The Deputy Municipal Commissioner's remarked on 5th January, 2016, "Validity of issue of occupation certificate dated on 18.4.2015 is doubtful". If any flat-owners take possession and come to stay in their flats, they are in for a rude shock.When they start having baths and flushing toilets in sufficient numbers, their sewage will overflow.
See level difference in two blue circles in this drainage plan
Near the building, the drainage is 102.926 metres above mean sea level. Further down the line, the level is 105.862 metres – three metres higher, i.e. up the hill. The explanation given by K Raheja's CEO, M D Chande, is that "adequate slope is available between the last chamber in the building and the manhole on Municipal road to which the line is connected is confirmed by emptying water tanker in the last chamber in the presence of municipal staff." However, Mr Chande steadfastly refuses to back his claims with any figures i.e. metres above sea level, degree of slope, etc. Home buyers should remember that a slope of one foot per ten feet of length is needed for sewage sludge to flow; otherwise silting, stagnationand overflow are bound to happen.
Mr Chande claims that MCGM's Assistant Engineer - Maintenance gave NOC dated 20th November 2015 for the uphill drainage line without requiring the builder to submit any plans or diagrams. "Why seek NOC from Maintenance department? Why not Building Proposal department?" we asked Mr Chande. His reply was that after giving OC, Building Proposal has no further jurisdiction. So he was forced to approach Maintenance Department. But MCGM disregarded the Maintenance Department NOC and issued instructions to prosecute Palm Grove Beach Hotels for "unauthorized lying of sewer pipeline and drainage work". Read MCGM's Designated Officer's sanctionto prosecute. DMC's remarks
MCGM's Deputy Municipal Commissioner wrote an office memo in January 2016, titled "Full Occupation Certificate issued... without completing all necessary works in the building". The DMC wrote: "It is reported that Building Proposal Department have given full Occupation Certificate to Building No. 6 on 18.4.2015... It is seen that now developer has started the work of laying drainage line. Designated Officer R/Central Ward had issued stop work notice on 9.12.2015... This clearly shows that before issue of occupation certificate, the drainage work was not completed." See the screenshot below.
The Assistant Police Inspector's statement prior to FIR mentions the mukadam Ramesh Kishan More, "Manager" Mr Chande and supervisor Virendra Dube. Read the statement: http://bit.ly/KRaheja4
As always, even while filing an FIR, the authorities catch unimportant minions and let the bosses go free. So, who were the persons named in the FIR? Not the directors of Palm Grove Beach Hotels and note even theproject's architect. At first, FIR was registered against Mr Chande and Mr Virendra Dube, a site supervisor working on contract basis. Here's the screenshot. Later, the FIR was further diluted by removal of Mr Chande's name with white ink, and its replacement with Mr Dube's name, evidently because they represented to MCGM that Mr Chande, CEO, is "not concerned in this matter". So Mr Dube's name is mentioned twice in the same sentence. See the screenshot below:
So the blame for this multi-crore rupee fraud is being pinned only on a site supervisor who has zero discretionary powers and only follows orders. One is reminded of Justice S J Kathawalla's recent reprimand to EOW in a case concerning a builder... someone drags Palm Grove before Justice Kathawalla!
The latest rabbit from the same old hat. That of discriminatory policies by college managements against interests of socially or economically backwards students and then disproportionate and unjust action against students who protest against it.
Press Release by Richa Singh, President, Allahabad University Students Union
Attempt to dissolve Allahabad University Student Union, after student protest erupted against compulsory online application for admission
Student protest erupted against compulsory online application form for admission
Student demanded for offline option, along with online
VC rusticated President, Vice-President and General Secretary of the union and then withdrew the order in an hour
Attempt to slap serious criminal charges against president Richa Singh by the VC
Richa Singh decided to intensify the struggle against compulsory online application and against VC’s attempt to implicate her under false charges
30th April, 2016, Allahabad. On Saturday large scale student protest erupted in Allahabad University against compulsory online application form for those seeking admission in post graduate courses. Students demanded option for offline along with online as most of the students come from rural background. President, Richa Singh said, “When most of the central universities like BHU, AMU, JNU, Hyderabad University and others have both the options then why not in University of Allahabad. It is more than needed in Allahabad University because it is located in a state which has 78% of rural population. Thus, making online application compulsory is going to prevent the entry of many, coming from rural background and from marginalized community.”
