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Archives for : Chattisgarh

#India – 215 Dead in Chhattisgarh Industrial Mishaps in Last 2 Yrs’

Official seal of Chhattisgarh

Official seal of Chhattisgarh (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

RAIPUR | FEB 12, 2014

 

At least 215 labourers employed in various units across Chhattisgarh were killed in industrial mishaps in the last two years, the state assembly was told today.

In a written reply to a question raised by a Opposition member, Labour Minister Amar Agrawal said, “mishaps occurred at 209 industrial places in which 215 labourers were killed while 139 injured during 2012 to 2014 (January 20).

Earlier replying to another query by senior Congress member Dhanendra Sahu over violations of Labour Act, Agrawal informed the House that as many as 9,802 cases were registered against different industries in past four years (from 2010 till January 2014) for violation of labour act and after investigation, cases were put up in the court for further proceedings.

However, Sahu further sought to know about how many cases were disposed and what action taken on them.

In his reply, Labour Minister Amar Agrawal said around 3,793 cases have been disposed and about 4.14 crore recovered from the guilty industries during this period.

Efforts are underway to bring labour court direct under the ambit of High Court in the state which will ensure speedy disposal of cases in this connection, the minister added.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Press Release – Chhattisgarh Police trying to falsely Implicate Prof. Nandini Sundar- PUCL

                                PEOPLE’S UNION FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES

                      270-A, Patpar Ganj, Opposite Anand Lok Apartments, Mayur Vihar I,

 Delhi 110 091

Phone 2275 0014                    PP FAX 4215 1459

Founder: Jayaprakash Narayan; Founding President: V M Tarkunde

  

President: Prof. Prabhakar Sinha; General Secretary: Dr. V. Suresh

                                                                          29th January , 2014                        

PRESS STATEMENT

People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL) is greatly concerned and  strongly condemns the attempt of  the Chhattisgarh government to somehow implicate noted Sociologist Prof. Nandini Sundar, Head of Department of Sociology, Dellhi School of Economics and others associated with her for alleged links with banned Maoists in Chhattisgarh. The fact that this is yet another attempt by the Chhattisgarh government to threaten, intimidate and silence anyone raising issues of accountability by state police and government to constitutional requirements and human rights laws is evident by the incident of 28th January, 2014, when Badri Gowde, Vice-President of the Congress party of Antagarh Block who was arrested and in the custody of the State Police was made to address the media in the presence of senior police officials and to allege that he had arranged for meeting between Prof. Sundar and Maoists. The Additional Director General of Police (Intelligence), Mr. Mukesh Gupta, is also reported by media persons to have made unsubstantiated allegation about Prof. Nandini Sundar.

This  conduct of the Chhattisgarh police is highly objectionable, totally illegal, against constitutional principles and condemnable. It is not the  business of the police to arrange for media events with accused – arrested persons. This not only compromises fair and independent investigation but also highlights the biased nature of police investigation lending strength to the complaint that the police are only trying to silence voices of constitutionality and accountability. It also raises the disturbing issue of politicization of issues by the police who have a constitutional duty to enforce rule of law and not to indulge in character assassination, false implication and other similar violations of law.

This unacceptable conduct of the Chhattisgarh government and police vindictively attacking the credibility and independence of any constitutionally minded citizen raising queries about unconstitutional conduct of the Chhattisgarh government has been adversely commented upon by the Supreme Court. In the PIL filed by Prof. Nandini Sundar and others challenging the constitutionality of the Salwa Judum, the apex court remarked:

“The situation in Chattisgarh is undoubtedly deeply distressing to any reasonable person. What was doubly dismaying to us was the repeated insistence, by the respondents, that the only option for the State was to rule with an iron fist, establish a social order in which every person is to be treated as suspect, and any one speaking for human rights of citizens to be deemed as suspect, and a MaoistIn this bleak, and miasmic world view propounded by the respondents in the instant case, historian Ramchandra Guha, noted academic Nandini Sunder, civil society leader Swami Agnivesh, and a former and well reputed bureaucrat, E.A.S. Sarma, were all to be treated as Maoists, or supporters of Maoists. We must state that we were aghast at the blindness to constitutional limitations of the State of Chattisgarh, and some of its advocates, in claiming that any one who questions the conditions of inhumanity that are rampant in many parts of that state ought to necessarily be treated as Maoists, or their sympathizers, and yet in the same breath also claim that it needs the constitutional sanction, under our Constitution, to perpetrate its policies of ruthless violence against the people of Chattisgarh to establish a Constitutional order”. (emphasis ours)

             (Nandini Sundar vs State of Chhattisgarh, 5.7.2011)

 

It is unfortunate that the Chhattisgarh government instead of respecting and abiding by the Supreme Court verdict asking it to respect rule of law and disband Salwa Judum should instead continue to threaten, harass and intimidate activists who have highlighted the brazen human rights violations committed by the state police and other groups under its patronage.

