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  • Police commandoes fire on thousands of Naga villagers, killing 2 and wounding 100

    Zolengthe. net, May 7, 2010

    Naga's Protest Turns Bloody

    Mao Gate | May 6 : Two persons were killed and more than a hundred injured when Manipur police commandoes fired on thousands of villagers staging a protest rally here at Mao Gate, some 32 kms from Kohima. A combined force of Manipur Rifles, IRB and police commandoes fired more than 200 teargas shells and later resorted to blank and blind firing to quell the protestors staging a rally against imposition of 144CrPC in Mao area. While two persons were killed on the spot, another was reported to be in critical condition at Naga Hospital, Kohima.

    Around 10 am, villagers of Mao area congregated at Mao Gate and staged a protest rally at Mao Gate against imposition of 144 CrPC and high handedness” of the police commandoes. “Get out commandoes,” the rallyists shouted and as the volume increased and protestors swelled in numbers, the commandoes first fired more than fifty teargas shells to disperse the rallyists, followed by blank firing.

    The protestors reciprocated by throwing stones at the security personnel and besieging the Town Hall where the police commandoes were quartered. Some of the enraged seized the bedding and clothing of the commandoes and set them on fire. The protestors also damaged at least 6 vehicles of the security personnel. Two youths were shot dead in the Town Hall when some commandoes fired at them at point blank range. According to villagers, the rallyists also beat up two police personnel and snatched one teargas gun.

    The two deceased been identified as one Loshou, son of Daikho of Kalinamai village and a BA 2nd year student of St. Joseph College, Jakhama, and Chakho, son of Neli of Kalinamai village, also a BA 2nd year student of St. Joseph College, Bangalore. According to the Red Cross Society, Nagaland branch, one N Lokho (30), son of Nishini of Songsong village was in critical condition at the hospital.

    As the death of the two students in town hall spread and the commandoes stepping up their firing, the protestors slowly began to disperse, and began to stay indoors. More than an hour after the main street was deserted, the commandoes stationed atop the building near the Taxi parking directed tear gas shells on the houses below.

    Manipur police kills two students at Mao Gate

    The commandoes also aimed their guns at any movement of people even outside their homes.
    Majority of the 74 injured listed at CHC Mao till 2pm were women who were leading the rally in the initial stage. NSF president Mutsikhoyo Yhobu who was also witness to the firing, later visited CHC Mao and donated Rs. 10,000 to the injured. The Nagaland Red Cross also rushed in life saving medicines to CHC Mao besides lifting some of the injured to hospitals in Kohima.

    It was reported that DGP Nagaland K Kire also visited the injured at the CHC. At CHC, the driver of an ambulance who came with some injured at around 2.10pm said that the commandoes fired teargas at even the ambulance.

    Meanwhile, late afternoon at the Mao-Khuzama border, IGP (LO3) V Zathang of the Manipur police told mediapersons and the people from Nagaland side that the commandoes had not resorted to any kind of firing. “We don’t have firing order,” he claimed and also denied that there was any casualty. On the other hand, the IGP alleged that some of his personnel and arms were missing. Meanwhile, fearing the worst almost all villagers of Songsong and Kalinamai villages have fled their homes by late evening and are taking shelter in neighbouring villages including Khuzama on the Nagaland side.

    Meanwhile the management, staff and students of St. Joseph’s college, Jakhama condoled the death of Mr. Dikho Loshuo II. B.A. “B” (sociology honours) who died at the police firing at Mao gate on Thursday, 6th May, 2010. This was stated in a condolence message issued by Fr. Isaac Padinjarekuttu Principal.

    Naga MLAs in Manipur resign

    Dimapur, May 6 (MExN): The Naga independent MLAs of the Manipur Legislative Assembly today resigned on moral ground in the wake of what it termed as the unprovoked firing upon the civilians at Mao Gate this morning killing and injuring many men and women folk in the process. “We share the grief and sentiments of the people who are killed and injured in the unprovoked firing.

    We see no reason why a state government should take such action which would sabotage the Naga peace process. Hence we the undersigned are tendering our resignation as members of the State Legislative Assembly on moral ground”, stated the resignation letter addressed to the Speaker of the Manipur Assembly. The MLAs are stationed in Delhi.

    Those who send in their resignation to the Speaker included W. Morung Makunga, MLA (Tenugopal), Awangbow Newmai, MLA (Tamei), K. Raina, MLA (Tadubi), Dr Khashim Ruivah, MLA (Chingai), M Thohreii, MLA (Mao) and Wungnaoshang Keishing, MLA (Phungyar). The MLAs in their resignation letter pointed out that they had requested the State government to reconsider the Cabinet decision to ban the entry of Mr Muivah, the Chief Negotiator of the NSCN/GPRN in the Indo-Naga peace talk. While appreciating the Centre for allowing Muivah to travel to his native village of Somdal, the MLAs regretted that the Manipur government by stationing security forces along the route had created a war like situation. The MLAs also informed that they had come to Delhi to seek an appointment with the Prime Minister and Home Minister in order to apprise them of the situation but they could only meet RS Pandey, the Interlocutor of the Government of India. The Naga MLAs told Pandey to speed up the peace process so as to bring permanent peace and honorable solution.

    Manipur CM meets Pranab, Chidambaram, Antony

    New Delhi, May 6 (PTI): Manipur Chief Minister Ibobi Singh today met Union ministers Pranab Mukherjee, P Chidambaram and A K Antony and briefed them about the prevailing situation in his state in the wake of NSCN-IM leader T Muivah’s proposed visit. Singh was summoned to the national capital following the tensed situation in Manipur and Nagaland in the wake of now-postponed visit of Muivah to his ancestral village in Manipur’s Ukhrul district. During the 20-minute meeting, Singh is understood to have told the Central leaders that if Muivah is allowed to go to Manipur, the situation in the state may deteriorate as people are against the visit of the Naga rebel leader. The Central leaders are believed to have asked Singh to be cautious and take utmost care in taking any decision in this regard.

    Muivah puts off visit to ancestral village in Manipur

    Visema (Nagaland), May 6 (PTI): NSCN-IM leader T Muivah on Thursday put off his visit to his ancestral village across the Nagaland border in Manipur’s Ukrul district on the request of four Naga NGOs. Speaking to a small gathering in Visema, where he spent the night after arriving from NSCN-IM headquarters at Camp Hebron near Dimapur on Wednesday, Muivah said he was postponing his visit to Somdal village, where he was born, after the NGOs requested him to put off his visit by a day or two till the situation returns to normal in Manipur.

    He reiterated that he did not understand why the Manipur government was opposing his visit. “I am not going to create a disturbance. I am going for peace and to meet my people,” he said.

    Civil groups demand Judicial Probe

    Dimapur, May 6 (MExN): Indian civil society organizations today demanded a judicial probe into the firing by Manipur police forces that left three students dead and about a hundred injured at Mao Gate, Nagaland-Manipur border. The Indian civil organizations met in an emergency press meeting in New Delhi today.

    The organizations, along with Naga MLAs from Manipur urged for peace but agreed that the situation is getting increasingly volatile even as minority communities in Manipur feel presently threatened by the heightened insecurity and historical discrimination. “Independent Naga MLAs from Manipur have resigned…they are demanding a judicial enquiry,” a statement received here said.

    Members of Human Rights, civil society and democratic organizations, including South Asia Forum for Human Rights and Jawahar Lal Nehru University, spoke at the press conference. Condemning the police action and killing, the civil groups said the deployment of large number of security forces at the state borders, the unprovoked destruction of traditional welcome gates by the forces, and the total blockage of transit of all travelers from Nagaland to Manipur have triggered panic and insecurity among the local people.

    These have all unnecessarily heightened tensions between different communities in the region, the statement said.
    The speakers also called for lifting of the blockade of transport of goods and people from Imphal valley to the hills and at the Nagaland-Manipur border that had caused great hardships to ordinary people.

    The speakers also alleged that Okram Ibobi Singh, the Chief Minister of Manipur, was using the situation to communally polarize the people for his own political gains.

    “Naga MLAs from Manipur had earlier asked the CM to withdraw the illegal and controversial decision of the cabinet disallowing Mr. Muivah’s visit. In Delhi, upon not getting an appointment with the central Home Minister or the PM, they have sent in their resignations to the speaker of the Manipur Assembly,” the statement added.

    South Nagas seek PM’s action

    Dimapur, May 6 (MExN): The Naga frontal organizations in Manipur today listed a number of demands to the Prime Minister of India, to be met with prompt action. “So long as the given conditions are not fulfilled, we will have no option but to abstain from receiving the dead bodies of the two innocent students from the Police custody,” stated the memorandum addressed to the Prime Minister of India from the United Naga Council, Naga Women’s Union, Manipur, All Naga Students’ Association Manipur and Naga Peoples’ Movement for Human Rights. ddd

    The demands are that a judicial enquiry into the incident be instated; immediate withdrawal of 144 CRPC; immediate withdrawal of IRB and Police Commandos from the Naga areas; permit entry and safe passage to Mr. Th. Muivah to his native village and to peacefully complete his peace tour.

    The Mao-Gate Tragedy

    The Naga organizations also narrated the tragic turn of events: AN organization, the Mao Women’s Welfare Association under the aegis of the Naga Women’s Union of Manipur had organized peaceful rally at Mao Gate in Senapati district (under the administration of Manipur State) on May 4 and the 5th to protest against the Manipur State Cabinet’s decision banning the entry of Th. Muivah, general secretary of the NSCN (IM) to his native village, Somdal.

    On the evening of May 5, at 6.30 PM one Ashihrii Puni, of Song Song village, a Mao tribal, aged 52 years was brutally assaulted without any reason by the Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) of Manipur. On May 6, the public of the area organized a peaceful procession on National Highway 39 to protest against the savage act of the IRB.
    “While the procession was being taken out, the Manipur state armed forces, without any warnings, started firing tear gas and stick bombs on the innocent public.

    Soon after, they started firing randomly on the protestors and in the process two male students were shot dead and more than 80 persons, mainly women, sustained grievous bullet wounds and related injuries. The Manipur armed forces also damaged many vehicles parked on the National Highway, broke windows and kicked open doors of houses, arrested and assaulted 28 innocent boys, who were later released in the evening.”

  • Nagaland rights activist exposes Armed Forces Special Powers Act

    Misguided or Deliberate Policy: Armed Rebellion and Political Conflict

    By Neingulo Krome

    [This paper was presented in a Seminar on “Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act” during the Festival of Hope, Justice and Peace held at Imphal from November 2 – 6, 2010. The author is a former Secretary General of NPMHR]

    At the outset I want to thank the Just Peace Foundation for giving us this opportunity of deliberating issues of common concern in a most befitting and elaborate manner, commemorating it with the completion of 10 years of Irom Sharmila’s Fast unto Death against one of the most draconian and anti-democratic law in India. In this aspect, I also want to salute Ms Irom Sharmila for her courage and ability to demonstrate the highest humanly possible sacrifice for the cause of not only the “ten slaughtered civilians at Malom Village” by personnel of the Indian Security Forces, but for humanity as a whole.

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  • Tribals rally against anti-Maoist operations in Orissa

    Tribals opposing ongoing anti-Maoist operation in Koraput district, where most wanted rebel Ramakrishna is suspected to be in hiding, staged a demonstration at Narayanpatna, about 70km from here, today.

    The rally was organised by the Maoist-backed Chasi Mulia Adivasi Sangha (CMAS), which had recently forcibly grabbed money lenders’ lands and attacked a police station at Narayanpatna. The demonstrators also demanded immediate release of tribal men and women who were lodged in jail on charge of being rebels and attacking the police station.

    About 100 tribals allegedly involved in the two counts are lodged in Koraput jail. Two of them have died in prison. The demonstrators submitted a memorandum addressed to chief minister Naveen Patnaik to local block development officer.

    Meanwhile, the police have launched a manhunt for Ramakrishna, who is suspected to have taken shelter in Narayanpatna jungle along with his son Prithvi. The search operation has been stepped up since the arrest of Ramakrishna’s wife Padma on November 14 from an area near Koraput, bordering Andhra Pradesh.

    CMAS marches in Narayanpatna, Orissa

    DNA India, November 24, 2010

  • From Field to Fork: Obama’s agribusiness recipe for India

    US corporate officials explain the "benefits" (to US agri companies) of American agricultural exports, seeds and technology to their Indian counterparts

    By Rahul Goswami, Sanhati

    November 20, 2010

    The government of the USA has planned for India to become an important consumer of its agricultural exports and crop science. India has also been planned as a host country for an agricultural research agenda directed by American crop-seed biotech corporations.

    This is to be achieved through a variety of programmes in India, some of which began their preparation two years ago. This agenda, labelled as US-India cooperation by India’s current UPA-2 government and by the USA’s current Barack Obama administration, has the support of the American farm sector, but not that of India’s farmers and cultivators. The clear and blunt objective is to increase US agricultural exports and to widen as quickly as possible the trade surplus of the US agricultural sector.

    This agenda has become clear following the three business and industry meetings held during the visit of US President Barack Obama-’US-India Business and Entrepreneurship Summit’ in Mumbai on 6 November, ‘India-US: An Agenda for Co-Creation’ with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) in New Delhi on 8 November, and ‘US-India Conclave: Partnership for Innovation, Imperative for Growth and Employment in both Economies’ with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) in New Delhi on 9 November.

    The US agri-business view has been projected in India by the US-India Business Council, a business advocacy group representing American companies investing in India together with Indian companies, with a shared aim to deepen trade and strengthen commercial ties.

    In a document titled ‘Partners in Prosperity -Business Leading the Way’ (November 2010), the business council stated: “India requires an ‘Ever-Green Revolution’-a new program which would engage the country’s rural sector, providing water utilization and crop management ‘best practices’ to promote greater food security-this time based on technology to increase efficiency and productivity. The effort to vitalize India’s agriculture sector should be driven by business, and the first step is improving India’s farm-to-market global supply chain.” …………

    Finally, there is the idea of the ‘Evergreen Revolution’ being promoted by both sides, India’s Ministry of Agriculture and the ICAR-led research and agri education system, and the US Department of Agriculture in concert with the US State Department and American agri business. Also called ‘’second Green Revolution” by India’s agriculture sector planners, such labelling has ignored entirely the social and genetic violence to India’s agrarian settlements which has only increased post-Liberalisation.

    At a meeting in Bhubaneswar, Orissa, held to discuss the central government’s ”Green Revolution in Eastern India” programme, a concluding declaration was made by farmers, activists and scientists from more than ten Indian states. ”Food and livelihood security of the poor is subverted by the decision imposed by the Union Government on the peoples of the six Eastern Indian states to push for the new phase of Green Revolution with a thrust on hybrid seeds technology,” said the declaration. ”We question the rationale of the government in bringing in this Green Revolution and strongly believe that techno-centric production models adopted so far do not address real food, nutrition and livelihood security.”

    It is not food, nutrition and livelihood security which are the concerns of the India-US Agriculture Dialogue. This ‘dialogue’ is controlled and directed by the US government’s new National Export Initiative. ”We are pursuing a new trade strategy which looks at nations based on the nature of their marketplace,” stated Tom Vilsack, US Secretary of Agriculture, on 2 September 2010 (he was part of the Obama mission to India). ”These efforts mean that agriculture is one of the only major sectors of the economy with a trade surplus, which we expect to be worth US$30.5 billion this year. Overall, our agricultural exports should be worth US$107.5 billion in fiscal year 2010-up from US$96 billion in 2009-and we expect them to rise again in 2011. More importantly, this progress should create good jobs for Americans: USDA studies show that every billion dollars in agricultural exports supports over 8,000 jobs and generates an additional US$1.4 billion in economic activity.”

    According to a September 2010 ”Report to The President on the National Export Initiative’ by the US Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke (he was also part of the Obama mission to India), the NEI has five components. Three of these apply directly to the new American agriculture hard sell to India: (1) ”We will improve advocacy and trade promotion efforts on behalf of US exporters, so trade missions can introduce the world to American products and advocacy centres can help US exporters pursue opportunities”; (2) ”We will reinforce our efforts to remove barriers to trade, so as many markets as possible are open to our products”; (3) ”We will enforce our trade rules, to make sure our trade partners live up to their obligations”.

    A month after Vilsack’s statement on the importance of agriculture sector exports to the US economy, Dr. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, Deputy Chairman of the Planning Commission of India, asked the vice-chancellors of agricultural universities to adopt ”innovative approaches” to strengthen agricultural research and education in India. Ahluwalia said India’s agricultural universities ”can play an important role in this direction by providing research based projects with the help of industry” and suggested ”a new mechanism to fund research projects instead of funding universities”.

    Ahluwalia is reported to have urged the scientists working in agricultural research institutes to ”re-orient themselves in next Twelfth Five Year Plan amid the challenges of food security and climate change” and-typically for Indian planning today-referred to the gap in agricultural growth rate and land productivity of China and India, neglecting entirely the chronic depletion of soils and widespread degradation of agro-ecological systems in China which have suffered from high chemical input industrial farming.

    ”America helped bring about a Green Revolution,” said President Obama to the media in New Delhi after a meeting at Hyderabad House. ”The aim is to turn that into an Evergreen Revolution.” A weather forecasting tie-up is being described as the ‘’showpiece of the collaboration” which is expected to ”predict India’s increasingly erratic monsoon”.

    This tie-up was finalised in July 2010, when Planning Commission member Dr. K Kasturirangan (who headed Indian Space Research Organisation) and secretary in the Department of Earth Sciences, Shailesh Nayak, visited the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration. The Indian government’s justification for the weather and crop forecasting tie-up is that it combines both oceanographic and atmospheric sciences. From the information now available, crop scientists in the ICAR network and earth scientists at ISRO will be able to use the forecasting model. The US administration says this will help predict sudden breaks in the monsoon cycle. But it will also enable district-level predictions of crop sowing, harvesting and movement to a degree not seen before in the sub-continent.

    This information will first be used by the US Department of Agriculture and the US Department of Commerce to determine agri business and trade responses. By then, under the ‘Agriculture Dialogue’ plan, there will be enough collaboration at farm level, in the grain markets and in the retail chain to employ such granular information to the benefit of American food exporters and traders. The risk to India’s food security-quite contrary to the pious statements made by both sides during the Obama visit-has never been greater.

    Rahul Goswami is an agriculture systems researcher based in Goa. He worked for two years with the National Agricultural Innovation Project, Government of India. He is a member of the Indian Society of Agricultural Economics, and Associate, Centre for Communication and Development Studies, Pune.

    For full article, go to: http://sanhati.com/articles/2970/

  • Reports from National Action against Land Acquisition, November 22-26

    Press Release on Day-4, 24th November 2010

    Land Acquisition Act makes mockery of Democracy
    - People’s Movements demand decentralized development planning -

    Ø National Action by Sangharsh[i] continues on day-3
    Ø Anti-displacement groups celebrate scrapping of Renuka Dam, HP
    Ø Scrap Seang and other North East Dam projects; we want development, not destruction, says KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi
    Ø We want ‘Gram Sabha’ over ‘Lok Sabha’, Gautam Bandopadhyay of Nadi Ghatti Morcha
    Ø No more urban displacement; urban working people’s struggle groups demand share of urban spaces and action against land mafia
    Ø Demolish Adarsh Society and the many other violators of law; demands NAPM

    New Delhi – Government of India is acting against the federal nature of the state and the very constitution of India. By centralizing ‘water’, which is a state subject, the government has broken the very centre-state understanding under federal Indian structures, said Akhil Gogoi, inaugurating the Sangharsh Dharna on day-3 against Dams in the North East and rest of India. Seang project and the multiple projects on Brahmaputra and other rivers of NE will not only break the agricultural dependent region’s backbone, it will also displace large chunks of people in the NE states, the KMSS leader added.

    ————————————————–

    The delegation of Sangharsh leaders met with Jairam Ramesh, Minister (Independent Charge) of MoEF and PK Bansal, Cabinet Minister of the Minsitry of Water Resources.

