Friday, September 29, 2006

NO MORE BHOPALS


The story of Sunil, a victim of the Union Carbide gas tragedy in Bhopal.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

SEZ: farmers plan satyagraha

Farmers in the Raigad district of Maharashtra are planning a satyagraha to oppose the Reliance SEZ. The SEZ is planned for 10,000 hectares and will affect 45 villages in Pen, Uran and Panvel talukas.
Savita Subhash Thakur, a gram panchayat member from Chirner, said: "If we give up our land, what will we eat? They will not give us any jobs, and finally we will have to give up our homes. People are willing to sacrifice their lives to oppose this SEZ. Our land is productive and fertile, why should we give it up for a private company?"

The people first came to know about the project through a notice in a local paper on June 19. It said land was being acquired under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894, for a public project, namely the SEZ.

The company or the Government did not inform them or take them into confidence, said Santaji Gondhali. "What's wrong with our area. We have two crops, education, plenty of water. Since the city is close, we do get jobs too. Why does the Government want to take away all this?"

Ironically, the government has declared SEZ's to be public utility projects, without making the public part of the decision making process.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

India's Shame

The September issue of Frontline has series of articles on the issue of manual scavenging, a pathetic practice still prevalant in India.
- India's Shame
- Caste strangehold
- Out in the open
- Part of the system
- Bengal's record
- Interview with Martin Macwan, founder of Navsarjan.
- In denial mode
- Captured live

Saturday, September 23, 2006

shitty business

How the Other Half Lives has a couple of posts on the pathetic practice of manual scavenging still prevalent in India.
related links:
Sulabh International is a social service organization which works to promote human rights, environmental sanitation, health and hygiene, non-conventional sources of energy, waste management and social reforms through education, training and awareness campaigns. The organization has developed the Sulabh Shauchalaya-technology, which is technologically appropriate, socio-culturally acceptable and economically affordable.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

SEZ memorandum to the President

Ashwin helped draft the following memorandum, which was handed to the President by a delegation led by former Pime Minister V.P Singh.


To,

Shri Abdul Kalam,
President of India
Rashtrapati Bhavan
New Delhi

Subject: The large scale grab of agricultural land going on under the guise of the Land Acqusition Act.

Dear Rashtrapatiji,

We wish to draw your attention to a most deplorable instance of the worst tyranny of the policies followed by the successive governments in the last fifteen years in the name of economic reforms and development.

The Government of Uttar Pradesh had acquired 2500 acres of highly productive agricultural land for the ostensibly “public purpose” of infrastructure development, namely, to set up a gas based thermal power plant near Dadri in Ghaziabad district. Nobody would question the need to augment the generation of power supply in the power- starved state. But what is most questionable is the way in which the government of U.P. has been acting at the behest of and for the benefit of one corporate house, flouting all norms of propriety and prudence.

It is not at all clear why such vast tracts of good agricultural land were acquired for the power project. No where in the world is 2500 acres of land required for a power plant. There is no evidence to show that the government considered alternative possibilities that would have meant little or no displacement of peasants from productive land. Moreover, no competitive offers were called for before deciding in favour of one particular corporate house. What is worse, the state government has virtually subsidized the corporate house to the extent of sixty percent of the cost of land acquisition. The compensation, such as it is, has not yet fully reached the oustees. We also understand that Reliance has shown the value of the land (for the purpose of seeking a loan for this project) to be several times the cost at which it is being given this land by the U.P. Government. The land has been transferred to the company even before they have tied up the fuel linkage for the project.

The power project was supposed to be operational in two years time. But there is no sign of the work having begun on the project. The price at which the energy so produced will be available is not known to the public; there is no clause binding the corporate house to either the time schedule of the project going on stream or the price at which power would be supplied.

Even applying the norms of neo-liberal market economics, which have become almost a matter of faith with our policy makers, the decisions of the U.P.Government in regard to this project are indefensible. We suspect a thorough going public enquiry would unravel a scandal of magnitude bigger than the notorious Enron project.

What causes us deep anguish is not only the impropriety and venality that are palpable, but the way in which the state government has reduced itself to being a willing handmaiden of a corporate house. Never before have we seen such takeover of the government by the corporate sector. The atrocities and violence let loose at Bajhera near Dadri by the state police in collaboration with the private security agents of the corporate house on the night of 7th-8th of July on the eve of the Satyagraha planned by the peasants will put to shame even a lawless dictatorial regime: houses were searched at night; women were manhandled and injured; children were grievously hurt; property was looted: all in the name of maintaining “law and order”.

