Lalgarh

Where injustice prevails, Rebellion is justice!

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Archive for December, 2009

Our movement for Adak and Bera’s release will continue: PCPA

Posted by Admin on December 19, 2009

Rebel kill-&-burn spree
OUR CORRESPONDENT
19trucks.jpgThe blaze at the sponge iron factory. (Samir Mondal)

Jhargram, Dec. 18: Maoists killed three CPM workers, set ablaze oil tankers on a national highway and torched a sponge iron factory and over a dozen vehicles on the first day of a protest against arrests which police denied having made.

Raju Adak and Joyram Bera had allegedly been picked up from Lalgarh on December 6, but no one by those names has been produced in court — in Jhargram or Midnapore — in the past few days.

“No such arrest has been made,” West Midnapore police chief Manoj Verma said.

The People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities identified the duo as its leaders and vowed to continue the agitation for their release.

Police sources said the duo were “hardcore” Maoists who used the committee as a front. Residents of Lalgarh, they have over 30 murder cases against them.

“The Maoists committed today’s murders and engineered the arson,” said Verma. Read the rest of this entry »

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Delhi Protesters March Against Operation Green Hunt

Posted by Admin on December 19, 2009

Source: Posted by Ka Frank on December 18, 2009

On the streets of Delhi, see more pictures below.

PRESS STATEMENT, December 17, 2009

The Forum Against War on People organised the “Rally Against War on People” to protest against the brutal military offensive of the Indian state on the tribal people of central and eastern India through Operation Green Hunt, wherein lakhs [1 lakh = 100,000] of the paramilitary-military as well as various vigilante gangs such as the Salwa Judum, Nagrik Suraksha Samiti, Sendra, Tritiya Prastuti Samiti, Harmad Vahini etc. has let loose on the people. …

The rally commenced from ram Lila Maidan at 11 am and reached Parliament Street where in various social activists, intellectuals, representatives of people’s organisations and civil rights activists addressed the gathering. People from Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Jharkhand, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Tamilnadu and Kerala attended the rally.

Later a delegation comprising of BD Sharma (Former Commissioner SC/ST), GN Saibaba (Assistant Professor, DU), Prashant Bhushan (Advocate, Supreme Court), Karen Gabriel (Associate Professor, DU), Gautam Navalakha (Consultant Editor, EPW), Mrigank (Navjawan Bharat Sabha) gave a memorandum to the Prime Minister. In the absence of the Prime Minister, Mr. Prithviraj Chauhan, MoS, PMO accepted the memorandum.

In Solidarity,

Campaign Against War on People, Committee Against Violence On Women (CAVOW), Naga Students Union Delhi (NSUD), Navjawan Bharat Sabha (NBS), Correspondence, KRALOS, KLAS, Krantikari Yuva Sanghathan (KYS), PFD, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), MKP, Campaign for Peace & Democracy Manipur (CPDM), Democratic Students Union (DSU), Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP), DGMF, People’s Front (PF), Mazdoor Ekta Manch (MEM), Left Democratic Teacher’s Front (LDTF), Revolutionary Democratic Front (RDF), People’s Democratic Front of India (PDFI), CPI (ML) (New Democracy), CPI (ML) (Liberation), CPI (ML) (New Proletarian), JNU Forum Against War on People, BD Sharma, Arundhati Roy, Tripta Wahi, Vijay Singh, Neshat Quaiser, and others.

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Chhattisgarh: A Young Lawyer Appeals For Justice

Posted by Admin on December 17, 2009

Source: 0-9-A-Z

Those of you who have been reading my blog posts regularly, know about the back story of Kopa Kunjam (a tribal leader now falsely accused of murder) and Alban Toppo (a lawyer working towards tribal rights). Even if you don’t, you can read this open letter by Toppo and it will give you enough info. He writes, "I have been subjected this kind of brutality for working for poor and powerless. It is against law, against democracy and even against morality to do this to an advocate. If such kind of treatment is given to young lawyers who want to work towards a better society, young generation will loose hope." What do we have to say about that?

AN OPEN LETTER & APPEAL

I am a fresh lawyer coming from a tribal family of Jashpur, Chhattishgarh. I finished my law graduation in year 2008, got enrolled with Chhattisgarh Bar Council and started working for poor and underprivileged. For which I had a commitment since my college days. I started learning basics of human rights litigation at Delhi office of Human Rights Law Network and very recently had come to Chhattisgarh to do research for right to food case which is going on in Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and for this. I went to Dantewada, and met Mr. Himanshu Kumar, Director of Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, who has done some study on this issue and taking information, his advice and guidance. I was also providing some legal assistance to him during my stay in Dantewada.