The reason why the latest attempt to silence Prof. Nandini should not be taken lightly is for the fact of the vicious actions of the government and state police in arresting numerous persons who have questioned its policies. Amongst those who have been `prisoners of conscience’ are Dr. Binayak Sen, National Vice-President of the PUCL and a vocal critic of Salwa Judum, and Shri. Kartam Joga, a CPI leader and an elected member of the Janpad Panchayat of the Konta area, who was also one of the Supreme Court petitioners challenging Salwa Judum.

PUCL condemns this brazen attempt of the Chhattisgarh government to criminalize dissent and silence critics.

The latest attempt to link Prof Sundar and others associated with her to Maoists comes in the background of proposed large-scale iron ore mining activity in the Rowghat area of Chhattisgarh, which is being actively opposed by local tribal populations.  The local opposition is sought to be quelled by deployment of 22 companies of BSF and CRPF forces.  Being a Fifth Schedule Area, any mining activity and all military encampments in the Rowghat hills require the approval of village level committees, the Gram Sabhas, which have not yet been obtained. Several constitutional minded citizens of India, including Prof Nandini Sundar, have been drawing attention to the failure of the state in following its own legal mechanisms of utilization of resources, and it is in the wake of such protests that the current allegations against Prof Sundar have surfaced. All this is happening despite the fact that Prof. Nandini Sundar is on record to declare her deep respect for rule of law and constitutional principles, human rights and democratic values.

PUCL demands that the Chhattisgarh government  and the state police upholds the civil liberties and fundamental rights enshrined in the Indian Constitution and puts an immediate end to the harassment and vindictive witch hunt of constitutionally minded citizens  through such motivated,  damaging, dangerous and defamatory  police claims. Additionally, it is imperative that the directives of the Supreme Court are followed, local tribal communities are compensated for atrocities suffered by them during the Salwa Judum period, schools and hospitals are immediately vacated by security forces, and PESA rules governing scheduled areas are strictly followed.

 

Prof. Prabhakar Sinha, National President                                                               Sd/ -Dr. V. Suresh, National General Secretary

 

———————

Dr. V. Suresh,

National General Secretary, PUCL – People’s Union for Civil Liberties,
270-A, Patparganj, Opp. Anandlok Apartments,
Mayur Vihar – I, Delhi 110091, India.
Ph.: +91-11-22750014; (Fax): +91-11-42151459.
Personal: +91-9444231497.

 

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#Chhattisgarh – Poll of shame: 15 nominees face serious criminal charges

, TNN | Nov 2, 2013,

RAIPUR: Candidates in Chhattisgarh are up for a challenging contest this poll season. Though they promise to provide safety to voters, there are a few, who are embroiled in criminal acts themselves. Six candidates contesting in the first phase are facing serious criminal charges, including murder, kidnapping, and crime against women, while nine contestants have other charges against them.

Association for Democratic Reforms and National Election Watch study revealed that among the 143 contestants, who have declared self-sworn affidavits in 18 constituencies, 15 such candidates have criminal and serious criminal charges against them.

Party wise, two of the 18 candidates fielded by the Congress have criminal cases against them, while three of 18 contestants from BJP, two of 18 from Bahujan Samaj Party and one of five candidates from SP have criminal cases mentioned in their affidavits.

Mahesh Gagda of BJP in Bijapur constituency is the only candidate, who is facing charges of murder against him, while Madhu Maurya, aSamajwadi Party candidate in Bastar constituency faces charges of causing death by negligence.

Paras Lal Ganghel from BSP in Khairagarh in Rajnandgaon has one charge related to assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty and another related to wrongful restraint.

