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Archives for : Tribals

Soni Sori Wins The 2018 Front Line Defenders Award #Goodnews

Dublin, 18 May 2018

Front Line Defenders today announced the five winners of its 2018 Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, naming Soni Sori (India), Nurcan Baysal (Turkey), the LUCHA movement (Democratic Republic of Congo), La Resistencia Pacífica de la Microregión de Ixquisis (Guatemala), and Hassan Bouras (Algeria) as the Regional Winners.


For the first time in its 13 year history, the Front Line Defenders Award for Human  Rights Defenders at Risk awarded to activists from five countries. Indian activist Soni Sori has been named one of five global recipients of the 2018 Front  Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk, in recognition of her  dangerous struggle for justice for Adivasi people in Chhattisgarh. Nurcan Baysal (Turkey),  the LUCHA movement (Democratic Republic of Congo), La Resistencia Pacífica de la  Microregión de Ixquisis (Guatemala), and Hassan Bouras (Algeria) were also announced   as 2018 award winners.
“The human rights defenders we’re honouring today work in some of the most dangerous  areas of the world, sacrificing their own security to peacefully demand justice and human  rights for their communities,” said Andrew Anderson, Executive Director of Front Line  Defenders, as he announced the winners.
Since 2005, the Front Line Defenders Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk has  been presented annually to human rights defenders who – at great personal risk – have  made an exceptional contribution to protecting and promoting the rights of their
communities. Historically awarded to one defender or movement each year, 2018 marks  the first time Front Line Defenders has recognised defenders from five different countries  as Regional Winners. The 2018 finalists and their families have faced attacks, defamation  campaigns, legal harassment, death threats, prison sentences, and intimidation.
Soni Sori is an indigenous and women’s rights defender in the Bastar region of  Chhattisgarh, India, where she and her colleagues document and advocate against  violence perpetrated by paramilitary and police forces. She has documented and struggled
against state-sponsored abuse including villages, burning homes, raping local women, and torturing and sexually assaulting tribes people detained without cause. She has also  defended a number of educational centres from destruction by Maoist groups. In retaliation for her work, security forces detained and tortured Soni, pushing stones inside of her body  and assaulting her for hours. Years later, men attacked her with acid and threatened to do the same to her daughter if she did not cease her advocacy on behalf of tribeswomen  raped by security forces. She has refused to stop her work and continues to travel into the dangerous conflict zones to speak with survivors despite ongoing threats, intimidation, and smear campaigns.
“As governments and corporations work to delegitimise and defame human rights  defenders’ peaceful work, activists around the world tell us that international visibility and  recognition is a critical protection tool,” said Andrew Anderson. “The Award demonstrates  that these defenders have the support of the international community, that their sacrifices  have not gone unnoticed, and that we stand in solidarity with their unrelenting bravery.”

UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights Kate Gilmore presented Nurcan Baysal, who was named the Global Laureate for 2018, with the Award during a ceremony at Dublin’s City Hall.

“The defenders we’re honouring today work in some of the most dangerous areas of the world, sacrificing their own security to peacefully demand justice and human rights for their communities,” said Andrew Anderson, Executive Director of Front Line Defenders, as he announced the winners in Dublin.

Since 2005, the Award has been presented annually to human rights defenders who – at great personal risk – have made an exceptional contribution to protecting and promoting the rights of their communities. Historically awarded to one defender or movement each year, 2018 marks the first time Front Line Defenders has recognised defenders from five different countries as Regional Winners. The 2018 finalists and their families have faced attacks, defamation campaigns, legal harassment, death threats, prison sentences, and intimidation.

“As governments and corporations work to delegitimise and defame human rights defenders’ peaceful work, activists around the world tell us that international visibility and recognition is a critical protection tool,” said Andrew Anderson. “The Award demonstrates that these defenders have the support of the international community, that their sacrifices have not gone unnoticed, and that we stand in solidarity with their unrelenting bravery.”


Soni Sori, India

Regional Winner for Asia

Soni Sori is an indigenous and women’s rights defender in the militarised Bastar region of Chattisghar, India, where state-backed paramilitary forces are waging a violent campaign against local Adivasi tribes in the name of combating an armed Maoist insurgency. Soni documents and advocates against violence perpetrated by the paramilitary and police forces, which includes razing villages, burning homes, raping local women, and torturing and sexually assaulting tribes people detained without cause. Soni has also defended a number of educational centres from destruction by Maoist groups. In retaliation for her work, security forces detained and tortured Soni, pushing stones inside of her body and assaulting her for hours. Years later, men attacked her with acid and threatened to do the same to her daughter if she did not cease her advocacy on behalf of tribeswomen raped by the security forces. She has refused to stop her work, and continues to travel into the Maoist regions to speak with survivors of the ongoing conflict.


Nurcan Baysal, Turkey

Regional Winner for Europe and Central Asia

Nurcan is a Kurdish journalist and human rights defender based in Diyarbakir. When the government launched a military offensive in the south-east in 2016, Nurcan spent months visiting Kurdish villages under bombardment, documenting human rights violations and stopping to help families who’d lost everything in the conflict.

Her writings are known for their critical focus on women living with bombardment. When the authorities launched a military operation in Afrin, Nurcan took to social media to demand peace and condemn the violent assault. She was detained for speaking against the violence and although later released, she now faces up to 3 years in jail in a separate case related to her writing.

Nurcan, according to the authorities’ absurd claims, had “spread propaganda for armed terrorist organizations … and a call for provocative actions”. In addition to her reporting, Nurcan has also co-founded several NGOs, set up a camp to help Yazidi women fleeing the Islamic State and been a key voice in countless reconciliation programs in the region.

Peaceful Resistance of the Micro-Region of Ixquisis, Guatemala

Regional Winner for the Americas

La Resistencia Pacífica de la Microrregión de Ixquisis was formed in response to grave human rights violations committed in the name of economic advancement in Guatemala. The government has authorised destructive mining and hydroelectric mega-projects in the region despite the widespread opposition from 59 villages and 7 communities in the municipality. Human Rights Defenders (HRDs) in Peaceful Resistance risk their lives to defend the territory. In 2016 alone, there were more than 75 reported attacks against HRDs in the Peaceful Resistance including killings, shootings, harassment and defamation campaigns.

LUCHA, Democratic Republic of Congo

Regional Winner for Africa

LUCHA is a non-partisan youth movement formed in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) that struggles against chronic corruption and impunity in the DRC. Initially focused on local issues such as access to drinking water, electricity and youth unemployment, in just 6 years the movement has developed into an extensive national-level network of powerful social organisers.

Peaceful protests and demonstrations led by LUCHA are routinely attacked by authorities. In October 2017, 5 young protesters were killed during a LUCHA-organised demonstration, and many of their members and leaders have been arrested and detained during peaceful assemblies. The Congolese National Intelligence Agency has detained several members who have endured physical and psychological abuse in detention.

