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#India – NHRC takes up Odisha Gangrape, murder case #Vaw

rapepublic1

By Express News Service – NEW DELHI

Published: 30th September 2013 12:03 PM

 

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has registered a case in connection with the gangrape and murder of a 25-year-old woman in Cuttack district.

The NHRC decision came after Supreme Court counsel and rights activist Radhakanta Tripathy moved the apex human rights watchdog requesting it to take immediate action on the ghastly incident.

The body of the victim, that bore multiple injuries on the face and chest, was recovered from a canal near Haripur Bazar under the Kishornagar police station.

The circumstantial evidence pointed to the involvement of more than one perpetrator in the incident, the complainant stated.

The woman’s bicycle was found lying behind a bush. Police then fished out the woman’s clothes from the nearby canal. The NHRC also registered another case filed by the petitioner on the issue of over 100 students of Gopinathpur UGME School in Puri district falling ill after consuming iron tablets.

  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/complaint-to-nhrc-human-rights-defenders-being-threatened-to-be-killed-in-encounterin-odisha-wtfnews/" target="_blank">Complaint to NHRC- Human Rights Defenders being threatened to be killed in “encounter”in Odisha #WTFnews
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/india-a-reparative-justice-rape-vaw-womenrights/" target="_blank"> #India – A reparative justice #Rape #Vaw #Womenrights
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/india-supreme-court-rules-man-cant-dump-wife-on-grounds-of-schizophrenia-vaw-goodnews/" target="_blank"> #India- Supreme Court rules -Man can’t dump wife on grounds of schizophrenia #Vaw #goodnews
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/india-questions-of-equality-and-justice-mustread/" target="_blank"> #India – Questions of equality and justice #Vaw #mustread
  • #999; padding: 2px; display: block; border-radius: 2px; text-decoration: none;" href="http://www.kractivist.org/india-in-soni-soris-case-the-state-project-of-victimising-adivasis-has-reached-inhuman-levels-vaw/" target="_blank"> #India- ‘In Soni Sori’s case, the state project of victimising adivasis has reached inhuman levels’ #Vaw

 

 

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#India – Tribal Woman raped in bus, helper arrested #Odisha #Vaw

RAPE

Odisha Tribal woman raped in moving bus

PTI : Bhubaneswar/Cuttack, Wed Jun 19 2013, 1

TOP ST

A 25-year-old tribal girl was allegedly raped by the helper of an air-conditioned luxury bus in which she was travelling, police today said. The accused identified as Susanta Hembram has been arrested for allegedly raping the tribal girl, resident of Mayurbhanj district of Odisha, in the moving bus on Sunday night when other passengers were fast asleep, they said.

In her complaint, the victim alleged that Hembram raped her in the rear seat of the private bus en route Jagatpur near Cuttack, between 3 to 3.30 am when there were only few passengers and all of them were asleep, City DCP S Praveen Kumar said.

Hembram is believed to be an acquaintance of the victim,who works as a domestic help in Jagatpur, on the outskirts of Cuttack city. The incident came to light when the girl was rescued by some people at Gatiroutpatna, about 5 km from Cuttack on Cuttack-Jagatsinghpur road yesterday.

The Mahila police station of the city after registering a case sent both the accused and the victim for medical examination on the day. A police scientific team is also assisting the city police in investigating the case.

The State Transport Commissioner Surendra Kumar informed that the permit of the passenger bus in which the crime was committed has been cancelled. “It is one of the primary duties of the bus staff to ensure that the passengers boarding the buses travel safely and reach their destinations unharmed,” Kumar said. Meanwhile, the Private Bus Owners’ Association condemning the incident has demanded that stringent punishment should be given to the bus helper and urged the bus owners to ensure that the credentials of the persons are verified properly before they are recruited to perform duties in the buses plying at night.

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‘Will fight POSCO till last breath’


Author(s): 

Ashis Senapati
Issue Date:
2013-5-17

Kin of anti-POSCO leader killed in bomb explosion in Gobindapur village resolves to fight on

Jharana, dressed in yellow, daughter of  
slain leader Narahari Sahoo, has no means of looking after and supporting her  
familyJharana, dressed in yellow, daughter of slain leader Narahari Sahoo, has no means of looking after and supporting her familyTwenty-three-year-old Jharana Sahoo is filled with feelings of revenge. She cannot forget the sight of the mangled body of her father who died in a bomb blast on March 2 [1]. Narahari Sahoo was a leader of the anti-POSCO[2] movement at Gobindapur village in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district. He was killed along with three people in a blast when those promoting South Korean steel company POSCO’s steel project, hurled a crude bomb into the backyard of the house of a resident in Dhinkia gram panchayat. Dhinkia is the centre of the anti-POSCO movement.

“My father had paan (betel vine) farms. Last month, police destroyed them because he was a part of the movement,” she says. “He dreamt of making me an officer and spent Rs 2 lakh on my education at the Institute of Professional Studies and Research in Cuttack. Now, I have to shoulder the responsibility of my younger brother who is still in Class XII. My mother has taken ill after my father died. How will I arrange money for all these?”

