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SACW | Oct. 30 - Nov. 1, 2006 |

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  • Harsh Kapoor
    South Asia Citizens Wire | October 30 - November 1, 2006 | Dispatch No. 2315 - Year 8 INTERRUPTION NOTICE: Please note there will be no SACW dispatches during
    Message 1 of 1 , Oct 31, 2006
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      South Asia Citizens Wire | October 30 - November 1, 2006 | Dispatch
      No. 2315 - Year 8

      INTERRUPTION NOTICE: Please note there will be no SACW dispatches
      during the period 2 to 16 November 2006.

      [1] Balochistan: Pakistan's Nuclear Wasteland Up in Arms (Ahmar Mustikhan)
      [2] Pakistan: [Protection of Women Bill] Hanging in the balance (Edit., Dawn)
      [3] Pakistan and South Asia: Abolish death penalty now! (I. A. Rehman)
      [4] India: 'Karva Chauth' Capitalism (Mohan Rao)
      [5] India: Making Space for Feminist Social Critique in Contemporary
      Kerala (J Devika, Mini Sukumar)
      [6] India: Prison is the only place where Muslims are
      over-represented (Seema Chishti)
      [7] India, Orissa: Kashipur - An Enquiry into Mining and Human
      Rights Violations
      [8] India Pakistan Arms Race and Militarisation Watch No 165
      [9] Upcoming Events:
      (i) India Social Forum (New Delhi, 9-13 Nov)
      (ii) Summit of the Powerless (New Delhi, 20-21 Nov)
      (iii) Exhibit: Native women of South India Puspamala and Clare
      Arni (New York, 10 Nov - Dec 23)


      Environment News Service
      27 October 2006


      by Ahmar Mustikhan

      LEXINGTON PARK, Maryland, October 27, 2006 (ENS) - As a Buddhist who
      believes in Gandhi's philosophy of non-violence - an eye for an eye
      will make the whole world blind - I am at a loss to understand how to
      get peace, freedom and environmental justice without bloodshed for my
      ancestral land - Balochistan.

      My people are extremely poor, they have one of the highest levels of
      illiteracy anywhere in the world and as a nation they are stateless,
      with a significant chunk of the population still nomadic. In their
      psyche and political outlook, they resemble the Kurds further to the
      West, who also are stateless.

      Living in the opulence of the United States, I shudder to think about
      the abject poverty of the people of Balochistan despite the richness
      of their land in southwestern Pakistan. The majority is suffering
      from malnutrition, and many of the Baloch folks in the countryside
      have never watched television.

      Yet the land is rich in mineral resources. Just last week the Voice
      of America announced the world's fifth largest gold and copper
      reserves were discovered in the Chagai District, on the Afghan border.

      Chagai is the nation's nuclear testing ground. On May 28, 1998,
      Pakistan conducted five nuclear tests at Chagai. Generals of the
      Pakistan Army used Chagai though they very well understand the
      sentiments of the local Baloch population against Pakistan.

      Residents of the arid Chagai District lack electricity and other
      basic services. (Photo courtesy Islamic Relief)
      Though no scientific evaluation was ever carried out on the specific
      effects of the nuclear tests on the local populace, there were news
      reports of an unusually high number of deaths of both camels and

      Baloch locals allege that the nuclear tests have devastated the
      ecology of the area and their fruits do not taste as sweet as they
      used to prior to the nuclear tests. Water has been contaminated by
      radiation caused by the nuclear tests, press reports have suggested,
      saying that skin diseases, and mental and physical disorders have
      been recorded in Chagai and surrounding areas.

      Most Americans seem never to have heard the name Balochistan, a Texas
      sized region divided among Pakistan, Iran and Afghanistan. Some who
      have heard the name mispronounce the "ch" in Balochistan as "k,"
      though it should be pronounced like the "ch" in the word China.

      Still, Balochistan is a vast territory - 43 percent of Pakistan's
      land mass - and it is very rich in oil and gas. According to Frederic
      Grare, a Balochistan expert at the Carnegie Endowment for
      International Peace, Balochistan has an estimated 19 trillion cubic
      feet of natural gas reserves and six trillion barrels of oil reserves
      both on-shore and off-shore.

      The area under Pakistani army occupation is slightly bigger than New
      Mexico. The area under Iranian mullahs is the size of Nevada, and
      that under Afghan control is the size of West Virginia. The total
      Baloch population in these areas is eight million, and seven million
      Baloch live elsewhere in the world.

      Since 1980s, several hundred Baloch have made North America their home.

      Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf and U.S. President George W. Bush
      shake hands for the cameras September 22, 2006 in the East Room of
      the White House. (Photo by Eric Draper courtesy The White House)
      On September 22 when Pakistani dictator-turned-president Pervez
      Musharraf was visiting President George W. Bush at the White House
      for promotion of his book, "In the Line of Fire," I stood outside the
      building and showed my five fingers as his black limo entered the
      president's official residence. I showed him five fingers, which
      means "Get Lost," for the harm that the Pakistan Army had done at

      A severe drought descended on the region after the May 28, 1998
      nuclear tests, sending tribesmen to relief camps. Sardar Akhtar
      Mengal, a former chief minister, insisted the drought had a
      connection to the nuclear explosions.

      "Even in the world's top industrialized countries, any atomic blast
      is never entirely safe," Mengal told this correspondent at the time.
      "How can these blasts be safe in Pakistan or India?"

      With most of the world and the U.S. media focused on the disaster in
      Iraq, a war that has claimed thousands of lives in Balochistan has
      been ignored. The Baloch call it the Fifth War of Independence. For
      almost six decades, the cries of anguish of the Baloch people as they
      struggle to become masters of their own destiny have gone unheard.
      Over the years, 10,000 Baloch tribesmen and 3,000 Pakistani soldiers
      have been killed.

      In fact, when the British granted independence to India and Pakistan
      on August 14, 1947 Balochistan got its independence as a separate
      entity from Pakistan as it was never a part of the British Indian
      Empire. Both houses of the Balochistan Parliament unanimously
      rejected the idea of joining Pakistan.

      Still, under threat of being arrested by Pakistan Army as some of his
      ancestors had been arrested during the British era, Balochistan ruler
      Mir Ahmedyar Khan signed an Instrument of Accession on March 27, 1948
      with Pakistan's founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah. Under that agreement,
      Balochistan did exist as an independent nation on the map of the
      world for seven-and-half months. Even that controversial accession
      document promised semi-sovereignty to Balochistan, now governed as a
      province of Pakistan.

      A grand Baloch jirga, or assembly, decided last month to approach the
      International Court of Justice at The Hague to force Pakistan to
      honor its commitments under the 1948 Instruments of Accession.

      Against the backdrop of this forced annexation, Pakistan's nuclear
      testing in Balochistan appears even more sinister.

      A Baloch tribesman (Photo courtesy Government of Pakistan)
      The Baloch complain they are being "Red Indianized."

      They compare their situation to what happened when the United States
      broke the Treaty of Ruby Valley and took a huge chunk of Western
      Shoshone Indian land to turn it into the Nevada Nuclear Test Site.
      The Shoshone now call themselves "the most bombed nation on earth."

      Numbering less than five million in Pakistan-controlled Balochistan,
      the Baloch fear if Islamabad's plans of transferring the ethnic
      Punjabi population from the north are not checked, the demography of
      their land would be altered for good in no time and they would be
      marginalized much like the Native Americans in the United States.

      The next generation of Baloch people in the Chagai District, like
      this little girl, will grow up with a nuclear test site in their back
      yard. (Photo courtesy Islamic Relief)
      The Baloch feel the "trail of tears," a phrase used by the Cherokee
      people to describe their forcible relocation from western Georgia to
      Oklahoma in 1838, is being re-enacted today in Balochistan.

      J. Robert Oppenheimer, the key scientist who ran the Manhattan
      Project which created the first atomic bomb, said after the first
      explosion, "We knew the world not be the same... a few people cried,
      most people were silent."

      In the same way on May 28, 1998, I cried my heart out on learning
      about the nuclear blasts in Chagai. I mean the forcible and illegal
      annexation of Balochistan, the looting of Baloch resources at the
      point of gun, the killing of the people and finally the destruction
      of their land.

      For international expediencies, these injustices and the
      environmental rape perpetrated on Balochistan have been forgotten.
      Even the danger Pakistan's armaments pose to the world, and to the
      United States in particular, has been glossed over.

      Map showing the location of Pakistan's nuclear test site in the
      Chagai District of Balochistan.
      J. George Pikas, recently wrote in a letter to the "Wall Street
      Journal" that, "Pakistan is for sale to the highest bidder and is
      cleverly walking the line between the Taliban, Osama, China, Iran,
      the U.S. and India - quite a mix."

      Pikas wrote, "One can agree that the general [Musharraf] is the only
      thing standing in the way of an Islamic takeover of Pakistan but he
      won't be there very long, and Pakistan's nuclear arsenal may then
      fall into the hands of 'raving Islamic fanatics.'"

      To make the American public aware of this ongoing conflict in a
      strategic area at the hub of South Asia and Middle East, Baloch
      activists have joined hands with concerned Americans to form the
      American Friends of Balochistan.

      I helped form the organization and two of its points are of
      particular interest to me. One calls for winding up of Pakistan's
      nuclear program. As the mission statement of the American Friends of
      Balochistan says, "Nuclear testing on the soil of Balochistan as
      practiced by Pakistan is against the wishes of its people and must

      The second point calls for making Pakistan's nuclear facilities
      compliant with International Atomic Energy Agency safeguards. "At the
      least, the Chagai nuclear test range should be opened for
      international inspections," the American Friends of Balochistan urges
      in its mission statement.