Hassan Bouras

Regional Winner for the Middle East and North Africa

Hassan Bouras is a journalist, blogger, leading member of the Algerian League of Human Rights and founding member of the Rejection Front, a coalition against fracking to extract shale gas in Algeria. His reporting on both corruption and torture in Algeria spans more than two decades and because of this work, he has been repeatedly targeted by Algerian authorities. He has continued his writing and advocacy despite years of judicial harassment, arbitrary detentions, violent raids on his home and imprisonment.

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The India village ‘on the verge of extinction’

Representational imageImage copyrightAFP
Image captionIron ore mining was a major source of jobs in Goa

When India‘s Supreme Court banned iron ore mining in the western state of Goa in February 2018, many villages in the state had already been ravaged by decades of mining. Journalist Supriya Vohra visited Sonshi, one such village that is struggling to survive.

“We were literally eating dust,” says 45-year-old Kusum Gawade. The dozens of trucks going to and from the village’s mining pits used to pass by Ms Gawade’s house regularly.

Nearly everyone who lives in Sonshi belongs to an indigenous tribe that has a common last name, Gawade.

“I had to clean my house at least three times a day,” Ms Gawade adds. “The dust was everywhere. It entered our rooms, sat on our utensils, went inside our food, our water. It was a part and parcel of our lives.”

The Goa high court ordered the trucks to use an alternative route after a local non-profit filed a case in April 2017 citing damage to the environment and health due to mining.

Bright green nylon sheets, which were meant to absorb the clouds of dust, now flank the roads in Sonshi. But the mines have been closed since February this year when the Supreme Court cancelled all mining permits in the state, saying that new licenses were needed for the mining to resume.

The court shut down all 90 mines, once a thriving source of jobs in the region. Between 2010 and 2012 alone, Goa exported 55 million tonnes of iron ore annually.

A man walks down a street in SonshiImage copyrightSUPRIYA VOHRA
Image captionSonshi is a tiny village of 60 households

Sonshi is a tiny, dusty speck on Goa’s eastern mining belt. It has approximately 60 households, a government-run primary school where the attendance has gradually decreased over the years, a defunct dispensary and a playground.

Nearly everyone in Sonshi says their family once owned fields of paddy and cashew. But over the years they all came to depend on the mining industry.

“All of this used to be quite green,” said Sandeep Gawade41, a former truck driver who lives in Sonshi. “We used to have cashew plantations where you now see these hills of dumps.”

The “dumps” are mounds of soil that was once covering the mineral but was dug up and cast aside to reach the ore. This is typical of open pit mining, which is practised in Goa.

A map of Goa
Image captionSonshi is in eastern Goa, which is a region rich in minerals

Many locals say their agricultural fields were “taken over” by mining companies and used for excavation or as a site for “dumps”. Sonshi, like the rest of eastern Goa, has soil that is rich in minerals, especially iron ore.

It is unclear how many people voluntarily leased their lands to mining companies. According to local environmentalists, many of the agreements were signed when Goa was a Portuguese colony. They believe only 10 mining leases have been granted since the state became a part of India in 1961. State officials did not respond to requests by the BBC for comment.

Activists say most of the mining has been carried out in ecologically sensitive areas, many of which are inhabited by tribal communities.

“The transportation has spread noise, dust, destruction and death through the interiors of Goa, affecting health, agriculture and livelihoods,” says Abhijeet Prabhudesai, a Goa-based environmentalist. He added that the deposits from the mines were also polluting the underground water that “feeds springs and sustains all life in Goa”.

A dried up water well in Sonshi.Image copyrightNEIL D’SOUZA
Image captionMining has polluted underground water, say environmentalists

Since most wells and streams have dried up, locals say they began to depend on mining companies and the state for regular supply of water. They say it is not potable and that they have to use their own methods to filter it.

In September 2015, a national scheme was introduced to provide for the welfare of mining-affected areas across India, using funds generated through contributions from mining companies – the fund for Goa alone amounted to about $26m (£19.2m).

A senior official familiar with the matter told the BBC that the fund had not been utilised yet and that the court was monitoring the matter.

Activists say that villages like Sonshi have been coerced into becoming dependent on iron ore mining, which was a major contributor to Goa’s economy. But since the Supreme Court shut down the mines, these villages have been struggling.

The roads are still dotted with trucks that carried iron ore from the mines to a processing plant nearby. Most of them are owned by locals who drove them to transport iron ore and earned up to 2000 rupees ($29.8) a day.

Mining machinery in Sonshi is now parked next to a primary school.Image copyrightNEIL D’SOUZA
Image captionThe end of mining has cost locals their jobs

Chandrakant Gawade, 53, runs a hotel in his house, where employees of mining companies would rent rooms. Ever since mining stopped, business has gone down. He lives in the house with his wife, three children, a dog and a cat. He says he sells buffalo milk for a living now.

Most families in Sonshi have a similar story to tell. Locals worked as security guards, drove trucks that transported the ore, worked in mines or docks to load and unload the ore, ran machines in the mines or ran hotels for visiting executives or rented rooms to non-locals who worked in the industry.

“Sonshi is on a verge of extinction,” says Ravindra Velip, a local activist. “The land is destroyed. A lot of people have already migrated to cities. There is no water. There is nothing left for the village folk. What do you call such a place?”

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India – A triple blow to job guarantee scheme- NREGA

A triple blow to job guarantee scheme

A lack of sufficient funds, rampant payment delays and abysmal wage rates are to blame

The ₹11,000 crore fraud that diamond merchant Nirav Modi is said to have created is a figure that needs to be put in perspective. The total amount of wages pending under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural EmploymentGuarantee Act (MGNREGA) scheme for the whole country (2016-17) was around ₹11,000 crore too. This sum is a fifth of the MGNREGA budget announced for financial year 2018-19.

MGNREGA stands out in its worker-centric legislation and stated emphasis on transparency and accountability. Several potentially progressive measures such as a real-time management information system have been put in place. The scheme is meant to be demand-driven in the sense that the government is mandated to provide work within 15 days of a worker seeking work. Otherwise the worker is entitled to an unemployment allowance. A second key provision of the Act pertains to payment of wages within 15 days of completion of work, failing which a worker is entitled to a delay compensation of 0.05% per day of the wages earned. However, both these provisions have been routinely violated. There is an ongoing Public Interest Litigation in the Supreme Court (Swaraj Abhiyan v. the Union of India) concerning these violations. We look at three ways in which a lack of funds has led to a subverting of these provisions in letter and spirit.

First, budget allocation over the years has been insufficient. While there has been an increase in the nominal budget in the last two years, after adjusting for inflation, the budget has actually decreased over the years. The real budget of 2018-19 is much lower than that of 2010-11.

Further truncation

Second, even this low budget allocation has undergone various kinds of curtailment. By December of each year, through a bottom-up participatory planning approach, every State submits a labour budget (LB) to the Centre. This contains the anticipated labour demand for the next financial year. The Centre, on its part, has been using an arbitrary “Approved Labour Budget” to cut down funds requested by States (using the National Electronic Fund Management System, or Ne-FMS), making this a supply-driven programme.