When students went with their demand to VC, he not only refused to meet with the elected office bearers of the student union but also locked himself in his office. Against that, for more than two hours, students organized dharna in front of VC office but in vain.
In a most shocking act, in the evening university authorities sent a press release, rusticating the President, Richa and other office bearers for organizing protest without informing the students. However, within an hour, press release was withdrawn and instead of that high powered committee is constituted to take disciplinary action against protesting student leaders. Student leaders have termed the act as an attempt to dissolve student union for the purpose of curtailing the student voice and movement. VC has also lodged criminal complaint against Richa Singh in police station. Richa said, “It is an attempt to implicate her under false charges and is in continuity with the previous acts. However, she is not going to be intimidated.” In the past also VC made attempt to expel Richa Singh but could not after the issue was raised in the Parliament. VC has also banned all kinds of political activities and programme inside the university campus.
Against the dictatorial acts of VC and to demand offline option, student leaders have taken the firm resolve to intensify the struggle in the coming days. They have decided to approach Members of Parliament of all political parties to take a categorical stand on making online application compulsory in a Central University, located in a state with 78% rural population. They have also decided to take the issue to the common people in Allahabad and neighbouring district, so that wider public opinion could be formed against the policy which in no uncertain terms is going to affect the prospects of students coming from rural background and from marginalized community.
Interesting is to note that till now 92% applicants have opted for offline mode for applying under graduate courses where both the options are available.
At 3am on the night of April 7, 2016, restaurant and bar Mumbai Darbar was still running, in violation of the law, which states that restaurants and bars must shut by midnight. Police Inspector Shubada Chavan, attached to NM Joshi Marg police station noticed this and decided to book it for running beyond permissible timings. Her subordinate Sandeep Shirke along with three friends was drinking in the bar at that time and abused her verbally in public.
Hoping to avoid an unnecessary scene showing a policeman in bad light, Inspector Shubada ignored his misbehavior returned to the police station to complete the booking procedure. An inebriated Sandeep Shirke followed her back to the police station and continued to hurl abuse and insult her in front of the police station staff who tried and failed to reason with him.
He even offered to pay her the fine money himself to drop action against the Hotel. When she refused, he lost his temper and started hurling furniture around and insulting her and creating a nuisance in the public station to the point his colleagues decided to book him for obstructing a police officer from carrying out her duty. At this point he fled from the police station.
In further irony, when journalist Dharmesh Thakkar, who broke this story on Twitter tweeted about it, the official Mumbai Police handle requested him to file a complaint on a link they provided. Let us understand this - Mumbai Police needs citizens to file complaints when their police officers are harassed, publicly insulted and prevented from working? Is this a JOKE?
While it is admirable that Police Inspector Shubada Chavan's colleagues did eventually decide to take action against the inebriated and misbehaving cop, what is worrisome is that she had to face this from someone who is subordinate to her. We have, in the past seen many instances of police attitudes towards women being derogatory. We have also seen many instances of women police being misbehaved with by mobs or individuals.
It is concerning when a police officer on a night shift can be undermined and humiliated for carrying out her duty. Mumbai Police seems reluctant to speak on the matter while assuring that an ACP has looked into it and has recommended action against the errant officer.
We do hope that Mumbai Police also has a problem with their staff patronizing establishments in violation of the law instead of taking action against them - in addition to actions for his behavior against Inspector Chavan and other police staff as well as preventing her from carrying out her duty.
The following is a first person account by Md Hasanujjaman, M Phil in English, University of Hyderabad of the brutality unleashed by the police against the students and faculty of University of Hyderabad.
I am one of the arrested students in connection with the protest against the VC of UoH. I belong to a minority community of West Bengal. My family is financially backward. Here I would like to narrate the police brutality on me and my fellowvictims in police van on the way from UoH to Miyapur Police Station on 22nd March. Before coming to UoH I was naive about the problems in the society. I had no idea of the pathetic and dehumanized condition of the dalits and the adivasis. I was hardly aware of the dangerous consequences of caste system in the Indian society. But coming to UoH I began to understand the real picture of the caste system which leads to utter discrimination and dehumanization of the dalits. I saw that this caste system makes the lives of the dalits extremely miserable. Realizing my responsibility as an independent and right thinking citizen of this country I found that the caste system is a tool of dehumanization and therefore it must be annihilated. I stood against this discrimination of the caste system and thus, I aligned with the movement which Rohith Vemula was part of.
