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Teachers arrested for allegedly strip searching girl student in West Bengal

Press Trust of India | Updated: August 04, 2012 21:01 IST

Suri, West BengalTwo women teachers were arrested today for allegedly strip searching a girl student on the suspicion that she had stolen money at Kaligati Smriti Nari Siksha Niketan in Suri, about 170 kms from Kolkata.The girl, a student of class-XI, filed a complaint with the police that two teachers, Chaitali Gupta and Lipika Saha, took her to the teachers’ room yesterday and stripped searched her alleging that she had stolen Rs. 150 from another student, the sources said.

The money, however, was not found on her. The girl’s father told the police that she broke into tears after returning home.

Ms Gupta and Ms Saha were produced in a local court today which granted them bail. The headmistress of the school, Kalpana Roy, however, contended that the matter was exaggerated and only the student’s bag was searched.

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In the name of Bharatiya Sanskar

 

RASHEEDA BHAGAT

...and stop lecturing women on all the wrong things.
…and stop lecturing women on all the wrong things.

Can we, as a mature country, stop pointing an accusing finger at women all the time? How come nobody is giving homilies to men that it is not alright to assault and molest women, as witnessed in Guwahati recently?

July 23, 2012:

In Khalid Hosseini’s heart wrenching and brilliant novel A Thousand Splendid Suns, Nana tells her little daughter Mariam, the protagonist: “Like a compass needle that points north, a man’s accusing finger always finds a woman. Always. You remember that, Mariam.”

That story is set in Afghanistan and traverses the country’s 45-year period, beginning with the pro-Soviet era. However much women in the developed world and non-Islamic countries such as India might pity the pathetic state and status of women under the Taliban era in Afghanistan or even Pakistan, in their hearts, they know these searing words hold good for any woman.

Let’s take this comment in the context of the horrendous incident that took place in the heart of Guwahati, where a 17-year-old girl was molested by 11 men — some accounts say 15 — for more than 20 minutes. And this, not in a confined space but a busy street, as shown from the footage captured by a television cameraman.

One needs to have nerves of steel to watch on the Net the footage of that barbaric incident, where the young girl, who is being relentlessly pawed, pushed and pulled brutally by her hair, her top ripped to expose her breasts. She keeps pleading: “Aisa mat karo … tera bhi bahen hei (Please don’t treat me thus; you too have sisters),” but to no avail.

What is even more depressing to watch is that nobody does anything about it. The entire nation has expressed outrage at the incident; some finding fault with the photographer for filming the whole episode instead of helping the victim; others at a member of the National Commission for Women (NCW), Ms Alka Lamba, for making public the girl’s identity. Actually, in the footage, the girl gives her name when the police do arrive, a good 30 minutes later. And, this, despite a police station being barely one km away from the scene of crime.

ANOTHER TWIST

But once everybody had condemned the beasts who assaulted a girl in this horrendous manner, the debate took another turn.

The schoolgirl had come out from a bar where a fight had broken out. So eyebrows were raised at why “respectable” girls should go to bars and drink, or rather, why they should drink at all. After all, isn’t this against our Bharatiya sanskar?

And, then, we had a real gem from the Chairperson of the NCW, Mamata Sharma. If you thought NCW is supposed to bat for women, you thought wrong.

A few days ago, we had a lecture from the honourable lady on how women need to be “careful about the way they dress, because blindly aping the West can result in such incidents.”

After a sermon on how “aping the west is eroding Indian culture”, she deigned to admit that after 64 years of Independence it was not fair to give “such blanket directions” to women. But what to do, the poor woman had no option.

Now, this is absolute rubbish, and of the worst kind. First of all, from what I could see from the footage, the teenager was dressed in a pair of jeans and a top that thousands of Indian women wear.

Where does erosion of Indian culture come if girls/women want to wear jeans? By the way, a young Pakistani cop in Lahore shot his sister dead two days ago for wearing jeans.

And even if the Assamese girl was wearing what Ms Sharma and her ilk might consider “provocative” clothes, isn’t that her own business, or at the most that of her parents or immediate family?

Emboldened, perhaps by the missive let loose by the NCW chief, we now have the Madhya Pradesh Minister for Industries, Mr Kailash Vijayvargiya, lecturing Indian women on their dress code. His words of wisdom: “Women’s fashion, lifestyle and conduct should be in accordance with Indian culture. They should not wear clothes that provoke others. They should dress in such a way that they invoke respect in others.”

DRIVEL, AT BEST

I am livid at being forced to listen to this kind of drivel. By blaming the poor girl, a mere child of 17, and insinuating that she was responsible for the disgusting behaviour of the morons who attacked and molested her, totally ignoring her repeated pleas for mercy, can we please have somebody lecturing the male devils who assaulted her? Why is it that I am yet to hear any mantras on “Bharatiya sanskriti” being read out to men?

How come no one of any consequence is giving homilies to men that it is not alright to assault and molest women; to paw or pinch them in buses; to stalk them on streets; to kill them for the sake of saving your family’s so-called honour — oh yes, honour killings do happen in India, too — to rape them to show their physical superiority?

Can we as a mature country, a mature people, please stop pointing the accusing finger at women all the time? And, stop lecturing them on how they should dress or behave? One is getting a little tired of trite comments from modest brains that take it for granted that women dress in one fashion or another only to please men, or attract them, or “provoke” them. Most of the time this is the male point of view; it is tragic that the NCW chief fell into that old trap too.

Instead of such nonsense and moral policing, can we have sensible debates on the serious issues that confront Indian women? Such as challenges on adequate health care, sanitation or drinking water, to fetch which millions of Indian women have to move heaven and earth; equal opportunities for education, employment and a supportive environment for employed women? Most of all, how do we ensure a safe environment in which women can move freely without fear of being violently assaulted as happened in Guwahati?