“I will either kill the enemies or myself,” she says. Jharana has joined the Posco Pratirodhaka Sangram Samiti (PPSS) to drive the company out of the state. She blames the anti-people policies of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for her family’s plight. “He is dancing to the tune of big industrialists and is least concerned about the common people. In the coming elections, we will teach him a lesson,” she says.

“My father sacrificed his life to protect our land from the avaricious eyes of POSCO and the government. I will not allow either POSCO or the government to acquire our land,” she says. “My heart still burns with anger and anguish. I will fight them till my last breath.”

Marty's tower commemorates Tapan  
Mandal's sacrifice. He died in a similar blast in 2008Marty’s tower commemorates Tapan Mandal’s sacrifice. He died in a similar blast in 2008

The death of three anti-Posco leaders has not weakened the movement. In fact, they have strengthened PPSS because more and more people are joining it now, she says.

Families of other victims bemoan fate

Tarun Madal and Manas Jena, the two other leaders who died in the bomb attack on March 2 have also left behind families who have no one to look after them. Madal is survived by his 26-year-old wife and a two-year-old daughter. His father,  septuagenarian Narayan Mandal, lost his eldest son Tapan alias Dula Mandal in a bomb attack by pro-Posco people five years ago. On March 2, his younger son, Tarun, was also killed. “I have been spending sleepless nights for the past five years. Now fate has snatched my other son as well. Their untimely deaths haunt me all the time,” he says.

Naran Mandal who lost both his sons, Tapan and Tarun, in bomb blasts  
allegedly carried out by pro-POSCO people, is a haunted manNaran Mandal who lost both his sons, Tapan and Tarun, in bomb blasts allegedly carried out by pro-POSCO people, is a haunted man

Mandal’s sons were paan farmers. “On June 20, 2008, some pro-industry people of the village hurled bombs at the protesters. Many were injured and Tapan lost his life. To commemorate his sacrifice, people have built a martyr’s memorial in Gobindapur,” says Manorama Khatua, a PPSS leader. The martyr’s memorial is of little consolation to Tapan’s wife. “How will the industry help me and my family? If we have to leave the area where will we go with our children?” asks Sabita, Tapan’s widow.

Khema, widow of Manad Jena, cries over her lossKhema, widow of Manad Jena, cries over her loss

Khema Jena, 28, had married Manas Jena, also a paan farmer in Gobindapur, five years ago. Khema cries for her husband who will never return.

 

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Crude Questions about Crude Bombs

:Biju Mathew, kafila.org

MARCH 13, 2013

This is a guest post by BIJU MATHEW

Tarun Mandal, Narahari Sahu and Manas Jena are dead, blown up by what the media has described as a “crude” bomb. All bombs are crude. They kill. They are meant to destroy flesh and bone. They are aimed at sucking out life. Lakshman Mandal battles for his life in a Cuttack hospital. He knows how crude a bomb is. Hopefully he will live to tell the tale of its crudeness.

This is a partisan piece. But it aims to produce balance. Almost all media reports so far have had a strong spin that the three – Narahari, Tarun and Manas – were killed while making a crude bomb. So says Mr. Satyabrata Bhoi, Jagatsinghpur SP. Nobody has bothered to ask him any further questions. It’s quite understandable. Asking any more questions might make the entire spin untenable. For instance, they could have asked: why is it that something illegal, such as crude bomb making, was being done out in the open and not within the confines of a house? Especially given that for the last month, the police have been constantly in and out of the village? Especially because there are at least a few dozen pro-POSCO folks in the village? Why would three leaders of an oppositional movement sit outside on the porch of a house that is fully identified with POSCO Pratirodh Sangran Samiti (PPSS) and make bombs – openly, for all to see – at 6.30 PM when there is enough light for anybody to see them? Isn’t crude bomb making normally confined to the indoors? How many incidents do we know of where crude bomb making was happening outside in broad daylight? Isn’t the RSS, the most famous outfit that makes crude bombs and occasionally manages to blow up its own, always known to make its bombs indoors?

Do these seem like too basic a set of question? If so,  its simplicity is only paralleled by the holes it can open up in Mr. Bhoi’s story.

Maybe we should ask a few more complicated questions. Who are the dead? Why not ask this question and see if its answer fits the profile of somebody you think could sit in the open and make a bomb? Three of the four – Narahari, Tarun and Lakshman – were/are senior leaders of the PPSS. With their main leader, Abhay Sahu, in-and-out of jail and facing risk of further arrest under trumped up charges, these were the men who were holding everything together for PPSS. The fourth, Manas, was an upcoming leader and is the brother of yet another PPSS senior leader, Prakash Jena. If the media had bothered to talk to the residents of Gobindpur they would have known that Narahari was getting ready to walk through the village to announce a meeting. ‘Narahari sir’ as he was popularly known (because he also taught at the local school on occasion) was a man of impeccable reputation – courageous and incorruptible. Who stands to gain by wiping out the second rung of the PPSS leadership in Gobindpur? Why has no one bothered to ask who these men were, or what their position was in the ongoing struggle? What were their roles in the village? Who stood to gain the most from their death?  Lakshman is a landless laborer. He does not own a single decimal of the land he is defending. How come this has yet to be reported on? Why would a landless msn be in such a struggle, let alone make bombs?

