Petition to NHRC

July 17, 2013

A petition was sent to the Chairperson, National Human Rights Commission requesting the commission to dispose the final order on the long pending case of Human Rights Violations by the Joint Special Task Force operations in Karnataka and Tamilnadu during the hunt to nab Veerappan.

More than 1000 victim of human rights violations have yet to be addressed since the last order of the NHRC on 15th January 2007 recommending compensation for 89 victims of atrocities by the STF both in the states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. There has been a lot of disappointment on the part of the victims that the series of complaints pending before the NHRC have not been followed up for long with a final order. There are several other victims who had also cases registered against them, detained illegally for long and tortured and even raped. In spite of their acquittal most of them have not had any occasion to experience the intervention of the NHRC. !! But the police personnel from both the states were promoted, and given cash awards and sites. The police and the state have not been caring for the rights of these unfortunate souls. This will make them lose their belief in the rule of law that was brought to them by the action of the NHRC resulting in the interim order of 15th Jan 2007.

Meanwhile, the appointment of Mr. Shankar Bidari, who was the Commanding officer of STF during the time when all those atrocities were committed, as the DG and IGP of Karnataka about a month ago. Meanwhile, Mr.A.R.Infant, I.P.S whose seniority was over looked in the appointment raised the issue at the Central Administrative Tribunal. Mr Infant also raised the issue that the Sadashiva Panel Report and the involvement of Mr. Bidari in Human Rights Violations was not placed before the UPSC. Further, the Karnataka branch of the CAT disqualified the appointment of Mr Bidari to the post of DG & IGP in its order dated 16th March 2012.

Perhaps this is the first time an Administrative Tribunal in India setting aside a top level appointment in the Police Department on the grounds of allegations of Human Rights Violations.

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Mr. Shankar Bidari and the State government appealed to the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka against the CAT order, and the High Court of Karnataka upheld the CAT’s order and dismissed the petition. It should be noted that the Hon’ble High Court of Karnataka described Mr Shankar Bidari as worse than Saddam Hussain or Gaddafi for alleged atrocities by STF led by him from 1993-94

The petition carried the following prays,

  1. The Hon’ble Commission once again takes up all these cases and passes orders with reference to the over 1000 victims who are yet to benefit by its careful attention;
  2. The Hon’ble Commission requests civil society organizations like PW-TN, SOCO Trust, SICHREM, Tamil Nadu Tribal Welfare Association, People’s Union for Civil Liberties TN and KAR(PUCL) and People’s Watch to provide it updated details on the victims in these pending complaints to ensure that all details with the victims are well established;
  3. The Hon’ble Commission takes immediate steps to further request both the state Governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to ensure that their promised compensation amounts of Rs. 5 Crores per state are paid and that this is properly further disposed of by the NHRC to the victims;
  4. That the Hon’ble Commission is further requested to ensure that criminal  prosecutions are recommended against the police officers to be initiated by the State Legal Services Authority of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu;
  5. That the Commission further recommends to the Governments of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to withdraw all the gallantry awards and rewards conferred on the STF personnel.
  6. That the Hon’ble Commission further recommends to the Governments of the Centre and the two states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to ensure that long term medical attention, particularly physiotherapy on a daily basis is, made available at state costs to each of the victims who deserve it as early as possible through civil society run rehabilitation measures that are being undertaken there.
  7. That the Hon’ble  Commission further recommends to the Governments of the Centre and the two states of Karnataka and Tamil Nadu to ensure that proper livelihood programs to ensure the right to life of each of the victims are undertaken urgently and on a war footing.
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Platform for alleviating social problems.

May 20, 2013

The thrill of finishing a race, the fierce competition in organised sport — these are some of the reasons why many participate in the TCS World 10K run.

For others, the stakes are higher. Disabilities, human rights abuse, and other issues are usually swept under the carpet, but this international event serves as a platform for the masses to understand — as well as help alleviate — the problem.