Rohith Vemula being a dalit, was institutionally discriminated and forced to take his own life. The ‘Vice Chancellor prof Appa Rao Podile’ directly perpetrated in the institutional social boycott against the five dalit students including Rohith. Following the suicide of Rohith, the VC was booked under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act according to whose provision the accused must have been arrested within 24 hours from the lodging of FIR. However the FIR was lodged on 18th January, 2016 and till date he has not been arrested. This is a gross violation of the constitutional provision. Instead he returned to the university and attempted to illegally reclaim his ‘vice chancellorship’ on the 22nd March, early morning.
On the same day that is on 22nd March I went to attend a PreSubmission Seminar in the department of English, School of Humanities, at exactly around 2.00pm. Coming out of the department at around 3.00pm I saw that the peacefully protesting women and men teacher and students were being dragged and beaten up mercilessly by the police. The police were chasing and lathicharging on the protesters indiscriminately. It was obnoxious to see that the protesters are beaten up for raising voice against the injustice. It was a day of police violence on the democratic and peaceful protesters. I saw one student losing his sense and was rushed to a hospital. Many students got their clothes torn due to the brutal manhandle and lathicharge. But it was most painful to see that the women students and teachers being mercilessly beaten up by the police. They were thrashed on their private parts. I also witnessed female teachers being manhandled/molested by the police. It was a violation of women's rights as the women students and teachers were molested by the male police. Dr Tathagata Sengupta, an assistant professor of Mathematics was beaten up too.
It was a threatening moment in my life. I never saw such police violence in front of my eyes. I could not restrain myself from speaking against the police and as a result I was the next to be victimized. However, the police brutality actually began when one teacher, one film maker and the sixteen students including me were chased and dragged into a police van. I was standing near the ‘Goodwill canteen’ which is around 250 meter away from the VC`s lodge where the protests were happening. Standing there itself I could see students and teacher being dragged into the police van. But I never thought that I would also be a victim of the police brutality. Suddenly, one police chased me and caught the collar of my shirt. I pleaded not to apprehend me as I did not commit any crime except the fact that I stood for the Justice for Rohith and supported the students’ movement for justice. I feel that I was targeted because I questioned the police on their face that why Rohith did not get justice even after more than three months; why the accused for Rohith's murder has not been punished; on what ground the VC has come to take charge of the university. Instead I was beaten up and thrashed hard and pushed into the police van.
This inhuman and brutal torture continued on all of us for around 50 minutes on the way from UoH to the Miyapur Police Station. Dragging me into the van the police forcefully pushed me down into a corner seat. Before getting hit I quickly looked at a fellow victim Subhadeep Kumar and asked him what might happen to me as for the first time my life I got into a police van. He assured me that nothing will happen as I did not commit anything wrong. I could not turn my face to have a look at the rest of the victim in the van. Again the police hit me on shoulder. I pleaded not to hit me but the police pulled my hair and punched me hard on my back. Another police hurried at me snatched my mobile and spectacle. But when I pleaded to give me back the spectacle as I have serious eye problem, the police boxed on my right eye saying that why despite being visually challenged did I spoke against the police. Whenever I tried to look at my fellow companions who were beaten up black and blue, the police hit me and cowed me down not to raise my head again. I heard my fellow friends shrieking in pain as they were mercilessly thrashed and hit. Those who had beard and looked liked ‘Muslims’ were beaten up specifically as the police suspended them to ‘like’ terrorists. The sounds of slapping and hitting still haunt my mind and I feel the pain. Professor K Y Ratnam was also a victim of the police brutality. A filmmaker, Moses Abhilash too was unlucky to be a victim of the brutality. Abhilash was just shooting the videos of police lathicharge which the police did not want the public to see. The police beatings left wounds on my body. When I requested for water they gave me the water only to be ready to get beaten up again. The physical assault was extremely systematic and cruel. At that moment I doubted whether I was at all a human being. While beating up, the police also unleashed verbal abuse on all of us at extreme level. During the journey of police brutality from the UoH to Miyapur P. S., the police were continuously abusing us with the most vulgar and objectionable language. “M***d, b**d, chu**a, bho**ke” and etc were the common words they were throwing at us. They called us Pakistani ISI agents and alleged that we are spending Indian money and supporting Pakistan and threatened us to send us to Pakistan. They called us antinational alleging that we are conducting “beef festival”, “kiss of love” events on “Afzal Guru’, “Yakub Memon’. They said that they were taking revenge on us for their hard work on duty. They also assaulted our departed friend Rohith Vemula saying that he was a ‘bastard’, ‘spoiled child’ and people are unnecessarily paying attention to his death. They used extremely antiwomen, derogatory, and sexist comments. They said that they would rape our mothers and sisters and also they vowed to bring them here and take their naked videos. They also threatened to do the same with our women friends in the university. Hearing these comments I feel that the safety of the women is at great risk and I also feel that the posting of police poses direct threat to women teachers, students and workers in the campus. Their comments and attitudes were dangerous as far as the safety and security of women is concerned at large in the society. It is appalling to think what the police remarked against the women.