We find that government machinery is being more and more insensitive to not only the interests of the poor and the powerless but also the basic humanitarian values. The pretext of development is being used to push through the corporate agenda at the cost of the kisans and the marginalized sections of our people.

Land Grab and Displacement : A National Crisis:
The liberal grant of mining leases to private parties; the spree of MOUs entered into by governments of MP, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh and Orissa with the big industry, both indigenous and foreign; the above mentioned most deplorable instance of the U.P.Government’s policies and action; similar trends witnessed recently in Haryana and Punjab; misinterpretation of the “public purpose” provision in the Land Acquisition Act and violation/evasion/erosion of the fundamental legal obligations of the State regarding non-transferability of adivasi lands, facilitating large scale dispossession of adivasis and other poorer sections of their land for the benefit of big business; the pursuit of construction of big dams without regard to prior and proper rehabilitation of the oustees; the demolition of the jhuggi-jhopris in the name of creating “world- class” urban centers; the allotment of major share of the lands of the closed textile mills in Mumbai in favour of the real estate sharks at the cost of the claims of housing for the laid-off workers and also the environmental needs of the burgeoning metropolis-all these moves and measures expose the anti-poor and pro-big business and pro-rich bias of the policies being followed. The recent instances of brutal use of force by the State against the adivasis, dalits, kisans and other poor sections resisting this State- supported aggrandizement of the big business only confirms the barbaric resolve of the system to crush all opposition to the designs of the big capital, forgetting the promises made in the election manifestoes, and with little regard to the fundamental rights enshrined in the Constitution. The already marginalised Adivasi India, the vast hinterland of hardworking peasantry and the soft underbelly of the urban centers where the poor reside in makeshift habitats are seething with unprecedented fury.

Special Economic Zones: Genearised Legal Framework
The Act on Special Economic Zones passed by the Parliament in June 2006 and the Rules framed there-under and promulgated in February 2006 seem to provide a legal cover for continued pursuit of such reckless, pro-rich and anti-kisan and anti-poor policies.

In a nutshell, the Act encourages setting up of tax- exempt enclaves all over the country with the ostensible objective of stimulating production of goods( including agricultural and horticultural products and contract farming) and services( incuding banking and financial services) for export. But the guidelines for approval as set out in the Act include such omnibus purposes as “generation of additional economic activity” and “ promotion of investment”.

The size of the zones contemplated varies from as large an area as 1000ha for multi product zones to as small an area 10 ha in case of the zones converted from the already existing EPZs . The promoters could be private entrepreneurs, resident Indians and non- residents and foreigners, companies incorporated in India or abroad , state governments, joint enterprises. FDI is permissible upto 100 percent.

It is visualized that around one fourth of the land will be earmarked for the production and processing, the rest being available for development of infrastructure and amenities which include residential housing complexes, hotels, recreational and leisure spots.

Some 267 such zones are reported to have been approved so far. According to press reports, some 1,34,000 ha of land has already been acquired for 67 multi product SEZs.

The imports into the SEZ will be exempt from customs duties and import regulations and procurement of raw materials and other goods from the rest of the country will be exempt from excise tax. Income from the exports will be totally exempt from income tax for a period of five years, exemption for half such income continuing for another five years. Thee will be exemption from trasaction tax on securities and service tax, electricity duty, central sales tax.. The cesses and other regulatory provisions currently applicable under various specific acts such as agriculture Produce Cess Act, , Mica Labour Welfare Fund Act, Sugar ( Regulation of Production) Act, Tea Act , Coffee Act, Salt Cess Act etc. will be inapplicable. The state governments will be encouraged to provide exemptions under the Stamp Duty Act and other such state taxes, octroies and cesses.

Normal government machinery, including the organs of the state government under different departments and the Municipal/ Panchayat Raj administration will be short-circuited by concentration of various powers under Development Commissioner, including those under Industrial Disputes Act. State Governments are required to notify the SEZs as public utilities for the purpose of application of Industrial Disputes Act, implying severe restriction on the workers’ right to strike.

