Posts Tagged ‘repressive laws
International coalition hails granting of Bail to Dr. Binayak Sen, and demands repeal of repressive laws
Press Contact: Somnath Mukherji Tel: 732-423-6662; firstname.lastname@example.org
San Francisco, CA: The Free Binayak Sen coalition in the U.S. welcomes with great joy the bail granted to Dr. Binayak Sen by the Supreme Court of India, and congratulates the numerous activist, student and citizens groups in India that have worked tirelessly in support of Dr. Sen and other prisoners of conscience. An international coalition of over 50 human rights groups, including Amnesty International, Friends of South Asia, Association for India’s Development, and others, 22 Nobel laureates, and respected intellectuals such as Noam Chomsky, Arundhati Roy, George Galloway, Mahashweta Devi, have all called for the release of Dr. Sen.
The two-year long unjust incarceration of Dr.Sen finally ended on 25 May, 2009, and he is now reunited with his family and friends. In an interview shortly after his release, Dr. Sen noted: “I regard myself as an index case…a demonstration of what the government intends to do…”1. Indeed, Dr. Sen’s case served to demonstrate starkly the government’s assault on civil rights of citizens, and highlighted many inconsistencies and violations of due process by the Indian Legal and Executive system, as well as the Judiciary’s inability to call into question the violation of rule of law, and practice of violence by the State. As such, Dr. Sen’s case has functioned to bring to the fore the public’s indignation and frustration with the State machinery, and has thrown up grave questions about the reality of the relative independence of these branches of government. Raja Swamy, an activist with Friends of South Asia, said “Even as we celebrate the bail granted to Dr. Sen, we cannot forget that these larger issues about the integrity of government institutions still need to be resolved”.
Many of the current policies and practices “authorised” by the Indian state require careful review from a human rights perspective.
The latest general elections and the ongoing process of forming a Central government provide an opportunity for introspection regarding India’s human rights record. The policies and practices “authorised” by the Indian state require reflection and reappraisal. The context of India, its framework and policies, shore up and determine many of its practices. The capitalistic model with its success in the West, until the recent collapse, was adopted by India w ith dramatic impact on its economic growth. However, the average improvement in the Indian economy actually increased the income inequality for the majority of those living in Bharat. While poverty based on headcounts has reduced, deprivation, defined as the disparity between base and mean consumption, has increased. The non-inclusive nature of India’s recent growth has resulted in development without social and distributive justice for the majority of Indians.
In many parts of the country, economic issues were complicated by a rising tide of violence. While many of these conflicts seem, on the surface, to have ideological or religious dimensions, their underlying cause is more often social and economic. For example, the deprivation of basic rights for large sections of the population and the gross disparity between the rich and the poor over a prolonged period of time lead to the disadvantaged becoming disillusioned with the democratic process. The naxalite movement, with its philosophy of armed revolution spreading through many poor and deprived parts of India, is a clear indicator of such a trend.
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NATIONAL ALLIANCE OF PEOPLE’S MOVEMENTS
A Wing First Floor, Haji Habib Building, Naigaon Cross Road
Dadar (E), Mumbai-400 014 Ph. No-2415 0529 E-mail: email@example.com
Date: May 18th, 2009
Hon’ble Shri Justice Rajendra Babu,
National Human Rights Commission,
Faridkot House, Copernicus Marg,
Dear Shri Justice Rajendra Babu,
We, the undersigned write this letter to you with a great sense of urgency and pain regarding the barbaric and inhuman treatment meted out to a long-standing social activist and peaceful social organization working amidst the adivasis of Danteweda district in Chhattisgarh by the state Government, by demolishing his entire Ashram premises, leaving him and all his committed colleagues and family members in a state of shock and anguish. The demolition of the entire premises of the Vanvasi Chetana Ashram (VCA) of Himanshuji took place on the early morning of 17-05-2009 with a contingent of more than 500 armed police and para-military personnel swooping in and ruthlessly razing to the ground virtually every single thing that was painstakingly built and nurtured in the last 17 years. We also have credible information of six young students having been illegally detained for hours and some of them badly beaten up by the police. When some activists spoke to the Collector Mr. Sori, he is learnt to have confirmed the incident, though he pleaded ignorance of the police atrocities!