Last, but not the least, let’s talk about a safe home, where girl babies are allowed to be born and not slaughtered in the womb after sex selection tests, or burned because they did not fetch adequate dowry. Forget the streets of Delhi, Guwahati or Patna, our fast declining gender ratio points an accusing finger at the home being the most unsafe place for the girl child, sister, wife or mother.Bharatiya sanskar? Give me a break, please.

Responses to [email protected] and [email protected]

 

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The media’s handling of #sexworkers and marginalised has been patently insensitive

Festival with a difference
NUPUR BASU reports on the deliberations of a congregation from 42 countries in Kolkata.
Posted/Updated Tuesday, Jul 31 , The hoot.org
Meena (name changed) came from a middle-class family in Baroda. Like millions of girls in our country, she had an arranged marriage and had children. One day her husband left her for another woman, leaving her holding onto three small children. Unable to find a job, Meena got trapped into sex work. With the money she earned, she was able to send all her children to school and put food on the table. A year ago, the police raided her house and threw her into jail. She was there for nine days and finally managed to come out on bail after paying Rs. 10,000.
“The local television channels and newspapers published my picture; my parents, my brothers, and my entire family came to know, and I became an outcaste from my family. Why does the media put so much masala and make a laughing stock of us in society? Do they not have a conscience? Are we not human beings who have feelings and a sense of honour?” she said sobbing as she addressed a Media Plenary at the recent Sex Workers’ Freedom Festival in Kolkata.
All those on the dais, including the media persons, were moved to tears by Meena’s story. Among the 700-odd sex workers in the auditorium, some were seen openly crying. Meena had told a story that had a strong parallel in their lives.
Mumtaz Begum (name changed) of Ajmer district recounted how when three young sex workers from their community went to attend a party on Valentine’s Day on February 14, the police arrested them and put them behind bars. The police had informed the media earlier, and the latter took pictures of the women and splashed them in newspapers and on television channels.
“The entire day the local Sarera channel kept repeating in a loop the faces of these young women and people watched them in tea shops, hotels, and street corners. These women had done nothing wrong. They had just gone to attend a party. Finally we had to go and get them released on bail by paying Rs. 6000 each”, Mumtaz Begum recounted. “Sometimes these girls end up committing suicide because they cannot face the stigma from the media and the community”, she said with tears in her eyes.
“You don’t show the faces of dacoits and thieves in the media. Why do you show ourfaces?“ a sex worker from Maharashtra asked angrily. They were speaking at a plenary on “Media response to sex workers’ rights agenda” at the XIX International AIDS conference hub in Kolkata from July 22 to July 27. Nine hundred female sex workers, men having sex with men, and transgender persons had come from 42 countries to hold the Freedom Festival in Kolkata after having been denied visas to attend the main conference in Washington, DC.
Dominant theme
Invasion of privacy and violations of rights of marginalised communities by the media was a dominant theme at the historic Kolkata hub.
“I need to emphasize that the havoc that media can create in the lives of marginal communities is enormous and despite all the support that media render to such communities there is no way that they can compensate or undo the damage they have inflicted on the community”, says Akhila Sivadas, founder of Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR), one of the co-sponsors of the festival. She added, however: “Today the marginalised communities are strengthened by the presence and their knowledge of regulatory bodies such as the News Broadcasting Standards Authority and the Press Council of India. They have learned to file complaints, approach the authorities, and get heard in places that matter.”
They quoted a hidden camera sting by the TV9 channel conducted in the houses ofDevadasis in Kudligi village in Bellary district in Karnataka in December 2009. Undercover reporters posed as clients with hidden cameras and talked to sex workers and their families. Their faces were revealed and the script for the story titled “Hanumana Hendthiru” (Wives of Hanumantha) was full of crude innuendos.
To add insult to injury, the report got the Goenka Award for Best Investigative Report and it was given away by the Vice-President of India. Several organisations have now written to Vice-President Hamid Ansari to withdraw the award for its exploitative coverage. A complaint was also filed with the News Broadcasters Association (NBA), a self-regulatory body of TV channels.
“Self-regulation by electronic medium is a new initiative and when it comes to violations by the media, it is not easy to ensure a level playing field for vulnerable groups. The media feel they are invincible, especially when it comes to marginalised communities” says Sivadas.
They quote several examples of such violations by the media in recent times:
  • A person from the transgender community was portrayed negatively on December 6, 2012 in Chennai on an entertainment channel, Zee Tamizh. They depicted her as the cause of marital break-up. The social ostracism against her was instant. The victim contacted the channel to stop telecasting the promo, but the producers refused to respond and allegedly went to the extent of abusing her. A protest letter drafted by CFAR demanding redress from the channel drew a blank. A formal complaint was then launched with Indian Broadcasters Foundation (IBF), a self- regulatory body set up to regulate entertainment channels. They agreed to take action against the producer who had wronged the transgendered woman. They assured the community that in the future they would be sensitive about their portrayal.
  • Another defamatory depiction of MSM/transgender community using unethical means was reported in Jagtiyal, Warangal, Andhra Pradesh. A sensational report was allegedly aired on NTV on October 31, 2011 accusing NGOs and CBOs in Warangal of “trapping” and “luring handsome men” and forcing them to undergo sex change. The half-hour programme, according to CFAR, was full of falsehood. A rejoinder was drafted and sent to the channel. When they failed to respond, a complaint was filed online to NBA on January 21, 2012. They were informed that since NTV was not a member of NBA, it had written to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting requesting the Ministry to direct the channel (NTV) to cooperate with NBA in its inquiry.
According to CFAR, a programme they conducted between April 2011 and March 2012 with community-based organisations across four States–Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, and Maharashtra–used diverse pegs to strengthen media messaging on reducing stigma and discrimination against People Living with HIV, and promoting social inclusion. The media addressed incidents of stigma and discrimination against PLHIV and marginalised communities in many ways. As many as 677 news reports emerged as a result of this effort.
The message given out at the conference was clear: Don’t take false portrayal by the media silently. Be proactive and contact the agencies that are there to look into excesses.
Gulnaar (name changed) from Guntur in Andhra Pradesh summed it all up very well: “Some media people are good and some are bad. Our message to the media is, ‘please do not look at sex work with a bad eye. We do this for our children, our family, our husbands’. Behind every sex worker is a very sad story.”
But despite the poor news stories, the gathering at the Kolkata hub was upbeat. As sex workers on the dais sang: “Hey Ho- Let’s go! Our right to say ‘yes’! Our right to say ‘no’ !”, Lakshmi Narayan Tripathi, a transgender sex worker from Mumbai, who sat on the stage holding a red umbrella over her head, to symbolise that they were all under one roof (see picture), said the news from the media stable was not all gloom and doom. “It is thanks to the support of the media on many issues in the last decade that we have been able to effect changes in the law; without them we could not have done it alone.”
Clearly the media has the ability to drive progressive policy and fight discrimination. The tragedy is when they become the object that drives discrimination.