Ne-FMS guidelines issued in 2016-17 say the Management Information System (MIS) “will not allow” States to “generate more employment above the limits set by Agreed to LB”. This meant that the work demand of workers was not even getting registered and the MIS was being used as a means to curb work demand. Thus the “approved labour budget” puts a cap on funds. So, for 2017-18, for example, if one aggregates the requested LB of all States, the minimum budget requirement adds up to ₹72,000 crore. However, the initial allocation was only ₹48,000 crore, which is in synchrony with the approved LB (as on the first week of April 2018).

Because of the ongoing PIL, the Centre was forced to rescind guidelines that enabled the use of the MIS to constrict demand for work. The Centre releases an Annual Master Circular (AMC) each year that serves as a guide to the programme implementation of MGNREGA. The most recent AMC suggests the setting up of an Empowered Committee (EC) to this effect.

The lack of payment of wages on time has meant a violation of the second key aspect of the Act. By analysing transactions (over 90 lakh in 2016-17 and over 45 lakh in the first two quarters of FY17-18), a study on wage payment delays has highlighted how the Centre has completely absolved itself of any responsibility of a delay in the release of wages. Only 21% of payments in 2016-17 and 32% of payments in the first two quarters of FY17-18 were made on time.

In response to the first phase of the study, the Ministry of Finance issued an office memorandum. Acknowledging the validity of the study’s findings, the memorandum also said that the principal reasons for payment delays were “infrastructural bottlenecks, (un)availability of funds and lack of administrative compliance”. The study findings and this memorandum are at odds with the Centre’s dubious claims of 85% of payments having been made on time. The situation worsened in the last six months of FY17-18. Around 25% of the funds transfer orders (FTOs) pertaining to worker wages from January to April this year are still to be processed by the Centre. Last year, the Ministry froze the processing of FTOs (over ₹3,000 crore) due to a lack of funds. In August 2017, the Ministry of Rural Development demanded a supplementary MGNREGA budget of ₹17,000 crore, but the Ministry of Finance approved only ₹7,000 crore, that too in January 2018. The poor are paying a heavy price for this throttling of funds by the Centre.

Stagnating wages

The third point is about stagnating MGNREGA wages. Delinking of MGNREGA wage rates from the Minimum Wages Act (MWA), 1948 has contributed to this. MGNREGA wages are a less lucrative option for the marginalised, being lower than the minimum agricultural wages in most States. As primary beneficiaries of the Act, women, Dalits and Adivasis could be the most affected and pushed to choose more vulnerable and hazardous employment opportunities. Such contravention of the MWA is illegal.

MGNREGA now faces a triple but correlated crisis — a lack of sufficient funds, rampant payment delays, and abysmal wage rates. What this reflects is not only a legal crisis created by the Centre but also a moral one where the fight is not even for a living wage but one for subsistence. One hopes for a just order from the judiciary.

Rajendran Narayanan teaches at Azim Premji University, Bangalore. Madhubala Pothula is an undergraduate student in the same institution

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India – Globally-renowned Warli artist Jivya Shoma Mashe dead #RIP

The 87-year-old popularised the tribal art form and won a host of international awards

Jivya Soma Mashe was fascinated with tribal art since the age of 11.
Jivya Soma Mashe was fascinated with tribal art since the age of 11.(HT)




Making tribal life popular through Warli art, he epitomised ‘simple living, high thinking’

Padmashri Jivya Soma Mashe, who pioneered the Warli art movement, is no more and I am experiencing his loss just like the rest of his family and the countless people whose lives he touched.

I still remember the first time I met him almost 15 years ago. I had organised a trip to Dahanu for some Italian gallerists who wanted to meet the legendary ‘other master’. They wanted to try and convince him for a show. We drove down to the picturesque Dahanu village and found Jivya picking runner beans in his backyard for lunch. I’ve never met an artist so down-to-earth and barely aware of his immense talent and the effect it had on people.

That day a bond was forged between us and he agreed to present a show in Italy. Not only did he provide his works, he also agreed to be there for the opening and demonstrate as well. While the Italian guests were dressed in their fashionable formal best, Jivya was in his usual trademark white shirt and cotton half-trousers, completely at ease with himself and unaffected by the adulation that was being showered on him. He sat down on the ground with his canvas that had been prepared with a coating of cow dung and started painting using the special needle-like twigs of the ‘taad’ tree that dots the landscape of Dahanu.

Indeed, this is how I will always remember him – crouched over his paintings while sitting on the floor, a pose in which I often found him whenever I visited Dahanu.

Over the years, I assimilated in his family. In a sense, I was their link to the outside world – a trusted friend to whom Jivya, his sons Sadashiv and Balu and grandsons would turn to if they needed advice on dealing with an art dealer or gallery. I would be the person they would turn to when there was a show planned abroad and they needed to get their documentation in order. I am honoured to have been made a part of their inner circle, being given a glimpse into their lives and, at times, sharing their simple meals comprising bakhri and vegetables grown in his farm and humble home.

There was never any doubt about his talent and genius; there wouldn’t have been so many collectors queuing up to buy his works, both in India and abroad, if he did not have that special spark. His most famous works include ‘The Fisherman’, ‘Birds’, and ‘Ants’. With simple formatting and life subjects like ‘Wedding’, ‘Farming’, ‘Diwali’, ‘The Warli Gods’, his art was equally popular among the art lovers and collectors. We were all thrilled when he received the Padmashri; indeed a well-deserved honour. He was even generous in the teaching of his art; there are many young artists, mentored by him, practising Warli art. Though he taught them the folktales and how to render them on canvas, his unique style of painting remained his own till the end.

His sons and grandsons carry on the legacy. As time took its toll on Jivya, he became more of a recluse, sending his children for art workshops and exhibitions abroad. But his doors were always open for me. I will cherish his memory forever. The world has lost not just an exceptional artist but also a wonderful human being who epitomised the words ‘simple living; high thinking’.

Born on March 13, 1931, Mashe was fascinated with the tribal art of living and decided to propagate the rich tribal life through Warli paintings, which is the traditional tribal form of painting.Since he was 11 years old, Mashe was particularly fascinated with tribal weddings and would portray scenes from weddings through his paintings, said Narendra Patil, a social activist who knew Mashe. His paintings adorn the drawing rooms of fans spread across Russia,Italy, Germany, Japan, China, UK, Belgium and many other countries,said Patil.

In 1975, the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi told Bhaskar Kulkarni,a senior member of the Crafts Board, Delhi, to find a traditional painter who could depict the tribal way of life, Patil said. Kulkarni came across Mashe’s paintings and presented him before the late PM, who was fascinated with his work, and encouraged him to spread Warli paintings worldwide, Patil said. In 1976, the then President of India Fakruddin Ali Ahmed allotted 3.5 acres of land to Mashe in the then undivided Thane district to propagate Warli art. However, Mashe got the land only after 35 years, in 2011, after the intervention of then Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi.