On 10 December, 2009 at about 2:30 P.M. the Thana Incharge (TI) of Bhairamgarh Police Station Mr. K.S. Nand in civil uniform came to the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA) situated at Katiyarraas accompanied by approximately more than 25 SPO’s in 5 cars. Director of VCA, Shri Himanshu Kumar and few other volunteers of VCA were present. I was also present there. TI spoke to Himanshu Kumar about taking Kopa Kunjam, s/o Lacchu Kunjam, resident of village Alnaar, Block – Geedam, P.S. Dantewada, who is a volunteer of VCA stating that they need him for some interrogation by the Superintendent of Police. He said, “SP Sahab ne bulaya hai, kuch puch tach karni hai”. No notice was served for this. However on being asked by Himanshu Kumar to give some written notice about it, the TI Bhairamgarh immediately wrote on a piece of paper that, “Prati, Kopa Kunjam ! Apse thana Dantewada me kuch poonch thanch karna chahta hoon. Kripya ap mere sath sadar P.S. kotwali chalein.” (I want to do some investigation with you at Dantewada Police Station. Please come with me to P.S. Kotwali). Being an Advocate present at the spot, I thought it to be my duty to accompany VCA Volunteer Kopa Kunjam to Dantewada police station. With the consent of Himanshu Kumar, Director-VCA I went alongwith Kopa Kunjam. At Dantewada police station we were asked to sit down. After making both of us wait for about half an hour, we were asked to come and sit in a vehicle . Thinking that we were being taken to the S.P. Office, we sat in the vehicle. As vehicle proceeded, I introduced myself to the IT Bhairamgadh saying that I am an advocate, having done my law course from Hidayatullah National Law University, Raipur and am associated with Human Rights Law Network. When the vehicle crossed Dantewada, we became suspicious and asked as to where we were being taken now, to which TI, Bhairamgarh, replied, “Kopa Kunjam is now being taken to Beejapur District”. Kopa Kunjam refused to go further as he was not informed about being taken to Beejapur earlier. I also objected to it, stating that the police should follow necessary procedures under the law and should act as per guidelines of the Supreme Court and that they cannot take Mr.Kopa to Beejapur without giving any notice in this regard. By this time Kopa Kunjam came out from the Bolero vehicle and I also got out of the vehicle. The TI along with 2 others got hold of Mr.Kopa and with the help of around 15 S.P.O’s bundled Mr. Kopa into another vehicle which was also coming along with them. When I again resisted to such behavior saying that it was illegal to behave in this manner, two S.P.O.’s started abusing and slapping me and bundled me also inside the car. Before being bundled into car, I somehow managed inform my senior Lawyer, colleagues and friends in Delhi about this incident. Noticing this two SPOs, started slapping and beating me and tried to snatch my mobile and, but I didn’t give my mobile, but after this they force me inside the car and did not allow me use the mobile phone.

At about 5 P.M., we reached Bhairamgarh police station. The IT, Bhairamgadh asked me to give my mobile phone and also asked to switch it off and we were asked to sit there inside the police station. We were kept at a place inside police station with two S.P.O. keeping an eye on us. At about 8 p.m. we were taken for dinner in a nearby Hotel, from where we came in 15-20 minutes. At about 8:45 P.M. the officials of Bhairamgarh police station called me inside a room and tried to ask about the reason of me deciding to accompany Mr.Kopa. About three minutes later TI of Bhairamgarh started addressing me in an extremely rude and disrespectful manner and soon became violent and abusive. He started abusing me with slur and offensive language, which was followed by beatings with a thick bamboo stick and with a hard rubber cane, continuously slapping me while pulling my hair and kicking severely. After sometime he went out and started beating Kopa Kunjam. Kopa Kunjum was brought into the same room and both of us were beaten severely for 30 minutes by the TI Mr. Nand and an assistant constable Banjara, while some 15 other police staff & S.P.Os surrounded both of us. TI Mr. Nand also said that “ No Advocate in Bastar dares to speak in my presence and you talk a lot. Now show me how much you can talk! Show me how much law you know?” Later I was taken to a separate room and was questioned about the purpose of my stay in Dantewada and association with VCA. At around 10 PM, I listened someone saying that , “Sala Bada Admi hai , Delhi se Sahab ka phone aya hai.” Soon after this I was asked to write in a paper that I was brought to Bhairamgadh and as it has become late evening and there is no mode of transport and since the area is a very sensitive and unsafe, I decided to spend the night at Bhairamgarh station, where I am safe. In Bhairamgadh Police Station, they said that that Himanshu is a Naxalite and whoever is working with Himanshu is a naxalite and who stays with Himanshu it a Naxal supporter.

Mr. Kopa was very badly beaten and had received serious injuries on his chest, back and leg, due to which he was even unable to walk and sleep properly. I have got injuries on front portion of elbow of right hand, biceps and back causing severe pain and swelling. I was even not able to move my hands and back due to severe pain. I spend whole of night shivering and in pain, speculating what next is to happen.

On 11 December, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. I was send to Dantewada police station accompanied by 4 S.P.O.’s in a vehicle and one head constable of Bhairamgarh police station, while Mr. Kopa was kept detained. When they reached Dantewada Police Station, two volunteers of VCA were called and I was handed over to them.

After being released, next date day, I went to Ambedkar Hospital, Raipur to get a medical examination done, however I was asked make a compliant before the police and I was informed that the police will come after I make the complaint and then MLC will be conducted in the presence of police. I thought of going back to Dantewada to lodge the F.I.R. but because I was scared of being implicated in any false case this time, I did not go there.