After brutal torture in the police van we were subjected to harassment in Miyapur P. S. After reaching there at Miyapur we all of us were made to sit on a dirty and spaceless corridor. The police humiliated us by making our respected teacher Prof K Y Ratnam sit on the same dirty floor. The police lectured us about moral and ethical correctness. They behaved with us very rudely while taking our detail information and pictures. On asking about our release the police told us that everything is in hand of their “BIG BOSSES” and they also said that the Gachibowli police have already decided our fate. We were kept awake throughout the night by putting light on in front of eyes and playing songs and videos. When we requested to let us sleep they laughed at us. The next day, a Subinspector of Miyapur P.S. called me for interrogation and he took all my information in detail including my family, relatives’ information. He also took the photos of my PAN, Aadhaar and university ID cards. He also took the phone numbers of my relatives checking my mobile. He abused me very badly and threatened me that in future if something happened in the university, I will be a target even if I do not commit any crime.
Thereafter we were secretly taken to Balanagar Police Station where we were again harassed both physically as well as mentally. The police made us sit in a dirty and suffocating room. Professor Ratnam was again humiliated by making him sit at the feet of the police who was sitting on a chair and giving us pedantic lecture on nationalism and education as to how we should develop our society. This is the same subinspector of Miyapur P.S. who abused me in vulgar language and giggled his teeth and lied to me when I asked him where we were taken to. He also mocked at me by calling me “team leader” and “mastermind”. I don't know his motive for calling such things. But I am apprehensive of my Muslim identity as he was targeting me. I was also not allowed to inform my worried family or friends about my whereabouts. From Balanagar P.S. we were taken to ‘Government Area Hospital’ secretly. We were shocked to know that we were taken to a hospital. I had wounds and pain caused by the police brutality the previous day. But I had no reason to expect any medical treatment. In the hospital I was forced to stand in the queue for treatment. The doctor gave me “fit to be produced at court” certificate despite my critical health condition. I also saw Professor K Y Ratnam`s Blood Pressure reading to touch around 220 mark in the BP machine. After the “treatment” the Gachibowli CI J. Ramesh forced me to sign the arrest papers at around 9.00 pm on 23 March whereas actually I was arrested by the police at 5.30pm on 22 March. When I tried to raise objection the Gachibowli CI J.Ramesh threatened me that not signing the arrest papers would amount to additional cases against me. I was denied any interaction with any legal expert on these serious issues. When I politely asked him “Sir, my career would be shattered if my future is tarnished by filing cases against me”, he aggressively threatened me saying “shut your mouth up otherwise I will file more cases against you”. I do not know how to express the fear generated in me by J Ramesh. After medically certifying me “fit to be produced at court” I was again confined in the police van. It was suffocating and scorching hot. I requested the police to let me stand out of the van until it moves. But the police as usual again threatened us. I was very hungry as I did not get anything to eat throughout the day. The police did not bother to hear any of my problems. Then I was taken to the honourable Magistrate at around 11.40 pm. But the Gachibowli police Naveen and Bhupathi did not allow me to appear at the honourable Magistrate to narrate my suffering and wooes. At the Magistrate's order I was sent to Cherlapally Central Prison. Coming to the prison my health further deteriorated. I called a prison physician for treatment. He gave me a general painkiller injection and some medicine for the wounds and pain caused by the police on 22 March. But he did not give me any proper health treatment as I needed the most. It still pains me to remember that in prison the doctor was not allowed inside and therefore, I had to take an injection through the window. I also failed to have an eye check as 22 March as the police hit me on my right eye. The police action threatened my life and also the hopes of my family. I feel helpless, hopeless and unsafe. The police filed false cases against me and others with the deliberate intention to destroy our future and our lives. The police terrorized us throughout the first 33 hours to ensure that we do not again protest against the government and its agencies. They kept us saying that we should only study and not get involved in politics. They wanted to create a fear in us so that before protesting we will remember the trauma of the police brutality. This poignant memory will always be haunting my life. Md Hasanujjaman M Phil in English, University of Hyderabad
If you’ve spent enough time on Twitter, you would’ve found out it’s dominated by the right-wing. BJP IT Cell members were originally on Twitter to promote Modi as a PM candidate. A BJP IT Cell in Nagpur apparently consists of around 6200 members. You didn’t have to read this report to know that the RW machinery on Twitter is organized. You’d have thought their work would be done after making Modi the PM but they’ve still stuck around to defend the BJP Govt’s every move.
