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Archives for : June2018

Why are Indian farmers protesting?

Farmers from five states are demanding government intervention to help check dwindling farm income.

Why are Indian farmers protesting?
The farmers are asking for government support to address the crisis in a sector that employs the majority of the country’s workforce [File: Rajanish Kakade/AP]

Thousands of Indian farmers began 10-day protests on Friday demanding farm loan waivers and higher prices for produce, such as cereals, oilseeds and milk.

Farmers from the states of Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana and Rajasthan are also asking for a guaranteed minimum income for farmers.

This is the third major protest by farmers in less than a year. In March, more than 40,000 marched from far-flung districts in the state of Maharashtra to reach the seat of government in the state capital, Mumbai.

The farmers are asking for government support to address the crisis in a sector that employs the majority of the country’s workforce.

Last week, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) suffered defeat in a by-election to a parliamentary seat in a sugar-producing region of Uttar Pradesh state amid late payment for farm produce.

Farmers are fighting for survival, said Abhimanyu Kohar, national coordinator of the protest organisers, the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh (National Farmers Big Union).

“We need freedom from debt. We are not asking for dole, we are not criminals. The farmer is in debt today not because he has messed up but because of the flawed policies of the government,” Kohar who is based in Sonepat, Haryana, told Al Jazeera.

Farmers say they want minimum support prices (MSP) – the price at which the government buys farm produce. At least 94 percent of farmers sell their produce below MSP, data compiled by the farmers federation shows.

“Be it wheat, cotton, mustard or milk, cost of production is increasing while the farmers are selling below guaranteed prices,” Kohar of the farmers union said.

“This is why the Indian farmer is borrowing and getting imprisoned by mounting debt.”

Economists, however, argue that farm loan waivers distort the credit cycle and that subsidy is a band-aid not a solution to the agriculture crisis.

“Loan waivers are relief measures and they only prevent the farmers from getting crushed under the debt burden,” economist Prasenjit Bose told Al Jazeera.

“But they do not provide any long-term solution to depressed farm prices or address the structural issues.”

What is the Farm crisis in India?

Decades of crippling debt, drought and falling income have hit India‘s countryside hard and left the future of Indian farming in jeopardy, agricultural experts say.

“It is about lack of viability in farming, accentuated by climate change, whereby farmers land up in a constant debt economy,” said Kavitha Kuruganti, of the farmers’ advocacy group ASHA.

“While a whole lot of things make the situation difficult to deal with (falling incomes, crop losses etc.), the immediate trigger for farmer suicides is often the pressure from creditors to repay, where “naming and shaming” happens, or property is seized, etc,” she said.

According to government data, 52 percent of farming families in India are indebted.

Who is protesting and why?

The Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh is organising the protests but some well-known farmers groups, like the All India Kisan Sangharsh Samanvay Samiti, a federation of 193 organisations are staying away

On June 8, the farmers federation will hold a commemoration event at Mandsaur in Madhya Pradesh, where six farmers were killed by police during protests last year. There will also be a symbolic hunger strike on June 8. A pan-India strike on June 10 will conclude the protest.

Dwindling farm incomes

Farming contributes 17 percent to India’s $2.3-trillion economy but incomes for farmers are not increasing.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had promised to double farmers’ income by 2022, but critics say he is falling woefully short.

Indian states periodically waive off farm loans but analysts say the policies have failed to benefit farmers.

Last year, the Maharashtra state, which leads the country for farmer suicides, announced a farm loan waiver of $5.23bn.

Economists warn any plan to help farmers by the government must be careful not to widen the budget deficit or end up violating World Trade Organisation (WTO) trade rules.

The Indian government sets purchase prices for about two dozen crops but it buys only a small portion, leaving farmers to deal with nosediving prices during bumper harvests.

Last month, the US told the WTO that India is in violation of WTO rules by supporting its rice and wheat farmers with payments that are far higher than permissible amounts.

“I wish Indian farmers were as politically powerful as the American farmers. US farmers are two percent of the population and they get monumental subsidies. In contrast, Indian farmers get peanuts in the name of subsidies,” says independent food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma.

Over 300,000 farmers have committed suicide since 1995, according to National Crime Records Bureau data. That figure is contested by activists who say the number is likely to be much higher.

Research by universities, including Punjab Agricultural University, showed 16,600 farmers ended their lives between 2000 and 2016 or almost 1,000 a year in the Punjab state. However, NCRB figures for the same period say it is less than 300 a year.

Finding a solution

Farmers like Kohar at the Rashtriya Kisan Mahasangh warn the stir will intensify if farmers are ignored.

“India’s corporates have had their loans waived off. Billionaire loan defaulters like jeweller Nirav Modi fled the country. Doesn’t that hurt the economy? Some farmers have recently received bank cheques of 1 rupee ($0.015) as loan waiver- isn’t this a disgusting joke?” says Kohar.

Official data released in 2016 says the average annual income of a farmer in 17 states is less than 20,000 rupees ($298).

The official Census 2011 shows more than 2,400 farmers quit agriculture and migrate to the cities every day.

Indian farming is in the midst of a very deep crisis, said Devinder Sharma, an independent food and trade policy analyst.

“The crisis is evident from the hundreds of thousands of farmer suicides. Successive governments in India feel you need to take people out of farming and our economic policies are designed to do that. Farming is being sacrificed to keep so-called economic reforms alive,” Sharma told Al Jazeera.

“Economists have double-standards. They say writing off corporate loans is economic growth. Why is the same not being said about farmers’ loans? After all both farmers and corporates are using the same banks.

“We need to pay at least 18,000 rupees ($268) a month to a farmer family to survive. We need to move away from price policy to income-policy which is WTO compatible.”


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India – What after ‘ Karnataka ‘ Polls ?

The decline of the National Democratic Alliance is by now a dated story. The few partners of the Bharatiya Janata Party—who are still formally in the Alliance—may be understood to be in the throes of a judicial separation, pending divorce. The contest in a Maharashtra bypoll directly between the BJP and Shiv Sena tells its own story. The Akalis may eventually have nowhere else to go, but this may not be the case with the mercurial JD(U); should the Hindutva forces create mayhem leading upto the next General Elections, Nitish Kumar may well find yet another canny platform to turn the tables.

What is new is the real and undeniable decline of the BJP. According to a very recent CSDS-Lokniti poll, the party has dropped seven percentage points in popular endorsement. Even more significantly, the Prime Minister’s own endorsement as numero uno has come down from a previous fortyfour per cent to thirty-four, even as Rahul Gandhi’s has gone up from a measly sixteen to twentyfour. In other words, as per this poll, if one in three want Modi as the PM, one in four want Rahul Gandhi—not bad for someone who has suffered the most vile forms of denigration imaginable.

This decline was first underlined by the showing in Gujarat where the two sons of the soil managed barely to cross the half-way mark. Indeed, had the Congress been a bit more receptive to alliance offers, the Party might have been in office in Mr Modi’s home State. The losses in the bypolls in Gorakhpur and Phulpur were stunning blows to the BJP, however they may spin those traumatic defeats. And Karnataka has shown the Congress polling a higher percentage of votes, and, therefore, a larger share of the popular vote, than the marauding BJP which, as always, given he illogical vagaries of the first-past-the-post electoral regime, benefited in seats gained from the narrow and concentrated character of its vote-base. An occurrence that yet again underscores the need to make the Indian electoral system more truly representative. Imagine that friendly TV anchors, often still wet around the ears, should have the gumption to characterise that uplifting gathering of Opposition parties which together represent some sixtyfive per cent of the mandate cast in 2014 as a “motley crowd” and a “ragtag bunch”. It is a well-recognised fact of class-based democracies that a two-party dispensation is the preferred option of the ruling classes, however this may exclude the bulk of the populace. But if so homogenous a country as Germany can practice an electoral system which gives due place to the smallest of electoral expressions, how much more imperative for a country like India to be doing the same. And equally, how impertative to shift to a state-funded electoral system in order that the much-used phrase “level-playing field” does not remain merely a matter of lip-service but a reality on the ground.

If you have noticed, friendly electronic channels—and who is not friendly these days—are already busy rubbishing the prospect of any Opposition unity which, they are equally busy propagating, is calculated not to retrieve the republic, salvage democracy, re-establish democratic and constitutional institutions and practices, but just to malign Mr Modi and see the back of him because he has been doing such wonderful work. This concerted media blitz to pitch the coming days as a contest of personalities rather than of values dictates the cult phenomenon we now are witness to twenty-four-seven. It is of course a sad fact that educated Indians by and large have little attachment to democratic principles and can be astonishingly readily seen to back a strong, centralised persona who may well ride roughshod over processes and consultative practices but who can be trusted to get the job done in a jiffy. Whether or not the job gets done is of course another matter; if the current state of the economy, of the rule of law, of claims once made with respect to Kashmir and Pakistan, of social hate and vigilante violence, and much more are anything to go by, the job has clearly not been done, This then is the reason why propagation, image-peddling, selective vignettes of physical fitness at the highest levels, must take the place of any real demonstrable achievements on the ground, especially in relation to the immiserated lives of many many millions who still have neither drinking water nor assured electric supply not to speak of any steady incomes, despite tall and raucous claims to the contrary.