    Mr. Jairam Ramesh announced to the team that the Renuka Dam project stands cancelled from the ministry’s point of view especially with regard to forest clearance. He also stated that he has already written to the Prime Minister about dams in North East India, raising serious concerns regarding social and environmental issues raised by the movement and the local people. He assured the delegation that the MoEF is conducting a study to look at the environmental impacts of the Lavasa Project. He ensured the delegation that strict action will be taken if the project implementers are found violating the laws. On Forest Rights Act implementation related issues, the MoEF minister promised to meet the groups separately on Dec 15th. On Tehri dam related violations, he stated that there is already an investigation that is going on by the ministry and action will be taken on the basis of that.

    Mr. Pawan Kumar Bansal was requested by the delegation to reconsider the several dam projects in different parts of India. Mr. bansal assured the delegation that the ministry will not permit commercial or energy related pressures to override environmental or people’s concerns. Regarding the draft water policy, he announced the ministry’s intent to hold talks with people’s struggles and movements at the ground before finalizing the same.

    ————————–

    Indian Government deals with people of Arunachal Pradesh as if we are Chinese agents and it is unfortunate that we have to remind our own government that we are citizens of India and not China, said Bijay Taram of Forum for Siang Dialogue. He added that the indigenous people based demography of the region will be negatively impacted if workers from other regions were to be brought in for these gigantic construction activities. The worst part of these projects is they the local people do not stand to gain from the power generated from these projects, as it will be diverted to the industrial houses and corporations led projects. We stand together with the people of rest of India in demanding an end to the regime of Land Acquisition Act and in this paradigm of centralized development planning, Mr. Bijay concluded.

    Land Acquisition Act 1894 is a mockery of democratic procedures, said Adv. Sanjay Parikh of Supreme Court. The amendments by the UPA government will make the legislation more undemocratic and anti-people, he added while talking to the more than 3000 people gathered at Jantar Mantar as part of Sangharsh.

    On urban issues and displacement

    Anbovedam of NAPM Tamil Nadu and the Chennai people’s struggle against urban displacement accused that the TN Government has been misusing the LAA to the extent that it has been creating land banks, without even letting the local people know what purpose their lands have been acquired for. The vicious cycle of development induced displacement is such that it first displaces peasants and agricultural workers from their lands, pushes them to cities like Chennai and then their urban development and beautification projects displace these very people many times over again. Ridiculing the government of India for their blind following of the US government’s neo-liberal policies, he pointed at the unemployment in US and asked Indian government not to follow a nation who is unable to feed and employ their own population. For construction of bridges, hotels, highways and flyways, the number of working poor evicted from Chennai alone is close to five lakhs. Why should the poor trust such governments any more, asked Mr. Anbovedam.

    Anita Kapoor of National Domestic Workers Union, Raju Bhise of YUVA, Mumbai, Rajendra Ravi of Institute for Development and Sustainability, Delhi etc spoke at the meeting on urban issues. The speakers ridiculed the Rehabilitation packages and beautification drives under projects like MUTP and JNNURM. These projects, they argued, not only displace people to far away suburbs, robbing people of their jobs, but also make livelihood alternatives impossible. Workers contribution to building of cities is not even taken into account while displacing the very people once the construction phase is over. Mr. Bhise concluded by stating that now the people will not accept anything short of land rights in the urban spaces. The speakers also demanded a separate national legislation for rehabilitation of the urban project affected people.

    Ganeshan of NAPM Maharashtra, representing the struggle against Lavasa project slammed the government for displacing more than 20 villages, cutting huge number of trees, destroying people’s livelihoods and environment – all to complete a project which in no way benefit the local people.

    Displacement, corporations and the proposed Free Trade Agreement between India and EU

    Speaking on the India – EU Free trade Agreements, Leena of ‘Forum against FTAs stated that “India’s vast mineral wealth attracts not only Indian but foreign companies as well. Through Free Trade Agreements such as the EU-India FTA, European Corporations will be facilitated access to Indian minerals, increasing the conflict over the use of land and forests. The European commission has identified the EU-India FTA as a mean to ensure EU companies stable and cheap access to minerals for their industrial use, including chromite and rare earths which are largely found in India. This is to be ensured by including provisions that limit or prohibit export taxes, export quotas, and ‘non-automatic export licenses’ for European companies in India. In addition, the investment chapter in this FTA reportedly contains provisions allowing European investors to sue the Indian Government in secret arbitration tribunals if the government implements a policy or takes an action that decreases the profits that the corporation was expecting from its investment in India. This system is not only out of democratic oversight but also means a de facto overriding the Constitution of India, as the arbitration tribunal is not bound by the Constitution of the land, but only by the FTA. Investment provisions should not dilute the ability of the government to take pro-people actions in cases like POSCO or Vedanta where legitimate environmental and social concerns have been raised.

    Ms. Leena added: Both sides have announced their determination to finalise the deal by the 10th of December, during the EU-India Summit to be held in Brussels. While concerns have been raised on various issues and even parliamentarians have not received proper answers to the questions they have raised, negotiations behind closed doors will be held tomorrow and day after in Delhi.

    Members of Parliament; Joseph Toppo (AGP), Viren Vaishya (AGP) and Kumar Deepak Das (Rajya Sabha, AGP) also visited the Dharna and extended solidarity to the struggle against Land Acquisition. Speakers at the public meeting and rally included: Dr. Manoranjan Mohanty of the Council for Social Development, Swami Agnivesh of Bandhua Mukti Morcha, Nikhil Dey of Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan, Jai Sen of CACIM, Kavita Srivsatava of PUCL.

    The participants at the Dharna took out a rally to the Parliament and reiterated the demand for local, decentralized planning and for implementation of article 243 of the Indian constitution.

    Day-4 of the National Action Week on the 25th Nov will focus on ‘Right to Food’.

    *************************

    Press Release from November 23, 2010

    Enough is Enough; No more displacement – UPA is pushing India to civil war

    Ø National Action by Sangharsh[1] continues on day-2
    Ø Dam displaced peoples demand moratorium till new legislation
    Ø Forest Rights groups demand implementation of FRA prior to land acquisition
    Ø ‘Project Clearance’ should be by Gram Sabhas, not ministries at the centre

    23rd November 2010, New Delhi – Speaking to a gathering of more than 3500 people assembled at Jantar Mantar as part of the Sangharsh led National Week of Action, Ms. Medha Patkar of NBA stated that “the Rivers, water bodies and sources of life are under threat and are being destroyed in the country. The people who live on the banks of these rivers do not benefit at all and instead their lives get destroyed. The Government should understand that new battles will be fought between those who are trying to save and protect the riverine life and heritage of India and those who are trying to destroy them”.

    Ms. Patkar added that; “Energy and electricity have been made out into absolute non-negotiables and every time when people raise genuine social and environmental objections to power projects, they are sidelined by the argument of energy demands (interpreted only as electricity demands) and national growth. New mega projects are cited as the only answer to India’s growing corporate and industrial demands. The three main options of 1) cutting down on the close to 30% electricity loss due to transmission & distribution (T&D) losses 2) increasing the efficiency of existing power projects and 3) investing in alternate energy projects of the solar kind of natural renewable sources, are not even considered seriously by this government, who sheds crocodile tears on the issue of climate change”

    Members of Parliament, Rajen Gohai and Bijaya Chakravarty visited the dharna and declared solidarity to the people’s struggle against displacement.

    Grameen Bhakra Sudhar Samiti Chairperson Shri. Nandlal Sharma stated that: “people displaced in the 1960s by the Bhakra Nangal dam are yet to get any rehabilitation or alternate livelihood. They have also been served with eviction notice from the forest areas where they have settled down on their own. Even the Forest Rights Act has not been implemented in any of these areas. Vimalbhai, representing MATU Jan Sanghattan of Uttarakhand stated that “people are loosing faith in this government, which has become a brokering agency for the corporations and industrial houses.”

    Raju Bhoda, representing the Krushak Mukti Sangram Samiti (Assam): “Our struggles are not any more just against dams or one or two projects; it is for systemic change and for people’s new freedom movement.” Dam affected people from Arunachal Pradesh, represented by Bijaya: “While Arunachal happens to be a less significant, small state the government is trying to build the biggest and largest number of dams in the state. If the 130 MoUs signed for the dams in this state are implemented, people of not just Arunachal but all over NE will be displaced. We will not allow the total destruction and devastation of our people and culture. We will not allow that to happen, even at the cost of martyrdom.”

    Gumman Singh, representing Himalaya Niti Abhiayn and Renuka Dam Sangharsh Samiti of Himachal Pradesh: “Himachal Pradesh and across the Himalayan states, the destruction will be complete if we allow the many hydro projects and mega dams like Renuka to go ahead. On top of that now we are having to deal with hundreds of tourism projects and even thermal power projects by the likes of Jaypee Group, who not only acquire land by force, but also run all sorts of illegal projects with fraudulent clearances. HP is being handed out to land mafia and corporations in bulk today.”

    Meeting with CP Joshi, Union Cabinet Minister for Rural Development: A delegation which met with the minister demanded a white paper on all the land acquisitions and displacement since independence and also that a new comprehensive bill must be brought out to take care of the land requirements, the people’s genuine growth needs and aspirations and a national level consultation with people’s organisations should be organized by the Government. The Minister requested Sangharsh delegation to present the ministry with a new draft of a comprehensive legislation on development planning and land requirements. The delegation in turn requested the minister that amendments to the LAA or the R&R draft in the present form should not be pushed by the Government in the Parliament.

    It was pointed out to the minister that the 2003 and 2007 R&R policies talk about a national committee and commission respectively. However, the minister himself agreed that no meetings or even process towards any R&R monitoring has been undertaken by his ministry or the government as per the policy. Sangharsh leaders demanded that till the time a national level monitoring mechanism comprising of officials and political representation along with social scientists is put in place to monitor land acquisition for projects and also the R&R fulfillment, there should be no acquisition in the country. Any kind of land acquisition, whether for public purpose or for companies’ private profit purposes, the process of land acquisition should be subject to the local gram sabha clearance.

    Meeting with Sushma Swaraj: Delegation briefed Ms. Swaraj about the lack of democracy and transparency of the UPA government in the processes towards the two draft bills on LAA and R&R. It was brought to the notice of the opposition leader that while the 2003 NDA’s R&R policy and the 2007 R&R policy by the UPA talk about minimum displacement, this has not been brought into actuality in any of the project sanctions. It was also shared by the delegation that the recommendations made by Mr. Kalyan Singh led Parliamentary Standing Committee on the two bills have also not been accommodated much in the present drafts.It was pointed out that after the Aligarh firing on peaceful protesters that killed two peasant, all political parties agreed on the need for a pro-people legislation that also will take care of food security and sovereignty of the country. However, this needs to be converted in to a comprehensive development planning legislation.


    Demands on North East Dams and anti-people projects by Sangharsh:

    · A complete moratorium on all clearances (including pre-construction clearances) by the MoEF to large dams/hydropower projects in Northeast India.

    · Immediate withdrawal of clearances granted to the 2000 MW Lower Subansiri project, 1750 MW Demwe Lower and 1500 MW Tipaimukh which were granted environmental clearance without downstream impact assessment and public consent.

    · Commission of a special study group consisting of Independent Reviewers (including scientists, people’s representative) to study the environmental and social impact off all the existing dams in Assam.

    · A complete review of pre-construction clearances granted to projects in the region.

    · Future steps on hydropower projects and dams to be taken only after full, prior and informed consent of the people of the Brahmaputra & Barak river basins.

    · The Brahmaputra River and its tributaries to be protected as a cultural and ecological endowment of the people of the region and the country as a whole. Development plans will need to respect the environmental and cultural sensitivity of the region.

    SANGHARSH PARTICIPANTS MARCHED IN HUNDREDS TO THE MINISTRY OF ENVIRONMENT AND FORESTS AND DEMONSTRATED IN FRONT OF THE MINISTRY PRIOR TO THE MEETING WITH SHRI. JAIRAM RAMESH SCHEDULED AT 4pm TODAY.

    ***************************************

    Government is backtracking on Forest Rights;
    Declare Moratorium on land acquisition till FRA claims are settled

    Jantar Mantar, New Delhi – Session – 2 of the Sansad Gherao of the National Week of Action against Displacement and Land Acquisition (Act) focused on Forest Rights, community governance and implementation of Forest Rights Act, 2006 in different areas. The communities and movement groups present welcomed the decision of Ministry of Environment and Forests to revoke the clearances granted to British Corporation Vedanta to mine the Niyamgiri hills and forest ranges of Orissa. People at the dharna demanded that strict forest clearance and environment clearance procedures be followed and that FRA claims be prioritized over land acquisition for projects.Condemning the move to give forest and environment clearance to destructive projects like Navi Mumbai Airport, Haripur Nuclear Project, Adarsh Society, Tata (Mundra), Adani and POSCO, despite CRZ violations and FRA pending claims, Ashok Choudhary of the National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers (NFFPFW) dared the UPA to withdraw the Forest Rights Act or stop becoming an impediment in its implementation.

    Roma of Kaimur Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisaan Sangharsh Samiti, UP stated that FRA is being sidelined by the Government and many state governments. Implementation is not happening in most places, as per the law. There is a deliberate effort from many of the state governments, including where Congress and BJP are ruling, to misuse and abuse FRA against forest communities. Roma demanded that same status for all communities should be the norm under FRA and that the government should stop pitting Dalits and Adivasis against each other. She also demanded that the forest villages should be converted to revenue villages and that the Forest Rights Committees (FRCs) should be at village level, not at the Panchayat level. Gram Sabha should be the decision making body regarding forest rights claims and not the bureaucracy or the Forest Department, she added while addressing the more than 3500 people who are gathered at Jantar Mantar.

    Madhuri, Adivasi Dalit Mukti Sangattan, MP: From the time FRA has been legislated, it appears that the attack on the forest resources including land has increased from the corporations and companies. FRA has been reduced to a law that gives some pattas to a limited number of tribals in some regions. The law demands that community rights be recognized and democratic and decentralized governance of the forest villages take place.

    On the one hand villagers and forest people who should benefit from the legislation of FRA are being subjected to technicalities and arbitrary rejection of claims and on the other, MoEF and other state departments are going on giving clearances to companies and big transnational corporations to take over more of our forest lands and resources.

    Munnilal, National Convener of NFFPFW (Uttarakhand): FRA is only the beginning of a new phase of the struggle of forest people, it is not the end of our battles. Forest Dwellers and tribals in the sub-continent have been fighting all kinds of infiltrators; from British to the Forest Department and the timber/land mafia for the past close to three centuries. Forest felling is happening in a big way in the country today.

    Ramchandra Rana, Lakhimpur Khiri, UP: It is a direct battle between the forest people and the imperial Forest Department. Forest department is completely sold out to the forest and timber mafia. When traditional forest workers try to stop them from looting the forests, they register false cases on the people and harass them.

    Other speakers at the forest rights session included: Prem Singh, NFFPFW-Dehradun, Jan Mukti Andolan leaders and Dr. Nandini Sundar from Delhi School of Economics, DU.

    ************************************
    [i] Sangharsh is a collective platform of social movements and people’s organisations from across the country struggling against the process of neo-liberal globalisation and capitalist development leading to SEZs, big infrastructure projects, mining, mega dams, etc. leading to massive displacements of the working class people and traditional craft persons, weavers, fisher people, forest workers, farmers, dalits, women, minorities and adivasis/IPs, etc. The key constituents of Sangharsh include: National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements, National Forum for Forest Right and Forest Workers, National Domestic Workers Union, SEZ Virodhi Manch, National Cyclist Union, National Hawkers Federation, Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti, Narmada Bachao Andolan, Ghar Bachao Ghar Banao Andolan, Kaimur Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisaan Sangharsh Samiti, Kishan Sangharsh Samiti, Him Niti Abhiyan, Nadi Ghati Morcha, Adivasi Moolniwasi Asthitva Raksha Manch, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Jai Yuvak Kranti Dal, Maatu Jan Sangathan, Machhimaar Adhikar Sangharsh Samiti, Renuka Baandh Sangharsh Samiti, Birsa Munda Bhu Adhikar Manch, Pennuruimai Iyyakam, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, Vangram Bhu Adhikar Manch, Tharu Adivasi Mahila Mazdoor Kisaan Manch, Tarai Kshetra Mahila Mazdoor Kisan Manch, Patha Dalit Bhu Adhikar Manch, Delhi Solidarity Group

  • 2 reports on Arundhati Roy’s speech to tribal activists from Orissa

    Mass movements must fight corporates

    Writer Arundhati Roy, who faced an angry protest by Sangh Parivar activists here on Sunday, urged those involved in mass movements to oppose corporates which she said were eyeing the rich natural resources of tribal heartlands. Ms. Roy came here to attend a meeting on ‘Cultural resistance to war on people in corporate interest.’

    As soon as she reached the venue, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and Bajrang Dal activists waved black flags to protest her recent remarks on Kashmir, terming them anti-national. They also started shouting that she should leave the venue immediately. Soon a scuffle broke out. The organisers chased away the agitators. The police took at least 10 of them into custody.

    Unperturbed, Ms. Roy addressed hundreds of tribal activists from different parts of Orissa. “The number of poor people living in India will be more than that of the total poor in 26 African countries. The condition of poverty in Orissa, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal is critical. All the attention is, however, trained on these States, as these poor are raising their voice against land acquisition attempts by big corporates of the world,” she said.

    She said the Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, prohibited land acquisition in tribal areas. “But now, people in power say it is imperative to acquire land from tribals for development. Those who frame policies are the violators.”

    “Earlier people’s movements had sprouted to get back excess land lying with zamindars. But the nature of the struggle has undergone a change. Now it is a fight not to let the land — whatever is left with the tribal population — be snatched by the corporate-backed government,” she said.

    Ms. Roy alleged that leaders thought development was possible only when 80 per cent of the population started living in urban areas, and they wanted to vacate villages in the interest of corporates. “They are inviting the military to take over the affairs. Our States are becoming military States. Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Lalgarh have already been militarised.”

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  • BJP Protests Arundhati Roy's Trip to Orissa

    Times of India,  November 22, 2010

    BHUBANESWAR: Writer Arundhati Roy was at the receiving end of her own tactic of dissent and protest here on Sunday when ABVP activists tried to stop her from attending a meeting on tribal rights for her controversial remark last month supporting ''azad Kashmir''. 

    The activists of BJP's youth wing, wearing black badges, shouted slogans like ''Gaddar (traitor) Arundhati hai, hai'', and, ''Arundhati go back'' just as she got down from the car to reach the meeting venue, said an eyewitness, and added, ''They waved black flags and also chucked one of them at her.''

    A scuffle between ABVP workers and Roy's supporters, comprising representatives from anti-land acquisition lobby, followed. Her supporters cordoned off the venue at Swadheenta Sangram Manch to stop the ABVP activists from disrupting their meeting. 

    While some of Roy's lathi-wielding supporters chased the ABVP men, said to be around 12 in number, the latter hurled shoes at them. At least two people were injured in the melee that went on for half-an-hour until the cops arrived and picked up eight ABVP men. 

    Talking to reporters, Roy said, ''They (ABVP) have a right to protest, I have a right to speak,'' and added that she was sticking to her opinion on Kashmir. She had said, ''Kashmir was never an integral part of India. It's a historical fact.


  • RED STAR OVER INDIA

    Impressions, discussions and documentation as the Wretched of the Earth are Rising -- by JAN MYRDAL

    "If an indigenous government took the place of the foreign government and kept all the vested
    interests intact, this would not even be the shadow of freedom..."
    -Jawaharlal Nehru, "Whither India?", 1933

    Officially independent India is engaged in a war against poverty. The phrase in itself is doubtful as it was coined by Lyndon B Johnson in 1964 to gain popular support among the underprivileged in the United States as he was stepping up his war of aggression in Vietnam. But the phrase still sounds good as when Simon Denyer reported for Reuters 2009 :

    "India marks 60th anniversary urging war on poverty. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, speaking on the 60th anniversary of independence from British rule, said the country needed to work harder to fight poverty, ignorance and disease despite fast economic growth.

