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Let us intensify our protests: Thirumurugan Gandhi from Puzhal Prison

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

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

Courtesy – Rupavahini Shyamala and  Newbin Santhosh

Friends,

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

 

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

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

 

I salute Anita

Oh Rise Up Tamil people.

Thirumurugan Gandhi

Coordinator-MaySeventeen Movement,

Puzhal Central Prison

3-9-2017

The original letter is below

 

போராட்டத்தை தீவிரப்படுத்துவோம் – புழல் சிறையிலிருந்து திருமுருகன் காந்தி

போர்க்குணம் மிக்க தோழர்களே!

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

மாணவி அனிதாவிற்கு வீரவணக்கம்

தமிழகமே திரண்டெழு!

  • திருமுருகன்.கா
    ஒருங்கிணைப்பாளர், மே பதினேழு இயக்கம்
    புழல் சிறை

3-9-2017

 

Read more here /

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Torture is an ‘expanding scourge’ in Asia

by

Phil Robertson

June 26, 2014

In several countries across Asia, torture is used on a regular basis. Bringing perpetrators to justice is notoriously hard, especially in nations where the practice is state-sanctioned, HRW’s Phil Robertson tells DW.

Inflicting pain by using physical force, breaking people’s will, trying to annihilate their personality – those are three forms of cruel treatment that fall under the definition of torture. Torture is a crime under international law. Still, in a number of countries around the world, the practice hasn’t been eradicated. On the contrary, some governments use it systematically as a means to stifle even the slightest dissent.

In order to draw global attention to the issue, the United Nations General Assembly designated June 26 as the International Day in Support of Victims of Torture. But more than 15 years later, the international community still has a long way to go to achieve their ultimate goal of eradicating torture altogether.

Throughout Asia, human rights organizations accuse several nations of using torture. Among the countries listed are not only authoritarian or single-party states such as North Korea or China, but also India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines and Japan. In a DW interview, Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, says in many of these countries, there is apparently broad immunity for government officials who use torture.

DW: Which Asian countries use torture on a regular basis?

Phil Robertson: The sad fact is that police forces across both Southeast and South Asia, as well as East Asia, consistently use torture as a standard part of their interrogation techniques in order to exact confessions. In Southeast Asia, we’ve seen this in Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries, and in every South Asian country.

In fact, the problem is so rife that it’s hard to know where to start to try and combat police use of torture, but we have noted that one of the continuing themes of our work has been examining police torture. For example, in Malaysia we found systematic torture of persons in police custody, often resulting in custodial deaths have been a central reality for years.

Human Rights Watch has also found that torture regularly occurs in drug detention “treatment” centers in China, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam, so even in cases where persons are supposed to receive help, they get the lash or worse. Even in countries like Singapore and Malaysia, whippings are a regular part of the judicial system which is a practice that Human Rights Watch considers cruel and unusual punishment.

And of course, the high profile “political prisoner” cases that we often think about are certainly still an important part of the discussion in places like Vietnam, Laos, Burma, and other totalitarian states – in which, of course, North Korea leads the way.

What is profoundly disturbing about all this torture is how infrequently any of the perpetrators are held accountable for it. In many of these countries, there is apparently broad immunity for government officials who use torture. As one Cambodian migrant told me: “In Thailand, the Thais can beat us for free.”

What different practices of torture are most applied?

The use of the foot and fists to beat a person into submission is very common, as are electric shocks, hanging persons in various positions, burning with cigarettes and other sources of flame, sexual abuse and rape of both men and women, use of stress positions, and beatings with various rods.

Have there been any positive developments throughout Asia and the Pacific region over the last year?

Well, certainly the work of the UN Commission of Inquiry (COI) on human rights abuses in North Korea, headed by Justice Michael Kirby of Australia, was a very positive development in the region.

By exposing the systematic torture that takes place in various prison camps in North Korea and demanding international accountability for this and other crimes against humanity that Pyongyang has committed, the COI helped launch long overdue action on one of Asia’s worst human rights abusing governments.

The release of significant numbers of political prisoners from Burma’s notorious prisons is certainly also good news, especially given how systematic the use of torture was against such prisoners during previous military governments. However, whether Burma will continue down the path of rights respecting reforms needs to be seen, and this year and next will be critical in determining the future for that country.

How difficult is it to actually bring to justice those responsible for torture?

In countries across Asia, bringing perpetrators of torture to justice has been notoriously hard. Where the torture is state-sanctioned, as in countries like North Korea, Vietnam, and others, there is little daylight for justice to occur. The fact that torture often occurs in prison systems that are opaque in their operations and hard to access compounds the problem.

For instance, many have suspected that one of the worst prison systems among ASEAN countries is in Laos, and that torture and mistreatment of prisoners is common-place. But it is very difficult to comprehensively prove that when external monitors hardly can get any sort of sustained access to those prisons and the prisoners locked away there.

Even when there is the capacity to prosecute persons for committing torture, and the evidence available, getting countries to muster the political will to prosecute senior policemen or top level army officials who permit torture to happen is very difficult. At the most, it’s sometimes possible to get lower level officials to court for crimes, but often those prosecutions are ad hoc and limited to particularly high profile cases.

What about punishment – to what extent is torture liable to prosecution in Asian countries?

In many countries, torture is a prosecutable offense, and where it is not, other charges connected to causing bodily harm can be employed to hold a person responsible. But the reality is that only a few persons are ever prosecuted for committing torture because to prosecute one threatens to unravel systems of police investigation that regularly use torture, or expose prison systems where torture is common – and the simple fact is that most governments don’t want those matters exposed. So instead one sees strong rhetoric against torture from governments, followed by weak or non-existent follow up.

The work of the UN Commission of Inquiry on human rights abuses in North Korea was a very positive development in the region, says Kirby

Is there any personal story told by a torture victim you would like to share with us?

Over the years that I have worked for human rights, I’ve interviewed many persons who have suffered torture. What I can say is that many of them are still scarred physically and emotionally by the experience and by what one told me was the “total loss of control over my life” that he felt.

There is a good reason that the prohibition against torture is a human right that governments cannot derogate from because it tears apart people’s lives, and those of their families, in the most brutal way possible. Despite that, torture is an expanding scourge in Asia, so we have to re-double our efforts to fight to end torture absolutely and prosecute in a court of law any and all who employ it.

Phil Robertson is deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch.

 


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They beat me till I fell unconscious… When I woke up, it began all over again #Torture

 

By Yogesh Sadhwani, Mumbai Mirror | May 21, 2014, 12.28 AM IST
They beat me till I fell unconscious... When I woke up, it began all over again
Leonard Valdaris, whose son Agnelo (inset) died in police custody, and Agnelo’s friends who were sexually abused by cops
Friends of custodial death victim, picked up for minor theft, reveal horrific torture in the custody of Wadala railway police

The Government Railway Police has initiated a departmental enquiry against 12 policemen following a complaint of sexual abuse and torture by three robbery suspects, including a minor.

The three were detained by the Wadala railway police on April 15 along with Agnelo Valdaris, 25, who died in custody three days later. While the police said Valdaris was run over by a train while trying to escape, his father alleged the cops murdered him in cold blood. The state CID is investigating that case of custodial death.

The police detained the four friends to get information about a gold chain worth around Rs 60,000 they had allegedly stolen from a senior citizen. They were picked up within minutes of each other from their Reay Road homes on April 15.

In their May 12 complaint about the torture, the three have also levelled detailed accusations of how Valdaris was tortured in front of them. They have demanded the policemen be booked for murder, sexual abuse, kidnapping, assault and tampering of evidence, among other charges. The 12 policemen are of the ranks of constables up to senior inspector, including a woman officer.

One of the complaints was identified as Sufiyan Khan, 23.

Valdaris, whose father is a clerk in the port trust, and Sufiyan, son of a mechanic, worked as drivers with transporter companies. The minor is class 8 dropout. The fourth youngster is unemployed.

Mirror is withholding the names of the other two – both alleged victims of sexual abuse. This correspondent spoke in person to the three complainants. Mirror is in possession of a copy of their complaint.