Yet, showmanship has always a short shelf-life, and a day comes when the chicks come home to roost. That time is here. There is reason to believe that the Opposition political forces recognise the moment and are sincerely preparing to grab it.

This, however, is not to say that anxieties expressed by thoughtful well-wishers of democracy and of the constitutional republic with respect to how Opposition unity may or may not shape are exaggerated or tendentious. Past examples of such federal endeavours do not encourage. If the current efforts at Opposition unity are to be any different, all those who came together on the stage at Bengaluru will need to realise that what they are opposing now is very very different from what they might have been opposing in the past, Indira Gandhi not excluded. They will need to recognise that if they fail now they may not only immessurably further strengthen those and that they oppose but cause the march to a transformed state and political system to become irretrievable. Memories of the Weimar should here be extremely instructive.

So, in terms of the nitty-gritty. what may be the call of the hour? First, it must be to acknowledge that if any one party or faction seeks to forground its own fortunes at the cost of the federal endeavour, everyone’s loss would have been complete at the outset itself. Second, every component of the federal front will need to openly acknowledge and embrace the relative strengths of all components in their own place and give due weight and deference to that fact. Third, that once it is understood and acknow-ledged as to who is best placed to push back the RSS/Bharatiya Janata Party in which arena, all units must pool resources to make the success of a single combined candidate a surety. Fourth, once the numbers are in, the entire front must set a historic example by acting not as units but as members of a new conglomerate in demo-cratically electing the leadership of the front.

There are States in which, clearly, the Congress is in direct contention with the BJP. Indeed, three such States are due to go to the polls in a few months. The front must lend what strength they have in these States to ensure the victories of the Congress candidates. In a slew of other States, likewise, some parties are unambiguously in leading political positions. Here the Congress must lend unequivocal support without falling to the temptation to foreground its own national predilections. Then there are a few other States where the Congress and some leading regional party find themselves as chief antagonists. If one-on-one contests are to be ensured, this contradiction will need to be resolved democratically rather than from purely partisan platforms. If this is achieved, a historic new politics would have been inaugurated in India.

One chief ploy of the friendly electronic channels is to constantly hammer the cult argument—what will be the face of the Opposition against the colossus, Modi. Aleready there is evidence that this trap is being astutely side-stepped by Opposition spokespersons. One fundamental ideological conviction of the Opposition must be that the call to a Presidential form of politics must be fought and defeated at any cost if India is to remain a democracy responsive to the infinite diversity of her polity and interests. Ambedkar must be recalled: that whereas the cult of Bhakti may be very well in matters of faith, it can only be fatal if it intruded in the nation’s political life.

The Opposition forces, now awake and active, must never for one moment forget that the compounding miseries of some eighty per cent of Indians look to them to provide a sincere new and alternate paradigm to what has been witnessed over time and over the last four years especially. Which means that after ensuring that they do not snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, the federal politics now underway must in all sphreres of policy return the republic to the people to whom it belongs, or ought to belong.

Last but not the least: “secularism”, although it constitutes an unamendable basic feature of the Constitution, has during the Modi era come to be the most reviled of concepts, to a point where even Congressmen and women fight shy of speaking up for the Muslim minority in particular. This has been for many perhaps the most tragic eventuality, indeed, atrocity, of the last four years of our national life. The new federal Opposition will have failed if it does not boldly rectify this gruesome distortion and reinstate the principle without which the meaning of the Freedom Movement and of the claims of democracy in India will always remain hollow.

The author, who taught English literature at the University of Delhi for over four decades and is now retired, is a prominent writer and poet. A well-known commentator on politics, culture and society, he wrote the much acclaimed Dickens and the Dialectic of Growth. His book, The Underside of Things—India and the World: A Citizen’s Miscellany, 2006-2011, came out in August 2012. Thereafter he wrote two more books, Idea of India Hard to Beat: Republic Resilient and Kashmir: A Noble Tryst in Tatters

Mainstream, VOL LVI No 24 New Delhi June 2, 2018

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CBI wanted to arrest Narendra Modi, Amit Shah in Ishrat Jahan case: Ex-DIG Vanzara

The CBI had given a clean chit in 2014 to Amit Shah on grounds of “insufficient evidence”.

CBI wanted to arrest Narendra Modi, Amit Shah in Ishrat Jahan case: Ex-DIG Vanzara

Ahmedabad: Gujarat’s former Deputy Inspector General of Police DG Vanzara on Tuesday told a special court that the CBI wanted to arrest then Chief Minister Narendra Modi and then Minister of State for Home Amit Shah in the Ishrat Jahan fake shootout case.

Arguing for Vanzara in a discharge petition filed in the CBI court presided over by J.K. Pandya, his counsel VD Gajjar claimed that though the Central Bureau of Investigation intended to arrest Modi and Shah, “fortunately” it did not happen.

While Modi is now the Prime Minister of India, Shah is the President of Bharatiya Janata Party.

Vanzara, who is out on bail in the case, had earlier submitted in the same court that Modi was secretly questioned by the case Investigating Officer when he was the Chief Minister.

The CBI had given a clean chit in 2014 to Shah on grounds of “insufficient evidence”.

In June 2004, Mumbai-based 19-year-old Ishrat Jahan, her friend Javed alias Pranesh, and Pakistani nationals Zeeshan Johar and Amzad Ali Rana were gunned down by a team of Vanzara’s men in a gun battle on the outskirts of Ahmedabad.

Ishrat Jahan and her friends were dubbed terrorists out on a mission to assassinate the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi. However, subsequent CBI investigation concluded that the shootout was fake.

Vanzara’s lawyer on Tuesday claimed that the charge-sheet against his client in the case was “concocted” and that there was no prosecutable evidence against the former police officer.

He also said that the testimony of witnesses could not be believed as some were earlier among the accused in the case.

The CBI opposed the discharge plea of Vanzara. Another co-accused and senior police official N.K. Amin too has filed a discharge plea in the same court and hearing on it concluded last month.

In his final submission in the court, Amin, a retired SP and now a practicing lawyer, claimed that Satish Verma, the Gujarat cadre IPS official who assisted the CBI in the investigations, had “tampered with the evidence” and maintained that he had “never fired from his gun”.

Both former police officers had also sought parity with former in-charge DGP P.P. Pandey, a co-accused who was discharged by the court.

The court posted the matter for next hearing on June 15.

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Justice Thipsay – Govt must work within the framework of the Constitution and not threaten democracy

English and Hindi


Justice Gopala Gowda concludes legal violations and injustice; Warns the chief ministers of 3 states -MP, Maharashtra and Gujarat against policies ignoring woes of farmers and fish workers condemning the corporate rule in India


 Bhopal  | 4 June 2018: Peoples’ Court (Jan Adalat) which took place at Neelam Park, Bhopal on 4 June 2018 was a culmination of a week long struggle called Narmada Aur Kisaani Bachao Jung. When the Adivasi, farmers, fish workers, agricultural labourers and mill workers all from Narmada valley including those displaced by other big dams on Narmada river and projects are facing injustice in violation of laws and constitutional rights covered a distance of 200 kms from the hilly villages, through a long march and walked on foot from Sehore to Bhopal i.e. 55kms covering inside cities. On the last day, they reached the venue of Jan Adalat with swollen feet and painful steps, covering about 13 kms.

The issues raised before the people’s court included the bleak situation in Narmada, a result of destructive development projects, such as large dams, devouring prime forests and other resources; displacement without rehabilitation; the downstream impacts of dams like Sardar Sarovar and river linking pipeline projects between Narmada and many rivers across the state diverting the waters to corporate and cities. As an immediate way out they demanded that the river with major dams already standing and reservoirs created, should be regulated and monitored in such a way that the river is kept flowing with sufficient magnitude of water for the villages and township in the immediate catchment as also to achieve and protect the already planned benefits and distribution of water which should be in favour of the displaced and others dependent on the natural ecosystem of  river Narmada.

Heral Bhai and Advocate Kamlesh of the downstream region of the Sardar Sarovar depicted the serious issue of sea ingress demanded no further barrage at Bhadbhut near estuary against CRZ and the laws of nature that would further affect the downstream fisheries and the river. There specific demand was to open the Sardar Sarovar gates and release 6000 cusecs of water. The court was further briefed on how the decade’s old report of the international expert named Wallingford had then recommended 600 cusecs as the adequate flow for the downstream, however when the population there is increased manifold along with new industrial states irrigated agriculture and other activities, no review till date is a grossly criminal neglect.

The fish workers from Sardar Sarovar ,Indira Sagar and Bargi reservoirs from Narmada valley and others from Pench reservoir from district Chindwada asserted their rights to fisheries refusing to budge on the issue of no contract of fisheries to be granted to any outsider by the state Matsya Mahasangh (MP state fisheries federation).

