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PUCL, 25 June, 2006

Activists languishing in prison in Chhattisgarh

UPDATE ON STATE REPRESSION IN BIRKONI IN CHHATTISGARH
How the Police & SDM Can Make A Mockery of the 'Rule of Law'?
-- A Test Case for Human Rights Organisations

June 23, 2006

Dear Friends,
Greetings from the struggling and suffering people of Chhattisgarh!

15 days have lapsed, yet the people's leaders and social activists are languishing in Raipur Central Jail.

The BJP Government is ensuring to make a mockery of the "rule of law", by resorting to age-old tactics to block the Bail of those "accused" in serious offences like "attempt to murder". This should become a "test case" for human rights organisations as to how the Police officials and the SDM have flouted every single provision of the law dealing with the "rights of the accused" and their "personal liberty, dignity and human rights. If this could be done by the Police and the SDM in the case of workers and activists of mass-based organisations like Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha, a national forum like INDIAN SOCIAL ACION FORUM (INSAF), and Gram Panchayat leaders, then one could imagine as to what is the fate of the ordinary citizens in this State/country.

However, this is nothing new. During the BJP rule in 1991, Shaheed Com Shanker Guha Niyogi was kept in Jail for two months after having been declared "absconder" in 17 cases in one single day, although he has been attending reconciliation meeting with the officials, addressing public meeting and press conferences, etc. The M P High Court at Jabalpur had order to release him on personal bond of Rs. 5000 each, and had also noted that keeping such a trade union leader in prison on such grounds was totally unjustified, who was committed to the cause of the poor and oppressed.

In the present case, 19 citizens are being detained in Raipur Central Jail. Those arrested include Com Shiv Kumar Patel (District Convenor of CMM), Akshay Sail, State Convenor of INSAF, Toop Singh Nishad, Janpad Panchayat Member, Pooran Sahu and Rohit Kumar, both members of Gram Panchayat, and Bhuwan Kuldip, President of KN Oil Mill Worker's Union.

Firstly, they were detained u/s 151 of the Cr. P.C., and later sent to Jail on 8th June, by the SDM, Mahasamund initiating proceedings u/s 107 & 116 of the Cr. P. C. Although, the SDM has issued order u/s 111, and demanded sureties of Rs. 10,000 each from the "accused", he is dilly-dallying accepting the same although presented to him every day, on the pretext that he is busy in maintaining "law and order". The Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) has held them in "illegal custody" by misusing the provisions of Section 107 & 116 of the Cr P C, although these are preventive in nature and are to be used sparingly, as these affect the personal liberty of the person, clearly spelt out in the landmark judgment delivered on 28.10.1970 by the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court of India in Madhu Limaye Vs. Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Moghyr & Ors. (1971 AIR 2486).

Secondly, the Police uses various "excuses" in either not presenting the "accused" in the Court in spite of the production warrant from the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM), Mahasamund or fails to provide the "Diary" in the Court on time.

Thirdly, in his application for production warrant and seeking judicial custody of the "accused", the Station House Officer (SHO) has written that although the offences are "bail-able" in two out of three cases framed against the 'accused", they could not produce "bail in the jail".

Kindly note that all sections except Section 307 of the Cr. P. C. under which the "accused" have been charged are "bail-able", they are being illegally held in the Raipur Central Jail.

In this regard, the police has clearly violated the provisions of the landmark judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India (D K Basu Vs State of W.G. AIR 1997 SC 610), in which the Apex Court, having noticed constitutional provisions contained in Articles 21 & 22 of the Constitution safeguarding the life and personal liberty of the citizen and also having taking note of the provisions contained in the Code providing protection to the personal liberty, dignity and basic human rights of the citizen, issued directions to be followed in all cases of arrest or detention. The 11 directions issued by the Apex Court in the cases of arrest or detentions, one clearly directs that the family or friend of the arrestee must be informed immediately so that they may take recourse to legal provisions.

Thus, it is interesting that the police official has written in his application that bail could not be given as the "accused" could not provide "Bail in the Jail". How can one provide "Bail in the Jail" is a subject matter for the Apex Court to ponder over.

We are now planning to raise this entire issue during the forthcoming National Convention on Chhattisgarh Black Law & Human Rights ( In the context of Chhattisgarh Special Public Security Act 2005) to be held on 24th and 25th June 2006 at Raipur, C.G.

A Press Statement issued by Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) on 22nd June 2006 is enclosed herewith. This also puts in perspective the entire incident at Birkoni.