Others, who face similar charges are Raja Ram Todam contesting from Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Manch, along with another charge related to acts by several people in furtherance of common intention. Similarly, Vikra Mandavi of Congress contesting from Bijapur, faces both the charges against him along with Manish Kumjan, a senior leader of Communist Party of India (CPI) contesting from Konta.

Another candidate, who has maximum number of charges against him, is Rajesh Gupta of Chhattisgarh Swabhiman Manch (CSM) contesting from Rajnandgaon is pitted against chief minister Raman Singh. The charges against him are related to kidnapping/ abducting with intent to secretly and wrongfully confine a person, for voluntarily causing hurt, for his involvement in obscene acts and songs, for rioting, for wrongful restraint, mischief causing damage to the amount of Rs 50 of which, he was convicted in two cases.

Charges of cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property and forgery of valuable security have been declared by Madhukar Banjare of Congress in Rajnandgaon, which includes using forged documents. Hemlal Markam of Gondwana Ganatantra Party in Kanker faces similar charges, including criminal intimidation and those mentioned above.

Defamation charges are being faced by three candidates, including Komal Janghel of BJP in Rajnandgaon, Girwar Janghel of Congress in Khairagarh and Arvind Kumar Nandeshwar of BSP in Rajnandgaon.

As per the data the constituencies with maximum registered criminal records is Rajnandgaon district. With a motive to provide transparency to the voters so that they choose the right candidate, their details are being made public, said a member of ADR.

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#India – Chhattisgarh mining probe ‘aborted’ as Centre winds up Shah panel #WTFnews

SUVOJIT BAGCHI, The Hindu

  • A view of the Bastar mountains from the Indrawati river. —Photo: Suvojit Bagchi
    A view of the Bastar mountains from the Indrawati river. —Photo: Suvojit Bagchi
  • Justice M.B.Shah
    Justice M.B.Shah

Commission’s term ends on October 16, Ministry denies it third extension

The Centre is not extending the tenure of the Justice M.B. Shah Commission, inquiring into illegal mining in seven States. With its tenure ending on October 16, the one-man panel will have to wind up within two weeks, without a thorough probe into irregularities in one of the severely mined States, Chhattisgarh, a source in the Commission informed The Hindu . The Commission was giving mining barons a hard time with its exhaustive research and in-depth investigation over the last few years.

Given the complex and voluminous nature of data collection and compilation, the Commission was given two extensions earlier in July 2012 and July 2013. However, no reason for termination was cited this time. “We made a request to extend the tenure, but were told by the Ministry of Mines that an extension is not possible any more,” said an official attached to the Commission on condition of anonymity.

Its primary investigator, U.V. Singh, is quoted in a letter to the Ministry as saying, “…although the Commission has requested an extension… the Ministry has categorically denied its request, thus the Commission would no longer be coming to Chhattisgarh.” The letter, written by a leading alliance of various activist groups, the Chhattisgarh Bachao Andolon (CBA), has strongly condemned the termination of the tenure, insisting on the “need to continue investigation with on-site verifications” as the Commission has done in Orissa, Goa, Karnataka and Jharkhand.

Two earlier reports of the Commission, appointed in November 2010, on illegal mining across the country and in Goa have led to the closure of several mines, including one of the largest iron ore mines in Bellary, Karnataka. Now, the Commission will not be able to conduct detailed hearings in three of the States listed in its terms of reference — Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. It has, however, decided to submit an “elementary” report about the “un-probed” States on the basis of its preliminary findings, sources told The Hindu .

The officer in charge of the Commission in the Ministry refused to provide an explanation to The Hindu , on its termination. “I will talk to you only after Secretary tells me,” the officer said and refused to come on the phone the rest of the week.It is an open secret in South Chhattisgarh that the NMDC’s Bailadila mine is illegally dumping thousands of tonnes of iron ore fines into the Indravati, Shankhini and Dankini rivers. As far back as 1990, the Union government’s Science and Technology cell reported that the NMDC’s mining activity and release of effluents “had damaged not just the rivers but also 35,000 hectare of agricultural and forest land around Bailadila,” noted the Centre for Science and Environment’s extensive mining survey, “Rich Lands Poor People,” a few years ago.