“(Constables Ravi) Mane and Kamble stripped me naked and put me on a table,” one of them has said in his complaint. “Mane assaulted me with a belt and Kamble with a baton. They hit me so hard I fell unconscious. They poured water on me. After I regained my senses, the torture started again. This time I was forced to perform oral sex on Agnelo and the minor. When I refused, I was threatened with more beatings. Left with no option, I did as asked. They later hanged me naked upside down and assaulted me again with belts and batons.”

This complaint said an officer who was identified only as Ganya tried inserting a stick in his anus. He said the police threatened to pour petrol into his anus as the stick was too thick. The complaint also lends credence to the allegations that Valdaris was tortured to death by giving details of how he was also tortured in asimilar manner.

“When Agenelo complained of chest pain and fainted, the police did not provide him any medical attention,” said the complaint. “They then took us to the court two days later. They threatened us not to tell the magistrate anything about the torture. They did not bring Agnelo with us as he was badly injured. In these two days, we were forced to eat the leftovers from the policemen’s meals.”

According to the complaint, the police on April 18 sent the minor to a juvenile home and remanded the other two were remanded in custody. That was when the police told them Valdaris had died while trying to escape.

“That is just not possible,” the complaint said. “We saw how badly Agnelo was beaten. There was no way he could run with his injuries. The police are trying to cover up their torture using the false claim that Agnelo tried to escape.”

The three were let off on bail on April 22. After the GRP commissioner ordered an enquiry based on the complaint, the three were, to their horror, asked to visit the same police station where they were allegedly tortured and collect their summons.

“When I had gone to collect the summons, constable Ravi Mane threatened to frame me in more criminal cases if I pursued the case,” said one of the three youngsters. “He said that the police will hound me forever.”

GRP Commissioner Prabhat Kumar told Mirror, “CID is investigating the custodial death case. We have asked a DCP to probe the departmental lapses. But she can’t reach any conclusion as the CID is seized with the investigation.”

Advocate Yug Mohit Chaudhry, who is representing the trio, said Maharashtra has witnessed the highest number of custodial deaths in recent years as policemen are seldom brought to justice. He advocated the installation of CCTV cameras in all rooms of police stations and stringent punishment for errant policemen as a solution.

“These victims of police brutality are now being threatened to take back their complaint,” said Chaudhry.

“This is nothing but tampering of evidence. They are able to go on unabated because no action has been initiated against them so far. This is the worst case I have come across so far. It is not only about murder but also about deviant sexual abuse and ruthless torture of the accused.”

Read mor ehere –  http://www.mumbaimirror.com/mumbai/cover-story/They-beat-me-till-I-fell-unconscious–When-I-woke-up-it-began-all-over-again/articleshow/35398407.cms

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How ‘Unlawful’ I Was! – An Experiential Lesson on the UAPA #mustread

An Experiential Lesson on the UAPA

Vol – XLIX No. 15, April 12, 2014 | B Anuradha

Despite the claim that the Act came into force to prevent unlawful activities that challenge sovereignty and integrity of the country, the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act is mostly used to incarcerate people with different and alternative viewpoints on state and society. Here is a first person account that raises questions on who the real perpetrators of the unlawful behaviour are, in the context of multiple acts of unlawfulness in the process of illegal detention, legal implication in different cases, charge framing, trial and even judicial procedure.

B Anuradha ([email protected]) worked as a women’s rights activist for two decades, spent almost four years in Hazaribag Central Prison, before getting released on 13 August 2013.

It sounds silly to ask, “Whose activities attract the provisions of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA)?”, since the name of the Act is self-explanatory. But, as a person charged under the Act, my own experience is something different and has quite often compelled me to wonder, “After all, who should be arrested under this Act?” Let me explain.

Hailing from Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh (AP), I am a women’s rights activist and have spent over 20 years fighting not only for the implementation of existing laws, but also for formulation of gender-sensitive and egalitarian laws towards a socialist transformation of society, which I believe can be brought about by a political transformation of society. I stayed briefly in Patna (Bihar) during 2009, and I was “picked up” from Patna on 11 October 2009.

The Arrests

On that fateful day, I woke up with a start when I heard unusual banging on my door in the wee hours. I had hardly opened the door when three men barged into the room and surrounded me. One of them held my hand so tightly that my bangles broke. And, quite unconsciously, I let out a scream, which brought the houseowner’s family running to my room, located on the first floor. Two women had also entered the room and pushed me into a chair. Nobody was wearing uniforms. So, my houseowner came and demanded to know what was going on in her house. They replied that they were the police. She was quite surprised, but did not leave it at that and asked a very natural question that any citizen would ask: “But then why are you not in uniform?”

“We are from Special Police. She is a Maoist”, pat came their reply, as if arresting a Maoist does not require any obedience to law!

“Okay, then where are your ID cards? How can I believe you?” I could not help but appreciate her bravery. No wonder. She is not an educated woman. She used to work as a sweeper in a government hospital and had retired. My experience has always proved that working-class women face the police more courageously than middle-class women. But, the police has an altogether different language to speak with citizens. One person, who claimed to be from the Jharkhand police force, responded to her queries in his characteristic style: “Come with me. I’ll tell you who we are”, he said in a sarcastic tone and took her away. The men turned my room upside down. After half an hour I was taken outside. I found more men in plain clothes spread all over the street. I was pushed into a waiting Bolero. There was another vehicle and more men at the end of the street.

There was no arrest warrant, no search warrant, no uniforms, and, more significantly, there was not a single police personnel from Bihar, the jurisdiction under which this so-called arrest took place. As soon as I was pushed into the vehicle, the men started talking to me in Telugu and I realised they were from AP. Can anyone call this a lawful apprehension? If not, what was it? Obviously, this would be called “unlawful activity”.

I was taken to the Hazaribag SP (superintendent of police) Kothi, straight from Patna. After 24 hours of rigorous interrogation in illegal custody, I was blindfolded, chained, and taken to another place on the evening of 12 October 2009. I was left alone in a room the whole night, tied to a cot with heavy chains, blindfolded. I was shivering with the biting cold and nothing was given to me to shield myself from it. There was no trace of the women constables who had accompanied me. Suddenly, a male voice said, “You can lie down on that cot.” A strange tremor ran through my spine when I felt a male presence in the vicinity. That night was hell for me. The next day, I was allowed to remove the blindfolds only in the toilet. When I refused to take my breakfast with my blindfold on, it was removed for five minutes. Then, I saw the carving on the steel plate and realised I was in a Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) Camp in Ranchi. I was kept there for one day, and spent another two days in a small cell-like room in the Hazaribag SP’s bungalow.

Altogether, I was kept in illegal custody for almost four days (86 hours, to be precise) before I was produced in front of a magistrate. According to the story cooked up by the police, I was getting down from a private bus at Ichak, a village in Hazaribag district, and my husband, Ravi Sharma, who had already been arrested a few hours earlier, was present there with the police and identified me as Anuradha, his wife, and, with the help of women constables, they apprehended me.

A case was filed under sections of the Arms Act, Section 17 of the Criminal Law (Amendment) Act, Sections 420 and 120B of the Indian Penal Code, and several others. A false case, a false date, and false allegations! And, the funniest part of this was that the case was booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act!

Here, let me explain the facts of my husband’s arrest, which took place exactly a day before mine. We had been in Patna for a week, and he left around 4:30 am on 10 October 2009 to catch a train to Kolkata. As soon as he got down from the auto near Patna railway station, he was nabbed by the AP Special Intelligence Branch (APSIB) police and whisked away in a Bolero. He was blindfolded while they were passing through Jharkhand, when activists of the Jharkhand Vikas Morcha (Prajatantrik) (JVM(P)) stopped the vehicle, as the party was observing a bandh on that day. Ravi realised the presence of a large number of people and raised an alarm for help. The people, assuming the police to be kidnappers, pulled them out of the vehicle and started beating them up. Finally, the police had to admit that they were the police, but claimed that Ravi was a thief. So, Ravi asked the people to call the local police to establish whether their claim was true. That is how the Jharkhand police came into the picture, and they took him to the Hazaribag SP. The next day, i e, 11 October, they came to pick me up in Patna. Finally, the Jharkhand police connived with the AP Police and cooked up a story: Ravi was travelling in a four wheeler along with some other leaders of the Communist Party of India (Maoist). When the JVM(P) activists tried to stop the vehicle, Ravi got down to argue with them. Meanwhile, the rest of them fled and Ravi was caught, but he ran away and disappeared in a nearby forest. When the CRPF troops did a combing operation, he was caught on the afternoon of 13 October.