It is feared that Himanshuji’s initiative in the resettlement of more than 400 adivasis who had been displaced due to the Salwa Judum and had gone over to Andhra Pradesh has led to this sudden demolition. The process of resettlement had just started and families had begun to move back and Himanshuji and his colleagues were standing in solidarity and supporting them. It seems as if the Government is worried that, like earlier, if these villagers would also resettle, then their plans of creating the buffer zone and converting the lands of the people for corporate use would be foiled and, therefore, they decided to come down heavily on Himanshuji. We also have enough reason to apprehend that this brazen action of the district administration and police may be a state’s response to Himanshuji’s work with the adivasis who are victims of the Salwa Judum and all sorts of violent acts. He has been fighting a case against the brutal killing of 19 adivasis recently. Also, his significant participation in the Raipur Satyagraha on 04-05-2009 in support of the release of humanist doctor Binayak Sen, with the adivasis and activists of Narmada Bachao Andolan, Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sanghatan and other groups, wherein he had also addressed the press and spoke of the continued unlawful activities by the Salwa Judum and the complicity and connivance of the State may have prompted this action against him.
The ground for demolition is that the Ashram is “an encroachment” over government forest land”. However, village after village is located on forest land in Bastar and Dantewada and forest land rights are now granted to the adivasis Gram Sabha. The matter being in court, we are of the opinion that this pre-mature demolition is not only unlawful, but may also tantamount to contempt of court by the state government. Whatever it be, there is certainly no need, we feel, for this sort of a vindictive bulldozing of a socially concerned institution engaged for years in genuine peace-building work, which also has a lot of goodwill among local adivasis.
This is a demolition, we feel, not just of an institution, but of the very constitutional rights and values, in a way. We, the members of people’s movements and the large fraternity of democratic voices of this country condemn this inhuman and violative act of the Chhattisgarh Government and the Dantewada administration in no uncertain terms and urge this Hon’ble Commission to inquire into all the police atrocities during the demolition process and also evaluate the acts of the Government on the plank of human and constitutional rights and issue appropriate recommendations and direct necessary action, against the officials and employees, including payment of appropriate compensation to the survivors of this demolition and restoration of all their damaged property.
Attached herewith is a copy of the demolition notice dated 13-05-2009 received by Himanshuji on the 16th of May! Also enclosed is a brief note detailing the entire incident for your urgent consideration, intervention and action.
With a firm hope that justice shall be delivered ….
Medha Patkar (09423965153)
Please send your endorsements for this petition to:
This is an extremely enlightening case about how corporations (and by extension, other powerful interests in the society) can use the vague provisions of Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act to harass people they consider troublesome.
Pawan Verma was a worker – an expert cook in the Canteen and VIP Guesthouse of the erstwhile L&T Cement, now Ultratech Cement plant at Hirmi, district Raipur, Chhattisgarh. A few years ago, fed up with the anti-worker attitude of the management, he took voluntary retirement and lives in village Hirmi. I have known him ever since I fought cases for his union Pragatisheel Cement Shramik Sangh.
Recently he contacted me after it was published in the local newspapers that his daughter Ruchi Verma and her husband Bhola Bagh (both under 30 years of age), and their one-and-a-half year old son had been arrested under Section 8(1) (3) and (5) of the Chhattisgarh Special Public Safety Act (CSPSA). It was alleged that a “Naxalite woman” had confessed to the police that she had put up for a short while with the couple. Section 8(1) of the CSPSA is the penalty for being the member of an unlawful organisation, while 8(3) and (5) concern managing or aiding such an organisation..
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The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act of 2008 and the National Investigation Agency Act of 2008 form part of a series of laws that go back nearly a quarter century.
It is fundamental that the great powers of Congress to conduct war and to regulate the Nation’s foreign relations are subject to the constitutional requirements of due process. The imperative necessity for safeguarding these rights to procedural due process under the gravest of emergencies has existed throughout our constitutional history, for it is then, under the pressing exigencies of crisis, that there is the greatest temptation to dispense with fundamental constitutional guarantees which, it is feared, will inhibit governmental action (Kennedy vs Mendoza- Martinez (1963) 372 US 144 at 164) (emphasis added).
