Bangalore Solidarity Protest and Candle Light Vigil to Support People’s Struggle Against Koodankulam Nuclear Power Plant

March 28, 2012

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Protest against the Custodial Torture and Sexual Assault of Soni Sori – 24th March 2012

March 28, 2012

Stop Custodial Violence on Women

“Giving me electric shocks, stripping me naked, shoving stones inside me… Was the abuse on me not enough?…
This is a plea from a helpless daughter…This is a mother’s plea for her children”
Soni Sori in a letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

A protest against the custodual torture and sexual assault of Soni Sori and many such women was organised by various womens groups, civil society organisations and people’s movements in Bangalore on 24th March 2012, Saturday, at Town Hall Steps, at 6.PM.

 The demands are,

  • Immediately transfer Soni Sori out of the custody of Chhattisgarh police and ensure the provision of appropriate health care to Soni Sori without police interference.
  • Set up an independent investigation into the conduct of Chhattisgarh law enforcement officials in the custodial sexual assault and torture of Soni Sori, and the immediate suspension of the responsible officers and prosecution under the PoA Act pending this inquiry
  • Ensure the speedy completion of trial of Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi so that they do not languish for years in custody when their guilt has not been proven.
  • Show public proof of the good health and safety of Lingaram Kodopi and other prisoners in Chhattisgarh police custody.
  • Set up a high-level independent investigation team to look at the condition of prisoners, especially women, including in the state of Chhattisgarh, to determine whether other women may have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, and investigate the reality of prisoners’ access to health care.
  • Enact the Prevention of Torture Bill and remove the need for prior state authorization to initiate criminal action against the officials implicated in custodial torture. Ratify the Convention on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
  • Ensure that the latest central government grants to states to set up police stations in Maoist areas include support for independent monitoring of detention facilities including station lockups and jails by human rights commissions and civil society groups. Consider requiring police to videotape interrogations, especially in police stations in Naxalite areas.
  • Work with civil society groups to train police on proper conduct toward women in custody.
  • End the use of custodial torture, lengthy custodial holding on false charges, and constant police harassment as tools of repression against the adivasi and other residents of Chhattisgarh.

Click here for Leaflet

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An appeal to the UN Special Rapportuer – Koodankulam

March 26, 2012

 

 


Rights groups highlight arbitrary killings in India

March 26, 2012

Civil society groups in South India urged Christof Heyns, U.N. Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, to bring to the notice of the Indian authorities the seriousness of the problem of arbitrary killings in the country.

Mr. Heyns, now on a fact-finding mission in India, interacted with civil society groups from Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka at a meeting here on Saturday by organisations such as People’s Watch and South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring.

During his India visit, which began on March 19 and will extend till March 30, he is holding such meetings in different regions of the country, besides interacting with government officials, to investigate the circumstances and causes of the killings signifying state repression. His mandate is to alert the government to its legal obligations in upholding international human rights.

Henri Tiphagne, executive director of People’s Watch, Tamil Nadu, narrated to him the circumstances of a string of ‘encounter killings’ in his State by the police. He said a shocking fact noticed was that some of these killings were by officers who had turned ‘habitual killers’ — the same officers were behind more than one encounter killing.

A few relatives of those killed in encounters during the police hunt for forest brigand Veerappan narrated to the U.N. Special Rapporteur the ‘police repression’ they too had to undergo and the blocks in the system to bring them to justice. Advocates fighting for the victims of human rights violations spoke of attitudinal problems among even judges and heads of human rights commissions in the country in seeing human rights violations as a serious crime.

One of them said even persons in the judiciary and national institutions for protecting human rights had been found, surprisingly, to come on record in recent years as stating that “extra judicial killings could not be avoided.”

The police justified encounter killings by projecting the victims as villainous criminals. Officers involved were being rewarded, he said, citing the example of one being made the chief of the police force in one of the south Indian States and in another case an officer known for his violence was selected for the national award.


Public Hearing on RTE Act and Recommendations

March 24, 2012

Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act – 2009 (RTE) came in to force from April 1, 2010, with the aim of providing free and compulsory education to all children aged between 6 and 14 years. Though the Act came in to force, changes taken place in the state is yet to be seen. Due to lack of awareness among people, strong political will and private schools lobby, responsible governments (Union and State) have totally failed in effective implementation of the act. Karnataka state has even failed in notifying the rules. As a result many issues are arising at schools which are direct violation of the RTE Act–2009. Even after witnessing many such issues arising at schools, neither education department officials nor school authorities are taking appropriate initiatives to resolve them. There is no proper redressal mechanism in the state to solve these issues at district and state level. NGOs working at grassroots level also are facing problems in solving the issues due to lack of proper redressal system at state level.