Not good enough? Surely, just this much should be enough for any critical minded journalist who takes his/her trade seriously. But then why not ask a few more questions? There are indeed more that could be asked.

This is not the first bomb to explode in Gobindpur. These were not the first lives lost to bombs. In the recent history of this village-in-struggle, this is the second bomb. The first went off on June 20, 2008 during an anti-POSCO demonstration, when a similar ‘crude’ bomb was hurled at the demonstrators. One person was killed. The only person to have died in what has largely been a non-violent struggle, but for the numerous times that the villages have been attacked by either the police or pro-POSCO goons. And the only person who had died so far was Tapan Mandal, Tarun’s brother. What do we have to say to a family that has given two children to the struggle?

Here is where the ruthlessness of this enterprise becomes most evident. The main accused in the complaint filed regarding the murder of Tapan Mandal is Prafulla Mohanty, a local BJD, pro-POSCO activist. And the main eye-witness cited in the complaint? Narahari Sahu.

Prafulla Mohanty has the honor of being accused in at least half a dozen more complaints about attacks on the anti-POSCO villages. The investigation of Tapan’s murder has been languishing for four years now. Mr. Bhoi and his posse have not moved an inch on the only killing that had happened so far. And Prafulla Mohanty? If anybody bothered to ask some of the locals, they would have been told that ever since the police attack of four weeks ago, Prafulla Mohanty has been walking around Gobindpur threatening anybody he can find. Its been reported that Mr. Sangram Mahapatra, the local Industrial Development Corporation of Orissa (IDCO) chief caught on video brutally beating a villager, has been calling PPSS leaders up on their mobile phones and doing the same. Who is a better candidate for arranging and detonating crude bombs: a landless agricultural worker or a BJD goon whose every effort has been opposed by the very same people who are now dead?

I first met all four – Narahari, Tarun, Manas and Lakshman – during my second visit to Orissa to research betelvines in June 2010. Narahari was amongst the first people in the village to lead me through a paan-kethi shed. He was meticulous in outlining the economics of betel leaf. He walked me up and down a shed and made me count the number of rows of the vine. I was introduced to Tarun and Manas. But today, I can’t remember anything they said, their contribution to the focus group, their gestures… I would feel better if I could. As if my feeling better matters. Lakshman came across as a quiet and withdrawn person initially. I asked him why he, who had no land, was part of the movement? For a brief moment, he looked away – fixed his eyes on the ground below him – and then looked up at me. “Why not?” he asked me.  CPI State Secretary Diwakar Nayak issued a statement on Thursday that Lakshman’s life was in danger – that he may still be killed. He urged the State to give Lakshman police protection. How ironic.

[Biju Mathew Is Associate Professor of Business at Rider University, NJ and a coordinator of the Mining Zone Peoples Solidarity Group (www.miningzone.org), a research and advocacy collective that has published the most comprehensive report on the POSCO project to date – Iron and Steal: The POSCO India Story. He is also a co-author of a recent EPW article that analyzes the faulty assumptions underlying the Social Cost Benefit Analysis used to justify the POSCO India project.]

 

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German woman rape – Absconding Bitti Mohanty, arrested from Kannur in Kerala #Vaw #Goodnews

By, TNN | Mar 9, 2013,

Bitti Mohanty, missing rape convict, arrested in Kerala

Bitti Mohanty, missing rape convict, arrested in Kerala
KANNUR: Bitti Mohanty, high profile criminal and son of former DGP of Odisha Bidya Bhushan Mohanty, who was sentenced to seven years imprisonment for raping a German tourist at Alwar in Rajasthan has been nabbed fromKannur district.

According to police sources, Bitty was nabbed from Pazhayangadi in the district by a special police team led by Kannur SP Rahul R Nair on Friday night after getting the information that he was working in a bank under the police station limits.

Police said he was working in Kannur for the last one year in a fake identity and the arrest was made on secret information that he was in the district.

The criminal, who was charged with raping a German national on 21 March 2006, was convicted for seven years imprisonment on 12 April 2006. However, on 20 November 2006, he got 15 days parole to meet his mother at Cuttack and had been absconding ever since.

Following the allegations that B B Mohanty helped his son to escape, he was arrested and also suspended, and later he was reinstated in service.

Police said Bitti Mohanty will be produced before a local court in Thaliparamba in the evening after a detailed interrogation in the SP’s office.

 

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#India -Tribals oppose alternate mine to Vedanta #indigenous

       BS Reporter  |  Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar  February 19, 2013

Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti (NSS), an outfit of tribals agitating against the alumina refinery of Vedanta Aluminium (VAL) at Lanjigarh in Kalahandi district, on Tuesday sought Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi’s intervention to overturn the Odisha government’s plan to allocate alternate sources of bauxite to the project, which is reeling under acute shortage of raw material following denial of permission to mine in Niyamgiri Hill by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest.

The Samiti aired its views through a 35 page memorandum addressed to Gandhi. A four member team of the tribals’ body later submitted the memorandum to Gandhi at Cuttack through their district congress president, Sadashiv Tripathy.