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Short skirts cause women harassment– Bengali actor and TMC MLA #Moralpolicing #VAW

 

Short skirts cause eve-teasing: TMC MLA

KOLKATA  July 29, 2012

Bengali Actor and Trinamool Congress legislator Chiranjeet Chakraborty waded into controversy
on Saturday, correlating a woman’s dress with eve teasing. He also sought to downplay an incident of harassment of a girl in his constituency saying that there was nothing new about eve teasing.

The incident occurred on Friday evening in Barasat in North 24 Parganas,where over a year ago a youth had to give his life, trying to protect his sister from getting teased by some drunken youths. The incident created a furore during the rule of the previous government. In the fresh incident, a student returning home from her tuition classes was harassed by some youths.
Her father was also heckled when he tried to protest.

When his comments were sought, Mr. Chakraborty, a first time legislator and Tollywood artiste, said: “Tell me… can you imagine a movie without a villain, could Ramayana have been written without Ravana’s role… eve teasing
is very old… but the preparation is made by the involvement of girls.”

“Their dresses have changed in tune with times… skirts have become shorter to appeal to men… that should be appreciated… but when it attracts taunts and comments… it becomes a case for eve teasing… it is undesirable though,”the law maker said almost as an afterthought. He said police patrol had been increased and the lighting in the areas around the Barasat station had been improved recently.

His comments drew wide criticism from within the government as well as from across society.

Minister for Women and Social Welfare Sabitri Mitra said dress and style had nothing to do with eve teasing, which was more linked to a state of mind.“It is a mental perversion. It is a social malady. If the manner of dressing was the culprit then village belles in sarees and salwar kameez would not have faced harassment.

She deplored the Barasat incident saying the culprits had been booked.

Mr. Chakraborty appeared unfazed, insisting later that he had spoken as a guardian.

Mamata refuses comment

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Saturday refused to comment on a statement made by actor and Trinamool Congress legislator Chiranjeet that short dresses worn by women were one of the reasons behind the increase in incidents of harassment.”I don’t know anything about it,” Banerjee said when asked to comment on the statement made by her party MLA.

Trinamool MLA clarifies remark

However, after facing criticism, Chiranjeet tried to clarify his statement. “I had said that keeping in mind the well-being of the teenaged girls. The comments are nothing but reflections of the concerns that a father, elder brother or a guardian has regarding their teenage daughters or sisters,” he said

 

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Body of Mentally ill woman dug up at home for disabled funded by WB govt

Kolkata : In yet another shocking case that puts a serious question mark on the state of our society, reports claimed on Friday that mentally ill women lodged at a rehabilitation centre in West Bengal were subjected to sexual abuse.

The caretaker of the rehab centre allowed in outsiders in evenings, who then sexually abused the inmates. The centre, located in Dhonekhali in Hooghly district, is home to around 50 mentally ill women. The horrific case of cruelty came to light after the body of Guria, a 30-year-old woman inmate of the mental asylum, was found buried in the backyard. An inmate informed an NGO about Guria’s death, which then passed on the information to a TV news channel.

As per reports, Guria was sexually assaulted and beaten to death by Shyamal Ghosh, a resident of Uttarpara village near Khajurdaho, who allegedly harassed women inmates. He is still absconding. Ghosh is considered to be a close confidant of Uday Chand Kumar, secretary of the rehabilitation centre. Inmates of the state-run asylum have alleged that Shyamal Ghosh, the prime accused, often used to torture them and claimed that he had severely thrashed Guria a few days before her disappearance.

Uday Chand is under police custody; yesterday, he was remanded to 10 days police custody by a local court. Police have also arrested cook Najiya Khatun and gateman Mathur Patra of the centre.

Two others, Tarumal Das and Prafulla Mallick, who buried the body of the 32-year-old destitute dumb woman, Guria, after her death on July 01, are also under police arrest.

The mental asylum is run by a Non Governmental Organisation (NGO) and funded by the central government. The West Bengal government yesterday cancelled the license of the rehabilitation centre and ordered that all inmates be shifted to other homes with immediate effect.

http://zeenews.india.com/news/west-bengal/mentally-ill-women-sexually-abused-tortured-in-wb_787228.html

Body of woman exhumed after allegation of unnatural death

11 July 2012

Hooghly : The body of a destitute dumb woman who died at a private home for orphans and the mentally was exhumed this evening to ascertain allegations that she had died an unnatural death at Khajurdaho in Hooghly district.

The order for exhumation of the body came after the Block Development Officer of Dhaniakhali Biswanath Ghosh filed an FIR at the Gurap police station, police sources said.

The body was exhumed in the presence of Hooghly District Magistrate S Ranjarajan and Superintendent of Police Tanmoy Roychowdhury.