Entry into SEZ will be regulated by identity cards to be issued by the SEZ Authority. No representation of local people or the workforce is provided in the structure of the SEZ Authority. There is no transparent procedure for selection of promoters for allotment of land so acquired, except perhaps, first –come- first- served . In Noida, U.P., for example 2,500 acres of land has already been allotted to the Reliance Group, for an SEZ within a month of the U.P. government adopting a policy for SEZs.

Large scale acquisition of agricultural land is taking place in the name of “public interest”. There is no transparent procedure for selection of promoters for allotment of land so acquired, nor for payment of adequate compensation. . This has generated large scale protests and militant agitations, witness Dadri in UP and Pen, Uran, Karla, Rajgurunagar in Maharahstra. Interestingly large tracts of land are being acquired in the vicinity of metro cities, eg. Delhi and Mumbai, incuding Navi Mumbai and handed over to big business. This has ominous potentialities considering that residential complexes, recreational and leisure spots for the rich are visualized as legitimate objectives of SEZs. The boom in the real estate market also explains why big houses are interested in grabbing such large tracts of land.

The obvious implication of colossal loss of revenue to central and state governments does not seem to have been considered seriously. IMF chief economist has recently drawn attention to these tax giveaways that government can not afford. The loss of revenue estimate is of the order of Rs. 1,75,000 crores over the next five years. Ultimately, the fiscal strain so caused will only lead to inevitable cuts in budgetary provisions meant to provide some minimum economic and social security for the poor.

The mushrooming of SEZs also implies out-migration of economic activity from the rest of the regions, including the backward regions. This would only exacerbate uneven regional development. The adverse employment and income effect of the possible leakages of tax exempt production from SEZs into the domestic tariff areas, which will be very difficult to eradicate, can be easily imagined.

We are witnessing in this process a more general phenomenon: the destruction of small producers, in agriculture as well as manufacture and induction of big capital into this last bastion of petty production. The small producers are being pushed into being contract labour for the big business houses , indigenous as well as foreign. Eventually, their dependence on the big houses will be total and they will be pauperised, as the government has already virtually withdrawn or is fast doing so, from its erstwhile role of protecting the small producers’ and peasants’ rights and providing credit, marketing and price support to them. What is more, the total employment that the SEZs will provide will fall far short of the displacement that they will cause in the rural hinterland. In the absence of a sound, people- centric strategy for the absorption of the vast labour force so displaced, the ongoing process will only lead to social turbulence of an unprecedented scale. The unrest being witnessed now in Dadri or Pen-Uran is only a beginning.

SEZs recall to mind the establishment of “factories” and acquisition of rights to customs-free trade in India by the English East India Company in the 17th century or the race amongst the European Powers for the establishment of extra-territorial enclaves in China in the last decade of the 18th century . The “factories” and the “enclaves” were the ancient ancestors of the SEZs, although the phenomenon now is largely self-inflicted and has “indigenous” as well as trans-national elements participating in the process.

We, therefore, demand a national moratorium for six months, an immediate halt to the process of any further land acquisition, dispossession, demolition and displacement pending the constitution of a high level commission of eminent persons which should lay down a new comprehensive policy and set up an effective mechanism to ensure the protection of the rights and interests of the affected people not as a post-facto formality but as a necessary precondition to the initiation / resumption of work on projects including those related to urban renewal and development. The proposed commission should also be asked to look into and recommend amendments to the Land Acquisition Act/s and review the whole concept behind the SEZ Act .

Thanking you,

With warm regards.

Yours Sincerely,

Monday, September 18, 2006

engineers on the ground!

And somewhere there are engineers
Helping others fly faster than sound.
But, where are the engineers
Helping those who must live on the ground?

--- Young Oxfam Poster

[read it at ArvindGupta Books and Toys and was reminded of it reading Ashwin's email signature.]

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Working

One of the books I am currently reading is Working, by Studs Terkel. A must-read book which was published in 1974 and is still relevant today. A program on NPR talking about "Working" is here.

Recordings from The Studs Terkel Radio Program are here.

