், தற்போது இந்தியாவிலேயெ சிறந்து விளங்கும் மருத்துவ-கல்வி சுகாதாரக் கட்டமைப்பை சிதைத்து கொள்ளையடிக்க நடத்தப்படுகிறது. விவசாயத் தமிழர்கள், மீனவத் தமிழர்கள் கொல்லப்படுவது மட்டுமல்லாது தற்போது தமிழ் மாணவர்கள் கொல்லப்படுகிறார்கள். இந்தக் கொலைகளுக்கு முழுமுதற் காரணம் இந்திய டெல்லி அரசு, மோடி, ஆர்.எஸ்.எஸ், நிர்மலா சீத்தாராமன், எச்.ராஜா, சுகாதாரத் துறை செயலர் ராதாகிருஷ்ணன் உள்ளிட்ட கும்பல்களே. ஆரிய இனவெறி கொண்ட இந்த கொலைகார கும்பலுக்கு எதிராக தமிழர்கள் திரள வேண்டும்.

1951-ல் தந்தை பெரியாரும், 4500 திராவிடர் இயக்கத் தோழர்களும் மூன்று ஆண்டுகளுக்கும் மேலாக சிறைவாசம் அனுபவித்து பதினைந்திற்கும் மேற்பட்டோர் சிறையிலேயே தம் உயிரை இழந்து பெற்ற இட ஒதுக்கீட்டு உரிமையை, அண்ணல் அம்பேத்கர் கடும் நெருக்கடிகளுக்கு இடையே கொண்டு வந்த இடஒதுக்கீட்டு உரிமையை, சமஸ்கிருதம் தெரிந்தவர்களுக்கே மருத்துவப் படிப்பு என்று சென்னை பல்கலைக்கழகத்தில் இருந்த உயர்சாதி வெறியை முறிய்டித்து நீதிக் கட்சியினர் கொண்டுவந்த உரிமையை, பெருந்தலைவர் காமராசர் தமிழருக்கு கல்வி பெரும் வசதியை, உரிமையை நிலைநாட்டியதற்காக ஆர்.எஸ்.எஸ்-சால் டெல்லியில் எரித்து கொலை செய்ய நடத்தப்பட்ட தாக்குதலில் இருந்து தப்பிய, உயிருக்கு அஞ்சாமல் கொண்டு வந்த உரிமையை மோடி அரசு காலில் போட்டு நசுக்க முயல்வதை எதிர்த்து களம் காணுவோம்.

‘நீட்’ உரிமையை பெற்றுத்தருவதாக பசப்பு காட்டி வஞ்சகம் செய்த திருமதி.நிர்மலா சீத்தாராமன், தமிழ்நாடு சட்டசபை நிறைவேற்றிய தீர்மானத்தை சனாதிபதிக்கு அனுப்பாமல் சட்டவிரோதமாக தடுத்து வைத்திருக்கும் மோடி அரசு, இது குறித்து வாய் திறக்காத திரு.எடப்பாடி பழனிச்சாமி, திரு.ஓ.பன்னீர்செல்வம், திரு.தம்பிதுரை கும்பல் ஆகியோரை அம்பலப்படுத்தும் மக்கள் திரள் போராட்டங்களை வலுப்படுத்துவோம்.

மீனவர் கொலை, பணமதிப்பிழப்பு, விவசாய கடன் நீக்கம், கீழடி, சல்லிக்கட்டு போன்ற போராட்டங்கள் மத்திய அரசுக்கு எதிராக தீவிரமானபொழுதும், மக்கள் பாஜகவினை எதிர்த்த பொழுதும், மக்களை சந்திப்பதை தவிர்க்கும் இல.கணேசன், எச்.ராஜா, நிர்மலா சீத்தாராமன், கே.டி.ராகவன், எஸ்.வி.சேகர், நாராயணன் போன்ற உயர்சாதி பார்ப்பன கும்பல் வழக்கம்போல இவர்களின் சுதந்திர அடிமைகளான திருமதி.தமிழிசை, திருமதி.வானதி, திரு.பொன் ராதாகிருஷ்ணனை ஊடகங்களை சந்திக்க அனுப்புகின்றன.