Sardar Sarovar affected adivasis and other farmers brought forth the struggle and achievement as well as the devastation faced by the river Narmada . Kailash Avasya spoke about injustice done to the hilly adivasis who are still not rehabilitated in both Sardar Sarovar and Jobat dams. Ranvir Tomar, Suresh Pradhan, Kamla Yadav and Shyama behen and Madubhai deposed on R&R issues in the plains of Nimad. Wahid Mansuri raised questions about the clearance given by the Narendra Modi government and demanded that the dam gates must be left open till the rehabilitation is concluded.

Rajkumar Sinha bringing forth a list of proposed 13 power plants on the length of Narmada river took a position that with no further requirement of power for the state of MP the private corporate power generators are being favoured instead of the low cost power generation from public sector, like Bargi. Rajesh Tiwari, Devki Bai and others questioned the injustice done to Bargi oustees. Meera Bai and Dadulal Kudape declared No to Chutka power plant project which has been causing 2nd time displacement of Bargi oustees. A number of presentations on the issue of forcible land acquisition, number of other issues were covered including the defence ministry’s land acquired for military camp. Why a military empire, without rehabilitation in district Mhow? Through written submissions and otherwise, the case was also presented of the huge repression against the farmers of 112 villages in the catchment of Bhopal pond, not permitting any further construction or change of land use .

A group of depositions were specifically on the agricultural scenario in the Narmada valley as well as across the country. V.M. Singh, a farmer leader, passionately presented the case of farmers facing wrong policies that are making them face inequity and 2 bills- one on freedom from debt and another on appropriate prices for the agri produce, that are already before the Parliament, demanding a separate session and support from the people’s court. He spoke on behalf of the All India Kisaan Sangharsh Samanvay, the alliance of 192 organisations. Ramnarayan Kureriya of AIKS presented the factual position and analysis of farmer suicides in MP denouncing the false propaganda on exceptional achievements in irrigation and agri produce by the state. Bhagwan Singh Parmar of Jai Kisaan

Andolan brought forth the conclusion of a survey of 100 mandis through MSP satyagraha showing serious violation of MSP rule depriving the farmers as a serious neglect on the part of anti-farmer power holders. Mr D.P. Dhakad of Tristariya Panchayat Sangathan vividly presented the case of Mandsaur with State violence and false criminal cases with no action as yet on brutal murder of farmers demanding higher prices. Dr. Sunilam made a written submission on the firing against protesting farmers, killing 24 of them, in Multai, district Baitul, years ago.

Medha Patkar in her concluding and comprehensive deposition challenged the forcible acquisition especially the non implementation of 2013 act as well as the PESA act for the scheduled areas linking the crisis in Narmada with agri-crisis. She presented the values for 5 different agri-produce including wheat, soybean, cotton, beans and desi chana. She appealed to the court that in order to stop suicides of the farmers by issuing a fair judgment which would go a long way. Linking the various issues presented, she pleaded about the violations of all laws in MP including 2013 new act of land acquisition, 1996 act of PESA for which there are no rules in MP till date; environmental laws and guidelines; forest rights act and labour legislation.

Along with Devendra Tomar, Jagdish Patel and Pema Bhilala, Medha Patkar presented the demanded values of MSP based on the Swaminathan formula, counting the true cost (with A2 and C2+50 methods) for five agricultural produce including wheat, soyabean, cotton, maize and desi chana. The tabulated data is annexed.

 At least 50 farmers and others especially adivasis as well as activists deposed before the people’s court.

Former Justice of Supreme Court, honorable Gopala Gowda in his comment on the process and content of Jan Adalat depositions acknowledged the seriousness of the issues and expressed his satisfaction over serving the farmers and the displaced through the same as higher than the one though the  judiciary over the years. “Listening to you the annadaatas and the people struggling over decades under the banner of NBA, we get to know more about not democracy but monocracy”, Justice Gowda said. “In democracy where majority rules, when 74% of the poor rural population belongs to the farming section and about 50% of them are women, how can we be ruled by the corporate sector?”, he asked. “If people living in the cities like Bhopal and Delhi do not get the basic commodities like cotton ,vegetables and milk, can they ever survive even for an hour?” was his highly relevant question.

The oral submissions before us, Justice Gowda concluded, are appealing presentations on issues which were related to nothing less than equality, right to life, right to livelihood, and right to shelter, evolved through year’s long jurisprudence. Roared the former justice, how can 24% of the population, the maharajas, impose things on the large population of 3 states? When the Narmada tribunal took 30 years to pass the Award how can they leave a large number of affected section without rehabilitation? How can they escape by paying meager cash compensation?

It was on behalf of both the judges, Justice Gowda concluded that there is no clue about what the government has done to ensure compliance. He along with Justice Abhay Thipsay unhesitatingly concluded that there are serious violations of fundamental rights as well as legal preconditions in every project and issue brought before us. We are stunned by the grievances which are not redressed and instead are piled before the same.

The workers of Century as well as other industries in the region  of Narmada Valley have rightly presented a picture of injustice done through unemployment enforced and due value of labour,  Justice Gowda admitted, Is there no rule of law?

He warned the CMs of the 3 states that the grievances must be redressed at the earliest and no violations should continue. Fish workers and farmers should not be deprived of their rights to resources. If these sections are not done justice to, what remains of democracy? Is there no rule of law in Gujarat, Maharashta and MP? He expected that when the officials are absent, the intelligence department will convey to the CMs a gist of what is concluded!

On the issues related to farming, Justice Gowda had a strong opinion and analysis related to inequity and injustice faced. When lipstick and toothpaste has fixed prices, how can the vegetables, cotton and other agricultural produce not have the same, the former Justice challenged. Why couldn’t the Swaminathan Commission be implemented over years? It is obvious that there is no sensitivity to the hard toil that goes into production of even 1 kg of maize, he said.

Justice Gowda also referred to the polluted rivers Ganga and Kaveri while the grievances about the destruction and pollution of Narmada is to be taken seriously. All those who are affected by this, farmers to workers need to be fully compensated.

Justice Gowda and Justice Thipsay conluded by saying that the relentless fight by the people before them, as no doubt resulted in the awareness and achievements and the same must go on. They would look into and study all the grievances in detail even of it takes time and will certainly bring out a report covering the maximum at the earliest.

Thousands of families in the different districts of Narmada valley as well as millions of farmers would certainly look forward to the reports of Jan Adalat.

Jagdish Patel, Madhuresh Kumar, Himshi Singh, Rajkumar Dubey, Mahendra, Mudita Singh Kushwaha

Contact: 9867348307 | 9424385139 | 9818905316


जस्टिस गोपाला गौड़ा ने जन अदालत में दिया फैसला, कहा परियोजना प्रभावितों के साथ हो रहा है अन्याय और अधिकारों का कानूनी हनन !

कोरपोरेट लूट की निंदा करते हुए किसानों और मछुवारों की पीड़ा की अनदेखी के लिए गुजरात, मध्य प्रदेश और महाराष्ट्र के मुख्यमंत्रियों को चेताया

सरकार को नहीं डालना चाहिए लोकतंत्र को खतरे में और संविधान के दायरे में रहकर करना चाहिए काम  – जस्टिस थिप्से    


4 जून 2018, भोपाल:  नीलम पार्क, भोपाल में नर्मदा और किसानी बचाओ जंग यात्रा के समापन पर 4 जून 2018 को जन अदालत रखी गयी। नर्मदा घाटी के आदिवासी, किसान, मछुवारे, कृषि मजदूर तथा मिल मजदूर (जिसमें नर्मदा नदी पर बने बांधों और अन्य परियोजना प्रभावित/ विस्थापित सम्मिलित थे), परियोजना के कारण जिनके अधिकारों का कानूनी रूप से हनन हो रहा है, सभी ने शामिल होकर 200 किमी लम्बी यात्रा की जिसमें सीहोर से भोपाल तक लगभग 55 किमी रास्ता पैदल तय किया। 13 किमी. चलकर पैरों में छालों के साथ यात्रा भोपाल के नीलम पार्क पहुंची।

कोर्ट के सामने नर्मदा घाटी की स्थिति के साथ -2 विनाशकारी विकास परियोजनाओं जैसे बड़े बाँध, समाप्त किये जा रहे वन और अन्य संसाधन, बिना पुनर्वास विस्थापन, नर्मदा के नीचेवास की स्थिति और नर्मदा तथा अन्य नदियों  को जोड़ने वाली पाइपलाइन परियोजनाएं और शहरों और उद्योगों को पानी देने आदि मुद्दों को रखा गया।