The RW of trolls of Twitter are notorious for making death, rape threats, indulging in character assassination and using gendered abuses to silence and intimidate those who hold views different to theirs. The RW machinery consists of normal citizens, bigwigs of RW with huge following, BJP IT Cell members and even right leaning editors, news anchors, journalists and some authors.
The right-wing came under fire recently for spinning the murder of Dr. Pankaj Narang as a case of communal violence. Some popular RW accounts were quick to give it a communal colour.
The communal angle to a murder case was laid to rest by ADCP Monica Bhardwaj.
This is not the first time the online RW has been caught with their pants down. There have been many other instances where right-wing trolls have indulged in propaganda and the unfortunate part is, they’re assisted by some eminent figures like journalists and editors.
1. Meerut “love jihad” case
The case of “gang rape and conversion” ended up in a nikaah between the couple. Her enraged father had filed a false complaint of gang rape and the Sangh Parivar took up the case to encourage the bogey of ‘Love Jihad’. Some prominent people on Twitter had already passed judgement on it and stirred the demonisation of a minority community.
2. Tuktuki Mondal case
Tuktuki Mandal was abducted and raped by Muslims, claimed the RW, and they claimed there was a larger sinister plot behind it. Tuktuki Mandal returned home and denied charges of kidnapping and said she didn’t want to return to her parents (as she had a tiff with them).
4. One sided narrative of RSS workers getting killed
Since quite some time the RW has been tweeting gory pics of RSS workers killed by CPM as a form of whataboutery to any claims of majoritarian violence like the recent killing in Jharkhand.
There is a history of political murders in Kerala and not only CPM, but other parties also indulge in it. These killings are politically motivated and do not have a religious angle to it, as some in the RW suggest. Here’s a comprehensive list of murders by RSS members in Kerala (credit: @goonerblues) which goes against the narrative by right-wingers that only RSS workers are the victims in Kerala.
5. Claiming mass-killings in Malda
Muslim fundamentalists wreaked havoc in Malda after ‘insult’ to Prophet but the claims of right wing trolls that scores of Hindus died is false. There was vandalism, police vans were set on fire, a nineteen year-old boy and a thirteen-year old girl were injured. It is debatable that the violence indeed had a communal hue.
6. Manufacturing fake videos of Kanhaiyya and spreading false news of Hafeez Saeed’s endorsement of JNU.
7. Dismissing Dadri lynching and the recent Jharkhand lynching of two youths as cases of ‘personal enmity’.
It is a widely accepted fact, as reported by most media outlets, that Dadri killings and hanging of two youths in Jharkhand were communal incidents. Yet the RW machinery wants to spread the canard that they were instances of just ‘enmity’. They aim to dismiss blatant communalism in some cases and imply religious overtones in other cases when there isn’t any to suit their agenda.
The right-wing leaning journalists, editors and authors shouldn’t act like third-rate Twitter trolls and indulge in spreading lies and communal bile. They should ponder over how their words demonizing minorities contribute to communal tension on the ground. When I confronted such a journalist, she played it down and said condescendingly “I didn’t know I was so powerful”. Well, the likes of her may not be powerful indeed but they do contribute in spreading propaganda on Twitter which then expresses itself in a more crude form on Whatsapp and Facebook. Examples below.
