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Suicide is a taboo subject for conversation. Particularly what makes a person want to commit suicide or what to say in the face of their pain.

“A man devoid of hope and conscious of being so has ceased to belong to the future.”
― Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus and Other Essays

Suicide is a subject almost everyone has thought of at some point or the other. Almost everyone has wondered what it would be like to end our own life or how it could be done without confronting the great fear - pain, suffocation or other discomforts. Yet suicide remains a taboo subject. The feelings behind suicide. What makes someone commit suicide. We can talk statistics or prevention or helplines, but in the face of actual pain that drives a person to suicide, we have no skills. There is a difference between contemplating suicide and planning to commit suicide. An important one. The first is a fairly common and natural response to unbearable negative emotions. The other is an irreversible action.

I admit I have often considered suicide. I have written about suicide before too. From a perspective of statistics, from a perspective of understanding widespread distress needing political answers, from a perspective of empathy when I read about suicide, from a perspective of failing to support and grieving when someone I know commits suicide and I have also considered suicide as an option to end my own life when I was very sad. Yet, whenever I have tweeted about the subject, I have immediately got responses that amount to stopstopstopstopstopstopstopstopSTOP! It is so immediate that it would be hilarious if the subject were not grave. I have got helpline numbers as replies, I have got advice to not let dark thoughts enter my mind.

Hello! I write and tweet and comment and contemplate issues of human rights abuse. How in the world can one do that without having any dark thoughts? If I were planning to commit suicide, why would I be tweeting instead of finding myself a rope? I understand that it can sometimes be a cry for help by a distraught person, but if the rest of the words are perfectly normal, where is the harm in reading to find out what is being said?

Because here is the thing. Even if a person were tweeting about suicide publicly as a last ditch call for attention and help, the last thing they'd need is to be told to shut up or a sea of platitudes. What they would be needing is an empathetic listener who cares.

What exactly is this fear of talking about suicides?

“The thought of suicide is a great consolation: by means of it one gets through many a dark night.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche

I admit I have spent a great deal of time contemplating committing suicide over the years. As in killing myself. I have been in unhappy relationships involving heartbreak, I've been in an abusive marriage with an alcoholic, I've been a broke single mother of a disabled child. Despair and depression are no strangers. And yet I am here, typing this post.

I have actually found thinking about suicide in great detail helpful. Instead of fearing the pain of death (and thus possibly taking a rash step "while I have the courage" maybe after a glass or two of vodka), I've gone and researched methods of suicide. What would cause the least pain? What are the consequences of failure? What is the best method so that it causes least pain and least risk of failing and living with permanent damage? And anyone who knows me knows that when I say research, I mean obsessive information finding till I am convinced I know the subject in and out without actual experience. Enough to make a very well considered decision. On and off, when I'm in utter despair, I've gone and rechecked all the information. And yet here I am, typing all this.

Is this a guarantee I will never commit suicide? No. But it pretty much guarantees that I have given it thorough thought and not found it a better tradeoff for now. It guarantees that if I do it, it will not be a thoughtless impulse, but a decision I take about my life after considering all options I have.

So how has contemplating suicide helped me?

By giving me an option. By giving me an exit from the pain. By giving me the concrete information that if all this gets unbearable, I still have the option to exit. In the process, a miracle happens. I am no longer cornered by my despair. I always have the cheat route out. And because I know that, I am never out of options. I lose the fear of making attempts to change my circumstances that could fail.  Just allowing myself to spend time thinking about ending myself is a catharsis. If no one else, at least I am acknowledging how bad things are. I am listening to myself. It helps me feel heard. It gives me a vocabulary for describing my situation when asking for help. No, I don't mean "I am suicidal, help me or else." I mean "This, this and this is the reason for my despair. I am not able to see functional ways out. I need help." - because hello, I've gone through all the reasons in my contemplation and have them now sorted out in my head.

And sometimes, in a very cynical way, the contemplations have saved me. If I don't care whether I live or die, why not try this one last thing or the other? If I hit a dead end, I can always die.

“Killing myself was a matter of such indifference to me that I felt like waiting for a moment when it would make some difference.”
― Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Dream of a Ridiculous Man

Here is an example how. When I was younger, my emotions were more volatile. Taking what I felt seriously and giving it serious thought helped me see things more clearly and invariably, I ended up thinking that if there was any hope, I could use it and if there wasn't, well, I could always die. But the well thought out option being there and not at any threat of being taken off the table gave me the confidence to know I could opt for it any time and there was no need to do it right now. I could afford to wait and see. I am truly grateful no one immediately tried to stop me at such times, or I'd have been tempted to use the opportunity before someone blocked it from me.

