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Archive for November, 2007

West Bengal: Fear stalks villagers as Maoist menace rises

Posted by Admin on November 30, 2007

Statesman News Service

BANDWAN (Purulia), Nov. 29: Villages in the bordering areas of West Bengal’s Purulia district and Jharkhand’s East Singhbhum district are in the grip of panic, due to the recent spate of killings by the Maoists in Purulia. This is specially true of Bandwan, Barabazar and Balarampur blocks,

The former sabhadhipati of the Purulia zilla parishad, Mr Rabindra Nath Kar and his wife, both CPI-M members, were brutally murdered by a gang of armed Maoists at the midnight hours of 31 December, 2005, at Bhomragaraha village in Bandwan block, nearly 17 km from the Bandwan police station and 106 km from Purulia town.
There were armed guards with Mr Kar who was sleeping in a room, but nothing could be done. The CPI-M local committee members of Barabazar and Balarampur, Mr Bhagirath Karmakar and Mr Sufal Mandi, were also murdered in Bhikharicheliama and Ghatbera respectively this month.

All the three villages of Bhomragaraha, Bhikharicheliama and Ghatbera share their borders with Jharkhand. As a result of this, armed Maoists find it easy to cross the border of Purulia easily and successfully carry out their operations. They enter the deep forests of Datma and Ayodhya hills. It is a peculiar corridor for the Maoist and they use it frequently.

The superintendent of police, Purulia district, Mr Ashok Kumar Prosad, expressed his displeasure at the mention of the Dalma Maoist squad. The Maoistst have fled to safer places. While talking to The Statesman here today, he said that Maoist activities are on the rise in the district.

Mr Nakul Mahato, a veteran CPI-M leader and secretary of Purulia district CPI-M committee admitted that panic has taken hold of the villagers in the border areas of Purulia and Jharkhand. “We have asked the police authorities to keep a close watch on the bordering villages during the night. Active members of the CPI-M have also been alerted on their movement and instructed to keep in touch with the security.”
“Beware of the CPI-M party.” These were the words of caution which the Maoists wrote on the leaflets and posters which were found last week at Ghatbera.

As a result of this, the villagers have become afraid. Now, most of the villagers who live in the bordering villages of Jharkhand and Purulia’s Bandwan, Barabazar, Balarampur and Bagmundi have become silent on the political issue. They are reluctant to discuss anything related to politics.

It may be noted that those villagers who possessed guns for self-defence had sold off their weapons, fearing Maoist attacks for acquiring them. “Earlier the Maoist have looted many guns, even from the police outposts,” one of them said. The Maoists have attempted to steal licensed guns repeatedly.

A combing operation has been initiated by the security forces and a red alert has also been sounded in the border areas, specially in the Naxalite-infested blocks of Bandwan, Barabazar, Balarampur, Bagmundi, Jhalda, Boro, Joypur and Kotshila. “Night patrolling has also been strengthened,” an official of the state police said

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10 Mizo jawans killed in Naxalite attack in Dantewada

Posted by Admin on November 30, 2007

Zeenews Bureau

Raipur, Nov 29: 10 jawans were reportedly killed in a Naxalite attack on Thursday in Dantewada near Konta in Chhattisgarh. The incident occurred just a day after leading Maoist Salvam Dula surrendered before the Malkangiri SP Satish Kumar Gajbhiye yesterday.

Earlier in September, heavily armed Naxalites had attacked a patrol party of CRPF’s 51 battalion in Dantewada district. After a severe gun-battle, Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) personnel had managed to gun down three Naxalites in the encounter.

It should also be recalled that at least 12 policemen were killed as armed Naxalites attacked a police party in the region on August 29.

Dantewada is considered one of the most Naxal infested areas, not just in Chhattisgarh but throughout India. It is suspected that the central leadership of the Communist Party of India (Maoist) reside here.

An anti-Maoist Salwa Judum campaign, projected as a spontaneous “peace campaign” backed by the Government had taken effect here on June 2005. But it did not work and was suspended on April 10, 2006.


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Marxists train guns on filmmaker Aparna Sen

Posted by Admin on November 29, 2007

It’s not new. But the Marxists known to bare their fangs at the slightest provocation have once again revealed their vindictive face. It has now trained its guns on film maker Aparna Sen who dared to lead a protest against violence in Nandigram.

THE COMMUNIST Party of India (Marxists) have trained their guns on film maker Aparna Sen for having spearheaded a peaceful protest procession of artists, film makers, singers, litterateurs, theatre personalities and intellectuals against the party’s violent recapture of Nandigram. The CPI(M) is mounting pressure on the organisers of the 3rd International Women’s Film Festival top be held in Kolkata not to allow Sen to inaugurate it.