Ravi was tortured for 18 hours continuously. I was threatened for two days that Ravi would be killed. On the morning of 13 October, I was told that he had been killed. Finally, at night I was taken to the SP’s room at around 11:30 pm for interrogation. After half an hour, Ravi was brought there and he was in very bad shape. He was hardly able to walk. It took a lot of effort for me to stay composed.

The Telegraph (Ranchi edition) published a news item on 11 October itself about Ravi’s arrest. Different newspapers published news about our arrest as having taken place on 12 October. Many television channels reported the news on the evening of 11 October in AP. My parents-in-law filed a habeas corpus petition on 12 October. Even then, our arrest was shown as having happened on the evening of 13 October.

Initially I was implicated in three other cases. Not even in a single case had I been accused earlier. There was no mention of any woman participating in the first information reports (FIRs) of the alleged crimes. The description given by the petitioners did not have even a remote resemblance to me.

However, after more than one year, I was granted bail in three cases by the high court. Bail was rejected in the Ichak case, where they have shown my arrest. But, while rejecting my bail the high court gave an order on 5 December 2010 to complete the case within four months. So, it should have been closed by 5 April 2011. But it did not happen!

The Trial

The trial began immediately and four witnesses were produced on the first day. Before entering the court hall, I was kept in the female custody cell in the court premises. I was reading a newspaper and heard somebody enquiring about Ravi Sharma. By the time I could find out, they all left and the other prisoners told me that four persons came asking about Ravi Sharma. After 15 minutes, two persons came again, and this time I saw a young man enquiring with the constable who was sitting just outside the custody in the verandah. So, immediately, I went to the grilled door and asked him why he was enquiring about Ravi Sharma. At that time, Ravi was in the Hyderabad jail. In fact, nobody else other than the security personnel is allowed in the premises. So, I was wondering who he was! I politely asked him: “Are you enquiring about Ravi Sharma? What’s the matter?” He shot back in anger, “Are you questioning me?” It was as if he was saying, “How dare you question me!”

I replied with a puzzled “Yes!” He lost his temper and shouted at me, “I am a police officer! Do you know? I am a police officer investigating Ravi Sharma’s case. Do you have any problem?”

I was surprised at his behaviour. The constable told him that Ravi Sharma had not come as he was in AP. Then, he left. When I was taken to the court, I saw the same person seated along with the sub-inspector (SI) of Ichak. He was the witness and also the investigating officer. As soon as he saw me, he covered his face and whispered something into the SI’s ear. The SI told him something and I clearly saw this fellow biting his tongue, a gesture indicative of having made a mistake, and quickly left the courtroom. But, he had to come back as he was the second witness. He deposed in front of the magistrate and introduced himself as Munna Singh, a private bus booking agent. He claimed that he was at the bus stand on 13 October 2009 and saw me getting down the bus near Ichak, followed by the rest of the concocted story. I gestured to my lawyer to come near me and whispered in his ear of what had happened in the custody cell. My lawyer tried to present the matter to the magistrate, but the public prosecutor (PP) objected saying that he should only cross-examine him and nothing else should be asked. The magistrate too agreed and, hence, it was dropped. However, this same Munna Singh came again after two years to depose in the same case against Ravi, this time not as the bus booking agent, but as constable Munna Singh, whose real profession seems to have been deposing in the courts only, for which he was rewarded with a permanent job with the police. Keeping dummy witnesses! Sending them to the custody cell beforehand to identify the accused! What is this called anyway? “Lawful activity?”

With several halts and breaks the case went on till September 2011. Whoever heard the arguments of my lawyer felt it was a clear case of acquittal. There were many technical lapses too, and one of them was that there was no sanction order from the government for the UAPA. Finally, the date for the judgment was fixed for 26 September 2011. My family members came from Hyderabad and stayed on around Hazaribag court to furnish the sureties, etc, with the hope of taking me home along with them after two years of incarceration. Then, the PP came with the sanction orders from the government on the judgment day. The law says that the sanction orders should be obtained within seven days of filing the charge sheet. So, the magistrate could have refused to entertain him. But, he did not. He allowed it and said the PP can argue with that. He placed his arguments and my lawyer gave his counterarguments immediately and the case was closed. But, the judgment was postponed further for a future date.

No Respect for the Law

By the time we came back to the jail, warrants were waiting for me in a fresh murder case. While my family members were trying to furnish sureties, the judge insisted that the two sureties should be locals. So, two local bailers agreed to stand as sureties. Accompanied by a friend, they were on their way, when all three of them were kidnapped and tortured for eight days by the SP. The two guarantors were let off and the person who was accompanying them was sent to jail for “cooperating with the Maoists”, of course, with another fabricated case of arms recovery. Is there any law that says no person should stand as a guarantor to a “Maoist” who is yet to be proven as one? I am afraid not! What lawful activity is this kidnapping and torture?

Ravi, who is a co-accused in all my cases, had filed a Right to Information (RTI) application with the deputy inspector general (DIG) of Jharkhand police in May 2011 to know how many cases were pending against him. An order was issued in the month of June 2011 by the director general of police (DGP) to all the SPs to furnish the information within seven days to the applicant. Nobody responded except the SPs of two districts. After three months of the order, a fresh case was filed against us in Mandu Police Station of Ramgarh district. The very people who are supposed to be protecting the law show no respect in implementing it.

However, this was not all. After a week or so, I got a copy of the order from the deputy commissioner-cum-district magistrate imposing one year’s detention on me under the Crime Control Act (CC Act), which is equivalent of the Preventive Detention Act, the Goonda Act, etc. Again, all false allegations were made. One of the allegations was that I prepared a map of the jail and passed it on to the Maoist organisation secretly. This supposedly secret information was noted down in the diary of an Ichak inspector. How did he know that I had sent it? First of all, nobody was arrested in this regard and, hence, there was no confession statement. No map was recovered from anyone. Except the entry in the SI’s diary, there was no evidence whatsoever to prove the charge. All the allegations were similarly baseless. Yet, the district commissioner approved the SP’s allegations and issued the detention order. I gave a reply. Before my reply reached the home department, it too confirmed the orders. Again, I filed my reply. It was rejected and I was asked to present myself before the advisory board in Ranchi. I gave my arguments of defence in front of the board chaired by a high court judge.

Meanwhile, the Ichak case, in which the judgment was to be delivered, was transferred to another magistrate’s court, as there was an order from the high court to reallocate the cases on the basis of police stations. There is a general direction of the Supreme Court that transfers should be avoided in the cases in which the arguments have been heard. But, bypassing this, my case was transferred. Now, the arguments are to be heard afresh from the beginning. We gave a petition to avoid such a situation and requested a transfer back to the previous magistrate, but the district judge pressured the lawyer to take back the petition! Our lawyer succumbed to the pressure and we lost the chance to challenge it in the high court. So, even judges can indulge in unlawful activities!

The Judgment

This went on and on for years, and I spent almost four years in jail. In the course of time, new cases were framed. Though I obtained bail in all the cases, I had to be in jail awaiting judgment in my arrest case. Meanwhile, that arrest case moved from magistrate to magistrate. Finally, a magistrate, who was the sixth person to hear the case afresh, delivered the judgment. He gave me six months’ conviction. By that time I had already spent three and half years in jail.

Let me cite a few lines from the judgment to show on what basis the judgment was delivered:1

When the accused was examined u/s 313 CrPC she has denied of having in possession of Maoist literature. Other material which was found from the possession of this accused do not contain any incriminating material.