Now I am older. I have a young disabled child. Whoever knows me knows that I'd chew my arm off before I allowed anything to harm him. Well, losing a mom would definitely harm him. So suicide is totally not an option any more. At least while he is alive. He needs me. Period. Again, if I hadn't thought this through, I could have been at risk of giving up without considering the impact.

In some of my more selfish and melodramatic ways, I've even thought "What will be, will be" If I am not there, someone or the other will care for my son, though I can't imagine who, right now. But then, in such a melodramatic moment, the desire is also to leave a lasting mark on the world when I die. And oops, it is not "orphaned kid in moment of despair". I'd like to be remembered for something better, thank you very much.

Whatever it is. Others may have their own reasoning. Still others may come to a well considered decision that suicide is actually a good choice for them, When my father was dying of Parkinson's, he had the option of looking forward to an indeterminate bed ridden existence with little control over his body, being bored out of his wits and too exhausted to do anything about it but to wait to die. He begged me to kill him almost every week. It is illegal and I have two more dependents, or I would definitely have arranged for him to be freed as per his will if it were legal. Others do it out of poverty. Starvation. When the alternative is to live in debt and watch your family suffer with no hope of ever providing for them in sight, it can be a brutal life to look forward to, and death may simply be a matter of running out of the ability to fight.

“Let them think what they liked, but I didn't mean to drown myself. I meant to swim till I sank -- but that's not the same thing.”
― Joseph Conrad, The Secret Sharer and other stories

Whatever it is, however it plays out, a suicide is not about dying or exiting the world, it is about escaping unbearable torment. A person who feels unheard and uncared for, is unlikely to respond to a panicked flood of platitudes that s/he has heard a hundred times that drowns their voice all over again, even in the contemplation of death.

How agonized we are by how people die. How untroubled we are by how they live. ~ P. Sainath

My suggestion is that we all examine what this fear is that stops us from listening on hearing that word. Because the lives of many around us could depend on how we respond to their pain. If someone has made a well considered decision to die, there isn't much we can do about it, but if someone is screaming into a void of despair, perhaps us offering a listening ear will give them the space to be heard, and in the process get a clearer view of their situation.

What do you think?

Even by the plummeting standards set in the last few months, the decision of the special CBI court in discharging Amit Shah, (accused no. 16 in the second chargesheet; accused no. 1 in the third chargesheet) in the Sohrabuddin encounter case, seems outrageous.

The Special CBI court without waiting for even the trial to commence, without weighing the evidence at length, seems to have suddenly concurred with the defence and the ruling party’s view that Amit Shah was caught in a political trap. Why this impatience with the process of the trial? And Shah is no ordinary accused, or accessory with a side role: he is accused of being the “king pin” or the mastermind of the triple murder.

“The entire record considered in totality”, says the court does not indicate to Shah’s role, and hence discharged him. However, what is the entire record? Even a simple, cursory looks suggest that in fact it is not hearsay but solid evidence of call details records, witness statements recorded under 161 and 164 CrPC, as well evidence of systematic and direct interference by Shah in the state CID probe into the encounter.

If the call details records were totally insignificant and proved nothing, why was there such a concerted effort to suppress all such information that pointed to Shah’s role?

The state CID investigations, which first led to the arrests of the senior police offcers, had taken on record phone call details between Shah and accused police officers. However, once the Supreme Court directed the transfer of investigation to the CBI, the CID failed to hand over the CD containing these phone conversations. A total of 331 conversations had been deleted from the record.

(“Another top cop under scanner for ‘erasing’ Amit Shah reference in CD” by Neeraj Chauhan andUjjwala Nayudu, Indian Express, 27 July 2010.

Link here: http://archive.indianexpress.com/news/another-top-cop-under-scanner-for--erasing--amit-shah-reference-in-cd/652299)

Shah attempted to sabotage CID enquiry

IGP Gita Johri, who was made in charge of the state CID investigation, recorded in Part B of her first report, how Shah attempted to sabotage the enquiry.  She has recorded that though she and the Investigating Officer Solanki did not face any “hurdle” initially, “However, as soon as the statements of witnesses pertaining to confinement of Sohrabuddin and Kausarbi in the Farm House of Shri Girish Patel at Ahmedabad came to be recorded, it came to the knowledge of Shri Vanzara and Shri Rajkumar Pandian [two of the accused officers]. It is further learnt that these officers brought the above facts to the notice of Respondent No. 2, Shri Amit Shah, Minister of State for Home, Government of Gujarat.”