However, being very much concerned about the trend of even lawyers not being allowed to function freely and being beaten up like this, I have no other option except to write this open letter-cum-appeal addressed to every body so that the issue could be taken up by the society itself. I have been subjected this kind of brutality for working for poor and powerless. It is against law, against democracy and even against morality to do this to an advocate. If such kind of treatment is given to young lawyers who want to work towards a better society, young generation will loose hope.

Kindly take appropriate step against those who have abused power vested in them to beat and insult me in this gruesome manner and help restoring the faith of young people in the democracy and rule of law.
Yours Sincerely

Alban Toppo

Advocate

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Press Release: Women activists not allowed to enter Dantewada

Posted by Admin on December 16, 2009

Source: Radical Notes December 16, 2009 at 4:54 pm in Chhattisgarh, India, Press Release, State Terrorism, Women’s oppression

Campaign against Sexual Violence and State Repression

On 12-13 December, 2009, about 120 people from numerous women’s and democratic organisations representing 10 states participated in the Campaign against Sexual Violence and State Repression meeting held at Raipur, Chhattisgarh. On 13th evening a representative group of 39 members set out from Raipur to Dantewada to extend support and solidarity to the adivasi women who had filed complaints before the NHRC and also filed private complaints of rape and sexual assault and are pursuing these valiantly.

The groups set out in 4 vehicles at around 10 p.m. The team was stopped at Charama Police Station, Kanker, at around 12.30 p.m. by D.S.P. Neg and his juniors; personal details were recorded while the drivers were whisked away separately inside the thana. Team members were forbidden to accompany the drivers and threats of ‘goli mar denge’ were repeatedly called out to us. Under the guise of interrogation the drivers were threatened with grave danger if they proceeded with us. Police confiscated one of our vehicles and forbid one driver from driving on allegations of improper documentation. The police finally allowed 3 vehicles to proceed to Makdi tola, the next junction, to procure a replacement vehicle for further journey. This entire episode lasted for about 2 hours.

After a twenty minute journey, the team was again stopped at Makdi on the grounds that the documents acceptable at Charama were now improper. Meanwhile our drivers succumbed to fear of further police action and refused to drive us further; we had also been followed by police in plain clothes. Around 3 a.m. the team somehow managed to board two buses going to Jagdalpur. These two buses were again stopped for passenger identification- first at Keshkal and then at Farusgaon; individual details noted were again noted each time and the halts were prolonged.

After a drive of 2 hours, the 2 buses were again stopped at Kondagaon police station; personal details were noted yet again. The passengers and driver were informed by policeman Awdhesh Jha that the buses would be allowed to proceed on condition that they offloaded the 39 passengers who had boarded at Makdi. Around 6 a.m., we were forced to disembark and wait at Kondagaon police station for the S.P. Khan M. Khan. DSP Vishwaranjan, when contacted by one of our team members, claimed lack of knowledge of our detention and promised to respond after finding the reason. Not only did he not call back but he did not take our further calls. S.P Khan, after he finally arrived at about 8 a.m., claimed that we’d been offloaded for our own protection. He also informed us that 4-5000 people were blocking the roads at Korenar and Dantewada in anticipation of our arrival. On further probing he claimed that we were free to leave and he would facilitate our travel to Dantewada with private vehicles.

We decided, however, to take public transport to Jagdalpur from the Kondagaon bus stand, primarily to consult with SP at Jagdalpur to assess the situation before further travel. Not surprisingly, the bus drivers at this bus-stand refused to take us; they claimed that they had been warned by the police. By this time the atmosphere was getting increasingly intimidating and oppressive as lots of motorcycles with youth cruised in front of us. Two trucks full of armed security personnel unloaded in front of us.

By this time many of our members had begun the process of contacting friends across the country and media both from Kondagaon and from Jagdalpur began arriving at the Kondagaon bus-stand. The team now began interacting with members of the public and press. We answered their queries and experienced no hostility; some of the local press narrated that the police were all-powerful in each locality and were instrumental in the suppression of free speech.

Given that we were unable to proceed to Jagdalpur, at around 10.30 we decided to return to Raipur by bus. This time though, our bus was met at Kanker bus stand by 10-15 men who initially blocked the entrance with placards, shouted anti-naxal slogans to intimidate us, and our co-passengers. As the bus left the bus-stand it was brought to a halt in the middle of the market; we again had men at the windows shouting at us. A man claiming to be a Haribhoomi journalist deflated a tyre; while it was being replaced two men boarded and shot us on camera at close quarters. We proceeded towards Raipur at about 11.45 a.m.

What we witnessed today has convinced us that all the reports of rampant violence, especially against women and their families could well be true. The state appears to be trying to hide the heinous crimes committed in this region by not letting independent teams enter the region and by the way it has tried to curb people’s efforts to reach there. It is disturbing to imagine what would be the situation inside the zone for women and for people’s movements and organisations.

The recent situation in Narayanpatna in bordering Orissa has also been similar where a fact-finding team of 10 women from across the country investigating allegations of molestation were bullied, intimated and roughed-up; their vehicle’s glass was broken and the driver was rounded up by the police at the behest of local liquor mafia, landlords and mining companies.