Raising slogans against VAL, Jairam Bariha, a Dongria Kondh of Ambaguda village in Kalahandi district said, “We oppose state government’s decision to allow mining in Niyamgiri or any other nearby hill as these hills are homes to scores of Dongria Kondh and Kutira Kondh tribes.

Bariha said, “We came to know that government is trying to arrange alternative sources of bauxite for Vedanta”.

He said, mining should not be allowed in the nearby Kandurumali, Sijumali, Sasubahumali, Karlapat reserves as these provide livelihood to the tribals inhabiting these hills.

“The effluent discharged by the company has led to deaths of our livestock and the government’s decision will destroy the numerous perennial streams. These reserves should not be given to any company including Vedanta”, said Bama Kadraka, another member of NSS. Gandhi had expressed his solidarity with the tribals, who were opposing Vedanta’s plan to extract bauxite from the Niyamgiri hill for use in its alumina refinery during his visit to Kalahandi district in 2010.

It may be noted VAL, which has shut down its one million tone alumina refinery in Lanjigarh since December 5 for want of bauxite, had entered into a pact with the state-owned Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) for bauxite supply from Niyamgiri. However, this was red flagged by MoEF, which scrapped the stage-II forest clearance of the mining project on August 24, 2010.

Unable to find bauxite reserves VAL has urged the state government to expedite processing of OMC’s pending applications, especially for those bauxite leases that fall in non-forest areas.

 

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DFID encroaching Bleeding Odisha

Odisha readies draft of auto component policy Investors may be offered 50% rebate on land cost besides other sops.

Jayajit Dash / Kolkata/ Bhubaneswar Jun 27, 2012,
Odisha, which is looking to diversify its investment basket beyond core metallurgical industries, has readied the draft of its proposed auto component policy to woo investors in the sector.

With such policy already in vogue in peer states like Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Rajasthan, Haryana and Karnataka, the Odisha government does not wish to miss out on the huge potential offered by the buoyant auto component sector.

The draft auto component policy prepared by Omega Tast, a consultant assisted by UK government‘s international donor agency- Department for International Development (DFID), envisages a concession of up 50 per cent on land to be made available to auto component manufacturers. On the power subsidy front, it talks of electricity duty waiver for 10 years.Among the other fiscal incentives delineated in the policy include 100 per cent exemption on entry tax on plant, machinery, raw materials and other inputs. The draft also talks of reimbursement of value added tax (VAT) paid for a period of 20 years, limited to 200 per cent of fixed capital investment.

The draft policy has also proposed a capital grant of up to 25 per cent of fixed capital investment (excluding land cost), subject to a maximum of Rs one crore. Private auto park developers would also be entitled to capital grant of up to 20 per cent of the fixed capital investment (excluding land cost), subject to a limit of Rs two crore, according to the daft policy.

“The draft auto component policy has been prepared meticulously after comparing incentives offered by states that have already formulated such policies. We have now sought the considered views of Investment Promotion & Investment Corporation of Odisha Ltd (Ipicol) on the draft policy”, said an industries department official.

As per the cost-benefit analysis estimates made by Omega Tast, for every fiscal incentive of Rs 7732 to be provided by the state government, one permanent job will be created in the auto component industry. This implies that an incentive of Rs 15 crore offered by the state government will generate approximately 19,400 jobs.

On revenue estimates, the draft policy says if an auto OEM (original equipment manufacturer) invests Rs 2000 crore in the state, it would result in potential tax revenue of Rs 90 crore to the state once the plant is fully operational.

Odisha which has attracted investments worth over Rs 13.66 lakh crore across sectors, mostly from mineral-based industries, has attracted only one major investment in the auto component manufacturing space.

RSB Transmission had entered into an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with the state government for setting up an auto component manufacturing plant at Choudwar near Cuttack at an estimated cost of around Rs 400 crore.

The state offers good resources to support automobile component manufacturing units like availability of quality pig iron, pure aluminium ingot, steel flat products and steel rounds.

In addition to this, there is availability of skilled personnel for the sector with manpower drawn from institutes operating in the city like Central Tool Room Training Centre and Central Institute for Plastic Engineering & Technology (CIPET).

The Indian auto component industry has been registering growth of 20 per cent per annum since 2000 and is projected to maintain high growth range of 15-20 per cent till 2015.

The industry which touched $10 billion in 2005-06 is expected to grow four-fold to $40 billion by 2015.

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Orissa High court for law to check witch-hunting cases

, TNN | May 18, 2012,

CUTTACK: The Orissa high court asked the state government on Thursday to formulate a special law to check witch-hunting in the state. Division bench of Chief Justice V Gopala Gowda and Justice S K Mishra said the government should introduce a bill in the legislature to enact a law to tackle the menace of witch-hunting effectively.

The bench gave the suggestion while adjudicating on a PIL filed by social activist,Sashiprava Bindhani, seeking introduction of an Act to stop the heinous crime in the state. The bench observed the state should formulate a preventive strategy to eliminate such practices.

The petitioner had pointed out many women in the state are being branded witches and tortured brutally. Some are even gangraped and at times smeared with urine and human excreta. The petitioner had cited there is an urgent need to formulate a stringent law that could act as a deterrent to witch-hunting. Due to the absence of any specific law in the state regarding the crime, the accused get away easily, the petitioner added. She pointed out Jharkhand and Biharhave formulated a special law to check witch-hunting, but Odisha is yet to take any concrete step to deal with it.

