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Archives for : Sukma

Salwa Judum rape accused acquitted as victims turn hostile #Vaw

RAIPUR, June 15, 2013

Suvojit Bagchi

Six tribal girls filed rape charges against nine SPOs and three Salwa Judum leaders in 2009

Six of the fifteen men — including former Special Police Officers Kicche Nanda and Kawasi Mangalram — accused of raping six tribal women during the controversial Salwa Judum campaign in south Chhattisgarh have been acquitted by a sessions court in Dantewada after the women turned hostile and refused to recognise their alleged rapists.

As the Dantewada Judge, A.K. Beck, recorded, the complainants, all women from Samsetti, told the court that they “…do not know the accused Kicche Nanda or Kawasi Mangalram. The witness clearly stated that no incident (of rape) took place with them. They have not filed any complaints in the police station” or “in the court of Konta.”

In June 2009, exactly four years ago, six girls from Samsetti and other villages had filed rape charges against nine special police officers and 3 Salwa Judum leaders. The SP Dantewada refused to register a case; in an affidavit to the Supreme Court later, the Chhattisgarh government would say this was because the police had enquired with the accused, Salwa Judum leaders Boddu Raja, Soyam Mooka, and Dinesh, who denied any such charges. Since the word of the accused was what counted with the police, the girls were forced to file their complaints directly with the trial court.

Untraceable

On December 10, 2009, the trial court issued arrest warrants in all the cases, but noted that according to the police, the accused were all untraceable. For example, “In this case, accused Kartam Surya, Kovasi Mangal Ram, Kichche Nanda are absconding. There is no chance of finding them in near future. So, accused Kartam Surya, Kovasi Mangal Ram, Kichche Nanda are declared absconding. There is a permanent arrest warrant committal against them by the court.’

However, Judum leaders Soyam Mooka, Kartam Surya and the others who were allegedly “absconding” continued to be active as SPOs and members of the district force. Kartam Surya was later also accused of being involved in the burning of Tadmetla, Morpalli and Timapuram in 2011, on which the Supreme Court ordered the CBI to investigate.

The police refusal to arrest the Samsetti rape accused was repeatedly brought up before the Supreme Court, and on 25th April 2011, Harish Salve appearing for Chhattisgarh promised to have this looked into. No action was taken.

Kartam Surya, who was killed by the Maoists in February 2012, was given a guard of honour by the police.

This correspondent was in court when Era (name changed), the primary witness, retracted her statement. The adivasi woman, who could not speak or understand Hindi, was clearly confused and perhaps scared as the accused were sitting outside the court room.

One of the women who brought the allegations against the SPOs, Mira (name changed) said that she is “sick of outsiders.” “You do not come when we are in trouble, go away now,” she told this correspondent a few days after retracting the charges in the court. She even denied her existence. “I am not Mira,” she said.

With the men acquitted, the complainants and the accused will now return to the same villages or panchayats where they will live with each other as neighbours. The women of Samsetti, on their way to the market, will meet the men, who “did not rape” them. May be the men will get transferred after a point but the women will still have to meet one of the accused – Kartam Surya, the most feared policeman of Sukma.

Mr. Surya was killed last year but his statue adorns the village market in Sukma. A hundred kilometres north, in Dantewada, a court reader still shouts,‘Kartam Surya hazir ho?’ (Kartam Surya, present yourself), before every Samsetti hearing. In the judgment, however, he is described as “absconding”. The call for Kartam Surya will be heard for a few more months till the case concludes, a court clerk said, as he handed over the order sheets.

 

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Chattisgarh- After Maoist Attack , Police dismantle big camp in Sukma

RAIPUR, May 30, 2013

Suvojit Bagchi, The Hindu 

Within 72 hours of Saturday night’s devastating Maoist strike, Chhattisgarh police have removed one of their biggest camps from Minapa in Sukma district, located deep inside the forest, possibly fearing another attack. File photo

PTI Within 72 hours of Saturday night’s devastating Maoist strike, Chhattisgarh police have removed one of their biggest camps from Minapa in Sukma district, located deep inside the forest, possibly fearing another attack. File photo
SLIDESHOW

A Congress convoy, returning from the party’s Parivartan Yatra (transformation rally), on May 25, 2013 was waylaid near Darbha forest in Jagdalpur. At least 16 people were killed and 25 others were injured. Picture shows view outside the hospital in Raipur.