Looking forward to your continued support and solidarity,

In Solidarity,

Rajendra K Sail
President,
People's Union for Civil Liberties PUCL
H-12, Anupam Nagar, P O Shanker Nagar, Raipur, 492007, Chhattisgarh
Phone: 07723-223946; Fax: 07723-223289
Mobile: 98268-04519

E-Mail: rajendrasail@gmail.com

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INSAF (Indian Social Action Forum)

A-124 FF, Katwaria Sarai, New Delhi- 110 016: E-mail: insaf@vsnl.com

Press Release:

BIRKONI INCIDENT IN CHHATTISGARH TYPICAL OF FASCIST DESIGNS TO DESTROY DEMOCRACY INSAF WOULD LAUNCH NATION WIDE PROTEST

Initiative Public Debate on Pro-People Industrial Policy & Democratize Development in Chhattisgarh

Raipur, 22nd June 2006:

The BJP Government in Chhattisgarh has resorted to repressive measures to silence the voices of dissent on the issue of establishing the industrial zone in Birkoni village in Mahasamund district, which is typical of fascist designs to destroy democracy.

INSAF would prepare a PEOPLE'S REPORT on the State Repression in implementing such an anti-people and pro-globalization industrial policy in Chhattisgarh. INSAF, along with other People's Organisations in Chhattisgarh, has also decided to knock the doors of the Chhattisgarh High Court to expose the utter violation of human rights and due process of law in illegally detaining and falsely implicating the Gram Panchayat leaders, Social & Human Rights Activists in Birkoni incident.

Uprooting of 48 families of Birkoni during monsoon by the BJP Government is yet another example of their insensitivity as they were left without any alternative housing and security. Men folks of majority of these families are languishing in jail for the past fortnight. Mukhiram Yadav (aged 60 years), suffering from paralysis died on 15th June, as the State Administration had left him out in the open without proper support system. While the administration claims to have given the compensation, in fact they have been sent a cheque for Rs. 5,000 each only, that too by post. Their demolished houses and belongings are still in the debris.

Issuing a press statement today, INSAFs National Executive Committee members from Chhattisgarh Adv Gautam Bandopadhyay and Ms. Hemlata Rajput said that the BJP Government's scant regard for democratic processes is further demonstrated in the fact that it had hardly responded to over 1000 Appeals addressed to the Governor of Chhattisgarh with copies to the District Collector, Mahasamund demanding a) judicial enquiry into the entire incident of police atrocities; b) transfer or send on leave the police and revenue officials directly involved in the incident till the enquiry; c) withdraw false criminal cases and release them forthwith; d) implement the decision of the Gram Panchayat (dated 12.03.2005), and the Gram Sabha (dated 14.04.2005 and 07.10.2005) at Birkoni; and e) provide adequate compensation to all the victims.

Among the signatories to the Appeal include Adv K G Kannabiran, National President of PUCL, Swami Agnivesh of Bandhua Mukti Morcha, Medha Patkar of Narmada Bachao Andolan, John Dayal of National Integration Council, Justice S M Daud, Former Judge of the Mumbai High Court, P Sainath & Jyoti Punwani, Journalist, and organisations such as Association for the Protection of Democratic Rights (APDR, West Bengal), World March of Women, National Alliance of Women (NAWO), ANHAD, National Council of Churches, etc. At least a dozen trade union based organisations and more than 100 prominent citizens in Mahasamund itself have signed and sent the APPEAL to the Governor of Chhattisgarh, but to no avail.

In addition, various people's organisations in Chhattisgarh have staged protest demonstration from 14th June onwards with the above demands in not less than a dozen places like Raipur, Kanker, Mahasamund, Pithora, Basna, Sankra, Saraipalli, Nagarhat, Lormi, Pandariya, etc. These include the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (CMM), Parivartan & Ekta Parishad, Baiga Mahapanchayat, Nadi Ghati Morcha, Chhattisgarh Bal Shramik Sangathan, Chhattisgrh Mahila Jagriti Sangathan, Sabla Dal, etc.

Adopting a resolution, the Chhattisgarh State Committee of INSAF (Indian Social Action Forum) in its meeting held on 20th June 2006, has categorically claimed that similar repressive measures were being adopted by the BJP Government in Chhattisgarh elsewhere in the State in ruthlessly establishing the industries even in the face of strong opposition by the village people, mostly farmers and agricultural workers. Be it Chourenga, Kathia, Siltara, Nagarnar, Dharseenwa, Dantewara, Bemta, etc. people's voices were suppressed by use of police action at the behest of Industrial Mafia & Land Mafia in the State, who are the only proponents and beneficiaries of the existing Industrial Policy of Chhattisgarh Government.

In the light of the recent repression in Birkoni village, INSAF launch a nation-wide protest, and generate a public debate on Pro-People Industrial Policy in Chhattisgarh. This would also bring into purview the 51 MoUs signed by the State Government with various industrial houses, including the Texas Power Generation in US, closely linked to the US President, George Bush.

According to INSAF, the opposition to the BJP's industrial policy was not limited to the CMM or INSAF, but cut across the political party lines. Examples could be cited from press reports, which would confirm that even the BJP MLAs and other people's representatives like Devji Patel (MLA Dharseewa), Ramesh Bais ( Raipur MP and Former Central Government Minister), Lachchuram Kashyap (MLA Chitrakot), Baidu ram Kashyap (MLA Keshlur) and Bhupesh Baghel (Congress MLA, Dharseewa) have openly opposed the setting up of industries in their respective legislative areas at the cost of farming and environment, not to speak of Shyama Charan Shukla, Former Chief Minister of MP, who is totally against setting up of industries in Bastar.