      The Baloch deplore lack of Western interest in their plight. Said
      Professor Dr. Sabir Badalkhan, a Baloch expert on folklore who now
      lives in Naples, Italy, "The West has no idea of what it means to be
      occupied by others, not being able to speak in your language, wear
      your national dress, celebrate your national days, commemorate the
      days of your national heroes, read and learn about your national land
      and feel proud, or sometimes be ashamed, of your forerunners."

      {Ahmar Mustikhan can be contacted at ahmar_reporter@...}


      October 30, 2006

      Hanging in the balance

      THE fate of the Protection of Women Bill continues to hang in the
      balance. The bill was introduced by the government in the National
      Assembly more than two months ago to bring about amendments in the
      Hudood Ordinances. These were ostensibly designed to do away with the
      provisions which make women vulnerable to injustice of the worst
      kind. Any law which equates rape with adultery and allows the victim
      to be punished and provides an opening for the police to abuse the
      provision is a bad law and needs to be either repealed or amended.
      The bill has undergone drafting and redrafting a number of times and
      has been debated by a parliamentary select committee and another
      extra-parliamentary body of religious leaders in a bid to produce a
      consensus but to no avail. Last week, the women's development
      minister had promised to have the bill adopted in the next session of
      the Assembly. Will the minister succeed this time remains a big

      If the wrongs of the Hudood Ordinances - basically the product of the
      perverse thinking of a military dictator - are to be righted, the
      ideal measure would be to repeal them and restore the legal
      provisions for the punishment of rape under the PCC as they were
      before 1979. This, unfortunately, seems to be beyond the government's
      capacity, given its political strategy of not provoking the religious
      parties. The MMA clerics have adopted such a rigid and unreasonable
      position on the bill that the government would find it difficult to
      win their support. It is plain that the debate on the Protection of
      Women Bill has a strong political dimension and its religious
      interpretation is being used by the MMA merely for its political ends
      and to promote its narrow-minded misogynism. It is intriguing why the
      government, whose head claims to be moderate and enlightened, does
      not go ahead with the revised draft that has the approval of the PPPP
      and the MQM as well. The backing of these parties would ensure the
      passage of the bill even if the MMA opposes it. It is, however,
      widely suspected in parliamentary circles that many members of the
      ruling party who are supporters of General Ziaul Haq are not in
      favour of the Hudood laws being softened in any way. This in itself
      does not explain the prevaricating approach of the government on the
      women's bill when it is known to bring its members in line when
      voting for an issue it considers vital.

      In spite of President Musharraf's statements projecting himself as a
      champion of women's rights, it seems his government does not consider
      this issue important enough to go ahead and pass this bill. For the
      time being he has managed to reassure his western backers that he is
      not such an anti-woman tyrant as the human rights activists have made
      him out to be. It seems he will let the matter rest there until the
      tyranny of the Hudood laws comes under the spotlight again. One only
      hopes that the ordinance of July 16 making the offences under the
      Hudood laws bailable will not be allowed to lapse on November 16, as
      it would in normal course. If the Protection of Women Bill fails to
      be adopted, the government would do well to revalidate the July



      October 20, 2006

      by I. A. Rehman

      LAHORE, Oct 19: The time to abolish death penalty not only in
      Pakistan but in the whole of South Asia has come. Any delay in taking
      this long overdue step may not only cause extinction of more lives
      without justification, the governments in the region may increase the
      number of many insoluble problems they are facing. The urgency of
      action in this matter is underlined by the following instances:

      The execution of Mohammad Afzal Guru, a Kashmiri sentenced to death
      on the charge of conspiring to attack the Indian parliament in
      December 2001, has been fixed for October 20, 2006. (He may well have
      been hanged by the time these lines appear in print). While pleading
      for clemency in this case, Indian human rights activists have
      advanced several cogent arguments. They have pointed out that the
      Supreme Court of India noted there was no direct evidence of his
      involvement or of his belonging to any terrorist outfit and that he
      has been convicted and sentenced purely on the basis of
      circumstantial evidence. Important figures in Jammu and Kashmir
      including its former chief minister have pleaded clemency and warned
      of serious consequences if Mohammad Afzal is hanged. However,
      partisan statements apart, judicial error cannot be ruled out.

      A British national, Mirza Tahir Hussain, whose death sentence has
      been upheld by the Supreme Court of Pakistan, is scheduled to be
      hanged. The British prime minister has deemed it prudent to warn
      Pakistan of serious repercussions if the convict is hanged while the
      British crown prince is on a visit to this country. This is no time
      to inform Mr Blair that murder by state under the cover of death
      penalty laws is condemnable even when committed out of royal sight.
      What is important at the moment is the fact that the convict's trial
      has invited serious criticism and the refusal of victim's family to
      forgive him is alleged to have been secured under duress. In this
      case too, judicial error cannot be ruled out.