The sources said that the authorities of the home, Rehabilitation Centre for Mentally Ill persons (Women), claimed that the 32-year-old woman was killed when a ceiling fan fell on her head on July one. After obtaining the death certificate the authorities buried the body as per the custom of the private home run by a person named by Uday Chand Kumar, they said.

Villagers, however, alleged that there was foul play behind the death of the woman and informed the police, the sources said. They questioned that since the woman died an unnatural death why her body was not sent for a post mortem examination. The villagers gheraoed the home during the day alleging that atrocities were being committed on woman and girl inmates.

The SP said that an investigation would be made into the cause of death of the woman.The name of the woman, who was from Bankura district and was found by the police and left at the home on May 22, was not known. She was named Guria at the home. State Women and Child Development minister Sabitri Mitra said in Kolkata that she had asked the Hooghly district magistrate to inquire into the incident. Stating that her department was not informed of the incident by the home authorities, she said that the state government would take strong action if necessary.

WBPCC President Pradip Bhattacharya said that a CID probe should be ordered if not a CBI inquiry into the incident.

http://zeenews.india.com/news/west-bengal/body-of-woman-exhumed-after-allegation-of-unnatural-death_786942.html

Body dug up at home for disabled funded by govt

12-July-2012

GURAP (HOOGHLY) : The highly decomposed body of a 32-year-old woman was dug out of a shallow grave in the compound of a state-funded rehabilitation centre for the physically and mentally challenged in Hooghly’s Khajurdaha area, some 50km from Kolkata. Local MLA Ashima Patra has demanded a forensic test to see if she was sexually abused.

Investigators are not ruling out homicide and have arrested the owner of the rehab centre, Uday Chand. There were injuries all over the body, including a grievous wound to her head, police said. The victim, identified as Guriya, died on July 1 but Hooghly police had no clue till a news channel started showing a report on the mysterious death on Wednesday after being tipped off by an NGO.

Police said Uday buried Guriya’s body without informing the administration. It was only on July 3 that he handed police a ‘death certificate’ stating the speech and hearing impaired woman had died of cardio-respiratory failure. Despite the two-day gap, police did not verify Uday’s statement. Now, they suspect the certificate to be fake.

Tip from inmate led to discovery of corpse

Guriya was rescued from the streets by Bankura police on May 22 and sent to the Khajurdaha home. She died on July 1 and Uday allegedly buried the corpse.

The crime would have been buried but for some inmates of the home. Although they are all either mentally challenged or speech and hearing impaired, a few of them — or at least one — managed to get the news out to an NGO run by a former CPM minister on Wednesday. Within minutes, journalists swarmed the rehab home. The police were taken unawares by the media frenzy and ran to the scene only when they saw the live coverage on TV. District magistrate S Rangarajan and SP Tanmoy Roychowdhury also rushed there.

Police picked up Uday and after sustained interrogation, he broke down and revealed where he had buried the body. Additional SP Tathagata Basu said: “The body was exhumed after the SDPO (HQ) Bankura lodged a complaint with Gurap police station.” Police have initiated a case, suo-motu.

“The body has several injury marks, including a severe head wound,” said the SP. As the news spread, villagers started gathering at the home and demanded that all the officials of the rehab home be arrested. “We are not ruling out the possibility of a homicidal assault. The probe hinges on the post-mortem report. The death certificate submitted to the police is not authentic. We are examining if it was forged,” said Basu

Social welfare minister Sabitri Mitra and Dhaniakhali MLA Ashima Patra promised tough action against the “heinous crime”.

http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2012-07-12/kolkata/32648264_1_rehab-home-rehab-centre-highly-decomposed-body

Arrest in Hooghly home death

July 11, 2012

Gurap (Hooghly) : The secretary of a home for mentally ill women in Hooghly’s Gurap has been arrested in connection with the “unnatural death” of a 32-year-old inmate on July 1.

A team led by district superintendent of police Tanmay Roy Chaudhuri visited the home, run by an NGO, Dulal Smriti Sansad, and ordered that the body, which they learnt had been buried in the compound, be exhumed.

Secretary Uday Chandra Kumar was arrested after this.

“We found the body had injury marks. We have arrested the secretary on the charge of murder and causing disappearance of evidence. The body has been sent for post-mortem,” said the SP.

On May 23, Guria, a mentally unstable woman, was found loitering at a bus stand in Bankura. “Police was ordered to keep the woman in the home,” an officer said.

Kumar said Guria died on the night of June 30 after she fell from a height. “A doctor was called and he declared her dead, saying she had died of cardiac failure. The doctor also wrote a death certificate,” said Kumar. “We then buried her body on July 1 morning.”

It is still not clear why the home authorities did not inform the police and instead decided to bury the body.

The police were informed by the district social welfare department where a complaint was lodged only today.

The driver of an ambulance belonging to the home, Sunny Roy, was also arrested this evening. “We are looking for two more persons, Shyamal Ghosh and Sanjib Das, who live nearby. We have complaints from inmates that these youths used to get physically intimate with them,” a police officer said.

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1120712/jsp/bengal/story_15718957.jsp

State to monitor homes for mentally challenged

13-July-2012

KOLKATA : Deeply concerned over the death of a mentally-challenged woman Guria in a home at Dhaniakhali in Hooghly, the state government has decided to closely monitor all 18 private-run such homes in West Bengal to prevent the recurrence of any such incident. It has also convened a meeting of all private-run homes at the Writers’ Buildings on July 27.

The body of 30-year-old Guria was found in the backyard of the home — Dulal Smriti Samsad — in Hooghly. After the body was exhumed on Wednesday, the police found injury marks on the victim’s body. “We are deeply shocked over the incident. On the chief minister’s instruction, we have cancelled the licence of the home which was run by an NGO. Four persons, including the secretary of the home have been arrested. The body has been sent for post-mortem. I will visit every home in the state to ensure that such incident do not happen again,” state women and social welfare minister Sabitri Mitra said on Thursday.