 

Questions surface about the wisdom of setting it up

Within 72 hours of Saturday night’s devastating Maoist strike, Chhattisgarh police have removed one of their biggest camps, from Minapa in Sukma district, located deep inside the forest, possibly fearing another attack. The camp was removed lock, stock, and barrel on Tuesday, 15 days after it was set up. Reportedly, it housed a thousand personnel.

Till last week, police officers were talking about the camp as a major strategic advance in the direction of the Andhra Pradesh border. But repeated firing by rebels on the camp had clearly put the police on the back foot.

Constables and junior officers on the ground believe that the Minapa camp, 50 km south of Sukma, had a vital link to the Darbha attack on Saturday, which saw the death of 27 Congress workers and leaders. “All attention was focussed on reaching supplies and facilities to Minapa,” said one officer.

Sources said the camp was a fine example of “horrendous planning.” It was set up even as the monsoon was approaching. “The camp should have been set up in October or November, so that it would have been well-established by the time the monsoon arrived,” said a constable.

The camp lacked even basic facilities such as toilets. There were no shade-trees to give cover — from rain, heat or stray firing. Personnel were spending their nights virtually in the open in an area largely controlled by Maoists.

Some constables told The Hindu that casualties were growing. “They went out to defecate and got shot. One died of bullet injuries and another got shot. One died of snake bite; there was no anti-venom available,” said one of them.

Constables alleged they were virtually left in the jungle to rot and die. “We were left in an open space, in the forest, in temperatures above 47 degrees, and told to set up facilities, to defend ourselves and go on the offensive. This was absurd,” said one.

Moreover, some of them were brought from the plains of Chhattisgarh. They had limited knowledge of the terrain and often suffered from dehydration. One officer said the camp was intended to be in place only for 15 to 20 days. “It was an experiment carried out to place an additional camp in the Maoist hotbed for two weeks during the Tactical Counter Offensive Campaign (TCOC) of the Maoists, so that we can engage them while they are busy planning,” he said. But the Maoist TCOC continues.

Director General of Police Ram Niwas defended the camp project. “We clearly achieved what we wanted to achieve. The Maoists were pushed back [during the TCOC],” he said.

Mr. Niwas was not ready to accept the views put forward by the constables. “There are officers with decades of experience who designed the plan and worked on it, and we achieved our target. If constables start finalising plans, how are we going to operate?”

 

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Statement Condemning the Maoist Politics of Murder in Chhattisgarh

Statement Condemning the Maoist Politics of Murder in Chhattisgarh!

We, the undersigned, strongly condemn the horrific massacre of leaders
and workers of the Congress Party and the security forces accompanying
them, carried out by the CPI(Maoist) in Chhattisgarh on Saturday. We
also wish to express our deepest condolences to the families of all
those killed in the convoy of Congressmen returning from an election
rally at Sukma in Bastar district.

The killing of senior state Congress leaders and their cadre is
particularly barbaric and reprehensible as they had, in the course of
the Maoist ambush, become captives or had surrendered voluntarily.
This is tantamount to cold-blooded murder of prisoners in custody, an
act that goes against all norms even in a state of civil or
international war. The targeting of a political party in this fashion
by the Maoists is also highly disturbing.

The latest Maoist action will only invite even more state repression
in the area that might as well swell the numbers of CPI(Maoists). If
that is the case then this politics is as evil as that it claims to be
fighting against and should be shunned by all those who stand for
democratic norms in political struggles for peace with justice.

We call upon the state and central governments to exercise great
restraint in their response to the Maoist atrocity.  It is high time
the spiral of violence in the tribal belt of Chhattisgarh be stopped
as it has already claimed innumerable lives.

Abha Dev Habib, Associate Professor, Miranda House, DU

Apoorvanand, Professor, Delhi University

Anivar Arvind, IT Engineer, Bangalore

Arshad Ajmal, Social activist, Patna

Dilip Simeon, Academic, New Delhi

Jagadish, Trade Unionist , Bangalore

Kamayani Bali Mahabal, Human Rights Activist, Mumbai

Kavita Srivastava, PUCL, Rajasthan

Satya Sivaraman, Journalist, New Delhi

Shabnam Hashmi, ANHAD, Delhi

Vinod Raina , Educationist, Delhi

Also Endorsed by .

