[The transformation of the agenda of the mainstream left in Kerala is beginning to produce resistance, and nowhere is this more visible than at Chengara in the south eastern Pathanamthitta district. The ongoing struggle for land there brings into relief not just the denial of productive resources to the real tillers of the soil – the Dalits – in Kerala’s land reforms, but also the shift of the left from the fight against inequality to the distribution of ‘minimum entitlements’. It also draws attention to the manner in which a ‘state-centric’ civil society, mainly the large network of poor women’s self-help groups sponsored by the State’s poverty eradication “Mission’, has been authorized as ‘authentic civil society’. All claims made outside these formal institutions are thereby rendered illegitimate and indeed, ‘against the law’. At Chengara, the protestors have been resisting the combined force of the state and the major political parties, laying claims to productive resources – and rejecting ‘minimum entitlements’. Indeed, the darker side of ‘democratic decentralization’ in Kerala, the ‘new Kerala Model’, as it has been called by its admirers, is the implicit legitimacy it grants to blatant violence unleashed upon people who struggle for economic equality, who do not find ‘minimum entitlements’ the solution to rampant and growing economic inequalities in contemporary Kerala. No wonder, then, that the Chief Minister of Kerala felt no qualms in warning the leader of the Chengara land struggle, Laha Gopalan, that if the protestors did not peacefully return to their villages (where they could put in applications for 3 or 5 cents of land for housing), they would have to encounter “police with horns and thorns” – in other words, not just armed police, but a bestial force. Nandigram, in short.
The struggle, however, remains vibrant and growing. Below is a translated version of a speech made by leading Dalit activist and intellectual, Sunny M Kapicadu, at a night-vigil organized in support of the ongoing land struggle in Thiruvananthapuram on 7 March 2008, in which he defends the struggle against powerful efforts to malign and undermine it. – JD ] Continue reading Beyond just a ‘Home and a Name’
[This detailed report was prepared by Kavita Srivastava, the Jaipur-based general secretary of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties. Posting this here to make it publicly available as it is not on the PUCL website. Please note that this was a rough draft. ]
State Violence and Caste Confrontation in Rajasthan
I. Outline of the week long movement for ST Reservation by the Gurjars
Soon after independence the Bhil Meenas got reservations in the Districts of Dungarpur, Banswara, Chittorgarh and Udaipur. At the time of 1931 census the Bhil Meenas were over 20, 000, however today they have reduced to half they are only 10,000 in number.
This was an issue of contention for the Meenas as they felt that they also deserved to be STs so they decided to raise their voice against this injustice as they called it. Under the leadership of Lakshmi Narayan Jhirwal they organized themselves.
11th June 1952: Meenas organized a sammelan near Dudu (Jaipur) district for the inclusion of the Meena community in the Schedule list for reservation. The Gurjars supported this wholly. Continue reading Kavita Srivastava’s report on last year’s Gujjar confrontation in Rajasthan
At the heart of all peoples’ rights work is the individual – as the person at risk of human rights abuses, as the survivor, as the partner in the defense of rights, and as the activist speaking out, and working with and for other individuals. Individuals, as part of the political, social and cultural collective and spread over the length and breadth of the country, lie behind much of the activism of Indian social-political groups, working at local, grassroots and community levels in India today. They try to change lives by acting on their own or with other people and political groups making the same demand – an end to injustice in all its forms.
These individuals are increasingly at risk in India today. We have witnessed the killings at regular intervals of activists like Safdar Hashmi, Shankar Guha Niyogi, Satyendra Dubey, Sarita and Mahesh, S. Manjunath, Mahendra Singh and Chandra Shekhar in the past two decades. We have had a series of cases of arrest and detention of people like Dr. Binayak Sen and T. G. Ajay. At a time when the patterns of human rights abuses against rights activists are becoming widespread and showing signs of further deterioration, with the governments showing their apathy, we need to draw attention to the situation, point to the concrete failures of the governments to live up to their obligations, and plan on some concrete actions, so that the human rights activists can carry out their important work free from attacks, fear or reprisals. Continue reading Individuals at Risk
In yet another shocking incident reflective of the declining standards of morality and respect for property rights amongst the young, a 13 year old boy was accused of stealing money from a shop.
However this story is special for the amazing presence of mind displayed by the boutique owner Pinki. With that special sixth-sense that only mothers are gifted with, Pinki intuitively realised that the boy had nothing to do with the stolen money whatsoever and immediately proceeded to beat him up. Not one to leave a job half done she then shaved his head, stripped him naked and as a final touch (reminiscent of her attention to detail as a fashion designer) inscribed “I am a Thief” on his stomach and back. The boy was then paraded naked in the market place.
Continue reading Boutique Owner Brutally Tortures 13 Year Old Boy: (Don’t Worry, She’s Fine)
[We publish below a statement signed by some concerned citizens and intellectuals, on the Maoist violence in Nayagarh town in Orissa. This statement could also be considered as an invitation to a debate on the larger question on the place of violence in political and social movements. Continue reading Condemnation of Maoist and State violence in Orissa
Have you ever guzzled
the last drop of alcohol
and raped your mother?
This is what we do
when we read
the morning news
about a woman’s rape
and sip our tea
© 2006 Dan Husain
STATEMENT OF CONCERNED CITIZENS AND PEOPLE’S ORGANIZATONS
A group of former bureaucrats, academicians, lawyers and social activists visited Chhattisgarh from 18 – 22 January 2008 in connection with the prolonged incarceration of Dr Binayak Sen. The team met the Governor and Director General of Police and also met Dr Binayak Sen in the central prison at Raipur. Some members of the group also visited areas in the districts of Bastar, Dantewada and Bijapur.
In the light of the information gathered, the team is of the opinion that the charges filed against Dr Sen under the IPC, CrPC and the Chhattisgarh Public Safety Act (CPSA) are unwarranted and unconstitutional. The CPSA enables the government to interpret the rendering of simple humanitarian acts as unlawful The Act defines “unlawful activity” so broadly that every act of vigilant citizenship can be construed as unlawful and anti-national. Thus it is clear that Dr Sen is being targeted in his capacity as General Secretary of People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Chhattisgarh. The reports produced by the PUCL have highlighted the anti-constitutional violence legitimized by the state through the Salwa Judum campaign.
Continue reading State Repression In Chhattisgarh And Continued Detention Of Dr Binayak Sen