The organisers were said to have received a telephone call from party headquarters Alimuddin Street asking them not to invite Sen to inaugurate the film festival and instead suggested a much lesser known documentary film maker who is known to be firmly in the CPI(M) camp.
One of the organisers Susanta Mukkerjee told television channel Star Ananda that the caller was emphatic that it could not be Sen under any circumstances and if the organisers flouted the suggestion there would be demonstrations outside the festival venue. CPI (M) strongman and Transport minister Subhas Chakraborty, who incidentally is currying favour with the party bosses to be inducted into the state secretariat, allegedly made the call. He has been stagnating in the state committee when his juniors have made it before him.
The organisers were also categorical and announced that they would invite Sen to inaugurate the festival as there was no one of her stature among women film makers in Bengal. And that she was internationally acclaimed.
The channel talked to Sen and she said, “The Marxists after over 30 years in power are not ready to tolerate any criticism or opposition”.
Asked that given her latest film The Japanese Wife is due for release, whether she was apprehensive that the shows would be disrupted and if so whether she had made her apprehensions known to the authorities. Sen said, “She would never have thought of such a thing earlier but now one is not so sure. Let the film be released and then let us see what happens.”
Seemingly amused at the goings on in Bengal under the tutelage of the Marxists the film maker said CPI (M) leaders were exposing themselves badly. “They seem to be bent on dividing artistes and intellectuals into camps such as those against us and those for us. They are demeaning themselves with their fascist streak,” she added.
Meanwhile, when the channel contacted minister Chakraborty he denied having pressurised the organisers. He said he had not talked to them but had met them two months ago. “It is either a misunderstanding or a deliberate campaign against me. He also denied having suggested anybody’s name and said he was ignorant about the whole thing.”

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Indian Civil Society has double standards on human rights: APDP

Posted by Admin on November 29, 2007

‘They raised hue and cry about Nandigram but maintain criminal silence on disappearances in Kashmir’

Srinagar, Nov 28: The Association of Parents of Disappeared Persons Wednesday said the government of India was maintaining a “criminal silence” over the fate of thousands of men who were subjected to the enforced custodial disappearance by armed forces in the past 18 years.

“The Indian civil society including human rights activists, writers, Journalists, film-makers have raised their voice against the unconstitutional firing in Nandigram, West Bengal where 35 farmers were killed and more than hundred injured in the police firing, but a criminal silence is being maintained on the disappearances in Kashmir,” scores of families of disappeared men, who gathered here in a local park, said.

They added no one in Indian Civil Society dares to speak the truth when it comes to the disappearances in Kashmir.

Accusing the National Conference of the killings and the disappearances, they said that National Conference President Omar Abdullah has no right to participate in a two-day international conference in London which began today.

“We have lost our near and dear ones and our politicians take part in international conferences where they claim everything is normal in the state,” Ghulam Nabi, an APDP member said, adding that the state governments have played a proactive role in the disappearance of the thousands of men in the custody of armed forces.

They said the NC was responsible for promoting the Papa Kishtawari, the government sponsored gunman who has been charged with murder scores of men during NC regime.
“The police has contested the list of 59 disappeared men submitted to it by the APDP in 2006-07. The police had said that of these 59 persons five were found at their homes. What about the rest 54?” Ghulam Nabi said.

The APDP members later burned an effigy of Papa Kishtawari near the GPO Srinagar. Shouting slogans they said, “Punish murderers, punish Papa; he is the killer.
Zahoor Ahmad, whose father Ali Muhammad Mir, was murdered by Kishtawari after abduction in 1996 said, “Kishtawari ruined our family. Earlier when my father went missing in 1996 Kishtawari took Rs 1.5 lakh from me promising he would release my father. But he had actually murdered him.”

He said that he had approached the State Human Rights Commission demanding action against the accused. In response SHRC has admitted the petition and directed the Director General of Police to conduct a thorough probe into the case. The Commission had also taken note of the alleged killing of 23 civilians of Pampore by Papa Kishtiwari and directed the DGP to constitute a committee of three investigating officers headed by a Senior Superintendent of Police and submit a report.

Zahoor said: “Police registered an FIR (16/2007 dated March 2007) against Papa Kishtawari in Nishat Police Station. We want the papa Kashtawari be punished for his crimes. Kishtawari and his men are still active and they want me to withdraw the case. If he is not punished then we will launch an agitation. Government is shielding the criminals.”