SICHREM, an NGO which strives for human rights education, aimed to bring about greater awareness by taking part in the race.

“We want to raise funds for the victims of human rights violations. One of the issues we deal with is domestic violence against women, which is punishable by law, but not enforced often,” says Chitra Ranganada, fund raising co-ordinator of SICHREM.

The funds raised will be channelled to SICHREM’s clinics in slums, which seeks to educate women about their basic rights, and how to tackle cases of domestic violence. Most women in these areas do not know that the law is on their side, says Ms. Ranganada.

SICHREM hopes to collect Rs. 5 lakh through its entry in the TCS World 10K, and has realised Rs. 1.2 lakh so far. ‘Dream A Dream’, an NGO with the mission to impart life skills to children from vulnerable backgrounds, uses an unique method to reach the goal.

The NGO uses sport and art to teach children these lessons, which cannot be found in the regular curriculum of a school.

“We have after-school programmes with government-aided schools, where life skills such as decision-making and conflict-resolution are taught. Through sport, we use experimental mediums to simulate situations that these children will face in life. Then, through discussion, the students learn the best ways to tackle these types of scenarios,” says Suchetha Bhat, Chief Operating Officer, ‘Dream A Dream’.

The cheers from many of the beneficiaries of these NGOs, when their parade passed, is proof that this race is more than just that.

Source: The Hindu, May 20, 2013


Community monitoring groups for better governance a must

April 25, 2013
(From left): Sumith Negi of Aam Aadmi Party, Meenakshi Bharath of Lok Satta Party, Jeevan Kumar, professor of political science, Bangalore University, Ramesh Babu of Janata Dal (Secular), Mohamed Saquid of SDPI and Prakash of CPI(M) at the release of manifesto by Civil Society Forum in Bangalore on Tuesday. Photo: V.Sreenivasa Murthy

(From left): Sumith Negi of Aam Aadmi Party, Meenakshi Bharath of Lok Satta Party, Jeevan Kumar, professor of political science, Bangalore University, Ramesh Babu of Janata Dal (Secular), Mohamed Saquid of SDPI and Prakash of CPI(M) at the release of manifesto by Civil Society Forum in Bangalore on Tuesday. Photo: V.Sreenivasa Murthy

There is a need to set up community monitoring groups for various entitlements such as vigilance committee for ration shops, arogya raksha samitis for hospitals, school development and management committee for schools, said R. Manohar of South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring here on Tuesday.

He was speaking during the release of an election manifesto by the Civil Society Forum compiled by a collective of various non-governmental organisations.

Mr. Manohar stressed the need to set up community monitoring groups for better governance.

“In places where they exist, there is a need to strengthen them. Civil society members want to work with the State and its agencies in shaping government schemes,” he added.

The manifesto has a list of demands from various sectors — ranging from food security, housing, children’s rights, nutrition and health.

Stating that the economy was growing and so were socio-economic disparities, Mr. Manohar said, “Basic rights and entitlements such as food, water, education and health should be universalised. Budgets for universalising this should be estimated realistically and earmarked and implemented through a law.”

Some of the other demands include implementation of the A.J. Sadashiva Commission report on internal reservation for members of the Scheduled Castes, enforcement against sex-selective abortion and infanticide and strengthening the ICDS system so that it benefits malnourished children, and pregnant and lactating mothers.

Meanwhile, CPI(M) K. Prakash, secretary of the Bangalore district party unit, pointed out that there was a need to bring in a rule for land use policy. Apart from that, there was a need to stop contract labour.

Meenakshi Bharath of Lok Satta Party, Janata Dal(S) spokesperson Ramesh Babu and Sumit Negi of Aam Aadmi Party were present.

Source: The Hindu; Dated: April 24, 2013


A discussion on Administrative Reforms for Good Governance

April 19, 2013

Karnataka Social Watch is organizing a discussion on Administrative Reforms for Good Governance on 20th April 2013.