When Mashe was 7 years old, he lost his mother and was rendered speechless for a few years due to the trauma. Due to the tragedy, Mashe and his family shifted from Dhamangaon in Talasari to his present home in Kalambipada in Ganjad, said Ramakant Patil, another social worker who knew Mashe. When he was speechless, he would communicate with people by drawing images on paper and on the sandy ground,Patil said.

Mashe’s work was highly acclaimed and he won a host of awards. Navnath Zare, resident district collector, Palghar, said Mashe was awarded the Padmashri in 2011 for propagating the Warli art form. In 1976, he received the National Award for Warli art. In 2002, he received the Shilp Guru award, a Government of India award given to master craftsmen. In 2009, he was the recipient of the Prince Claus Award fro Warli tribal painting, said Zare. The Prince Claus Awards are presented by the Prince Claus Fund for Culture and Development to honour ‘artists, thinkers and cultural organisations in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean,’ whose artistic and cultural work makes a positive contribution to the social development within their country. Mashe was also given a cash award of Rs17 lakh by the Queen of Belgium for his traditional Warli painting skills and was felicitated by Tokio Hasegave, the founder director of Mithila Museum,Tokamachi, Japan.

He is survived by two sons, Sadashiv and Balu, who are carrying on the legacy of their father, and a daughter

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India – The blurring line between corporate and national interests

File photo of Prime Minister Narendra Modi with billionaire businessman Gautam Adani

Today, corporate power has not only grown to unprecedented levels, its muscular arms also reach far and wide. Representatives of private businesses sit on all sorts of government committees

Among other major developments in Indian society and politics during the last twenty-five years or so is the steady growth of corporate power. It is not that corporate interests were devoid of influence earlier – India’s leading business houses, like the Tatas and Birlas, have had a cosy relationship with the government for a long time.

Even Dhirubhai Ambani, the icon of Indian entrepreneurs, made his fortune on the back of the Licence Raj (e.g. by getting hold of valuable import permits), with a little help from pliable bureaucrats and politicians.

In those days, however, there were some boundaries – real or pretended – between the corporate sector and state policy, and the state sometimes took decisive action (for better or worse) against corporate interests, such as the nationalisation of banks and the coal industry. Further, the concentration of wealth was still at an early stage.

Today, corporate power has not only grown to unprecedented levels, its muscular arms also reach far and wide. Representatives of private businesses sit on all sorts of government committees, oblivious of conflicts of interest.

The Sensex, tensely watched by the Finance Ministry, pronounces instant verdicts on economic policy. State governments are competing to enhance their ranking in terms of the “ease of doing business”. Public–private partnerships give private business wide powers to invade the earlier realm of the public sector with full state support. The magnitude of corporate scams (such as the 2G scam or the coal scam) keeps breaking new records. India’s largest corporate houses are also bankrupting its public-sector banks by saddling them with billions of rupees of “non-performing assets”.

The largest of them all, Reliance (headed by Dhirubhai Ambani’s sons, Mukesh and Anil), has so much power that, as India Today once put it, “when they don’t like policy, they change it”. Corporate interests increasingly drive not only the traditional areas of business but also urban planning, academic research, communications, sports, entertainment, the mass media, and much more. India is in danger of becoming a “business-driven society”, as Noam Chomsky aptly describes the United States.

We had a bitter taste of the invasion of public policy by corporate interests in the context of child nutrition programmes, especially school meals and the Integrated Child Development Services (ICDS). With millions of children covered, a contract to supply ready-to-eat food to them under these programmes, instead of cooked food prepared by local women, can be very lucrative.

India’s food industry has not lost sight of this business opportunity, and it has persistently lobbied for the replacement of cooked food with branded products in the midday meal scheme and ICDS. One example is the biscuits industry’s attempt, in 2008, to persuade the Ministry of Human Resource Development to replace cooked midday meals with biscuits. That particular attempt was defeated, but there have been many others since, and some of them have succeeded, at the state level if not at the national level.

The hold of corporate power on public policy in India has many other manifestations, from the plunder of public sector banks to the appropriation of land, water, minerals, and (until recently) spectrum at throwaway prices. Another example is technocracy, in the broad sense of an over-influence of technology experts on public policy. Technological innovation, of course, is very important and has often made major contributions to more effective social policies.

For instance, the NREGA’s web-based monitoring and information system (MIS) has become a model of pro-active information disclosure for all government programmes in India. Sometimes, however, technology seems to become an end in itself, driven by hidden interests at the expense of the public.

There is a strong element of technocracy in India’s unique identity (UID) project, also known as Aadhaar. The project was sold to the public by claiming, firstly, that Aadhaar was a “voluntary facility”, and secondly, that its main purpose was to remove corruption from social programmes.

This was a brilliant act of what the leading lights of Aadhaar call “smart demand evangelisation”. The claim that Aadhaar was voluntary defused criticism from libertarians, despite Aadhaar representing a real threat to privacy, civil liberties, and the right to dissent.

The swift linkage of social programmes like NREGA to Aadhaar helped to herd people en masse towards UID enrolment centres. Later on, it became clear that the voluntary nature of Aadhaar was a fiction, and that the real purpose of the project had little to do with social policy.

Rather, the project seems to be driven by a convergence of corporate interests (from the biometric industry, software companies, finance-technology developers, and so on) and state interests (related inter alia to the value of Aadhaar as a tool of surveillance).

The Aadhaar juggernaut, however, rolls on. In fact, the coercive nature of the project reached new levels last year with notifications making Aadhaar compulsory for children who wish to benefit from the midday meal scheme. No Aadhaar, no food.

This is being projected as an anti-corruption measure, but the real purpose is clear: forcing parents to get their children enrolled under Aadhaar (the bulk of the shortfall from universal enrolment is among children). It would be more honest for the government to admit that Aadhaar is compulsory, and to make the case for compulsion.

(This is an excerpt from the author’s recent book, Sense and Solidarity: Jholawala Economics for Everyone).

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Canada sued over years of alleged experimentation on indigenous people

Class-action suit filed on behalf of thousands of people allegedly subjected to medical tests without consent in the mid-20th century

canada flag

A class action lawsuit has been filed in a Canadian court on behalf of the thousands of indigenous people alleged to have been unwittingly subjected to medical experiments without their consent.

Filed this month in a courtroom in the province of Saskatchewan, the lawsuit holds the federal government responsible for experiments allegedly carried out on reserves and in residential schools between the 1930s and 1950s.

The suit also accuses the Canadian government of a long history of “discriminatory and inadequate medical care” at Indian hospitals and sanatoriums – key components of a segregated healthcare system that operated across the country from 1945 into the early 1980s.