From the material exhibits placed before the court, particularly literature concerning CPI (Maoist) organisation which are in English and Hindi language indicate that the accused is associated with Maoist Organisation, however, except this there is no other evidence for any assistance or promotion of the organisation by the accused. Several terminology used in EXT.18 clearly indicate that it were related to outfit organisation. The prosecution submitted that words Comred, Buorjuwa and other words used by outfit organisation particularly by left wing. … The material evidence shows association of the accused with Maoist Organisation and same is punishable u/s 17 (1).

Here, I would like to mention that the Hindi and English books shown as evidence were Dafna Hua Betian, a book published by Mahila Jagrithi of Karnataka on the discrimination suffered by girl child, and a political economy textbook.

Now, I leave it to the wisdom of the readers to define what constitutes lawful or unlawful activity, and who should be arrested and punished under the UAPA!

Note

1 In the court of the chief judicial magistrate, Hazaribag, Rajendra Bahadur Pal, Judgment dated the 26th day of February 2013, Case No GR 4296/2009 TR 592/13 (Arising out of Ichak PS Case no 164/09).

 

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Prison Baby Revisits Jails to Support Incarcerated

By Deborah Jiang Stein

WeNews guest author

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Deborah Jiang Stein was born in prison and now she’s back in a new role. “The women feel safe telling their stories in this circle. A corner of their filters drops–they know I won’t judge,” she writes in this excerpt from her memoir “Prison Baby.”

 

prison bars

Credit: Rob Crow/vividcorvid on Flickr, under Creative Commons

 

Prison Baby: A Memoir(WOMENSENEWS)–Something pulls me to return, and this time it’s not out of curiosity about my prison mom or desperation about my roots. This time it’s because I’m grateful for my freedom, my transformation. I’m also conscious that it could’ve been me who was locked up for the rest of my life. After all the hurt I’ve inflicted on others, I’m called to give back, to reach out where I’m comfortable and welcomed with open wide arms: women’s prisons.

It’s as if I’m on autopilot on a path I was born to stomp along. As if born with a job.

Untreated mental health issues can take a person down along with others around her. I lived it. Mental health support averted my future violence and curbed my addictions. In my previous life I tick-ticked inside, a time bomb ready to blast anyone in my path with the shrapnel of my anger. I hate to admit that if I’d refused to confront my disturbed self, I would’ve been a prime candidate for committing the kind of tragedy we read in the front-page news.

I return to prisons, my birthplace, and address the inmates there. My story is a natural fit for the women, and I share what I’ve learned, how life is less about what happens and more about what we do with what happens. Not a new idea, just one that takes practice to believe and to live day by day. I use my life to show how we’re all more than the sum of our parts.

Aren’t we all more than the worst things we’ve ever done? It’s possible to fulfill this any time we choose to walk out of our history and begin new, whenever we want to transcend and triumph. I’m proof of this. Of course, we can’t do it alone, but if we search, we’ll find others willing to help. One of the best influences we can have on our communities and the world at large is to grow in self-awareness.

Every Head Nods

As I speak in prisons, almost every head in the audience nods, incarcerated and staff alike. The women smile, show me I’m meant to follow this vision. On occasion I’ll conduct a writing workshop with women in prisons, and in one of my first, in a high-security unit, an officer leads me into a double-paned, glass-enclosed classroom with a guard stationed outside. Twenty women lean over their blank papers at two long folding tables, the same tables they use in the mess hall. Everyone calls them “girls,” no matter if they’re 17 or 70. They call me Teacher.

We open with an informal talk session. We chat and laugh, and some cry. Then they begin to set their thoughts down on paper, and most times no one knows what to write. The women shuffle their pages as I fire out story-starter ideas.

On the second workshop day, they write about their parents. One inmate blurts out in the middle of the workshop, “When I was 6 I tried to run away from home because a neighbor, a friend of the family, forced me to eat human waste and no one did anything.” I ache for her.

The women feel safe telling their stories in this circle. A corner of their filters drops–they know I won’t judge. The woman goes on. “Then my mother pointed her pistol and shot at me. She pulled the trigger, and I didn’t know if the gun was empty or not.”

My life hasn’t been so bad after all, I think.

Another woman looks straight ahead, listening. She’s the self-proclaimed in-house prison preacher and always quotes Bible verses to get everyone else into her religious groove. She’s also the queen of plucked eyebrows, arched to give herself a surprised look. A clunky cross hangs on her neck. “Sounds like a crazy woman,” she says about the inmate’s mother.

The woman goes on and on. “My mother whipped me with coat hangers, extension cords, or twigs off trees. Did I already mention the crow bar? But she didn’t ever shoot when she held a gun on me.”

I’m taking this all in, letting the stories roll.

Another woman, sprawled in her chair, interrupts the woman’s story about her mother. “You think God‘s watching over? I’d say your spiritual bubble is gonna bust.” Just then a woman turns to me and says, “Hey! You’re talking to a bunch of women with low self-esteem.”

I said I know, but I haven’t been the one talking. They have.

Detailing Anger

Once the group settles down, I say, “Now write a list of things that make you mad. Not only what’s pissed you off in here but also in your own lives.”

That’s all it takes. Everyone dives in. No one’s ever asked them before to detail what makes them mad. They all scribble page after page and rack up lists of unjust events. Then I suggest they pick one event from their list and write a story about it. It gets wild then! Topics like war, hunger, injustice.

It gets big. They go around the tables and start to read their stories. They cheer and hoot–until the preacher woman’s turn.

Her list turns out to be what’s important to her: “God, guitars, women and cowboy boots.”

“I just got outta 30-day lockup,” she adds, “for stealing someone’s cigarettes and then lying and picking a fight about it.” She says she’s also angry I’d had to cancel two earlier workshops.

I tell her she would’ve missed out anyway because of her lockup time in segregation.

The women fall silent. No one has ever talked back to the preacher woman.

It turns out she had more lockup time than I had with my scheduled workshops. She never shows up again in one of my workshops.

These prison workshops show how redemption is made possible by hope. Hope alone won’t solve anything. Yet without hope, nothing’s possible.

I take myself into a bigger dream, visiting prisons in New York, California, Connecticut, on both coasts, North and South. I zigzag around the country, and women line up to fill metal folding chairs in prison gyms, and we shake hands, hug if allowed, and dig deep into our souls. Their openness moves me like nothing else I’ve ever known.

I traveled from prison to prison, across the country, to lead basic writing-skills and creativity workshops with incarcerated women, thrilled to witness hidden talents emerge. It took me this long before I was comfortable in front of people. At last I stepped out of my solitude.

Deborah Jiang Stein is a national speaker, writer and founder of the unPrison Project, a 501(c)3 nonprofit that serves to build public awareness about women and girls in prison and offers mentoring and life-skills programs for inmates. Follow her on Twitter.

For More Information:

 

Buy the Book, “Prison Baby: A Memoir”:
http://www.powells.com/partner/34289/biblio/9780807098103?p_cv

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#Sundayreading – From the Pen of the Resistance : The Lalgarh Uprising

[This is a book review, written by Bernard D’Mello, that was published in EPWFor obtaining a copy of the book, please contact us : communications [at] sanhati [dot] com -Ed]

Letters from Lalgarh by the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities, edited and translated by Sanhati (Kolkata: Setu Prakashani in collaboration with www.sanhati.com), 2013; pp 182, Rs 70.

The Letters from Lalgarh contains a set of six dispatches written by the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA) to various organisations and intellectuals in Kolkata over the period March-September 2010, during the occupation of Jangalmahal by the Joint Forces of the West Bengal and union governments. One might like to read these letters as a testimony of the repression and resistance that Jangalmahal witnessed over these months, as the Sanhati editors put it, in the Introduction. One might also consider these letters as part of the documentation of the Lalgarh uprising, a task that the Sanhati Collective has engaged in with a sense of dedication and commitment its activists can legitimately feel proud of.

Have All of ‘Us’ Become Maoists?

Upon the completion of 10 years of underground work (the long, patient organisational work that precedes the firing of the first shots, as Ho Chi Minh would have put it) amongst ordinary adivasis and moolvasis in the Lalgarh and surrounding blocks of the district of West Midnapore in West Bengal, in a dramatic flash, the Communist Party of India (Maoist) – CPI(Maoist) – lit a prairie fire there. On 2 November 2008, when the then Chief Minister of West Bengal, Buddhadev Bhattacharjee, along with two central government ministers and a host of officials, was returning after a foundation stone-laying ceremony at the site of a proposed steel plant by the Sajjan Jindal business group at Salboni in the district, Maoist guerrillas detonated a landmine that narrowly missed its target.