However, according to the government sources, the licence of the home had expired on March 31, 2012 and thereafter it was being run without any valid licence. On being asked why the state government did not take action against the home authorities for running the facility without any licence earlier, the minister failed to give any satisfactory reply.

Meanwhile, the Hooghly district administration has been asked to shift all the inmates to other homes.

http://www.asianage.com/kolkata/state-monitor-homes-mentally-challenged-487

2 held in home row

July 12 2012

Gurap (Hooghly) : Two more persons were arrested today for allegedly helping to bury the body of the mentally challenged woman at the Hooghly home.

Licenses of all the three homes running under the NGO Dulal Smriti Sansad in Hooghly have been cancelled.

Three persons, including the secretary of the home at Gurap, Uday Chandra Kumar, have already been arrested in connection with the “unnatural death” of the 32-year-old woman on July 1.

BJP supporters holding a demonstration outside a Chinsurah court, where the trio were produced today, beat them up them with brooms.

The three persons, Kumar, Ranjit Mandi and Sunny Roy, were remanded in 14 days’ police custody. Sunny is the driver of the ambulance belonging to the home while Ranjit is a local youth who allegedly frequented the home.

“We have arrested two more local youths — Taru Mal and Prafulla Soren — who had helped bury the woman in the home compound,” said Tanmay Roy Chaudhuri, the district superintendent of police, adding all five were charged with murder.

The police are still looking for two other local youths who some inmates said were known to secretary Chand and often got physically intimate with them.

According to some of the inmates, an officer said, the woman had committed suicide by hanging herself from a rod in the window. A rape is yet to be confirmed.

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1120713/jsp/bengal/story_15723014.jsp

Rehabilitation centres under scanner

Jul 13, 2012

KOLKATA : The state-funded rehabilitation centre in Hooghly’s Khajurdaha, where the decomposed body of a woman was dug out on Wednesday, was functioning without licence since April this year. This brings to light the state’s casual approach about the way these centres function.

On Thursday, state social welfare minister Sabitri Mitra said at a press conference at Writers’ Buildings: “We have cancelled the licence of the home today.” But a press release handed out by the minister revealed that the licence had, in fact, expired on March 31 this year.

Asked how the rehabilitation centre for the physically and mentally challenged could continue to function without licence for nearly three-and-a-half months, Mitra said, “We asked them to renew the licence, but they did not respond.” However, questions have already been raised on the effectiveness of government control over these homes. Licences are issued under the Women’s and Children’s Institutional (Licencing) Rules, 1958, and due to the “serious violation of human rights of the home inmates”, the government decided not to renew the licence with retrospective effect, as per the order of the government.

The inmates of the home – 46 at the short-stay home, 16 at the home for mentally challenged and 25 at a cottage home – would be shifted out according to availability of accommodation elsewhere. “There are woman cops guarding the place and till all the inmates are shifted out, the district administration will arrang for their food,” Mitra said.

There are 30 state-run homes in the state, out of which two are defunct at present. There is capacity to provide shelter to 2,375 inmates, but currently about 1,000 inmates stay in these homes. Also, there are nearly 10,000 inmates living in 114 homes run by private organizations, which receive state and Central government funds and are provided with licences by the state government. However, questions are being raised on how the state holds visits to these homes and whether visits are held regularly at all.

According to Mitra, visits are held from time to time. She said she had called all NGO representatives who run such homes throughout the state on July 27 at Writers’ Buildings.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/kolkata/Rehabilitation-centres-under-scanner/articleshow/14857505.cms?

Rehab centre licence cancelled after ‘unnatural’ death of woman

13-July-2012

KOLKATA : The West Bengal government on Thursday cancelled the licence of a private home in Hooghly district where a woman died unnaturally and her body buried without police permission. Five persons, including its owner, were arrested. The licence of the home, Rehabilitation Centre for Mentally Ill Persons Women) at Khajurdaho in Hooghly district, run by NGO Dulal Smriti Samsad, was cancelled with retrospective effect from April 1 this year, after it was found that it had expired on March 31, Women and Child Development Minister Sabitri Mitra said here.

The department has also ordered that all inmates be shifted to other homes with immediate effect, Mitra said, adding that the steps were taken on the advice of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee.

Uday Chand Kumar, the owner and secretary of the home, cook Najiya Khatun and gateman Mathur Patra were arrested Wednesday night, Hooghly police sources said. The three were produced in a local court in Hooghly and remanded in ten days’ police custody today. Two others, Tarumal Das and Prafulla Mallick, who buried the body of the 32-year-old destitute woman, Guria, after her death on July 1, were also arrested this morning, the sources said.

A meeting has been convened with all the authorities of government homes on July 26 to review the situation, Mitra said.

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/rehab-centre-licence-cancelled-after-unnatural-death-of-woman/973922/

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Sunil Janah- Portraitist of the Nehruvian era passes away R.I.P

Ram Rahman,  The Hindu  , jUNE 23, 2012

Sunil Janah, at his exhibition in New York in 1998. Photo: Ram Rahman

The Hindu Sunil Janah, at his exhibition in New York in 1998. Photo: Ram Rahman

Sunil Janah, the photographer whose searing coverage of the Bengal Famine and vivid political portraiture of the 1940s and 1950s helped chronicle a tumultuous era in the life of India, passed away at his home in Berkeley, California on June 21. He was 94 years old.

His wife, Shobha, passed away only a few weeks before. He is survived by his son, Arjun Janah.