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Nandigram: Waiting to explode

Posted by Admin on November 29, 2007

11/29/2007 9:00:15 AM

Abandoned homes in a village in West Bengal’s Nandigram are mute witness to the violence and simmering anger

In Nandigram, there is dead stillness as not a soul passes there anymore – an eerie contrast to the burning only three weeks ago.

But while it may look as though this fire has been put out, all is not as it seems. Behind the lull there may be a storm brewing as two rival camps are secretly consolidating their bases.

“We will resist with the people…everyone remembers what kind of atrocities CPI(M) carried out in Nandigram. They cannot rebuild their party like this. The CPI(M) will learn their lessons. The Bhoomi Uchhed Pratirodh Committee was there, is there and it will be there,” Trinamool Congree MLA Sisir Adhikary tells TIMES NOW.

BUPC leader Samir Patitunda claims the organisation has gathered mass support and is reorganising itself.

Highly placed sources have told TIMES NOW that both sides are piling up arms and ammunition, particularly in the communally sensitive areas which include Sonachura, Garhchakraberia, Satengabari and Hajrakata.

Sources also tell TIMES NOW that a slew of new Maoist youth are consolidating to lead an insurgency into Nandigram – youth who have been trained by Maoist leaders camping in Nandigram for the last six to seven months.

Maoist red flags might have replaced BUPC flags, but the truth is that villagers there may not have completely changed their loyalities yet – and that is why CPI(M) cadres at the local level, as TIMES NOW sources say, are seeing red. It is a volcanic situation in Nandigram as the CPI(M) struggles to get villagers to side with them.

“People of this area cannot write or read Hindi, that’s why we still believe that Maoists are still hiding here in these villages. The trained people and weapons are still here. We have informed the police, but we are not protected. We are being terrorised,” villagers told TIMES NOW.

Others meanwhile claimed they were being threatening with Maoists, and being pressurised into registering with the Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress.

Many villages are still bearing the burnt of the violence and by the look of things it does not seem as if the end is anywhere near.

(By Sambit Pal)

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Between Left And Right

Posted by Admin on November 29, 2007

One of the survivors of Nandigram
Between Left And Right
It is hard to decide which is more unappetising–Buddhadeb Bhattacharya declaring that the CPI(M) had paid protestors back in their own coin at Nandigram, or the BJP and Congress condemning the violence there, ignoring their own culpability for similar behaviour in Chhattisgarh and Gujarat. ... ... ...
Nandini Sundar
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It is hard to decide which is more unappetising–the spectacle of Buddhadeb Bhattacharya declaring that the CPI(M) had paid protestors back in their own coin at Nandigram, or the BJP and Congress condemning the violence there, ignoring their own culpability for similar behaviour in Chhattisgarh and Gujarat. The use of vigilante groups or armed cadre, supported and sanctioned by a pliant bureaucracy, to physically defeat an opposing group–whether defined in religious or political terms–rather than relying on legal means and political discussions, is evidently the latest fashion in governance. It is time, we are told, to forget the old expectation that it is the police which is meant to maintain law and order and not gangs of party members, or that Chief Ministers will rise above their individual parties to represent the people of the state as a whole (the logic behind the first-past-the-post system where the elected member equally represents those who voted against her or him), or even that, there is a Constitution which all elected officials are sworn to uphold.

Let us take the bare facts of Nandigram, as scripted by the Chief Minister of West Bengal himself–villagers protesting against land acquisition formed the Bhumi Ucched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC) and drove out supporters of the CPI(M) who were in favour of the proposed chemical hub. In November 2007, these CPI(M) cadre ‘reclaimed’ their villages, and this time, it is the BUPC members who were driven out, their houses burnt and women raped. In essence, this is not very different from the Salwa Judum being run jointly by the Congress MLA of Dantewara, Mahendra Karma, and the BJP government of Chhattisgarh, where armed vigilantes, some of them given official positions as special police officers, burn villages, kill people, and rape women with impunity, on the grounds that they are wresting these areas back from the Naxalites. In both cases, the local administration has ceased to exercise its own judgement–officials take orders from the goons of the party in power. In Dantewada district, a letter from the Chief Secretary carries less weight than the orders of a lumpen Salwa Judum camp leader.

In both cases, the presence of Maoists is used to imply that anything goes, that once an area is declared ‘Naxal-affected’, all the normal protections of the rule of law and fundamental rights cease to apply. Government presence in these areas then depends solely on the power of the gun, and the relative superiority of its police and vigilantes over the ‘other side’, including unarmed civilians.

Yet, the differences between Nandigram and Dantewada are as striking as the similarities, and they lie not in the hubris of the ruling party, which is much the same, but in the responses of the media and civil society. Even though the scale of Salwa Judum terror is far greater than Nandigram, it has gone almost entirely unreported.