There are many people in India who unfortunately get their dose of “news” and information through platforms like Facebook and Whatsapp. They don’t bother reading papers and finding out the complete stories. There have been many violent incidents due to rumour-mongering on Whatsapp and other SM platforms. Such incidents include: Dadri killing, Trilokpuri riots and Muzzafarnagar riots. Hope these eminent people exercise caution before communalising or otherwise in the long term they might end up having blood on their hands.
Bastar. An abstract name of some strange place where there is Naxalism. And therefore a place to be avoided, to be dreaded and mostly ignored. Not a land of a people who love, have children, earn livelihoods, make houses, sing, dance and celebrate. Not a land of everyday interpersonal conflicts, a tiff with a neighbour, a fight with the spouse. Not a land where children play, tease and bruise their knees. Not a land where people can dream of a future.
Just some dark hinterland, a version of Western World’s Africa right here in India.
I bring Bastar to light. Here.
Bastar is a district in Chhattisgarh. The total area is 4029.98 sq kms. It has a population of 1,411,614 humans (as per Census 2011). 70% of this population are Adivasis belonging to multiple tribes. Chhattisgarh has the 4th largest forest land in India with 44.21% of land cover. Many sections of Bastar are poorly developed with no pucca roads and few medical facilities. Traditionally, Adivasis have depended on forest products for their livelihood. In more recent times, agriculture is a mainstay for many.
There are four main issues that should concern us as regards Bastar: 1) Adivasi rights; 2) Rights of the forests; 3) The future of Bastar; and 4) Who speaks for whom?
Way before Naxalism became active, Adivasis often found themselves on the wrong side of forest officers. These officers had been using their authority to make life difficult for Adivasis to continue with their livelihoods. There was intimidation, rampant corruption and frequent sexual abuse.
After the spread of Naxalism and the subsequent attempts of the State to crush their rise, the many failed strategies like Salwa Judum, the everyday Adivasi has become tainted as either a possible Naxalite or a police sympathizer. S/he is born into this taint, unable to make a choice to be apolitical or non-ideological. Nor even to question State or Naxalism. With state control over media and public opinion outside of Bastar, there is a lurking assumption that every Adivasi is indeed a potential Naxalite. Erased by birth, erased by residence.
What has, therefore, followed is dehumanization of Adivasis by clumping them under a label and reducing them to an object that needs to be controlled. And mansplainers are extremely good in explaining in their daddy-voices on how one can’t trust the locals, how Naxalism has infiltrated the community and that therefore State violence is the only way out.
But Adivasis are citizens of India. They are given the same constitutional rights as all of us. They are protected by the Constitution. And no matter what we opiniate, there cannot be a localised need-based convenient interpretation or occasional reference to law. It basically means they are afforded the same freedoms that we have taken for granted — like right to freedom, right against exploitation, right to constitutional remedies, right to life. They are afforded the same human rights guaranteed by The Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the United Nations.
And yet time and again, irrespective of Government, it has been trampled in Bastar. For e.g. when Soni Sori, an Adivasi teacher spoke up in support of her nephew Lingaram Kodopi, a fearless talented journalist, she was arrested. Cases were filed against her that led to arrest, torture and brutal sexual abuse. If it were not for the activists who followed up and publicized the gross human rights violation, we would have never heard of Soni Sori. The courts have now cleared her of all the cases. She, in turn, has become a go-to-person who gives courage to women who have been exploited and sexually abused to speak up.
The question before us is why was she tortured? Even if for a moment we assumed she was a Naxalite, does that warrant sexual abuse and torture? Why were the Constitutional rights so openly flouted and yet key officers were not called to question?
Not only Soni Sori, but hundreds of other Adivasis have been wrongfully confined, false cases heaped on them and reports of torture have emerged from more than one place.
Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group (JagLAG) that worked for the legal rights of Adivasis have been evicted. Journalists who reported on Constitutional violation of Adivasis rights to life, dignity and property have been silenced – either by intimidation or arrest. As the India Today long story “Life in the Red” shows, journalists are reporting under the shadow of fear.
In absence of activists and journalists, we will never hear the other side of the story, the one beyond what the State machinery wants us to know.
Rights of the Forests
Chhattisgarh boasts of some of the densest forest cover in India. It is also rich in minerals, rich in natural resources. But that forest cover is quickly being depleted. Between 2011 and 2013, there is reduction of 19 sq kms (1 sq km= 100 football fields) of forest area in Bastar district alone.