Arati Choksi, PUCL, Karnataka, Bangalor

Reetika Khera, Associate Professor, IIT Delhi

Dr Sunil Kaul, Public Health Activist,

Dheeraj, Coordinator, The Right to Food Campaign

Biraj Patnaik, Social Scientist with the Right to Food Campaign

Trideep, Advocate, Delhi High Court and Supreme Court,

Sachin Kumar Jain, Journalist and Writer with Vikas Samwaad

Radha Holla, Public Health Activist, Breast Feeding Promotion Network of India

Gurjeet Singh, Right to Food Activist, Ranchi, Jharkhand

Father Jothi, SJ, Social Activist, West Bengal

Prem Krishan Sharma, President, PUCL, Rajasthan, Jaipur

Radha Kant Saxena, VP pUCL, Rajasthan, Jaipur

DL Tripathi, VP, PUCL Rajasthan, Ajmer

Anant Bhatnagar, Organising Secretary, PUCL Rajasthan, Ajmer

Sawai Singh, Rajasthan Smagra Sewa Sangh, Jaipur

Endorsed, also by

Harsh Mander, Director Centre for Equity Studies

RAjinder Sachar, EX Chief Justice Delhi and Sikkim High Court

Arundhati Dhuru, NAPM convenor

Aruna Roy,Nikhil Dey, Shankar Singh, Lal Singh, Bhanwar Meghwanshi,
Narayan Singh

Shail Mayaram, Senior Fellow,CSDS. , Ps change wars to the singular if you can

Anjali Bhardwaj, NCPRI National Convenor

Vidya bhushan Rawat, Social Activist

Suman Sahai, Gene Campaign

Saito Basumatry, People’s ForumAssam

Sejal Dhand, Anna Adhikar Suraksha Manch

 

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Chhatisgarh PUCL condemns the abduction and killings of Congress men in Bastar

CHHATTISGARH LOK SWATANTRYA SANGATHAN

(PEOPLES UNON FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES, CHHATTISGARH)

___________________________________________________________________________

Chhatisgarh PUCL condemns the abduction and killings of Congress Party men in Darbha Ghati in Bastar area of the State

Calls for urgent intervention by democratic forces

to end the spiral of violence in the Region

Raipur,

25th May, 2013

The Chhattisgarh PUCL strongly condemns the attack by suspected Maoists on the convoy of Congress Party leaders in the course of their election campaign in the forested Darbha Ghati in Sukma area in which, according to news reports till the present time, Congress leader Mahendra Karma and Uday Mudaliar have been killed and the President of the Congress Party Nand Lal Patel is suspected to have been abducted. More than 20 people have been reportedly killed with several seriously injured and the numbers of missing, injured and fatalities are on the increase.

The PUCL has always had a principled stand opposed to violence and the politics of killings and abduction. The spiraling violence in the Bastar region in which the present killings and abduction have occurred, and only a week ago on 17th May, 8 villagers including 3 children and a jawan were killed in an operation of security forces in Village Edesmeta, district Bijapur. For the first time, the police actually admitted that those who were attacked were innocent and instituted an enquiry. This situation requires the urgent intervention of all democratic forces in the country as also expressed in the recent strong and anguished letter issued by the Union Minister for Tribal Affairs Shri K Chandra Deo to the Governors regarding the situation in the Scheduled Areas.

Sudha Bharadwaj

General Secretary

(Chhattisgarh PUCL)

 

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Do not oppose bail of 63 Naxalites, Buch panel to Chhattisgarh

May 8, TNN
BHOPAL: Committee set for reviewing the cases ofundertrials languishing in Chhattisgarh jails, has so far recommended the state government that it should not oppose the bail plea of 63Naxalities who have been in jail for more than two years.

However, the committee is not aware whether any of these 63 naxalities were released or not. The committee headed by former chief secretary of state Nirmala Buch was constituted as a part of deal between Naxalities and state government against the release of abducted Sukma collector Alex Paul Menon, in May 2012.

The first meeting of the committee was held on May 3 last year, the day when the abducted collector was released by Naxalities, the committee’s sixth meeting was held at Bhopal on Monday.

“It is a standing committee and its purpose is to review the cases of undertrials who are in the jails for 2 years or more. So far we have reviewed 235 such cases and have recommended that government should not oppose the bail pleas of 110 such undertrials. Out of these, 110 a total of 63 were naxalities,” chairperson of the committee Nirmala Buch told TOI.

“176 cases were reviewed till the fifth meeting of the committee, out of which we recommended the government for not opposing the bail pleas of 71 after the review”, she said. “11 out of the 71 got bails, 10 were acquitted, 32 bail applications were not opposed by government but were rejected by courts,” she said.