“This strikes me as so atrocious that there ought to be punitive and exemplary damages awarded, in addition to compensation,” said Tony Merchant, whose Merchant Law Group filed the class action.

The lawsuit, which has not yet been tested in court, alleges that residential schools – where more than 150,000 aboriginal children were carted off in an attempt to forcibly assimilate them into Canadian society – were used as sites for nutritional experiments, where researchers tested out their theories about vitamins and certain foods.

“The wrong here is that nobody knew it was happening. Their families didn’t know it was happening,” Merchant said.

As the diet at the schools was known to be nutritionally deficient, the children were considered “ideal experimental subjects”, according to court documents. It cites six schools, stretching from Nova Scotia to British Columbia, and links them to experiments carried out from 1948 to 1953.

At times, researchers would carry out what Merchant described as trials aimed at depriving the children of nutrients that researchers suspected were beneficial.

“So what they did on a systemic basis … they would identify a group of indigenous children in schools where they were being compulsorily held and they would not give them the same treatment,” said Merchant. “They used them as a control against experiments that they were doing in other places and they also used them to test certain kinds of foods and drugs.”

Court documents describe the lengths researchers at times went to protect their results: after a principal in Kenora, Ontario, asked that all the residential school’s children be given iron and vitamin tablets, the researcher asked him to refrain from doing so, as it would interfere with the experiment.

In other instances, researchers withheld dental treatment from children, worried that healthier teeth and gums would skew their results.

The school in Kenora was also used to test an experimental drug on children with ear problems, leaving nine children with significant hearing loss, according to court documents.

The lawsuit notes that those who did not cooperate were subject to physical abuse.

The experiments also extended to reserves, court documents note. At times children were used to study the effectiveness of drugs and given varying dosages of treatments in order to compare their effectiveness on illnesses ranging from amoebic dysentery to tuberculosis. In Saskatchewan, children living on reserves were used to test the effectiveness of a new tuberculosis vaccine.

At a reserve in northern Manitoba, researchers visiting in the 1940s suspected malnutrition was behind several cases of blindness as well as an outbreak of tuberculosis. In order to test their theory, they gave nutritional supplements to 125 people. The others on the 300-person reserve were used as a control group, left to fend off malnutrition amid a collapsing fur trade and sharp limits on government aid.

Years later, researchers noted they had seen an improvement in health among those given the supplements.

Merchant believed that the number of those affected by the experiments could run into the thousands. “Some people don’t even know that they were the subject of experiments,” he said. “In some instances we can prove that principals of the schools said, ‘Well, we need consent,’ and they said, ‘We’re not going to ask for consent.’”

The lawsuit is directed at the federal government, as it was Canada that established, funded and oversaw residential schools, Indian hospitals and sanatoriums.

The plaintiff in the case is John Pambrun, 77, a First Nations man who spent nearly six years of his childhood in Indian hospitals and sanatoriums. In 1955 – long after antibiotics had become the standard treatment for tuberculosis – doctors removed part of his right lung, according to court documents.

“We can’t find anything in the medical records that indicates that he even had tuberculosis,” said Merchant. “We’re just mystified.”

The years of treatment took him away from his family and his education, while the partial loss of a lung left him suffering shortness of breath and limited his employment options. “It has just been gnawing him all these years that he was mistreated by a nation that took him into their care and had a special responsibility for his care,” said Merchant.

Many of the allegations contained in the lawsuit stem from investigations done by Ian Mosby at the University of Guelph.In research published in 2013, he documented more than a decade of nutritional experiments on indigenous peoples.

In a statement to the Guardian, a spokesperson for Canada’s indigenous and northern affairs department described news of the allegations as “very troubling”. Noting that the federal government had yet to review the statement of claim, the ministry declined to comment further.

While Merchant acknowledged that the lawsuit was aimed at the government of the day, rather than the many governments who allegedly allowed these experiments to happen under their watch, he described it as part of Canada’s fledgling efforts to confront its historical mistreatment of the country’s indigenous population.

“We’re in a time of patching our relationship with indigenous people,” he said. “So to go back and recognise that there was wrong and pay compensation, I think, is important.”

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India – Adivasis Are Not Begging For Charity, But Their Constitutional Rights

Government or the bureaucracy doesn’t consider Adivasis as a community/social group and not even as a citizen with their own social and cultural identity. Renowned writer and Dalit intellectual Sunny M Kapikkad has stated, “ The government considers Adivasis as state subjects. What government does is to feed its subjects. First of all these projects have to be withdrawn.”

When the Adivasi children of Attappady are dying of starvation caused by the destruction of their ecosystem and their traditional agricultural practices, what the government does is to give them some rice and dal curry through community kitchens! Instead of giving adivasis their constitutional rights of self governance and forest rights Left Front Government in Kerala is behaving like a totalitarian state. The government’s attitude towards Adivasis is just like any other totalitarian state. The Kerala government doesn’t even consider Adivasis as citizens, not to speak of the constitutionally guaranteed special rights. What Adivasis need is not charity but their constitutional rights.

The Sabotage of Adivasi Self Governance

Act 244 (1), Schedule (5), (6) of Indian constitution guarantees Adivasi areas right to self governance. Schedule (6) applied only to  the North Eastern states of Assam, Meghalya, Tripura and Missoram. The Government of India has agreed in 1976 to bring all other Adivasi areas of India under Schedule (5) and declare them are Scheduled Tribe areas. Once the area has been notified as Scheduled Tribe, Adivasi Gramasabhas (Adivasi advisory council) will get sovereignty of the designated area. In these scheduled areas most decisions will be made by these Adivasi Gramasabhas, including land transfer and the restrictions on it, development of the area, trade and money transfer etc. Most importantly the authority to implement the laws made by central or state governments in the designated area wrests with the Gramasabhas. If they deem it’s not in the interest of the Adivasis, they will have the right not to implement it in the scheduled areas. Adivasi self governance gives the right to protect their ecosystem and farming practices. Adivasi rights got big boost when in 1996 PESA ACT (Panchayath Extension to the Scheduled Area, Act 1996 ) was implemented.

These are the main provisions of the PESA Act:

  1. The laws that the state government makes about Panchayats should be compatible to the ritualistic laws of Adivasis, their social and religious customs, the handlings of the common resources of the Adivasis.
  2. The projects and programmes that the Panchayat initiates for the development of the Adivasis should be approved by the Gramasabha
  3. Panchayat and the Gramasabha should arrive at a consensus if land of the scheduled areas is to be acquisitioned for development projects and also on the rehabilitation of the evicted Adivasis.
  4. Gramasabhas has the authority to re-acquisition the Adivasi land lost to the Adivasis
  5. The authority to run village markets
  6. The authority to extend control over all parties who are in social service sector working in the scheduled area
  7. The authority to control locally planned projects and its financial management including the Tribal Sub-plan fund

Even though there was constitutional mandate and the relevant laws were passed, Kerala government and civil society did not find it necessary to discuss or enact the Adivasi self governance laws or PESA Act until Adivasis started the historic ‘Kudil Ketti Samaram’ in August 29, 2001. After 48 days of strike, on October 16 government agreed to give land to all landless Adivasis, for this government would allocate land including forest land and to implement Adivasi self-governance. The government also agreed to implement it in a time bound manner.