Working, is an oral history of working men and woman. As the title says, "People talk about what they do all day and how they feel about what they do". Studs Terkel documents a wide spectrum of working people, people whom we see daily, but do not stop to think that they might be working really hard to make ends meet---work that is essential for some purpose. He documents peoples experiences about why they are doing what they are doing, what they like-dislike about it, how the feel about the job, how they are searching for meaning and shelter in their job, why they started the job, how long have they been working, the nature of work itself and many such experiences. A few professions he documents are, farmer, miner, receptionist, professor, actor, model, hooker, telephone solicitor, garbage man, domestic, janitor, policeman, cab-driver, plant manager, dentist, hair-stylist, factory owner, tennis player, gravedigger, librarian and many more. A great account of working peoples lives, their struggles at work and makes one realize how important and non-trivial work is, irrespective of any profession.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

quote of the day

the earth does not belong to us, we belong to the earth

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

SEZ = Special inEquality Zone?

Ashwin sent a few links regarding the Bharat Forge SEZ that is planned about 50 km from Pune in Rajgurunagar. There are plenty or reports about how SEZ's are uprooting and displacing villages, farms, villagers, farmers, tribals and affecting the environment in several ways. The same arguments comes into play again "economimc development", national infrastructure, for the greater common good and many such. There are also several reports about the people living in the proposed SEZs having no say in the whole process---they are the primary affected but not the primary criteria! Looks like this state-private sector combined initiative is going to lead to yet another long and hard battle for the ones at the lower end of pyramid.

Attached below is a report from Rajgurunagar about the Bharat Forge SEZ.


Farmers Struggle against SEZ land Acquisition in Pune district

Date: 12 July 2006



We have cultivated enough to nourish entire country that needs to be continued for future generations too. “Land is our Mother, Self-Reliance, Self-Esteem, our Livelihood, our Identity and Way of life so don’t snatch it,” said by farmers of village Gulani where Struggle against Bharat Forge Special Economic Zone is happening. They have taken firm stand that ‘we will die, but will not give a single biga (local term for half acre land) land to the MIDC SEZ’.

Land is the vital source of livelihood of our country, more than 65 per cent peoples’ livelihood directly or indirectly dependent on agriculture sector. Technological development is dominant on agriculture sector, has been reflected into agricultural land acquisition for the private sectors development. It has proved that in the name of development more marginalisation is the Mantra of present development era. Farmers of the sixteen villages form the Khed taluka of Pune district are opposing forced land acquisition by MIDC for the Bharat Forge- SEZ project. There has been a lot of unrest and struggle against the land acquisition since last three months. This is happening just 60 kilometers away from the Pune city.

The village came to know about the land acquisitions during the month of April and May 2006 when MIDC started conducting its survey. Then villagers from Gulani asked about the details, which the MIDC officials refused to give them. This was followed by the villagers getting united and successfully bringing a halt to the survey work. By that time they had asked information under the ‘Right to Information’ but the response they got was that the information was “confidential”. Eventually they got some information from the Member of Parliament Mr. Shivajirao Adhalrao Patil and ‘Save the land Samiti’.

The Maharashtra government have received 53 applications for setting up of SEZ projects all over the state, of which 27 have received formal approval. In Pune district alone more than seven SEZs have been approved. These are mainly private sectors zones and the developers include Syntel International, Serum Institute, Mahindra Realty, Bharat Forge, City Parks, Raheja Coroporation, Hiranandani and Xansa India, etc.

Private Sector’s Special Economic Zone has been approved by the government in the Pune district for the Bharat Forge limited. Land will be acquired from various villages like Gulani, Wafgaon, Wakalwadi, Warude, Gadakwadi, Chaudharwadi, Chinchbaigaon, Jaulake Budruk, Jarewadi, Kanesar, Pur, Gosasi, Nimgaon, Retwadi, Jaulake Khurd, Dhore Bhamburwadi and Pabal. 7,500 hectares agricultural and non-agricultural land has been identified from these above-mentioned villages.

Majority of the people, in these villages, belong to the Maratha community, other backward and Adivasi (Thakar) community. The most important occupation is farming and allied activities. Their major crops are potato, onion, sorghum, jowar, rice, flowers and pulses. Many youths have initiated their own businesses like poultry, milk collection, pig raring, animal husbandry, floriculture and emu farm. Nevertheless, people’s livelihood is dependent on farming activities, mostly rainfed and irrigated through private wells. They have been demanding water for drinking and irrigation water under the Chaskaman Scheme for a decade now but the government did not stand up to its word. The area has no electricity and falls under under the “dark zone” of the state.