      Sheikh Omar Saeed, described as the principal accused in the Daniel
      Pearl murder case, was sentenced to death quite some time ago. Appeal
      proceedings in the Sindh High Court have been frozen as hearing has
      been continually postponed from one date to another. Now the
      Americans have started saying that Omar Saeed did not behead Daniel
      Pearl and that another person, who is already in their custody, was
      responsible for the foul deed. Now, who in today's Pakistan will
      reject American testimony?

      Recently, the Supreme Court took notice of a case in which five
      innocent persons were arrested on the charge of abducting and
      murdering a woman who was enjoying the security of a prison in
      Gujrat. The accused suffered imprisonment for nearly five years
      before the trial court discharged them. They were lucky. If they
      could be arrested on the charge of killing a woman who was very much
      alive, the possibility of their being sentenced to death could not be
      ruled out. This is one of the many cases that prove how easy it is in
      Pakistan to try people on murder charge.

      Some time ago, a couple of young labourers were charged with
      murdering a retired official in Lahore. They confessed to the crime.
      After some time, they were released when the police found the real
      killer. When asked by their elders as to why they had confessed to a
      crime they had not committed, they said: "If you had been there in
      our place, you would have confessed to all the murders reported in
      the city over the past three years."

      Let it be said at the outset that the attack on the Indian parliament
      was a most heinous act of unpardonable criminality and the brutal
      beheading of Daniel Pearl cannot be condoned by any rational being.
      Those responsible for such horrible crimes must be punished, but only
      those who can be proved guilty beyond a shadow of doubt and that too
      through a judicial process that is not only just but is also
      perceived to be just. Besides, punishment for even the most heinous
      crime cannot be as offensive to contemporary human sensibility as
      death penalty has become.

      All these cases strengthen the argument that in countries where the
      judicial process is prone to errors, death penalty should not be
      imposed. The reason is obvious: the execution of a person cannot be
      reversed and no system of justice can be forgiven for allowing the
      state to take the life of persons who are innocent or whose crime is
      not proved beyond the shadow of doubt.

      Pakistan has attracted serious criticism from the international legal
      community and human rights activists for increasing the offences for
      which death sentence can be awarded, and this is contrary to the
      worldwide trend towards reducing capital offences and abolition of
      death penalty. At the time of independence, death sentence could be
      awarded only for treason and murder. Now several more offences such
      as purveying narcotics, blasphemy, abduction for ransom and gang
      rape, also carry the punishment of death. Thus the number of people
      who are awarded death sentence in Pakistan every year is in the
      neighbourhood of 550 - an intolerably high figure.

      Another factor that has made death penalty even more objectionable is
      the operation of the Qisas and Diyat law since 1990. Murderers who
      are rich enough to buy forgiveness from the families of their victims
      or are powerful enough to terrorise the latter into forgiving them
      have been walking out of prison unscathed. Thus, the law on death
      penalty in Pakistan is attracting more and more stigma as a pro-rich
      and pro-gangster measure.

      Pakistan has regrettably ignored the Second Optional Protocol to the
      International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights which aims at
      the abolition of death penalty. The protocol is rooted in the belief
      that "abolition of death penalty contributes to the enhancement of
      human dignity and progressive development of human rights". It also
      reaffirms the fact that the International Covenant on Civil and
      Political Rights strongly suggests abolition of death penalty.
      Unfortunately, the Government of Pakistan is still afraid of signing
      the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its non-ratification
      is a convenient excuse for not looking at the protocol. However,
      non-ratification of an international instrument does not completely
      free a state of its obligations under it as a signatory to the UN
      charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

      It is no secret that Pakistani community's appetite for murder by
      state has been whetted by the process of brutalisation initiated by
      the authoritarian regime in the seventies. Yet, there are
      organisations, such as Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, which
      have consistently demanded an end to death penalty on the ground
      that, possibilities of mistake apart, the ends of justice are not met
      by taking life or revenge for a criminal act that no one can commit
      while sane and in view of the evidence that death sentence is no
      deterrent to crime.

      One may also point out that the demand for abolishing death penalty
      has not been raised by undesirable NGOs alone. One of the first
      persons to make this demand in early fifties was Mr A.K. Brohi, the
      law wizard of his time whose patriotism and devotion to sacred
      cultural norms even General Ziaul Haq would have vouched for.