Whereas Forests cannot speak for themselves, we the Citizens should ask why the forests are being cut down indiscriminately. One of the major reasons is mining. The area is rich in minerals, coal and other natural resources. A second reason is movement of Adivasis in giving up traditional forest-dependent livelihoods in favour of clearing land for agriculture which is facilitated by the State. The third reason that is cited is to evict Naxalites from these forests.
Forests hold rich biodiversity. Forests protect landscape from erosion, from multiple natural disasters, and provide oxygen to the world. How is it that under our watch the forests are being cut down and there is not more than a whisper of dissent? Except that of locals and human rights groups like Amnesty India.
Who gains by cutting the forests? The locals or big mining corporations and their corrupt nexus with politicians?
Future of Bastar
Like it or not, Naxalism arose as a counter to the atrocities committed by rich landlords. If you read Hello Bastar by Rahul Pandita, you will know several stories of the horrifying crimes committed by the land-owning upper caste groups on landless. A systematic way in which groups of people were kept illiterate, under-developed, in poverty and complete dependence on the land-owning groups.
Like it or not, Naxalism empowered the marginalized, as Bela Bhatia said and I paraphrase, to name the crimes as injustice rather than fate. It is a different thing that Naxalism quickly veered into violence that consumed the very people they were fighting for. It pushed the locals into a state where they could no longer make choices, but remain in that uncertain diplomatic silence on issues.
So if we assume Mission 2016 will succeed and Naxalism will end, the question before is who will benefit from it? Will Adivasis regain rights over the land and rights to dignity? Will they have a voice in their own development and all issues that pertain to their district, to their community? Will they now begin to receive fair and just trials or will they be massacred as possible Naxalites? Will they be empowered to document injustice and successful get constitutionally-guaranteed remedies?
Or will it pave the path for multinational and big mining groups to set up shops, to make rich richer.
This is the question that we should ask. For Bastar deserves (as every land does) a prosperous, healthy and peaceful future. And the constitution guarantees that India is a democracy -- of the people, for the people, by the people. And Bastar is not an abstract name of a land, it is the breath of a people.
Who Speaks for Whom?
Why do activists speak? Is it because they have no other work to do? Are they mere noise makers disturbing the monolithic State narrative of what is happening on ground—the hurrays for the many surrenders of Maoists, the encounters that are supposed to have killed “dreaded” Naxalites, and the legitimacy of Mission 2016. Minus of course the erring journalists, the outspoken researchers, lawyers and activists. The manufacture of a public opinion -- that if you want to end Naxalism, it is given that there will be collaterals of a legitimate war, a.k.a ‘some’ Adivasis will die.
Democracy requires and is maintained by dissent. In a democracy, there can never be a single narrative. There are multiple truths jostling with each other for significance. A process that forces us to not move into easy judgments, but glimpse and empathise with the complex human lives caught in a complex web of power struggles.
And why should it concern those outside Bastar, in other words ‘us’? Don’t we all have own problems in life, our everyday struggles to make ends meet or aspirations to meet a dream? Don’t we have own interpersonal and organization conflicts to deal with?
Why should we? Because as Rahul Pandita had said in a tweet in context of journalists and so have others, Chhattisgarh is a lab for brutal policies. You succeed in Chhattisgarh, you develop a formula, you set a precedent and then you can implement it in other parts of the country.
Then we must bring down this laboratory and return Bastar to the protection of our Constitution. Now. We have to ensure the protection, freedom of expression and dissent for local activists like Soni Sori and the many outspoken journalists of Bastar so that they, in turn, may stand up for their community.
There are three ways to support people of Bastar:
Search for news on Bastar and please make yourself aware. Share news, talk about it, write about it.
Follow human rights groups like Amnesty India or National Human Rights Commission and support them as needed.
As a citizen, participate in the #OneMillionPostCardCampaign and send an e-card to Chief Minister of Chhattisgarh, Dr. Raman Singh asking him to bring CBI and Supreme Court to investigate matters that concern people of Bastar and Soni Sori. Let your voice be heard. http://goo.gl/forms/rvTT6CyHbI
Thank you for taking time to read this post fully. Bastar does need you!
Some information is referenced from Hello Bastar by Rahul Pandita.