Human rights? All left out

August 8, 2013

If safeguarding the rights of people, especially minorities and women, makes for good governance, then the plight of state’s watchdogs paints a sorry picture.

The government bodies set up to look after human rights, and rights of women and minorities are lying headless, and therefore toothless and defanged, for quite some time.

Karnataka State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC), Karnataka State Commission for Women (KSCW) and Karnataka Minorities Development Corporation (KMDC) do not have anybody at the helm. It means these bodies cannot either look into the complaints of rights violation or make recommendations to the government to punish the culprit.

Sorry state of KSHRC

The KSHRC comprises a chairperson and two members.

The body cannot investigate complaints of human rights violation or take any action without the nod of its chairperson. Its previous chairperson, Justice (Retd) SR Nayak, retired on July 25 past year.

One of the two members, RH Raddi, retired two days after Justice Nayak and the other, B Parthasarathy, retired on March 2 past year. The government replaced the two members (appointing Justice Hunagunda and Meera Saxena) only on November 21. The post of the chairperson is still vacant. It has reduced the KSHRC to just a complaint-receiving body.

In 2012, the KSHRC referred 67 cases of human rights violation to the state government. The government, however, decided to act only in 20 cases. As on June 30 this year, the human rights body had a backlog of 14,410 complaints.

Reportedly, one of the two new members of the commission, Saxena, is not well versed in Kannada. R Manohar, director (project), South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (Sichrem), said people have intimated him about Saxena’s language issue. He said the government should appoint only those people to the KSHRC who have thorough knowledge about human rights.

He rued that the commission does not have a chairperson for a year now. He said many cases of human rights violation have taken place in the state in this period. He gave the example of Lakshmi Devi, a housemaid who died recently after setting herself afire, blaming the city police for torturing her to confess to stealing from her employer’s house.

Women’s woes

While the human rights commission is lying headless for a year, the women’s commission is without someone at the helm for six months now. Previous chairperson of the KSWC, C Manjula, quit on February 1 this year. The post is lying vacant since then. In this situation, the body can only counsel the victims who approach them.

The secretary of the KSWC, Kavitha S Mannikeri, said she is with the women’s commission on deputation for the past three months. She said that they are referring complaints to the department concerned for action as, without a chairperson, they do not have the mandate to take a decision.

She said that she herself has been juggling the two official roles she has—one at the KSWC and one as the joint director of child welfare department—on an everyday basis.

Minority report

The KMDC too has gone quiet ever since its previous chairman, Anwar Manippady, stepped down owing to political compulsions. During his tenure, he had exposed people who had encroached wakf properties worth crores of rupees.

Shaik Latheef, KMDC secretary, said that as the organisation is without a chairperson, it cannot take up any survey to tell if the government’s schemes for minorities’ welfare are being implemented. Also, the body cannot make recommendations to the government if it notices some anomaly.

Manippady told dna that the government should appoint a chairperson to the corporation at the earliest. He alleged that some people were working against the KMDC. He said many politicians had encroached wakf properties worth crores of rupees.

 

Source : DNA, Bangalore – 8th August 2013.


CBI probe sought into minor’s kidnap

May 29, 2013

The Dalit Sangharsha Samiti (DSS) has demanded a CBIinquiry into the allegation that a woman volunteer with the South India Cell for Human Rights Education and Monitoring (Sichrem) was “involved” in the kidnap and torture of a minor girl. 

A memorandum in this regard was submitted by DSS’s district office-bearers to the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Sangappa, on Monday.

Complaint lodged

A complaint was lodged by Rukmini, the Superintendent of KGF’s Government Boys’ Home, against Sichrem volunteer, Manjula, at the Andersonpet police station.

The Dalit Sangharsh Samiti workers, however, allege that Manjula, who belongs to a Scheduled Caste (SC) is “a social worker known for her public service in the region”.

A resident of Gandhi Nagar in Kolar, Manjula has been associated with Sichrem in the town since April 2012.

‘Victim of target’

The DSS alleged that Manjula was being “targeted” by Rukmini as she opposed the former’s efforts to bring more inmates to the boys’ home.

A verbal duel also ensued between the two. Rukmini is supported by the President of Child Welfare Committee, Kalai Selvi, and the counsellor, Shilpa, in her efforts to “assassinate” the character of Manjula.

The DSS demanded that those attempting to “mislead” the course of justice be punished.
A CBI inquiry is needed to dig out the truth, it said.