“The situation in Dalli Rajhara mines, after fifty years of mining by the Bhilai Steel Plant (BSP), is not much better. 90 per cent of the forest land has been converted [in]to open pit mines, which has led to the disappearance of hundreds of borewells and a consequent severe groundwater crisis,” the CBA said in its letter to the Ministry. However, granting of mining leases has not slowed down. A 2013 report of the Chhattsigarh government says 18 leases have been sanctioned for iron ore mining of 8,758.25 hectare in the State. Twelve of the 18 mines are in the Bastar region and as “the work ensues, the tribals will be displaced from their land illegally,” the CBA letter said. The BSP is also in the process of opening up massive Raoghat mines in Kanker in a couple of years.

In this context, a visit by the Commission was “absolutely necessary,” said Bastar residents.

“Three million people of Bastar, predominantly tribals, were looking forward [to the Commission hearing]. Sad that Government of India did not realise that,” said Dantewada’s seniormost journalist N.R.K. Pillai.

 

  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/india-villagers-denounce-public-hearing-on-setting-up-coal-mines-in-chhattisgarh/" target="_blank"> #India – Villagers denounce public hearing on setting up coal mines in Chhattisgarh

 

 

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Polavaram project violates Forest Act, claims PAPP

By Express News Service – MALKANGIRI

10th August 2013 10:44 AM

President of Protest Against Polavaram Project (PAPP) committee Pravakar Hantal on Friday alleged that the Indira Sagar Polavaram project violates Forest Rights Act and Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas (PESA) Act, 1996 as it does not have the approval of gram sabhas of hundreds of villages that would be submerged in Odisha, Chhattisgarh and Andhra Pradesh if the project comes up.

PAPP, an inter-State committee consisting of various tribal organisations of Andhra Pradesh, Chhattisgarh and Odisha organised a protest meeting at Chintur mandalam in Khamam district of Andhra Pradesh on Friday. Hantal criticised the Central Government for remaining a mute spectator to the progress of the project which will affect tribals of three States.

The project will wipe out many primitive tribal groups besides destroying the habitat of lakhs of tribals and forest resources. “The environment clearance given for Polavaram is not valid as there have been fundamental changes in the design of the project.” The project work was started without prior environment clearance making it mandatory for the Environment Ministry to treat the clearance, if any, as invalid, he said.

“Even though the project is yet to come up, recently about 160 villages to be affected by it, particularly in Motu tehsil of the district, were submerged by incessant rain. The situation can be well imagined once the project comes up,” he said.

Besides affecting more than 600 villages, the project will submerge 436-year-old Sriram temple at Bhadranchal. The dam is likely to cause massive destruction downstream, particularly in Malkangiri district, the PAPP president warned.

Over 5,000 people including students from the three states attended the meeting. Among others, PAPP secretary S Venkat Raman, joint secretary AD Devjanam, Puylli Waraya, vice-presidet Sodi Murali and social activists were present.

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#India – Do three more orphans matter? #Sonisori

Sunday, Aug 11, 2013, 13:43 IST | Agency: DNA

In “Have you been following the Soni Sori story?” my friend asked me on the phone one morning, a couple of days ago. Of course I had, and I knew that her husband had just passed away, leaving three girls under 13 unprotected. Soni, jailed and under trial on absurd charges, sent there by the Chhattisgarh government, was refused bail to cremate her husband and find a home or care for the girls, at a time when murderers, hooligans, rapists and worse get bail at the drop of a hat.

“We need to find homes for the girls. Can you help?”

Soni used to be a school teacher. She was put in jail with her nephew over a year and a half ago for allegedly helping the Essar group funnel money to Naxals. The two adivasis remain in jail. The Essar executives and the contractor who paid the money, and have paid money directly earlier as well according to the police complaint, are out on bail. Before this, Soni was an open critic of the human rights abuses meted out to the adivasis of her area, and therefore targeted as a thorn in the government and business’s flesh. Six cases were filed against her, five of which have been dismissed.

To target her further, her husband and his motor vehicle, their main source of earning, were made inoperative – the husband by being jailed for four foisted criminal cases, the vehicle by being confiscated. An otherwise healthy Anil Futane, Soni’s husband, suffered a massive stroke after over three years in jail, and was released a month later, totally paralyzed from waist down. Their eldest daughter, 13 and a bright student, was pulled out of school to nurse her father. When he died last week, the children, to all practical purposes became orphaned.

Many groups across the nation begged the courts to grant Soni bail but to no avail. After all they are only adivasis. And how does three more children being orphaned or one more family destroyed make a difference to the larger story?