We hold the state responsible for our diminishing democratic spaces and demand an independent inquiry into this matter.

We further demand that people’s organisations have free and safe entry into these militarized areas for independent inquiry.

The Campaign is not deterred by the state’s efforts to subsume and threaten democratic rights groups and activists reporting state atrocities against women with the label of “naxalite” and “naxalite-supporters” and “undertaking anti-government activities”. Unquestioned, the state’s use of sexual violence as a method of repression would remain uncovered and increase. If justice is to be served, we – individuals, organisations and various sectors of civil society including the media- should join hands in protesting against state repression.

Women against Sexual violence and State Repression as currently represented by: AIPWA, AISA (Delhi), Bhopal Gas Peedit Mahila Udyog Sangathan, Chhatisgarh Mukti Morcha (Chhatisgarh), CAVOW, Dalit Stree Shakti (Andhra Pradesh), HRLN (Madhya Pradesh), Human Rights Alert (Manipur), IRMA (Manipur), IWID, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (Madhya Pradesh), Kashipur Solidarity (Delhi), Madhya Pradesh Mahila Manch (Madhya Pradesh), Nari Mukti Sanstha (Delhi), Navsarjan (Gujarat), NBA (Madhya Pradesh), Pratidhwani (Delhi), PUCL (Karnataka), Saheli (Delhi), Sahmet (Madhya Pradesh), Samajwadi Jan Parishad (Madhya Pradesh), Sangini (Madhya Pradesh), Vanangana (Uttar Pradesh), Vidyarthi Yuvjan Sabha, Women’s Right Resource Center (Madhya Pradesh), Yuva Samvaad (Madhya Pradesh), Stree Adhikar Sanghatan (Uttar Pradesh), and individuals

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Lalgarh: Cop boycott call in Salboni

Posted by Admin on December 16, 2009

OUR CORRESPONDENT

Salboni, Dec. 14: Traders of a Salboni bazaar have decided to start a “social boycott” of the joint forces after some of the personnel allegedly ransacked shops following a blast in which a jawan was injured.

The boycott means shops in Pirakata, about 20km from Lalgarh, will not sell provisions to the personnel.

Such a move had forced police to the brink of starvation and pull out a camp from Kalaimuri in April, when the Lalgarh agitation was at its peak. Aided by Maoists, the villagers demolished the camp after the police left. They also blocked the supply of essentials to the camp in Ramgarh in May.

Food may not be a problem now because the roads, dug up during the Maoist-backed agitation, have been repaired. But, at a time the police are desperate to win back villagers’ confidence, the alleged ransacking of shops spells a public relations disaster.

West Midnapore police chief Manoj Verma denied any ransacking.

But stationery shop owner Debashis Ghosh had a differ- ent story to tell. “The police were brought here to maintain law and order but they are doing just the opposite. We won’t sell any item to them,” he said.

The security forces were engaged in a gun battle with Maoists in Pirakata this evening. It continued intermittently from 5pm to 9pm.

Around 8.30pm, supporters of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities ransacked the local CPM office.

Tea stall owner Pintu Manna said the jawans accused the villagers of being in cahoots with the rebels while ransacking the shops yesterday.

Ghosh alleged that 20 shops were targeted because they had refused to shut down after the jawan was injured.

Verma said the police had asked them to down shutters fearing an encounter with the Maoists. “That led to a verbal spat. But it’s not true that shops were ransacked.”

Source: The Telegraph

http://www.telegraphindia.com/1091215/jsp/bengal/story_11865007.jsp

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PCAPA men ‘picked up’ by joint forces go missing, cops deny arresting them

Posted by Admin on December 16, 2009

Two activists of the People’s Committee Against Police Atrocities (PCAPA), who were reportedly picked up by joint forces from their Lalgarh homes on December 6, have been reported missing even as the police deny having arrested them. Jhargram Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Ulganathan P has directed the IC of Lalgarh police station to furnish a report mentioning the whereabouts of the two — Raju Adak and Jaideb Bera.

Kanika Adak, wife of Raju, and Anjali Bera, wife of Jaideb, have jointly filed a miscellaneous petition with the Jhargram Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) Ulganathan P, claiming that Raju and Jaideb have not been booked in any case.

Kaushik Sinha, Kanika’s lawyer, said: “On December 6, the joint forces picked up Raju from Jirakhuli and Jaideb from Jirapara. Around 16 persons were picked up from the area of which 14 were released. There is, however, no news on Raju and Jaideb.”

Superintendent of Police, West Midnapore, Manoj Verma, said: “The joint forces did not arrest anybody from Jirapara in Lalgarh on December 6. Raju and Jaideb are not in our custody.”

Kanika, however, disagrees with the police version. “Around 75-80 police personnel entered our village around 1 am on December 6 and arrested my husband. The following day when I went to the Lalgrah police station, they told me that Raju has been detained and would be released after interrogation.”

She added: “Ten days have passed since, but they have neither released Raju nor produced him in court. I am completely in the dark about his whereabouts.”

The SDM admitted that he has not received any report on the matter. “According to rules, if the police arrest anybody from the area falling under my jurisdiction, they need to intimate me. In this case, I was not informed. The matter has been brought to my notice and I have asked the IC to furnish a report by December 24,” said the SDM.