“The rest 14 undertrials didn’t apply for bail in court,” Buch said.

Now, after the sixth meeting where we have reviewed 59 cases, we are recommending the government for not opposing the bail pleas of 39 such under trials which includes 21 naxalities, she added.

In all there are around 990 undertrials in Chhattisgarh jails who have been in captivity for two years or more years. We will review the next 100 cases in the meeting which is scheduled in July this year, Buch said.

 

 

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Who killed this scribe? #Chhattisgarh #India

Hoot.org
A week after the death of Nemichand Jain, the questions pile up casting a shadow over journalism in this conflict zone, says GEETA SESHU. Pix: Nemichand Jain (courtesy: Kamal Shukla)
Posted/Updated Wednesday, Feb 20 23:54:03, 2013
 

Mystery shrouds the death of Nemichand Jain, a journalist who was allegedly killed by Maoists on February 12, 2013, as they suspected him of being a police informer.

The killing again draws attention to the precarious nature of journalism practiced in rural areas, in conflict zones and in places where the media is unorganized.

Jain was stabbed to death at Leda village of Sukma district late Tuesday while he was returning from a local weekly market to his village Tongapal,” Lakhan Patel, a senior police official in Sukma, told a news agency.  While Patel also said he couldn’t confirm whether Maoists or local rivals were behind the killing, police produced pamphlets thrown around the site of the killing that stated the ‘journalist’ was killed for being a police informer.

Jain was well known in the area and had made a name in rural reporting for the last 20 years, said Anil Mishra, Tehelka correspondent from Chhattisgarh. Like a number of journalists here, he was also a distributor of newspapers in his area. “He was a source of information about local issues that he would feed to journalists of the newspapers he distributed,” said Kamal Shukla, journalist and blogger from Kanker district. Jain used to write out short reports and send them to these newspapers, so in the complex information-gathering processes of rural reporting, he did perform a journalistic role, Shukla felt.

According to Mishra, there is still a lot of confusion over the perpetuators of the crime. At first, journalists of the area thought that the pamphlet announcing the Maoist involvement was a fake one! “For one, its colour was not the usual red colour and it was written in a different style, “ concurs Ruchir Garg, correspondent for NaiDuniya.

They point out that the day after the killing, another pamphlet issued ostensibly by the Kate Kalyan area committee, a part of the Darba divisional committee of the Maoists, denied their hand in the killing.  Today, the Kanger Ghati area committee issued a pamphlet taking responsibility for the killing, terming Jain as a ‘mukhbari’ (a spy or informer).

The multiple pamphlets have aroused suspicion that the police have also have a hand in the killing, said senior journalist and President of the Chhattisgarh Union of Working Journalists, NRK Pillai.  Bemoaning the manner in which the safety of journalists was continuously compromised in areas of conflict, Pillai said that he was not at all sure of the authenticity of the pamphlets.

Another factor was that Maoists had never, thus far, killed any journalists in the bloody war in Chhattisgarh, Mishra said. “There was no warning, or threats and his family also said he used to give news of Maoist statements and campaigns too, “ Mishra said.

Garg added that usually, Maoists do issue threats to journalists, maybe even issue an ultimatum to journalists to leave the area. And even then, the Maoists launch an intense campaign against the journalist before taking any action, he added.

Mishra demanded that police investigate reports that Jain had exposed the tin smugglers in the area and had a fight with the sons of a prominent tin smuggler only a few days before his death.  The smuggling of tin and colombite, which villagers extract from rock in the area, is highly profitable and Jain had exposed this smuggling.

Shukla, however, is in no doubt that the Maoists had a hand in the killing of Nemichand Jain.  According to his information, a week before the killing, a local group of Maoists held a jansabha and had kept in custody an innocent person from his village but Nemichand was instrumental freeing this person, angering them.

Nemichand was more of a local social activist than a journalist, Shukla said, and tried to mediate between villagers and the administration to resolve local issues like water supply or get the newspapers he distributed to write on these local issues.The allegation that he was a police informer was also not true, as Nemichand was known to have taken up cudgels against the police, said Shukla, quoting the local villagers.

In his blog, Shukla said that independent journalists of Bastar had actually done a service to the Maoists by highlighting their struggle and the police repression in the ‘undeclared war’ that has led to so much violence and killing in the area. Maoists didn’t take action against journalists who worked for tendu-leaf, mining and timber contractors, corporate houses and the administration, he complained.