There has been a drinking water scheme which is about 35 crore’s investment but due to the lack of maintenance it is not in use. Infrastructure is available but there is no water in water tank. Come summer and people have to walk several kilometers to fetch the the drinking water. They have to be dependent on tanker water supply, which is always inadequate and irregular. This area is comes under the Bhima River basin and surrounded by small watershed, Dhimbhe Dam, Kukadi and Chaskaman Irrigation scheme. Farmers have raised question that dams have been built up in the name of irrigation but they couldn’t provided water for agriculture. Now the water will go to these coming companies and this obviously seems to them a larger conspiracy against all farmers.

It is in this context that the opposition to the SEZ project has build up and farmers and local people’s representatives have constituted a Khed Taluka Purva Vibhag MIDC Virodhi Kruti Samiti (Anti Land Acquisition Committee from East Khed-Wafgaon and Gulani Village) under the chairmanship of Mr. Rajusheth Jawalekar, Wafgaon. Many people have been involved in this committee like Kisanrao Garde, Sudamrao Karale, Dadasaheb Rode, Sitabai Ranpise, Bhalchandra Rode, Kaluram Pingale, Balasaheb Sutar, Ashok Jare, Santosh Karale etc. All these people are Sarpanch and member of Grampanchayat and Taluka Panchayat. Their larger aim is to stop the land acquisition and cancel the SEZ resolution, which is disturbing their socio-economic and cultural life. Some of the local leaders know that rehabilitation is out of question because there is provision of cash compensation only.

There was not a single consultation with farmers about the land acquisition in these sixteen villagers. Today the farmers simply don’t want to give away their ancestral land for a ‘development’ that has brought them no benefits and will not in the future either. They have ample experience from earlier projects where people have been thrown in different places. If they would get assured irrigation water they will turn this area into an Israeli type of model farm, said farmers. Fellow villagers are now being made consciuos about the land grabbing and implications of these development projects through Gramsabha meetings on a regular basis. The Gramsabha resolutions about their unwillingness to sell their land for SEZ have already been passed. Many youth claimed that this is probably the first time that the village has come together so strongly on an issue.

More than four thousand people participated in a protest (Morcha) against SEZ in a one day mass protest at Rajgurunagar-Khed tahsil office on 11th July, 2006. A memorandum was submitted to tehsildar Vijaya Pangarkar demanding cancellation of the MIDC-SEZ project. They also put forth other demands like water for drinking and irrigation, support to the agriculture-allied activities and support to small business, Completion of the work of drinking water scheme and Gulani percolation tank at the earliest.

The farmers have warned the government officers that they will fight against SEZ unless and until it gets stopped the survey and entire project. “Earlier, we have faced displacement in the name of national interests like Chakan International Airport but henceforth we will not tolerate any displacement”.


Prepared by Sampat Kale, NCAS, Pune


Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Women and Salwa Judum

Got the following via email, a report form Chattisgarh.
* * * * * *


THE ATROCITIES ON WOMEN BY THE SALVA JUDUM, THE S.P.Os, CRPF,
NAGA POLICE AND OTHER PARA MILITARY FORCES

The ruling classes of the country have initiated Salva Judum (SJ) to
completely destroy the Maoist movement in Danda Karnya (DK). They started
the campaign from the village Karkali in Kotru area of from June 4, 2005. On
the 4 th of June of 2006 the state organized a so-called martyrdom day and
the foundation day of the SJ. Prior to this meeting they had propagated that
if people do not come there they would be beaten up and punished. So threat
was the main thing to get people to the meeting place. They also organized a
Motorcycle Rally in the last week of May and created an environment of fear
in the Maddher area, from Bijapur to Bhopalpatnam. The state and the
mainstream media say that SJ is a peace campaign. But, in reality, it is a
campaign to suppress the revolutionary masses and the Maoist movement and
had been started by the pro-imperialist, big bourgeoisie and feudal classes.