गुजरात के भरूच से आये हीरल भाई तथा ऐड. कमलेश ने नर्मदा नदी में 60 किमी तक समुद्र के घुसने की बात कही जिस वजह से नर्मदा का पानी भी खारा हो गया है जो ना तो अब पीने लायक ही बचा है आर न मछलियों के जीवित रहने योग्य । उन्होंने अदालत से मांग की कि सरदार सरोवर से 6000 क्यूसेक पानी छोड़ने का फैसला दिया जाए और भद्भुत और आस पास बन रहे बराजों पर रोक लगायी जाए। अदालत को अन्तराष्ट्रीय विशेषज्ञ वाल्लिंगफोर्ड की रिपोर्ट के बारे में भी बताया गया जिसमें उन्होंने नदी के नीचेवास के लिए 600 क्यूसेक पानी छोड़ना जरूरी बताया था।

सरदार सरोवर, इंदिरा सागर, बरगी, पेंच (छिन्दवाड़ा) से आये मछुवारों ने अपने मछली के अधिकार की बात करते हुए कहा कि राज्य मत्स्य महासंघ के द्वारा मछली का ठेका किसी बाहरी व्यक्ति को देना हम स्वीकार नही करते।

सरदार सरोवर प्रभावित कैलाश अवास्या, कमला यादव, श्यामा मछुवारा, मधुभाई, सुरेश प्रधान, रणवीर तोमर ने बताया की कैसे जमीन के बदले जमीन की नीति होते हुए भी उसका पालन नहीं किया जा रहा है। आदिवासी समुदाय से आये गैम्तिया भाई ने बताया कि शिकायत निवारण प्राधिकरण के सामने हजारों आवेदन लंबित हैं और जिनमें मंजूरी मिली भी है तो उसका पालन नहीं हुआ है । वाहिद मंसूरी ने बीजेपी सरकार द्वारा बांध को दी गयी मंजूरी पर सवाल उठाते हुए कहा की जब तक पुनर्वास कार्य पूरा  नहीं हो जाता बाँध के गेट खोले जाने चाहिए ।


राजकुमार सिन्हा ने नर्मदा नदी पर प्रस्तावित 13 विद्युत् परियोजनाओं के बारे में बताते हुए कहा कि मध्य प्रदेश को और विद्युत् उत्पादन की आवश्यकता नहीं है इससे कम लागत पर विद्युत् उत्पादन करने वाली पब्लिक कंपनियों की बजाय बरगी जैसी प्राइवेट विद्युत् उत्पादक कम्पनियों को फायदा पहुंचाया जा रहा है। मीरा बाई और दादूलाल कुदापे ने चुटका विद्युत् परियोजना के ना बनने की अपील की जिसमें बरगी बांध परियोजना से दुगुना विस्थापन होगा। मऊ में बिना पुनर्वास के मिलिट्री कैंप के लिए भूमिं अधिग्रहण पर भी सवाल उठाये गए। भोपाल झील के जलग्रहण क्षेत्र में 112 गांवों के किसानों पर हो रहे दमन के केस को भी अदालत में रखा गया।

अखिल भारतीय किसान संघर्ष समन्वय समिति के राष्ट्रीय समन्वयक वी पी सिंह ने न्यायाधीशों के सामने किसानों की मांगों पर संसद में पेश किये गए दो बिलों- पूर्ण कर्जमुक्ति और लागत का डेढ़ गुना दाम को रखा। अखिल भारतीय किसान सभा के रामनारायण कुरेरिया ने किसानों की आत्महत्या के तथ्य अदालत के सामने रखे और राज्य के सिंचाई और कृषि विभाग में असाधारण उपलब्धि के झूठे प्रचार को उजागर किया।

भगवान सिंह परमार ने MSP सत्याग्रह के दौरान 100 मंडियों में फसलों के दामों पर किये सर्वे और किसान विरोधी सत्ता धारकों द्वारा प्रत्येक मंडी में पर्याप्त MSP नियम का उल्लंघन करने की बात अदालत को बताई ।

मंदसौर से आये त्रिस्तरीय पंचायत संगठन के वी पी धाकड़ ने मंदसौर में किसानों पर 7000 मुकदमे दर्ज होने और राज्य द्वारा किसानों के दमन करने की बात कही। सेंचुरी मिल वर्कर्स के कामगारों  ने भी सरकार और उद्योगपतियों की मिलीभगत का खुलासा करते हुए बताया कि दो मजदूरों की आत्महत्या करने और न्यायालय के फैसले के बावजूद भी न्याय नहीं मिल रहा है। डॉ. सुनीलम ने सालों पहले बैतूल जिले के मुलताई क्षेत्र में प्रदर्शन कर रहे 24 किसानों की गोलीचालन में मौत पर लिखित दस्तावेज पेश किया ।

अंत में मेधा पाटकर ने जबरन अधिग्रण को चुनौती देते हुए कहा 2013 का भूमि अधिग्रहण कानून और आदिवासी क्षेत्रों में PESA कानून पर अमल नहीं किया जा रहा है । उन्होंने 5 फसलों – गेहूं, सोयाबीन, कॉटन, बीन्स और देशी चने के दामों, MSP और किसानों को हो रहे घाटे को अदालत के सामने प्रस्तुत किया । उन्होंने अदालत से अपील की कि किसानों की आत्महत्या को रोकने के लिए सही आदेश पास किया जाए। उन्होंने अदालत में प्रस्तुत सभी मुद्दों को जोड़ते हुए 2013 का भूमि अधिग्रहण कानून, 1996 का PESA कानून, पर्यावरण सम्बन्धी कानून, वन अधिकार अधिनियम और श्रम कानून को मध्य पदेश में लागू करने की अपील की । मेधा पाटकर ने देवराम कनेरा, जगदीश पटेल और पेमा भिलाला के साथ स्वामीनाथन फोर्मुले के आधार पर MSP (A2 और C2+50 फार्मूला) और गेहूं, सोयाबीन, कॉटन, बीन्स और देशी चने के लिए सही दाम की मांग की।


सुप्रीम कोर्ट के पूर्व न्यायाधीश जस्टिस गोपाला गौड़ा ने ऐतिहासिक फैसला देते हुए कहा कि हम नर्मदा बचाओ आन्दोलन के जीवन और जीविका के लिए चल रहे 3 दशकों से भी अधिक लम्बे संघर्ष को सलाम करते हैं और इस लड़ाई को आगे बढ़ाने की भी कामना करते हैं क्योंकि ऐसा संघर्ष ही हमारे लोकतंत्र और देश को बचा सकता है। “ आप अन्नदाताओं और दशकों से नर्मदा बचाओ आन्दोलन के बैनर तले संघर्ष कर रहे लोगों को सुनने के बाद हमें लोकतंत्र नहीं बल्कि तानाशाह तंत्र का पता चला।“ न्याया. गौड़ा ने कहा हमारे लोकतंत्र में जहाँ बहुमत शासन करता है और 74% ग्रामीण आबादी खेती पर निर्भर करती है और उसमें भो 50% महिलाएं हैं, फिर भी हम उद्योगपतियों के द्वारा शासित कैसे हो सकते हैं? उन्होंने कहा यदि भोपाल और दिल्ली जैसे शहरों में रह रहे लोगों को  मूलभूत  वस्तुएं जैसे – सब्जियां, दूध, कॉटन आदि न मिले तो क्या वे जीवित रह पाएंगे?

न्याया. गौड़ा ने आगे कहा जो भी मुद्दे आज अदालत में प्रस्तुत किये गये वो समानता का अधिकार, जीने का अधिकार, आजीविका का अधिकार, आवास का अधिकार आदि से ही सम्बंधित थे। उन्होंने कहा सिर्फ 24% राज्य की आबादी (महाराजा) 3 राज्यों की जनता पर चीजें कैसे थोप सकती है?  नर्मदा अवार्ड जिसको पारित करने में 30 साल का समय लगा फिर भी ये इतनी बड़ी संख्या को बिना पुनर्वासित किये कैसे छोड़ सकते हैं और मुआवजा दिये बिना कैसे भाग सकते हैं।

दोनो न्यायाधीशों का मत रखते हुए न्याया. गौड़ा ने कहा कि आज अदालत में लोगों द्वारा लाये गए सभी परियोजनाओं में मूल अधिकारों का हनन और कानूनी नियमों का बहिष्कार हुआ है। उन्होंने तीनों राज्यों के मुख्यमंत्रियों को चुनौती देते हुए कहा कि प्रभावितों की शिकायतों का निवारण जल्द से जल्द होना चाहिए और लोगों अधिकारों का हनन नहीं होना चाहिए। किसान और मछुवारों को उनके संसाधनों के अधिकार से वंचित नहीं रहने देना चाहिए। यदि इन समुदायों को न्याय नहीं मिलता तो लोकतंत्र कहा बचता है? उन्होंने तीनों राज्य के प्रशासन से सवाल किया कि क्या महाराष्ट्र, मध्य प्रदेश और गुजरात में नियम और कानून हैं? उन्होंने कहा कि सरकारी अधिकारी यहाँ नहीं हैं परन्तु उपस्थित IB विभाग को मुख्यमंत्री तक यहाँ हुयी बातें पहुचानी चाहिए।

कृषि और किसानों से सम्बंधित मुद्दों पर न्याया. गौड़ा ने विश्लेषणात्मक टिप्पणी करते हुए कहा कि लिपस्टिक और टूथपेस्ट का दाम तय होता है, फिर कॉटन, सब्जियों या अन्य कृषि उत्पादों का क्यों नहीं? क्यों इतने सालों तक स्वामीनाथन रिपोर्ट लागू नहीं की गयी? क्योंकि यह प्रत्यक्ष है कि इसके पीछे लगी मेहनत को लेकर वे संवेदनशील नहीं हैं, चाहे वह 1 किलो मक्का ही क्यों न हो?