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPi(M))-led Left Front government had allotted 4,500 acres of land to the project even as the government’s land reform programme of allotting pattas (formal rights) for cultivable forestland and forestland under cultivation to the poor tribal peasants was kept in cold storage. The deeply felt resentment of ordinary adivasis and moolvasis only grew. The demands of India’s big bourgeoisie (the project had even been given the status of a special economic zone, bestowing a whole host of fiscal and other concessions to it) were more important than the needs of these ordinary people whose political consciousness was being sharpened by the Maoists slowly but surely since 1998.

The provincial intelligence bureau knew this and the police unleashed a reign of terror in the Lalgarh area just because the people there were deemed to be sympathisers of the Maoists. Even schoolkids were beaten and charged with “waging war against the state” among other things. But worse was to come. In a mid-night swoop on 6-7 November 2008, in the villages in Lalgarh block, the police kicked and beat – with their lathis and butts of their rifles – a number of women, among whom were Chintamani Murmu and Panamani Hansda who were badly injured, Chintamani in the eye and Panamani suffered multiple fractures in the chest. The adivasis, over here, the Santals, have been subject to police oppression over generations, but now, with the Maoists around, their sense of dignity could no longer be crushed. 7 November was the Russian Revolution anniversary day – the establishment- Left led by the CPi(M), masqueraded as a “revolutionary force” in a big show of strength, even as, here in Lalgarh, the real thing was brewing with the tribal people outraged at the CPi(M)-led government’s sell-out of their “ancestral land”.

At first more spontaneous, by mid-November 2008 the PCAPA was formed to lead the mass struggle in Lalgarh and the adjoining areas. (Apart from Lalgarh, the uprising spread over Binpur, Jhargram, Belpahari and Jamboni blocks over the first month since the outbreak on 7 November 2008.) A 12-point charter of demands was drawn up, among which was that the superintendent of police of the district and those responsible for the atrocities on the women should hold their ears and crawl with their nose facing the ground in apology and that the chief minister too should also tender an expression of regret. Significant on the list, apart from the call for the removal of police camps, was the demand for the withdrawal of the false cases and charge sheets filed since 1998 against people who had been framed as Maoists.

But what was really heartening were the direct forms of people’s democracy in practice – each village now had a gram (village) committee with five women and five men in it. Two persons, a man and a woman from each village were a part of the central coordinating committee; the utterly democratic manner of taking and ratifying decisions; making officials sit on the ground on hand-woven mats on equal terms to negotiate with the committees. All this brought into sharp focus the contrast with the practice of rotten liberal-political democracy by the mainstream political parties in India.

The other aspect was that, in Jangalmahal, the CPI(M)-led Left Front had abysmally failed on the “development” front – the public distribution system had collapsed, the primary health centres were almost non-functional, even potable water was not easily accessible – while the PCAPA-led mass movement, with the meagre resources at its command, was able to run health posts with doctors from Kolkata coming in once a week, construct and repair embankments, dig ponds, set up tube wells, teach the local language in some schools, a lot of all this through shramdaan (voluntary labour).

With such modes of direct participatory democracy, the movement spread further – to Goaltore, Salboni, Nayagram, and even to Garbeta, a CPI(M) stronghold. Students came out in solidarity. But the traditional local leadership of the Santals, the Majhi Madwa, and Jharkhandi political parties, who came to take advantage of the mass outrage to convert it into a vote bank, were asked to back off. The CPI(M)’s “divide and rule” tactics failed, but the party repeatedly made the charge of Maoist involvement to justify what was on the anvil – state and state-sponsored terror. Nevertheless, the spread of the struggle, the roadblocks and the bandhs, the attacks on CPi(M) offices, and so on ultimately forced the government to remove the police camps – the camps had occupied school buildings among other places.

Very soon, within a month, 10 of the 12 demands were met. Even the chief minister was forced to apologise. But the two main ones, the apology of the superintendent of police and his men who had committed the midnight raids and the excesses remained, as also the demand for the dropping of the cases/charge sheets filed against so-called Maoists since 1998. The struggle thus went on, and indeed, practically the entire state machinery was kept out of operation in the areas of struggle for months. In keeping with the changing dynamics of the situation, the PCAPA and the CPI(Maoist) together, in tandem, for a while, seemed to have struck an astute balance between political mobilisation, armed actions, and social welfare/“development” activity.

But the situation was on edge. In progressively taking over CPI(M) strongholds, the Maoist leadership was working towards banishing the ruling Leftists from the area. However, in doing so, it was precipitating a crisis of the state. That moment came on 14 June 2009 when the target was the “White House”, the “palatial” (in sharp contrast to the deprivation all around it) house of Anuj Pandey, the CPI(M) zonal secretary. He was in control of Dharampur, whether it was getting work in the National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, below-the-poverty-line ration cards, deciding who would be the beneficiaries of welfare programmes like the Indira Awaas Yojana, he was in the saddle, and, of course, locally he directed the CPI(M) harmads – armed goons who enforced the party’s writ. That is why the Maoists chose to destroy the “White House”, for it was a symbol of the “Ancien Régime”. The grand finale was when the Maoist leader Bikash, an AK-47 slung over his shoulder, made a public declaration that, indeed, the Maoists were leading the movement.

Perhaps the CPI(Maoist) knew of the impending entry of the Joint Forces, as a result of a joint decision of the Congress Party-led government at the centre and the CPI(M)-led West Bengal government. The occupation of Jangalmahal by the Joint Forces brought about a sea change in the Lalgarh movement, especially in the balance between mass political mobilisation and alternative development activity, on the one hand, and armed resistance, on the other. With the entry of the Joint Forces in the manner of an occupation army and the conduct of the CPI(M) harmads in the manner of local collaborators, the CPI(M) began recapturing its territorial strongholds. But even as the Maoist guerrillas and the Sidhu-Kanhu militia (the latter, of the PCAPA) resisted the Joint Forces and the CPI(M) harmads, even carried out ambushes and landmine explosions, the tempo of mass political mobilisation and social welfare/development activity by the PCAPA became a real challenge to sustain.

In fact, the resistance took a fresh turn with the Maoists’ People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) raid on a camp of the Eastern Frontier Rifles at Silda (in West Midnapore district) on 15 February 2010. Condemnation of the Maoists in the commercial media assumed hysteric proportions. Three months later, the Gyaneshwari Express train was sabotaged on 27-28 May leading to its derailment, and with an oncoming goods train hitting the loose carriages, nearly 150 passengers died, and predictably, the Maoists were blamed,1 this to buttress the “discourse of counterinsurgency”. Disease metaphors – “deadly virus” and so on – of colonial vintage had a field day, for both the West Bengal and the central governments did not seem to want the public to know the truth.

Voice of Jangalmahal

During the occupation, the media dutifully published the versions fed to it by the police in Midnapore and Jhargram, and so, these letters of the PCAPA need to be read to understand how ordinary adivasis and moolvasis felt about the repression, and the manner in which they valiantly resisted. As the Introduction by Sanhati says, the letters, written in a uniquely “earthy tone”, put forth “cogent arguments”; they were the “voice of Jangalmahal” in those dark times. More important, “(i)t is telling that nearly all the signatories of these letters have been killed or are in jail”. Indeed, a month before the first letter was penned, Lalmohan Tudu, the president of the PCAPA was cold-bloodedly assassinated on 22 February 2010 (as per a statement of the PCAPA) when he went to meet his daughter who was to appear in the state board examinations scheduled to begin the next day. Sidhu Soren, who led the Sidhu-Kanhu militia, and four of his comrades were killed on 26 July 2010 while they were asleep in the jungles of Metala (again, according to a statement of the PCAPA). Umakanta Mahato, a member of the central committee of the PCAPA, falsely accused in the sabotage of the Gyaneshwari train, was cold-bloodedly assassinated by Joint Forces personnel, accompanied by CPI(M) men, on 27 August 2010, in the forests of Parulia while returning home (according to the testimony of Sabita Mahato, the wife of Umakanta Mahato). It seems as if it was the implicit policy of the West Bengal and central governments to annihilate the leaders of the PCAPA.