      It is certainly time that Pakistan took a look at the worldwide
      movement against the death penalty regime. In 1863, Venezuela, the
      country Mr Chavez has helped us discover, was the only state to have
      abolished the capital punishment. Other countries were slow to join
      the Latin American pioneer and by 1970 their number had risen to 13
      only. The enforcement of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
      in 1976 and the adoption of the Second Optional Protocol in 1989
      persuaded many countries to stop killing human beings on state
      account. Their number rose from 23 in 1980 to 46 in 1990, to 75 in
      2000 and to 85 in 2005.

      Thus, the demand for abolition of death penalty is not only justified
      in terms of state interest, it is also endorsed by experience of
      contemporary communities and lessons of respect for human dignity
      that humankind has learnt after ages of struggle for truth and



      The Times of India
      31 Oct, 2006


      by Mohan Rao

      There has been a steady decline in India's overall sex ratio (SR)
      over the 20th century. The 1975 Report of the Committee of the Status
      of Women drew attention to the fact that while the 1901 census showed
      972 females per thousand males, this had declined steadily to 946 in
      1951, 941 in 1961, and 930 in 1971.

      The 1981 census, however, threw up a happy figure of 934 females per
      thousand males. The 1991 figure however put paid to this optimism -
      it revealed a further decline to 927.

      Demographers now accept that the 1981 figure was caused by
      significant under-counting of females due to a decline in the quality
      of the 1971 census.

      They are agreed that the 1991 and 2001 censuses are free from this
      infirmity. This is to say that the 2001 census figures, of 933
      females per thousand males, are real and indicative of an improvement
      in the overall survival of females.

      The SR could turn feminine simply because more men than women have
      migrated. But the juvenile or child sex ratio (CSR) is not subject to
      this limitation. Despite the slight overall improvement in the SR,
      CSR in India as a whole has declined significantly - from 945 in 1991
      to 927 in 2001.

      The decline in the CSR has been notable in Himachal Pradesh (897),
      Punjab (793), Chandigarh (845), Haryana (820) and Delhi (865), the
      classical region of the north and west referred to as the Bermuda
      triangle for missing females.

      In these states the number of female children per thousand male
      children in the 0-6 age group declined by more than 50 between 1991
      and 2001.

      Gujarat (929) and Maharashtra (946), the more developed states by all
      conventional indices, have unfortunately joined this group.

      Something entirely new, going beyond the traditional cultural
      arguments, is afoot, as anti-female attitudes spread to new regions
      and new communities, armed with technology and aggression.

      Sanskritisation does not explain this process. The explanation that
      Hindus need sons to cremate their fathers runs aground, as
      substantial sections of Hindus, particularly lower castes, bury their
      dead, and it is these communities that have seen substantial declines
      in CSR and masculinisation of sex ratio at birth (SRB).

      The decline in CSR and masculinisation of SRB has spread to regions
      and populations hitherto considered immune, namely states of the
      south and west and populations of SCs and STs, as these get
      increasingly neo-Brahminised, or North-Indianised.

      In Kerala, SRB has masculinised from 105.5 males for every 100
      females in 1981-90 to 107.1 in 1996-98. The decline is marked in more
      developed regions, and in more literate and better-off social groups.

      So much rubbish, then, on education as female empowerment. What we
      have then is 'karva chauth capitalism' - a conjunction of
      consumerism, anti-feminism and Hindutva in a time of globalisation.

      In India, a figure of 105 male births for 100 female births is
      considered the norm. How-ever, SRB estimates for 1998 reveal an
      all-India figure of 111 males per 100 females, indicative of
      sex-selective abortion (SSA) of females.

      Figures above this national average of the SRB are seen in Gujarat
      (113.9), Haryana (123.3), Punjab (122.8), Rajasthan (114.8) and Uttar
      Pradesh (118).

      Scholars have drawn attention to imbrication of Brahminical marriage
      patterns among other castes and the spread of dowry.

      Increased availability of new technologies, from the relatively rare
      methods of enrichment of male sperm to selection of male embryos for
      implantation along with the now ubiquitous ultrasound machines used
      for sex selection, have provided new and more widespread means to SSA.

      General Electric and Wipro, distributors of ultrasounds in India,
      have sold a disproportionate number in northern and western states,
      precisely the areas that have revealed a precipitous decline in CSR.

      These technologies are often marketed to doctors with loans from GE
      Capital. All religious fundamentalisms write their writs on the
      bodies of women.

      Since the 1990s we have seen, in India as in many other parts of the
      globe, a sharp increase in violent crimes against women.

      There has been an increase in violence against Dalit women, and a
      rise in so-called honour killings, especially in the same areas of
      north and west India that have also seen an increase of SSA.

      A sharp increase in dowry deaths has also been documented in these
      regions. Indeed, new forms of dowry, new forms of crass
      commercialism, and the disappearance of girl children, appear to go
      together, as patriarchy and 'karva chauth capitalism' intersect.