 

Source : Deccan Herald, 29th May 2013


Desperate Dalits fight eviction from their homes

July 22, 2010

Community members of the Bhangi community in Savanur poured human excreta over themselves in a desperate attempt to make their voices finally heard. Four families of the Bhangi community have been living in huts built by Savanur Town Municipal Council (TMC) for the past 70 years. However, now the TMC have decided to evict these families and build a commercial complex in place of their houses.

The TMC have resorted to disgraceful tactics as a means of removing these families: they have cut of their water supply, dumped waste in front of their homes, barged into their houses and insulted and threatened their women. The families submitted an appeal to the Assistant Commissioner on Monday demanding temporary water connection. But they were asked to pay the TMC Rs 2,000 for each connection.

On Tuesday 20th July in a desperate attempt to draw attention to their plight three members of the community poured human excreta on themselves. The TMC Executive Officer H N Bajakkanavar, unmoved by the protest, argued that he was merely abiding by the laws when cutting off illegal pipelines. The fact that several other illegal water pipelines were untouched, as pointed out by Dalit Sangarsha Samithi activists, does not seem to have registered with the TMC.

To read the press report: http://www.deccanherald.com/content/82745/a-smear-karnatakas-conscience.html#top

Please show your solidarity with the plight of the Bhangi community. Consider the desperation they must feel to resort to such an extreme form of protest. You can help by typing a complaint and posting it to the ST/SC Commission. Send these complaints to:  

Karnataka State Commission for Scheduled Caste

Shri.Nehru Olikar

Chairperson ,

14/3,2nd Floor,CFP Building,

Nrupathunga Road

Bangalore-1

Phone no; 22249704


Complaint to SHRC regarding death of Dalit woman and negligence by police

July 2, 2010

SICHREM have filed a complaint with the SHRC with regards to the death of Honama, a Dalit woman in Tumkur district.

Honamma was a local activist and was involved in a quarrel regarding the laying of drains. After the quarrel the police arrested her and sent her to judicial custody. Upon her release on bail, the quarrel resumed. The events that followed led her to fall into a drain and be stoned to death by a group of around 10-15. Her body was dragged out of the well and dumped at Gopalapura Bus Station.

So far 9 people have been arrested. The case involves a total of 27 people. 

Honamma’s son has been given a government job and her kin will receive Rs 2 lakh compensation.  

There is news of  an announcement  of the suspension of Police Inspector A. Krishna Naik for dereliction of duty. This is in addition to the suspension of two other officers. These suspensions serve as proof as to police negligence.

We have asked for a thorough investigation into the matter and will send our own fact-finding team to investigate.

To read our complaint: comp of Honamma is murderTUM July 1[1]


Protest at the auction of Karnataka’s resources

June 4, 2010

Protestors gathered outside  Bangalore Town Hall yesterday to voice their opposition to the plans that have been drawn up in the Global Investors Meet (GIM).

The GIM plans claim to create new jobs and add investment into Karnataka state. However, the protestors have calculated that their proposals will result in unemployment, the loss of agricultural land and loss of capital.

The GIM plans will also disproportionately affect the poorest members of society, with Dalits, Adivasis and farmers set to suffer the most.

It seems that the GIM are rushing through their proposals without adequate public or political consultations. We ask for their plans to be carefully scrutinised with the impact they will have on communities in Karnataka thoroughly assessed.


Youth Against Discrimination

March 2, 2010

This one day seminar on 23 February 2010 was jointly arranged by SICHREM and the All India Catholic University Federation/Centre for Social Action (AICUF/CSA) unit of St Joseph’s College of Commerce.

Highlights of the day included a three-speaker panel on the subject of “Discrimination against the weak”.  Mr. Vasudeva Sharma of Child Rights Trust, spoke about children’s rights while Ms. Donna Fernandes, a key figure in the Indian women’s movement and founding member of Vimochana, gave a passionate speach about women’s rights and Mr. Shivsundar, writer, spoke about Dalits’ right.

Mr. David Selvaraj and students acting out real life scenarios about discrimination.

Mr. David Selvaraj, founding executive director of Visthar, introduced the audience to the concept of “Theatre of the Oppressed”, founded by Augusto Boal, and the need to transform situations by turning “spectators” into “specactors“.  Students then acted out some real-life situations which illustrated very clearly how this concept works.

Approximately 100 students from 9 colleges around Bangalore participated in the workshop.  Many pertinent questions were put to the speakers – the students were not afraid to speak out!

Mr Manoher, Programme Head at SICHREM.

Students participated in a poster-making competition on the subject of “Eliminating Discrimination”.