Though, there are many complaints on RTE violations filed with the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) and Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) few cases have been solved and many of them are still pending with the commission. In order to speed up the problem solving process in the state, it is necessary to strengthen the other mechanisms at district level to address issues pertaining to RTE violation.

To create wide spread awareness among people on the provisions of RTE Act and to provide a platform to depose cases of violation of RTE, CACL-K in collaboration with SICHREM had organised a Public hearing on RTE and its redressal system on March 21, 2012,  at Senate Hall, Bangalore University Campus, Bangalore. The programme is also acted as a tool to pressurise the state to address violations relating to RTE. About 100 participants from various parts of the state took part in the public hearing, where 11 cases of gross RTE violations were deposed before the jury.

The Jury members for the day were Dr. H.S Dore Swamy (Freedom Fighter), Ms. Kathyayini Chamaraj, (Child Rights Activist, Civic), Mr. Mathews Philip (Karnataka State Representative-RTE, NCPCR), Mr. Vasudeva Sharma (Member, KSCPCR).

The Public Hearing started with a presentation of photo snaps on the situation in the background of RTE Act implementation. The reality check reflected upon the violation of RTE Act includes, children engaged in manual work at school premises, children forced to serve coffee and food to teachers, scavenging school toilets, cleaning the school campus, washing huge utensils used to serve mid day meal, poor quality of mid day meal, children washing and cleaning vehicles of teachers and poor infrastructure in schools, etc,.

Mr. Lakshapathi, Core Committee Member, CACL-K, introduced the subject relating to the status of RTE and its implementation in Karnataka. He highlighted various violations under RTE. He further spoke about school drop outs, the reasons behind it and a few incidents of behaviour of teachers on students. Mr. Lakshapathi questioned that how can students be engaged in manual works at school premises by teachers. He added saying that, the lobby of private schools against RTE is a major drawback, which has lead to privatization of education and it simultaneously affects the right of free and compulsory education of 80,00,000 (Eighty lakh) children from 50,000 schools across Karnataka. While concluding his introduction Mr. Lakshapathi condemned the efforts of the state to close down the schools in the name of merging sighting less number of students in schools.

Kinds of cases deposed at the public hearing:   

  • Teachers extracting manual work from children during class hours.
  • Child severely injured due to collapse of classroom ceiling.
  • Children being used to sell Newspaper during class hours.
  • Corporal Punishment in schools
  • Denial of Admission
  • Denial of issuing hall tickets to take SSLC and PUC exams
  • A child severely injured due to collapse of the Compound wall.
  • Children forced to serve teachers (washing bike and serving tea and food)
  • School authorities demanding caste certificates from children at the time of enrolment.

The hearing was concluded with the following recommendation by the Jury members,

  • The state should notify the RTE rules immediately, without any further delay, and enable lakhs of disadvantaged children to get a right to free and compulsory education.
  • Redressal mechanism for reporting violations of RTE must be made clear under the Act.
  • There must be a separate cell to resolve, monitor and implement the issues related to RTE at KSCPCR.
  • There should be a special committee to address the issues relating to infrastructure. Further, the head-masters of schools should be held responsible for addressing the issues and to register FIRs against the violators of child rights, for example, engineers, contractors, and School Development & Monitoring Committee, if they are responsible for the violations.
  • Education Department to evolve guidelines to address any accidents to children that occur within the school campus and also about the available assistance and compensations provided by the government.
  • Obtaining and issuing of caste certificates to children should be the responsibility of the school authorities.  School authorities should not demand it from the parents.
  • There is a need for wide publicity with respect to RTE, by using various means and appropriate IEC materials and capacity building exercises.
  • Trainings on RTE must be conducted in order to make people understand about the main features of the Act, actions to be taken if RTE is violated and the existing redressal mechanisms.
  • KSCPCR is said to have completed enquiry into a few cases of violation of child rights in schools. In a few cases action has been initiated by citing Karnataka Civil Service Rules (KCSR). There is a need to make use of such cases to educate the school authorities on actions to be taken if child rights are violated in schools and hostels.
  • RTE watch groups to be established at various levels such as, village, gram panchayat, clusters, wards, etc.
  • The grievances or the complaints lodged must reach the grievance cell as and when it is filed; if delayed, there are chances of justice being denied to children.
  • There is a need for continuous discussions with respect to RTE among people at various levels; this is in order to encourage and to spread the essence of RTE to the larger public.
  • Authorities such as CWCs and KSCPCR should not hesitate to take up suo motu cases to address various violations of RTE.  Similarly, police also should take cognisance of child rights violations.
  • There is a need for life skills education and healthy sex education at school level. This has to be incorporated in the school curriculum and taught in the formal education.
  • Inclusive education must benefit differently-abled children. Although these children are enrolled in schools, they are prone to be school dropouts. In order to address this issue, every school must ensure that after enrolling children with special needs to schools, the school authorities strive towards retaining them in schools and ensure that they complete their elementary education.