It further states that Shah “brought to bear pressure” on the enquiry process, resulting in the enquiry papers being taken away from her “under the guise of scrutiny”. He “directed Shri G.C. Raigar, Additional Director General of Police, CID (Crime & Railways) to provide him with the list of witnesses, both police and private, who are yet to be contacted by CID (Crime) for recording their statement in the said enquiry. Such direction of Minister of State for Home goes beyond the scope of his office, was patently illegal and apparently designed to provide the same list to accused police officers ... so as to enable them to take measures in their defence.”

(See “Geetha Johri report speaks of ‘collusion of State government’”, By Neena Vyas, 5 May 2007,The Hindu. Link here: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/article1838149.ece)

Creative Reading by the CBI Court:

The CBI court did not entertain a note written by Gita Johri, in which the sentence “systematic efforts on the part of the state government” was struck out. The CBI’s case had been that this sentence had been omitted under Shah’s political pressure, whereas the court interpreted it to mean that Johri was not happy with the investigation done by the investigating officer. This is a flight of fancy, if there can be one.   In fact, it is a matter of record that Johri’s initial investigation, before she was removed, proved to be path breaking. However, when she was reinstated, she took a complete U-turn. So chaffed was the apex court with her that he chastised her, while praising the investigation of the IO Solanki. The Supreme Court observed the following:

“69. We have observed that from the record, it was found that Mr VL Solanki, an investigating officer, was proceeding in the right direction, but Ms Johri had not been carrying out the investigation in the right manner, in view of our discussions made here in above. It appears that Ms Johri had not made any reference to the second report of Solanki, and that though his first report was attached with one of her reports, the same was not forwarded to this Court.

  1. In the present circumstances and in view of the involvement of the police officials the State in this crime, we cannot shut our eyes and direct the State police authorities to continue with the investigation and the charge-sheet and for a proper and fair investigation, we also feel that CBI should be requested to take up the investigation and submit a report in this Court within six months from the date of handing over a copy of this judgment and the records relating to this crime to them.”

(Rubabuddin Sheikh v State of Gujarat reported in (2010) 2 SCC 200, p. 217.)

The Special CBI Court cannot act as though none of this happened. The “entire record” in fact points to Shah’s involvement. The conspiracy is that of three cold-blooded murders. By terming Shah’s implication in the triple murder fake encounter case as a political conspiracy carried out by CBI under directions from a rival political party, the special CBI court has cast aspersions on the Supreme Court which was monitoring the investigations closely at all stages.

Disregarding the statements of key witnesses:

The special CBI court also disregarded the statements of key witnesses: namely, the Patel brothers, Dashrath and Raman, proprietors of the successful Popular builders. Their statements to the CBI details how money was extorted from them and how they were being forced by Vanzara and cohorts to give a statement against Sohrabuddin. The statement describes a meeting as well telephonic conversation with Shah. This has been recorded under 164 CrPC, and yet this is not deemed evidence but hearsay?

One can only say that the pusillanimity of the CBI in first, not contesting Shah’s application of exemption from appearing before the court in encounter cases, then not challenging the bail to senior police officer N.K. Amin in the Supreme Court, then responding to Shah’s voluminous discharge application and marathon three day arguments with a perfunctory 15-20 minutes argument by a junior lawyer, had already made matters clear. The die had been cast on 16th May itself, when Amit Shah delivered the rich harvest of seats for the BJP.

But what it has exposed is the rot in our institutions: the u-turn of the CBI, the reinstatement of the accused cops on duty, some of them, such as Abhay Chudasma, being given coveted posting in the Vigilance squad. Worst of all, what it has shown is the abdication of even a modicum of judicial independence.

Released by Jamia Teachers’ Solidarity Association (31st December 2014)

2-10-2012

KUDANKULAM NUCLEAR PLANT SAFETY

AERB & BARC RESPONSIBLE.

MoEF, CPCB, SPCB MINIMAL FORMAL ROLE.

  1. ENVIRONMENTAL CONCERNS:

The National Environment Policy, 2006 sets human beings at the centre of sustainable development. People are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature. The object of environmental governance is to be achieved by application of ‘ the principles of good governance ( transparency, nationality, accountability, reduction in time and cost, participation, and regulatory independence) to the management and regulation of use of environmental resources. The above object is based on the principles ‘depending upon their relevance feasibility in relation of the cost, and technical and administrative aspects of their application.

(1.2) ENVIRONMENTAL STANDARD SETTING:

The environmental standards must reflect the economic and social development situation in which they apply. Standard adopted in one society or context may have unacceptable economic and social costs if applied without discrimination in another society or context. Setting environmental standard would involve several considerations, i.e. risk to human health, risk to other environmental entities, technical feasibility, cost of compliance, and strategic considerations.

(1.3) PREVENTIVE ACTION:

It is preferable to preventenvironmental damage from occurring in the first place, rather than attempting to restore degraded environmental resources after the fact.