According to the figures provided in a PIL before the Supreme Court, at least 540 persons have been killed by the Salwa Judum and security forces from June 2005 till the present, including 33 children (some as young as two and five), and 45 women. This is a small fraction of the killings by the Salwa Judum, most of which have gone unrecorded, and does not include the approximately 550 civilians and police personnel that the Naxalites have killed in escalating retaliatory action for Salwa Judum. At least 2,825 houses have been burnt by the Salwa Judum and at least 99 women have been raped. Approximately one lakh people, or one-eighth of the district’s population has been displaced–half of them are in government controlled camps to which they were forcibly evacuated, and the other half are refugees in neighbouring states.

A petition–one of hundreds–submitted along with the PIL, after describing the killing and torture inflicted by Salwa Judum, asks despairingly, “Why is this happening in our country, why is this happening in Chhattisgarh? Why has the Chhattisgarh administration been running this? Has our Chief Minister been elected only for this?” And yet, not once have the atrocities committed by the Salwa Judum figured on the front pages of any national newspaper; not once has any team of parliamentarians gone to talk to the affected people; and not once have NHRC members visited.

When two lakh people rallied in Jagdalpur on November 5th this year to protest against the Salwa Judum and land acquisition by the Tatas and Essar for steel plants, there was not even a whisper in the national press; it is hard to imagine that a rally of even 10,000 would have gone unreported had it been in favour of Salwa Judum or industrial acquisition.

In part, this silence is explained by the natural anti-leftism of the media, and its warped notion of ‘balance’. As Michael Tomasky pointed out in the American context, but which could as well apply to the Indian media when dealing with the BJP: ‘they now bend over backward to demonstrate that they can be ‘tough’ on liberals and ‘fair’ to conservatives’. But the media is not everything.

The difference also needs to be further explained in terms of the lack of the appropriate kind of organisations to feed the media. Nandigram and the Gujarat genocide of 2002 both became front page news, in part because they were located next to major cities with concentrations of journalists (Ahmedabad and Calcutta), in part because of the presence of middle class local activists, in part because the issue was taken up by opposing parliamentary parties. Chhattisgarh, by contrast, lacks a tribal middle class or a density of civil/political society organisations; many national newspapers do not have correspondents there since it is a new state; in an unprecedented show of unity, both the Congress and the BJP are jointly prosecuting the counterinsurgency.

Above all, Chhattisgarh, unlike Bengal, also has a Public Security Act, which is even worse than POTA in terms of its censorship, and which has been used to arrest and intimidate people who have protested, like the General Secretary of the PUCL, Binayak Sen.

But, finally, the real difference lies in the principles of the Left and Right, between a state ruled for many years by the Left as in Bengal and one ruled by the BJP as in Gujarat. Whereas the citizens of Gujarat let no hint of remorse taint their restful nights, even after having witnessed the murder and maiming of their fellow citizens, the people of Bengal are an anguished lot, anguished at the betrayal of the principles they voted for.

Decades of CPI (M) rule may not have done much for Bengal’s human development indicators but it has expanded the constituency of those who believe in democracy and equality; it has entrenched a conscience in its supporters. The strongest critics of the CPI (M) come from within. Decades of BJP rule, on the other hand, may have created Gujarat Shining, but has destroyed the very possibility of humanity. As for Chhattisgarh, let us all go back to pretending that it doesn’t exist; at the rate that villages are being emptied and people killed, there will soon be nothing and nobody left to destroy.

Nandini Sundar is Professor of Sociology, Delhi University

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Why does the Prime Minister Not Lose Sleep over Dr Binayak Sen?

Posted by Admin on November 29, 2007

Wednesday 28 November 2007, by Gabriele Dietrich

On November 2, 2007 eleven security personnel were killed in a blast and indiscriminate firing by Naxalites near Tonguda village close to the Pamed Police Station in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh, not far from the Andhra Pradesh border. Grey-hounds from Andhra were brought in for combing operations. It is known that this area has been subjected to Salwa Judum earlier, a form of civil war, by the BJP Government on the Adivasi villages of Dantewada district. The investigations of numerous human rights organisations in Dantewada have brought to light extensive human rights violations earlier.