Setting the statement against the backdrop of Birkoni incident, INSAF informed that Shiv Kumar Patel, District Convenor of the Chhattisgarh Mukti Morcha (CMM), Akshay Sail, State Convener of Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF), Bhuwan Kuldip, President of KN Oil Mill Mazdoor Union, Toop Singh, Member Janpad Panchayat, along with 13 others have been arrested on 7th & 8th June 2006 and sent to Raipur Central Jail u/s 147, 148, 149, 186, 353, 294, 427, 307 of the IPC. Out of those charged with serious offences such as "Attempt to Murde" include 67 year old farmer, 19 year old boy, known social workers and trade union leaders.

Those arrested on 7th & 8th June are still languishing in Raipur Central Jail, because the district administration has booked the Gram Panchayat leaders and social activists in serious offences like Cr. P C 307 "Attempt to Murder", and the Sub-Divisional Magistrate (SDM) has held them in "illegal custody" by misusing the provisions of Section 107 & 116 of the Cr P C, although these are preventive in nature and are to be used sparingly, as these affect the personal liberty of the person, clearly spelt out in the landmark judgment delivered on 28.10.1970 by the Constitutional Bench of the Supreme Court of India in Madhu Limaye Vs. Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Moghyr & Ors. (1971 AIR 2486).

According to INSAF, the stage for state repression against the CMM, INSAF and Panchayat Leaders associated with the "KHETI-KISANI BACHAO ANDOLAN" at Birkoni village was set in the Rest House at Mahasamund on 21st May 2006, when the CG Audyogik Vikas Nigam Chairman, Sri Rajendarpal Singh Bhatia gave green signal to the district administration to deal firmly with those opposing the establishment of industrial zone in Birkoni. His statement issued in the press clearly demands that the district administration should put aside all democratic norms. Added to it is the specific statement of the local MLA, Sri Poonam Chandrakar that "orders have already been issued to arrest those opposing the setting up of industrial zone at Birkoni".

According to INSAF, while the State Government has been hell bent in setting up an Industrial Zone in Village Birkoni, the Gram Panchayat had adopted a unanimous resolution on 12th March 2005 that "no industry be set up within the village limits as these destroy the agricultural activities, pollute and destroy the land structure and nature". Further, in pursuance of the above resolution, the GRAM SABHA in its meeting on 14th April and then again on 7th October last year had unanimously resolved "to allocate and utilize the grass-land for the purposes of housing accommodation, public toilets, sports, cultural and social activities, setting up of Mandi, Market, Nursery, Hospital and School, etc." and opposed the establishment of industrial zone in Birkoni Village.

INSAF is consulting legal luminaries and human rights stalwarts on this issue of administrative action against the decision of the Gram Panchayat and Gram Sabha at Birkoni, and file a Public Interest Litigation at the Chhattisgarh High Court. Referring to the similar Constitutional issue pending at the Supreme Court of India related to the Plachimada (Kerala) Gram Panchayat decision refusing permission to Multi-national Corporation giant, Coca-Cola, INSAF said that no government decision could prevail upon the Gram Panchayat which had exclusive authority to regulate the use of land, etc. in its geographical jurisdiction. The Gram Sabha decisions were earlier violated and a mockery made of the Gram Panchayat Act 1993 in Nagarnar in Bastar, Chaurenga and Kathia, etc.

Questioning the commitment and character of BJP Government in promoting "development" in the state through setting up of industries, INSAF has challenged the Chief Minister as to why was he not bothered about those industries that have been closed down during the last five years in Chhattisgarh, after the formation of the new state. According to INSAF, 442 industrial units have been found to be closed out of 1283 industrial units surveyed so far by the State Government itself. It further informed that the Chief Minister did not appear to be perturbed by the illegal closure by the NTC of the BNC Mills at Rajnandgaon, which is not only the first industry of the Chhattisgarh, but had the capacity to employ more than 10,000 workers, and the entire economy of Rajnandgaon depended on it.

INSAF further disclosed that out of a total of 97,000 workers employed by the Bhilai Steel Plant in 1986, today in 2006 only 32,000 workers were employed. Thus, a total of about 65,000 workers have been rendered jobless simply because of "mechanization" and "anti-labour" policy of this Public Sector Unit. Out of these, hardly 2000 workers belonged to Chhattisgarh. But, the silence of political parties on this issue is criminal and anti-Chhattisgarh. Today, in the era of globalization there was an urgent need to "Democratize the Development".

Gautam Bandopadhyay & Hemlata Rajput, Members, National Executive Committee, INSAF, O-3, Anupam Nagar, P O Shanker Nagar, Raipur 492007: Chhattisgarh

E-mail: gautamraipur@rediffmail.com


People's Union for Civil Liberties, 81 Sahayoga Apartmrnts, Mayur Vihar I, Delhi 110091, India. Phone (91) 11 2275 0014