 

நீட் விலக்கு வாங்கித் தருவதாக சொன்ன நிர்மலா சீத்தாராமன் எங்கே ஓடினார்? ஏன் மாணவி அனிதாவின் இறுதி நிகழ்விற்கு வரவில்லை? தலித்திய நண்பன் என்று வேடம் போடும் பாஜக-ஆர்.எஸ்.எஸ் கும்பல்கள் எங்கே ஓடின?
இந்து உரிமை என்று கலவரம் செய்யும் இந்து முன்னணி ராமகோபாலன் எங்கே? பார்ப்பன அடியாள் அர்ஜூன் சம்பத் எங்கே ஓடிப்போனார்? தமிழர்கள் உரிமை என்றாலே ஓடி விடும் இந்த கும்பல்கள் தமிழகத்தில் வளர நாம் அனுமதிக்கலாமா? பிள்ளையார் சிலையை தூக்கிக் கொண்டு இசுலாமியருக்கும், பொதுமக்களுக்கும் எதிராக ரவுடித்தனம் செய்யும் இந்த கும்பல்கள் தமிழர் விரோதிகளே. இந்த கூட்டங்களை மக்கள் முன்னிலையில் அம்பலப்படுத்துவோம்.

இட ஒதுக்கீட்டு உரிமையை பெற்றுக் கொடுத்து நாமெல்லாம் கல்வி அறிவு பெறவும், மருத்துவர்களாக, பொறியியல் அறிஞர்களாக, சட்ட வல்லுனர்களாக வளரவும் பெரும் தொண்டாற்றிய ”தந்தை பெரியாரை அவமதிப்பேன்” என்று எக்காளமிட்ட எச்.ராஜா, எஸ்.வி.சேகர் கும்பலை விரட்டியடிக்காமல் தமிழினம் தன் வளர்ச்சியை, வளத்தை பாதுகாக்க முடியாது.

இந்த சமயத்தில் காங்கிரஸ் செய்யும் துரோகங்களை நாம் மறக்கவோ, மன்னிக்கவோ இயலாது. தேடப்படும் குற்றவாளியான கார்த்திக் சிதம்பரத்தின் தாயாரும், தமிழினப் படுகொலையின் ரத்தத்தில் கை நனைத்தவருமான காங்கிரசின் மூத்த தலைவர் ப.சிதம்பரத்தின் மனைவியான திருமதி நளினி சிதம்பரம் தொடர்ந்து நடத்தி வரும் தமிழின எதிர்ப்பு வழக்குகளும் அனிதாவின் மரணத்திற்கு காரணம். தமிழ்நாட்டில் தமிழ் மொழியை கட்டாய பாட மொழியாக்கிய சட்டத்தை எதிர்த்து வழக்காடி தடை வாங்கிய இவர், நீட் தேர்வில் தமிழக மாநில கல்வித் திட்டத்தில் படித்த மாணவர்களுக்கான ஒதுக்கீட்டிற்கு எதிராக CBSE மாணவர்கள் சார்பாக தடையை வாங்கினார்.

தமிழினத்திற்கு எதிராகவும், சமூக நீதிக்கு எதிராகவும் நடத்தப்படும் இந்திய அரசின் தாக்குதல், இந்துத்துவ கும்பல்களின் தாக்குதலை போர்க்குணத்துடன் ஜனநாயக வழியில் எதிர்கொள்வோம். மாணவி அனிதாவின் மரணத்திற்கான நீதியை வெல்வோம். நீட் தேர்வினையும், இதர உரிமைகளையும் வென்றெடுக்க போராட்டங்களை தீவிரப்படுத்துவோம். வரும் வாரங்களில் பள்ளி, கல்லூரி பணியிடங்கள், வணிக தளங்கள் என அனைத்தையும் போராட்டக் களங்களாக மாற்றுவோம். மாணவர்களே! இளைஞர்களே! பள்ளி, கல்லூரிகளை புறக்கணியுங்கள். வேலை நிறுத்தம், பணிநிறுத்தம் மேற்கொள்வோம்.