      Some of these areas have also seen import of women for marriage:
      Haryanvi men marrying Assamese women, men in UP importing brides from
      West Bengal, and men in Rajasthan importing brides from Andhra
      Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.

      Extreme poverty among groups giving away daughters, along with the
      low sex ratio in groups importing such brides, are seen as crucial
      factors explaining the increase of such marriages over the last

      In Haryana, where it is reported that girls are brought in from as
      far away as Orissa and Bangladesh, such girls are apparently referred
      to as lesser wives.

      The lesser wives, it is reported, are sometimes married to more than
      one lesser husband, who due to relative poverty and lack of brides,
      cannot obtain a bride of his caste.

      Thus, we witness the emergence of new forms of sex slavery, along
      with polyandry, which apparently claims the sanctity of tradition.
      The writer is with Centre of Social Medicine and Community Health,



      Economic and Political Weekly
      October 21, 2006


      by J Devika, Mini Sukumar

      Women's literary writing in Kerala has gained a fairly wide market.
      Even as younger
      women authors have succeeded in breaking earlier stereotypes and frameworks of
      depiction,the category of 'pennezhuthu' has come to be questioned as
      a defining term that
      limits, instead of enabling. Incisive feminist critiques of
      contemporary patriarchy now
      drawupon a variety of disciplines, with the result that long held
      notions defining
      Malayaleewomanhoodare being questioned with increasing regularity.
      stereotypedframeworks and the pulls of the market continue to
      exercise a powerful
      influence. It makesit all the more necessary to foster independent
      initiatives in feminist
      knowledge generation in Kerala. "Women's Imprint", a women's
      publishing venture in
      Malayalam is involved in such efforts to help create new networks of
      resistance and towards
      ensuring that gender remains a contested category in public debate.




      Indian Express
      October 29, 2006


      by Seema Chishti

      Muslim percentage of inmates in jails in states as high as their
      share in population; in many states, including Gujarat, Maharashtra,
      Jharkhand, Karnataka, it's even higher: Sachar panel data

      New Delhi, October 28:In sharp contrast to education and employment,
      where their share is way, way below their share of the population,
      Muslims have a disproportionately high representation when it comes
      to being in prison.

      In fact, in many states, Muslims even make up a higher percentage of
      the population in jail than they do outside.

      This statistic, a key finding of the Prime Minister-appointed Justice
      Rajinder Sachar committee - which is looking into the status of
      Muslims nationwide - has major social and political implications.
      Such a high figure of incarceration, experts say, means further
      marginalisation of the community, deepening prejudice and distrust.

      While there is no break-up of the nature of the crime for which these
      inmates have been imprisoned, sources said the total number of
      inmates surveyed is 102,652 and a majority of them are not in for

      A dozen states with significant Muslim population shares were asked
      to furnish statistics on the number of Muslims in prison, convicted
      and under-trials. West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Andhra
      Pradesh have not reported back to the committee on this so the data
      available is only for eight states that did.

      Incidentally, West Bengal, UP and Bihar, as was first reported in The
      Indian Express this week, rank at the bottom when it comes to
      representation of Muslims in Government employment, including state
      public sector undertakings and the lower judiciary.

      Data accessed by The Sunday Express shows that when it comes to
      Muslims in the prison population, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Kerala are
      the most disproportionate.

      * In Maharashtra, the percentage of Muslim jail inmates in all
      categories (see chart) is way above their share in the population
      (Muslim share in population is 10.6%, share in the total prison
      inmates is 32.4%.

      * When it comes to those in prison for less than a year, Muslims
      contribute 40.6% of all prisoners in Maharashtra.

      * In Gujarat, the percentage of Muslims in the state is just 9.06%
      but they make up over a quarter of all jail inmates.

      * Assam, the second highest Muslim populated state in the country,
      after J&K, has 30.9% Muslims, and here, the percentage of Muslim jail
      inmates is 28.1.

      * Even Karnataka, which did relatively better than other states in
      providing jobs to Muslims, shows the same trend: 17.5% of its jail
      inmates are Muslim as compared with 12.23% of its population.

      The debate over these numbers is a complex one. Says Prakash Singh,
      the former Director General of the Border Security Force and whose
      PIL prompted the Supreme Court to press for police reforms last
      month: "There is unjust suspicion against the police. In cases of
      terror attacks or communal riots, if the police goes after the
      perpetrators of the violence, and they happen to be mostly Muslim,
      you cannot, in the name of secularism, expect the police to act in
      proportion to their population."

      Others say poverty is one main factor behind this trend. According to
      the Sachar committee findings, the poverty level in Muslims in urban
      areas is as high as 44% compared to the national figure of 28%.

      Says former bureaucrat and now Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat
      Habibullah: "The higher numbers of Muslims in jails is also a
      reflection of the fact that Muslims are poorer generally and are more
      likely to get picked on by the police because they are easy prey due
      to fewer entitlements. Prejudice against them also exists but gets
      compounded because of their poverty."