Shukla, who was beaten up in 2012 when he tried to report on the large-scale felling of trees by a relative of the state’s forest minister, felt that journalists must boycott press statements from Maoists till they acknowledge their hand in the killings and punish the perpetuators!

For long, journalists in Chhattisgarh have been speaking out on the perils of reporting from the conflict zone. If they highlight local issues, the police target them as Maoists, said Pillai, who, along with Anil Mishra and Yeshwant Yadav,  was at the receiving end of death threats in 2011, issued by the Adivasi Swabhimaan Manch, an organization allegedly sponsored by the police.

“In our areas, it is not uncommon for police to prey on weak journalists and lure them into providing information, “ says Pillai, adding that the arrangement may have gone sour. In fact, journalists are often targeted by the police for being ‘naxal’ informers, he added.

Earlier, journalists received innumerable threats from the Salwa Judum, the militia raised by local landlords with police support to fight the Maoists. In Bhopalapatnam, Afzal Khan and in Konta, Sanjay Reddy and Sheikh Anwar were the receiving of such police allegations. Sheikh Anwar, who was a senior and well-known journalist in the area, was still under arrest, Pillai said.

While journalists have demanded an inquiry into the killing and into the failure of the police to ensure the safety of journalists in the area, it is clear that incident has rattled the media in this already stressed and dangerous place. As Mishra put it, “Thus far, we thought there could be nothing worse than dealing with the police and their harassment, their threats and false cases. But if this news is true and the Maoists also start attacking us and killing us, where do we go and where can our journalism go?”

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Why doesn’t the AP police come clean about two missing tribal women? #Vaw #Disappearances

by  Jan 21, 2013, First Post

It is easy to know when you have crossed the Andhra Pradesh border to step into Chhattisgarh. An apology of a road that connects to Sukma town takes three hours to traverse a distance of 75 km. The southern part of the state, just like the border areas in Khammam district of Andhra Pradesh, is forest area, where the police stations are heavily fortified posts, protecting themselves more than protecting the local population. Because more often than not, the cops look at anyone who is not in khaki, as an enemy, a Maoist. And if not a Maoist, most definitely a Maoist sympathiser.

And when the law looks at everyone else as an outlaw, they invariably cross the line. Like the policemen from Andhra Pradesh reportedly did on 12 January when they allegedly crossed the border to take away two tribal women – 21-year-old Madvi Parvathi and 15-year-old Kovasi Somidi – from Nimmalagudem village. Home to some 30 tribal families, the village is in Konta block of Sukma district, 3 km inside Chhattisgarh from the border. The tribals engage in farming for their livelihood, growing paddy, millet and chillies and migrating to areas in Andhra Pradesh during the summer to work as labour. The Human Rights Forum (HRF) team that visited the village four days later, was told by the villagers that an police party, around 100 persons strong, assaulted villagers, including children before taking away six of them into the forest. They were taken to a spot, about half a kilometre from the village, near a hillock where there were remnants of a camp set up by the Maoists a couple of days back. The security personnel accused the six villagers of providing food and help to the Maoists and allegedly beat them. Tribal residents are often caught in between the security forces and Maoists. AFP It was after repeated pleading that four of them were let off but Parvathi and Somidi were taken away. Parvathi who is three months pregnant, was also allegedly partially disrobed by the all-male contingent of cops. For days after the `official abduction’, the villagers kept combing the forest areas in search of the two women, or perhaps their bodies. Finally they walked nearly two hours by foot to Cherla, a mandal headquarters in Khammam district and narrated the events to local reporters. They also met the Bhadrachalam sub-collector Narayana Bharat Gupta to plead for help in locating the duo. He offered them hope but since yesterday, has been pleading that Nimmalagudem is not part of his jurisdiction. For the villagers, to be caught in the crossfire between the police and Maoists is nothing new. They say every time there is movement of Maoists in the area or any incident involving the Maoists, the Andhra Pradesh police targets and harasses them. VS Krishna of HRF recalls an incident in Nimmalagudem in 2008 when two men were picked up from the village allegedly by security personnel, taken to Cherla and shot dead. A petition was also filed in the State Human Rights Commission in the case. After messages sent by fax to the Chief Justices of the Andhra Pradesh and Chhattisgarh High courts seeking their intervention did not yield any result, a habeas corpus petition has been filed in the Andhra Pradesh High court today, to get the police force to come clean on Parvathi and Somidi. Almost at the same time as the petition was filed in the High court, Gajarao Bhupal, ASP of Khammam police denied having picked up the women, claiming no police party visited Nimmalagudem on January 12. “There should have been at least a case of missing persons filed in Kishtaram police station under which Nimmalagudem falls but there is no case there. The Chhattisgarh police too has not enquired,” he said. In an ironical twist, the villagers plan to travel to Khammam district today to physically mount pressure on the administration came unstuck because the North Telangana unit of the Maoists has called a bandh in the area on some other issue. That human rights are violated both by security personnel and Maoists is not new. For years, villagers in Naxal-affected areas of north Telangana faced either police harassment or Naxal kangaroo courts, just because they did not have the courage to say no to a man with a weapon. But if India’s “greatest internal security threat” is to be fought by the state making several innocents in the geographical ‘Bharat’ pay the price, it would be a war that would only widen the divide that already exists between the two Indias. Meanwhile, the state needs to answer : Where are Parvathi and Somidi?