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  • What’s in a name? The demand for political prisoner status

    Radha D’Souza

    On 11 April 2010, 469 inmates in Alipore Central Jail in Kolkotta (Calcutta) in West Bengal went on hunger strike, demanding recognition as political prisoners. The previous April, two prisoners in the district of Cooch Behar went on a fast to demand political status. On 14 September 2009 an unspecified number of inmates in Nagpur, the second capital of the state of Maharashtra in western India, went on a one-day hunger strike to demand political prisoner status.

    What’s in a name? One might ask. It is one thing to ask for fair trial, injunctions against torture and such, but why this insistence on labels – ‘P’ for political, ‘C’ for criminal? Political status does not automatically lead to any special privileges or concessions other than the things civil liberties groups demand for all prisoners: fair and expeditious trial, humane treatment, prohibition of physical and sexual torture, and an end to graft. Yet the very resilience of this demand for categorisation indicates its importance for the civil liberties and democratic rights movements in India today.

    In the first place, categorisation helps to count how many people are in jails for political reasons. A simple head count of ‘P’ category prisoners will deconstruct Indian democracy in ways that academic or legal analysis of security laws, or dissertations on Indian democracy cannot do. The trade unionists, the indigenous people opposed to forced sale of lands to corporations, the villagers opposed to chemical or nuclear plants in their village, the women protesting against rape by soldiers or army occupation, Muslims, Kashmiris, Nagas, Mizos, Assamese and other religious and ethnic minorities demanding cultural and social freedoms, slum dwellers protesting against demolitions or forced evacuations, the list could go on, but all of these would count as ‘P’ class.

    That would reveal the authoritarian and repressive character of the Indian state and the true face of Indian democracy. The CRPP estimates that in the Indian-occupied state of Kashmir alone 75,000 people were detained for political reasons. It is virtually impossible for civil liberty groups to count political prisoners where access is strictly controlled. After the Kolkotta hunger strike this April, the Inspector General of Prisoners announced he would stop interviews of all prisoners (Indian Express 11 April 2010).

    Without such categorisation, the state tars all opposition with the same ‘criminal’ brush. Two consequences follow. First, politics is criminalised, circumscribing democracy to an elite group, the beneficiaries of the system. Criminalisation of politics makes it possible for the Indian state to sanitise democracy for the national and global elite. Second, it delegitimises those struggling for justice in the eyes of the wider society. The concerns they raise about society: the conditions of workers, slum dwellers, indigenous peoples, democratic rights, effects of WTO policies, political corruption and so on become marginalised. Moreover, it creates a rift between those adversely affected by state policies and those who might, potentially, sympathise with the demands for justice.

    There is in India today an internal schism. What kind of society should India be and what does democracy mean in a divided society where half the population is undernourished, and vast numbers of the other half are integrated into the global elite of academics, intellectuals, professionals and business people? According to Planning Commission figures published last year 37.7% of the population suffer from chronic malnutrition and 49.9% from undernourishment.

    This schism is sustained by the very architecture of India’s laws and institutions constructed assiduously since colonial times. One set of repressive laws for those opposed to the state and another set of democratic laws for those supporting it span the post-independence era. India adopted its republican constitution in January 1950 and enacted the Preventive Detention Act 1950; Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act 1958, Maintenance of Internal Security (MISA) 1971; National Security Act (NSA) 1980; Terrorist and Disruptive Practices Act (TADA) 1985; Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act (POTA) 2002, the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) 2009 and other state statutes interspersed with numerous special ordinances in between.

    These laws are used routinely to arrest striking workers, political opponents, the poor, and other sections of the population for demanding justice. On the other hand a multiparty democracy and judiciary allows freedoms for those supportive of the state’s approach to the economy and society. The ‘P’ label will lay bare the schism. It will make apparent the scale and scope of exceptional national security and anti-terrorism laws, and the exclusive and limited reach of regular democratic procedures.

    What’s in a name? A great deal indeed!

    http://www.revolutionarycommunist.org/index.php/international/1839-india-whats-in-a-name-frfi-215-junjul-2010.html

  • Khobad Ghandy teaches Maoist classes in Tihar jail

    Cops mull changing Khobad ward every two months


    The battle to control Maoism has reached the Tihar jail’s barracks.

    Exasperated prison authorities are thinking of changing Maoist ideologue Khobad Ghandy’s ward after every two months because he has been propagating ultra-Left ideology among fellow inmates.

    Ghandy, 63, has built a captive audience inside Jail No. 3 at Tihar, his home for the past 11 months. He meets fellow inmates, who revere him, every day during his morning and evening walks and often holds “interactive sessions”.

    He tells them he had fought for the poor throughout his life and that the government had failed to do anything for the people. The prisoners salute him after every session.

    “He is a very good man. He is fighting for the poor and we respect him a lot,” said a 35-year-old inmate of Jail No. 3, a Class X dropout who is facing trial for attempted murder.

    Another prisoner, arrested in a blast case in Uttar Pradesh, said: “He (Ghandy) is a very well-read man. He talks of revolution and makes us feel we too should do something for the country.”

    Ghandy, a CPI (Maoist) politburo member, was arrested in September 2009 and booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

    An inmate of Jail No. 1, who met Ghandy three days ago at a basketball match in the prison, said: “We address him as ‘Sir’ and salute him whenever we see him. We can’t understand why the government is holding him in jail as though he is a terrorist.”

    The convict, serving a life term for murdering a relative, added: “I am paying for what I did, but people like Sir should not be treated this way. We are fans of his. He speaks from the heart about the injustices suffered by the poor. We support him for his movement against the government.”

    Ghandy’s rising popularity among fellow prisoners is worrying Tihar authorities. A jail official said around 1,500 prisoners — 100 convicts and 1,400 undertrials — were lodged in the 12 wards in Jail No. 3. Ghandy shares his ward with many other prisoners.

    “He loves mixing with people and has made several friends inside the jail. But of late his conversation has acquired revolutionary overtones,” the official said. “We are thinking of changing his ward every two months and keeping a watch on his morning and evening walks.”

    The official, however, agreed that Ghandy, who is from an upper class background and went to the best educational institutions, was a thorough gentleman.

    “He is very enthusiastic and agile for his age. During the basketball match, he was joking with jail officials about many things,” said jail superintendent Vijay Kumar Sharma.

    Ghandy had studied at Doon School and St Xavier’s College, Mumbai, before travelling to London to become a chartered accountant. A few years later, he joined the Maoists. He is now believed to be writing a book on his life.

  • In Chhattisgarh’s war zone, no value on an adivasi’s life

    The Hindu, 10 August 2010, Aman Sethi


    After ‘encounter’, police try to buy villagers’ silence with money and snacks

    A cloud of doubt looms large over the scene of last week’s bloody encounter


    Kutrem (CHHATTISGARH): The monsoon skies have cleared over this village in Dantewada district, but a cloud of doubt still lingers over the site of last week’s encounter between the police and suspected cadres of the CPI (Maoist).

    On August 4, according to the official version, the Koya commandos spent 18 hours combing through the rain-soaked forests near Kutrem, during which they broke through a Maoist ambush, engaged in a fierce gun battle lasting several hours and ultimately recovered the body of a uniformed Maoist fighter, a 12 bore shotgun and two improvised explosive devices.

    The Koya commandos are a specialised police team largely comprising surrendered Maoists or Adivasis whose families have been targets of Maoist violence.

    “We were ambushed deep in the jungle and fought the Maoists for about four hours,” said a policeman who was part of the operation, “We fired hundreds of rounds of ammunition … and killed six Maoists, but could recover only one body.” The corpse was identified as Kunjami Joga, a 23-year-old resident of Kutrem.

    Villagers’ account

    At Kutrem, however, the villagers have a very different account of the circumstances that led to Joga’s death.

    About 11.30 a.m. on August 4, the villagers say, a party of the Koya commandos cordoned off Kutrem and took positions outside several houses in its Kotwalpara neighbourhood. Kunjam Hidme, 40, sat quietly in her house when she suddenly heard a policeman scream, “Hold your fire, don’t shoot!” followed by a burst of automatic fire.

    “Kunjami Joga was stepping out of his sister, Karti Budri’s house, when he was shot,” said Hidme. He was unarmed, and was wearing a blue shirt. “I could hear him shouting ‘Ma, Ma’ as he lay on the path.” Hidme says the commandos hurriedly dumped the body on a wooden cot they took from one of the houses and left the village soon after.

    On August 5, the Chhattisgarh police conducted post-mortem, initiated a magisterial inquiry and handed over the body to Joga’s parents. “When I got back his body, Joga was naked except for his underclothes,” said Joga’s father, Kunjami Lakhma, “He had a bullet here [pointing to the small of the back near the kidneys] and knife marks on his chest.” As per custom, the body was cremated the same day.

    On August 7, the villagers say, the Koya commandos visited Kutrem again, this time with a carton of biscuits and sachets of Haldiram’s mixture. “The force called a public meeting outside the primary school,” said Kunjami Aiyte, Joga’s aunt, “They said, ‘If the press comes, tell them that Joga was killed in the forest, not in the village’.” Aiyte says the police then gave Rs. 1,100 to the gathered villagers for “food and alcohol.” The biscuits and mixture were distributed among the children.

    “The Koyas gave me Rs. 2,000 and told me to keep quiet about Joga’s death,” said Kunjami Lakhma when asked whether he had been given any compensation.

    Police surprised

    Senior police officers expressed surprise when The Hindu questioned them about the money paid to Kunjami Lakhma. Sources refused to come on record, citing the sensitive nature of the allegations and the ongoing magisterial inquiry.

    “No one has authorised this [payment],” said a senior policeman speaking on background.

    “It is hard to keep control of the Koyas once they are sent out on operation,” continued the source, “The wireless set is our only link to the patrolling companies.” On the day of the encounter, this link was severed by heavy rain and inclement weather. Police officers said the Koyas were not supposed to go to Kutrem at all.

    “We were just supposed to go up till Hiroli,” admitted a policeman involved in the operation, “But at Hiroli we received information that a Maoist company was moving between Gumiapal and Kutrem village.”

    The patrolling party tried to radio headquarters for permission to pursue the Maoists; when the wireless set stopped working, the patrolling party chose to press on moving to Kutrem without waiting for permission.

    http://www.thehindu.com/2010/08/10/stories/2010081062401000.htm

  • Maoist land reform in India

    [

    MIDNAPORE: It was land distribution under Operation Barga that brought CPM to power in 1977. Thirty-three years later, the Maoists in Jangalmahal are treading a similar route to consolidate their support base in 200 villages from Goaltore to Midnapore town. The 60-kilometre stretch forms the ” Maoist core zone”, where men most wanted by the police like Manoj Mahato, Asit Mahato and Gopal Pratihar have a free run.

    But this new avatar of Operation Barga is different from the one implemented by the CPM. Maoists have set their own parameters for land reform here. Family income and connections with the ruling party get maximum weightage in this reform process.

    The jotedars close to mainstream political parties CPM and Jharkhand Party are the targets, and the beneficiaries are the landless farmers. The Maoists have begun this process in two villages Chandabila and Malkuri under the Midnapore Sadar block, six kilometres from Midnapore town.

    First, they drove out Toton Singh and Naru Singh jotedars of Malkuri village, who have 150 bighas [about 50 acres] of land and own a huge ancestral house. Like CPM zonal secretary Anuj Pandey’s house, this building too was pulled down by Maoist-led labourers of around a month and a half ago. Then the guerrillas took possession of the entire land and distributed it among 53 local landless labourers. Naru Singh’s son Ajit, who is known for his proximity to CPM minister Sushanta Ghosh, could do little to prevent it.

    One such beneficiary is Satrughna Mahato who has been tilling the land as a wage labourer since long. “We are five brothers with a total land holding of one bigha, including our homestead land. That was not enough to run the family. But now, we can make ends meet,” said Mahato.

    However, there are not too many such jotedars in West Bengal where the government has carried out the primary land reforms. In the last 33 years of Left Front rule, villages in the Jangalmahal saw the emergence of a new breed of CPM leaders who have been enjoying vested government lands and even forest land distributed to some non-existent land labourers. Villagers call it kalo patta a false tiller’s deed. Such a practice has been rampant in the villages under Salboni block Rameswarpur, Kolshibhanga, Malbandi, and Madhupur. The Maoist-led People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCPA) has occupied such lands and has started distributing those among the landless.

    This is not all. Maoists are also distributing seeds and fertilizers to the landless to begin cultivation. Kamal Middya of Chandabila has already received it. “I used to till Singh’s land in Chandabila. Now I have three bighas in my possession,” Middya said.

    Similar is the scene at Belasol village under Salboni block. Here Maoist-led committees have installed deep tubewells and have set up a water reservoir to provide irrigation water to villagers. Other development activities include running of medical camps and also a rural hospital to treat locals. TOI

  • India employing Israeli “pacification” tactics in Kashmir

    A Kashmiri protestor raises his fist to Indian forces during a protest in Srinagar, the capital of Indian-controlled Kashmir, 13 August 2010. (Newscom)

    Jimmy Johnson, The Electronic Intifada, 19 August 2010

    The 2010 summer in the disputed area of Jammu and Kashmir, administered by India, has been marked by popular protests by Kashmiris and crackdowns by India’s military. The stream of violence has left more than fifty dead, mostly young protestors. The situation in Kashmir has some parallels with Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, even borrowing the term intifada to describe the uprising. But the connection is more than analogy — Israel’s pacification efforts against Palestinians have proven valuable for the Indian police, army and intelligence services in their campaigns to pacify Jammu and Kashmir with numerous Indian military and security imports from Israel leading the way.

    India and Israel had a limited relationship prior to 1992. India, as a prominent member of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), had helped to form the NAM political positions on Palestine as part of the “struggle against imperialism, colonialism, neo-colonialism, apartheid, racism, including Zionism and all forms of expansionism, foreign occupation and domination and hegemony” (1979, Havana Declaration). Beyond its anti-colonial and Third World solidarity politics, India also had realpolitik reasons for keeping a distance from Israel. The nation had a developing economy with a huge need for petroleum resources, of which it had no domestic source. Good relations with the Arab League and the Soviet Union helped to secure access to resources necessary for India to become the regional and global economic power it aspires to be.

    With the beginning of the Oslo negotiations process between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization in the mid-1990s and the end of the Cold War, India was free to pursue relations with Israel from a NAM standpoint. An end to the Israeli occupation was assumed a formality under Oslo by most international observers, especially early on — and had, by that time, gained the economic strength to pursue a policy taking it, as described in a US Army War College (USAWC) analysis, “from a position of nonalignment and noncommitment to having specific strategic interests taking it on a path of ‘poly-alignment.’” The report states that India has been in a “scramble to establish ‘strategic relationships’ with most of the major powers and many of the middle powers,” including Israel.

    Israel rendered limited military assistance to India in its 1962 war with China and the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan. It was not until after the Oslo process began though, that the limited military contacts developed into a fuller strategic relationship. According to The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, in 1994 “India requested equipment to guard the de facto Indo-Pakistan Kashmiri border. New Delhi was interested in Israeli fences, which use electronic sensors to track human movements” (Thomas Withington, “Israel and India partner up,” January/February 2001, pp.18-19). The remaining years of the decade were peppered with arms sales from Jerusalem to New Delhi, most notably unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and electronic warfare systems.

    The strategic military relationship picked up even more steam in the new millennium and annual arms sales average in the hundreds of millions of dollars. The shift of Israel being a major defense supplier to a strategic partner was formalized in a September 2003 state visit by then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon to India where the Hindu nationalist government then in power, the Bharatiya Janata Party led by then-Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, hosted the Israeli delegation and coauthored the Delhi Statement on Friendship and Cooperation between India and Israel. The statement’s longest segment is on terrorism. It declares that “Israel and India are partners in the battle against this scourge” and that “there cannot be any compromise in the war against terrorism.” The relationship has expanded drastically since 2000 with, in some recent years, Israel even supplanting Russia as India’s largest arms supplier. Surface-to-air missile systems, naval craft, advanced radar systems and other remote sensing technologies, artillery systems and numerous joint production initiatives ranging from munitions to avionics systems have all further boosted the relationship.

    But as the Kashmiri uprising enters its third decade, the most telling part of the relationship is the export of Israeli pacification efforts against Palestinians to India, and their use in Jammu and Kashmir (and elsewhere as India faces multiple popular revolts). Israel has trained thousands of Indian military personnel in counterinsurgency since 2003. According to a 2003 JINSA analysis, “Presumably to equip these soldiers, India recently concluded a $30 million agreement with Israel Military Industries (IMI) for 3,400 Tavor assault rifles, 200 Galil sniper rifles, as well as night vision and laser range finding and targeting equipment.”

    In 2004, the Israeli intelligence agencies Mossad and General Security Services (Shin Bet) arrived in India “to conduct the first field security surveillance course for Indian Army Intelligence Corps sleuths.” The Globes article on the topic cites an Indian source stating “The course has been designed to look at methods of intelligence gathering in insurgency affected areas, in keeping with the challenges that Israel has faced.” The further acquisition of UAVs, their joint production and the acquisition of other surveillance systems, notably 2010 agreements for both spy satellites and satellite communications systems, have all helped to further India’s pacification campaigns in Jammu and Kashmir. A notable example of how deeply embedded in India the Israeli counterinsurgency and homeland security industries are is the May 2010 agreement whereby Ra’anana-based Nice Systems will provide security systems and a command and control center for India’s parliament. Parliament security head Sandeep Salunke noted the context for the $5 million contract being “In light of the recent increase in global terrorism” (Nice Systems press release, 25 May 2010).

    India’s political trend towards poly-alignment whereby it can have both strategic energy agreements with Iran and strategic defense agreements with Israel is part of a broader strategy the USAWC report noted by which “India will fiercely protect its own internal and bilateral issues from becoming part of the international dialog (Kashmir being the most obvious example).” This hostility towards international engagement with its occupation is not the only resemblance to Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Both were born out the the end of the British colonialism, both are seen as front lines of the “War on Terror,” both the Kashmiri and Palestinian armed groups are erroneously seen as illegitimate in their own right, being mere tools of a foreign aggressor (Pakistan for Kashmir and Iran or Syria for Palestine), both have widespread abuses of human rights, and the Israeli public’s general apathy about or hostility towards Palestinian self-determination is surpassed by the domestic discussion in India, where Kashmiri self-determination isn’t even an issue, though pacifying Kashmir and securing the border with Pakistan is.

    The analogy between the two conflicts can only be taken so far, but the direct connection by which Israel’s pacification industry exports tools of control developed for use against the Palestinians (and Lebanese) to be deployed against Kashmiris (as well as against the Naxalites and others in India) shows a deep linkage between the two conflicts and how one feeds the other. So long as Israel seeks to maintain control over Palestine it will continue to develop pacification tools, and so long as India continues its campaigns in Jammu and Kashmir, Kashmiris can expect to taste the fruits of Palestinian pacification.

    Jimmy Johnson is a Detroit-based mechanic and an organizer with the Palestine Cultural Office in Dearborn. He can be reached at johnson [dot] jimmy [at] gmail [dot] com.

    ©2000-2010 electronicIntifada.net unless otherwise noted. Content may represent personal view of author. This page was printed from the Electronic Intifada website at electronicIntifada.net. You may freely e-mail, print out, copy, and redistribute this page for informational purposes on a non-commercial basis.

  • The story of dispossession and criminalisation of the Adivasis of central India

    The dispossessed Adivasi is hunted as a criminal; the looter-outsider has become ‘honourable citizen’

    by Stan Swamy, August 03, 2010

    1. The sad story of impoverishment of the Adivasi : A few examples will suffice. GladsonDungdung is a young human rights activist and writer. His family had 20 acres of fertile land in Simdega district, Jharkhand . It was forcibly acquired by the govt for the construction of a dam at a terribly low rate. The compensation for the 20 acres fertile land the family got was Rs. 11,000. Even by minimal standards, it should have been at least Rs. 20 Iakhs. This is just one example among many many such deprivations. Is this not deliberate impoverishment of a people ?