As usual the government cheated on the Adivasis and didn’t implement the committed assurances. It is in this context that in January 3, 2003 that Adivasis began their ‘Kudil Ketty Samaram’ in Muthanga forest.  When the agitators announced that they are only reinforcing the constitutionally guaranteed right to self governance and that Muthanga forest where they set up hutments is a scheduled tribe self governance area, the government and the media spread the lie that ‘Adivasis are trying to create a separate country.’ They rubbished and denied  the constitutional rights of Adivasis. On 19 February 2003, police forced opened fire on innocent Adivasis. Jogi, an Adivasi died on the spot. Police also unleashed a brutal physical assault on the hapeless Adivasis. At least 10 Adivasis died later on who became sick from the brutal police assault. Many became bedridden. Over 700 Adivasi women, children and elderly were jailed. In spite of all laws protecting child rights, 148 children were jailed. This is one of the greatest blot on modern Kerala history. Still, Adivasis haven’t got justice.

When all doors were closed on the Adivasis, On July 9, 2014 Adivasis started a ‘standing protest’ (Nilpu Samaram) in front of the Kerala secretariate with the slogan that “ To keep word is a democratic decency”. Adivasis continued this standing protest for 162 days under scorching sun and pouring rain with the demand that Adivasi self governance and the forest rights acts must be implemented.  On December 18, 2014 Congress led Oomman Chandy government agreed the main demands of the protesters. Government gave a report to the central government to implement PESA Act in 2445 Adivasi ooru in 31 Panchayats and 3 municipalities of Wayanad, Palakkad, Idukki, Kannur and Malappuram districts. This report was given on April 7, 2015.

The communist party led Left Front Government assumed power on May 25, 2016. Ever since the new government assumed office they are scuttling the process to implement the earlier recommendation of the UDF government to implement PESA Act. The government even care to do follow up on the report given to the central government.

A question was raised in Kerala Assembly as to the process of implementing PESA Act. The Scheduled Tribe Welfare minister A.K Balan gave an evasive answer. He said, “ There is no clarity on the boundaries of Adivasi ooru.  The problems that may come up in implementing Adivasi self governance areas within the same Panchayt wards have to be looked into in detail.”

The ministers stand bewilders Adivasis, since it has been clearly pointed out how PESA Act can be implemented in the Kerala context during the 2014 ‘standing protest’, before that during the ‘kudil ketty samaram’. It is indeed a fact that PESA Act can not be implemented in its entirety in Kerala except in the Adivasi majority Attappady Block of Palakkadu district, Edamalakkudy Panchayat in Idukki district and Aralam in Kannur district. All other Adivasi areas are not Adivasi majority areas and are interspersed with local population. It was pointed out that if the government enacts a law that acknowledge the Adivasi ooru as gramasabha the problem can be solved. The same thing was advised by Kerala Institute of Local Administration (KILA) in a study conducted in 2016.

PESA Act only acknowledges the legacy rights of Ooru. This includes land also. To determine the land boundaries is not such a difficult. The government can determine boundaries and do the mapping within months, if it wishes so. Still the Scheduled Tribe Welfare (?) minister informs the assembly that this is an impossible task. This shows the intention of the government not to implement PESA Act in Kerala.

On August 9, 2017 Scheduled Tribe Welfare minister informed the Kerala Assembly that a high power committee has been formed to determine scheduled tribe areas. Efforts to find out the workings of this committee never materialized. When the issue was raised to the director of KILA who is a member of this committee, he feigned ignorance and kept silence.   It is reliably learnt that this committee has never met. From the functioning of the Communist led Left Front government so far, it can be understood that they have no interest to implement PESA Act or to give self governance to Adivasis.

On the other hand the government is very proactive in giving land rights to the migrant communities of Idukki and Wayanad. Even the Chief Minister himself chaired many meetings for this. Why this negligence towards Adivasis? It is nothing other than racist and casteist attitude towards the Adivasis.

When the Adivasis youth Madhu was lynched in Attappady in a racist act by the settlers this racist attitude of the government reached its logical conclusion. Adivasis of Kerala are fighting for their survival. The Adivasis of Kerala will overcome this casteist and racist attitude of the government with a new democratic movement.

K. Santhosh Kumar is a social activist working for dalit/aadivasi land and resource rights

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India -Corporate takeover or ‘tackling Naxalism?’ Adivasis losing sovereignty over their natural resources


National Alliance of People’s Movements statement on recent encounters: 

The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM) unequivocally condemns the recent series of killings of Adivasis by the CRPF and C-60 elite anti-Naxal force of the Indian State in the name of ‘encounters’ at Gadchiroli (Maharashtra) and Bijapur (Chhattisgarh). Various news reports have revealed that at least 39 people, including 19 women were killed on 22nd – 23rd, April at Gadchiroli and 8 people, including 6 women were killed on 27th April at Bijapur. Some of those killed and/or have gone missing are, reportedly minors.

Barely a month ago, Telangana’s elite anti-Naxal force Greyhounds gunned down 10 suspected Maoists, including 6 women. Estimates point that in the past four months alone, the toll of alleged Maoist killings has risen to 108. Killings of this scale, which should have shocked and shaken the ‘collective conscience’ of this nation, unfortunately, does not even make evoke the necessary outrage, what with the State ever-ready to package these as deaths as necessary, rather inevitable, for safeguarding ‘national interests’!

Numerous civil liberties groups have already raised disturbing questions about the circumstances of these ‘encounters’, the unilateral nature of the attack and deaths, the ‘unpreparedness’ of the ‘maoists’ who had reportedly camped nearby for a wedding party, disproportionality of the use of force with Under Barrel Grenade Launchers (UBGL) bound to cause excessive causalities, more bodies fished out vis-à-vis arms recovered. Followed by the ruthlessness and scale of the attack, what left us dumbfounded was the ‘celebration’ of these killings by certain jawans!

Encounter killings both in the ‘maoist-infested’ regions as well as in certain other states have crept into the state policy in an unannounced way and are being brutally employed to shut down dissenting voices and people. Uttar Pradesh shines brightly on this front with over 1,000 encounter killings to its credit in the past one year!

While encounter killings in the Adivasi-populated, geopolitical terrain of the Central and Eastern India have a different and larger context in some ways, it is important to also note that at least since 2014, concerned of the increasing number of such unaccounted and unaccountable encounters, the Supreme Court laid down elaborate guidelines to be followed while inquiring into encounter deaths and directed that these guidelines shall serve as law of the land under Article 141 of the Constitution.