The letters give the reader a glimpse of the pathetic role of the judiciary at the local level, the role of the harmads as collaborators of the Joint Forces in the occupation, the PCAPA’s attempts to continue the implementation of its development programmes in the midst of the occupation, as also, their mass mobilisation in the form of rallies and meetings, and, of course, the role of women in the resistance. The latter, for instance the 35,000 women entering Jhargram on 20 July 2010 “demanding punishment of the perpetrators of the rapes in Sonamukhi” (p 111), the formation of the Nari Ijjat Bachao Committee (Committee to Safeguard the Dignity of Women), women leading a campaign to demolish liquor shops in Ramchandrapur, Chandabila, Nekradoba, Piyalgeriya, Barodehi and other villages, all this in the midst of the occupation is remarkable.

Incorrect Handling of Contradictions

Interestingly, in the course of the first four letters, the Trinamool Congress (TMC) is “identified as part of the ruling clique responsible for sending the Joint Forces into Jangalmahal” (Introduction, p 7), but, towards the end of the fifth letter (pp 140-41), dated 9 August 2010, upon Mamata Banerjee taking the initiative to organise an “anti-terror forum” and a rally to take place in August in Lalgarh to oppose the CPI(M) and its harmads, the PCAPA softens. Letter five says:

We shall remain steadfast with the anti-terror movement-struggle which has been formed with the initiative of the Trinamool leader Mamata Banerjee, intellectuals and human rights organisations (p 140).

Indeed, it was the PCAPA that made Mamata Banerjee’s rally in Lalgarh a success. It was here that she made all the tall promises – to withdraw the Joint Forces, punish the harmads and the police officers responsible for the atrocities committed, and institute enquiries into the killings – that eventually won her the Jangalmahal seats in the state assembly elections. What followed, as we now know, was the formation of TMC’s own harmads, the Bhairav Bahini, a strengthening of the intelligence serving the counter-insurgency, and the capture, brutal torture and assassination of the Maoist politburo member and the party’s main leader of the Lalgarh uprising, Kishenji.

What explains the terrible blunder committed by the Maoists and the PCAPA in allowing Mamata Banerjee and her TMC to gain a foothold in Jangalmahal, which ultimately led to a severe setback for the resistance over there? Surely, temporary, conditional alliances have to be made at certain junctures in the course of a “protracted people’s war”. In such politics, one has to utilise a conflict of interests, even if temporary, among one’s adversaries. The question however relates to the handling of a whole set of contradictions in the course of an alliance with a temporary, unstable, thoroughly unscrupulous and conditional associate.

On Jangalmahal, during the occupation, the whole set of contradictions can be demarcated into three subsets – (1) differences within the revolutionary consensus (between the CPI(Maoist) and the PCAPA, and within each of these entities); (2) disputes with progressive intellectuals and parties who opposed the revolutionary consensus regarding the strategic path to “new democracy” or “people’s democracy” (the other Naxalite parties/factions, some civil liberties and democratic rights organisations, and independent-Leftist public intellectuals); and (3) conflicts with those beyond the pale (the provincial CPI(M) in power in Jangalmahal and in West Bengal, the Congress Party, the TMC, other non-Left parliamentary parties, and “public intellectuals” serving the interests of their political patrons). In our view, handling criticism, difference of opinion, contention and opposition with those in (1) and (2), without clashes, by presenting the facts, reasoning things out, and persuading one’s contenders through resort to reason, is an essential part of “correct” practice of the leadership principle of the “mass line”. As regards (1) and (2), the revolutionaries were essentially handling contradictions among the people, that is, to the extent that the parties in (2) were expressing the will of at least a section of the people through their political practice.

The social-democratic CPI(M) – even though it was in power in the province and was acting as a close collaborator of the “occupying forces” in Jangalmahal – was (is) not beyond reform, unlike the TMC, which is unambiguously in (3). The “social fascist” characterisation of the CPi(M) by the CPI(Maoist) is ridiculous. In Jangalmahal, however, the CPI(M) was acting as a collaborator of the Joint Forces, and thus its contradictions with the CPI(Maoist) and the PCAPA were rendered antagonistic. Nevertheless, even in the civil-war like situation then prevailing in the area, the Maoists could have made the distinction between harmad combatants and CPI(M) non-combatants, and refrained from unleashing political violence on the latter. The alleged excessive killings of CPI(M) non-combatants seem to have unnecessarily escalated the already antagonistic contradictions between the CPI(Maoist) and the CPI(M) to a multiple of what they might otherwise have been, and ultimately, the TMC took advantage of the situation to steal a march over the CPI(M) in Jangalmahal in the state assembly elections of April-May 2011.

Indeed, as regards the TMC, the PCAPA should never have accepted the leadership of Mamata Banerjee when the TMC joined the “anti-terror forum”. Conceding the leadership to Mamata Banerjee gave the TMC the opportunity to wean away some of the PCAPA’s cadre and mass base. And, given the track record of parties like the TMC as regards the sharp contrast between their electoral manifestos (promises) and their conduct as soon as they come to power, a party like the CPI(Maoist) and its mass organisation, the PCAPA, whose cadre and leaders risked their precious lives, should never have had any positive expectations from the TMC. Nevertheless, peace talks, if these could have been forced on the TMC-led government that came to power, would have been beneficial to the people, to the extent that some concessions for the people could have been extracted from the mouth of the tiger, the Indian state, and would have given the resistance movement time to recuperate and reorganise in Jangalmahal.

The PCAPA letters do not give the reader even a clue about whether the CPI(Maoist) was in effective control of the PCAPA or not, or about the nature of the relationship between the leadership of the party and that of the PCAPA. But yes, Letter four does express outrage about the Joint Forces personnel carrying the dead bodies of young Maoist guerrillas, killed while they were asleep in the jungles of Ranjja in June 2010, hung animal-like, hands bound, legs tied, from bamboo poles, the security-force jawans conveying the bodies just like colonial hunters coming back from a shikar once did, with their prized dead game. Letter four says:

Those who were killed were our sons and daughters; they turned Maoists to resist (the) atrocities of (the) harmads. The way their dead bodies were carried after hog-tying them puts any civilised society to shame (p 106).

For those public intellectuals who highlight the crimes and cruelties alleged to have been committed by the Maoists, they ought to learn from Marx, whose response to the “crimes and cruelties alleged” against the “insurgent Hindoos” of 1857 was to set out an account of the daily violence “in cold blood” of British rule in India. The dispatches of the PCAPA show that not much seems to have changed in this respect in independent India, even as we are in the 21st century.

Note

1 The Maoists investigated whether renegade factions had been behind the sabotage, but have found that this is not the case (Maoist Information Bulletin, 20 October-November 2010).

 

– See more at: http://sanhati.com/articles/9313/#sthash.qo4NY49W.dpuf

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The Science of Solitary Confinement

Solitary confinement

Solitary confinement (Photo credit: Chris.Gray)

 

 

Picture MetLife Stadium, the New Jersey venue that hosted the Super Bowl earlier this month. It seats 82,556 people in total, making it the largest stadium in the NFL.

Imagine the crowd it takes to fill that enormous stadium. That, give or take a thousand, is the number of men and women held in solitary confinement in prisons across the U.S.

Although the practice has been largely discontinued in most countries, it’s become increasingly routine over the past few decades within the American prison system. Once employed largely as a short-term punishment, it’s now regularly used as way of disciplining prisoners indefinitely, isolating them during ongoing investigations, coercing them into cooperating with interrogations and even separating them from perceived threats within the prison population at their request.

As the number of prisoners in solitary has exploded, psychologists and neuroscientists have attempted to understand the ways in which a complete lack of human contact changes us over the long term. According to a panel of scientists that recently spoke at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s annual meeting in Chicago, research tells us that solitary is both ineffective as a rehabilitation technique and indelibly harmful to the mental health of those detained.