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  • India is a Corporate Hindu State: Arundhati Roy

    Karan Thapar , CNN-IBN, Sep 12, 2010

    Hello and welcome to Devil’s Advocate. At the end of a week when the Maoists have been on the front pages practically every day, we present a completely different perspective to that of the government’s. My guest today is an author, essayist and Booker Prize winner, Arundhati Roy.

    Karan Thapar: I want to talk to you about how you view the Maoists and how you think the government should respond, but first, how do you view the recent hostage taking in Bihar where four policemen were kidnapped and kept kidnapped for eight days, and one of them – Lukas Tete – murdered?

    Arundhati Roy: I don’t think there is anything revolutionary about killing a person that is in custody. I have made a statement where I said it was as bad as the police killing Azad, as they did, in a fake encounter in Andhra. But, I actually shy away from this atrocity-based analysis that’s coming out of our TV screens these days because a part of it is meant for you to lose the big picture about what is this war about, who wants the war? Who needs the war?

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  • U.S. poised to overtake Russia as biggest arms supplier in India’s rapid military buildup

    http://www.scoop.co.nz/stories/WO100…-structure.htm

    Rick Rozoff

    A September 8 report by a leading Canadian newspaper cited the Indian branch of the Deloitte consulting firm estimating the world’s second most populous nation plans to spend as much as $80 billion for its defense sector in the next five years. It quoted an Indian journalist, Rahul Bedi, a contributor to Jane’s Defence Weekly, as stating “No one else is buying like India.” [1]

    Earlier this year the authoritative Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) disclosed that India had become the world’s second-largest importer of weapons from 2005-2009, “importing 7% of the world’s arms exports.” Only China imported more weaponry, though that nation is slated to purchase less foreign arms, both aggregate and percentile, in the coming years and the largest foreign supplier of its weapons is a non-Western country, Russia.

    During the five-year period mentioned above, Indian arms imports more than doubled from $1.04 billion in 2005 to $2.2 billion in 2009. Over the past 20 years Russia has been far and away the main provider of arms to India, as the Soviet Union had been in previous decades, though “The United States, currently India’s sixth-biggest arms supplier, seems likely to leapfrog to second position once New Delhi starts paying for a series of recent and ongoing acquisitions.” [2]

    Those contracts include $1.1 billion for C-130J Super Hercules transport planes, $2.4 billion for Globemaster airlifters and $2 billion for P-8I long-range maritime patrol aircraft. (A version of Boeing’s Poseidon reconnaissance and anti-submarine warfare Multimission Maritime Aircraft modified for Indian use.) Reports in both the Russian and Chinese press speculate that when U.S. President Barack Obama visits India in November he “may secure $5 billion worth of arms sales,” a deal that “would make the US replace Russia as India’s biggest arms supplier” and “help India curb China’s rise.” [3]

    The unprecedented weapons transactions could include “Patriot air defence batteries and Boeing mid-air refueling tankers.

    “Observers point out that the role of India’s biggest arms supplier is shifting from Russia to the United States.” [4]

    A Chinese news source added that Washington will also supply New Delhi with howitzers and that “the total cost of the deal may exceed $10 billion….”

    The Economic Times of India disclosed in July that “talks are underway between Indian and US officials over a deal to sell 10 Boeing C-17 [Globemaster III] military transport aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF).”

    Wang Mingzhi, a military strategist at the People’s Liberation Army Air Force Command College, warned “once India gets the C-17 transport aircraft, the mobility of its forces stationed along the border with China will be improved.” [5]

    The C-17 carries a payload of 164,900 pounds for 2,400 miles and 100,300 pounds for 4,000 miles without refueling.

    In late August the U.S. signed a $170 million deal to supply India with 24 Harpoon Block II advanced air-to-surface anti-ship missiles.

    This February the Wall Street Journal revealed that the Obama administration, with a renewed focus on the Asia-Pacific region, intends to massively increase arms sales to both India and its nuclear rival Pakistan. U.S. military sales to Pakistan have risen to $3 billion a year and are expected to nearly double in 2011.

    As for its neighbor, “India is one of the largest buyers of foreign-made munitions, with a long shopping list which includes warships, fighter jets, tanks and other weapons. Its defense budget is $30 billion for the fiscal year ending March 31, a 70% increase from five years ago.” [

  • Government rejection of Vedanta bauxite mine a “landmark victory” for Indigenous rights

    Dongria Kondh protesting Vedanta's bauxite mine project

    Amnesty International: 24 August 2010

    Amnesty International today described the Indian government’s decision to reject the bauxite mine project in Orissa’s Niyamgiri Hills as a landmark victory for the human rights of Indigenous communities.

    India’s Ministry of Environment and Forests today rejected the mine project proposed by a subsidiary of UK-based Vedanta Resources and the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation, after finding that the project already extensively violates forest and environmental laws and would perpetrate abuses against the Dongria Kondh adivasi and other communities on the Hills.

    “The Dongria Kondh and other local communities have been struggling for years for this decision, which is a very welcome one,” said Amnesty International’s Asia-Pacific Deputy Director, Madhu Malhotra.

    “The companies and the Orissa government should now guarantee that they will not attempt to simply move the project to another site without ensuring adequate safeguards – they must ensure they will respect the human rights of Indigenous and local communities wherever the companies operate.”

    Amnesty International also welcomed the government’s decision to suspend the clearance process for the six-fold expansion of the Lanjigarh refinery at the foothills of Niyamgiri, operated by Vedanta subsidiary Vedanta Aluminium, after a government’s expert committee found it to be illegal.

    “The authorities should order a clean-up of the Lanjigarh refinery, which has caused air and water pollution, seriously affecting the rights of neighbouring communities who are finding life there unbearable”, said Madhu Malhotra.

    Amnesty International called on government authorities to establish a clear and transparent process that seeks the free, prior and informed consent of any Indigenous communities who may be affected by such projects, and respect their decision, in accordance with national and international law.

    The Ministry-commissioned expert report that underpinned today’s decisions, documented the companies’ legal violations and human rights abuses. Its findings and the rejection of the project are consistent with Amnesty International’s extensive report published in February 2010, Don’t Mine us out of Existence: Bauxite Mine and Refinery Devastate Lives in India.

    For eight years, the Dongria Kondh and other communities in Niyamgiri have been protesting against bauxite mining plans by Vedanta Resources subsidiary, Sterlite Industries India, and the Orissa Mining Corporation.

    The communities were concerned that the project, which would have been situated on their traditional sacred lands and habitats, would result in violations of their rights as Indigenous peoples to water, food, health, work and other rights to protection of their culture and identity.

    “After years of struggle and visits by committees our voice has finally reached Delhi,” a Dongria Kondh leader today told Amnesty International.

    From http://www.amnesty.org/en/for-media/press-releases/indian-government-rejection-vedanta-bauxite-mine-%E2%80%9Clandmark-victory%E2%80%9D-indigen

  • In Shining India, Over 5000 Children Die Every Day from Hunger and Malnutrition

    Kandhamal district of Orissa has the highest Infant Mortality Rate (IMR) i.e. 121 out of one thousand live births among the 593 districts of India.

    By Devinder Sharma

    09 September, 2010

    Ground Reality

    The startling figure still resonates in my memory. Some 25 years back, I remember reading a report in one of the major dailies which said that some 5,000 children die every day in India. Today morning, my attention therefore was automatically drawn to a news report: 1.83 million children die before fifth bithday every year: Report (Indian Express, Sept 8, 2010).

    I immediately took out a pen and paper to find out the per day child mortality rate. I wanted to know whether the child mortality rate has come down, and by how much, in the last 25 years or so. My disappointment has grown. The calculations shows that every day 5,013 children are succumbing to malnutrition. Given that a half of all children in India are under-nourished as per the National Family Health Survey III (2005-06), of which over 5,000 die every day I think every Indian needs to hang his/her head in shame.

    Globally, 14,600 children die every day. This means that India alone has the dubious distinction of having more than a third of the world’s child mortality. This is ironically happening at a time when food is rotting in the godowns.

    Yes, India is surely an emerging economic superpower, but building an Empire over hungry stomachs! Mera Bharat Mahaan!!

    A new global report “A fair Chance at Life” by the international child rights organisation Save the Children is not only a damming indictment of the supplementary nutrition programmes that have been running for several decades now, but also is an eye-opener in many ways. While it tells us how hollow the global claims under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are, nationally it shows us the stark hidden realities. A country which doesn’t get tired of patting itself in the back for creating an impressive list of 50 billionaires, and off and on does bask under the fictitious glow of Shining India, the dark underbelly remains deliberately hidden from the media glare.

    Let us look at what the report says: “Of the 26 million children born in India every year, approximately 1.83 million died before their fifth birthday. “What these aggregate figures do not reveal are the huge inequities in mortality rates across the country, within States and between them, as well as between children in urban and rural areas.”

    Half of these children actually die within a month of being born. In other words, nearly 2,500 children of those who die have not even survived for more than a month. This is an indication of not only the inability of the parents to provide adequate nutrition to their new born, but more than that is a reflection of the impoverished condition of the especially the mother. Does it not tell us to what extent poverty and hunger prevails in this country? Do we need to still work out more effective parameters to measure hunger and malnutrition? Do we really need to find a new estimate of people living below the poverty line (BPL)?

    Madhya Pradesh tops the list, followed closely by Uttar Pradesh. The under-5 mortality rate in Kerala was 14 deaths per 1000 live births. This stood at a sharp contrast to Madhya Pradesh at 92 per 1000 and 91 per 1000 for Uttar Pradesh.

    I am reproducing below a news report from the pages of The Hindu (Sept 8, 2010):

    ‘Children from poorest section 3 times more likely to die before age of 5 than those from high income groups’

    Children from the poorest communities are three times more likely to die before they reach the age of 5 than those from high income groups, Save the Children, a non-governmental organisation has said.

    In a global report titled A Fair Chance at Life, the organisation said the policy to lower child mortality in India and elsewhere appeared to focus on children from better-off communities, leaving out those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

    “The 41 percentage decline in child mortality over the last two decades masks a dangerous expansion of the child mortality gap between the richest and poorest families in India,” Save the Children CEO Thomas Chandy said.

    Child mortality is often described as the best barometer of social and economic progress. Despite being one of the fastest growing economies, there has been no visible pattern between per capita income growth and the rate of reduction of child mortality rates. In 2008, 5.3 lakh children under 5 died in the lowest income quintile in comparison to 1.78 lakh among the wealthy quintile. The rate of decline between 2005-06 and 1997-98 among the lowest income quintile is 22.69 per cent, compared to 34.37 per cent among the high income quintile for the same period.

    Of the 26 million children born in India every year, approximately 1.83 million died before their fifth birthday. “What these aggregate figures do not reveal are the huge inequities in mortality rates across the country, within States and between them, as well as between children in urban and rural areas,” Mr. Chandy said.

    “Every child has the right to survive and the Indian government has an obligation to protect them. Save the Children’s research shows that prioritising marginalised and excluded communities, especially in the States lagging behind, is one of the surest ways that India can reduce the number of children dying from easily preventable causes. The National Rural Health Mission, for example, should have a clear focus on social inclusion of Dalits and adivasis in terms of access to healthcare,” he said.

    Save the Children’s report comes two weeks before a high-level U.N. summit in New York from September 20-22 to assess progress against the Millennium Development Goals.

    By demonstrating a political will and the right policies, MDG4 could be achieved in India. The good schemes in place needed to be matched by effective implementation. And there was enough experience in India proving that low-cost interventions can make the difference between life and death for a child, the report said.

    Huge inequity in child mortality rates: Survey

    http://www.thehindu.com/news/article617626.ece

    http://www.countercurrents.org/dsharma090910.htm

  • Report of torture, sexual assault and illegal detention of adivasis in Chhattisgarh

    Chhattisgarh Police with Lathi

    AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC STATEMENT

    14 September 2010

    The Indian authorities should order a prompt, impartial and independent investigation into reports of torture and ill-treatment, including rape and other sexual violence, against adivasis (indigenous people) illegally detained in Chhattisgarh, Amnesty International said today.

    Adivasis from Pachangi and Aloor villages in Kanker district told Amnesty International that paramilitary Border Security Force (BSF) personnel and the Chhattisgarh state police rounded up 40 adivasi men from their villages on 5 and 6 September, stripped them and beat them with sticks. Five men – Narsingh Kumra, Sukram Netam, Premsingh Potayi, Raju Ram and Bidde Potayi were reportedly raped with sticks and are still being treated at the Kanker government hospital.

    These violations followed the 29 August ambush of a BSF-police patrol by members of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) in which three BSF personnel and two policemen were killed.

    Seventeen people from the two villages were also detained– blindfolded, split into batches and taken to the BSF camp at Durgkondal in closed trucks. Amnesty International has been informed that at least two of those detained – Dhansu Khemra and Sarita Tulavi – were 16 year old girls while another four were women and girls between 16 and 20.

    During their detention, security forces beat the detainees in an attempt to force them to confess that they were Maoists involved in the 29 August ambush. The interrogators gave electric shocks to at least 10 detainees and sexually assaulted two female detainees.

    Villagers said that on the morning of 7 September the Kanker police released one female detainee Sunita, as she was suffering from malaria, and her father, Punnim Tulavi, a school-teacher, but then arrested two more men.

    The five remaining female detainees were taken to a local court along with two of the adivasi men on 8 September, while the remaining ten male detainees were taken to court on 10 September. All of the adivasis were charged with involvement in the 29 August ambush by the banned Maoist armed group and are presently in Kanker and Jagdalpur prisons, after being denied bail.

    Indian law requires that arrested persons be produced before a court within 24 hours of the arrest. In an attempt to circumvent this requirement, the police claimed the two groups of detainees were arrested only one day before their respective appearances in court.

    Torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, including sexual violence, are prohibited in all circumstances, including war or other emergency under international law, and in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Geneva Conventions. India is also a signatory to the United Nations’ Convention Against Torture and the Indian Parliament is currently engaged in passing a new law against torture in accordance with the provisions of the Convention before its ratification.

    Amnesty International calls upon the Indian authorities to:

    ·- ensure a prompt, impartial, independent and effective investigation into the allegations of torture and other ill-treatment, including sexual assault, and the illegal detention of adivasis. Those suspected of involvement in the violations, including persons bearing command responsibility, should immediately be suspended from positions where they may repeat such offences, and brought to justice; award the victims of torture and other ill-treatment full reparations. In particular, immediately ensure that all victims of torture and other ill-treatment, including sexual violence, are provided with proper medical care, both physical and psychological, by professionals trained and sensitised to treat such victims; and

    --ensure that, if – as a measure of last resort – those under the age of 18 are kept in prison, they are held separately from adults and otherwise treated in accordance with India’s juvenile justice legislation and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which India is a state party.

    Over the last five years, Chhattisgarh has witnessed an escalation of violence between the banned Maoists who claim to be fighting on behalf of the adivasis and India’s paramilitary forces. At least 600 people have been killed and some 30,000 adivasis continue to be displaced from their homes in the state.

    http://www.amnesty.org
    http://www.asiapacific.amnesty.org

  • Bihar police in no mood to fight the Maoists

    Broken will -- Members of the Bihar Special Auxiliary Police look desolate while taking a break from Naxal ops

    Tehelka Magazine, September 17, 2010

    YOU DID nothing for me. The police and the government did nothing to rescue me. My family negotiated with the Naxals for my release. I am pleading with folded hands, please let me go home. I will not accompany you to the police station. I don’t want to be in the police.” –Sub-Inspector Abhay Yadav to Lakhisarai Superintendent of Police, Ranjit Kumar Mishra, after the Maoists released him on 6 September.

    Eventually Lakhisarai’s new SP forced Abhay, Rupesh Sinha and Mohammad Ehsan Khan, the three surviving policemen from the abductors, to take a detour to the police station for a debrief session. These policemen survived an eight-day ordeal as captives of the People’s Liberation Guerrilla Army (PLGA) in Lakhisarai, Bihar. The PLGA is the armed wing of the Communist Party of India (Maoist), popularly known as Naxals.

    It is unlikely that Abhay will give up his job. Employment in the government service, especially the police, is coveted because it brings in unaccounted wealth. “I want to leave my job. But my family will decide,” he says. “Dheeraj Rakhiye” (Please be patient). These words were used every time a police officer spoke to those in the lower ranks. But each expression brought despair and a sense of inadequacy to the policemen in Lakhisarai, Jamui, Munger and Banka.

    In some areas of the dense hills connecting these districts, several teams of the Bihar Police and the CRPF staged short bursts of combing operations to trace the kidnapped policemen. Some, like Jawaharlal Singh, assistant sub-inspector, Jamui Police Station, berated curious villagers: “Your netas are responsible for Naxalism. They create the problem, they use Naxals for political one-upmanship and we have to face the brunt of it.”

    Several policemen, overwhelmed by the killing of Lucas Tete, admitted that the writ of the government runs dry across a large swath of Lakhisarai. Tete was killed when the state government refused to release eight imprisoned Naxal commanders.

    ‘What am I doing here? I ask this question to myself. I feel like leaving the force. But what will I do if I leave?’ asks SI Prasad

    “What am I doing here? I often ask this question to myself. I feel like leaving the force. But what will I do if I leave? How will I earn? My family wants me to quit police service. But when I am jobless and unable to provide for my family, will they treat me well?” asks SI Rajendra Prasad of Kajra Police Station. The post is barely 15 km from the spot where four policemen were kidnapped after a skirmish with the Naxals on 29 August. Seven policemen were killed and 10 injured.

    With the state government failing to put a rescue plan in action, Abhay’s father, Indu Prasad Yadav, contacted his caste brethren linked to PLGA commander and self-styled spokesperson for Naxal operations in eastern Bihar, Avinash alias Arjun Yadav.

    “The appeal made by all political parties, including Rashtriya Janata Dal’s Lalu Prasad and the pressure mounted by the Yadav community on caste leaders within the PLGA led to the release of Abhay, Rupesh and Ehsan. The government did nothing,” says Sambhu Yadav, Abhay’s uncle, who received the three captive policemen at 6 am in Simra Rari, a Naxalheld region of Lakhisarai.

    POLICEMEN IN Bihar don’t want to fight the Naxals. They have AK-47 and INSAS rifles but aren’t trained for jungle warfare. They are not led by officers who lead from the front. They admit that the Naxal tactics are superior to theirs. “Why would a policeman want to die in the line of duty? I joined the police because it gives me power, influence and prestige. These villagers come to me because I am a bada babu. I joined for law and order duties, not engage Naxals in combat,” confesses Atul Kumar Mishra, the SHO of Chanan Police Station. He was waiting for the Banu Bagicha village chowkidar to return from the Morve Dam area, a stronghold of the Naxals, after they announced they would free the hostages.

    Every rural police circle in Bihar has 23 village chowkidars who are paid Rs. 1,200 and used as informers and spotters. Mishra, camping at Banu Bagicha’s defunct Block Office, felt insecure in spite of 25 well-armed Special Auxiliary Police (SAP) accompanying him. “India can win the Kargil war but not this war, not this way,” he says.

    No comfort The  Kajra Police Station in  its dilapidated glory
    No comfort The Kajra Police Station in its dilapidated glory

    Policemen in Naxal-dominated areas have an informal standard operating procedure (SOP). First, stay out of areas that have Naxal presence. Second, after 6 pm, ensure that the station they are holed up in is well protected from a Naxal attack. The idea is not to fight back, but ensure that they don’t lose their lives. “I have trained 30 stray dogs. They don’t allow anyone inside the premises after dusk,” a policeman says. After 6 pm, any crime within a police station’s jurisdiction goes unattended till daybreak.

    Meanwhile, Prasad can’t shake off his gloomy, introspective mood ever since 29 August. “We have no comforts. We don’t have a place to stay. Several police stations in Naxal-dominated areas are functioning from dilapidated, rented buildings. This police station used to be a Congress party office. We built our barrack by raising funds from local residents.

    Our welfare must be taken care of for us to get mentally attuned to combat duty,” says Prasad.

    Besides, they are trained for regular policing duties, not for combat operations. “I went through police training 25 years ago. Since then I haven’t had the chance to retrain and re-skill. I can aim and shoot, but don’t know what to do in a combat situation. I am not trained for jungle warfare. How can I survive an encounter with the Naxals in the jungles?” asks Prasad.