The PCAPA, meanwhile, has threatened to resort to violence if the duo is not tracked within a week. “There are several witnesses who will speak in court on how Raju and Jaideb were dragged out of their homes by the joint forces and arrested. We have information that they were handed over to the CPM cadres. If the police cannot tell us about their whereabouts in a week, we will use arms against the officials and nobody will stop us.” IE

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Chhattisgarh Groups Plan Opposition to Operation Green Hunt

Posted by Admin on December 15, 2009

Source: Revolution in South Asia Posted by Ka Frank on December 15, 2009

Results of Salwa Judum, precursor to Operation Green Hunt

Campaign for Peace and Justice in Chhattisgarh

For the People’s Rightto Say No to Displacement and Tribal Genocide and to Demandthe Right to Live with Justice and Peace

Raipur/Dantewada, December 1, 2009

Dear Friends,

You are aware that the tribals of Dantewada district in Chhattisgarh State are continuously facing large-scale displacement from their homes, fields and forests as well as a genocide in the last five years. The first aggressive onslaught was by the state sponsored vigilante group called the Salwa Judum. In the last five months, the people of this region are victims of a war called Operation Green Hunt. Paramilitary troops along with the state armed police deployed in very large numbers by the Central and the state governments are carrying out operations against the tribals in the name of curbing Maoists and reclaiming territories from them.

In order to build public opinion and to support the tribal people in their demand to stop this displacement and genocide and to reclaim their right to live with justice and peace, several community based and people’s organisations, union and human rights groups from Chhattisgarh and outside are planning a series of activities in Dantewada in Chhattisgarh.

This letter is being sent to you so that you can block the dates between 14 December 2009 and 7 January 2010 and come to Dantewada in support of tribal people. The list of events and dates are as follows:

1. Padyatra: 14 December to 26 December 2009

A padyatra [journey on foot] from Nendra village to Dantewada town via Lingagiri is being organised that will pass through more than 17 villages. This padyatra will be led by Himanshu Kumar of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram and this group of approximately 40 persons will mainly consist of students, journalists and activists from all over the country. The main objective is to restore a sense of confidence amongst the tribals who are living in acute fear due to the onslaught of the security forces. The padyatris will also document the atrocities that the tribals have been subjected to including the situation of hunger, food insecurity, lack of health and educational facilities and other forms of deprivation faced due to the ongoing displacement and war in the region.

2. Dantewada Satyagrah: 25 December 2009 to 5 January 2010

Tribal people from all over Dantewada and other regions of Chhattisgarh will launch a Satyagrah [active non-violent resistance] on 25 December 2009 which will have the support of tribals from Jharkhand, Orissa, Maharashtra, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, among other states. We are hoping that large groups of people from these states and from all National Networks, unions and organisations working on diverse people’s issues will respond to this call and join in the Satyagrah for some of these days. The objective of the Satyagrah is to bring together concerned people from all over the country to demand in one voice an end to displacement of people and to the war that is underway in this region.

A Raipur assistance group set up for the Satyagrah will be headed by Shri Rajendra Sail of the PUCL to help people coming to join the Satyagrah from the North, East and West India as well as from other parts of Chhattigarh. Raipur is situated on the Mumbai-Kolkata route and is well connected by train from most parts of the country. Dantewada is situated 400 kms. from Raipur and direct buses are available between the two towns through the day and night that take about 12 hours each way

People coming from the South can take train or bus from Vishakhapatnam or bus from Hyderabad. The distance is 500 kms. from Hyderabad via Bhadrachalam and takes about 16 hours.

3. Jan Sunwai: 6-7 January 2010 (the date may be advanced or postponed by a day)

The Satyagrah will culminate with a Jan Sunwai [public meeting with
a panel of experts] where tribal residents of this region will share their experiences of the Salwa Judum, Operation Green Hunt and their struggle for justice. This Jan Sunwai will be witnessed by a panel of ex-justices, senior activists from various people’s movements, ex-bureaucrats and policemen, journalists and intellectuals including those from among the tribals.

This letter is a request to you and your group/organisation to begin preparation for your participation in the series of events given above.

Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, People’s Union for Civil Liberties (Chhattisgarh), Chhattisgarh Visthapan Virodhi Manch, Chhattigarh Mukti Morcha, Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha – Mazdoor Karyakarta Samiti, Nadi Ghati Morcha, Human Rights Law Network (Chhattisgarh), National Alliance of People’s Movements, Chhattisgarh Mahila Jagriti Sangathan, Chhattisgarh Bal Shramik Sangathan, Gram Sabha Parishad, Tribal Welfare Society, and others (endorsments by other organisations are awaited)

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Orissa: Mining company’s scare tactics against human rights NGO

Posted by Admin on December 15, 2009

There have been repeated protests against Vedanta's planned mine.There have been repeated protests against Vedanta’s planned mine.
© Satyabady Naik

Metals giant Vedanta Resources’ Indian subsidiary has launched an unprecedented attack on Survival International, apparently to drive its researchers out of an area where the company is planning to mine.