You may be aware that recently National Social Watch prepared, published and released a perspective paper on Administrative Reforms for Good Governance, authored by Dr. N. C. Saxena and Mr. Harsh Mander has written the preface.

Dr. Bhaskara Rao, Research Coordinator of National Social Watch-India will be presenting the main points from the perspective paper.  Experts from various walks of life will be part of this discussion.

Do come and be a part of this discussion.

Administrative Reforms for Good Governance – a discussion
Date: 20.4.2013          Time: 9.30am – 1.30pm
Venue: SCM House, Mission Road, Bangalore
 
Programme Schedule

Time

Subject

Speakers

9.30am

Registration

10.00am

Welcome

Mr.R.Manohar, SICHREM, Bangalore

10.15am

Purpose of discussion

Mr.Vasudeva Sharma, KCRO, Bangalore

10.30am

Presentation of highlights of the perspective paper –

‘Administrative Reforms for Good Governance’

By Dr.Bhaskara Rao Gorantla, Research Coordinator, National Social Watch-India, New Delhi

11.15am

Response

Dr.Padmini.R, Child Rights Trust, Bangalore

11.45am

Discussion

Discussants-Mr.Bapu Heddurshetti, Mallikarjun and others

12.45am

Conclusion

Mr.Gururaja Budhya, URC, Bangalore

1.00pm

Vote of Thanks

Mr.Justin Johnny, THP, Bangalore

1.15pm

Lunch

We appreciate if you please do confirm your participation at 9448849353 or 9535037596.

Wishes,

(Manohar, SICHREM)  (Vasudeva Sharma, CRT)  (Anand, ACF)  (Gururaja Budhya, URC)  (Ravi Mani, RIM)


Students manifesto demands better living conditions

April 18, 2013

In an effort to improve governance in the state and ensure their voices would be heard by the next government, students from various colleges in Karnataka have prepared a student manifesto demanding conscious efforts and concrete steps by the next government to improve the quality of living in the state.

The manifesto, released on Friday, demands an improvement in the quality of education in the state by ensuring proper infrastructure in schools and accountability among teachers.

The students have demanded that efforts should be made to not mix religion and politics by abolishing the ‘Made Snana’, not interfering in the food habits of other communities, and stop public donations to mutts using public money.

The government should stop efforts to privatise healthcare, improve health care to reduce mortality rates of infants and maternity mortality, they urged.

An important demand of the students was to encourage the participation of youth in politics through reservation. The manifesto demands that not only should politicians reveal their assets, but should also explain the growth in their assets during the duration of their term.

“Not only should candidates with criminal records be allowed to contest elections, but should also spend at least 150 days in their constituency every year,” it said,  adding that politicians should retire at the age of 60.

The state should also introduce stringent laws against child sexual abuse, violence against women, dowry and stop atrocities against the vulnerable sections of the society, the manifesto demanded.

They have also demanded that journalists not be targeted for not ‘furthering the cause of politicians’ and that the freedom of expression be encouraged and not targeted.

Requesting politicos to consider these demands, the students said,  “We think it is time for us to speak. We cannot allow society to move ahead in the path of corruption, injustice, communalism and discrimination. It is our culture of silence that has strengthened the forces inimical to society.”

Source: Indian Express; Dated: April 6, 2013 


Letter to the Working Group on Dalit Issues

July 4, 2012


Close Down the illegal Detention Camp at Chengalpattu, Tamil Nadu

June 30, 2012

Press Statement

For many of us the war in Sri Lanka was over in the month of May 2009, when the armed rebellion was defeated by the combined might of many super powers including that of India. But for the Tamils of Sri Lanka’s origin, a war of other form and means is still rages both within their cherished land and in the lands where they have sought “political” asylum.

The  parties of the political establishment in Tamil Nadu; the DMK and the AIADMK who claim to profess the concern for  the Sri Lankan Tamils Refugees in the state., but have not bothered to look at the inhuman conditions in the so-called “friendly” refugee camps which has been historically giving “shelter” to the asylum seekers or refugees from the North and East of Sri Lanka. The utter apathy of the successive governments led by both DMK and AIDMK is nothing short of political hypocrisy.