Janah was born in Assam in 1918, but grew up in Calcutta. He was educated at St. Xavier’s and Presidency colleges in Calcutta. Like so many others at the time, he had joined the Student Federation inspired by left-wing politics. When the British lifted the ban on the Communist Party of India as it supported the Allied front against the fascist forces of Hitler and Mussolini, Janah caught the eye of CPI’s visionary general secretary, P.C. Joshi. At the time, Janah was a keen amateur photographer; Joshi recognised his talent and overnight persuaded him to abandon his English studies and travel with him and the artist Chittoprasad to photograph the famine raging across Bengal in 1943. The photographs by Janah published in the party journal People’s War brought him instant fame as they revealed to a shocked nation the horror of the famine.

Janah later moved with Chittoprasad to live in the Party commune in Bombay, where both were intimately associated with the Progressive Writers Association (PWA) and IPTA, the Indian People’s Theatre Association. Janah had become the most famous photographer in India by then and was sought out by LIFE magazine’s Margaret Bourke White, with whom he formed a unique friendship and working relationship in 1945.

Unlike other photographers, Janah was an active political worker whose political work happened to be photography. Because of his talent and reputation, P.C. Joshi happily acceded to requests from the Congress party, the Muslim League and the National Conference in Kashmir to allow him to photograph their meetings and conventions. As an insider with a political ideology, Janah’s photographs stood out for their passionate engagement, idealism and an uncompromising artistic vision. He became intimate not just with all the legendary cultural figures associated with the Left in the 1940s, but also the entire spectrum of the political leadership. His portraits of these legends stand out for their intimate and personal power. Most were published in the CPI newspaper People’s Age.

After the political split in the Communist Party when P.C. Joshi was sidelined in 1947, Janah moved back to Calcutta and opened a studio. He was a founding member along with Satyajit Ray, Chidananda Das Gupta and Hari Das Gupta of the Calcutta Film Society. Ray designed his first book of photographs, The Second Creature (Signet Press), in 1949. In Calcutta, he started photographing dance and dancers making iconic pictures of Shanta Rao, Ragini Devi, Indrani Rahman and many others. He also made an extensive document on commercial assignment of the new steel mills, coal mines, power plants, railway engine factories and dams being built in Bengal, Bihar and Orissa — the great ‘temples of modern India’ coming up in the 1950s. His later documentation across India of the tribal communities, done with anthropologist Verrier Elvin, was another landmark.

Janah’s work is the defining epic document of the last decade of the freedom struggle and the first decade of free India — a chronicler of the ‘Nehruvian’ years. He remained a committed communist till his last breath, though not a party member. Sunil Janah had married Shobha, a doctor, and moved to Delhi in the 1960s. Never good at commerce, Janah became very bitter at his work being extensively used without payment or credit, and fulminated particularly against Mulk Raj Anand, who used his pictures in Marg — pictures which educated an entire generation about India’s temple architecture and sculpture. This bitterness made him a recluse in later life and led to the huge body of his work being hidden from public view for decades.

I was able to mount a huge retrospective of his work in New York in 1998 in an informal exhibition of 600 vintage prints, which created a sensation. A full- page review in The New York Times brought scores of people to the gallery, many older Indians left sobbing, so moved were they by the history they saw.

Sadly, the funds needed for a book on his work could never be raised during his lifetime; nor could the Government of India be persuaded to acquire the treasure of his archive, which sits in his basement in Berkeley.

The Government of India awarded him a Padma Shri in January 2012, mistakenly conferring on him the same honour which Indira Gandhi had given him in 1974. Embarrassed, the government upgraded it to a Padma Bhushan. It had not yet been presented to Janah by the Consul-General in San Francisco at the time of his death.

(Ram Rahman is a photographer.)

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Update June 20 : Police attack and arrest demonstrators-State crushing a democratic movement

Massive Lathicharge on Nonadanga protesters: Another example of state’s effort to crush a democratic movement


A Report by Nilanjan Dutta
The day before, police said they would not permit any rally at Esplanade by the evicted people from Nonadanga.
On the morning of 20 June, they did not object when the rally was held and allowed the 200-odd participants to occupy the ‘Y Channel’, which is actually a narrow strip of land beside a huge garbage vat between the main tram and bus stations at Esplanade. Of late, this highly inconvenient and acutely stinking spot seems to have been earmarked to accommodate all the ‘non-mainstream’ demonstrators who are no better than garbage in the eyes of the administration.
As the public meeting went on, at one stage the police brought an offer from the Writers’ Buildings that the minister in charge would meet the committee delegation on 26 June. The assembly discussed the matter instantly and agreed to disperse on the basis of this assurance, if the authorities agreed to clear the outlets of the settlement field at Nonadanga that had been blocked by raising a boundary wall. This was causing tremendous inconvenience for the residents.
The police messengers went to convey this to the minister but came back with the message that he had now said he would meet the delegates on 3 July instead of 26 June.
The protesters became restive and demanded an early appointment.
Again, a vague assurance came that the appointment would be advanced, without specifying any date.
The people decided they would not leave until the government made a commitment on the date of the talks. There was no further communication from the latter, but not a rejection of the demand either.
Late in the evening, police officers even came and inquired with the activists whether they planned to stay at the spot for the night and paternalistically talked about the necessity of arranging “protection” as there were so many women among them.
And Suddenly There Was The Lathi Charge.
The wounded were initially herded into the central lock-up at the Kolkata Police headquarters along with the others. They were taken to the Calcutta Medical College Hospital only after their co-prisoners raised a hue and cry inside the lock-up particularly after seeing Sanjay Mandal, a committee member from Nonadanga, writhing in pain before them and from the outside, APDR members began to intervene and express concern to high-ranking police officials calling for urgent medical attention.
The officers though still denied that there was any lathi charge at all!
Earlier report –
Since 11am, residents of Nonadanga started a roadside demonstration/dharna in the Esplanade area. It is being reported that the police carried out a massive lathicharge on the dharna and several persons had to be admitted to Medical College for treatment. While negotiations were going on about when the concerned minister can give an appointment to hear about the grievances, police started picking up certain selected activists at around 8pm and then lathicharged to disperse the rest. Around 40 persons have been arrested including Amitabha Bhattacharya (the chairman of the Uchched Pratirodh Committee) and Samik Chakraborty (who is also an activist of Sanhati).