    BIHAR POLICEMEN are seething with anger. “We will lose our jobs because service rules prohibit us from telling the truth,” says a policeman. There are a lot of uncertainties to be afraid of. “What if we are ordered into combat without planning? Death is certain.” The sight of their dead colleagues provoked the BMP personnel to thrash former Lakhisarai SP Ashok Singh for pushing them into a Naxal ambush. Senior officials, including IG (Operation) KS Dwivedi and ADG (Headquarters) PK Thakur denied that Singh was assaulted. Denials notwithstanding, he was transferred out of Lakhisarai three days after the incident.

    “For 10 days prior to the 29 August encounter, we were alerted almost every day by intelligence reports of a Jehanabad- type attack in Lakhisarai. There are several Naxals imprisoned in the Lakhisarai jail. We were told that Naxals would attempt a jailbreak, attack the District Magistrate’s office and the CRPF camp at Kajra,” says Rajendra Prasad, a distressed sub-inspector of Kajra Police Station. This was corroborated by the commandant of CRPF’s 131 battalion, Bidhan Chandra Patra. “SP Ashok Singh told me that he received an intelligence input of 30 Naxals moving in the Lakhisarai forest. He said there was no specific input, just a generic alert and that he was putting together a team to conduct area domination exercise and get back. There was no intimation of the possibility of a gunbattle. So I passed instruction to assemble a team of 34 CRPF soldiers.”

    Singh put together a force of 43 policemen, 20 from the SAP and 23 from the Bihar Military Police to launch combat operations. “Our intelligence input said that there were at least 500 Naxals in the hills. But the SP, in an unusually strange decision, put together a small combat force,” reveals Prasad. SI Bhulan Yadav, who was killed in the encounter, was inexperienced in counter-insurgency operations. Yet, he was deputed as the leader of the combat unit. Mishra, a close friend of Bhulan, was the last person to receive his call. “Bhulan called asking me to inform the SP to send reinforcements. Then his phone disconnected abruptly. I repeatedly called back but could not get through.”

    Mishra and Prasad revealed that Singh did not follow the SOP laid down after the Dantewada massacre. “A detailed strategy is formulated, GPS coordinates are set before the force begins its movement. But Ashok Singh did not make a plan,” Mishra says. “He knew that we were operating in undulating, hilly forest terrain. He knew the topography. He should have been aware, going by the recent ambushes in Chhattisgarh that the Naxals will occupy higher ground and lure the policemen into a trap.” CRPF commandant Patra concurs. “The SOP was not followed. Once force is assembled the commanders discuss the terrain, topography and intelligence. This is explained to the troops using sand models and Survey of India maps,” he says.

    Bhulan’s inexperience in combat operations resulted in splitting in the team splitting in two different directions. He asked the CRPF contingent to move towards the right and patrol the Ghaghar Ghati area and Morve Dam, while he moved in with his men towards Kanimai and Sitala Kodasi villages.

    As the police party moved into the villages, they came under heavy fire from both sides. Bihar Police officers claim that when their men were ambushed, the CRPF troops withdrew instead of retaliating and providing cover fire to rescue the trapped men. “Our men regained higher ground to provide cover fire, which enabled 36 men to escape,” asserts Patra. That the Bihar Police surrendered is barely mentioned. “After we came under heavy fire, the Naxals kept announcing we should surrender or everyone would get killed. We surrendered because the CRPF withdrew,” says Abhay.

    Bihar Police claim that when their men were ambushed, the CRPF troops withdrew instead of retaliating and providing cover

    “They treated the injured personnel, bandaged those who were wounded, gave water to those who asked for it and asked them to leave. They collected all the weapons and asked four of us to accompany them into the jungle.” Later, the Naxals informed local journalists that they had seized 35 INSAS and AK-47 rifles.

    The Bihar Police is facing a severe crisis of confidence. According to protocol, a deputy commandant of CRPF is equivalent to the rank of an SP. Yet, it is rare for a SP to go out for combat. “Officers don’t lead, they just pass orders. If senior officers can’t lead us on combat duty why should we put our lives in danger?” asks Yadav.

    Naresh Kumar, who teaches at the Janta Mahavidyalaya, Surajgarha, emphasises his primary identity is that of a farmer. Surrounded by friends and villagers of Alinagar, Naresh, loses himself in a tirade against Bihar’s politicians. His list of complaints is long.

    “Ration cards are not issued to people living below the poverty line in Alinagar; the widow pension scheme is on paper and not being implemented by the babus; those who can pay 60 percent commission to the gram sabha are availing subsidised housing loans through the Indira Awas Yojana; there are no free medicines either in public hospitals or primary health centres as promised by the government,” he says.

    “If the bank manager is paid a bribe of Rs.5,000, he will process the land owner-ship certificate and promptly issue the Kisan Credit Card worth Rs 50,000; the Asha scheme for pregnant women with the objective of decreasing the Infant Mortality Rate and Maternal Mortality Rate is not being implemented as well,” he says.

    ‘Senior officers just pass orders. If seniors can’t lead us during combat, why should we put our lives in danger?’ asks Abhay

    THE ALINAGAR locality in Lakhisarai is a microcosm of people’s sentiment in rural Bihar. They are sympathetic to the Naxalites. They don’t trust the State. The angry voices from the ground explain why the Maoist insurgency is expanding in Bihar. Nobody in Alinagar has benefited from the employment guarantee scheme, though it is officially under implementation. “All politicians work for those with money. The bureaucracy is always looking out to loot us. There is no equality. So why is everyone surprised by the growth of Naxals?” says Naresh.

    Perhaps, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has sensed the mood of the people. “The pace of development has to be accelerated and corruption removed in execution of development schemes to uproot Naxalism,” he said at the Patna Medical College Hospital after meeting policemen injured in the 29 August encounter.

    Perhaps, he should visit Banu Bagicha village, which is barely 5 km from the spot where captive policemen were released by the Naxals. The villagers have been waiting for eight years for the fully constructed Block Office to begin functioning. The district administration built an office complex but locked it up for “security” reasons.

    In fact, four days before the 29 August skirmish, Lakhisarai DM Manish Kumar visited Banu Bagicha and told the villagers: “Hand over five Naxals and I will ensure the Block Office is made functional.” Banu Bagicha villagers walk 15 km to Mananpur Block Office for official documentation like land registration and securing caste certificates for jobs and educational purposes.

    Phakira Yadav, a leading opinion maker of the village, quipped: “If the DM demands five Naxals to be handed over, isn’t it better if we join the Naxals? How can we hand over Naxals to the police? We are caught between the two gunwielding groups.”

    PHOTOS: SHAILENDRA PANDEY

  • Pillai to Unlock Maoist Grip on $80 Billion Investments in India by 2013

    Bloomberg Financial News, Sept 17, 2010

     

    Union Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai

    Maoist insurgents blocking $80 billion of investments will be subdued within three years as India pours security forces into contested regions, builds roads and opens schools, Home Secretary Gopal Krishna Pillai said.

    “The tactic of keeping a hold on areas is working,” Pillai said in an interview at his office in New Delhi’s British-era government buildings yesterday. Security forces have clawed back 10,000 square kilometers (3,860 square miles) of territory where rebels operated almost one year into a major offensive, he said.

    Pillai, 60, and Home Minister Palaniappan Chidambaram last October started the campaign against leftist rebels who have attacked security forces, railways and mining infrastructure in a third of India’s 626 administrative districts. India needs to clear the so-called “Red Corridor” to access deposits of iron ore, coal, bauxite, and manganese that London-based Execution Noble Ltd. says may secure investments of $80 billion.

    To maintain control, India needs to recruit as many as 30,000 security personnel each year, Pillai, the top bureaucrat in the home ministry, and security analysts say. Ambushes by rebels in the jungles of central and eastern India have claimed 211 police lives up to mid-July this year.

    “We are nowhere near the required policing, training, and technology to check the Maoists’ growth,” said Ajai Sahni, executive director of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management. “There’s no reason to believe that the situation will suddenly improve in the next three years.”

    Uprising’s Epicenter

    The epicenter of the attacks lies in the forests of the eastern state of Chhattisgarh, which has accounted for almost half of the 573 police and civilians killed in Maoist violence in the first half of this year.

    NMDC Ltd., Asia’s third-largest iron-ore producer, operates its biggest mine in the region, and Essar Steel Ltd., India’s fourth ranked producer of the alloy, plans to build a $1.5 billion steel plant there. The Maoists last year blew up Essar’s pipeline built to transport iron ore from NMDC’s mine.

    As the rebels have pursued their revolution, Indian governments “ignored the problem for a decade, thinking it will go away,” Pillai said yesterday, conceding Maoist guerrillas targeted by police may have regrouped elsewhere.

    Pillai said he doesn’t expect the rebels to agree to put down the guns in the next two years. “If you are comfortable, you are expanding and you are making money, why should you come for talks?” he said.

    ‘Peal of Thunder’

    The leftwing insurgents are known as Naxalites after the West Bengal village of Naxalbari where demands for land reform coalesced into a radical uprising in 1967 inspired by Mao Zedong. The Indian revolt was greeted as “a peal of spring thunder” by China’s People’s Daily.

    The Maoists say they are fighting for the rights of poor villagers and tribal communities whose resources are, the rebels argue, being exploited to propel India’s $1.3 trillion economy with few benefits for local people.

    Pointing to what he says are newly opened police stations on a map of Bijapur district in Chhattisgarh, Pillai highlights the expanding area colored yellow, in contrast to a shrinking red region still patrolled by the insurgents.

    In these areas, roads have been built, schools have started functioning and markets have been opened for the first time in years, he said.

    In April, 76 policemen were killed in Dantewada district, the neighboring region to that displayed on Pillai’s computer, in the biggest strike on security forces in four decades of conflict.

    Districts Gained

    “The government strategy of clear-hold-develop is gaining the upper hand in some patches, mainly in Chhattisgarh,” N. Manoharan, an analyst at the Center for Land Warfare Studies in New Delhi, said today. “But the overall spread of the Maoists is increasing” with 10 to 15 more districts coming under their influence in the last year, he said.

    The government needs to improve intelligence gathering, protection for informers and build its forces, Manoharan said.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has called the Maoists the greatest internal security threat to the world’s biggest democracy and its third fastest growing major economy.

    India’s Insurgencies

    None of the insurgencies at India’s margins — from a 21- year rebellion in Kashmir to even older separatist movements in the northeast — reach into the heart of the subcontinent.

    Pillai, who as secretary in the Ministry of Commerce and Industries from Sept 2006 to June 2009 played a leading role in expounding India’s opposition to developed world farm subsidies at global trade talks, said four Maoist attacks that resulted in large numbers of police fatalities obscured the fact that overall deaths were just below those of a year ago.

    In Dantewada, Pillai says, there are 1,500 police personnel, a fraction of the 45,000 based in the similarly sized northeastern state of Tripura, where a separatist insurgency is now largely dormant.

    To contact the reporter on this story: Bibhudatta Pradhan in New Delhi at bpradhan@bloomberg.net

  • Getting difficult for Indian government to control Manipur

    Obstacles put up along NH-39 and a deserted street in Imphal due to a bandh

    79 bandhs, 10 blockades in recent times take a heavy toll on State

    The Sangai Express, Imphal, September 22, 2010

    From January 2009 till the current month, Manipur witnessed as many as 79 bandhs and highway blockades ten times.These frequent bandhs and blockades have caused loss of 1/9th of the State per capita income.  According to a Government report, normal life was disrupted by 19 State-wide bandhs last year.

    At the district level, there was a district level bandh once in Senapati, twice in Ukhrul, once in Tamenglong, twice in Chandel, once in Thoubal and once in Churachandpur.

    In addition, the State witnessed hill districts bandh eight times. There were no separate district-level bandhs in Bishnupur, Imphal East and Imphal West. There were bandhs on National Highways five times and another bandh in Naga dominated districts.

    At local level, bandhs were witnessed at Moreh, Jiribam, Singjamei, Khurai and some other places.

    NH-39 and NH-53 were blockaded thrice last year while NH-39 was blocked on two occasions.

    This year, normal life was disrupted by five State-wide bandhs called on different dates.

    There were district level bandhs once in Senapati, once in Ukhrul, once in Tamenglong, twice in Chandel, once in Bishnupur and once in Naga dominated districts.

    Till date this year, there has been no district level bandh in Thoubal, Imphal East and Imphal West.

    During the current year, bandhs were called ten times on the three National Highways.

    These was against four bandhs called in hill areas.

    Blockades were imposed on NH-39 and NH 53 together on three occasions while NH 39 alone was blockaded once.

    All the highways of the State were also blockaded once.

    According to the Government report, these frequent bandhs and blockades caused loss of oneninth of the annual State per capita income.

    Notably, the number of recorded bandhs and blockades during 2004-05 was 80 and this figure jumped to 145 in 2005-06 .

     


  • Rural India and Rural China: Both Battling Forced Displacement

     

    Demonstration against the Narmada dam project

    By Devinder Sharma

    18 October, 2010
    Ground Reality

    In a few days from now, the Narmada Bachao Andolan will reflect on the 25 years of struggle  ’questioning displacement, assertion of land and forest rights, right to fisheries, right to food and health, livelihood security, exposure of corruption and navnirman (reconstruction) through the Jeevanshalas (life schools), micro-hydel projects, and solar projects.’ The struggle that began in 1985 questions the flawed policies in the name of development and economic growth. Growth for whom and what cost?

    According to the NBA, rallies and public meetings at both the places — Dhadgaon in district Nandurbar in Maharashtra, and Badwani in district Badwani in Madhya Pradesh on Oct 22 and 23, respectively — amidst adivasis of Nandurbar, Alirajpur and farmers from the plains of Nimad would be reinforced with presence of some of the well-wishers from outside. Some months back, after I returned from the Narmada valley, I had written an analysis: Over 200,000 Narmada Dam oustees still to be rehabilitated; a crime that goes unpunished for 25 years.

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  • DSU report on Kashmir conference in Delhi

    Arundhati Roy & SAS Geelai on the dais in the historic public meeting on 'AZADI: The only way' 22nd October 2010 in LTG auditorium (Delhi)

    A report (and great pictures) from  the Democratic Students’ Union (DSU) at Jawaharlal Nehru University, October 23, 2010

    Azaadi (Freedom): The Only Way Ahead in Kashmir

    Yesterday in a historic convention in LTG Auditorium, Mandi House, many voices representing various peoples’ movements of South Asia reverberated to collectively assert that Azaadi is the only way ahead for Kashmir. Along with the prominent speakers from Kashmir, the struggling nationalities of Manipur, Nagalim, Punjab, Tamil Nadu, as well as activists, writers, intellectuals from India hailed the heroic struggle of the people of Kashmir for their denied self-determination, the aspiration for justice and dignity.

    The communal-fascist lumpen brigade of RSS, ABVP and Panun Kashmir repeatedly tried to disrupt the proceedings, create a ruckus and assault the speakers on the dais, but were successfully resisted by the audience present there. The convention extended an overwhelming support to the ongoing movement against the occupation by the Indian armed forces, and the inalienable right of the Kashmiri’s right to self-determination, including secession from India. Once again, the corporate media today carried more of the news of the disruption with its general misinformation campaign, while purposefully erasing the solidarity which was reasserted in the assembly.

    Varavara Rao & SAS Geelani being flanked by the Kashmiri youth and student volunteers as some right wing miscreants attempt to disrupt the proceedings for a while.

    The media neither cared to report about the deliberations at the convention, nor about the spirit of unity among the oppressed peoples of Kashmir, India and other persecuted nationalities of South Asia. Far from a truthful reporting of the various views kept in the meeting, the Hindu-fundamentalist Indian corporate media demanded the booking of the organizers and speakers under charges of sedition!

    At the same time, having failed to stop the convention from its successful completion, the Sangh-giroh has today gone to the parliament demanding a clampdown on all democratic spaces and platforms of solidarity among the people of India and Kashmir.

    From June this year, Kashmir has witnessed one of the largest mass mobilizations against the Indian occupation. People of Kashmir have come out on the streets in tens of thousands braving the teargas, bullets and batons of the armed forces. With nothing but courage in their hearts and stones in their hands, the youth, men, women and even children of Kashmir continue to defy curfew and relentlessly uphold their aspiration of Azaadi. Since June this year, 111 Kashmiris including two children have been brutally shot dead by the police and CRPF. Neither the Indian ruling class nor the corporate media are ready to hear this clarion call of the people of Kashmir.

    The response of the Indian state to this mass upsurge has yet again been bullets and brute force first, followed by sham committees and promises of ‘dialogue’. A delegation of parliamentary parties who are directly responsible for ordering the killings in Kashmir visited the Valley in the pretext of discussions. All that the Indian state could come up with following this much-hyped visit was to appoint a committee of ‘interlocutors’ who will further ‘interact’ with people in Kashmir to recommend some measures for reconciliation. This shows the complete lack of commitment of the Indian state to the settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

    The people of Kashmir have proposed a five-point charter of demand to the Indian state, which asked for :     1. acceptance of the disputed nature of the territory of Jammu and Kashmir, 2. repeal of AFSPA and other black laws, 3. release of political detainees and prisoners, 4. withdrawal of the armed forces and 5. punishment of those police officers and armed men guilty of taking life in the past few months.

    The fascist Indian state is yet to respond to these demands. What they came up instead is an ‘8 point formula’ which basically included ‘economic packages’. The Indian state is not ready to withdraw Indian Army or even review the draconian AFSPA. And all that the Indian state is doing is to delay any dialogue with the people in Kashmir and in the meantime employ more force to crush the movement of the people. It is not ready to accept Kashmir as even a dispute for that will bring out all ugly facts which are forcibly buried in the past.

    The unfulfillment of the promise for plebiscite in United Nations in 1952, the prolonged suppression of peaceful movement till 1980s, the imprisonment of elected representatives in 1989, the presence of 8 lakh armed forces, the draconian AFSPA and PSA, the 70,000 people killed, the thousands who have simply ‘disappeared’, the thousand of rapes, the torture centers, the fake encounters, the crackdowns, the mass graves, the massacres… do we need more evidence of the real status of Kashmir, which was never an ‘integral part of India’.

    We do not need any more ‘interlocution’ to hear what the people of Kashmir are saying.

    In Solidarity with the brave Stone-pelters of the Valley

    The writing is loud and clear on the walls of Kashmir. Slogans like ‘Go India Go Back’ and ‘hum kya chahte? Azaadi’ are echoing in the streets of the valley every single day!

    With those braving the Indian Occupation Forces in Kashmir

    The deaf Indian state might try to silence it, its corporate media lackeys might try to ignore the reality but this is what the millions of Kashmiris are saying in unison. No might of the colonizing Indian state can dominate this unflinching aspiration of the Kashmiri masses. It is the united fight of other oppressed nationalities along with the oppressed masses in India which can defeat this fascist brahminical state and its oppression.

     

    A human-chain being formed by Kashmiri youth, students and organizers to shield the speakers from the sanghi hooligans who made a failed attempt to disrupt the historic meeting

  • Operation Green Hunt creates huge market for choppers

    The Telegraph (Calcutta)
    Maoist whirr in chopper race
    SUJAN DUTTA
    Bell’s Huey helicopter (top), which was used in the Vietnam war, and Eurocopter’s Fennec

    New Delhi, Oct. 24: The counter-Naxalite drive often called Operation Green Hunt has resulted in a huge demand for helicopters that two global majors are vying to capture for the millions of dollars on offer.

    The market for choppers has suddenly expanded with state and central police forces asking for more rotary-wing aircraft. There is a spurt in the demand because the Indian Air Force has told the Union home ministry it does not have enough to spare.

    The Indian Air Force and the Indian Army are also in the middle of trials to buy hundreds of military helicopters. But global chopper-makers, Bell Textron and Eurocopter, are more enthused by the demand from the police forces because of the tardy process of military procurement.