 

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#India- Over 1 lakh children malnourished in Bastar #RIP #Indiashining

 

Raipur, Dec 12 – The Chhattisgarh Government today admitted that over 1 lakh children are suffering from malnutrition in the tribal-dominated Bastar region.

In a written reply to a question of Kuldeep Singh Juneja (Congress) in the Legislative Assembly, Women and Child Development Minister Lata Usendi said 1,15,093 children are suffering from malnutrition in Bastar division comprising seven districts as of December 2012.

Of these, 31,034 children are severely malnourished, while 84,059 fall in the category of average malnutrition, she said.

The highest number of malnourished kids are in Bastar district (35,034), followed by Kanker (27,482), Kondagaon (17,308), Dantewada (10,871), Bijapur (10,083), Sukma (8,811) and Narayanpur (5,504), Usendi said.

The Minister, however, denied any death due to malnutrition from 2008 till now in the Naxal-affected region in Central Chhattisgarh. PTI

 

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Jairam Ramesh launches SADP project in Malkangiri , Orissa

English: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodha...

English: U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the ITC Green Centre in Gurgaon, outside of New Delhi. The ITC Green Centre is the world’s largest “Platinum Rated” green office building. Department photo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 May 29, ibnlive.com

BHUBANESWAR/MALKANGIRI: As a part of the Centre’s initiative to contain the spread of Maoism by taking up developmental projects in the affected areas, Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Monday visited Malkangiri district ahead of launching the Special Area Development Plan (SADP) project by the ministry in the region.

Ramesh, who reviewed implementation of different developmental projects in Malkangiri district, will also visit Sukma in Chhattisgarh. The SADP will be launched in Malkangiri-Sukma region with at an estimated cost of `300 crore.

Security had been tightened in the entire district as Ramesh stayed overnight in  Malkangiri. He will leave for Sukma on Tuesday morning. His proposed visit to Janbai in the cut off area was cancelled due to security reasons following an exchange of fire between the security forces and Maoists in Kalimela area. The Maoists triggered a landmine blast injuring three Special Operations Group (SOG) personnel.

Malkangiri was in the news last year when Maoists kidnapped the then collector R Vineel Krishna. Krishna, who is now the Private Secretary of the Minister, is accompanying Ramesh. Sukma Collector Alex Paul Menon was also abducted by the Maoists this year.

Ramesh met elected panchayat representatives, SHGs and beneficiaries of different welfare programmes during his visit to the district and harped on the dignity of tribals. Many tribals are languishing in different jails in Odisha for no fault of theirs and they should be released immediately, he said. The Minister expressed dissatisfaction over the implementation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) as only 35 per cent of the funds for the district has been spent.

He was critical of the delay in completion of Gurupriya bridge over the  Janbai river. Left wing extremism (LWE) can be tackled effectively if all the political parties work unitedly, he said. He exhorted the youths to join politics. Nine out of every 100 girls are joining the outlawed CPI(Maoist) due to the failure of the political system, Ramesh reasoned.

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Urgent Appeal for Action- India/Chhattisgarh: Sukma district – Abduction of IAS officer Mr. Alex Paul Menon by the Maoists – fear for his safety

A model appeal by HRD- ALERT

Date:

Address:

Sir / Ma’am,

(A line introducing yourself / your organization)

We are now writing to express our grave concern over the alleged abduction of the IAS (Indian Administrative Service) Officer Mr. Alex Paul Menon by Maoists rebels in Chhattisgarh.