The mining company has falsely accused Survival of ‘forcedly interacting’ with the Dongria Kondh tribe who live around the area earmarked for mining, and of causing ‘unrest.’ Vedanta has prompted a police investigation into Survival, with officers making a late night visit to a hotel where they believed Survival researchers were staying.

Survival researchers were in the Niyamgiri area of Orissa, east India, to talk with members of the Dongria Kondh community whose future is threatened by a proposed Vedanta mine on their sacred mountain.

Pavan Kaushik, Vedanta Group’s head of corporate communications, wrote to journalists alleging that ‘foreign NGOs including Survival International… are provoking innocent tribal’s to defame the government and the company’. In the letter, he attacked ‘foreigners’ for ‘freely moving in the region’ and alleged that they were circulating ‘false information’. The letter also invites journalists to contact the regional Superintendent of Police, who is named as available for interview.

In September the British government ruled that Vedanta had repeatedly failed to respect the human rights of the Dongria Kondh, demanding a change in the company’s behaviour. The government asked Survival to report back on what steps Vedanta had taken to implement these ‘essential’ changes before the end of the year.

Gordon Bennett, a London barrister who represented the Kalahari Bushmen in their historic win over the Botswana government, has been acting on behalf of the Dongria Kondh in their complaint over Vedanta’s behaviour, and accompanied the Survival researchers.

He said today, ‘We have not circulated any false information about Vedanta’s mining activities. All the information we have given the Dongria has been culled from Vedanta’s own mining plan, which it has never troubled to discuss with the Dongria itself. We have not ‘forcedly interacted’ with the Dongrias: on the contrary we have been warmly welcomed by all those we have been able to meet.

‘We have not provoked ‘innocent tribals’ to defame either the government or Vedanta. It is true to say however that feelings run high in Niyamgiri and that many Dongria regard Vedanta with suspicion and distrust. They believe that their way of life is under serious threat.

‘We have done nothing to create ‘misunderstanding’. It is Vedanta which has done this, both by its refusal to meet with us, and more importantly by its repeated failure either to consult the Dongria about its plans for their sacred hills, or to pay any regard to their views.’

He added, ‘If Vedanta has nothing to hide, it is difficult to understand why it has gone out of its way to obstruct our inquiries. Their press release is entirely without foundation.’

Survival researcher Dr. Jo Woodman is available for interview in India on +91 9953 409 060. For other media enquiries please contact Miriam Ross on +(44) (0)20 7687 8734 or mr

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No news from Narayanpatna

Posted by Admin on December 15, 2009

Source: Radical Notes Posted by Satyabrata December 15, 2009 at 12:43 am in India, Media, Orissa, State Terrorism

“The fact is people have lost the fear of the law because they feel they can get away with anything. My job is to take hard police action against the Naxals. The fear of the law is to be ingrained in the people.”

This is how one of the leading police officers in Chhattisgarh defined his task. All of us understand what constitutes the mechanism of ingraining the fear so that it becomes part of the people’s collective unconscious for a long time to come. It has been practiced in Kashmir, in the Northeast, in Chhattisgarh among many other places, and now in Orissa.

The State has dealt with the Narayanpatna movement in Orissa too in a most brutal, yet tactful, manner so that the possibilities inherent in it are not realized, and its brutal suppression becomes a reminder lesson for others on what constitutes the legitimate within the evolving political economy in India.

As “a single spark can start a prairie fire”, the state apparatuses are not just busy beating the “spark” down, they are, in fact, trying to hide it or corrupt the vision of the beholders, so that the spark does not seem to be a spark. Even liberal fact finding teams are not allowed to enter the Narayanpatna block of Koraput. The bitter experience of the all-women fact finding team that consisted of prominent civil rights activists from all over India is only symbolic of how brutal the State can become when the question is of safeguarding the interests of capital and its agencies.

It would not be fallacious to say that the situation in Narayanpatna is a clear manifestation of the fascist conjuncture of capitalist development in India. We find a remarkable complementarity between the three wings of the Indian state and its coercive and consensual/ideological apparatuses in maintaining the rhyme and reason of political economic developments. The synergy among various levels of political and bureaucratic institutions and between the state’s repressive components (the local police, the cobra battalions, and civilian stormtroopers like salwa judum in Chhattisgarh) and the Fourth Estate of the hegemonic forces is unprecedented. Anybody who has attempted to organize press conferences in Raipur (the capital of Chhattisgarh) to highlight incidences of state repression is witness to mafia media men shouting at the organisers. All these form the fascio (a bundle of sticks or rods) by which the Indian state rules.

Today, we see entry into Narayanpatna virtually impossible. The police, local exploiters and the private militiamen whom the women’s fact finding team confronted on the 9th of December guard the very entrance of the area. To complement this, the local and to an extent the national media has been playing its role most sincerely projecting the movement as an expression of uncivilized violence, while remaining unabashedly antipathetic to the cause and scope of the movement. When fact finding teams have attempted to unravel the truth, what has happened is in front of our eyes. Hence, we have no news from inside Narayanpatna, except a few statements of the police present there – regarding how many are held or killed etc.