This set of 16 guidelines includes recording of ‘tip-off’ of any criminal activity, registration of FIR and prompt forwarding of FIR, diary entries, panchnamas, sketch, etc. to the competent court, independent investigation by CID or a police officer above the rank of officer leading the team that indulged in encounter, magisterial inquiry under Sec 176 Cr.P.C, furnishing all information to NHRC / SHRC, expeditions trial, six-monthly report by DGPs of all states to NHRC on encounter killings / police firings, compensation to family of deceased; legal, medical services as required, disciplinary action against concerned officers, refraining from glorification and grant of gallantry awards without establishment of facts, option for family to approach sessions judge in case of questions about the impartiality of inquiry. However, one finds that in a large number of instances, meticulous compliance with even these minimum guidelines is not ensured.

What is worrisome for any democratic, peace-loving citizen of this country is that these heavily forested areas inhabited by countless Adivasi communities come under the protected Schedule V status of the Constitution. These areas are supposed to be administered and governed by Governors of these regions along with consultation by Tribal Advisory Committees constituted with three-fourth members from Scheduled Tribes. The Governors are directly answerable to the President of India regarding the political situation of these areas

. However, what we have been witnessing is an absolute police-raj and paramilitary-raj in these areas in the name of ‘eliminating naxalism’, backed by state-impunity, at the behest of corporate interests. India’s anti-insurgency and anti-terrorism laws like Section 121 of IPC and UAPA are implemented with a heavy hand whereas talk, let alone implementation, of Schedule V, Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996; Forest Rights Act, 2006; Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989 is nowhere to be seen in government parlance or policy of these adivasis areas.

Recently, numerous Adivasi villages of Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh erected stone memorials with the Schedule 5 tenets inscribed on them to assert their special status as enshrined in the Indian Constitution. These assertions were suppressed again by heavy police action and made infamous as the Pathalgadi incident by jingoistic media.  What makes it doubly disturbing is that these forests are homes to Adivasis rich in mineral reserves, forest produce, endangered species of flora and fauna and have been the favorite target of neo-liberal multinational corporations. Adivasi communities living in these areas since centuries have already faced the brunt of colonial oppression and forest mafia and continue to live on the margins, fighting an unequal battle against predatory onslaughts on their autonomy and survival. Various fact-finding missions have time and again established that many Adivasi men and even women are routinely picked up, detained, arrested for months-on, tortured, without legal aid. Adivasi women and at times even young boys are subject to worse forms of sexual violence and rapes.  In the specific context of Gadchiroli, the mass ‘encounter’ also needs to be seen as a counter-strategy by the State to delegitimize the mass uprising by Adivasis against mining by companies in the Surjagarh Hill area.

It is indeed unfortunate that the Indian government is choosing to establish the Rule of Law in these areas only through brute force and not by active political and social intervention. This mindset also reflects the bias and prejudice through which the ‘adivasi’ subject has been viewed historically. Equally condemnable is the violence, jailing, fabricated cases on democratic activists who are asserting the legal and human rights of Adivasis in the region. One is not unmindful of or condoning the violence by Maoists in previous instances such as Sukma, Burkapal, Chintalnar etc. leading to casualties of many jawans. However, the ‘welfare State’, as it claims to be, has an ethical and constitutional duty and is also more privileged in terms of the impunity and enormous power it enjoys to reach out for a meaningful and lasting political dialogue for peace in the region.

We condemn tactics by the state-police-corporate nexus of branding all Adivasi resistance as ‘Left Wing Extremism’ in order to use brute force as seen in the case of Niyamgiri. The very survival of our democracy depends on our environmental and ecological heritage along with participation by Adivasi cultures that have inhabited these natural reserves in harmony and sustenance for centuries.. No amount of war and neo-liberal scramble for natural resources will guarantee our survival in the future where more than profits we need clean air, water, food and life of dignity for all communities. Only by allowing autonomy in Adivasi areas through Gram Sabhas as enshrined by the Constitution can be a way towards peace in these areas.

We demand that the directives issued by the Apex Court in PUCL vs the State of Maharashtra be fully implemented in all cases of ‘encounter-killings’ including in the recent Gadchiroli and Bijapur ‘encounters’. Given the scale and circumstances of these killings, a high-level, independent judicial probe is warranted.

We call upon the Indian government to fundamentally reflect upon its policy of military suppression of Adivasis and Adivasi resistance in the forests of Central and Eastern India and reach out with a meaningful political dialogue, stopping all forms of violence, including searches, raids, arrest, rapes, and harassment of Adivasis and activists.

We urge Governors of the states of Jharkhand, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh, Orissa, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh to live to up to their constitutional mandate and intervene in territories that are under their care and supervision in consultation with Tribal Advisory Committees and the President of India and ensure full implementation of all legislation that safeguard interests of adivasis.

We appeal to the National Human Rights Commission to take immediate notice of the relentless state repression on Adivasis and prevent human rights abuses by security forces in Schedule V areas.

Endorsed by: 

  • Medha Patkar, Narmada BachaoAndolan (NBA) and National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM)
  • Aruna Roy, Nikhil Dey and Shankar Singh, MazdoorKisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS), National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, NAPM
  • Prafulla Samantara, Lok Shakti Abhiyan; Lingraj Azad, Samajwadi Jan Parishad & Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti, NAPM Odisha
  • Sunilam, Adv. AradhnaBhargava, KisanSangharshSamiti, Rajkumar Sinha, Bargi Baandh Visthapit evam Prabhavit Sangh, NAPM, Madhya Pradesh
  • Chennaiah, Andhra Pradesh VyavasayaVruthidarula Union-APVVU, Ramakrishnam Raju, United Forum for RTI and NAPM,MeeraSanghamitra, Rajesh Serupally, NAPM Telangana – Andhra Pradesh
  • Dr Binayak Sen, Peoples’ Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL); GautamBandopadhyay, Nadi Ghati Morcha; KaladasDahariya, RELAA, NAPM Chhattisgarh
  • Kavita Srivastava, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL); Kailash Meena, NAPM Rajasthan 
  • Sandeep Pandey, Socialist Party;Richa Singh, Sangatin;ArundhatiDhuru, Manesh Gupta, NAPM, Uttar Pradesh 
  • Gabriele Dietrich, Penn UrimayIyakkam, Madurai;Geetha Ramakrishnan, Unorganised Sector Workers Federation; Arul Doss, NAPM Tamilnadu 
  • Sister Celia, Domestic Workers Union; Maj Gen (Retd) S.G.Vombatkere, NAPM, Karnataka 
  • Vilayodi Venugopal, CR Neelakandan, Prof. Kusumam Joseph, NAPM, Kerala
  • Anand Mazgaonkar, Swati Desai, Krishnakant, Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti, NAPM Gujarat 
  • VimalBhai, Matu Jan sangathan; Jabar Singh, NAPM, Uttarakhand 
  • Dayamani Barla, Aadivasi-MoolnivasiAstivtva Raksha Samiti; Basant Kumar Hetamsaria and Ashok Verma, NAPM Jharkhand
  • Samar Bagchi, Amitava Mitra, NAPM West Bengal
  • Suniti SR, SuhasKolhekar, Prasad Bagwe, &Bilal Khan, GharBachaoGharBanaoAndolan, Mumbai NAPMMaharashtra 
  • Anjali Bharadwaj, National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI), NAPM
  • Faisal Khan, KhudaiKhidmatgar; J S Walia, NAPM Haryana
  • Guruwant Singh, NAPM Punjab
  • Kamayani Swami, AshishRanjan, Jan Jagran Shakti Sangathan; MahendraYadav, KosiNavnirmanManch; Sister Dorothy, Ujjawal Chaubey, NAPM Bihar
  • Bhupender Singh Rawat, Jan SangharshVahini; Sunita Rani, Domestic Workers Union;Rajendra Ravi, Nanhu Prasad, Madhuresh Kumar, Amit Kumar, Himshi Singh, Uma, NAPM, Delhi