Incident

Name of the Perpetrators: Maoist rebels

Place of incident: Manjipara village, near Kerpa, Sukma district, Chhattisgarh

Date and time of incident: 31st January, 2012 around 11.00 am

Mr. Alex Paul Menon (32) is a 2006-batch Tamil Nadu cadre IAS officer, from Palayamkottai, Tirunelveli, who has been posted as the first district Collector of the newly formed Sukma district in Chhattisgarh.

Mr. Menon is reportedly an active Collector, who was known to be pro-active in undertaking developmental work in the backward region.

He was abducted on 21st April 2012 from Manjipara village, near Kerpa where he was holding a government outreach programme “Special Gram Suraj Abhiyan” aimed at weaning away the locals from the path of Naxalism.

According to the security agencies, the collector, who had built up considerable support in the district because of his efforts to reach out to the masses, was not moving around with adequate protection. Some 500-600 Maoists were apparently active in that the area and the state intelligence had apparently warned him in writing against venturing out without adequate security. But he had not paid heed.

Menon’s family said he was aware of the threat of possible kidnap of officials in the region but that never deterred him from responding to the call of duty.

A special police team has been constituted for the rescue efforts.

Case Narrative:

According to the information IAS officer Mr. Alex Paul Menon had gone by motorcycle on 21st April 2012 (Saturday), to Manjipara village near Kerpa, which is about 12 kilometers from Sukma district, fromwhere he was abducted while attending Kisan Sabha (farmers meet) as a part of the Raman Singh government’s outreach programme called Special Gram Suraj Abhiyan.

The ‘Gram Suraj’ campaign has been launched by the Raman Singh government as part of its efforts to check the influence of the Maoists who hold sway in several districts of the state including neighbouring Dantewada. Ministers, MLAs and government officers visit the villages during the programme in order to establish better communication with the locals to address their problems effectively). The rebels had also gunned down two of his bodyguards who tried to resist the abduction move.

There was a CRPF camp just eight kilometers from where he was abducted.

According to officials who were present at the programme at Majhipara village, some 50-odd ultras including women had come to the venue and taken away the IAS officer after shooting two of his guards.Around 20 of them were armed. They first shot at guard Kishun Kujur. In the meanwhile another guard named Amjad Khan, returned the fire, in which one of the Naxals was reportedly killed, while Khan too died in the exchange of fire.

It is reported that in exchange of the hostage, the Maoists have demanded stopping of “operation green hunt”, the anti-Naxalite operation in Bastar, release of all “innocent tribals” languishing in the jails of Jagdalpur and Dantewada and release of eight Maoists who are in Raipur central prison.
Local journalists in South Bastar have received telephone calls from a person, who identified himself as Vijay, secretary of the South Bastar regional committee of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), whoclaimed that his cadres have “arrested” the district collector. The Maoists also sent in a pre-recorded statement to journalists saying “We have arrested the district collector. We are demanding withdrawal of cases slapped against the people in connection with the case relating to attack on a Congress leader in Konta. We are also demanding release of Markam Gopanna alias Satyam Reddy, Nirmala Akka alias Vijay Lakshmi, Devpal Chandrasekhar Reddy, Shantipriya Reddy, Meena Choudhary, Korsa Sunny, Markam Sunny and Amit Kumar Sen”.

A tape sent to BBC’s news channel on 22nd April 2012 (Sunday) contained the Maoists’ wish list. Besides the two demands, they have also asked the government to dismantle facilities set up by the Army in the region. The Army runs a training facility in the area. Anti-Naxal operations mounted by the security agencies had made some headway in the recent past. For example, CRPF had made inroads in the Abujmadh forests, an exclusive domain of the Maoists.

Maoists have set April 25 as deadline for acceptance of their demands in exchange of the safe release of Menon, saying that the IAS officer would be produced before a “Jan Adalat” (a Peoples’ court) which would take a decision.

The Chhattisgarh government has scaled down all ‘pro-active’ security operations in the jungles of Bastar area in order to avoid provoking the rebels in any manner and to ensure safety of the abducted officer.

Meanwhile, the two security guards who were shot dead by the Naxals before Menon’s abduction were accorded a guard of honour at Sukma district headquarters on 22nd April.

Present status:

Additional Director General of Police Ram Nivas (anti-Naxal operations) said police have received some vital clues and added that Menon is safe.