“The United States, in many ways, is an outlier in the world,” said Craig Haney, a psychologist at UC Santa Cruz who’s spent the last few decades studying the mental effects of the prison system, especially solitary confinement. “We really are the only country that resorts regularly, and on a long-term basis, to this form of punitive confinement. Ironically, we spend very little time analyzing the effects of it.”

Exact numbers are hard to come by, but based on a wide swath of censuses, it’s estimated that between 80,000 and 81,000 prisoners are in some form of solitary confinement nationwide. In contrast to stereotypes of isolated prisoners as the most dangerous criminals, Haney estimates that a third of isolated prisoners are mentally ill, and a disproportionate are minorities, partly because alleged gang membership is grounds for placing a prisoner in solitary indefinitely.

The physical details of an isolated prisoner’s daily experience are worth examining. “Prisoners live in their cells, 80 square feet on average—a bit bigger than a king-sized bed. In this environment, you sleep, you eat, you defecate, you live all of your life,” Haney said. Most prisoners spent at least 23 hours per day in this environment, devoid of stimuli (some are allowed in a yard or indoor area for an hour or less daily), and are denied physical contact on visits from friends and family, so they may go years or decades without touching another human, apart from when they’re placed in physical restraints by guards.

This sort of existence takes a clear toll on prisoners, according to surveys and interviews Haney and colleagues have conducted with about 500 of those in isolation from four different states. Their work indicates that most of these prisoners suffer from severe psychological stress that begins when they’re put in isolation and doesn’t subside over time.

A majority of those surveyed experienced symptoms such as dizziness, heart palpitations, chronic depression, while 41 percent reported hallucinations, and 27 percent had suicidal thoughts—all levels significantly higher than those of the overall prison populations. An unrelated study published last weekfound that isolated inmates are seven times more likely to hurt or kill themselves than inmates at large.

These effects, Haney says, don’t only show how isolation harms inmates—they tell us that it achieves the opposite of the supposed goal of rehabilitating them for re-entry into society. “We are all social beings, and people who are in environments that deny the opportunity to interact in meaningful ways with others begin to lose a sense of self, of their own identity,” he said. “They begin to withdraw from the little amount of social contact that they are allowed to have, because social stimulation, over time, becomes anxiety-arousing.”

Huda Akil, a neuroscientist at the University of Michigan, is interested in the neurological impacts of isolation, but is limited by the fact that no U.S. prison is willing to allow its otherwise isolated prisoners to take part in research. Instead, she and others must rely on more basic findings about how stimulation and social interaction affect the brain, and infer the potential impacts of isolation from that.

For one, there’s the fact that a large amount of brain activity is driven by circadian rhythms, which are in turn set by exposure to the Sun. Autopsies on people who have committed suicide after suffering from depression have shown that, in their brains, gene expression is significantly less aligned with circadian rhythms; other research has shown that restricting exposure to sunlight (and thereby interfering with circadian rhythms) increases the prevalence of depression. Thus, if inmates are already prone to depression, solitary probably makes them more so, she says. The proper functioning of the brain depends on daily Sun exposure, potentially explaining some of the symptoms experienced by prisoners in isolation, many of whom rarely see the Sun.

There are also troubling neurological implications of long-term isolation that stem from the fact that brain architecture can change over time. The hippocampus, in particular, has been found to dramatically shrink in the brains of people who are depressed or stressed for extended periods, a concern because it’s crucially involved in memory, geographic orientation, cognition and decision-making. No one has performed an autopsy on a person who lived in isolation for decades, suffering from depression the whole time, but Akil believes that in keeping inmates in full isolation, authorities are “ruining a very critical component of the brain that’s sensitive to stress.”

Apart from scientists, the Chicago panel featured activist Robert King, who spent 29 years isolated in six-by-nine-foot cell in a Louisiana prison before his murder conviction was overturned in 2001. Although he endured solitary confinement more successfully than most, he says—he maintained a hopeful attitude and never considering hurting himself—he experienced unmistakable physiological changes.

Most dramatically, King gets has difficulty navigating open spaces. “I lost the ability to meet with a broader terrain. I had become acclimated to shorter distances,” he said, attributing this change to the shrinkage of his hippocampus, “I cannot, even to this day, acclimate myself to broader distance. My geography is really shot.” His eyesight also deteriorated to the point where he was nearly blind, though it’s gradually improved since he was released.

It’s impossible to say how isolated prisoners fare as a whole fare compared to King, because there’s no systematic collection of data on their well-being in the U.S. prison system. But the researchers argue that just these hints of the damage wrought by solitary confinement—and the way it seems to make prisoners less-equipped to re-enter society after their sentence—indicate that it falls within a category of discipline banned by the eight amendment: cruel and unusual punishment. “It seems to me that it is time for us to have a serious discussion about the wisdom and humanity of this policy in the United States,” Haney said.

Joseph Stromberg writes about science, technology and the environment for Smithsonian and has also contributed to Slate, the Verge, Salon and other outlets.

 

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Arun Ferreira – Torture and Human Rights Violations of Political Prisoners

 

Vivek BendreArun Ferreira after his release from Nagpur Central Jail on February 4.

ARUN FERREIRA was neither a firebrand activist nor a rabble-rouser. Rather, he was known for his work among the poor and the marginalised. So his arrest in 2007 on the charge of being a Maoist shook Mumbai. It seemed improbable that Ferreira, the convent-educated and middle-class man next door who lived in a well-heeled suburb of the city, could be a naxalite.

There were protests and petitions following Ferreira’s arrest, but to no avail. From all accounts, it seemed to be another case of gross injustice and violation of human rights where the victim was falsely implicated and branded anti-national to suit some hidden agenda. Investigations and interrogations yielded little, and in spite of the absence of proof to incriminate him, Ferreira continued to languish in Nagpur Central Jail.

After almost five years allegedly suffering relentless torture and fighting what seemed a losing battle, on February 4, Ferreira became a free man. For lack of substantial evidence, he was acquitted in all 11 cases against him.

“My case is really nothing special,” Ferreira told Frontline. “The real issue is the way political prisoners are treated and the blatant violation of human rights of prisoners.” According to Ferreira, he was in Nagpur in 2007 when many people were being arrested for naxalite activities. Even Dalits who were distributing literature and mobilising people after the Khairlanji massacre were taken into custody and branded naxalites. “I think the police had to show the numbers and we were easy targets,” he said.

Ferreira was arrested under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act, 2004, which is applied to people the state believes are terrorists. Seven charges were slapped on him, the main accusation being that he was a naxalite involved in a conspiracy to mobilise the naxalite movement.

The police said they had been tipped off that Ferreira along with Dhanendra Bhurule, a journalist recognised for his writings on social injustice, and Naresh Bansode, an activist, were meeting senior naxalite leader Ashok Satya Reddy alias Murali in Nagpur to organise a secret meeting of members at Deekshaboomi on May 8, 2007. The police had been tracking Murali’s movements and believed that the three were part of the conspiracy.

A police official said on condition of anonymity: “Ferreira was definitely a naxalite sympathiser. Perhaps he shouldn’t have been arrested, but they had evidence that he was working with people in the naxalite belt.”

Ferreira said he was beaten, tortured, humiliated and kept in the dreaded “anda” cell, meant for hardened criminals. “More than the brutal, claustrophobic aesthetic of the anda, it’s the absence of human contact that chokes you. If you’re in the anda, you spend 15 hours or more alone in your cell. The only people you see are the guards and occasionally the other inmates in your section. The horrors of the anda are well known to prisoners in Nagpur jail, and they would rather face the severest of beatings than be banished to the anda,” he wrote in his diary.

“They wanted me to disclose the location of a cache of arms and explosives or information on my supposed links with Maoists. To make me more amenable to their demands, they stretched my body out completely, using an updated version of the medieval torture technique of [the rack]. My arms were tied to a window grill high above, while two policemen stood on my stretched thighs to keep me pinned to the floor. This was calculated to cause maximum pain without leaving any external injuries.”

Ferreira also writes about the police concocting evidence, the endemic delays in the justice system, and the living conditions in the barracks, including the nexus between prisoners and jailors.