We have become a cruel and wretched country to live in for many people – the poor, the displaced, the adivasi, the dalit, and women. And we don’t seem to care. At least, not most of those who are heard, and seen or read. What systems do we have in place for those whose lives are destroyed by our customs or mores or justice systems or our carelessness? Who will take in these three girls? Will they just fall into the cracks, be trafficked, raped, used, enslaved? Is this the end of their hope? Of their education?

There are so many NGOs and as many government schemes to protect the interest of various marginalized groups, but the delays in our justice system, and the cavalierish attitude and corruption of our police see that the marginalized are left even more vulnerable. Let me recount what has just happened in our family courts in Ahmedabad.

My maid’s daughter was thrown out of the house by her husband for giving birth to a girl child, four years ago. All negotiations to reconstruct the marriage failed and on my advice she went to the family court for a divorce. This is supposed to happen in six months. Three years and many visits to the court later (most of which the other side did not bother to attend), my maid was so fed up and fatigued that she decided to give up all claims of stree dhan of her daughter and any financial aid for the child just to finish the process and be freed of the constant ‘chakkar’ of the courts and the delays. She suffered, she lost. This is the normal outcome. Will anything ever change? Will we care enough to want it to change?

The writer is a noted danseuse and a social activist.

 

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Centre, Chhattisgarh ignoring SC order on Salwa Judum

By Express News Service – HYDERABAD

27th July 2013

  • Audience listening to the speeches in rapt attention at a convention of the Human Rights Forum in Hyderabad on Friday | Express Photo
    Audience listening to the speeches in rapt attention at a convention of the Human Rights Forum in Hyderabad on Friday | Express Photo

Though it has been more than two years since the landmark judgment of the Supreme Court declaring Salwa Judum as illegal and ordering its disbanding, the central and the Chhattisgarh governments have failed to act, Human Rights Forum  general secretary VS Krishna has said.

Speaking on ‘Continuing Tragedy of Adivasi Killings’ at the fourth district convention of the forum here on Friday, he said the violence against Adivasis in the Dandakaranya was continuing unabated.

“The Supreme Court, in its judgment on April 5, 2011, asked the central government to disband Salwa Judum, which is illegal in the first place, vacate the CRPF camps from schools and primary health centres (PHCs), initiate measures to rehabilitate the victims of Salwa Judum violence and file FIRs on complaints lodged by tribal people against atrocities committed on them. The court asked the government to submit an Action-Taken Report in six weeks’ time but the central and Chhattisgarh governments chose to ignore the directives.

‘’When we visited some villages situated in the Gangulur police station limits in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh recently, there were eight CRPF camps, three of them in school buildings. And there was no rehabilitation of the victims as suggested by the apex court,’’ Krishna said.

“The Supreme Court had asked the CBI to investigate the burning of 300 houses, murders and rapes in three villages – Tadimetla, Morpalli and Timmapuram in South Bastar district – which happened in March 2011. When some CBI officers visited the villages for investigation, they were terrorised. Now, they are holding sittings at Jagdalpur, a long way from the three villages. People have no financial or other means to go to Jagdalpur to depose before the CBI,’’ he said.

Giving a grim picture of why justice was not prevailing in the tribal belt of Chhattisgarh, which is caught between the Maoist movement and state-sponsored violence, the HRF general secretary said that magisterial inquiry was ordered in only eight of the 550 cases, and seven of them were still pending. “The Salwa Judum had burnt 644 villages, killed about 1,200 people and committed innumerable rapes,’’ he alleged.

‘’Now, the former SPOs of Salwa Judum are rehabilitated in special armed auxiliary force and provided with automatic weapons with four-fold hike in the salary they used to get previously,’’ he said.

Citing the killings of innocent Adivasis at Sarkeguda in Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh on June 28, 2012 and at Edesmeta in the same district on May 17, 2013 during Beej Pondum (seed festival), in which half of the victims were minors, Krishna said the state violence against tribals was continuing unabated.

‘’Violence forced many tribal people to cross over to Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh where they are facing untold harassment from police and forest personnel and others as well. Their temporary huts were being burnt down repeatedly and bind-over cases foisted on them. Police were forcing the Adivasis to work without wages whenever they report to the police station as directed by the police,’’ he said.

The HRF would bring out a report on the violence against Adivasis, which would be discussed at its state convention to be held at Visakhapatnam in October.