Massive Lathicharge on Nonadanga protesters: Another example of state’s effort to crush a democratic movement :- 


Today, Kolkata police had carried out a massive and brutal lathicharge on the Nonadanga slum-dwellers & mass activists who were in a demonstration protest at Esplanade,Kolkata. All the protesters were heavily beaten up including women & children.
The protesters started their demonstration against the forceful eviction of Nonadanga slum & also against the recent attack on the slum-dwellers by the goons backed by TMC.
In spite of all these incidents and police brutality, any media, be it electronic or print, has totally blacked out any news and update about the ongoing movement in Nonadanga and hasn’t reported any of these incidents.
At near about 8 p.m., police started to pick up selected mass activists who were in the movement from the very beginning & then brutally lathicharged to disperse the rest of the protestors.
Many of the protesters were admitted to the hospital while 6 of them were seriously injured & is reported in a very serious condition.
Around 40 protesters are being arrested along with Shamik Chakraborty (activist of Mazdoor Kranti Parishad),Amitabha Bhattacharya (president of anti-eviction committee, Nonadanga) & others.
This is clear that the state govt. don’t want to hear any voice of protest & criticism. This brutal attack on these protesters has clearly exposed the autocratic and authoritarian state machinery which is fiercely trying to silent any voice of protest.


Stand firm in the face of state repression.
Come together to protest this fascist trend of the govt.
Demand immediate unconditional release of all the prisoners who have been arrested illegally with forged cases. 
Join the movement against the forceful eviction of Nonadanga
Reject the development model where common people are expended in order to raise corporate profit    

Editor of Towards New Dawn Abhijnan Sarkar and several other activists like Deblina Chakrabarty are arrested on 8th April 2012, when they were protesting against an eviction drive of slum dwellers by state officials at Nonadanga, Kolkata. They are framed with several false charges and put under detention till now. Towards New Dawn demands unconditional release of its editor and all other activists.- contact at [email protected]

Read more news here

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Resist the silent emergency! Call for Action on June 26th 2012

Dear friends,

On June 26,1975, Emergency was declared in India, robbing citizens of their basic democratic rights and ushering in a dark period of rampant human rights violations all over the country. Arrests of Indian citizens without charge or notification of families, abuse and torture of detainees, media censorship and use of public and private media institutions for government propaganda, forced sterilization of the minorities, destruction of slums and low income housing areas and authoritarianism were its main characteristics. All dissent was crushed. While the engineering student Rajan was tortured and killed in the Kakkayam torture camp, many others who were tortured are still alive to tell their tales.

The nightmare of Emergency was over in 1977 when it was lifted due to large scale public protest. Political parties, institutions and individuals who defended Emergency were discredited. The sigh of relief evoked a hope for a functioning democracy in India.

But today, we are entering into a similar phase of governance without any formal declaration of Emergency. This Silent Emergency has regulated, controlled and restricted all space for democratic public protests against ruling governments. Custodial deaths and encounter killings have become a routine phenomenon. Rape, murder, loot, torture and arrests in Manipur, Nagaland and other north eastern states as well as Kashmir have even crossed the excesses of the Emergency period. Many discriminatory laws have been enacted to silence the Media without a censorship. Several discriminatory laws were enacted to enhance and strengthen the power of the State over civil society and crush dissent. State terrorism today is beyond the imagination those who were responsible for the declaration of Emergency in the seventies.

Laws to facilitate the corporate control and loot over the resources of people are being enacted. This has also become a major reason for the human rights violations against adivasis, dalits, minorities, farmers, fisher people, workers, activists and human rights movements. While the mainstream media is compelled to ignore most of the people’s movements,for reasons of commerce those who work on human rights of the people are being victimized. The human rights defenders who take up burning issues of the people are being targeted. False cases are being fabricated against activists, people’s movements, media, theatre activists, minorities, self determination movements, dalits and adivasis in a major way. Thus thousands of innocent people are languishing in Indian jails without any trial.

Human rights lovers of this country and abroad came out on streets to campaign for the release Dr. Binayak Sen in recent times. However, hundreds of innocent adivasis are still suffering in the jails in Chhattisgarh. While the anti-POSCO movement leader Abhay Sahoo was released on bail recently, he is still being tied up with 51 fabricated cases. The villagers and activists resisting the South Korean multinational giant POSCO are facing over 1500 false cases and many of them cannot move out of their villages even to go to hospital due to this. They are jailed inside their own villages. While the leader of the anti-nuclear movement in Koodamkulam is facing over 200 fabricated cases, similar charges have also been instigated against over 6000 villagers. Muslim spiritual leader Abdul Nasser Maudany who supported the struggles of adivasis and dalits in Kerala was imprisoned in Coimbatore jail with fabricated charges for nine and a half years without trial and declared innocent and released later. However, he is imprisoned again with fabricated charges and he is suffering in jail in Bangalore today without proper medical care for his health problems. Maudany is becoming blind today. He has lost vision in one eye and the second eye is also affected. Writer and human rights activist Seema Azad is also behind bars today facing fabricated charges along with her husband. Seema Azad is the organizational secretary of PUCL in Uttar Pradesh. Journalist Syed Mohammed Ahmed Kazmi, journalist K.K. Shahina, adivasi activist Soni Sori, farmers’ movement leader Dr. Sunilam, Mumbai based activist Arun Ferreira, Activists protested against Nonadanga slum evictions in West bengal ,  advocate Shahnavas, dalit group in Kerala DHRM, Mumbai based theatre group Kabir Kala Manch, adivasi activist CK. Janu and her supporters and thousands of others have become victims of fabrication by the State in the recent past. This trend is not acceptable to any citizen who believes in democracy and human rights.