Taking note of the allegations, the high court directed the state government to create public awareness at the gram panchayat level to eradicate the superstitions of witchcraft. The court also suggested health camps should be organized in villages to detect cases of psychologically disordered persons, who claim to be witches. In order to avoid the witnesses turning hostile in such cases, the investigating agency probing into the cases should take steps to record their statement under section 164 of code of criminal procedure, 1973, the court ordered.

“The court has observed that along with the main accused, the tantric and the persons, who provoke others to commit such inhuman acts against woman should also be booked and prosecuted under the sections of Indian Penal Code,” said the petitioner’s counsel Sujata Jena. “The court has directed that all the guidelines should be strictly observed by the authorities till a suitable legislation is passed by the state legislature,” Jena added.

 

THE FULL JUDGEMENT BELOW

 

Mrs. Sashiprava Bindhani vs State Of Orissa And Others on 25 April, 2012

ORISSA HIGH COURT : CUTTACK

W. P. (C). Nos. 17638 of 2011 and 6287 of 2012

In the matter of applications under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India.

—————

In W.P.(C) No. 17638 of 2011

Mrs. Sashiprava Bindhani … Petitioner

Versus

State of Orissa and others … Opposite parties

For petitioner – M/s. Sujata Jena, G.B.Jena and Satyabhama Nath

For opposite parties – Mr. Debashis Panda, Government Advocate

In W.P.(C) No. 6287 of 2012

Odisha Rationalist Society … Petitioner

Versus

State of Orissa and others … Opposite parties

For petitioner – M/s. Kshirod Kumar Rout, T.K.Nayak, C.R.Mohanty, Ms. J.Naik and S.K.Rout

For opposite parties – Mr. Debashis Panda, Government Advocate

—————

PRESENT

THE HONOURABLE CHIEF JUSTICE MR. V.GOPALA GOWDA

AND

THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE S.K.MISHRA

————————————————————————————————————- Date of hearing – 25.04.2012 : Date of judgment – 25.04.2012 ————————————————————————————————————- 2

S.K.Mishra, J. In these writ petitions, the petitioners pray to direct the State

Government for framing of guidelines to deal with the cases of witch-hunting and to

protect women from such hunting till legislation is framed in this regard.

2. The petitioners in their applications have described the instances of

murders on the allegations that the deceased was practicing witchcraft. The

petitioners have pleaded about several such incidents in the State of Orissa. It is

further pleaded that the persons committing the murder do so under the influence of

‘Gunias’. As such, it is pleaded that the propagators of the crime are generally not in

a fit state of mind while committing the crime. The person often believes that he is

doing the right thing while committing murder of a person, who is alleged to be

practicing witchcraft. Such state of affairs is prevalent in all the tribal districts of the

State.

3. The petitioner pleaded that India is a signatory to the universal

declaration of human rights to give protection to women from discrimination and all

sorts of violence against them. Besides, the United Nations’ International Covenant

on Civil and Political Rights prescribe that all persons are equal before law and

entitled to equal protection of law. Government of India is a signatory to the same in

the year 1966. The Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination

against Women (CEDAW) resolved that the countries which have ratified the same

should take appropriate steps to eliminate all forms of discrimination against women.

Article 5(a) of CEDAW further provides that the State shall take appropriate

measures to modify social and cultural patterns of conduct of men and women.

Witch-hunting, which is prevalent in several States, leads to dispossession, torture

and murder but as of date, although India is a signatory to CEDAW, no steps have

been taken to enact appropriate law to curb the menace of witch-hunting, which is 3

prevalent in this State. States like Bihar, Jharkhand and Chattisgarh have already

taken steps to eradicate such practices but our State has not taken any steps with

regard to eradicating such practice. Therefore, the petitioner prays that appropriate

direction be given to the State to enact law in this regard.

4. The petitioners rely on the reported case of Bishaka and others v.

State of Rajasthan and others reported in AIR 1997 SC 3011, wherein the

Supreme Court has taken into consideration the provisions of the CEDAW and has

held as follows:

“16. In view of the above, and the absence of enacted law to provide for the effective enforcement of the basic human right of gender equality and guarantee against sexual harassment and abuse, more particularly against sexual harassment at work places, we lay down the guidelines and norms specified hereinafter for due observance at all work places or other institutions, until a legislation is enacted for the purpose. This is done in exercise of the power available under Article 32 of the Constitution for enforcement of the fundamental rights and it is further emphasized that this would be treated as the law declared by this Court under Article 141 of the Constitution.”

It is, therefore, urged that in view of the fact that there is no legislation

to tackle the problem of witch-hunting, this Court should give direction to the State

Government to introduce appropriate law before the Legislature and in the

interregnum provide guidelines to prevent witch-hunting in the State of Orissa.

5. It is seen that the Legislature of Bihar has passed the Prevention of

Witch (Daain) Practice Act, 1999 (Bihar Act 9 of 1999). Similar Act has also been

passed by the Legislature of Chhatishgarh.