The height of brutality that must be going on in Narayanpatna can only be imagined from what treatment a women’s fact finding team received in the hands of ‘the armed bodies of men’ even after taking the requisite permission from the local authorities to enter the area. Abused and beaten came back a team of civil dignitaries with sincere intentions of finding the ‘neutral’ truth.

The media reports that Nachika Linga, leader of CMAS, who is now in the most wanted list of the government is under the shelter of the ‘Maoists’. It is necessary here to pontificate at the apathy of the media towards any move that has been taken in Bhubaneswar (the capital of Orissa) to empathise with the Narayanpatna movement. About 100 people from various organizations on the 10th of December silently demonstrated in the city’s Master Canteen Square against the issuing of the order to arrest Nachika Linga. This was something that could have been sublime to the media but what instead caught the media’s eyes is the probable alliance of Nachika with the ‘Maoists’. (However, if at all Nachika Linga is protected by the Maoists today, this is more a comment on India’s rule of law and those who see possibilities within it – it proves that the ‘democratic’ voices having faith in the present system are not able to protect people’s self-rule efforts).

Today, the State has militarized the democratic movement of the tribals and landless. To tackle the movement of the landless and the near-landless inside Narayanpatna, there is an already existing State sponsored militia. It is important to clarify that this is a well thought out strategy of the state, by which it demarcates the “limits of legitimation” for any popular collective action. And the state understands that the people have crossed those limits in Narayanpatna.

So war zones are being defined and the “national” media is fast becoming a “nationalist” media – a propaganda machinery to fight the influence of “aggressors”. However, this time, the aggression is from within – the “cattle class” which was bred to be slaughtered threatens the “nation” of the first class. The media in India today gives expressions to the anxieties of the first class, packaging its hallucinations as facts and news reports.

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Dantewada Padayatra – Appeal to all activists

Posted by Admin on December 13, 2009

Source: Sanhati

THERE IS NO STOPPING THE DANTEWADA PADYATRA
IT WILL TAKE PLACE AS PLANNED
APPEAL TO ALL ACTIVISTS TO GET THEIR ACT TOGETHER

JOIN THE PADYATRA FROM 14TH TO 26TH DEC. 09

JOIN THE SATYAGRAH FROM 25th DEC. ‘09

JOIN THE JAN SUNWAI, 6-7 JAN. ‘10

Dear Friends,

Himanshuji and other friends of Dantewada have brought to our notice the latest attacks of the Chhattisgarh Police and the State Government on the VCA. Many of us are aware that on the 10th of December, ‘09 on Human Rights Day, Kopa, a VCA tribal activist, and Alban who is also a tribal and a human rights lawyer from HRLN, were both picked up, illegally detained and badly beaten. Alban was released next day but Kopa was arrested on charges of being involved in the murder of Punam Honga who was abducted by Maoists on June 2nd and later his body was found in a mutilated condition.

Kopa being charged for the murder of Punam Honga is absolutely rubbish. This arrest is part of the same series of arrests as was of Binayak in 2007, Ajay TG in 2008, Sukhanth in July, 2009 and now before the end of the year Kopa. The point is only one. If you disagree with the Chhattisgarh Government and try putting across another point of view then you will be removed from the scene. This is Chhattisgarh. And the Government of India ? It will watch in silence.

Kopa and the his work with the VCA

It is also very important to know that Kopa has spent more than 13 years of his life with the VCA. He is a brilliant singer and orator. Before joining VCA, he was with the Gayatri mission where he motivated people through his songs to stop drinking alcohol. It was his singer’s voice which got him a job in VCA where he not only continued to spread his anti liquor message, but now he also started organising kala jathas. On foot he and other workers started mobilising people to demand entitlements related to their Right to Food and Health and saving and reclaiming their Natural Resources. A very effective worker, he was responsible for putting together more than 750 community workers on these issues and more than forty main trainers in the district of Dantewada and Bijapur which is the work area of the VCA.

Kopa became uncomfortable for the administration and police since 2008. He took the courageous step of initiating the resettlement and rehabilitation work as per Supreme Court order of all those villagers who had left their villages due to the atrocities of the Salwa Judum and SPOs. He was the Rehabilitation coordinator of VCA. It was not just this work, he also exposed the Matwara massacre of 18th March, 2008 where three tribals were brutally killed and their bodies mutilated in a salwa judum camp. Kopa helped the families initiate legal proceedings in the High Court. He also got the widows of the three to file a complaint in the police station, which never got converted to an FIR.

He also exposed the Singaram massacre of 2009, where four girls were raped and murdered. Fifteen men were also murdered in this episode. Kopa got the families to initiate legal proceedings in the High Court and also got them to file complaints in the local police station. In 2009, he also exposed and took cudgels with the district administration regarding corruption in NREGA, including non-payment of wages to tribals. He was constantly fighting for people’s rights to get their share of PDS from ration shops, the only agency of the Government existing in the villages. Otherwise it is only the police and security forces.