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Chhattisgarh- Trafficking, confinement and physical violence on a minor adivasi girl from Bijapur by ASI



On 3/5/2018, we found out that the present ASI, Shailendra Singh, Civil Lines police station, Bilaspur and his wife, Shashi Singh who is a teacher at Chakarbhata, brought alongwith them a 16-year-old minor girl from Gangaloor, Bijapur some 2 years back. They promised the parents of the girl that they will give her monthly salary for household work and will take care of her studies and give her clothes etc. Thefamily of the girl, an economically marginalised gond Adivasi family, vested their good faith in the ASI and his wife and sent their daughter with them. But after bringing her to Bilaspur, the couple put the girlin confinement in their house. The minor child was not allowed to step outside the house and was not even once in these two years allowed to meet or talk to her family or go back to bijapur. Even when the parents used to call the ASI to speak with their daughter, she was never allowed to speak to them. Shortly after bringing the minor girl to Bilaspur, both started beating the child. They used to beat the minorgirl on every small thing and forced her to continue working for them without any salary. As per the girl, Shashi Singh, once kicked the girl in the eye for leaving a speck of dust while cleaning the house.Whenever they used to go out, they would lock the girl in the house and go.

The matter became public, when a local anonymous woman complained about this through women’s helpline. After which, the women’s helpline approached the Sakhi Centre and rescued the girl from theASI’s home. When the girl was recused, her condition was extremely serious. The girl had red colored patch in her eyes i.e. blood clots in her eyes and eye contusion i.e. bruise around her eye. The little fingerof the right hand was swollen and bent and the girl was profusely crying.

Initially the police was helping in the case but by the evening it seemed that the police was trying to white-wash the case. Even after the matter became public, no FIR was registered for 2 days. Later afterintervention of some lawyers and activists, FIR was finally registered late in the night around 9 PM. Medical was also conducted of the girl, which clearly spells out all the injuries that the minor girl sufferedand the reason for it, i.e. beatings. Inspite of the incident clearly being one of Human trafficking, that charge was not added to the FIR. FIR was finally registered under Section 342, 294, 506, 504, 34 IPC and STSC act.

This is not an isolated incident but an example of how huge number of Adivasi men, women, children are trafficked every year to metropolitan cities, whether through abduction or fraud. People in the cities,take advantage of the economic difficulties of the tribals and falsely promise them a good life in the name of jobs etc but are instead abused and forced to work as bonded labourers in household, factories,etc in complete violation of their human rights.

Priyanka, Nikita and Isha

Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group

[email protected]

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Dahanu Turns Red As Farmers Converge to Protest Land Grab for Bullet Train

Dahanu Turns Red As Farmers Converge to Protest Land Grab for Bullet Train

 MUMBAI: The 1.5 kilometres from Sagar Naka to to Paar Naka in Dahanu was a river of red on Thursday last week. The forceful acquisition of land for Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s pet bullet train project had brought more than 50,000 farmers and villagers of Palghar district on to the roads to protest this action of the government.

The farmers, rallied under the banner of the All India Kisan Sabha( AIKS) to prevent the government for acquiring over 1000 acres of fertile agricultural land for the Mumbai-Ahmedabad high speed rail corridor(MAHSRC) and Mumabi-Vadora Expressway .

The MAHSRC r bullet train project being rushed into by both the Maharashtra and Gujarat governments is centred around a rail corridor that will originate from Bandra Kurla complex in Mumbai, pass through Thane and Palghar districts of Maharashtra and terminate at Sabarmati in Gujrat.

On April 9, farmers of Gujrat had gathered in Vadodara where the stakeholders meeting had taken place to protest against the project that will leave them without their land.

According to the National High-Speed Rail Corporation, construction of the bullet train project will acquire more than 850 hectares of land in Gujarat, Maharashtra at the cost of local farmers’s livelihood.

On Wednesday, MAHSR officials visited Dahanu Village in Palghar district to conduct a survey for the bullet train route but the residents were not informed. The farmers said that the government had deliberately kept them in the dark. When the news about the survey spread there was a spontaneous protest with the farmers shouting slogans against the government and the officials undertaking the survey.

AIKS leader Ashok Dhawale told The Citizen “ Earlier, we had depended on the government’s oral assurance ato us on this issue but later we asked them to give it in writing which the state government of Maharashtra did. The document meeting our demands was signed by the Chief Secretary of Maharashtra and the Chief Minister himself agreed to table it in the State Assembly and yet they are now trying to acquire this agricultural land that will displace the farmers from their homes. It is a complete act of betrayal by the state government.”

So now what? Dhawale was categorical “If they do not listen to us, we will silently drive them out of the place.” He said that it was understandable that government projects had to be undertaken and executed and that he and his organisation were not against development. But this should not compromise the needs and rights of the farmers. “Never at the cost of the farmers”, he said firmly.

The protest came just a month after the All India Kisan Sabha’s long march from Nashik to Mumbai. More than 50,000 farmers had marched overnight to camp in Mumbai until their demands were conceded. A panicky state government met the farmers delegation and gave a written assurance that the farmers demands on bad loans, compensation, land rights would be met.

AIKS Joint Secretary Vijoo Krishnan who is a key figure in the mobilisation of agitated farmers across the country told The Citizen, “This is an uprising of the agrarian sector and it has been happening for the last two years. It is happening in many parts of the country such as Rajasthan, Karnataka and Madhya Pradesh apart from Maharashtra. There were various kinds of agitations prior to this and now we have an active participation of about 50,000 farmers. This is a protest for the farmer’s livelihood and since the BJP government has breached their faith, it has taken a political colour. Our agitations are not confined to BJP ruled states but also in Karnataka, the Congress-ruled state.”

Agrarian expert P. Sainath said in the New York Times, “Cultivation costs have risen manifold since the mid-1990s but the farmers incomes have stagnated or declined. Seeds, fertilizers, and pesticides are firmly in the hands of corporations.” He added, “Public-sector banks have turned away from small and marginal farmers since the late 1990s.”

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