न्याया. गौड़ा ने प्रदूषित गंगा और कावेरी का उदाहरण देते हुए कहा कि नर्मदा के विनाश और प्रदूषण की समस्या को गंभीरता से लेने की जरुरत है। किसान, मजदूर तथा अन्य जो भी प्रभावित वर्ग हैं ,सभी को उचित मुआवजा मिलना चाहिए।

जन अदालत की समाप्ति पर न्याया. गौड़ा और न्याया. थिप्से ने  लोगों के आवेदन लिए और घोषणा की कि हम इस अदालत में हुयी प्रस्तुतियों के आधार पर जल्दी ही रिपोर्ट बनायेंगे और सभी सरकारी विभागों के साथ उसे साझा करेनें ताकि लोगों को उनके  हक मिल सकें।

जगदीश पटेल, मधुरेश कुमार, हिमशी सिंह, राजकुमार दूबे, महेंद्र, मुदिता सिंह कुशवाहा

संपर्क – 9867348307 | 9424385139 | 9818905316


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India – Urine Has Less Bacteria Than Bhopal’s Drinking Water #WTFnews

Bhopal, the city of lakes, has been certified as the second cleanest city in India two years in a row. But an independent study of more than 40 samples found more bacteria in Bhopal’s drinking water than commonly present in human urine.

City-based environmentalist Dr Subhash C Pandey conducted tests on water available at railway stations, government hospitals, government colleges, bus stations, municipal corporation tanks, ice factories, hand pumps and other public places a week before the announcement of Swachh Sarvekshan survey 2018 report.

As per Pandey’s findings, the level of coliform bacteria and total dissolved solids – comprising inorganic salts, mainly calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, bicarbonates, chlorides, and sulfates that are dissolved in water – found in Bhopal’s drinking water is 2,400 times above the permissible limit.

The contents are not only similar to the bacteria found in urine, but can cause stomach-related diseases, waterborne diseases, blood pressure issues, headaches, and cancer. Moreover, it can also lead to skin-related diseases and hair fall.

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    Water collected from the Bhopal Railway Station.
    Water collected from the Bhopal Railway Station.(Photo: Kashif Kakvi)
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    Water collected from a bore well tap.
    Water collected from a bore well tap.(Photo: Kashif Kakvi)
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    Water collected outside Gandhi Medical College.
    Water collected outside Gandhi Medical College.(Photo: Kashif Kakvi)
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    Water collected from the Habibganj railway station.
    Water collected from the Habibganj railway station.(Photo: Kashif Kakvi)
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    Ice collected from the Jahangirabad.
    Ice collected from the Jahangirabad.(Photo: Kashif Kakvi)
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    Ice sample near Bairagarh.
    Ice sample near Bairagarh.(Photo: Kashif Kakvi)
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    Water collected from the tank at the Nadra Bus Stand.
    Water collected from the tank at the Nadra Bus Stand.(Photo: Kashif Kakvi)
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    Water collected outside Nadra Bus Stand.
    Water collected outside Nadra Bus Stand.(Photo: Kashif Kakvi)
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    Water from the Sultaniya Hospital borewell.
    Water from the Sultaniya Hospital borewell.(Photo: Kashif Kakvi)
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    Water collected from a water tank in Chunna Batti.
    Water collected from a water tank in Chunna Batti.(Photo: Kashif Kakvi)

The water samples were taken from Bhopal, Habibganj and Bairagarh railway stations, the Sultania Janana Hospital (the state’s biggest hospital for women), Hamidia Hospital, JP Hospital, Nadara Bus Stand, Hamidia Arts College, and the Motilal Vigyan Mahavidyalaya.

The drinking water samples were taken from corporation’s water tanker and ice samples from Avtar Water supply Chunna Bhatti, Yadav water supply Chunna Bhatti, Bairagarh Bus Stand and other locations. A total of 42 samples were collected from different parts of the city.

Pandey, who headed the project, carried out the tests in his certified lab named ‘Janta Ki Lab’ in Bhopal.

“We found urinal bacteria and TDS in the drinking water of Bhopal railway station, Sultania Women Hospital, Hamidia Hospital, and Nadra Bus stand, and heavy metal iron in Motilal Vigyan Mahavidyalaya (MVM) College beyond permissible limit,” said Pandey.

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    (Photo: Kashif Kakvi)
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    (Photo: Kashif Kakvi)

Also Read: Shimla Schools to be Shut for 5 Days Amid Severe Water Crisis

As per the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) 2012, in drinking water, the coliform bacteria should be 0 MPN in 100 ml, less than 0.3 mg per litre heavy metal iron, and TDS should not be more than 500 mg per litre.

However, according to Pandey’s report, coliform bacteria in the samples ranged from 1,100 to 2,400 MPN, while heavy metal was 1.4 mg in water samples of MVM College and TDS between 495 mg to 772 mg per litre, which is alarming.

Such contaminated water will lead to stomach-related diseases and waterborne diseases, like diarrhoea, gastroenteritis, jaundice, blood pressure, headache, and even cancer. Moreover, it also causes skin-related diseases and hair fall.
Dr Subhash C Pandey

Under the Swachh Sarvekshan survey 2018, carried out by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Bhopal has been awarded with the title of India’s second cleanest city. The survey was held from 4 January 2018 to 10 March 2018 by 4,203 urban local bodies.

Questioning the functioning of the Municipal Corporation and Pollution Control Board, Pandey said:

The Municipal Corporation, which is busy blowing its own trumpet for bagging the title of second cleanest city, should seriously look into this matter. How can they claim Bhopal is clean by supplying contaminated water, which leads to disastrous diseases?

Pandey Raises Concerns Over Govt Apathy

Pandey believes there two major reasons for such high level of contamination in Bhopal’s water. First, a lack of proper maintenance of water tanks, water pipelines and sewage pipelines. Water pipelines and sewage pipelines, which are wired closely, sometimes burst and sewage water gets mixed with drinking water and nobody fixes it, said Pandey.

Secondly, there are two or three major lakes in the city, and sewage pipelines open up in most of them. According to Pandey, this contaminates the ground water, therefore water in hand pumps, tube wells and bore wells also gets contaminated.

Pandey says the government has not conducted a thorough audit of water resources for years. “No survey has been carried out, neither by the corporation nor by the pollution control board, in last couple of years. As far as tube wells, water pumps and water tankers are concerned, nobody cleans then once they’re put in use. The corporation has turned a deaf ear despite several complaints,” said Pandey.

“I have decided to send my findings and reports to the department concerned, so that punitive actions can take place in time and save the people,” he added.

Pandey said he also planned to appeal in the National Green Tribunal (NGT) through a PIL on the basis of his report.

Will Test Only if Anyone Complains: Pollution Control Board

When contacted, regional officer of the Madhya Pradesh Pollution Control Board, PS Bundela, said, “The board has not received any compliant regarding contamination of water by the resident. We can only initiate a probe or test water if anyone reports the matter.”

When asked, why no survey has been carried out and when the last survey took place, Bundela said, “There is no fixed schedule to carry out surveys and I don’t remember when the last testing of water samples was conducted.”

Meanwhile, Divisional Railway Manager, West Central Railway, Shobhan Choudhury, immediately initiated a probe and also sought a report from Pandey.

However, Mayor Alok Sharma sounded clueless about the issue, “I’m not aware of that fact and I don’t know much about it. Neither have I received any complaint from the resident nor by the corporation officials over impure water supply.”

(The writer is a Bhopal-based freelance journalist and can be reached@MallickKakviThe Quint could not independently verify Dr SC Pandeys findings)

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PUCL Statement condemning Arrests of Activists in Maharashtra


PUCL strongly condemns the vindictive and arbitrary arrest of Advocate Surendra Gadling, Mr. Sudhir Dhawale, Mr. Rona Wilson, Ms. Shoma Sen, Mr. Mahesh Raut and Mr. Rana Jacob on 6th June 2018. They have been reportedly booked under the draconian Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA), on the allegation of spreading controversial pamphlets and delivering hate speeches in connection with the Bhima Koregaon violence that broke out in January 2018. Even before their arrest, systematic raids were carried out by the police at their premises early in the morning. It is reported that the above persons are being taken to Pune on transit remand from their respective locations by the Pune police.