India has not made any effort to resist that temptation ever since terrorism reared its head in Punjab. The Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2008 and its twin the National Investigation Agency Act, 2008, both enacted hastily in the wake of 26/11, must be analysed carefully on their own merits. But they form part of a series that began nearly a quarter century ago with the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act, 1985 (TADA). The trees must be seen for what they are. But the wood in which they stand must not be overlooked.
TADA lapsed but was re-enacted on 24 May 1987. It was amended in 1993 and again thereafter but was allowed to lapse on 23 May 1995. The Prevention of Terrorism Act (POTA) was enacted in 2002, only by a joint session of Parliament on 26 March 2002, since the Rajya Sabha had rejected it on 21 March 2002 by 113 votes to 98. In the joint session 425 voted in its favour and 296 against it. POTA was repealed in 2004 and replaced by the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Amendment Act, 2004.
A brief report of the public meeting with Ajay TG in Pune, organised the day before yesterday.
Public meeting with Ajay TG in Pune on 20th September
Yesterday (20th September 08) the ‘Release Dr. Binayak Sen committee’ in Pune organized a well attended public meeting and also a separate smaller discussion with activists, with Ajay TG as the main speaker. As we all know, Ajay TG is a film maker and PUCL activist from Bhilai who was imprisoned for three months by the Chhattisgarh government, and was released recently since there was no evidence and the police could not even file a chargesheet against him.
The public meeting was attended by over a hundred citizens of Pune and was presided over by Justice PB Sawant, retired Supreme court judge. Besides Ajay, the meeting was also addressed by the noted film maker Anand Patwardhan and the human rights lawyer, Asim Sarode, and was moderated by Anant Phadke. The meeting started with screening of the films ‘New State, Old Problems’ and ‘Anjaam’ (directed by Ajay TG) which graphically depicted the growing repression in Chhattisgarh, the problematic nature of Salwa Judum and of course the background to Binayak’s arrest.
In his address, Ajay TG brought home to the audience very effectively the almost surreal circumstances of his arrest and imprisonment. With no charges, no evidence and no basis to even suspect his doing anything illegal, he was picked up on 4th May and put in jail, without even allowing him to meet his lawyer or family. He described the sub-human circumstances in the jail, the tremendous demonisation by media of himself and his family leading to cutting off all forms of social support, and the highly biased nature of the entire law and order machinery in the state. His only ‘crime’ was that he was persistently attending Binayak’s trial hearings and as a PUCL activist he dared to not be cowed down despite the widespread repression.
When the police finally realized that they had nothing that could be held against Ajay, and he would have to be released, in a last-ditch attempt the police tried to make him sign on a document indicting Binayak of having links with Maoists, which Ajay bravely refused to comply with. Delivered in a simple and straightforward style, Ajay’s story was really chilling since it gave a glimpse of the kind of ‘undeclared Emergency’ that today prevails in Chhattisgarh, and seems to be rapidly developing in many other parts of the country.
From: Kavita Srivastava
5th July, 2008.
I have been to Raipur twice in the last ten days. From the 24-26 June, I was there to express solidarity with the ten day fast that Sandeep Pandey and three others had undertaken, demanding the release of Binayak Sen and Ajay TG and against the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act, 2005. On the last two days of the fast a national seminar against State Repression and Repressive laws was organised by the Chhattisgarh PUCL, timing it with emergency day.
In this period I also met Ajay TG in Durg Jail and also spent some time with his wife Shobha (also a film maker), there 20 month old son called Aman and several cousins and friends of Ajay including a couple of lawyers in Durg.
The second time I went was during the second phase of Binayak’s trial on 2nd and 3rd of July, 2008. On this occasion too I met Shobha and his lawyers.
Both the visits as usual were undertaken to stand in solidarity with Chhattisgarh PUCL who is facing the ire of the State and support the struggle for justice being undertaken by the families of those in jail.
25th June being Wednesday was the weekly day for visitors for Ajay so I accompanied Shobha to Durg jail. Shobha who had expected a face to face meeting with Ajay and had hoped that their son would get an opportunity to hug the father was very disappointed when we were all told that we could only talk to him through the window. Left with no choice all of us, including Ajay’s cousins living in Bhilai talked to him though the grilled and wire meshed window. Ajay who had lost his younger brother Anura only on the 19th of June in a tragic road accident in Kerala, was visibly upset. He was very keen to talk to me separately so we took a chance and I got the permission from the Jail authorities to meet him inside the jail. They just would not allow Shobha but agreed to Aman coming into the Jailer’s room which was our meeting room. Those thirty minutes spent together between father and son was memorable.