    Bell Textron is best known for the the UH-1 “Huey” – a legendary flying-machine that the US used in the war against the communist guerrillas (role models for the Naxalites) in Vietnam in the early 1970s – and was quicker off the blocks having sold its first helicopter in India nearly 53 years ago.

    It has now sold more than 100 of different types of helicopters from its stable, increasingly to private and public sector companies. In 2009 alone, the company sold 22.

    This week Eurocopter, part of the European aviation firm EADS, announced that it was setting up an Indian subsidiary. The company estimates that the Indian market will be worth nearly $ 140 million dollars in five years.

    Bell Textron has 50 per cent of the Indian market for helicopters. Eurocopter India’s chief executive officer Marie-Agnes Veve said the company currently has 30 per cent of the market and is targeting a share of half the new demand in five years.

    The market is estimated to be growing at 20 per cent year on year.

    “We are looking only at the civilian and paramilitary markets,” she said. “We think we can sell 25 helicopters each year until 2015 because they are required in the (anti-) Naxalite operations and by private companies and as ambulances,” she added.

    Bell and Eurocopter have been rivals for the military market in India too. In 2007, Eurocopter claimed to have won a bid to supply 197 helicopters for high-altitude tasks for the Indian army outracing Bell. Both Eurocopter and Bell also touched down on Mount Everest to demonstrate the power of their machines in the severe environment.

    But Antony’s defence ministry cancelled that competition after suspicion that it was not conducted by the book. The companies are competing for the same order again.

  • Indian government backs off on filing charges against Arundhati, Geelani

    Writer and activist Arundhati Roy addresses a seminar ‘Whither Kashmir: Freedom or enslavement', organised by the Coalition of Civil Societies, in Srinagar, on Sunday.

    The Hindu

    New Delhi, October 26, 2010

    The Union government has no intention of filing criminal charges against Hurriyat leader Syed Ali Shah Geelani, writer Arundhati Roy and others who spoke in favour of ‘azadi’ for Jammu and Kashmir at a seminar here last week, highly placed sources told The Hindu on Tuesday.

    The Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party is taking a strident position, insisting that a case of sedition be lodged against those who spoke at the seminar, but the Centre believes that acting on this demand will undermine the fragile dialogue process the government’s three interlocutors have begun in Srinagar.

    With Dileep Padgaonkar, Radha Kumar and M.M. Ansari urging those Kashmiris raising slogans in favour of ‘azadi’ to put their thoughts down in writing, the irony of criminalising a mere speech has not been lost on New Delhi.

    “We knew the BJP would try and make the holding of the seminar an issue,” the sources said, adding police permission for the public event was given because the organisers could easily have gone to court had the authorities tried pre-emptively to gag them. The meeting was thus videographed, and the proceedings were scrutinised.

    The sources said permission of the Ministry of Home Affairs was not needed for the police to file a case of sedition, but added that North Block did not believe that charging or arresting Mr. Geelani and Ms. Roy made sense.

    “Geelani himself has said some 70 cases have been filed against him so let there be a 71st,” the sources said. They also admitted — as Ms. Roy herself notes in a statement issued on Tuesday — that scores of people in the Kashmir Valley say every day what the writer and the Hurriyat leader are accused of saying at the meeting. If the two of them are now to be arrested for sedition on the basis of their speech, so would scores of people in Srinagar.

    The sources welcomed the efforts the three interlocutors had made so far and said the Centre’s aim was to begin a broad political process with all sections of the people in the State, but especially with those who say they want autonomy and ‘azaadi.’

     

  • Reactionary mob attacks Arundhati Roy's house

    Neha Alawadhi, The Hindu, Nov 1, 2010

    NEW DELHI: A large group of BJP Mahila Morcha activists protesting Arundhati Roy’s recent remarks on Kashmir broke into the compound of the writer’s residence here on Sunday.

    The mob assembled outside Ms. Roy’s house in the high-security diplomatic enclave of Chanakyapuri around 11 a.m. and shouted slogans against her for more than half an hour. “Curiously, three news channel vans were stationed outside our house even before the protest began…the mob was abusive and broke through the front gate of the house,” Ms. Roy’s husband, Pradip Krishen, said.

    Ms. Roy was not in the house at the time of the attack. In a statement, she said the mob numbered as many as a hundred persons. The activists broke a few flower pots kept outside the house and dispersed before the arrival of the police. They were prevented from entering the house by the guard and servants.

    Mr. Krishen later lodged a complaint at the Chanakyapuri police station, following which police personnel were deployed outside the residence. He said this was the second such attack at their Kautilya Marg residence since June 2010, when some men on motorbikes pelted stones and smashed some windows.

    Though Mr. Krishen had no idea about the identity of the protesters, he suspects that they were supported by a section of the Sangh Parivar “who have already declared their intention to harm and harass Arundhati Roy.”

    Meanwhile, Shika Roy, Delhi unit president of the BJP Mahila Morcha, who led the protest, said: “The protest was organised against Arundhati Roy’s remarks on azadi for Kashmir. We chose to protest on Sunday as it happens to be the birth anniversary of Sardar Vallabhai Patel who united the whole country.”

    The police have registered a case and are investigating.

    Something for the media to think about

    This is the text of the statement issued by writer Arundhati Roy:

    A mob of about a hundred people arrived at my house at 11 this morning (Sunday October 31st 2010.) They broke through the gate and vandalized property. They shouted slogans against me for my views on Kashmir, and threatened to teach me a lesson. The OB Vans of NDTV, Times Now and News 24 were already in place ostensibly to cover the event live. TV reports say that the mob consisted largely of members of the BJP’s Mahila Morcha (Women’s wing).

    After they left, the police advised us to let them know if in future we saw any OB vans hanging around the neighborhood because they said that was an indication that a mob was on its way. In June this year, after a false report in the papers by Press Trust of India (PTI) two men on motorcycles tried to stone the windows of my home. They too were accompanied by TV cameramen.

    What is the nature of the agreement between these sections of the media and mobs and criminals in search of spectacle? Does the media which positions itself at the ‘scene’ in advance have a guarantee that the attacks and demonstrations will be non-violent? What happens if there is criminal trespass (as there was today) or even something worse? Does the media then become accessory to the crime?

    This question is important, given that some TV channels and newspapers are in the process of brazenly inciting mob anger against me. In the race for sensationalism the line between reporting news and manufacturing news is becoming blurred. So what if a few people have to be sacrificed at the altar of TRP ratings? The Government has indicated that it does not intend to go ahead with the charges of sedition against me and the other speakers at a recent seminar on Azadi for Kashmir.

    So the task of punishing me for my views seems to have been taken on by right wing storm troopers. The Bajrang Dal and the RSS have openly announced that they are going to “fix” me with all the means at their disposal including filing cases against me all over the country. The whole country has seen what they are capable of doing, the extent to which they are capable of going.

    So, while the Government is showing a degree of maturity, are sections of the media and the infrastructure of democracy being rented out to those who believe in mob justice? I can understand that the BJP’s Mahila Morcha is using me to distract attention from the senior RSS activist Indresh Kumar who has recently been named in the CBI charge-sheet for the bomb blast in Ajmer Sharif in which several people were killed and many injured. But why are sections of the mainstream media doing the same? Is a writer with unpopular views more dangerous than a suspect in a bomb blast? Or is it a question of ideological alignment?

  • Bhopal gas victims protest against Obama

    Indo-Asian News Service

    Bhopal, November 07, 2010

    US President Barack Obama’s visit to India seems to have infused a new zeal in the 1984 Bhopal gas tragedy survivors who organised a protest in Bhopal on Sunday demanding action against American companies allegedly responsible for the disaster.

    Their campaign started gaining momentum a few days before Obama’s arrival.They demonstrated near the now-shut Union Carbide India factory on Nov 6, the day Obama arrived in Mumbai.

    The survivors staged a demonstration on Sunday at Neelam Park in Bhopal, posing as dead bodies.

    The survivors have always been unhappy with the Indian government’s stand on not taking action against American companies and are now accusing the US president of adopting “double standards” on industrial disasters.

    They are demanding that Obama and the US administration act against the erstwhile Union Carbide, owner of the pesticide plant in the city from which poisonous gas leaked in 1984, and Dow Chemical, which took over Union Carbide in 2001.

    “It is understandable that America will not like to take action against a multinational company that plays a vital role in their economy. But that does not mean that our leaders will not raise concern or shy away from initiating talks with them,” said a survivor-turned-activist Abdul Jabbar of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan.

    Bhopal tragedy survivors want action against Dow Chemical and erstwhile Union Carbide on the same lines as was proposed by Obama administration against British Petroleum whose oil spill contaminated the Gulf of Mexico earlier this year.

    Safreen, a resident of Bhopal’s Gupta Nagar is a victim of the tragedy who now runs an organization called Children Against Dow-Carbide, said: “It’s high time we got justice.”

    “We are expecting Obama to make both the accused companies – Dow Chemical and Union Carbide – accountable for the Bhopal tragedy,” she said.

    Safreen’s mother was partially blinded by the gas leak. The toxic fumes left her father and brother, who was two years of age then, with a chronic heart disease.

    Tonnes of poisonous methyl-iso-cyanate gas spewed out of the now-shut pesticide plant of Union Carbide India located in a congested part of Bhopal Dec 2-3 night in 1984, killing over 3,000 people overnight.

    In the years that followed, people exposed to the gas kept dying or suffered from life-long ailments and complications. The deaths in the world’s worst industrial disaster are believed to have mounted to about 25,000 over the years.

    On June 7, a Bhopal court held seven officials of the Union Carbide India plant and the company itself guilty of criminal negligence and causing the industrial disaster.

    But as the guilty were bailed out within minutes of the verdict, survivors and activists called it a mockery of justice.

    “If the Indian government is at all sympathetic to Bhopal gas tragedy survivors, then officials will talk to Obama on the issue,” said Rachna Dhingra of Bhopal gas tragedy information cell.

    “Obama is only talking about the Mumbai terror attack but the corporations of his country have been terrorizing people of Bhopal for more than 26 years,” said Rashida Bee, a survivor and leader of the Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Stationery Karmachari Sangh, during the Sunday protest.

  • Indian State’s policy towards the Indigenous Adivasi People

    Adivasi women protest government repression in Lalgarh, West Bengal

    by Stan Swamy, November 9, 2010

    Dispossess them first . . .

    Displacement is painful for anybody. To leave the place where one was born and brought up, the house that one built up with one’s own labour can be even more painful. Most of all, when no rehabilitation has been worked out and one has nowhere to go, it is most painful. And when it comes to the Adivasi People for whom their land is not just an economic commodity but a source of spiritual sustenance, it can be heart-rending.

    Displacement in Jharkhand

    Undoubtedly the most pressing problem facing the poor, rural and tribal population in Jharkhand is the constant threat of their displacement from their ancestral habitat. This displacement is being justified by the politicians, bureaucrats and the urbanites, (totaling only 23% of the population of Jharkhand), as necessary for the progress(?) and development(?) of this State. The progress and development is for whom and for whose benefit is a matter that is often left unsaid.

    The figures for displacement resulting in misery for the majority of Jharkhandis are quite revealing – a population of about 17 lakhs [1.7 million] have been displaced so far, out of which almost 85% are tribals and locals and only about 25% have been halfway and half-heartedly resettled. The above figure points out  only the formally displaced for various projects and not the informally displaced.

    A recent report says that about two lakh [200,000] Adivasi young women from Jharkhand, Orissa and West Bengal are presently working as house-maids in middle-class homes: 61,000 in Delhi, 42,000 in Kolkata, 36,000 in Mumbai, 13,000 in Bangalore, 26,000 in Goa. (Source: ‘Two lakh young adivasi women working as house-maids in big cities’, by Manoj in Hindustan (Hindi, March 24, 2003).

    Land alienation

    During this same period, about 15 lakh acres of land has been alienated from the Adivasi / Moolvasi people for various projects. This again does not include the illegal alienation amounting to about 8 lakh acres in and around the towns & cities of Jharkhand .

    The Permanent Forum of the Indigenous Peoples of the U.N. has spelt out some principles to guide the process of the rehabilitation of the indigenous people when they are displaced: Free, prior and informed consent of the displaced persons/ families/communities must be ensured before displacing them.(Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues-UN- Sixth Session, 25 May 2007)

    Their CONSENT must be

    * Free:  People’s consent has to be free of all coercion, pressure tactics, threats, promise of employment etc. The way the Indian govt and the companies go about the process of acquiring the land of the Indigenous People is the opposite of what it should be.

    * Prior:  The usual practice is first to start the project and when the to-be-affected people gather to protest or stop the project, the concerned company or the govt give them some scanty and incorrect information about the project and make some vague promises in terms of compensation / rehabilitation.

    * Informed:   it is necessary that people give their informed consent because otherwise they are forced to say yes without knowing all the implications and how exactly they will gain or lose.

    * Consent:  First of all, we must be very clear that consultation is not consent. Often the govt or the company go through the pretence of consultation with a few pliable persons from the affected villages, offer them some gifts in cash or kind, and afterwards claim that they have consulted people and the people have agreed for the project, to the compensation/rehabilitation package. This is a cheating game.

    Let it be made very clear that the Indian State and corporate houses are guilty of violating the above norms.

    Plethora of MoUs  [Memoranda of Understanding between the government and the companies]

    * Over the last decade, Jharkhand govt blindly went on signing one MoU after another with national and multi-national companies, totalling to more than a hundred, in complete disregard of existing constitutional provisions in favour of Adivasi People such as the CNT / SPT Acts, the Vth Schedule of the Constitution, the PESA Act, Forest Rights Act etc. Sad but true, neither the concerned company nor the govt ever thought that the people who are to sacrifice their land should also be consulted and their consent obtained. It is an irony of history that the incumbent Chief Minister Arjun Munda, during his two previous avatars as chief minister, signed the most number of MoUs (54 to be precise) .

    Resistance to displacement:

    * Not being able to put up any more with the callousness of the govt, the arrogance of the industrialists and the unsympathetic attitude of the police, people have started to resist displacement & land alienation on their own in and through local & regional level Resistance Movements. More than 100 groups and people’s organisations have come together under three to four umbrella organisations and are expressing mutual solidarity & support to each other’s struggles vs displacement & land alienation by holding big rallies & public meetings in major cities like Ranchi, Jamshedpur to express their unity, renew their resolve and manifest their show of strength.

    Ants driving out the elephant

    * An important achievement of this united people’s action has been that no big company has been able to set up shop in Jharkhand. Even the giant Mittal company was forced to roll up its mat and leave. True, some smaller companies (cement, sponge iron etc.) have succeeded in setting up their production units mostly by wholesale cheating and dividing local communities in connivance with local administration & police.

    . . .and hunt them down as criminals

    Operation Green Hunt

    *  This state of affairs was too much for the corporates to digest. Using their concerted pressure on the central govt and the men at helm such as Manmohan Singh and P. Chidambaram, a new path was found by which all those leading the people’s movements vs displacement & land alienation would be considered enemies of the state and their proper name from now on will be ‘extremist’, ‘naxalite’, ‘maoist’. By the stroke of a genius, the name Operation Green Hunt was invented. Para-military forces from far and wide, known by their stinging names such as greyhounds, cobras, scorpions, have been brought in their thousands to do the hunting. . . not of any animals but of the impoverished and starving Adivasi people .

    *  The Home Minister did not tarry long to assure the nation that all the naxals / Maoists will be physically eliminated in five years time. He went further to announce that all those young men & women who will be suspected as “supporting / aiding” the naxals will be booked under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act with ten years in jail.

    *  The stage is all set to reach the peak of Operation Green Hunt. Hundreds of young men and some young women have been arrested as being naxals or supporters of naxals. About 50 village schools have been occupied by the para-military forces and another 40 schools on an on-and-off basis, thus halting the education of the little ones. The mid-day meal which for most of the children is the only full meal they get to eat has also been stopped in these schools. Any one found coming from the forest is assumed as having met the naxals, taken for questioning and beaten up. As women and children are forbidden to go into the forest they cannot collect any forest produce. For the first time in adivasi history, weekly village bazaars are closing down for lack of people to buy & sell forest produce. In short, our people are passing from the stage of hunger to one of starvation. Added to it is the state-sponsored programme of treating them as criminals.

    The ‘encounter-killings’

    * During the past five months, three encounter-killings of “naxals” by para-military forces were reported in the media. (1) a 30 year old house wife and mother of three small children by name Jasmintha Devi of Kherwa primitive tribe was killed in Ladhi village, Barvadih Block, Latehar Dist. on 27 April 2010, (2) a 45 year old Etwa Munda was killed near Gunti village, Tamar Block, Ranchi Dist. on 5 July 2010, (3) a 22 [?] year old Rajesh Singh Munda was killed near Heso village, Namkum Block, Ranchi Dist on 1 August 2010.Operation Green Hunt Virodhi Nagrik Manch, composed of some concerned citizens, did a fact-finding study of all three incidents and found none of the three killings were encounter-killings but murder in cold-blood.

    *  The comfortably settled govt bureaucrat babus, the ‘profit-first’ business fraternity, the up-coming amoral professionals, the slumbering self-styled ‘intellectuals’, the consumer-thirsty urban middle class are the least concerned about the harassment and atrocities perpetrated on the meek and humble people living on the periphery of society. Religious bodies know what is happening but will not sully their hands with what they consider ‘dirty politics’ and prefer to look the other way. Social organisations and most NGOs realise the gravity of the situation but would rather not meddle with it lest it jeopardises the copious foreign funds they are receiving.

    So, finally it is a handful few from different walks of life who enter the arena knowing full well the risk they are taking and start blowing the whistle. This small group includes several men and women from the exploited, oppressed communities. The emergence of Op Green Hunt Virodhi Nagrik Manch (OGHVNM) is one such effort.

    Four members of OGHVNM have been arrested during the past three months

    On 25th June 2010 OGHVNM organised a rally & public meeting against Op Green Hunt in Ranchi. Over a thousand men & women who were on their way in about ten buses from some outlying districts were stopped by the police and prevented from proceeding to Ranchi.

    First disposess them then hunt them down is the policy of the state

    *  Most of the Adivasi People living in the far flung villages are an impoverished people. The whole state of Jharkhand has been declared ‘drought-affected’ but no relief packages have been mobilised. Every day a few hundred men, women and children are migrating to far off places without even knowing the destination they are headed to. Young Adivasi women are disappearing by the dozens under a well designed racketeering system.

    *  All this does not seem to be a matter of concern to the govt, the predominantly outsider bureaucrats of local administrations, the industrial & business class, the upper & middle classes. In fact they are all very much for Operation Green Hunt. The print and electronic media do not lag far behind in so far as they vie with each other in highlighting the “success stories” of the police & para-military forces in arresting and killing young Adivasi men & women who have become automatic suspects of either being naxals or supporters of naxals. In short, the Adivasi People of central & east India are perhaps at the lowest ebb of their existence as a people . At least they were never hunted like animals in their own land in any other part of their history.

    http://sanhati.com/articles/2943/

  • 'Trading Kashmir for Boeing,' says Arundhati Roy

    11 November 2010

    NEW YORK CITY, US—India’s renowned activist and novelist Arundhati Roy has made another impassioned plea for Kashmir’s right to self-determination in an op-ed in The New York Times. In her ironic style, she has ridiculed US President Barrack Obama, the Indian military and government, and reintroduced Shakeel to the world, the young Kashmiri whose 22-year-old wife and 17-year-old sister were raped and murdered by Indian occupation soldiers and thrown into a river.

    But the best part of her op-ed, titled, Kashmir’s Fruits’ of Discord, is her take on the Indo-US double blackmail: how the United States is using Kashmir to blackmail India, and how India is using arms purchases to blackmail the US.  This is how she puts it:

    “While [Obama] spoke eloquently about threats of terrorism, he kept quiet about human rights abuses in Kashmir. Whether Mr. Obama decides to change his position on Kashmir again depends on several factors: how the war in Afghanistan is going, how much help the United States needs from Pakistan and whether the government of India goes aircraft shopping this winter. (An order for 10 Boeing C-17 Globemaster III aircraft, worth $5.8 billion, among other huge business deals in the pipeline, may ensure the president’s silence.) But neither Mr. Obama’s silence nor his intervention is likely to make the people in Kashmir drop the stones in their hands.”