6. Witch-hunting is also seen in the State of Karnataka and a Committee

consisting of eminent Professors was asked to investigate and report about the

practice of Banamathi. Banamathi is the Kannada word for witch. The Committee

after careful and detailed investigation of a large number of cases and on the basis of 4

discussions with number of persons, who were considered to have knowledge on the

subject, came to the following conclusions:

“People have been suffering from this so called witchcraft i.e. Banamathi due to various causes. Some of the prominent causes have been fear, ignorance, superstition, personal and family problems, poverty, religious feuds, and village politics. This phenomenon of Banamathi is more prevalent in remote villages cut away from the main stream of life. It is also a fact that most of the victims are women. Even among women those belongs to marriageable and child-bearing age groups seem to be more prone to this problem.

All the sufferings of the victims attributed to Banamathi fit into familiar patterns of mental and physical diseases. Most of these are psychiatric cases. Many of these attacks were induced by a simple suggestion by the doctors and were also terminated by a similar suggestion. These people have been suffering from a variety of psychological disorders. Hysterical neurosis, a form of psychiatric disturbance, is the most common. This is characterized by episodes of abnormal behaviour, like screaming, developing fits, becoming unconscious, tearing away of clothes, inability to speak and so on. Theses are directly understandable in terms of strong socio-cultural beliefs, family and personal problems, poverty etc. It is common knowledge that such internal conflicts resulting in hysterical neurosis are found in other countries also. Their effects would be in accordance with the prevailing social and other conditions. In a few villages these psychological disturbances have assumed the form of ‘mass hysteria’ as witnessed in Yadlapur and in Benekanahalli villages. There are other kinds of neuroses like depression, obsession etc. from which some of the victims have been suffering.

The phenomenon of Banamathi as already mentioned has been in existence for decades and is deep rooted among some sections of the people in North Karnataka which formed part of the erstwhile Hyderabad State governed by the Nizam. This malady exists in some parts of the present Andhra Pradesh adjacent to Gulbarga and Bidar Districts also. The belief has been handed over from person to person and passed on from generation to generation. In fact, the belief in Banamathi is so deep rooted that even common physical ailments such as asthma, leprosy, tuberculosis, anaemia, and vitamin deficiency diseases are attributed to Banamathi. Susceptible and ignorant people have become so sensitive and scared that they think of suffering from the effects of Banamathi whenever they are not feeling well. The fact that even normal variations in the yield of 5

milk of a cow is also attributed to Banamathi shows to what extent the pernicious belief is deep seated in their minds.

The second category of the phenomena belongs to the appearance and disappearance of the objects, falling of stones, burning of sarees etc. It is very significant to note that nobody had ever witnessed those phenomena during the process of their actual occurrence. No body saw either the clothes catching fire or scares during the process of their marking. As already mentioned two persons were caught by the villagers when they were trying to throw stones. Besides, falling of stones is reported in many parts of the State and it is also interesting to note that according to such reports there was no falling of stones when a vigil was kept. A careful scrutiny of these phenomena will lead to the conclusion that there is no evidence of the working of any supernatural force. Many of the phenomena attributed to Banamathi must have been deliberately performed by persons due to various reasons such as to attract attention, to get sympathy, or to avoid extra work. These are all of common occurrence familiar to the doctors in the field of psychology and psychiatry. It may not be out of place to mention that nobody ever came forward to perform ‘Banamathi’ on the members of the team when they publicly offered themselves as subjects on many an occasion.

Thus, based on a careful analysis of all the available data and a close and searching examination of a large number of victims, the Investigation Committee has come to the unanimous and firm conclusion that the so called Banamathi is not due to any supernatural cause.

It is a fact that there has been a lot of suffering on account of these mental and physical problems. It is also a fact that vested interests have been using Banamathi as a means of exploitation. Attributing these phenomena to supernatural causes they have been reaping a rich harvest. Some of the families are ruined on account of spending large amounts of money in the hope of getting a cure of the ill-effects. Poor villagers and gullible people are being cheated.

The Committee would like to point out certain strong supporting factors which have lent credence to belief in Banamathi. The fact that many educated people, officials and men of public importance implicitly believing in Banamathi has also been responsible for its continued widespread belief among large sections of villagers. As we know superstitions are widely prevalent in our country. All of us know that an educated superstitious person is more harmful to society than his uneducated counterpart. Besides, occasional, nay, frequent dubious and unscientific reports, articles, and statements in some 6

newspapers tend to give a final seal of confirmation to the existence of some kind of witchcraft. In fact the phenomena attributed to Banamathi are not peculiar to places in Gulbarga or Bidar Districts. They are widespread in all parts of the state and the country. But they are called by different names. All these can be attributed to the same root causes excluding any supernatural force.

Another important reason for the spread of Banamathi is that the Police Department under its existing laws are helpless and cannot take notice of cases coming under the purview of Banamathi. This has indirectly given a free hand and also encouragement to persons who in the name of Banamathi scare innocent people and exploit them.” (Emphasis supplied)

7. Thus, it is clear that this social malady is prevalent because of the

ignorance of the people and an effective measure to control the same is necessary to

be taken. The Committee of Elimination of Discrimination Against Women of the

United Nations in the 51st Session held between 13th February to 2nd March, 2012 has

given its concluding observations on the elimination of discrimination against women.