The recent incident also shows that the situation is in no way under control. It so happened that I had reached Raipur on November 3, 2007 morning in the hope to visit Dr Binayak Sen, the State General Secretary of the PUCL, in the Central Jail, where he has been held without being granted bail since May 14, 2007. Under the heightened alert, I was refused permission to visit Dr Sen on behalf of the National Alliance of People’s Movements, of which he had been a convenor in the State for several years. Dr Sen, a well-known pediatrician and an alumnus of the Vellore Medical College, also a recipient of its highest award—the Paul Harrison Award—in 2004, has been supported by a red alert of Amnesty International and numerous protests by activists, including international luminaries like Noam Chomsky, Amartya Sen and Arundhati Roy. He has run a clinic for the poor in Bagrumnala, district Dhamtari since years, was the founder doctor of the Shaheed hospital conceptualised by the legendary trade union leader, Shankar Guha Niyogi, and his main crime appears to be that he has raised his voice consistently against the human rights violations under Salwa Judum. Medical activists are keeping up the functioning of the clinic in Bagrumnala. Though no shred of evidence has been produced whatsoever, Dr Binayak Sen is depicted as a hard- core Naxalite by the State Government.

Apart from reporting on human rights violations, his “crime” is to have visited prisoners in the jail as part of his responsibility as the General Secretary of the PUCL, for which of course he had police permission. He was in particular visiting Narayan Sanyal, a senior leader of the CPI-Maoist, who has been in jail in Raipur since April 2006. There are strong indications that Dr Binayak Sen is being framed. But while the Prime Minister of the largest democracy in the world very honourably lost sleep over the case of Dr Mohammed Haneef, a Bangalore doctor, who was framed in Australia during the month of July 2007 as having been involved in the blast case at Glasgow Airport, we have not heard of him losing sleep over Dr Binayak Sen. Following are excerpts from an interview with Binayak Sen’s wife, Dr Ilina Sen, a senior activist in the women’s movement and Head of the Women Studies Department of Mahatma Gandhi International University in Wardha.

Question: How did Binayak Sen get involved with Narayan Sanyal?

Dr Ilina Sen: At the end of December 2005 a message came to the PUCL that a senior activist with Maoist background had been arrested. Journalists were not aware what this was about. When Binayak contacted Home Secretary B.K.S. Ray, he said after a few days that the arrest had been made by the Andhra Pradesh Police. At that time, the fact finding on Salwa Judum in Dantewada district by the APDR, PUCL Chhattisgarh, PUDR Jharkand and Indian Association of People’s Lawyers had already taken place. (See PUCL website of October/November 2005.)

Sanyal’s brother contacted Binayak and sought help to locate Narayan Sanyal. He reached Bilaspur on January 1, 2006 and on January 2 the habeas corpus was filed. The Chhattisgarh Police denied any knowledge, but the Andhra Pradesh Police said he had been picked up on the Andhra side, in an area bordering Dantewada. He was held in Andhra without charges till April and then released, only to be re-arrested in Chhattisgarh. Binayak took interest in Sanyal also as a doctor, because he needed a hand surgery which could not be done in the jail. This surgery was finally done successfully outside. N. Sanyal’s brother, who had brought clothes to his brother and money for the lawyer, suffered a heart attack in late 2006 and could no longer visit him. Instead, Piyush Guha, a business-man in tendu leaves from Kolkata, brought money to be given to the lawyer.

Question: What led to Binayak’s arrest?

Dr Ilina Sen: I had recently joined the Department of Women’s Studies in the M.G. International Hindi University in Wardha as HoD. On April 30, 2007, I took our daughters to Kolkata to visit Binayak’s mother. Binayak was to come on May 2. This was a family holiday planned long in advance. On May 1, 2007 Binayak held his clinic in Bilaspur. He also went to meet Piyush Guha in a hotel at 8.00 pm. The room was locked and the reception said Guha had gone out and was expected back soon. Binayak went out to take a meal, but on his return he was told that Guha had checked out without information. Binayak searched, but could not find him. He went to Kolkata as planned. On May 4, Guha’s wife called to say her husband had disappeared. Binayak referred her to the PUCL State President in Chhattis-garh, since he himself was on holiday. Guha was missing since May 1, but only on May 5 the PUCL reported it to the Chhattisgarh Police. The police said that a suspicious looking man had been arrested on way to Raipur station with a bag in which Rs 49,000 were found, Naxal literature and three handwritten letters from Narayan Sanyal; Guha is supposed to have said that Binayak gave them to him. Obviously, Binayak could not have met Guha, because he had disappeared and Binayak himself had come to Kolkata on May 2.

On May 9, friends from Raipur phoned us saying the police had put out a version that Dr Sen and his family were absconding in Kolkata. Due to this situation, his lawyer Sudha Bharadwaj had advised anticipatory bail. This could only be physically done in Chhattisgarh. So Binayak came to Bilaspur on May 14 and was arrested in Sudha Bharadwaj’s office.

Question: What is the incriminating evidence in the case?