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  • Speaking out about Kashmir and Palestine

    Yasmin Qureshi, The Electronic Intifada, 9 November 2010

    Kashmiri protesters throw stones at paramilitary soldiers and police during a protest in Srinagar, September 2010. (Rouf Bhat/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom)

    The United States has become a battleground for both the struggles of the peoples of Palestine and Kashmir, for freedom from military occupation and for justice.  Awareness amongst the US public is broadened as the repression of both struggles grows ever more violent, and meanwhile those wishing to stifle debate on these issues in the US resort to harassment and intimidation.

    The same day that renowned activist and writer Arundhati Roy commented that “Kashmir was never an integral part of India,” for which her home was later attacked, I was subjected to harassment here in the US while I spoke about the human rights situation in Kashmir. Though not threatened in the way that Roy was, what we both experienced were attempts to silence us. Forces sympathetic to the same right-wing ideology as those who attacked Roy mobilized their ranks by putting out an alert stating: “An Indian Muslim Woman is speaking about azadi [freedom] of Kashmiris and we should protest.”

    After my presentation at the main public library in San Jose, California last month, I was told by one member of the audience that “You are the very reason why we Hindus hate Muslims,” and that comment was followed by many that were worse. I was called an extremist and told “Your presentation is a lie; this is India-bashing.” The abuse I received will be familiar to those who have been on the receiving end of the backlash when speaking about the Palestinian cause.

    Indeed, a week earlier, Palestinian author Susan Abulhawa was called an extremist by Harvard Professor Alan Dershowitz at the Boston Book Festival after she presented well-established facts about Palestine. He resorted to name calling and ad hominem attacks.

    Israel and India are often represented in US media as bastions of democracy in the Middle East and South Asia, respectively. Supporters of the policies of both governments delegitimize any resistance or criticism and discourage revelation of the truth through intimidation and personal attacks.

    Kashmir is the most militarized zone in the world with close to 700,000 Indian troops. According to Professor Angana Chatterji of the California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS), between the years of 1989 and 2000, “In Kashmir, 70,000 are dead, over 8,000 have been disappeared and 250,000 have been displaced … India’s military governance penetrates every facet of life. … The hyper-presence of militarization forms a graphic shroud over Kashmir: detention and interrogation centers, army cantonments, abandoned buildings, bullet holes, bunkers and watchtowers, detour signs, deserted public squares, armed personnel, counter-insurgents and vehicular and electronic espionage” (“Kashmir: A Time For Freedom,” Greater Kashmir, 25 September 2010).

    Because she has spoken out, Chatterji has become a target of right-wing Hindutva groups — those espousing an exclusivist Hindu nationalist ideology in India that often denigrates and denies the legitimacy of non-Hindus in India. Hindutva groups in the US and India have attacked her because of her work tracking funding to Hindutva groups from the US after the 2002 pogrom of Muslims in Gujarat and more recently as co-conveyer of the International People’s Tribunal on Human Rights and Justice in Indian-administered Kashmir. Chatterji told me: “I was threatened with rape by Hindutva groups in 2005. Since announcing the Kashmir Tribunal in April 2008, each time I have entered or left India since, I have been stopped or detained at immigration.” Richard Shapiro, her partner and chair and associate professor at CIIS, was banned from entering India on 1 November 2010.

    Hindutva groups try to scuttle any broader discussion about human rights violations in Kashmir, the conditional annexation by India in 1947 or right to self-determination by limiting it to the issue of the displacement and killings of the upper caste minority Kashmiri Hindu Pandits in the late 1980s and by insisting that Kashmir is not an international issue.

    Similarly, Zionists seeking to draw attention away from Israel’s abuses of Palestinians’ human rights often focus exclusively on suicide bombings or the rule of Hamas. Their aim is to silence any discussion of the historic Palestinian demands for the implementation of the refugees’ right of return, an end to the military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and equality for Palestinian citizens in Israel.

    And the front line in the battle to influence US public opinion towards both the Kashmir and Palestine struggles can be found at the university campus.

    “There is a well-orchestrated and funded campaign of intimidation and harassment by Zionist and Hindutva groups on campuses to target academics,” says Sunaina Maira, Associate Professor at the University of California, Davis campus. Zionist academics tried to pressure the University of California, Berkeley to cancel an event last month titled “What Can American Academia Do to Realize Justice for Palestinians,” organized by the Students for Justice in Palestine. In a letter to the school’s chancellor, the groups urged him to withdraw official university sponsorship of the event and publicly condemn the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israeli apartheid at the school’s campus.

    A similar attempt was made in 2006 by Indian American members of AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby, when they tried to cancel a panel titled “South Asian-Arab solidarity against Israeli apartheid” at Stanford University. The objective was to bring South Asians and Arabs together to take a unified stand against US imperialism and Israeli apartheid and speak up against the Zionist-Hindutva alliances. Despite the attempts by outside groups to stifle free speech, both these events eventually did take place on the campuses and were quite successful.

    The attempts to silence those who speak out in the US are not the only thing that Kashmir and Palestine have in common. Both Kashmiris and Palestinians are struggling for justice and freedom against highly-militarized occupations. The recent protests by stone-throwing Kashmiri youth drew comparisons to the first intifada in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    And it is perhaps the linking of these struggles that those who stand in the way of freedom for oppressed peoples fear the most. Notably, Zionists and Hindutva advocates have adopted a similar Islamophobic language and worldview that considers any grievances or struggles by Muslims to be simply a cover for “jihadism” or “wahhabism” and thus justifies treating all such movements for justice — however they are conducted — as “terrorist.”

    While the situations in Kashmir and Palestine are not completely analogous, in recent years India and Israel have fostered political and military links, including arms sales, joint intelligence, trade agreements and cultural exchanges.

    Historically India has been supportive of the Palestinian struggle. But in 1992 India established diplomatic relations with Israel and ties were further strengthened in 2000 when India Home Minister L.K. Advani visited Israel; Advani is considered the architect of the rise of the Hindutva movement in the 1980s and ’90s. Today India is the largest buyer of Israel’s arms and Israel is training Indian military units in “counter-terrorist” tactics and urban warfare to be used against Kashmiris and resistance groups in northeast and central India.

    The repressive governments of both India and Israel enjoy a warm relationship with the the US. Bilateral defense ties between US and India — based on the new strategic realities of Asia — is one of the objectives of US President Barack Obama’s current visit to India, according to the National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR), a Washington-based think tank. The US also gives $3 billion in military aid to Israel annually.

    Such alliances between states, which aim to perpetuate injustice and maintain regimes that are rejected by those forced to live under them, underscore the need for education and solidarity among supporters of those long denied their freedom, equality and self-determination.

    Those in the US who defend the status quo may resort to tactics of intimidation. But just as state repression in Kashmir and Palestine has failed to quell those struggles for freedom, those of us in the US concerned with justice in Palestine and Kashmir — and the US government’s role in each — will not be intimidated into silence.

    Yasmin Qureshi is a San Francisco Bay Area professional and human rights activist involved in social justice movements in South Asia and Palestine. Her article on Kashmir, “Democracy Under the Barrel of a Gun,” was published in June 2010 by CounterPunch and ZCommunications.

  • US rights activists protest ban of scholar from Kashmir

    Protest at the Indian Consulate: Revoke the Barring of Professor Richard Shapiro, End the Isolation of Kashmiris

    On November 8th at 11am, a group of more than 50 students and community members protested India’s banning of Richard Shapiro. The protest took place at the San Francisco Consulate General of India and lasted over an hour. Statements were read attesting to the violations perpetrated by the indefinite ban placed on Professor Shapiro’s travel to India and called for its revocation. A memorandum crafted and signed by students and friends of Richard Shapiro was delivered to, and accepted by, consulate staff.

    On November 1st, 2010, Professor Shapiro was denied entry by the Immigration Authorities in New Delhi. Professor Shapiro is a US Citizen and Chair, Anthropology Department, at California Institute of Integral Studies.

    Professor Shapiro traveled to India with his life partner, Professor Angana Chatterji, a citizen of India and a permanent resident of the US. Professor Chatterji, a prominent and frequent visitor to the region, was granted entry to India while Professor Shapiro was prevented from entering the country. Reports indicate that no legal basis was given for the decision to deny his entry. Professor Shapiro was in possession of a valid passport and visa.

    Given that Professor Shapiro’s work focuses neither on South Asia nor India, it appears that his right to travel has been restricted in an attempt to further intimidate Professor Chatterji, and to discourage her from continuing her work as Co-Convener of the International People’s Tribunal for Human Rights and Justice in Kashmir (IPTK)

    Since 2006, Shapiro has regularly traveled to Kashmir, and interacted with various human rights defenders, scholars, and youth to bear witness and to learn from their experiences. The focus of his scholarship and academic work is not India or Kashmir, but issues of race, class, gender, and alliance building in the United States, and discourses on power and subjectivity.

    Richard Shapiro had written an op-ed on Kashmir in 2009 and another in September 2010. These were analytical pieces based on articles and newspaper reports, and not on primary research that had been conducted by him. Any scholar can do that. This is a matter of academic freedom, and beyond the control of states and their desire to regulate thinking on the injustices they perpetrate.

    The Indian state has regularly targeted those that have been outspoken on injustices and military governance in Kashmir. The Indian state has targeted Professor Angana Chatterji and her colleagues in Kashmir, Parvez Imroz and Khurram Parvez, for their work defending human rights. Recently, writer Arundhati Roy was a target. When academics, writers, and journalists are banned, such actions speak to the intent of the Indian State in maintaining impunity, and in deliberately isolating Kashmiris from the world and the world from Kashmiris.

    Friends and Allies of Richard Shapiro point out that when academics, writers, and journalists are banned, such actions speak to the intent of the Indian State in maintaining impunity, and in deliberately isolating Kashmiris from the world, and the world from KashmirisThis arbitrary and undemocratic act by the Indian government is an affront to academic freedom, the right of families to be together, and further isolates Kashmiris from international solidarity in their struggle for peace and justice. The barring of an international scholar to Kashmir raises?serious questions into the functioning of democratic rights and human rights conditions of Kashmiris. Denying Shapiro entry without due cause impinges upon academic freedom, freedom of movement, and the right to travel with his legal partner and to visit his family in Kolkata.

    The demonstrators called upon the Government of India to:

    * Revoke the entry ban of Richard Shapiro from India.?* Stop obstruction of the IPTK’s work.?* End barring without due cause.?* Support democratic processes, the exchange of ideas.

    For more information on the IPTK, see http://www.kashmirprocess.org.

    For a press note by Scholars at Risk regarding Professor Shapiro, please visit:

    http://scholarsatrisk.nyu.edu/Events-News/Article-Detail.php?art_uid=2454

    The op-eds by Richard Shapiro:?Governing Kashmir (August 2010):

    http://www.greaterkashmir.com/news/2010/Aug/29/governing-kashmir-17.asp

    A Just Peace in Kashmir? (August 2009):

    http://www.zcommunications.org/a-just-peace-in-kashmir-by-richard-shapiro.

    .

     

  • Indian-Israel military ties strengthen

    From antipathy to military cooperation–India and Israel: an unlikely alliance

    by Isabelle Saint-Mézard,  Le Monde Diplomatique

    India has the world’s third largest Muslim population, and political and economic ties with Arab nations. It is also buying weapons and military expertise from its new friend Israel.

    India and Israel were born (in 1947 and 1948) through long and violent partition processes, from the ruins of the British empire. Both were caught up in inextricable armed conflicts. Yet this did not make for any particular affinity between the countries: rather the reverse.

    India had its reasons: it was worried that the Muslim world would side with Pakistan over its claim to Kashmir; it was concerned about energy security (India depends largely on the Middle East for its oil); and in the late 1980s and 1990s, when it had a serious payments imbalance, it relied on money sent back home by the many expatriates working in the Gulf states .

    From the 1920s onwards, the leaders of India’s nationalist movement sided with the Palestinian Arabs against British imperialism, opposing the Zionist aim of establishing a Jewish state. India voted against the partition of Palestine at the UN General Assembly of 1947, and only recognised Israel in 1950. Until the 1980s it formed a bloc with the Arab countries at the UN and within the Non-aligned Movement, in defence of the Palestinian people’s right to a sovereign state.

    But the gap between India and Israel has narrowed over the years. As early as the 1960s the two countries established secret military and intelligence contacts. Israel was willing to help the Indian army in its conflicts with China (in 1962) and Pakistan (in 1965 and 1971). In 1978, Israel’s foreign minister Moshe Dayan even made a secret trip to India to propose cooperation.

    In 1992 New Delhi established formal diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv. The decision was facilitated by the end of the cold war and the Madrid Middle East conference of October 1991, which gave hopes for peace. But it was also prompted by India’s disappointment with the meagre results of its foreign policy: it had never managed to neutralise Pakistan’s influence among the Arab countries and its own position on Kashmir had been repeatedly condemned by resolutions of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.

    Diplomatic relations with Israel were initiated by the centre-left Indian National Congress (Congress Party) but it was the extremist Hindu Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), in power between 1998 and 2004, which developed the partnership and gave it meaning. Suspicious of, if not hostile to, the Muslim world, the BJP did not hesitate to show its sympathy for Israel. Unlike the Congress Party, the BJP has never felt constrained by the opinion of India’s Muslim minority in its domestic policy. The post-9/11 situation strengthened the relationship as the BJP-led coalition government eagerly promoted the idea of liberal democracies forming a united front against Islamist terrorism. The BJP invited Israel’s prime minister Ariel Sharon to visit India in September 2003, to commemorate the terrorist attacks of 9/11 in the US.

    This led to the dream of a strategic triangle between Israel, India and the US, an idea first put forward on 8 May 2003 by Brajesh Mishra, then India’s national security adviser, in a speech at a dinner of the American Jewish Committee: “Our principal theme here today is a collective remembrance of the horrors of terrorism and a celebration of the alliance of free societies involved in combating this scourge. The US, India and Israel have all been prime targets of terrorism. They have to jointly face the same ugly face of modern day terrorism”. Later, representatives of the governments discussed defence and anti-terrorism issues. Meanwhile, a decisive rapprochement was taking place between pro-Indian and pro-Israeli pressure groups in Washington.

    Congress in Power

    After the Congress Party’s return to office at the head of a coalition government in 2004 there was less emphasis on the ideology, but the Indian-Israeli relationship was not fundamentally affected because it concerned the priority areas of defence and security.

    The range of links has diversified and there is now collaboration in agriculture, tourism, science and technology. Although largely dependent on the diamond industry, which accounted for nearly 50% of all trade between the two countries in 2008, commercial exchanges between India and Israel rose in value from $200m in 1992 to $4bn in 2008. But defence remains the core of the cooperative relationship.

    Israel’s defence industry relies on exports for its survival. Until the end of the 1990s most shipments were to China. But the US veto on the transfer of sensitive technologies to China forced Israel to look to other markets, including India. This proved fruitful as economic growth allowed India to finance its (considerable) requirements for defence equipment. India was looking for new suppliers, as Russian manufacturers were only able to fill part of the void left by the disappearance of its former Soviet suppliers. (Many Soviet production lines were dismantled or put out of action after 1991.) The US was also moving closer to India, which facilitated technology transfer.

    The Phalcon radar systems developed by Israel Aerospace Industries for the Indian air force are a good example. Having forbidden their sale to China in 2000, the US authorised their sale to India. The conclusion New Delhi drew was that a rapprochement with Tel Aviv would give it access to technology the US was reluctant to export.

    In a decade, Tel Aviv has become a leading supplier of arms to India, now its largest export market. The value of the contracts signed over the last 10 years is estimated at nearly $10bn. Flexibility and responsiveness are Israel’s great strengths. It was able to adapt right away to the needs of India’s armed forces (most of whose equipment is Soviet or Russian) and gained lucrative contracts for the modernisation of Russian equipment: tanks, aircraft carriers, helicopters and fighter aircraft have all been fitted with Israeli electronics; it was able to respond quickly when supplying the Indian army with munitions during the 1999 confrontation with Pakistan in Kashmir, the “Kargil crisis”.

    Industrial cooperation has centred on surveillance radar and drone aircraft, and on missile systems. India and Israel signed a contract worth $1.1bn for three Phalcon radar systems in 2004. Cooperation on missiles began in 2001 with a contract worth $270m for a ship defence system based on Barak missiles. It reached a new level in January 2006 when the countries agreed to jointly develop a new generation of missiles. This brought Israel into competition with Russia, which was also jointly developing cruise missiles with India. In 2007, India and Israel unveiled a joint project worth $2.5bn for the development of a new air defence system based on Barak missiles, for use by the Indian air force and army.

    [The pilotless drones mentioned above and the satellite mentioned below are not just spying on Pakistani forces; they are being used to gather intelligence on the people's uprising in Kashmir and the Maoist-led resistance of the adivasis in eastern and central India.-ed]

    Spy Satellites

    Another area of cooperation is satellite imaging. In January 2008 India launched an advanced spy satellite on Israel’s behalf, capable of providing information on strategic installations in Iran. In April 2009 India launched its own spy satellite, acquired as a matter of urgency after the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 2008 that left 170 dead and revealed serious gaps in its territorial surveillance network. India also spent $600m on Israeli radar to strengthen the warning systems along its western seaboard.

    Israel is certainly a privileged partner in India’s efforts to improve its territorial security systems. The countries are strengthening an already close cooperative relationship on counter-terrorism. Israel has helped India to build a barrier along the “line of control”, its de facto border with Pakistan; it has provided surveillance systems to prevent infiltration by Islamist militants and Israelis are among the few outside consultants to have visited the theatre of operations in Kashmir.

    New Delhi, like most of the international community, still supports the creation of an independent and viable Palestinian state. But the crises between Israel and its neighbours have taught India to hedge its diplomatic bets. It tries to keep the relationship with Israel separate from the Middle East situation – to protect its cooperative relationship with Israel while taking care not to antagonise Arab countries. India’s official statements are carefully worded, condemning in turn the violence of the terrorist attacks against Israel and the brutality of the reprisals.

    While moving closer to Israel, India also began to develop ties with Iran in the early 2000s. Before Ariel Sharon’s visit in September 2003, New Delhi had received the Iranian president Mohammad Khatami. Paradoxically, the rapprochement with Israel has given India new leverage in its Middle East policy: since they cannot be sure of India’s support, Middle East countries pay greater heed to Indian interests.

    The relationship with Israel is a delicate matter for internal even more than external reasons: India needs to consider the feelings of its Muslim minority (14% of the population). It also has to take account of the left wing, heirs to the anti-imperialist tradition, who protest against any overtly pro-Israel policy. Indian decision-makers strive for discretion in their dealings with Israel, but maintaining a balance is much more difficult in times of crisis: during the Lebanon war of 2006, New Delhi at first confined itself to hesitant condemnation of Israel’s actions, then hardened its tone under pressure from the communist parties and Muslim voters. Exasperation eventually led the Indian parliament to the unanimous adoption of a resolution condemning the offensive.

    At a diplomatic level, India’s hesitation over the Middle East is the result of a predictable polarisation between those who take the traditional pro-Arab position and those in favour of partnership with Israel. But it also reveals internal tension between the need to appease a minority of 160 million who make India the world’s third largest Muslim population and a fascination with Israel’s methods, which some in New Delhi would like to try against terrorist movements based in Pakistan.

  • AREVA Nuclear Power Project in Maharasta: 3000 Villagers Court Arrest

    Times of India, October 29, 2010


    MADBAN VILLAGE (RATNAGIRI): This tiny village took on the might of the state on Friday and by the evening, victory clearly belonged to it. Despite preventive arrests, prohibitory orders and road blocks more than 3000 villagers’ courted arrests, as part of their ‘Jail Bharo’ agitation. By 6 pm, the police requested the leaders of the agitation to stop the flow of people.

    The agitation was primarily in response to the government claim that the villagers were quiet and only a handful of outsiders were leading the agitation against the proposed 10000 MW nuclear power project in the village.