After months of interrogations and two rounds of narcoanalysis, the authorities still had nothing substantial on Ferreira. He, along with 12 other inmates, went on an indefinite hunger strike demanding an end to their isolation, to stop arresting social activists branding them naxalites, and not to force undertrials to wear uniforms. In September 2011, he was eventually acquitted of all charges and released. The court said it found the evidence supplied by the police contradictory.

However, as Ferreira exited the jail premises and was walking towards his waiting parents and wife, a posse of plainclothes policemen ambushed and bundled him off in an unmarked vehicle. He was once again arrested and charged with naxalite activities. This time it was over his alleged involvement in a police-naxalite encounter near Jafargarh under Korchi tehsil in Gadchiroli district in April 2007.

Once again he faced the cycle of torture, bail applications and trial days. However, unlike the first arrest, this time the public outcry against the injustice was massive. The court finally granted him bail in January 2012.

Ferreira’s case should highlight the need for the implementation of police reforms, said Father Cedric Prakash, a human rights activist. “The brutal and violent methods used against prisoners need to be addressed.”

Ferreira has filed a Rs.25 lakh suit against the Maharashtra government for the injustice meted out to him. He says he will continue his social work among the tribal people and the poor. While in prison, he began studying for a degree in law, which he hopes to complete in the next three years.

Anupama Katakam

 Read more here — http://www.frontline.in/the-nation/free-at-last/article5698848.ece

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#India – Do you know why 83% of convicts are from backward classes?

Why 83% of convicts in India are from backward classes?

11 Feb 2014 09:02 PM, IST
 Why 83% of convicts in India are from backward classes?
Tihar Central Jail (Photo – The Hindu)

 

By Mumtaz Alam, India Tomorrow

New Delhi, 11 Feb 2014: By the end of year 2012, there were 1.27 lakh convicts serving sentence inside jails across India – the overwhelming majority of them i.e. 83% belonged to backward communities like Other Backward Classes (OBC), Scheduled Castes (SC), Scheduled Tribes (ST) and Muslims.

The revealing facts were brought out by the country’s premier government institution National Crime Records Bureau in its Prison Statistics India 2012report.

The total number of convicts inside jails by the end of year 2012 was 1,27,789. Of them, OBCs were 37,451 (29.3%), SCs 27,898 (21.8%), STs 17,696 (13.8%) and Muslims were 22,687 (17.8%). See the table below.

Total convicts inside jails by end of year 2012
1,27,789
OBCs convicts
29.3% (37,451)
Scheduled Castes convicts
21.8% (27,898)
Scheduled Tribes convicts
13.8% (17,696)
Muslim convicts
17.8% (22,687)
Total convicts from marginalized classes 82.73% (105732)

In a country where conviction rate is very low due to cumbersome judicial processes, why is the great majority of the convicts from the backward communities?

“The system of the country has become elite-oriented. It does not respect its own citizens. The judicial system works in favour of the powerful and the rich,” says Dr Rahul Ramagundam, Associate Professor, Dr. K. R. Narayanan Centre for Dalit and Minorities Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia.

“The backward and marginalized communities including minorities are excluded from decision-making processes,” adds Dr Ramagundam while talking to India Tomorrow.

Not only convicts, the great majority i.e. 86% of undertrials are also from the same backward classes.

According to the report of National Crime Records Bureau, of the 2.5 lakh undertrials, 2.2 lakh were from the backward communities. See the table.

Total undertrials by end of year 2012
2,54,857
OBC undertrials
29.7% (75,723)
Scheduled Castes undertrials
22.4% (57,197)
Scheduled Tribes undertrials
13.3% (33,900)
Muslim undertrials
21.0% (53,638)
Total convicts from marginalized classes 86.50 (220458)

While agreeing that even 60 years of reservation has not made these people particularly the SCs and STs powerful neither socially nor economically, Dr Ramagundam suggests their political empowerment as a solution.

 

“To an extent, the experiment of Aam Aadmi Party brightens hope among the marginalized communities as the party has tried to ensure participation of the common people in governance. Moreover, there is a need for grassroot movements to make these communities empowered,” says Dr Ramagundam.

 

He also wants police reform. The police work with purely colonial nature. They pick the poor even with no or little evidence and leave the rich scot-free despite clear and strong proofs.

 

 

 

Eminent Dalit leader and president of Ambedkar Samaj Party, Bhai Tej Singh links the overpopulation of backward classes inside jails with centuries-old tussle between upper castes and lower castes in the country.

 

“The system favours upper castes. They want to suppress us. We all are dalits. We are aboriginal. The judicial system also favours upper castes and the powerful,” says Bhai Tej Singh while talking to India Tomorrow. He terms it as “judicial terror”.

 

“In 2006, I had organized a massive public convention near the Supreme Court in Delhi and called the suppression of dalits and other backward classes including Muslims by the judicial system as judicial terror,” Singh said.

 

As the way-out, he also suggested political empowerment.

 

Political empowerment of the poor and backward communities is the only solution,” Singh said.

 

 

Mohammad Salim Engineer, National Secretary, Jamaat-e-Islami Hind thinks the facts prove there is deep-rooted bias in governing institutions against the people of marginalized classes including Muslims.

 

“Several years back, the Sachar Committee report has pointed out overpopulation of poor and backward classes in jails – far more than their population share in the country. The NCRB report now clearly reveals there is deep-rooted conspiracy in bureaucracy, police, investigating agencies and also in judiciary against members of the weaker sections including Muslims,” said Jamaat leader and pointed out solution.

 

“The solution of the problem was recommended by both Sachar Committee and Ranganath Mishra Commission. Both panels had recommended proper representation of Muslims in government institutions. It is reasonable demand which the government must accept and implement,” Salim Engineer further said.

 

One reason of overpopulation of backward classes in jails, he said, is the attitude of the police forces which are also dominated by upper castes.

 

Many people say that majority of culprits are from weaker sections whose majority are illiterate and poor. There is no wonder if members of these communities are in large number inside jails. Salim Engineer said the poverty and illiteracy of the backward classes is also because of bias and indifferent attitude of the government.

 

“If majority of the backward classes are illiterate and poor then who is responsible for it? It is government and its institutions that have not implemented welfare and educational schemes for these people,” said Salim Engineer.

 

Read more here —  http://www.indiatomorrow.net/eng/why-83-of-convicts-in-india-are-from-backward-classes

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Soni Sori will take legal action against S P Ankit Garg who sexually assaulted her in prison

sonisuri

Express News Service | New Delhi | February 9, 2014 12:40 am
SUMMARY
Sori said there were many tribal women in Chhattisgarh jails who are sexually harassed by jailers on a daily basis.

Tribal school teacher Soni Sori, who was recently granted bail by the Supreme Court, on Saturday said she would take legal action against police officer Ankit Garg, who allegedly tortured and sexually assaulted her in jail.

Sori, who was jailed for alleged Maoist links, said ever since the December 16, 2012, Delhi gangrape, police action against those accused of sexual assault had become prompt.  “But even though what was done to me is nothing short of rape, it prompted no action. Instead, my tormentor was given an award. Does this mean the law is different for tribals?” she said. Garg was given the Police Medal for Gallantry for leading a counterinsurgency operation in Chhattisgarh.

Sori said there were many tribal women in Chhattisgarh jails who are sexually harassed by jailers on a daily basis.  “I will return home and work for these women, try and lend them my voice and highlight their problems… I came across women who were raped, tortured — all because they were alleged Maoists,” she said.

Sori’s nephew, journalist and tribal activist Lingaram Kodopi, who was also granted bail, said, “In our home, democracy isn’t working.  The police wants us dead because people like me and Sori who dare to speak up are in the way of their war.”
Activist Arundhati Roy, who also attended the press conference, said, “When a judge harasses an intern or when Tarun Tejpal allegedly molested a girl, they’re sent to jail. But if you rape or harass an adivasi, you get awarded.” AAP leader Prashant Bhushan, also present at the event, said corruption was forcing “poor tribals to take up arms”.

Read more here — http://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/will-take-legal-action-against-cop-who-sexually-assaulted-me/

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