Tamil refugee camps of one form or the other, in pathetic conditions have existed in Rameshwaram and Mandapam for almost three decades now.  What is more scandalous is the way  the Indian ‘state’ treats these asylum seekers who fled from the twin violence of the Sri Lankan state and the armed rebels. Without any exaggeration, each one of the  Sri Lankan refugee has been Suspected and targeted  as a terrorist or an accomplice of terror.

The Tamil Nadu Q branch police are running an illegal detention camp in Chengalapattu. Currently 28 refugees ‘imprisoned’ in the camp and invariably all  of them face the common charge of entering  India without a passport.   From the very inception when mass exodus of refugees/asylum seekers started from Sri Lanka, they were usually sent to the open refugee camps in Rameshwaram and Mandapam after their details were duly registered.

The refugees who are currently detained in Chengalpatu were also similarly registered when they came to India seeking asylum. But strangely they have been charged with cases of entering the nation without passport. Currently 13 out of the 28 refugees are on hunger strike from 15th of June, demanding their immediate transfer to the open camps. 4 of the protesters are in a very critical condition.  One of the protesters Jagan has a low pulse rate.  Narmadhan, Satheesh kumar and Sendhooran are suffering from  hematuria as a result of the long hunger protest.

Some of these refugees in the Chengalpattu camp came to India seeking asylum 20 years ago. Cases have been registered against them also for the same reason after May,2009. The high court of Tamil Nadu  has dismissed the charges against 7 of these refugees and has ordered their immediate release. But  these refugees re being illegally detained in these prisons. Apart from this, fabricated cases of thieving, smuggling of weapons and drugs have also been registered against some of the refugees. Even though the police have no evidence against thee refugees the case has been adjourned whenever it comes for the hearing.

The refugees are not allowed to leave the camp. They are given 70 rupees per day for food and upkeep, with which they are expected to buy the necessities to cook their daily food by themselves. In case of any medical emergency, they are taken to the hospitals escorted by 4 police men.

Only their blood relatives are allowed to meet them in this prison. These relatives  travel for a about 15 hours from their camps in Rameshwaram or Mandapam to visit them. After coming to Chengalpattu they have to get permission from the Thasildar and then from the Police department. Only then the Q branch police will allow them to see their relatives. After all the procedures are completed they get barely an hour to meet their relatives in the camp. Further the visitors have to get permission from their camp supervisors to travel this far to meet their relatives. After a hunger strike  agitation last month by  a few changes in the procedures were implemented.

Overall, the Chengalpattu refugee camp is neither functioning as a prison run in accordance with human rights laws nor as a refugee camp where rights are guaranteed. Rather it’s clear that it is functioning as a illegal detention camp.  These refugees are neither treated by the international Refugee law (UNHCR) nor by the Indian Penal Code.

The sole intention of this seems to be paint a picture that these men who fled their land in fear for their lives, as members of the LTTE, and thereby claim that  the organization is still operating even as the Sri Lankan government has formally announced that the LTTE has been totally wiped out.  These detainees are tortured both physically and mentally in these camp-prisons. They can neither avail required medical facilities in Chengalpattu nor can they get the necessary help from their relatives.

We the following concerned organisations; Tamil Solidarity Campaign, May 17th Movement, PUCL -Karnataka, SICHREM, Visual Search, Pedestrian Pictures, LESBiT, New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India) and the progressive  sections of Karnataka condemn the treatment meted out to these refugees and asylum seekers.

We demand that this illegal detention camp at Chengalpattu be closed down and demand the release of all these 28 refugees to the open refugee camps at Rameshwaram and Mandapam where they can jon there relatives and friends. It is also our concern that the conditions in the Refugee Camps be improved, and these war victims be treated more humanely with compassion and concern. 

Following the clippings of the articles in DNA and in Indian Express following the Press release.