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  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://kractivist.wordpress.com/2013/06/08/indias-maoist-insurgency-grinds-on/" target="_blank">India’s Maoist Insurgency Grinds On

 

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#Chhattisgarh- Many Monkies on our Back… #Vaw

By- Jamuna Inamdar
The final number of districts that make up the Indian state of Chattisgarh, located approximately in the center of India, is 27 as of today.  (*A district (Zilā) is an administrative division of an Indian state or territory.)  Here is a map that depicts all 27 districts.

Many existing districts were further divided and as many as 9 new districts were added last year.  And even today, Chattisgarh is being divided into newer districts.  Very soon, the above map will have to be updated.

I only hope we finally know how many districts there are! Or because of the constant change and addition everyone will lose track of how many districts there were and how many there are currently and how they look on the map.

I also happen to now be more well versed (even though still abysmally inadequate) with facts about Chattisgarh state where I started working 9 months ago than about the state of Maharashtra where I was born and lived for 3 decades.

While I thought Chattisgarh might be the state with the highest number of districts at 27.  Turns out it is Uttar Pradesh with a whooping 70 districts. Uttar Pradesh is the 5th largest state in India but I believe it is the most populated.  The largest state in our country, Rajasthan, has 33 districts.

In October 2011, I read in Outlook India the text of a lecture by Jairam Ramesh, called the Sardar Patel Memorial Lecture.  Some excerpts from it regarding why the division of some states (Chattisgarh and the likes especially) into smaller districts might be the need of the hour:

The Union Government has identified 60 districts in seven states that are affected by left-wing extremism. Of these, 15 are in Orissa, 14 in Jharkhand, 10 in Chattisgarh, 8 in Madhya Pradesh, 7 in Bihar, 2 each in Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh and 1 each in West Bengal and Uttar Pradesh. 18 more districts are being considered for inclusion.

When you look at these 60 districts on a map of India , five characteristics stand out. I should, however, mention straightaway that the 7 districts of Bihar are an exception to these generalisations. Bihar has its own dynamics embedded in caste and land-related structures.
  • First, an overwhelming majority of these districts have substantial population of tribal communities.
  • Second, an overwhelming majority of these districts have significant area under good quality forest cover.
  • Third, a large number of these districts are rich in minerals like coal, bauxite and iron ore.
  • Fourth, in a number of states, these districts are remote from the seat of power and have large administrative units.
  • Fifth, a large number of districts are located in tri-junction areas of different states.
On the size of administrative units, recently on a visit to Chattisgarh I discovered that the size of some blocks (like Conta in Dantewada district and Orchha in Narayanpur district and Orgi in Surguja district) was equivalent to the size of some districts in some other states and indeed equivalent to the size of some other states themselves.(the highlights and italics are mine) Given poor connectivity and infrastructure to begin with, this is a huge handicap to contend with by administrators. Rationalisation of administrative units is entirely within the domain and powers of state governments. The Chattisgarh government has very recently decided to create five more districts in the Naxal-affected regions of the state and this is a good step.

While the above has been discussed in the context of curbing the Naxal struggle, I am thinking about it in the context of the recent rapes in a tribal school.

Since three days now, Kanker district of Chattisgarh is in the news.   In one of the Ashram schools in Kanker, meant for tribal girls, the teacher and watchman of the school were arrested for repeatedly raping the minor girls.  One of the girls has died as a result of a sexually transmitted disease that went untreated.

Kanker was essentially part of Bastar district in south Chattisgarh. In 1998 it got an identity of its own.  It is now a district on its own with its own district collectorate, child welfare committee, district institute of education and training (DIET) and the usual government set up that every district needs and has.

If Kanker has been separated as a district from Bastar (and is even called North Bastar) in a bid to make it more manageable, has that helped the state to manage it any better or does it still appear unwieldy to administrators?

In a district with (figures obtained from http://kanker.gov.in/) 7 tehsils or blocks and 1004 villages, how difficult is it for government officials especially appointed for the purpose to ensure that heinous and grave crimes such as repeated rapes of tribal girls in school hostels do not go unnoticed? Can this problem be attributed to insufficient government officials, too many schools in too many villages? Clearly not!

I have personally encountered and still work with district level education officials who have not seen the schools that fall under their jurisdiction – the blocks.  They have not made visits to the schools in these blocks.  Some schools have never seen a government official who is “in-charge” of hearing and offering a solution to their problems.  Are the villages and blocks that far flung that a district level official never reaches them?