தமிழ்க் குழந்தைகள் இனிமேலும் பலியாவதை தடுக்கும் ஒரே வழி போராட்டத்தை தீவிரப்படுத்துவதே. வீதிகளிலும், சாலைகளிலும் திரள்வோம். மத்திய அரசு அலுவலகங்களை முடக்குவோம். பாஜக அரசினை அம்பலப்படுத்துவோம். அதன் அலுவலகங்களை முடக்குவோம்.
திட்டமிட்டு ஆங்கில ஊடகங்கள் தமிழகத்தின் போராட்டங்களை இருட்டடிப்பு செய்கின்றன. உலகத்திற்கும், சர்வதேச ஊடகங்களுக்கும் எட்டுகின்ற அளவிலே போராட்டத்தை தீவிரப்படுத்துவோம். பள்ளி, கல்லூரி, வேலை, பணியிடங்களுக்கு நாம் சில நாட்கள் செல்லவில்லையெனில் எதுவும் பிழையாகி விடாது. தமிழ் குழந்தைகளின் சாவு அனிதாவோடு நிற்கட்டும். இனிமேலும் இது தொடரக் கூடாதெனில் தமிழகம் போராட்டக் களமாகட்டும். போராட்ட வேட்கை பரவட்டும்.

மாணவி அனிதாவிற்கு வீரவணக்கம்

தமிழகமே திரண்டெழு!

  • திருமுருகன்.கா
    ஒருங்கிணைப்பாளர், மே பதினேழு இயக்கம்
    புழல் சிறை

3-9-2017

 

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Medha Patkar: From Peaceful Protester To Political Prisoner In Independent India

medha-narmada-fast

Fasting, according to Mahatma Gandhi, is a tactic that should be used only when other avenues of redress have been explored and failed. In a struggle that has spanned over 30 years, Medha Patkar and her Save the Narmada movement (Narmada Bachao Andolan, NBA) certainly cannot be accused of not using every possible avenue to secure justice for some 60 000 odd persons who have lost livelihoods and homes to the Sardar Sarovar Dam. They have advocated to politicians of every political party, stood for election to parliament and filed petitions in the courts to stop the dam, and subsequently limit its adverse impact to people and the environment. In 1991, Patkar received the Right Livelihood Award, also known as the “Alternative Nobel Prize” for her “inspired opposition to the disastrous Narmada Valley dams project and their promotion of alternatives designed to benefit the poor and the environment.” Yet, as the Indian political scientist Shiv Vishwanathan puts it so eloquently, today’s‘new India’ confronts Patkar and NBA with “indifference, silence and erasure.” It is to defy this indifference and break this silence that Patkar and eleven NBA colleagues chose to begin an indefinite fast on July 27 to protest against the Madhya Pradesh government’s inadequate rehabilitation policies for the 40 000 people who will be affected following a recent decision to raise the height of the dam.

For days, the Madhya Pradesh government and a large section of the Indian media ignored the small group of protesters fasting in Madhya Pradesh’s Dhar district.Then, instead of engaging in a dialogue with NBA, the authorities on August 9 forcibly removed Patkar and several others from the site of their protest. The police masked their violent tactics by insinuating that their action was motivated by concern for the deteriorating and fragile health of the protesters, but this pretext to disrupt the protest fooled no one. Patkar was held for two days in a private hospital against her wishes, while her colleagues were confined to a government hospital. It was clear that the Madhya Pradesh government did not want the possible martyrdom of activists to interfere with its plans to raise the height of the dam at any cost.

Unfortunately, the government’s attempt to quickly bury the issues by disrupting the protest inadvertently gave it the publicity it previously lacked, and the news that police used force against fasting protesters was covered by most of India’s major newspapers. The government, however, was in no mood to relent, and attempted to weaken the NBA movement by formally arresting Medha Patkar soon after her release from hospital on August 9, even as she attempted to resume her fast. She was charged of breaching the peace, engaging in assault or criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of duty, and most bizarrely, of kidnapping a government official. Subsequently, she was granted bail on all but the kidnapping charge. Anyone who has ever met Patkar – who is uncompromising in her belief in non violence – will find these charges to be beyond belief. The fact that the Madhya Pradesh High Court postponed her bail hearing scheduled for August 21 because the police did not produce the case diary reveals the extent to which the entire state apparatus of the Madhya Pradesh government is working overtime to keep Patkar in prison – solely for peacefully protesting and questioning government policy.