    The villagers were angry because the government was refusing to tell them the truth and releasing information in bits and pieces. “After all, we are the ones to be directly affected,” said Sanjay Gavankar, a villager, who runs a cashew nut factory.

    The villagers had steadfastly refused compensation and even lit bon fires of the revised compensation package announced by the state revenue minister Narayan Rane, whose son Nilesh, is the MP from Sindhudurg-Ratnagiri.

    Jail Bharo demonstration in New Delhi

    Retired High Court judge B G Kolse-Patil, who had being served orders preventing him from entering Ratnagiri District, flouted the ban and attended the rally. While the police were looking for him on the road, he took the sea route and appeared dramatically in the temple at 3 pm. “I will oppose this sort of high-handedness by the state tooth and nail,” he said. The police had to physically carry him off to arrest him.

    Retired Admiral L Ramdas and retired Supreme Court Judge P B Samant, who were coming to the rally, were stopped by the police at Hativali junction on the Mumbai-Goa Highway.

    The NPCIL (Nuclear Power Corporation of India Ltd) is planning to import untested nuclear reactors from French company, Areva. The reactor is not in operation anywhere in the world. US and European nuclear regulators have identified severe flaws in the reactor and none of them have approved the complete details of the design.?To keep India safe from these risky reactors sign the petition to Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh here

  • Why is the ‘adivasis soldier’ silent when the government attacks them?

    Rahul Gandhi, Congress Party leader, momentary self-proclaimed "adivasi soldier"--now inexplicably silent

    By Gladson Dungdung (Guest Contributor, Sanhati)

    http://sanhati.com/articles/2947/

    On August 26, 2010, the Congress leader and self-proclaimed soldier of the Adivasis, Rahul Gandhi visited to Niyamgiri in Orissa just two days after the Indian government denied clearance to the Vedanta Resource’s Rs.4500 crore bauxite mining project in Niyamgiri Hills.

    While addressing a rally of 3000 colourfully dressed Dongria Kondh and other Adivasis at Jagannathpur village who have been fighting to save their holy mountain he said, “I am your soldier in Delhi. Whenever you need me, I will be there for you.” He got a huge ovation when he said, “True development takes place by respecting the interests of the poor and Adivasis.”

    However, just two months later, the migrant Jharkhandi Adivasis were attacked by the Forest Department in Assam but the Adivasis’ soldier is still silent. Therefore, the Adivasis want to know why their soldier is silent. Is he shocked at the incident or is he silent because if he opens his mouth the Congress Government may face severe problems in Assam?

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  • Update on people's struggle against South Korea's POSCO steel project

    POSCO, a large corporation, wants to invest in the mining industry in Orissa (India) and build a steel plant, captive power station and port in Erasama block of Jagatsinghpur district – people’s protest intensifies.

    Police oppressionPolice at the 1st April, 2008 rally

    A Note of POSCO Pratirodh Sangharsa Samiti ( PPSS), Jagatsinghpur, Odisha

    A Brief Background:

    On June 22 2005, Pohang Steel Company (POSCO), a large South Korean corporation, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Government of Orissa in eastern India. This MOU outlined POSCO’s proposal to invest in the mining industry and build a steel plant, captive power station and port in Erasama block of Jagatsinghpur district.

    For the last five years, people living in the villages of the proposed site under the banner of POSCO Pratirodh Sanghrsa Samiti (Anti-POSCO People’s Movement) have been relentlessly protesting against the land acquisition process. More than 4000 families totaling a population of 30,000 will be affected by the project. These include all those persons directly dependant on the betel vine cultivation, pisiculture, cashew nut cultivation, and fishing in the Jatadhari Muhana (estuary) where the port has been proposed.

    Another 20,000 people from Erasama, Tirtol, and Kujang block will be affected if the port comes up at Jatadhari. Loss of self-sustained and thriving local economy, of livelihood and of an entire way of life is the major concern on which the local resistance to the project is based.

    POSCO has applied for prospecting licenses and direct leases for mining. The license would allow the company to mine on 2,500 hectares in iron ore rich Khandadhar in Sundergarh district. These areas are currently covered with dense forest, which is home to a wide variety of wildlife and flora. The Indigenous communities living there are totally dependent on these forests for fuel, fodder, fruits and medicinal plants. The water springs that exist there provide water for drinking as well as irrigation. The proposed steel plant is predicted to have devastating impacts on the environment and ecology in the area. Furthermore, the mining will affect the Khandadhar waterfall – a famed tourist destination in the state.

    The opposition to the plant and port site has rapidly built up. While there were mixed reactions initially, people of Dhinkia, Gadakujang and Nuagoan panchayats soon realized that they faced the threat of losing their land without gaining anything in return. The news of the MoU to be signed was already out in early April 2005. The MoU was signed in June and on July 11 of 2005, the three Panchayats Nuagoan, Gadakujang and Dhinkia came together and formed POSCO Pratirodah Sangram Samiti (PPSS) to oppose the project. Villagers across different party lines and ideology have converged to form the PPSS.

    This lopsided, iniquitous, and environmentally destructive process of development has propelled the people to stand up against the state. The traditional modes of livelihood are seriously threatened. There are no appropriate alternatives in sight. It is at this juncture that PPSS gave expression to the common demand and will of the villagers.

    Organizing the Struggle:

    The Erasama constituency was a stronghold of the CPI in the post-independence period. Loknath Chaudhary, who was a member of parliament from this area in the 1970s and 1980s built local cadre in some pockets such as Dhinkia panchayat. He earned a great deal of goodwill in the area. He had a reputation for his integrity. The CPI thus has a strong base in the area.

    Mr. Abhay Sahu, state secretary of the CPI was sent to the area in July 2005 to lead the anti-POSCO movement and mobilise the party cadres. According to Mr. Abhya Sahu, the CPI does not own the anti-POSCO movement, it merely provides the leadership. He sees it as a people’s struggle. The PPSS has 21 members in its executive committee who are chosen by the people.

    Reactions to the Struggle:

    POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) have peacefully protested for the last five years. They have struggled to protect their life and livelihood despite repression by the state machinery. PPSS activists are also facing intimidation and assault from hired goons of POSCO and members of the United Action Committee (UAC) a pro-POSCO outfit active in the area. On April 20, 2008, people under the banner of PPSS offered Shramadan (Voluntary labour ) by digging at the confluence of the river Jatadhari with the Bay of Bengal.

    This was done to avoid the continuous water logging problem in their agricultural lands.On 21st April, 2010, when the villagers were returning after finishing the dredging work; they were attacked by a few pro-POSCO villagers in Govindpur village. Dula Mandal of PPSS was killed in the bomb attack. Another PPSS member, Dhruba Sahani was critically injured. The leader of PPSS did not allow people to retaliate. Instead, the attackers were held hostage for two days and then handed over to police unhurt.

    Public Support.

    The struggle of the PPSS has received legitimacy from the general public from across the state, from left parties in the state and social and political movements from the state and across the country. It has also received the support of various human and environmental rights groups across globe including South Korea.

    The key strategies of protest used so far include:

    * Sending memorandum to the authorities
    * Picketing at POSCO’s local office
    * Holding rallies and demonstrations
    * Gheraoing the local MLA
    * Blockading the area to prevent the entry of all government and POSCO officials

    The most effective strategy to stall progress of the project has been the setting up of check-posts in the area by the local communities. These check-posts have restricted the movement of local officials and POSCO staff at the project site.
    Now the struggle has reached the decisive stage since both the state and PPSS are determined to have their way.

    Demands of PPSS:

    1. The government puts a stop to such grave human rights violations in the proposed project area.

    2. The government immediately withdraws its police force from the area.

    3. The government ensures that POSCO immediately withdraws from the proposed project for the greater benefit of the state of Orissa, India.

    4. The government comes up with planned and sustainable initiatives for social and environmental development in the area, such as the promotion of paddy cultivation, fishery related activities. These will help to ensure the future livelihoods of communities living there.

    For more information about the people’s concerns about the project, please read the detailed note attached below.

    Prashant Paikray
    Spokesperson, POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS)

    womenprotest
    Women at the 1st April, 2008 Rally from Dhinkia to Balithutha

    Official statistics indicate that only 438 acres of the 4000 acres required for the POSCO site is private land. The rest of the land required officially belongs to the government, and this has been recorded as “under forest” in official documentation. Government records do not show that the majority of this land has been under cultivation by the people living in these areas for generations .

    The people of Jagatsinghpur are dependent upon the beetle, paddy and fish for their livelihoods. Around 30,000 families earn about Rs one lakh (approx $ 2000) yearly from these cultivations. There are approximately 5000 vines of beetle in the three panchayat areas, which are tended by about 10,000 cultivators. Many landless families depend on basket making, work as daily labourers on the betel vine farms or are engaged in pisiculture, mostly prawns.

    In response to the claim of this land by POSCO, the local people have submitted applications for claims on titles repeatedly however regularization and settlement of the betel vine lands has not yet been initiated by the government. The Settlement record was prepared last in 1984.

    POSCO began its operations in India by registering POSCO-India. The first attempt by the district administration to acquire land for the proposed plant and port was thwarted by strong local opposition, which began in early 2006 under the banner of ‘POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti’ (PPSS) (Anti-POSCO People’s Movement), based in Dhinkia village.

    *** Scarcity of water for Irrigation

    The volume of water required for the project is predicted to have a detrimental impact on water irrigation for the local population. According to the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), the Government of Orissa is to permit draw and use of water (near about 12 thousand to 15 thousand crore liters) from the Mahanadi barrage at Jobra and Naraj in Cuttack for construction and operation of the “Overall Project”.

    Concerns have been repeatedly raised over the past two years by citizens of the area and technical experts that this would severely impact the drinking and agricultural water supply of Cuttack and neighboring four districts. These concerns have not been addressed by the government yet.

    Destruction of the Environment

    Threat to Gahirmala Marine Sanctuary

    The proposed port to be built by POSCO at Jatadhari (Estuarine region of Ersamma) has also evoked environment concerns of damage to the coastline Conservationists. They have pointed out that any damage to the coastline by the construction of the port could pose a threat to the nesting habitat of the endangered Olive Ridley turtles. Especially at risk are the turtle-nesting beaches in the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary, where nearly 400,000 Olive Ridleys come to nest every year.

    Jatadhari
    Jatadhari : the proposed port site

    Environmental research has shown that the nesting turtles are already threatened by illegal mechanized fishing, rapid loss of nesting beaches due to casuarinas plantations and industrial pollution. The proposed POSCO port poses a fresh threat. The port if built would also directly displace the livelihoods of several fishing communities as the Jatadhari estuary serves as a spawning and breeding ground for several species of fish. The recent analysis report prepared by Centre for Science and Environment, New Delhi on Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report of POSCO Captive port at Jatadhar Mohan Creek Paradeep Port points out that the “EIA report has completely missed out on addressing the issues of cumulative impact on people and habitat residing in the close vicinity as well as the land where the project is proposed”.

    Implication of proposed mining in Khandadhar hills

    Waterfall
    Khandadhar waterfall at the mining site

    The mining sites which have been proposed in the district of Keonjhar are also predicted to have detrimental impacts. Communities within these areas are already suffering under the social and environmental impacts of large-scale mining activity. Health problems are rampant in the region, particularly amongst the mine workers and their children. The poor health status of the mine workers and the increasing incidence of waterborne and respiratory diseases have been highlighted in a recent ‘State of the Environment’ report.

    The Khandadhar hills where POSCO is being allotted the mines, spread over 6000 hectares, are covered with forests, inhabited by a wide variety of wildlife and as well as flora. The adivasi (Indigenous people) communities, which form 74% of the population in the surrounding area will be severely impacted by the proposed mining.

    Ongoing Human Rights Violations

    Over the past four years, there have been a number of allegations of government repression from the local community. Local anti-POSCO activists have stated that the Government has filed several false cases against them, and that POSCO has been working to suppress the movement. In October 2008, the leader of anti POSCO movement, Mr.Abhaya Sahoo was arrested and 32 “false cases” were charged against him. To date, the movement has been democratic and non-violent, however, a recently released video reflects that Mr. Abhaya is being kept against his will by the government. You can view this video online at the following link www.youtube.com/watch?v=px3d52vTEuM

    For more information, you can visit the following links

    http://stoposco.wordpress.com
    http://www.freewebs.com/epgorissa/posco.htm

     

    **** Update of the Struggle ****

    On Aug 9, 2010 The Ministry of Environment & Forests constituted a four member Committee to investigate and ascertain status of implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 and Rehabilitation and Resettlement provisions in and around.

    On September 21, 2010, the four member team headed by Meena Gupta visited the area to assess its compliance with the environmental protection act, coastal regulation zone act and other clearances granted to it. Besides, they also reviewed its compliance with statutory provisions, approvals, clearances and permissions under various statutes, rules and notifications.

    On October 18th, 2010 the four-member committee comprising Meena Gupta, Urmila Pingle, Devendra Pandey and V Suresh submitted two different reports on POSCO’s proposal to set up an integrated steel plant and a captive port in Orissa. While Pingle, Pandey and Suresh submitted a joint report, Gupta gave a separate one.

    Both the reports, however, agreed that provisions under the Forest Rights Act (FRA) need to be re-looked at by the Orissa government in a transparent and democratic way and ensure setting of individual and community rights as per the provisions of the Forest Rights Act and Rules made there in.

    The matter will now be discussed by the Expert Appraisal committee on coastal regulation zone (CRZ) of the environment ministry on November 6 and 7.

    The environmental committee felt that the final forest clearance of the ministry of environment and forests has overlooked serious violations of their own directions and the procedures prescribed by law.

    The report submitted by the three members further felt that the ministry should not have granted environment clearances on the basis of rapid environmental impact assessment (EIA) for port which was based on one season data.

    Contending that there have been many serious lapses and illegalities in the EIA process, the report said that the Environmental Clearance given by the MoEF for minor port and for the steel plant should be immediately revoked.

    It felt that POSCO-India Pvt Ltd has not been able to address all the issues relating to CRZ notification. There are a number of serious lapses and violations, including suppression of facts. The environment clearance given should therefore be revoked forthwith.

    However, Gupta differed on this, saying that the existing environment and CRZ clearances should continue and POSCO should be asked to carry out a comprehensive and integrated environment impact assessment which has not been done so far.

    On November 2, 2010 the Forest Advisory Committee, a panel under the Union ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has recommended scrapping of forest clearance given to the project.

    On November 10, 2010, The Ministry of Environment and Forest’ decision on POSCO’s forest land clearance has been deferred by 10 days. The expert appraisal committee on POSCO would meet again to review Environmental Impact Assessment report.

  • Statement of Benita Pandey, Hem Chandra Pandey's wife

    Hem Chandra Pandey's wife protests in a press statement against the raid and false propaganda that Andhra Pradesh Police claim to get Maoist literature in their house four months of killing Azad, Polit Bureau member and Spokesperson of CPI (Maoist) along with a journalist from Delhi. The statement in English is followed by the original statement in Hindi.

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  • On "Justifying The Murder Of Hem Chandra Pandey"

    by Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR), Delhi

    Press Release: 15th Nov 2010

    Peoples Union for Democratic Rights (PUDR) considers the raid and alleged recovery of "banned literature" and correspondence from Babita Pandey's rented accommodation in New Delhi by the Andhra Pradesh State Intelligence Bureau (APSIB) to be an attempt at justifying the cold blooded killing of her husband Hem Chandra Pandey and Cherukuri Rajkumar (Azad). By showing him to be member of a banned organization, the APSIB and its political bosses want to suggest that Hem Chandra Pandey's alleged membership of a banned organisation somehow justifies his execution.

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  • CONDEMN THE ABDUCTION AND ILLEGAL DETENTION OF ANTHONY SHING

    THE HEAD OF THE FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE NSCN (IM) WHICH HAS BEEN HOLDING PEACE TALKS WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF INDIA!

    RELEASE IMMEDIATELY ANTHONY SHING UNCONDITIONALLY!

     

    It is with deep concern that the CRPP has been observing the ongoing tragedy of the deliberate kidnapping and illegal detention of Anthony Shing,  Head of Foreign Affairs of the National Socialist Council of Nagaland (NSCN-IM) with whom the responsible actors of the Government of India has been holding talks for the last 13 years! The farcical nature of the whole incident is evident from the fact that the person who is being kidnapped and kept in illegal detention was on his way to be part of the peace talks with the Government of India to be held in the last week of September, 2010.

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  • State Brutality knows no Frontiers: Kashmiri Prisoner in Kolkata's Guantanamo Bay

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    Amit Bhattacharyya

    Secretary General, Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners(CRPP)

    (On 31 October 2010, the Hindustan Times, Kolkata edition published a front-page report captioned "Kolkata's Guantanamo Bay" where it was reported that on October 15,when the entire city was celebrating Saptami during the Pujas, Sheikh Farhat Mehmood, a 29-year-old Kashmiri under-trial prisoner lodged in Presidency Jail, Kolkata, West Bengal, was stripped, tortured and kept naked throughout the night in his cell: Mehboob's offence: he protested against the quality of food and demanded his basic rights according to jail rule. Following the 'punishment', Farhat observed a two-day hunger-strike in the jail. The matter was hushed up by the Presidency jail authorities. The picture of the prisoner in a naked state was published in the paper.

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  • Contemporary anti-displacement struggles and women's resistance

    Women's exclusion in the present model of development needs to be understood as inherent to a system that benefits from patriarchy. Seen as a reserve force of labour, women, excluded from economic activity are valued for their unrecognized role in social reproduction. The capitalist, patriarchal system that keeps the majority of women confined to domestic work and child rearing uses this as a way of keeping the wage rates low. The limited participation of women in economic activity is also an extension of their traditional gender roles (nursing, teaching,or labour intensive jobs requiring patience and delicate skills) with wages based on gender discrimination. Largely part of the unorganized sector, deprived of the benefits of labour legislation, insecurity leads to sexual exploitation at the workplace. In the paradigm of globalization, these forms of exploitation, in export oriented industries, SEZs and service sector have greatly increased.

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  • Maoists call Bharat bandh to protest Obama visit

    THE HINDU, Kolkata, November 2, 2010

    Maoists today called for a 24-hour nationwide shutdown on November 8 to protest against the visit of U.S. President Barack Obama.

    "The Maoist Central Committee will observe a 24-hour Bharat bandh on November 8," Maoist Central Committee member Kishenji told PTI over the phone from an undisclosed location.

    Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi were out to sell the country to American imperialism and Mr Obama's visit to the country was just another step in the process, Kishenji alleged.

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  • Leader of War Mongers Looters and Exploiter of World People, US President Obama Go Back!

    Join  Demonstration at Jantar Mantar At 2 PM on 8 November, 2010

    Dear Friends,  At a time when US imperialism has escalated the war against Afghanistan and is even extending this war by assaults by NATO forces led by it against northern districts of Pakistan, leader of warmongers, looters and exploiters of the world people, President of USA, Barack Obama, is  visiting India from 6th Nov. 2010. Since Obama came to power, US forces have increased their numbers several times over in Afghanistan. There are innumerable proven instances of deliberate targeting of innocent civilians by these forces in the name of "targeted" attacks on "enemy".  In essence, US imperialism under Obama administration is continuing the Bush era attempt of a permanent base in Afghanistan from where it will interfere in central Asia. India should be in the forefront of opposing the US move. Let us use the opportunity of Obama's visit to strongly demand that US and NATO forces immediately withdrawn from Afghanistan.

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  • SEEMA AZAD : NINE MONTHS BEHIND BARS WITHOUT TRIAL NOW

    Dear Friends,
    it is now nine months to the date that our dear comrade Seema Azad, editor of the leftist bi-monthly Dastak and a committed social activist was taken into custody on the the 6th of February 2010, along with her husband and fellow-activist Vishwadeepak and lodged in Naini jail. Despite all efforts of the PUCL, Allahabad whose office-bearer Ravi Kiran Jain is appearing on Seema's behalf, she has not been granted bail. Every fifteen days or so, for the last nine months, she is brought before the judge at Allahabad civil courts and sent back to jail on remand. Even after these long months of incarceration there seems to be no progress in the case.

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