Ajay also spoke to me. He asked me to give a message to all. He said that he was innocent and he felt that his arrest was part of the agenda to finish the PUCL. He had been targeted for several reasons:
- Since he had worked with Nandini Sundar and she had filed the Salwa Judum case in the Supreme Court, it was one way of getting back at her and him and all those who were opposed to the Salwa Judum.
- Since he had made short films on some of the PUCL, Chhattisgarh fact finding misions, like on Gola-Palli and Jiramtarai which had belied the official version of naxalite attacks, he was being taught a lesson for that. These two CDs along with another had been seized from Binayak’s house during the house search in May 2007.
- Since he was one of the persons who had conducted the search on the body of the policemen who had carried out the house search of the residence of Binayak Sen as per rules, the particular policemen had told him that he would be taught a lesson one day.
- Since he had stood by Binayak and he was one of the few who was regularly coming to the court in solidarity, he was made a target.
Incidentally his analysis is what most of the members in and outside PUCL Chhattisgarh also state. He felt that Chhattisgarh PUCL was a target and had to be supported with greater strength and that the people within the PUCL need to sit and form a strategy as to how to fight this onslaught of the State.
I also learnt that the family was coping with this crisis mostly on its own. The support for the legal case they had organised on their own with some inputs from a few friends in the PUCL and outside.
Ajay being denied access to a Magistrate:
It was shocking to learn from Ajay that although four remand hearings had happened he had been produced only once, that was on the day he was arrested, after that he was never taken on the date of the hearing under the pretext that there was not enough security needed to take a Naxalite prisoner out to a court and the times he was produced he was taken to the Babu of the Magisterial Court and made to sign and brought back..
Incidentally, on the 27th June too (after Shobha and I had brought this to the notice of all in the national convention) he was still taken to the Babu of the remand court where he was made to sign and brought back. After all these hearings are supposed not merely an extension of judicial remand but also an opportunity to share any grievance that the detainee may have, however, that right has been completely denied to Ajay. This was also tried in the case of Binayak Sen when he was prevented from reaching the Court on the grounds that sufficient force was not available. But our protests and lodging written complaints with the Court, DG and the IG gave a message to the authorities
It was definitely a case of the lack of support of a good local lawyer who was neither present for all the hearings and if present did not see that it was wrong, therefore Ajay has never represented his point to the Court. Incidentally we have brought in another local lawyer who hopefully will take on these issues.
Hand Cuffing of Ajay when taken to Court:
The worst part has been that whenever he was taken to Court he was handcuffed and taken. Since he was never produced in front of the Magistrate he was never able to present his point about handcuffing. Here too the local lawyer was not of much help, infact when Shobha raised this with him he felt that there was no escape from the handcuffing.
The legal position is completely clear. Ordinarily the accused must not be handcuffed. This is the settled law through various judgments of the Supreme Court. Only when the Court is completely satisfied by the argument of the prosecution of the likelihood of the accused escaping from custody, the court will permit handcuffing.
In this case neither has Ajay got an opportunity to raise this issue, nor has it been raised by his lawyer. This is the most disturbing thing that unless we monitor what is happening in the court there will be a denial of basic rights even of the most aware and educated of the lot.
We raised this issue with the Jail authorities and gave it in writing to the DGP on the 2nd of July and on the 3rd July too when Shobha and I met the DGP. He has assured that he will look into it and hopefully this should not happen again, otherwise we really need to protest very loudly on the 11 of July which is the next date of hearing.
Well we hope that now with the change of lawyer in Durg things will improve and also our lobbying with the DGP and IG will help.
No legal advise was also made available to them when Ajay got the news of his brother’s death. No bail application was presented in Court.
Ajay also has no access to books. He did apply for it in court but he was refused. Shobha has not been allowed to give books. This was another request that we made to the Jail Authorities. He is only allowed to read one of the local newspapers.
The Text of the Bail order
As you all are aware Ajay was denied bail in the lower court exactly a month after his arrest on the 5th June, 2008. The sections under what he has been booked are 124 (a) (Sedition) and sections 3,4, 8 (1) of the Chhattisgarh Public Security Act, 2005.