All these above persons have been active in various movements and organizations, and have publicly defended the rights of Dalits and various sections of marginalized people. The simultaneous arrests at all India level (Nagpur, Pune, Mumbai, Delhi) by State authorities, smack of predetermined planned attack on people who have been protesting against injustice and atrocities perpetuated by various State and non-State Hindu right-wing groups.  These arrest amounts to blatant violation of citizen’s rights to freedom of expression and voicing dissent, and is clearly a move to target individuals working for rights of the marginalised sections of society, and to produce a chilling effect on voices of dissent.

This has been a standard protocol followed by State for years. Under the garb of countering “Naxalites” any democratic protest is labeled as unlawful activity against the “State.” People are arrested and incarcerated in jail for years. They are subsequently released as the State fails to prove their case. The whole purpose being to crush any protest against injustice, deny people their basic citizenship rights, deprive them even of their basic means of livelihood. Prejudicial narratives that above persons are “maoist sympathisers” or “top maoist operatives” is already underway in the mainstream media.

We are all aware that in the recent violence in Bhima Koregaon area following the Elgar Parishad in January 2018, Mr. Milind Ekbote and Mr. Sambhaji Bhide, both belonging to Hindu right wing organizations, against whom many complaints and FIRs have been lodged, were denied anticipatory bail even by Supreme Court. But the State Government has not arrested them yet. These two pro-Hindutva leaders, have a history of allegations against them for causing communal and caste tensions, rioting, and were alleged to have desecrated the Samadhi of a Dalit icon in Pune on 29th December 2017. Both of them have deep links with the RSS and are clearly being protected by the ruling dispensation. Meanwhile, people who have been protesting against the very violence are being targeted by the government.

We are also aware that Professor Saibaba, who suffers 90% disability from a post-polio paralytic condition, has been lodged in Nagpur jail in most inhuman conditions under similar charges and even denied bail in violation of all fundamental rights and human dignity.

This government has failed to protect people against violence perpetuated against them. It has failed to take even preliminary action against persons like Mr. Bhide and Mr. Ekbote who are implicated in the violence but is trying to suppress people who are protesting against that very violence and have been consistently working for social justice.

We condemn the state reprisals being ordered against the activists and unequivocally demand that Adv. Surendra Gadling, Mr. Sudhir Dhawale, Mr. Rona Wilson, Ms. Shoma Sen, Mr. Surendra Gadling, Mr. Rana Jacob be released immediately and raids being carried out at premises of various activists be stopped. We further demand that Mr. Bhide and Mr. Ekbote be immediately arrested and that the investigation and trial against them be conducted in an expeditious manner. We demand that stringent action be taken against the Hindutva forces spreading communal and caste hatred and violence, and demand justice for victims of the Bhima Koregaon violence.

Mihir Desai,

Convenor, Ad-Hoc Committee,

People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL), Maharashtra

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Maharashtra Government’s Terror Trail to protect Hindutva Terrorists


 Condemn the arrests of Adv Gadling, Prof Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawle, Rona Wilson, Mahesh Raut

The Pune Police at 6-00 am today, 6th June, 2018, arrested Adv Surendra Gadling, General Secretary Indian Association of People’s Lawyers from Nagpur, Prof Shoma Sen, Head of Department of English, Nagpur University, Sudhir Dhawale, Editor Vidrohi from Mumbai, Rona Wilson, Public Relations Secretary Committee for the Release of Political Prisoners and Mahesh Raut, anti-displacement activist from Bharat Jan Andolan and former Fellow at Prime Minister’s Rural Development (PMRD) for Gadchiroli District.

These arrests and searches have been purportedly made under the FIR registered on 8th January, 2018 at Vishram Baug Police Station, Pune with regard to the holding of the Elgar Parishad on 31st December, 2017 by the Bhima-Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan. This FIR, originally registered u/s 153(A), 505 (1)(b), 117 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), was made a conspiracy case in March 2018 and now has had sections of the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) added to it. The arrests today have thus been made under UAPA, which has several draconian provisions which ensure long detention and makes it difficult to obtain bail.

These arrests are in the face of the mass demand of several political parties and human rights organizations and activists and the Prerna Abhiyan in particular to arrest the leaders of Sangh Parivar organizations, Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, who were responsible for the violence on 1st January, 2018 at Bhima-Koregaon. The Phadnavis government, which has been protecting these actual perpetrators of the violence, has been attempting to create a false narrative that the violence at Bhima Koregaon was caused by the Elgar Parishad and that banned Maoist organizations are behind the Prerna Abhiyan.

The Bhima-Koregaon Shaurya Din Prerna Abhiyan is a coalition of around 260 mass organizations under the Chairmanship of Retired Supreme Court Justice P B Sawant and includes prominent political figures like Adv Prakash Ambedkar, leader of the Bahujan Republican Party (Bharip) and Justice Kolse-Patil (Retd). In commemoration of the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Bhima-Koregaon that vanquished the Peshwa rule, the Abhiyan had organized a mass meeting on 31st December, 2017 at the historic Shaniwar wada in Pune, with several prominent speakers like Retired High Court Justice Kolse Patil, Adv Prakash Ambedkar, Gujarat MLA Jignesh Mevani and others. The Elgar Parishad was organised with the stated objective of fighting the Nav-peshwahi. The program was hugely successful and attended by thousands from across the state. However on the following day, those commemorating the event at Bhima-Koregaon were attacked by a mob carrying saffron flags and instigated by Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote, two right wing activists who are closely connected with the ruling BJP and this attack was part of a pre-meditated plan.

The entire operation has been stage-managed by the Maharashtra government keeping in mind the judicial enquiry headed by Justice J N Patel (Retd) in order to ensure that submissions from the victims of the Hindutva and State violence are suppressed. It has also been done to queer the pitch for the forthcoming elections in the State as well as 2019. The BJP government is desperate to create a reign of terror in order to polarize the dalit and bahujan votes. And also to create a terror narrative thereby protecting the real terror culprits Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote who will ensure votes for the BJP.

CPDR strongly condemns this open show of State terror and complete bypassing of the Rule of Law by the BJP governments in the State and the Centre and demands the immediate release of Advocate Surendra Gadling, Prof Shoma Sen, Sudhir Dhawle, Rona Wilson and Mahesh Raut forthwith .

Dr Anand Teltumde                             (6th June 2018)

(General Secretary)

Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights,


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India – Govt does not know how benefeciary databases made, maintained and kept free from duplicates #RTI

Searching for beneficiaries of subsidies and benefits

It turns out that no one in the government knows how beneficiary databases are made, who maintains them and how they are kept free from ghosts and duplicates. It also turns out that no one in the Ministry of Finance is able to trace the flow of funds from the Consolidated Fund of India to the beneficiary. Amazingly no one knows the basis for the decision to shift subsidy and benefit money transfers from the Reserve Bank of India’s NEFT to an unauditable payment system run by a non government private company.

The Ministry of Finance Doesn’t Know

The Ministry of Finance indicated, in response to an Right to Information (RTI) query filed with the Ministry on February 6th, 2018, that the subject of beneficiaries or flow of funds from the Consolidated Fund of India to the beneficiaries does not pertain to them or they have no information about it. The various departments of the Finance Ministry indicating that this subject does not pertain to them or they do not have information include: the Department of ExpenditureDepartment of Economic AffairsDepartment of Financial Services, the Department of Revenue and Department of Investment and Public Asset Management.

While the Department of Financial Services transferred the RTI to the DBT Mission of the Cabinet SecretariatDepartment of ExpenditureDepartment of Economic AffairsDepartment of Financial Services, the Department of Revenue and Department of Investment and Public Asset Management, the Department of Revenue transferred the RTI application to all ministries and departments of the Government of India.

Response of the Department of Financial Services, Ministry of Finance

It may be noted that the Department of Financial Services is responsible, among other things, for Financial Inclusion, Social Security, Insurance, Credit Flow to the key sectors of the economy/ farmers/ common man, Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY), Pradhan Mantri Suraksha Bima Yojana (PMSBY), Pradhan Mantri Jeevan Jyoti Bima Yojana (PMJJBY), Pradhan Mantri Mudra Yojana (PMMY), Atal Pension Yojana (APY), Pradhan Mantri Vaya Vandana Yojana (PMVVY) and the Stand Up India Scheme.

Response of the Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance

The failure of the Ministry of Finance to shed light on beneficiaries of subsidies and benefits, the steps to transfer money from the Consolidated Fund of India to beneficiaries and the basis for decision to switch to Aadhaar payments from the RBI run NEFT/RTGS comes as a shock.

The Finance Minster’s Claims

In paragraph 100 of the Budget Speech delivered on February 29, 2016 by the Finance Minister, Arun Jaitley. Mr. Jaitley, had stated that “critical component of minimum Government and maximum governance is to ensure targeted disbursement of Government subsidies and financial assistance to the actual beneficiaries. Public money should reach the poor and the deserving without any leakage.” He added that a “we will introduce a bill for Targeted Delivery of Financial and Other Subsidies, Benefits and Services by using the Aadhar framework” and “A social security platform will be developed using Aadhar to accurately target beneficiaries.”