Extracts from National Environment Policy, 2006, Government of India.

    1. ENVIRONMENT( PROTECTION) RULES, 1986:

Rule 12 of the EP Rules, 1986 provides names of agencies which are to be intimated in case of discharge of pollutants in excess of the prescribed standard or apprehension of accident or other unforeseen event, namely

  1. Disaster management agencies at the district or state level.

  1. Central Pollution Control Board.

  1. State Pollution Control Board.

  1. Statutory Authorities and Agencies specified in column 3 in schedule v to these rules which are reproduced below:

1

Factories as defined under the Factories Act, 1948-

(a) Owned by the Central Government and engaged in carrying out the purposes of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962

(i) Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB)

(ii) The Ministry of Environment & Forests

The Atomic Energy Act, 1962.

  1. GENERAL STANDARDS FOR DISCHARGE OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLLUTANTS.

SCHEDULE –VI: ( See Rule 3(3a):

Sl.No.

34

Parameter

Radio Active Materials:

(a) Alpha emitters

[Micro curie/ml] Max

  1. Beta emitters

[Micro curie/ml]

Max

Inland surface water

107

106

Public sewers

107

106

Land for Irrigation

108

107

Marine Costal Areas.

107

106

    1. HAZARDOUS WASTES MANAGEMENT RULES 2008

Rule 2. Application : The rules shall apply to the handling hazardous wastes as specified in the schedules and shall not apply to:

  1. radio- active wastes as covered under the provisions of the Atomic Energy Act, 1962 (33 of 1962), and the rules made there under;

    1. The Atomic Energy Act, 1962

Section 2(i): Radio active substance or radio active material means any substance or material which spontaneously emits radiations in excess of the levels

prescribed by notification by the central government.

Section 3 (c) The central government shall have power to declare as ‘restricted information’ any information not so far published or otherwise made public relating to:

    1. To provide for the production and supply of electricity from atomic energy and for taking measures conducive to such production and supply and for all matters incidental thereto; [either by itself or through any authority or corporation established by it or a government company]

Section 18(i): The Central government may by order restrict the disclosure of information:

  1. Nothing in this section shall apply:

  1. to the disclosure of information with respect to any plant of a type in use for purposes other than the production, development or use of atomic energy, UNLESS the information discloses that plant of the type is used or proposed to be used for the production, development or use of atomic energy or research into any matters connected therewith;

4.2. The Supreme Court in AIR 2004 SC 1442 PUCL Vs. UOI, in para 68 says, “once provisions of Section 18 of the Act, and the order framed there under are held to be intra vires, the only question which arises for consideration is as to whether exercise of such power should be held to be invalid by this court. The jurisdiction of this court in such matter is very limited. The court will not normally exercise its power of judicial review in such matters unless it is found that formation of belief by the statutory authority suffers from mala fied, dis- honesty or corrupt practice. The order can be set aside if it is held to be beyond the limits for which the power has been conferred upon the authorities by the legislature or is based on the grounds extraneous to the legislation and if there are no grounds at all for passing it or if the grounds are such that no one can reasonably arrive at the opinion or satisfaction required there under. No such case has been made out by the appellant.” (PUCL)

Section 28 : EFFECTS OF OTHER LAWS: The provisions of the Act shall have effect not withstanding any thing consistent therewith contained in any enactment other than this Act or any other instrument having effect by virtue of any enactment other than this act.

    1. BARC AGENCY FOR MEASURING RADAITION.

The Bhabha Atomic Research Centre is the only agency qualified for measuring radiation and its services are available to all nuclear power plants.. The data collected by other agencies is sent to it for analysis. In the case of (1987) 3 SCC 231 M.K.Sharma Versus Bharat Electronics, the supreme court in para 4 states, “4. The Respondent Company has a system of film badges for measuring radiation absorbed during a month and the data which is sent to the BARC for evaluation on monthly basis. The result of such analysis shall be duly publicised and would also be communicated to the petitioner- union at reasonable intervals.”

CONCLUSION:

Reading of the above relevant extracts leads to only one conclusion that in India the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board (AERB) and BARC are the two agencies responsible for matters relating to production and supply of electricity from atomic energy and to ensure safe disposal of radio active wastes. The Ministry of Environment,Central Pollution Control Board, State Pollution Control Board play a formal limited role only because they neither have the expertise nor the necessary equipment to analyse radiation from radio active material/wastes. Thus, in view of the above conclusion even though environmental clearance notification 1994/2006 (amended from time to time) may legally apply to a new atomic energy producing plant but in fact the entire regulatory responsibility is of AERB and not MoEF.

VIJAY PANJWANI

ADVOCATE

SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

NEW DELHI

DATED: 2-10-2012