      For former member of Parliament Syed Shahabuddin, who is also
      president of Muslim organisation Majlis-e-Mushawarat, there is a
      parallel here between Muslims in India and African Americans in the
      United States.

      "Muslims are very well represented in marginal professions, like
      cinema and the media, and also in goonda-gardi, as they have no
      openings in formal jobs," he says.

      "What are they supposed to do? They, therefore, end up in police
      stations more frequently and get involved in things they should not
      be involved in. It's like the African-Americans in the US. Their
      proportionate share in jails is much more than their population
      share. With less opportunities, crime is a vocation."

      Shahabuddin also attributes the high Muslim prison figures to what he
      calls bias in the police and the inaccessibility to legal aid. "The
      belief that Muslims are terrorists is only a product of the
      anti-Muslim bias the police have. If Muslims are involved, they pick
      up ten in place of one. Invariably, they make arrests when not
      necessary, and eventually, they cannot prove the cases."




      October 14, 2006

      Subject: Release of IPT Report on
      Kashipur: An Enquiry into Mining and Human Rights Violations
      in Kashipur, Orissa

      An eight member multidisciplinary panel of the Indian People's
      Tribunal headed by Justice S. N. Bhargava (Former Chief Justice
      Sikkim High Court) enquired into alleged human rights and environment
      violations created by a bauxite-mining project proposed by Utkal
      Aluminum International, Ltd. (UAIL) in the Baphlimali Hills, located
      in Kashipur Block, Rayagada District of Orissa. Members accompanying
      Justice Bhargava were Mr. Dilip Singh Bhuria (Former Chairperson of
      the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes),
      Prof. Ram Dayal Munda (Former Vice Chancellor, Ranchi University),
      Dr. Illina Sen (Women's Studies Department in Mahatma Ghandhi
      International Hindi University, Wardha), V.T. Padmanabhan
      (Environmental Scientist at BIRSA Ranchi), Mr. K. Balagopal
      (Secretary, Human Rights Forum, A.P.), Professor S. Parasuraman
      (Director, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai) and Mr. Sagar
      Dhara (Environmental Scientist and Analyst).

      The terms of reference for the enquiry were: a) to assess the
      project's potential effect on the lives, livelihoods and culture of
      the local people; b) to assess the potential environmental impact of
      the mine and the alumina plant; and c) to assess the claims of state

      The Panel members visited Kucheaipadar and conducted spot visits to
      Lanjigarh where Vedanta is operating to understand the impact that
      such a project could have. The panel also received testimonies from
      the local adivasis who would be affected by the coming up of the UAIL
      Project. Taking into account their testimonies, the testimonies of
      experts and the responses furnished by various ministries to letters
      sent under the Right to Information Act by IPT - the panel would
      like to recommend that the Government of Orissa abandon the UAIL
      project with immediate effect.

      The Panel investigated specifically into opposition by the local
      people, the majority of whom are Scheduled tribes and found that
      their voices are being met by repressive measures in the form of
      large scale arrests, disruption of public meetings by force, violent
      beatings to disperse gatherings, official encouragement to the
      employment of private goons by UAIL, midnight raids by the police,
      unmitigated violence on women and children. Deposing before the
      Tribunal Bhagban Majhi stated "Instead of answering our concerns,
      they are replying with bullets and lathis. What is even more
      shocking is that even minors like Pradip Majhi (aged 14) who deposed
      before the Tribunal spoke of being physically stripped and humiliated
      by the Police.

      The granting of a mining lease to UAIL, a non-tribal entity, by the
      State Government of Orissa, is in flagrant violation of
      Constitutional mandates that have been upheld by the Supreme Court in
      Samatha v. State of Andhra Pradesh. Other constitutional provisions
      like the Panchayats Extension to the Scheduled Areas Act, (PESA)1996,
      as well as state provisions like the Orissa Scheduled Areas Transfer
      of Immovable Property Act, 1956, which protect the Adivasi
      community's right to land and other natural resources have also been
      unlawfully overridden.

      From the investigations it is also clear that UAIL's mining lease
      appears to have expired and the validity of the original lease, which
      was obtained prior to the granting of environmental clearance, is
      under scrutiny. UAIL's mining lease expired in 2000 and there is no
      indication that the company was granted a renewal lease from the
      Ministry of Mines. The original lease was granted in 1995, and was
      only valid for five years, whether or not the project operations
      managed to commence within that period.