The abduction of Nagesh Jhadi and Punam Honga, the 2nd June incident

Please recall that on the 2nd of June when Nagesh Jhadi and Kopa were returning from the Basaguda camp in Dantewada, their motorbike was stopped and Nagesh Jhadi the Panchayat secretary of Mallepalli was picked up by the Maoists. Kopa ran around chasing the abductors in the forest. He was unaware that Punam Honga (former Sarpanch), who was traveling in a mini truck, had been picked up later by the Maoists. Kopa decided to lodge a complaint about the abduction of Nagesh soon after, but then he was harassed by the SPOs and detained at the police station. So the next day Himanshuji went and brought Kopa out and they both decided to make their own enquiries about Nagesh’s abduction in the forest areas. But they were then led into a trap at Lingagiri by the SPOs, from where they managed to escape and drove hundred kilometres through forest areas and got out into the Bhadrachalam side of the forest where with the support of the late Sh. Balgopal of HRF, Himanshu addressed a press conference on the whole episode ( please see attachement- Himanshu’s statement from Bhadrachalam). We also know that Kopa had nothing to do with either the abduction of Nagesh Jhadi (he was released later) or the abduction and killing of Punam Honga, even then he had said that his life was in danger as he was being targeted for his work in exposing the Matwada and Singaram massacres and in trying to ensure justice to the families of those killed. In August, ‘09 too Kopa was picked up and beaten up by the SPOs. See attachment of his interview published in Hari Bhoomi saying that his life was in danger.

On 20th October, ‘09 Kopa, while addressing the meeting of the Citizen’s Initiative for Peace at Constitution Club in New Delhi, said that his life was in danger and that he would be arrested for his work.


Why the Arrest of Kopa now? IS Himanshu going to be the next one?

The arrest of Kopa has been made just five days before the padyatra that was to be undertaken under the leadership of Himanshu. The timing of the arrest completely gives away the Government’s motives. It is clear the Government does not want the padyatra to happen. They do not want the misdemeanours of the police, CRPFand other security forces to be exposed which the yatra will do as it will bring into the eyes of the public stories of people from areas where nobody has gone till now.

They also want to put the fear in the tribals of Dantewada that their fate may be the same as Kopa and Sukhnath if they connect with VCA. It is clearly an effort of trying to destroy the VCA completely. They felt that after the demolition, the VCA would shut up. But the VCA reorganised itself in Dantewada, the district headquarters. So the next attack was the arrest of Sukhnath on 30th July, ‘09, who they arrested under CSPSA on flimsy charges. The police thought that now the activists would lie low, but they were proved wrong. Nothing seemed to abate the resolve of the VCA in its endeavour to ensure justice to the people, so when the operation Green Hunt began in the forest areas of Dantewada, Himanshuji and his workers took the message all over the country. They facilitated the entry of groups and journalists to these areas who came for fact finding. They traveled thousands of miles to Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai and spoke to thousands to people and built a public opinion on stopping the ongoing war and potential genocide. They provided evidence of police and SPO atrocities by bringing the victims of these attacks to the fore. Media covered all this. Under the pressure of the public opinion thus generated, even the Home Minister P Chidambaram had to meet Himanshu and agreed to come to Dantewada if a public hearing got organised. To top it all, the Supreme Court also issued notices when a case got filed there on the basis of the testimonies of the victims of the police operation.

This development and the announcement of the Padyatra, Satyagraha and Jan Sunwai was the last straw. Hence Kopa was picked up on false charges of committing murder and supporting Naxalites.

And now the next person on the radar of the police and the SPOS is Himanshu. A rally of Salwa Judum and SPOs, taken out on the 10th of December had as its main slogans ‘Himanshu ko maro”, ‘Himanshu bhagao, Bastar bachao’, ‘VCA ke karyakarta bhagao, Dantewada Bachao’ and “maro salon ko”.

Himanshuji informed me on the 12th morning that between 11th and 12th, the Thana Incharge of Dantewada sent police 6 times and also came himself investigating yet another false story that a jeep had left Himanshu’s house in the evening at 6 pm on the 11th and some of the persons in the jeep had tried to abduct one SPO who was on the road. The Thana incharge claimed that the SPO escaped under the pretext of wanting to urinate. On charges of attempt to abduction, this investigation is being carried out.

The latest incident of the Collector of Dantewada getting the Danteshwari Sarwajanik Dharmashala to return the money that VCA had deposited for booking rooms during the Satyagraha period, clearly shows that the State will not allow any other voice to express itself.

So friends, there is a clear cut war in Chhattisgarh. Whoever speaks out against this will be cleared from the scene.

This is a wake up call for all of us.

Come support the Padyatra, Satyagrah and the Jan Sunwai!!! See the attached announcement for details.

You can send volunteers, blankets, food and money and, of course, above all come to Dantewada!! You can send your Cheques or Demand Drafts to Vanvasi Chetna Ashram payable at Dantewada. ( see details below.)

Please circulate this message to others.

With regards

Kavita Srivastava

(PUCL, National Secretaty)

1. Name and address of the bank : State Bank of India

Dantewada (C.G.)

2. Bank A/C No. : 10753239968

3. Bank A/C Name : Vanvasi Chetna Ashram

4. Branch Code No. : 0545

5. IFS Code : SBIN0000545

6. MICR : 494002006

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