The Centre said that it was in constant touch with the Chhattisgarh government on the abduction of the Sukma Collector and providing all necessary help to resolve the crisis.

Menon’s abduction sparked off popular outrage in the area with local people in Sukma town took out a ‘peace march’ in the tribal district to appeal to the Maoists to release the district collector on humanitarian grounds.

Former MLA and Bastar Adivasi Mahasabha president Manish Kunjam, who hails from Sukma town, stated that the Sabha had already issued an appeal to the rebels not to cause any bodily harm to the young IAS officer and that the local tribals are willing to go into the forests to meet the rebels.

Meanwhile Menon’s wife Asha has appealed to Naxals to release her husband on humanitarian grounds, saying that they were married only a few months ago and he had always worked for the people and has done a lot for the new district’s development.  She said that “He is an asthmatic patient and I request the government and the Naxals to understand that he is just left with two doses of medication,” adding that he would not be able to cope up with, in case of an emergency.

Civil rights activist Swami Agnivesh offered to mediate for Menon’s release, and said he was waiting for the government or Maoists to approach him. He also cautioned the state government against unleashing force.  Agnivesh said that last year he had managed to secure the release of five policemen abducted by Maoists. He had, at that time, urged Chief Minister Raman Singh to free innocent tribals languishing in jails.

Additional Information:

The Naxalites had on Friday (April 20, 2012) triggered a powerful landmine blast targeting the convoy of Bijapur BJP MLA Mahesh Gagda in which two BJP workers and the driver of the vehicle carrying them were killed when he was on one such campaign.

Also Naxals had last year kidnapped the Collector of adjoining Malkangiri district of Odisha, R Veenel Krishan, along with a junior engineer and released them after the state government agreed to fulfil all 14 demands of the rebels including withdrawal of cases against top CPI (Maoist) leaders Prasadam, Padma and Eswari, to facilitate their release from jails.

In Odisha two Italians were abducted by Maoists who freed them after a month in captivity after the state government acceded to their demand to release some of the jailed left wing extremists.

Appeal

We, therefore, urge you to immediately take necessary steps to

1. Take steps to guarantee in all circumstances the safety and security to the IAS officer Mr. Alex Paul Menon;

2. Render justice to the two bodyguards who were shot dead during the incident and provide adequate compensation to their families;

3. Ensure that for any cause kidnapping should not be used as a tool to threaten the people as well as government officials to fulfil the demands.

Looking forward to your immediate action in this regard,

Yours sincerely,

Looking forward to your immediate action in this regard,

Yours sincerely,

(Your name and designation)

Addresses:

1. Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders,
Mrs. Margaret Sekaggya
c/o Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights – Palais Wilson
United Nations Office at Geneva
CH 1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Email: [email protected]

2. Hon. Justice Shri K.G. Balakrishnan

Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission

Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg,

New Delhi, PIN 110001

Fax No. 23384863

E-Mail: [email protected][email protected][email protected]

Attn: Focal point Human Rights Defender

3. Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh,

Dr. Raman Singh,

[email protected].

4. Chief Secretary of the Chhattisgarh government,

[email protected]

5. Chhatisgarh State Human Rights Commission,

Near Mantralaya, Raipur-492001, Chhattisgarh

E-Mail: [email protected]

6. Director General of Police, Chhattisgarh

Email: [email protected]

7. OMCT International Secretariat
PO Box 21
8, rue du Vieux-Billard
1211 Geneva 8
Switzerland
Phone: + 41 22 809 4939
Fax: + 41 22 809 4929
E-mail: [email protected][email protected]

8. Front Line – The International Foundation for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
Head Office
Second Floor, Grattan House
Temple Road, Blackrock,
Co Dublin, Ireland
Tel: +353 (0)1 212 3750

Fax: +353 (0)1 212 1001
E-mail: [email protected] ; [email protected]

9. Dr. P. Chidambaram, Union Minister of Home Affairs,

Ministry of Home Affairs,

104-107 North Block,

New Delhi 110 001 India

Fax: +91 11 2309 2979.

Email: [email protected]

10. Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights

United Nations Office at Geneva,

1211 Geneva 10, Switzerland

Email: [email protected]

11. Asian Forum for Human Rights and Development

Baan Vichien, Apartment 3B,

220 Sukhumvit 49/12 Klongton Nua, Wattana,

Bangkok, 10110, Thailand

Email: [email protected]

[email protected]

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