Note: According to a Social Audit conducted by SICHREM in 47 schools of 5 wards in Bangalore city, more that 2000 SC/ST children have not applied for scholarships because of the complications in getting the caste certificate and the corruption involved in the system. 

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Public Hearing on RTE Act 2009 – 21st March 2012

March 19, 2012


Stop Custodial Violence on Women

March 19, 2012

“Giving me electric shocks, stripping me naked, shoving stones inside me..Was the abuse on me not enough?…This is a plea from a helpless daughter…This is a mother’s plea for her children”,- Soni Sori in a letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

Soni Sori, a 35-year-old Adivasi school teacher in Chhattisgarh, has been languishing in  Raipur Jail since October 2011, she has written letters from jail asking the Nation to help her. Soni has been tortured by the Chhattisgarh police – she complained that she was stripped naked and given electric shocks. A recent medical examination ordered by the Supreme Court at NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkatta found stones inserted in her vagina and rectum. Medical reports submitted to the court three days after her arrest show she sustained a head injury caused by a “hard and blunt object”, that she had tenderness in her back, and blackened fingers –a classic sign of electrocution.

The torture was under the supervision of Ankit Garg, Superintendent of Police. In a terrible twist of events he was given the President’s Award on Republic Day. Soni lives in Dantewada. a Naxalite stronghold. Last year, Soni fought with the Naxalites when they tried to stop her form hoisting the national flag on Independence Day.  Naxalites shot her father in the leg saying he was a police informer.  Yet the police first arrested her husband, and now Soni, for being Naxalite supporters! Because she has constantly fought for her people’s rights – for minimum wages. She has taken on powerful companies that want the Adivasis’ land, and the Chhattisgarh government that supports these companies. She has taken on the police for their illegal activities. Her nephew Lingaram Kodopi who has been arrested on the same charges is a trained journalist who has reported on the abysmal human rights record of the Chhattisgarh government from the ground. Now, fed up of being in jail, far from her three young children, Sori has gone on hunger strike. In a letter to her lawyer she writes:  “We Adivasis are only fated to suffer atrocities and die. We Adivasis are a business for the government.’’

Due process has been violated in the case of Soni Sori repeatedly. When these injuries prevented Soni from being produced before a magistrate, an order converting her police custody into extended judicial custody was still signed by Additional District Judge Yogita Wasik without her presence – which is completely illegal. She was outside the court in a vehicle and never left it. She was chained to the bed while undergoing treatment for her injuries in a Raipur hospital, explicitly against Supreme Court orders. She was also incarcerated in police lockup for 24 hours against Supreme Court orders when taken to Kolkata for a medical re-examination. Soni has now testified on video that she has been threatened by the police to not reveal her custodial torture for fear that they will arrest her brother, the sole caretaker of her children.

The undersigned groups from Karnataka State strongly condemn the custodial sexual assault and torture of Soni Sori, an Adivasi school teacher from the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.

Our demands

  • Immediately transfer Soni Sori out of the custody of Chhattisgarh police and ensure the provision of appropriate health care to Soni Sori without police interference.
  • Set up an independent investigation into the conduct of Chhattisgarh law enforcement officials in the custodial sexual assault and torture of Soni Sori, and the immediate suspension of the responsible officers and prosecution under the PoA Act pending this inquiry
  • Ensure the speedy completion of trial of Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi so that they do not languish for years in custody when their guilt has not been proven.
  • Show public proof of the good health and safety of Lingaram Kodopi and other prisoners in Chhattisgarh police custody.
  • Set up a high-level independent investigation team to look at the condition of prisoners, especially women, including in the state of Chhattisgarh, to determine whether other women may have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, and investigate the reality of prisoners’ access to health care.
  • Enact the Prevention of Torture Bill and remove the need for prior state authorization to initiate criminal action against the officials implicated in custodial torture. Ratify the Convention on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
  • Ensure that the latest central government grants to states to set up police stations in Maoist areas include support for independent monitoring of detention facilities including station lockups and jails by human rights commissions and civil society groups. Consider requiring police to videotape interrogations, especially in police stations in Naxalite areas.
  • Work with civil society groups to train police on proper conduct toward women in custody.
  • End the use of custodial torture, lengthy custodial holding on false charges, and constant police harassment as tools of repression against the adivasi and other residents of Chhattisgarh.

Come join us for a protest against the custodial torture and sexual assault of Soni Sori and many such women on 24th March 2012, Saturday, at Town Hall Steps, at 6.00 pm

LesBiT, SICHREM, Vimochana, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression: WSS -Karnataka and WSS-National, People’s Union for Civil Liberties: PUCL-Bangalore, Alternative Law Forum (ALF)