The Binayak Sen story is more than just about the violation of individual rights, says Shoma A Chatterji
THE Binayak Sen story is much more than one of a gross violation of human rights. It goes far beyond the international appeals to release him from the unlawful detention he has been subjected to for more than one year. Beginning 16 June, a 10-day fast has been organised at Raipur in Chhattisgarh to express solidarity with him and Ajay TG (a film-maker) — both members of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties, and others detained under the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (1967) amended in 2004 to include key sections of the Prevention of Terrorist Activities Act, 2002. Pota was itself repealed in 2004 following widespread criticism of abuse and human rights violations. The CSPSA allows for arbitrary detention of persons suspected of belonging to an unlawful organisation or participating in its activities or giving protection to any member of such an organisation, and human rights
organisations have demanded its repeal.
Here is an UPDATE ON GROUP FASTING which began on 16th June 2008 at Raipur.
Hope some of you would definitely join, at least, the National Convention on 25th & 26th June at Raipur on STATE REPRESSION & BLACK LAWS IN INDIA.
The Outline of the Programme is as follows:
25th June, 2008 (Wednesday)
10 am to 11 am : Opening & Inaugural Session
1. Chhattisgarh Situation & Black Law
11 am to 13 pm : Theme Address by Mr. Rajinder Sachar, Former Chief Justice of Delhi High Court
& Former President, National PUCL
15 pm to 18 pm : Rally & Public Meeting at Dharna Sthal ( Requesting Fasting Activists to end their Fast)
20 pm : Film Show
12 Mid-Night : Candle Light Vigil ( Remembering the Emergency Day 1975 & Resolving to Restore Democracy Today)
26th June 2008 (Thursday)
9 am to 13 pm : Sharing of Experiences of State Repression & Black Laws from Various States
( Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Tamil Nadu, Uttar Pradesh, North East, Andhra Pradesh,
Orissa, Maharashtra, West Bengal, etc.)
14 pm to 16 pm : Future Strategy & Agenda for Action
By Bobby Ramakant
A 10-day fast (16 – 25 June 2008) demanding the release of Dr. Binayak Sen began today in India, Pakistan, Thailand, US and UK. More than 100 organizations have endorsed this fast and campaign demanding justice for Dr Sen worldwide.
Twenty-two Nobel laureates from around the world had earlier appealed to the Indian government to allow Dr. Binayak Sen to receive the 2008 Jonathan Mann Award for Global Health and Human Rights in person at the end of May 2008. But Indian government denied the permission and Dr Sen’s wife received the coveted award on his behalf.
Dr. Binayak Sen of Raipur, Chhattisgarh, India, who has helped establish a hospital serving poor mine workers in the region, founded a health and human rights organization that supports community health workers in 20 villages, and is the general secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), has been imprisoned in Raipur for more than a year now without trial as a result of allegations that he violated state antiterrorism laws. Not only Dr. Sen denies committing any crime, but his lifetime contribution to strengthen democracy and fight for the most underserved communities defies such accusations.
This 10-days fast is being organized at Raipur in Chhattisgarh, where Dr Sen is imprisoned, along with in other Indian states and other countries too, to express solidarity with Dr. Binayak Sen, Ajay T G (filmmaker) — both are members of the PUCL, and many others detained under the draconian Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act (CSPSA) 2005, and the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) 1967, amended in 2004.
These draconian laws sanction the violation of due process by the state, and thus contravene internationally accepted norms of jurisprudence as well as democratic governance. As Senior Advocate K G Kannabiran, National President of PUCL, India, argues in his letter to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), the CSPSA and UAPA operate by criminalizing the very performance of civil liberties activities, and culpability is decided upon not by direct proof, but through guilt by association.
The PUCL-Chhattisgarh Unit, with Dr. Binayak Sen’s active leadership as its General Secretary, had exposed the government sponsored so-called campaign Salwa-Judum in Chhattisgarh which legitimizes extra-constitutional violence and pits adivasis against adivasis.
The Fast is to ensure that human rights of marginalized people are not trampled upon and human rights defenders continue to work fearlessly. The Fast will end on 25th June, the day Emergency Rule in India was declared in 1975, followed by a National Convention on Repressive Laws & Human Rights on 25th & 26th June 2008 at Raipur.