It is inconceivable how the Finance Ministry could have promised targeted disbursement of Government subsidies and financial assistance to the actual beneficiaries or that money reach the poor and the deserving without any leakage without any information about who beneficiaries are or where leakage is happening.

In order to accomplish the ambitious goal of accurately targeting beneficiaries the government would need to have information about:

  1. Procedures of law that define beneficiaries of government subsidies and financial assistance.
  2. The databases of beneficiaries that have been created using these procedures.
  3. Procedures to identify duplicates and ghosts in the beneficiary databases.
  4. The audits and studies that show how fake beneficiaries have been added to beneficiary databases.

Neither the Ministry of Finance nor any government ministry or department have been able to provide any information about the laws, rules and procedures that create any beneficiary databases, the existence of such databases, or about procedures or algorithms that provide them an ability to distinguish genuine from duplicate and ghost beneficiaries. Neither have not been able to provide a single audit report or study that shows how fake beneficiaries have been added to beneficiary databases. Neither the Ministry of Finance nor any government ministry or department have been able to provide any indication of the steps in the flow of funds from the Consolidated Fund of India to the beneficiaries in 2008 or in 2018.

From its RTI response it is evident that the Ministry of Finance and the government ministries and departments have no clue about who the beneficiaries of various government subsidies and benefits really are. It is also clear that they haven’t the any idea of how to identify them.

In order to accomplish its goal that public money, transferred by way of cash to a beneficiary, reach the poor and the deserving without any leakage, the government would need to ensure:

  1. A clear understanding of the steps in the flow of funds from the Consolidated Fund of India to the beneficiaries.
  2. An auditable payment system for direct transfers to bank accounts that have been opened with time tested KYC guidelines of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Neither the Ministry of Finance nor any other government or department have been able to trace the steps involved in making money transfers from the Consolidated Fund of India to the hands of beneficiaries. Furthermore neither have been able to indicate the basis for the decision to transfer benefits and subsidies through an Aadhaar Based Payment System run by a non government private company, the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), in place of the traditional National Electronic Funds Transfer (NEFT) run by the RBI.

According to Nandan Nilekani, former Chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI), that designed the Aadhaar number as an identifier for demographic and biometric data submitted to it, and current Advisor to NPCI, the non government company whose Aadhaar Based Payment System is being used to do direct benefit transfers, over Rs. 95,000 crores were transferred using the Aadhaar Pay of NPCI in the last financial year alone. Neither the UIDAI, nor the Ministry of Finance has certified that this money has been transferred to real and genuine beneficiaries. Neither the recipients database nor the money transfers have been audited and verified by the CAG.

The Minister’s Empty Solution

In response to previous RTI questions the UIDAI has admitted that it does not certify the biometric or demographic data associated with any Aadhaar number. It has no clue about the number of unique records based on biometric or demographic fields. It doesn’t even know if there was an enrolment operator, belonging to a private agency appointed by one of the 20 Registrars whose enrolments make up most of the Aadhaar numbers, in the 600,000 villages, 5,000 towns and cities, or even the 707 districts where enrolment allegedly happened. It has no information about the original documents of proof of identity, address or birth used to capture the demographic data for Aadhaar.

The Aadhaar database has never been verified or audited. This would mean that there is no basis to replace existing Know Your Customer (KYC) with Aadhaar without introducing duplicates and ghosts and corrupting the existing databases of customers and beneficiaries. This also means that there is no basis to argue that money transferred using Aadhaar is not leaking to duplicate or ghost beneficiaries and becoming untraceable.

In another RTI response the UIDAI has stated unambiguously that it takes no responsibility for the use of Aadhaar. It cannot recognise the use, or the absence of use, of Aadhaar in any business process. Neither can it certify the beginning, progress or completion of the business process. Nor can it certify the individuals in the business process are real persons or if they are genuine beneficiaries. It takes no responsibility to any business process.

The UIDAI has also admitted that it doesn’t identify anyone. It merely authenticates the biometric or demographic data associated with an Aadhaar number. Unlike identification, authentication doesn’t require transacting parties to be liable for identifying each other, and for the transaction, before initiating any transaction. This means that the use of Aadhaar banking for transferring any funds from the Consolidated Fund of India is equivalent to moving it into a black hole.

Aadhaar Payments as a Solution to Targeted Delivery of Subsidies and Benefits

It is evident that using Aadhaar for KYC or delivery of subsidy, benefits and services exposes every institution to transactions that are fake, or with ghosts, duplicates, as well as unidentifiable and untraceable parties. It exposes the institutions to destroying their own customer and citizen databases making it impossible to distinguish genuine from fake records. It enables cyberlaundering. The Minister’s promise of “a social security platform will be developed using Aadhar to accurately target beneficiaries” is at best ignorant of both the problem and the solution.

It is essential, therefore, that the Comptroller and Auditor General of Indiaundertake a financial, compliance and performance audit of the Government, based on the questions the Ministry of Finance and other Ministries and Departments have been unable to answer.

Here’s the List of Questions asked to the Ministry of Finance under RTI filed on 6th February 2018

  1. Full citation of all laws defining beneficiaries in each government benefit or subsidies to be transferred along with full citations of rules or regulations to identify the beneficiaries.
  2. Directory of officers who are responsible for maintaining beneficiary databases with the names of officers, name of beneficiary database maintained, number of beneficiaries in each database, and the annual disbursement to each database, from 2005 to date.
  3. District wise numbers of fake beneficiaries in each beneficiary database.
  4. Directory of officers who are responsible for algorithms, procedures, processes or implementation of separation of fake beneficiaries from genuine people.
  5. Full citation of laws defining a fake beneficiary.
  6. The full details of algorithms, procedures, processes developed to identify fake beneficiaries in each beneficiary database.
  7. Copies of audits and studies that show how fake beneficiaries have been added to beneficiary databases.
  8. List of databases where fake beneficiaries have been found with explanation about action taken against each official maintaining the database.
  9. Copy of file noting that traces the decision to seek alternate to NEFT/RTGS to transfer benefits and subsidies.
  10. Steps or schematic flow of funds from the Consolidated Fund of India to the beneficiaries in 2008 and in 2018.

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Pune police arrests Dalit activists in Delhi, Mumbai and Nagpur #BhimaKoregaonViolence #WTFnews

Pune police arrested Rona Wilson in Delhi, Sudhir Dhawale in Mumbai and Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut and Surendra Gadling from Nagpur

A file photo of policemen in Bhima-Koregaon after the violence on 31 December 2017-1 January 2018. Photo: PTI

A file photo of policemen in Bhima-Koregaon after the violence on 31 December 2017-1 January 2018. Photo: PTI

Nagpur: In an early morning swoop down on Wednesday, Maharashtra’s Pune police arrested five activists, including Rona Wilson, an activist and Jawaharlal Nehru University alumnus, in connection with the Bhima-Koregaon violence in late December last year. While Wilson was picked up from Delhi, Dalit activist Sudhir Dhawale was arrested in Mumbai. Activists Shoma Sen, Mahesh Raut, and lawyer Surendra Gadling were arrested from Nagpur.

A senior police official in Nagpur who is associated with the state’s anti-Naxal operations told Mint on the condition of anonymity that all those arrested have been booked under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act.

“We have been able to establish the money trail between these Naxal sympathisers and Naxals ahead of the Elgar Parishad in Pune on December 31, 2017. Offences were registered against some of these activists including Dhawale in January only for the violence that broke out in Bhima-Koregaon on 1 January that we believe their inflammatory speeches at the Elgar Parishad triggered. We have accumulated more evidence in the last few months and have a stronger case now,” the official said.

The Elgar Parishad was organised by Dalit activists and intellectuals on 31 December near Shaniwarwada in Pune which was the seat of power for the Peshwas who were the military and administrative head of the Maratha empire.

Bhima-Koregaon on the outskirts of Pune holds a significant symbolic position in the Dalit folklore because some Dalit historians and activists believe the battle of Bhima-Koregaon on 1 January 1818, which the Peshwas lost to the British army, accelerated the fall of the Peshwas.

According to this Dalit narrative, the Mahar regiment (Mahar is a Dalit caste to which Babasaheb Ambedkar belonged) which fought on the side of the British army was instrumental in this victory. The Peshwas were Brahmins and considered by Dalit activists as the caste oppressors.

Thousands of Dalits had gathered in Bhima-Koregaon on 31 December-1 January to commemorate the “valour and victory” of the Mahar regiment over the Peshwas on the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima-Koregaon. Incidences of arson and stone pelting were reported from Bhima-Koregaon and adjoining villages. One person died in the violence and several were injured. The violence triggered a Dalit backlash and Maharashtra bandh on 3 January which saw more instances of arson and stone pelting.

On the charges made by Dalit activists, the police filed first information reports (FIRs) against Hindutva activists Sambhaji Bhide and Milind Ekbote for “inciting the violence”. Ekbote was later arrested and is out on bail. The Pune police also filed an FIR against Dalit activist and Gujarati legislator Jignesh Mevani for making “an inflammatory speech” at the Elgar Parishad.