Therefore we appeal to all lovers of democracy and human rights to remember the trauma of this country through a declared Emergency during the 70s and express their strong protest against the emerging `Silent Emergency’ in India today. We appeal all citizens to:

  1. Organize protests against this Silent Emergency on June 26, 2012. If it is not possible on this day, please do it on a convenient day in your area.
  2. Organise public meetings remembering Emergency of the Seventies and against today’s Silent Emergency.
  3. Express your skills of writing, songs, posters, paintings, internet action, theatre or any other creative means of expressing your dissent.
  4. Organise film screenings of festivals to express concerns.
  5. Inform www.fabricated.in about your involvement (write to editor at fabricated.in)

We do hope that such collective action will generate some space for saving the remnants of democracy in this country.

Thanking you,

Fabricated.in team

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Kolkata Park Street rape witness “thrashed” and ‘molested’

Jun 12, 2012 – RAJIB CHOWDHURI|

  • Age Correspondent

A former BPO professional, who is said to be a key witness in the Park Street gangrape case, was allegedly molested at a night club in New Market.

On Sunday night, the 24-year-old woman had gone to the resto-bar and lounge with her two female friends. When they hit the dance floor, Harpreet Singh Chadda, 46, of Tiljala requested her to join him. His two friends Manwinder, 34, and Kamal Sabriwal, 31, tried to do the same with her two friends. But the other two women refused them. However, getting close to her amidst the loud music, Harpreet allegedly molested her. Immediately, a fight began and the window panes of the night club broke in the process. One of the women received injuries. The incident took place at around 11.30 pm.

Desperate to save her life, the victim tried to get on to a bus. But the trio stopped the bus and pulled her out of it. The men then beat her up even as the bus passengers remained mute spectators.The men thrashed the girl until she started bleeding following which they got nervous and fled.The three fled and the night club was closed.
Acting on the women’s complaint, the police lodged a case under Sections 354, for molestation, and 307 for attempt to murder, of the IPC.
On Monday, Harpreet, Manwinder and Kamal were arrested by the police. Later in the day, the Bankshall court remanded them to police custody till June 15. According to police sources, the 24-year-old woman had quit her job at a call centre in Sector V in Salt Lake worrying about her safety after she identified the original culprits in the Park Street gangrape case. She was partying with her colleagues on February 5 night at a hotel at Park Street.

 

Kolkata‘s Park Street rape case: 10 big facts

Monideepa Banerjie | Updated: February 20, 2012

Kolkata's Park Street rape case: 10 big facts

Kolkata: Mamata Banerjee has been caught in a controversy of her own making in West Bengal over a rape that left Kolkata cold. The city is usually considered safe for women, especially when compared to other metros like Delhi or Mumbai. Remarkably, Ms Banerjee had dismissed first reports of the case as an attempt to defame her government. Here are 10 big facts on the case:

  1. The chief minister met this morning with the city’s senior-most police officials, reportedly to discuss their progress in investigations.
  2. Three men were arrested on Saturday; two others are missing.
  3. At a rally in Kolkata yesterday, the CPM, which was defeated by Ms Banerjee in elections last year, targeted the chief minister for her insensitive handling of the case.
  4. On the night of February 5, the victim was at a pub at Kolkata’s famous Park Street. A man who befriended her at the pub offered her a ride home in his Honda City. When she climbed in, there were two men in the car. But soon, another three entered the vehicle. She was raped at gunpoint.
  5. The victim filed her police case a few days later, on February 9. She says she had been traumatised by the event and needed some time to recover before going to the police with her story.
  6. The victim, who is 37-years-old, alleges that the police mocked her when she tried to get a case registered. Officers allegedly used the fact that she had been at a pub to judge her character.
  7. The media began reporting on the story last week. As the police announced that it was searching for the rapists, the Chief Minister said the case had been fabricated to malign the government, triggering a debate about her perceived insensitivity.
  8. The investigation was complicated by the fact that the men involved assumed other people’s names when introducing themselves to the victim. When the police searched Facebook for their photos, the images did not match the men who the victim had met.
  9. Footage from security cameras installed near the pub that the woman visited helped the police identify the men who drove away with her.
  10. Medical tests on the victim were conducted on February 14. Sources say that the reports do not confirm rape, but doctors attribute this to the delay between her assault and her medical check-up.

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Solidarity statement from Bangalore with anti-eviction basti struggles in Mumbai and Kolkata

June 11, 2012
Dayanandnagar slum residents group , in s Bangalore send their solidarity  supportwith the basti dwellers fighting eviction in slums of Mumbai and Kolkata after seeing pictures and films of their struggles. We also know such struggles are happening everywhere, in our own city such as E.W.S quarters and in other cities besides Mumbai and Kolkata, and we are trying to reach out to learn more and join hands to fight together. When we saw the photos of struggle in Mumbai and Kolkata we felt we had to reach out by letter as these struggles are so far away. Attached is our statement in Kannada and below is a translation into English. In the English translation we added in brackets some points which were discussed after our letter was first drafted in Kannada at the meeting.

 

“We in the dalit and women’s group of Dayanandnagar slum, work on slum resident issues. With respect to these issues, we join hands with you in struggle against the violent oppression directed at you. In both the Koliwada, (Ambujwada) and Golibar struggles in Mumbai, and the Nonadanga struggle in Kolkatta, police violence and the eviction of people from their homes by government officials took place. We oppose the police violence and atrocities, (including the molestation and mishandling of women by male police officers while repressing protests), and the arrogance and oppression of the government officials. We support you, and are with you, hence this letter”

 

in solidarity,
Dayanandnagar slum residents:
Kavitha G
Shivani
Kaveri R.I.
Narasimha
Mani S
Kavitha
Asha
Govinda
Shakeela
Maala
G. Justin
Vasegi
Vanaja A.
P. Venkatesh
Rajeshwari R.

 

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