Dr Ilina Sen: So far, not a shred of incriminating evidence has been produced. The police wanted to search our apartment on May 16, but since I am the owner and I was not present, the flat was sealed. I came on May 16 and insisted in court on May 17, 2007 that independent witnesses must be present. Already our farm house had been searched without any proper warrant. So I got a court order to bring independent witnesses for the house search and this took place on May 19. The police walked off with the hard disc of the computer, which was examined in Hyderabad. The result came on June 16, but it has not been made known. The charge- sheet was given on the 89th day after arrest. Ninety days is the limit. Binayak is supposed to be a hard- core Naxalite but the allegations made are of a completely general nature and without evidence. The postcards from Sanyal found in our house were written with permission of the jail authorities to the PUCL Secretary. The police says that Piyush Guha had three letters from Sanyal in his bag when arrested and he is supposed to have alleged that these were given to him from Binayak. Now the situation has worsened because there has been a tip-off to the police on October 31, 2007 that Narayan Sanyal had a cell phone in his underwear and a charger in his bathroom. He is said to have swallowed his SIM card.

Question: How do you experience the conditions in the jail?

Dr Ilina Sen: The food is terrible. Binayak has lost 17 kg of his weight. Half of the food supplements relatives bring are taken away by the police during fleecing. The roof leaks. Visits are only once a week for half an hour. One of the worst things is the court lock-up. The prisoners are herded to court in crowded vehicles. Binayak is kept separate for high security. The families are kept outside and yell to convey messages to the cages in the court room. Our children get very depressed by this situation.

The police suggested video-conferencing of Binayak’s case, but we refused that, because then he does not even have access to a lawyer.

Question: From November 1 to 7, 2007, the Chhattisgarh State Utsav is taking place, commemorating the formation of the State. What is your comment on “good governance”?

Dr Ilina Sen: It is a police raj. e- Governance (open source based) is advertised in view of the 2008 elections. But it is clear that the so-called peace campaign of the Salwa Judum has escalated the violence. The Utsav had to be stopped because of the ambush on the police, in which eleven policemen lost their lives. The exhibition at the Utsav displayed the guns captured from Naxalites and the police had a stand where the public could train their guns on Naxals (on mock-up screen) and practice to shoot them. The enormous poverty in the interior villages and the repression through Salwa Judum has to be addressed democratically. There is no indication of this either under the BJP Government, or in the Congress party.

Question: How do you see the situation of people’s movements in the State?

Dr Ilina Sen: The situation of the people’s movements is a tragedy, due to the overwhelming repression. Sangharsh aur Nirman was the slogan of the CMM under Niyogiji, but today where is the Mukti? The CMM and other activists are carrying on bravely and have supported Binayak with vigils and dharnas. The units in Bhilai, cultural groups and children’s groups have held up his memory as a doctor. The chargesheet depicts his medical work as negligible and just a cover. But doctors from Shahid Hospital in Dalli Rajara and Jan Swasthya Sahayog are running the clinic in Bilaspur without fail. The Jan Mukti Morcha has organised dharnas and burned the Chief Minister’s effigy. There has been an impressive expression of solidarity from the Medico Friends Circle, the Alumni of the Vellore Hospital in Tamil Nadu, the British House of Commons, Amnesty International, Noam Chomsky, Amartya Sen, Arundhati Roy and many others.

But the situation is very depressing under globalisation. The culture of Chhattisgarh is crumbling. Raipur suffocates under the veneer of glittering shopping malls and consumerism, while Hindutva tries to synthesise the cultural pluralism and streamlines the indigenous culture into sanskritised Hinduism. There is a climate of militarisation, which suffocates democracy and leads to proliferation of armed resistance. The draconian laws in force in this State, like the Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act, 2005 and the UAPA of 2004, had to be signed by the President when they were passed, though the first one is only a State law. This shows how extreme the situation is. They need to be revoked, because they are only used to suppress any dissent, for example against privatisation of water (Sheonath river), non- implementation of labour laws, alienation of tribals from jal, jangal aur jammeen, struggle against mafia in land, water and liquor and corporate and contract business. A large number of organisations like the PUCL, PUDR, APDR, AIPL, CAVOW, ACHR, and International Association of People’s Lawyers have conducted independent inquiries, documenting hundreds of unaccounted for killings, rapes, burning of thousands of homes, destruction of livestock, grains and clearing of hundreds of villages, amounting to displacement of almost two lakh persons.

Question: What is your appeal?