Sudhir Dhawale is the state president of a co-ordination committee formed for the Elgar Parishad.

Earlier, the Pune city police had on April 17 conducted searches at the residence of Dhawale, Wilson, Gadling, Elgaar Parishad organizer Harshali Potdar, and also Pune-based Sagar Gorkhe, Deepak Dhengle, Ramesh Gaichor and his wife Jyoti Jagtap, all artists of “cultural group” Kabir Kala Manch (KKM).

A complaint lodged by one Tushar Damgude at the Vishrambag police station had accused Dhawale, Potdar and members of KKM of promoting enmity and disturbing peace. The complainant had also alleged that the suspects, as per the strategy of banned CPI-Maoist, tried to mislead Dalits and incite violence.

About the arrested :

Rona Wilson: A native of Kerala, Wilson is currently based in Delhi and is the public relations secretary of the Committee for Release of Political Prisoners (CRPP). He has been active in campaigning against laws like UAPA and Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA). He is supposed to be a close aide of Delhi University professor G N Saibaba, who was arrested in May 2014 and convicted and sentenced him to life imprisonment by a Gadchiroli court in March last year.

Police sources said after Saibaba’s conviction, Wilson allegedly took over his task of “co-ordination” between left wing extremist outfits in urban and jungle areas of country and also the international network.

Sudhir Dhawale: A Dalit activist and editor of Marathi magazine ‘Vidrohi’, Dhawale founded the Republican Panthers Jatiantachi Chawal to provide a common political platform for Dalits. He also launched a movement called Radical Ambedkar. He was previously arrested in January 2011 on charges of sedition for his alleged Maoist links. However, he was acquitted of all charges by a Gondia court in May 2014. Dhawale was active in organising the Elgaar Parishad in Mumbai

Surendra Gadling: Based in Nagpur, Gadling, a lawyer, is general secretary of Indian Association of People’s Lawyers. Known to be a tribal and Dalit rights activist, he has been providing legal aid to those arrested for Maoist links, including Saibaba and Dhawale. He had provided legal help to Kabir Kala Manch artists who had been questioned by Nagpur police in September 2013 on allegations of carrying banned literature.

Shoma Sen: Nagpur-based activist Shoma Sen is a professor for English subject at the Nagpur University. She has been under the police scanner of investigating agencies for her alleged links with the left wing extremists. She was present for the Elgaar Parishad in Pune. Her husband Tusharkanti Bhattacharya was arrested last in August year by the Gujrat police in connection with a 2010 case related to Maoist activities but was later released on bail.

Mahesh Raut: Mahesh is a former Prime Minister Rural Development (PMRD) Fellow. He is alleged to be the link between jungle operatives and urban outfits of the Maoists. He has been active in the Maoist affected Gadchiroli district for last few years. In April 2014, when Raut was a PMRD fellow, he was detained by the Gadhchiroli police with his aide Harshali Potdar, after two Maoists arrested from Koinvarshi village revealed that the duo was supposed to accompany them to meet senior Maoist leaders in jungles. But Raut and Potdar were not arrested by the police and were released after questioning. Raut had recently shifted to Nagpur

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India – Hindutva’s Double Game in the Northeast

The BJYM has taken a stand that may ruffle SAD feathers on the Shillong violence.
Shillong violence
Image Coutesy: Punjab Newline

One aspect of the Shillong flare-up that should not be overlooked is the curious role of the Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM). The BJYM has made statements supporting the relocation of the Punjabi Lane’s residents. The lane is known to be a congested part of Shillong and is often referred to as a ‘slum’ or a ‘ghetto’. The residents were brought there during colonial rule from Punjab to clean the dry latrines. The president of BJYM, Egenstar Kurkalang on Sundaystated that the Punjabi Lane is a commercial area in Khasi Hills and the state government should take a decision on shifting the residents to bring in peace and harmony. He also said that it is not the first time that the residents of Punjabi Lane showed their high handedness towards the tribals. This position of the BJYM is interesting on two counts, firstly that the morcha’s parent party, the BJP is an alliance partner of the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD). Secondly, the Hindutva ideology the party espouses does not go well with either Islam or Christianity, and the bulk of the tribal population in Meghalaya is Christian. What it lays bare is the duplicity of the BJYM and perhaps its parent party too.

The entire issue began over an altercation on Thursdaywhich –  with the help of social media – snowballed into a locals-versus-outsiders ethnic riot. Various pressure groups have called for the residents to be relocated, of which the BJYM is one of the voices in the bandwagon. The CM has alleged that the rioters are paidand have been brought in from outside Shillong. On the other hand, constant talk of resettlement instead of eviction does not give one the impression that the root cause is ethnic tension.  It is ironic that the youth wing of a party which talks of ‘national unity’ and ‘integrating the Northeast’ has taken a such a stand.

Therefore, does the BJYM’s stand reflects the BJP’s own position vis a vis Sikhs? For one, the BJP is quick to rake up 1984 every time the Congress brings up 2002. The BJP is also aligned with the SAD, a party whose aim is to voice Sikh concerns and Sikh issues. Unless the BJYM is acting on its own, it appears that the BJP is insincere in either Punjab or in Meghalaya by aligning with majoritarian politics in both states.   

The BJP during the recent assembly elections had fought hard to shed its Hindutva and anti-Christian image. However, the two candidates who won on the BJP tickets would have won regardless of which party ticket they contested on. In Hindu majority states in the Northeast, the Hindutva groups are capable of falling back on their old trick of using religion. Though at present it is likely to backfire in Assam, in Manipur it seems relatively muted, whereas in Tripura the CM seems intent on placing his foot in his mouth on a regular basis. In Arunachal Pradesh, there have been concerted efforts to Hinduise/Indianise the population. However, the situation appears to change in relation to the Christian majority states. This then brings to mind the question of how Hindutva affiliated groups operate in the Christian majority states in the Northeast.

Unlike Meghalaya, the BJP did better in Nagaland, yet here too, they relied on known faces jumping ship. The Hindutva activities in Naga inhabited areas date back to around 1978 when the VHP began working with the followers of Heraka. Heraka to its followers is the traditional religion of the Naga people and is derived from the traditional practices known as Paupaise. The religion which the Christian Nagas refer to as a ‘cult’ began with Jadonang and his niece, Gaidinliu. The two belonged to the Zeliangrong community and began their movement as one of cultural revivalism in the face of Christian missionaries ‘destroying’ Naga culture. Despite Jadonang’s execution by the British colonial authorities for starting a ‘cult’ and Gaidinliu’s incarceration for ‘witchcraft’, the belief system endured. Gaidinliu, once freed after independence, was used by Nehru to counter Phizo’s ‘Christian influenced’ Naga nationalism.

The VHP and the RSS through their affiliated organisations began working with Heraka followers much later after the state of Nagaland was created. Their work focused on providing free school education for Heraka followers as well as paying for college tuition. They also distributed pamphlets featuring Hindu Gods and Goddesses as well as religious symbols such as Om and the Swastika. Many Heraka followers see this as assistance to a discriminated minority in Nagaland. The Christian Nagas, however, see the Heraka followers as Hindus. Thus, the proponents of Hindutva have gained visibility in a Christian majority state on the basis of an existing wedge. Further, the narrative propounded by Ghurye that tribals are just backward Hindus has been used to establish the Hindu link with the Heraka followers.

The other Christian majority state, Mizoram, also presents an interesting comparison. The Zo people are the majority population and are mostly Christian. However, within the boundaries of the state exist two minority tribal groups, the Chakma and the Bru or Reang. Both of whom are not Christian. The Chakmas are predominantly Buddhist and though they face a degree of discrimination in terms of their autonomous councils have not been displaced by the majority community. The Bru, on the other hand, have faced violence, and many are languishing as refugees in Tripura since the tensions began in 1997. The Bru are animists and perhaps, as a political strategy, have reached out to the Hindutva organisations. The aim of the Brus is to be repatriated in Mizoram, whereas the majority of Mizos do not want their return. The Bru Hindu Joint Coordination Committee reportedly has in the past written to MHA requesting the ministry to safeguard the Hindu religion or the indigenous faith of the Bru people in Mizoram. The Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram is active among the Bru refugees in Tripura, and attempts have been made to connect the Brus with the larger Hindu mythology. It is unlikely that this would give the BJP a platform in Mizoram, however, December is still a few months away.

Therefore, the BJP and its youth wing both appear to align with majoritarian tribal interests for political gains in the Christian majority states. At the same time, their ideological affiliates seem to exploit existing fissures, particularly when it is a question of an animist or shamanist belief system versus Christianity. The current situation in Shillong echoes this strategy, where the BJYM has voiced support for relocating the residents of Punjabi Lane. The state government, on the other hand, has not bowed to public pressure and started relocating the residents as a knee-jerk exercise. Instead, they have constituted a committee to study the issues and provide recommendations for a course of action that may include relocating the residents.

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