The Committee also recommended to eliminate stereo-type and harmful practice. At

paragraphs 21 and 22, the Committee observed as follows:

“21. The Committee recognizes the rich culture and traditions of the State party and their importance in daily life. However, the Committee expresses its serious concern about the persistence of harmful norms, practices and traditions, patriarchal attitudes and deep-rooted stereotypes, regarding the roles, responsibilities and identities of women and men in all spheres of life, as well as the State party’s limited efforts to address such discriminatory practices. These include, in particular, polygamy, bride price (lobola), and in certain regions, virginity testing and witch hunting. The Committee is concerned that such customs and practices perpetuate discrimination against women and girls and that they are reflected in women’s disadvantageous and unequal status in many areas, including education, public life, decision-making and in the persistence of violence against women, and that, thus far the State party ahs not take sustained measures to modify or eliminate stereotypes and harmful practices.

22. The Committee urges the State party to :

(a) Put in place, without delay, a comprehensive strategy to modify or eliminate patriarchal attitudes and stereotypes 7

that discriminate women in conformity with the provisions of the Convention. Such measures should include efforts, in collaboration with civil society and community and religious leaders to educate and raise awareness of this subject, targeting women and men at all levels of the society;

(b) More vigorously address harmful practice by expanding public education programmes and by effectively enforcing the prohibition of such practices, in particular, in rural areas;

(c) Use innovative measures that target media people to strengthen understanding of the equality of women and men and through the educational system to enhance a positive and non-stereotypical portrayal of women; and

(d) Monitor and review the measures taken in order to assess their impact and to take appropriate action.”

8. From the above, it is clear that the CEDAW also endorse witch-

hunting as one of the harmful practices. The State should formulate a preventive

strategy to eliminate such practice. This Court, therefore, is of the opinion that the

State should introduce a bill in the Legislature to enact law to tackle the menace of

witch-hunting effectively. There should be concerted efforts to spread awareness to

eradicate the superstitions among the people. In the meantime, we recommend the

guidelines in following paragraphs for prevention of witch-hunting in the State of

Orissa. It shall be the duty of the State and the District Administration to prevent or

deter commission of witch-hunting and to provide protection to citizens from being

victim of witch-hunting. The State shall also provide procedure for prosecution of the

persons who endangers human life on the allegation that she is a witch.

9. For the aforesaid purpose, witch-hunting means and includes:

(i) Any person accuses another or defames a woman by calling her ‘Dayan’ or ‘Dahani’ or any other name or symbol suggesting her to be a witch; and

8

(ii) Any person/persons jointly or individually harms another person either physically or mentally or damages her property calling her to be a witch, shall be known to be practicing witch-hunting;

10. Whoever forces a woman to drink or eat inedible or obnoxious

substances on the allegation that she is a witch, shall be punishable under the

provisions of the Indian Penal Code or any special law attracted to such

commission of offence.

11. Any person calling another a ‘witch’ or being possessed one, uses

criminal force against her, or instigates or provokes others in doing so or abate with

intent to harm and/or to displace her from the house by using criminal force or

intimidates, which amounts to specific offence under the Indian Penal Code or any

other law, the authorities shall initiate appropriate action in accordance with the law

by lodging complaint in the Police Station.

12. The authorities also prevent any person from acting as a ‘tantric’ or a

‘witch doctor’ in the area claiming to have possessed spiritual and magical powers

to cure witch-craft or in possession of super-natural powers and performs any rituals

to free the woman from the evil spirit or entices a woman or any person or her

behalf with a promise to bless the woman with a child or performs any ritual on

behalf of any person with an intention to harm the woman, should be prosecuted, if

such an act amounts to any specific offence under the Indian Penal Code or any

other law.

13. Preventive steps.

In the meantime, the authorities shall take appropriate steps to prevent

witch-hunting and in particular take the following steps : 9

(i) Public awareness programmes should be launched in the Grama Panchayats to eradicate the superstitions of witch-craft;

(ii) Health camps should be organized in different village level to detect cases of the psychologically disordered, which may lead to a false acquisition being possessed or being a witch;

(iii) The Investigating Agency in cases involving allegations of witch-hunting, in order to avoid the witnesses turning hostile should take steps to get statement of the witnesses recorded under Section 164 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973.

14. These directions are not exhaustive. The State may, in addition to such

steps, take suitable and appropriate step to tackle the menace of witch-hunting.

Accordingly, we direct that the guidelines should be strictly observed by

the authorities till a suitable legislation is passed by the State Legislature. The State

Government shall introduce an appropriate bill in the State Legislature within a

period of one year.

The writ application is accordingly disposed of.

………………………….

S.K.Mishra, J.

V.Gopala Gowda, C.J. I agree.

………………………….

V.Gopala Gowda, C.J.

Orissa High Court, Cuttack,

Dated, April 25, 2012/JNS.