The women have been made a special target in this suppression campaign using
sexual harassment as a weapon to intimidate them into submission. During the
past one year, 12 women have been killed in the West Bastar region, hundreds
have been beaten up and terrorized, many have been put into prisons, and a
great number has been forced to live in the concentration camps. After the
commencement of SJ, Madhukar and Hanif have been spearheading it in Kutru,
Vikram Madavi and Ajay Thakur in Bairamgarh, Budhram Rana in Bijapur, and
Sikka Manjhi in Gangalur areas. They have all acted in a planned way. They
collected some youths and made them slaves of bad habits like drunkardness,
visiting prostitutes and indulging in goondaism; making ordinary adivasi
youths as bad characters and used them to inflict atrocities on women in the
so-called relief camps which are set up by the police and state
administration as a war tactics. These elements targeted womenfolk,
especially those who were active in the adivasi women organisations. Every
evening, after taking liquor these guys would enter the camps and drag out
young girls and young mothers to harass and molest them all through the
night. The paramilitary forces are using the people living in the camps as
human shields to protect themselves from the attacks of the Maoist forces.
The people are forced to perform sentry duty around the camps, clear the
area of trees and jungles, and forcing them to scavenge and sweep clean the
surroundings as forced labour. The women have been especially used to
perform these tasks and they are routinely sexually harassed during this
time by the security forces. They are forced to collect fuel wood, and
fencing material from the jungle. In addition, their labour is being used to
build houses and for the SJ 'campaigners' and their families.

Bairamgarh is the hub of atrocities on women. In the Bairamgarh 'relief
camp' more than a hundred women have been kept under the shadow of the lash.
Dens have been set up by the police in front of the camps to indulge in
gambling, drinking, and molesting of women. The police and paramilitary
forces regularly visit these places. Mahendra Karma, alias Sodi Deva,
sometimes also visits these dirty dens to get pleasure. When the night falls
the SJ goondas come to the camps and ask womenfolk to come for some earnest
piece of work or just for giving them something, or would forcibly drag them
to their place and strip them, abuse them physically. After they are dead
drunk they would ask the girls to sing and dance before them. Due to all
this, ten women became pregnant in these camps in Bairamgarh area alone.
Kunjam Lakke, a woman activist of Potenar, near Kotrapal, became pregnant
due the heinous crimes of the police and SJ goondas. A leader of the SJ
campaign, Vikram Madavi, is keeping her in his house as a house servant. She
is seven months pregnant. These kinds of incidents have happened in Bijapur,
Gangalur, Kutru, Jangla, Matwada, Farsagarh and other areas too.

LEGITIMISING SEXUAL VIOLENCE IN THE NAME OF
SOLEMNISING MASS MARRIAGES

The government says that it is giving utensils, money and other things as
gifts to the poor adivasi "couples" who marry in the mass marriage campaign.
The Governors, Chief Ministers and ministers get themselves photographed
while distributing gifts to new couples masquerading as generous people. But
in Dantewada and Bijapur police districts they are using mass marriages as a
smokescreen to hide sexual violence on women.

The repressive military campaign in the name of SJ is forcing young girls in
the camps to marry SJ goondas and Special Police Officers (SPOs). Every
young girl in the camps is not only threatened and harassed to give herself
into marriage but also allurement in the form of incentives is being
practiced to force them into marrying their gen brothers. They are even
threatened with murder if they do not yield to the wishes of the police and
SJ. They are told, "if you do not marry here you would join the guerrillas
and fight against us." Forced marriage is another form of sexual abuse,
which is being used to douse the ire of the women against the state and SJ.
It is coercing them into submission and not what the leaders and ministers
say. It is sheer intimidation and not a gesture of help towards these women.
It is a marriage against the wishes of a person and not a generous act. In
this way many SJ goondas and SPOs are keeping young girls as wives. Many
cases are there where they have married with a second wife or have abandoned
the old to marry the young. In this practice the age difference is also
ignored. This is sexual abuse and nothing else. The Red Cross is also
providing help in such an abuse. Governor KM Seth has presided over many
such ceremonies. His wife Veena Seth, as president of the State Red Cross,
is unable to see the sexual and immoral aspect of such marriages. She says
when she gives a sari to a woman to cover her head she feels a rush of
humanist feelings and moral values. But the reality is quite the opposite.
In fact, her acts are providing a smokescreen to the sexual crimes of SJ
criminals. The president of State Women Commission, Smt. Shardha Verma also
did not see the reality of crimes against women when she visited the camps
for inspection. On the other hand, the media which is full with the
propaganda against Naxalites, is in deliberate silence over the crimes of SJ
and police against the tribal women of Bastar.