In undertaking her peaceful protest, Medha Patkar was merely exercising her right to assemble peacefully and without arms, guaranteed by Article 19(b) of the Indian Constitution. Further, India is obliged as a State Party to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights to recognise the right of peaceful assembly. However, as CIVICUS, an influential international alliance of civil society organisations observes, “although India’s many civil society organisations have until recently enjoyed an enabling operating environment, civic space is being increasingly constrained because of government interference with the freedoms of association, expression, and peaceful assembly.”

During a month where countless articles have been printed celebrating and commemorating India’s 70th Independence Day, India’s government and policymakers would do well to reflect on the case of Medha Patkar. Patkar, a peaceful protester who has spent a lifetime engaging in Gandhian opposition tactics, spent Independence Day as a political prisoner in a cell in Dhar district jail. Fighting for the rights and livelihoods of those affected by the Sardar Sarovar Dam – some of India’s most marginalised citizens – led Patkar to suffer the same fate as many of India’s freedom fighters jailed by the British colonial regime. Can a people be truly independent if a government that claims to represent them cracks down ruthlessly on dissent and throws human rights defenders in jail on trumped up charges? Does the State apparatus in India not know how to respond to anyone who mounts an effective challenge to its approach to ‘development’ in any way other than repression and imprisonment? How the world’s democracies and international organisations respond to this choking of India’s democracy and civil society personified by Patkar’s continued imprisonment will reveal how serious their commitment to halting the shrinking space for civil society truly is.

Sharan Srinivas is the Director of Research and Advocacy at the Right Livelihood Award Foundation.

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Federation of Secondary School Teachers of Greece demands Freedom and Justice of Professor Saibaba

Freedom and Justice for Professor Saibaba!


The conviction of the English professor of the Jawaharlal Nehru University in Delhi Gokarakonda Naga Saibaba has created sadness and indignation. The decision of the District and Sessions Court in Gadchiroli, Maharashtra to impose life imprisonement on Professor Saibaba and four other co-defendants is an unprecedentred decision in the judicial annals of India since its independence in 1947. Professor Saibaba, a 90% invalid since childhood, and restricted to a wheelchair, is accused, without any proof, that he had contacts with the illegal CP India (Maoist) and the naxalite guerilla movement. The accusations were based on his views and ideas as well as on his public political and social activities. It was indeed a rich activity, since his youth, alongside the poor and destitute Indians in the cities and the rural areas.

What mainly irritated the indian state authorities were his struggles and condemnations, in India and internationally, of the violent operations of the police and paramilitary forces against the indigenous people in the hinterland of India. It is about an operation that is combined with the looting of land and forests by the multinational mining and construction companies. The conviction of Saibaba was based on provisions and articles of the anti-terrorist law (UAPA) that incriminates ideas, articles, books and public speeches, considering them preparatory terrorist deeds that undermine national security!

Besides his invalidity, professor Saibaba, due to his long incarceration, faces additional health problems. His life imprisonment in the harsh conditions of indian jails, the denial of medical and pharmaceutical help are equal to a conviction to a slow and tortuous death. For the life and freedom of professor Saibaba international humanitarian organizations have been mobilized, as well as the Indian Chapter of Amnesty International, and personalities of the Arts and Letters in Asia, Europe, and America.

With this joint letter, that is addressed to the government and judicial authorities in India, to its diplomatic representation in Greece and every international organization for humanitarian and democratic rights, we ask for the revocation of the unjust conviction and the immediate release of professor Saibaba.

We demand that during his incarceration he must be under full medical and pharmaceutical support and he must be admitted to a medical institution. We join our protestation with the international solidarity movement, the professors and teachers of indian universities and the democratic organizations in India and abroad that are already mobilized so that professor Saibaba will be treated with justice and get freed!

Chairman- Nikolaos Papachristos,
Gen. Secretary-Theodoros Malagaris,
Federation of Secondary School Teachers of Greece

Athens, 31/7/2017

Resolution proposed at the 18th Congress of the Federation of Secondary School Teachers (Athens, 1 – 4 July 2017) and approved by the Administrative Council of the Federation on the 31st of July 2017

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