Dr Ilina Sen: It is necessary to look at the facts. The chargesheet is full of general allegations without substance. Binayak has even been depicted as a Christian Missionary. Mr Sanyal is resourceful enough on his own. Binayak only did his duty as the General Secretary of the PUCL and as a doctor. He is widely known and respected as a doctor and human rights activist. Mr Piyush Guha has recently been implicated in an old bombing case in Purulia, in which there was never mention of him earlier. The arbitrariness of the State and the police is alarming. The case must be watched when it comes up in the Sessions Court. A nationwide campaign for restoration of democracy in Chhattisgarh would be very helpful.


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Congress fumes over charge of legislator’s Maoist links

Posted by Admin on November 29, 2007

From correspondents in Chhattisgarh, India, 11:31 PM IST

Chhattisgarh’s main opposition Congress party stalled the assembly proceedings for an hour Tuesday after a government official allegedly described a party legislator as Maoist spokesperson.

As the house assembled, the Congress members led by former home minister and senior party legislator Nandkumar Patel sought an explanation from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government about a letter sent by Dantewada District Collector K.R. Pisda this month to
the state government, seeking withdrawal of y-category security for Congress MLA Kawasi Lakhma, describing him as a sympathiser and spokesman of Maoist militants.

Lakhma, a Congress legislator from Dantewada’s Konta assembly segment, said in the house that the official was targeting him as he (Lakhma) had exposed corruption in the district.

‘People in my constituency and even my family members have fallen prey to the Maoist violence. How many relatives of the district collector were killed by the rebels?’ he asked amid slogan shouting by Congress members who demanded action against the collector.

Speaker Prem Prakash Pandey adjourned the house for an hour. Home Minister Ramvichar Netam later told the house: ‘The state government has asked an additional chief secretary-ranked official to probe the matter and also sought an explanation from the Dantewada collector.’

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Delhi’ duo in CRPF net

Posted by Admin on November 29, 2007

A CRPF jawan in Nandigram: Fettered?

Nandigram, Nov. 28: CRPF jawans tonight picked up two suspected Naxalites and handed them over to police though the Hindi-speaking youths in their mid-twenties claimed they were “freelance journalists” from Delhi.

CRPF deputy inspector- general Alok Raj said the two, picked up from Jambari village, were moving about suspiciously when they were stopped by the jawans.

“They identified themselves as Sunil Ganguly and Prabha Kar and claimed they were freelance journalists from Delhi. When we asked them where they had put up, they told us they were staying in the relief camp in Nandigram High School. We cross-checked and found they were staying at the relief camp for the past four days,” Raj said.

“We suspect they belong to a Naxalite outfit,” an East Midnapore police officer said.

Earlier in the day, the central force claimed the district police had asked it not to arrest anyone, including those accused of murder during the land war, without a go-ahead from the cops.

Raj said he got a “message” this morning “from the office of the superintendent of police (S.S. Panda)” that the police would “first” conduct a probe.

“If they find anyone guilty… but absconding, they will inform us so that we can take action,” he added.

Panda denied that he had sent any such message to Raj.

In Calcutta, inspector-general, law and order, Raj Kanojia, said he, too, did not have any such information.

CPM state secretariat member Shyamal Chakraborty today met chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee and told him that CRPF personnel were attacking CPM men in Nandigram.

“I told him (Bhattacharjee) the CRPF jawans have overstepped their limits. How can they move into three or four villages without the local administration’s permission?” Chakraborty said. “Three of the jawans are Trinamul supporters. They attacked our men in Satengabari, Maheshpur and Ranichowk.”

A team of 10 CBI sleuths, led by deputy inspector general Aloke Ranjan, today had their first day out in Nandigram and held meetings with Raj and other CRPF officials at the central force’s Khejuri camp.

One of the sleuths conceded it would be a tough job probing whether the March 14 police firing on land protesters was justified.

“The people who faced the police on March 14 now live at the CPM’s mercy. Most have already enrolled as CPM supporters,” a CBI official said.


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Ex-principal detained for Maoist link

Posted by Admin on November 29, 2007

Wednesday November 28 2007 09:25 IST

SAMBALPUR: A retired college principal and his son were detained for suspected links with Maoists and huge quantities of explosives seized.

Acting on a tip-off, a police team raided a house at Chauldhipa in Rengali area of Sambalpur district on Monday and seized 297 pieces of gelatine sticks, 37 kg power gel and another high explosive weighing 25 kg, Sambalpur SP Sanjay Kumar said on Tuesday.

The team also seized 34 detonators, 500 metres of fuse wire and 250-metre detonator charging wire during the raid, the SP said, adding those explosives could be meant for Maoists.

The retired principal of Surajmal College, Rengali, Tulsidas Mahana and his son Seshadev Mahana (26), have been detained for interrogation. Kumar said the family did not have the licence to store, buy or sell explosives.