US and Japanese imperialists' crimes against Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese
women, including the use of women as comfort girls, is a story which the
whole world knows. Now the Indian ruling classes are using their police and
other security forces against the adivasi women of this region treating them
as a piece of flesh.

The women who go to the haat bazaars for purchasing essential commodities
like salt, pepper, rice etc. in exchange for Mahua seeds and flowers and
other kinds of jungle produce are routinely beaten up and harassed. They are
told that they are taking home these things for the guerrilla forces
justifying the cruel behaviour they are getting at the hands of Indian
security forces. Haat bazaars are part of tribal people's life without which
it would be very difficult to continue life there. But the government has
closed down many haat bazaars in the Bastar region to make things more
difficult for the people in the name of fighting communist guerrillas. Now
the people have to travel 50 to 60 kms. to get the things of daily use.

The SJ and police forces have destroyed 2500 houses in 650 villages and in
this way the people have suffered an enormous loss of 10,000 crores of
rupees. Everything that was there in the houses of the adivasis like paddy,
flowers, noonk etc. has been burned and goats, pigs, cows and poultry looted
in the count of tens of thousands of heads destroying the economic fabric of
adivasi life. They have killed 250 adivasis and their mass organisations'
activists in a bid to control their resistance. Tens of thousands of tribal
have been forced to flee and live in the jungles, some thousands have been
forced to live in the so-called relief camps destroying the social fabric
and culture of the adivasi life. Closing down of haat bazaars is a form of
economic blockade of adivasi areas which is being resorted to by the
anti-adivasi and anti-people Indian state. The SJ used this weapon of
economic blockade from the very beginning. The haat bazaars that remain open
are in tight control of the state and SJ criminals. These bazaars only work
in a limited sense in Bairamgarh, Nimmed, Farasgarh and Kutru. All the paths
leading to these haat bazaars are patrolled by the SJ and security forces
with check posts on all the entry points. In Matwada haat bazaar the SJ men
snatched everything from Kovasi Sumli of Keshamundi village, Ursa Sanaki of
Kesur village, Madavi Budhri of Kotenar village, Kohadam Idme, Kowasi Idme
and Mangli of Kunjam village and beat them mercilessly in April 2006.
Similarly, Poniam Budhri, Midiam Mangli, Podiam Sukki of Kotrapal were
taking rice home when they were detained and beaten up till they bled
profusely. The police said to them, "you are not living in the relief camps
and are carrying rice and goods for the guerrillas."

Ursa Mangli, Emla Budhri, Podiam Sanaki of Kesur village in Bairamgarh were
beaten up by SPOs, and their belongings were looted. Madavi Somme, Vanjam
Vidme of village Kudmer of Mirtul area of Bairamgarh were picked up by SJ
criminals when the women were going to haat bazaar and beaten to death in
May 2006.

Vangapad Camp in Bairamgarh block is a pleasure-hunting den for the police.
Fifteen adivasi peasants have been killed in the camp in various ways. Some
peasants were packed up in the bags and left in the sun. When the peasants
in the bags cried for water and help the SJ men danced around and laughed.
Emla Kallu, aged 28, of Munder village was killed in this way and then
thrown into the Indravati River in Nov. last or December 2005. Kadti Kamlu
and Kadti Lachhu of Munder village were also killed in this way and thrown
into the river. Their dead bodies have not been found till now. The two were
killed in November 2005 and February 2006 respectively. Madavi Munna was
killed in his village and buried carelessly by the SJ criminals. His body
was dug out by dogs and eaten up.

Similarly, Sukki and Ungi of Pralnar village in Gangalur area were stripped
naked in the bazaar in Gangalur and severely beaten. Also, women going to
Sherpal were beaten up accusing them of cooperating with the guerrillas. If
a woman purchases two pieces of soap, or a kilo of onions, or two kilograms
of common salt, or 5 Kg. of rice they are beaten up for helping the
guerrillas. When people leave for haat bazaar they are gripped with the fear
of being hounded, beaten and killed.

When Naga Police, CRPF, and police forces routinely come to the villages on
patrolling they beat up women and men they find there. For example, in
village Bhandarpeli on May 25, 2006 the police beaqt up three women. On June
11, Naga Police beat up two women in village Orepal in Mirtul area.