Another challenge that exists is the division within government education officials – of those who look into administrative matters and those who look into academic  matters.  Whose concern becomes this case of sexual assault and rape?  Ideally everybody’s.. but..!

When asked why officials do not make visits to their assigned blocks and schools – the answer is often the resentment that they have to do so on their account using their own finances!

Had the district level officials, block level officials made regular visits to the school they were assigned to, elicited cooperation and accountability from the head teachers of schools, would repeated rapes of minor girls have gone unnoticed?

I understand it is not that simple or merely to do with administrative divisions – as block level officials have turned a blind eye to this atrocity even after becoming aware of it.  Making visits and keeping oneself abreast of what is happening is not sufficient from actually stopping something from happening.  There are many other dynamics at play – dynamics of dominant caste and oppressed tribes. As pointed out by a colleague, a very important point to be considered here will also be to find out if the rapist teacher and watchman belonged to the same tribal community or were they non-tribal?

What is also disturbing is the appeal of the villagers for help falling on deaf ears. What do people do when their plea for help falls on the ears of people who instead of protecting them are partners in crime?  Aren’t these situations when people have decided to then take the law into their own hands, reacting equally brutally and violently?  And does that not take us further away from being a civilized society?

And dividing states and districts and blocks for administrative efficacy is not even the answer for the basic apathy and narrow-mindedness and helplessness and inhuman side of human beings.

I hope this incident will shake the district and block level officials into connecting with the people, the villages and truly becoming the protectors of peoples’ rights.  I hope they know that they cannot turn a blind eye to something gruesome happening in their very blocks, in the very schools they are responsible for, under their very noses.  I hope they are able to overcome caste and class barriers and offer protection and support to human beings who are made vulnerable and forced into helplessness.

I hope in the administrative sense, we learn to make the players of this system more accountable and design the system to succeed and not to fail!

  source -http://jamunainamdar.blogspot.in/

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CAUGHT ON CAMERA – Chhattisgarh police official admits scripting case against tribals

The story of the Dantewada-based school teacher Soni Sori and her journalist nephew Lingaram Kodopi in many ways encapsulates the complex conflict that continues in Chattisgarh below the news-radar of the national media. The tribals increasingly get caught between the the security forces of the Indian State and the Maoists.
Lingaram Kodopi is a young boy from Chattisgarh, who was asked by the police to work as an informer against the the Maoists. On refusing he was locked up in a bathroom in the Dantewada police station for close to 40 days. When Himanshu Kumar filed a habeas corpus petition in the Chattisgarh High Court , Kodopi was released on bail. However, the police continued to harass him till the point when he came to Delhi and studied as a journalist for several months under the patronage of Himanshu Kumar. Then there was a terrible massacre and burning of three villages in Chattisgarh. Lingaram Kodopi who was now trained to be a journalist, went back to Chattisgarh and took footage from these three villages,the first hand account of the villagers and the way the huts were burnt down by the SPOs. The fact that Linga Kodopi has this footage appears o have become a source of worry for the state police. Their harassment of Linga and his aunt Soni Sori, who is a teacher in a government ashram in Chattisgarh, has gone up exponentially. A few weeks ago a constable in Dantewada asked Soni and Linga to pose as Maoists and and take a bribe from a Essar contractor B.K Lala. When they refused to do it, the constable forcibly made a call from Sori’s phone to Lala. Subsequently they caught Kodopi and Lala from their house, but reported that were caught red handed from the market exchanging 15 lakh rupees. Kodopi now is in jail but Soni Sori was forced to run away and take refuge elsewhere.

Talking from an undisclosed location, she called back this constable, a man called Mankad and asked him what was the truth of thew story. The phone call was recorded by Tehelka. Mankad admitted over the phone that Kodopi was arrested from his house, unlike what the police had earlier stated, and hinted that the arrest was a setup. He also told Sori to stay away and that their is no evidence against her. Sori, meanwhile, is on the run. She has three children in a hostel. One of them is a 5 year old. But the irony is that the maoists think they are informers. Somedays back they attacked Sori’s fathers house and shot her father in the leg. Her husband meanwhile has been in jail for close to a year now. This is the ground reality in Chattisgarh. The police of Chhattisgarh clearly doesnt want these stories to reach the people.

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