He refuted claims that the explosives seized were meant for quarrying. There was every possibility that those could have been diverted to the Naxals, he added.

Express News Service

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Tribal girl stripped and beaten in ASSAM.

Posted by Admin on November 27, 2007

Jorhat (Assam), Nov 26: As visuals of a tribal woman being stripped and assaulted on the streets of Guwahati drew nationwide revulsion, Assam government today ordered a judicial inquiry into Saturday`s clashes between adivasis and residents there and announced Rs one lakh assistance for her.

Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi told reporters here that the inquiry would go into the circumstances leading to the clash between tribals and local residents and all other related matters and the judge would submit its report within two to three months.

Assam Planning and Development Minister and former Assembly Speaker Prithvi Majhi, himself a tribal, described it as “very barbaric” the assault of tribals and the stripping of the woman.

Tribal students and tea garden workers, demanding Scheduled Tribe status, had gone on the rampage in Guwahati on Saturday attacking shops and other business establishments triggering a clash with local residents. The violence left one dead and over 230 injured.

Tribals being beaten in Assam
Hundreds of tribals were wounded in the attack

Tribal leaders from Jharkhand cutting across political parties condemned the assault on adivasis in Guwahati and Jharkhand Mukti Morcha chief Sibu Soren demanded ST status for them in Assam.

Meeting in hospitals the Adivasi victims of Saturday`s clash in Guwahati, Soren told reporters “the Adivasis work to feed the nation….The state government has to push their demand so that the Centre accepts it”.

Jharkhand`s Congress unit asked Chief Minister Madhu Koda to call upon his Assam counterpart to take effective steps and prevent a repeat of Saturday`s incidents.

CPI(M) accused the Assam police and administration of non-seriousness during the rally that led to the violence.

The Janata Dal(U) also extended moral support to the bandh, said its spokesman Pramod Mishra.

Several other political parties and organisations also deplored the Guwahati incident.

Meanwhile, police arrested three people allegedly responsible for outraging the modesty of an Adivasi woman during the clash.

The three arrested were Prasenjit Chakravarty, Sandip Chakdar and Ratul Barman.

Bureau Report

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CPI-M activists evict Kerala tribal families

Posted by Admin on November 27, 2007

Web posted at: 11/27/2007 0:54:59
Source ::: The Peninsula/ By John Mary

Thiruvananthapuram • In a Nadigram-style operation minus the violence, Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPM) activists drove out tribal people from Government land atop the Munnar hills today, thwarting their move for a permanent settlement.

Tribal families, who had pitched tents on 1,500 acres allotted to Hindustan Newsprint for its captive plantation at Chinnakkanal, were caught unawares as the CPM cadres staged the takeover operation this morning. The activists, backed by local party reinforcements later in the day, tore down tents and put party flags, declaring the success of the operation.

Local people said tension prevailed in the area since tribal activists have threatened to recover the land and not to leave until the Government honored its commitment to distribute land to all landless Adivasi families in the State.

Tribal families, including children, had occupied the land under the banner of the Adivasi Punaradhivasa Samrakshana Samithy (tribal rehabilitation protection committee).

The provocation had come as the fallout of the deal struck between Chief Minister AK Antony and tribal leader C K Janu. At a grand function, Antony distributed title-deeds but only 540 families out of the 798 families got the land.

“They had waited for more than five years for the land. The Government had forced them to resort to direct action. They have run out of patience and there’s no question of returning without getting the land”, said tribal solidarity leader C P Shaji.

However, the local CPM leaders alleged that Congress and Communist Party of India had instigated the tribal people to occupy Government land so they could grab the land once the dust settled.

Tribal agitation has traversed a chequered course in Kerala. Janu had led many families on a 48-day sit-in in front of the Government Secretariat soon after Antony came to power in 2001.

The agitation ended with Antony agreeing to a seven-point demand, mainly five acres to each landless tribal family and a rehabilitation package to ensure that the land was not alienated.

However, the pact suffered a setback after Janu led a tribal band to the Muthanga wildlife sanctuary in the northern Wynad district two years later, leading to deaths a policeman and a tribal youth.

The most important fallout of agitations has been that both the Government and the tribal activists succeeded in shifting the focus of the nearly 50-year-old tribal struggle in Kerala from the issue of “restoration of alienated land” to one of “land for the landless tribal people”.

In April 1975, Kerala Assembly unanimously adopted the Kerala Scheduled Tribes (Restriction on Transfer of Lands and Restoration of Alienated Lands) Act, which sought to prevent the lands of the tribal people from falling into the hands of non-tribal people. The Act also sought to restore to the tribal people their previously alienated lands.

But that has remained mostly on paper.


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