In the National Park area there is a 'relief camp' in Karkeli village. Some
of the women, who had fled from the camp due to continuous sexual harassment
and unbearable living conditions, were again arrested and tortured and put
into the camp again. Today, many women are kept in jails with false charges
slapped over them. Many among them were shifted from the relief camps where
they were brought with the said purpose of protecting them from the "Maoist
menace."

But the struggling women of Bastar, like that in Kotrapal and Tadmendi, are
coming forward in Kunjaram, Basaguda, Durgaguda resistance actions and
instilling fear in the minds of the enemy. Similarly, they have participated
in Bailadilla, Murkinar, Kotacharu actions wherein they have attacked Naga
Police and paramilitary forces and in this way have sharpened the guerrilla
resistance against the enemy and are developing the struggle forward. The
adivasi women are in the forefront at many places and are sacrificing
themselves making the road to liberation red like red jasmines. Villag Peda
Korma's Sukki and Lakke, Pulghatta's Santo, Rangegudem's Munni have set
examples for their young women comrades by giving their blood for the cause
of liberation. In Gangalur attack, comrade Inki, a guerrilla fighter
sacrificed her life. These martyred women's footsteps are being followed by
hundreds of women, especially the young ones are participating in the
revolutionary movement by registering themselves in People's Liberation
Guerrilla Army (PLGA), militias and women organisations. The deceived women
of Bailadilla are now rising up in the form of guerrillas and taking up the
gun to fight against repression.

Every right thinking person in the society should come forward and raise
voice against atrocities on women in Bastar and step-in to support their
struggle for regaining self-esteem and liberation from the oppressive social
and political system.


Monday, September 11, 2006

100 years of Satyagraha


Hundred years ago on this day Gandhiji launched the non-voilent movement against British policies towards Asians in South Africa. Gandhiji called the movement Satyagraha, the pursuit of truth, which he went on to practice and preach in India's freedom struggle and also inspired many to use it in their struggles.

An important question for us today would be, what is the status of Satyagraha today?---its relevance and its effectiveness---are we anywhere close to the truth?

Trailer of the documentary "Satyagraha: 100 Years of Nonviolence" is here.

Links to sites on Gandhiji: here and here.

Today is also the day of the 9/11 attacks.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

1 every 5 hours


The Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti is reporting the suicide rate in Vidarbha now is one every five hours (72 deaths in last 15 days).

828 farmers committed suicide between June 1, 2005 and September 5, 2006.

110 since the PM's relief packahe announced on July 1st.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Electronics and Environment


A Greenpeace study "Guide to Greener Electronics", ranks leading mobile and PC manufacturers on their global policies and practice on eliminating harmful chemicals and on taking responsibility for their products once they are discarded by consumers.

According to the report, Nokia and Dell are the closest to green (but still quite a distance away) and Motorola, Lenova, Acer and Apple the farthest.

A related article is here.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

You can recover our bodies, not the money!

P. Sainath writes on the continued agrarian crisis in Vidarbha.
The contrast would have been amusing but for its being rooted in so great a tragedy. On August 15, the Prime Minister signals a crisis in farming from the ramparts of the Red Fort. He singles out the Vidarbha region in Maharashtra - quite unusual for an Independence Day speech. Manmohan Singh says that during his visit there "the plight of the farmers made a deep impact on me". And, he says, "I am aware of the acute distress of our farmers who bear the burden of heavy debt." This is the nation's Prime Minister, worrying about agriculture. Around the same time, the nation's Agriculture Minister, Sharad Pawar - Maharashtra's foremost political figure - appears on television to reassure the Indian public. Not about the state of farming in Vidarbha or elsewhere. But about the safety of the Indian cricket team in Sri Lanka.

Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti's blog is here.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

links

Union Carbide and Bhopal mess.

War is not a solution for Terrorism, Howard Zinn.

"The day they show me and say to me 'this is your house, your tree, your land, your forest', I will go. Only if they show me all these. Not until then. Ask them to also show me the road to my forest, the hills, and ask them to give me my livelihood. I will go ..." says Suramma. The Polavaram dam project in Andhra Pradesh's West Godavari district---over 230,000 people in hundreds of villages to be displaced, tens of thousands of acres submerged, wildlife and forest lands inundated.