 

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Immediate Release–Green Tribunal suspends environment clearance for POSCO

POSCO Judgment of National Green Tribunal – Briefing Note

On March 30, 2012, the National Green Tribunal held in Prafulla Samantra and Anr. vs Union of India and Ors. that the 31.1.2011 final order of the Environment Ministry – permitting the POSCO project to go ahead with certain conditions – should be suspended until a full review of the project can be undertaken (by specialists with fresh terms of reference). The NGT Bench consisted of Justice C.V. Ramulu, Judicial Member, and Dr. Devendra Kumar Agarwal, Expert Member.

The tribunal has observed that, “A close scrutiny of the entire scheme … reveals that a project of this magnitude particularly in partnership with a foreign country has been dealt with casually, without there being any comprehensive scientific data regarding the possible environmental impacts. No meticulous scientific study was made on each and every aspect of the matter leaving lingering and threatening environmental and ecological doubts un-answered.” (para 7, page 22)

It has also seriously questioned the appointment of Ms. Meena Gupta as the chairperson of the review committee which was set up by the MoEF in 2010. The judgement states that Ms. Gupta’s appointment was “definitely hit by personal / official / departmental bias, in other words, she supported the decision made by her earlier. This is in gross violation of principles of natural justice.” (para 6.9 page 22)

Key Directions of the Green Tribunal

The Tribunal has directed a “fresh review of the Project” (para 8.1) that has to look at the problems noted in this judgment as well as the majority and minority reports of the earlier Enquiry Committee (see list of dates), etc. In particular it has to look at:

Land and infrastructure: The clearance was given for a 4 million tonnes per annum (MTPA) steel plant, but the land, water etc. were allocated for a 12 MTPA project (which has been POSCO’s stated plan). The judgment directs MoEF to “consider optimizing the total land requirement for 4 MTPA steel plant proportionately.”(para 8.5) Moreover, the impacts of other infrastructure for the plant have not been assessed at all, even though they were planned for a 12 MTPA plant.

Issues that should have been done now, but which MoEF left for future studies: On several points highlighted by the review committee, the MoEF just said future studies should be done and ignored the issue. The Tribunal finds this deeply unsatisfactory, and notes the following among other issues:

Water: The Tribunal said that “We are all aware that … the drinking water is becoming scarce commodity and at every level precaution needs to be taken for protecting the drinking water supply to human habitation and preventing from utilizing such water for industrial use … alternative water source for the present project, like creating/ constructing a small barrage or augmenting any other existing source at the cost of project proponent to avoid the utilizing the water meant for Cuttack city… could be examined.” (para 7.4, page 29)

Pollution: The plant’s discharge was also left for future study by MoEF. The Tribunal says this is a “serious environmental concern.” (para 7.4, page 30)

Impact on surrounding wetlands and mangroves, as well as cyclone risk: This was left for vague future studies without any time frame or modus operandi. In addition, the Ministry has to frame a policy to ensure large projects are assessed in full for a single clearance (rather than being allowed to get piecemeal clearances for each component, as in this case) and for their full capacity at the start (paras 8.7,8.9). It also has to do a strategic assessment of the ports in Orissa. (para 8.8)

POSCO and the government sought to argue that the case cannot be filed as the original clearances were given in 2007 (and, incidentally, will expire in May/July this year). The Tribunal held that the 2011 order can still be looked at even if the 2007 ones cannot be; it therefore directed review and suspension of the 2011 order.

POSCO and/or the government can appeal this decision in the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, MoEF has to constitute a review committee of subject specialists (para 8.3), define timelines for compliance with conditions (para 8.4), establish a committee for monitoring compliance with these conditions (para 8.4). No work can start on the project until the review process is over.

The case was argued by Sr. Adv. Raj Punjwani, Adv. Ritwick Dutta and Adv. Rahul Choudhary for the petitioners.

Key Events

  • June 2005: POSCO, Orissa government sign MoU for 12 million tonne steel plant, private port and captive iron ore mines. Protests begin in steel plant area and area is cordoned off by peaceful protesters.

  • May 2007: Environmental clearance for port granted by Environment Ministry, then under A. Raja.

  • July 2007: Environmental clearance for plant granted by Environment Ministry, then under PM. Secretary is Meena Gupta. Protests continue in the face of violent attacks and numerous arrests.

  • December 2009: Forest clearance granted for taking over forest land by Environment Ministry, then under Jairam Ramesh.

  • August 2010: Forest clearance suspended following complaints of violations of law, and Enquiry Committee constituted under Meena Gupta.

  • October 2010: Three member majority of enquiry committee gives report saying environmental and forest clearances illegal. Meena Gupta dissents, holds clearances legal but recommends additional study and time to ensure compliance.

  • January 31, 2011: Environment Ministry disregards both majority and minority reports, upholds environment and forest clearances, while prescribing some additional conditions (mostly consisting of additional studies to be done in future).

  • June 2011: Prafulla Samantray challenges final order in National Green Tribunal.

  • March 31, 2012: Green Tribunal judgment.

For further information:

Prafulla Samantray, activist and petitioner in this case, 09437259005

Prashant Paikray, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, 09437571547

Kanchi Kohli, activist, 9811903112, [email protected]

Shankar Gopalakrishnan, Campaign for Survival and Dignity, 9873657844, [email protected]

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