      The Government of Orissa and UAIL have failed to conduct a local
      consultation and obtain local consent for the project as stipulated
      under the provisions of the Panchayat Extension to Scheduled Areas
      Act, 1996 and the Orissa Scheduled Areas Transfer of Immovable
      Property Act (1956). Locals like Shankar Prasad Muduli expressed
      their concern to the Tribunal by saying: If the company comes up we
      will lose thousands and thousands of acres of cultivable land and be
      reduced to beggars. That's the reason why we won't allow our land to
      be destroyed. Indications from UAIL that they have in fact obtained
      local consent were discounted by credible testimony before the

      The Panel is convinced that the bauxite-mining project proposed by
      UAIL will have adverse environmental and health effects: water
      sources and agricultural land will be contaminated by toxic wastes,
      grasslands and forest land will be destroyed, and pollution including
      the release of cancerous gases that will create a health hazard for
      those living in proximity of the alumina refinery. Further the
      location of the mine in the Eastern ghats will cause irreversible
      loss of plant genetic material and biodiversity of this region.

      Further, the Government of Orissa has no binding Relief &
      Rehabilitation (R & R) policy nor a good record of enforcing R & R
      packages. Also, the R & R package offered by UAIL is grossly
      inadequate. Compensation offered under the Land Acquisition Act for
      agricultural and homestead lands and the resettlement and
      rehabilitation project is inadequate to the deprivation that adivasi
      communities will face if the project is allowed to proceed. It also
      appears that compensation is being offered only to those who are able
      to establish titles to their land. The rehabilitation package
      excludes those who work for wages and those who depend on common
      property resources. The testimonies received by the IPT panel clearly
      show that the relevant authorities are using force and intimidation
      to coerce people into relocating and accepting the rehabilitation

      Finally, the UAIL project will threaten local adivasi communities by
      radically altering their livelihood options, agrarian lifestyles,
      cultures, and identities. There appear to be no benefits arising from
      the project for local adivasi communities, despite the Government

      of Orissa and UAIL's claims that the project will lead to development
      and provide jobs. The evidence to substantiate this has been detailed
      in the IPT report

      Tribunal Recommendations
      Given the findings of this report, the Tribunal would like to issue
      the following recommendations.

      The Government of Orissa and the Central Government should
      immediately take all necessary steps to halt the UAIL project in
      Kashipur, based on the illegalities and social and environmental
      consequences outlined in detail in this report.

      7 The Orissa State Pollution Control Board and the Ministry of
      Environment and Forests revoke "consent for establishment" and
      environmental clearances issued so far to UAIL;
      7 Put all environmental applications and orders passed for this
      project the public domain;
      7 Order UAIL to cease all work on plant construction and mine opening;
      7 Conduct an inquiry into the capacity of the Orissa State
      Pollution Control Board to assess and prevent violations of state and
      national pollution standards, and if the OSPCB is found to be
      deficient, it should be reconstituted into an effective monitoring
      and enforcement body.

      State Repression
      7 Order the immediate withdrawal of paramilitary units and
      reduce police units to pre-1992 levels;
      7 Take punitive action against police responsible for the death
      of three unarmed civilians in the Maikanch incident;
      7 Conduct an inquiry and take action against officials who have
      violated national and state laws;
      7 Immediately release those charged with false crimes and drop
      all outstanding warrants;
      7 Provide protection for peaceful assemblies, rallies, and
      demonstrations organized by local groups;
      7 Provide redressal for those who suffered at the hands of
      police and paramilitary forces.

      Illegal Seizure of Land
      7 The Government of India should desist all efforts to
      'denotify' tribes in Kashipur and other resource rich areas around
      the country;
      7 The Government of Orissa should declare all land acquisition
      by UAIL to date null and void;
      7 The Government of India and the State Government of Orissa
      should enforce legislation and constitutional provisions preventing
      the transfer of tribal lands to non-tribal entities;
      7 The Government of Orissa should ensure that private companies
      provide information about proposed projects in writing, and in a
      language intelligible to the local people, well in advance of
      conducting public consultations;
      7 The Government of India and Orissa should demand that UAIL
      produce written proof of consent for the project from the relevant
      Gram Sabhas. For this, it is essential to hold free and fair Gram
      Sabhas without the presence of police and only after providing all
      information about the project, like proposals and possible
      consequences etc.
      7 During this process representatives of civil society and NHRC
      should be invited as observers.

      R & R Package
      7 Restrain the Company officials and representatives from
      intimidating and implicating people into submission.
      7 The Government of India must ensure that R & R packages
      compensate for both physical and non-physical assets, as well as
      damage to assets due to pollution or other environmental factors;
      7 The Government of India must provide legal representatives to
      safeguard the interest of DPs and PAPs during negotiations involving
      the terms of R & R packages;
      7 The Government of India must ensure that all R & R packages
      are in writing and legally binding on the parties involved;
      7 DPs and PAPs must be identified and compensated according to
      the most recent demographic data and a survey most be conducted to
      ensure that all villages and habitations in the affected area are
      properly identified and registered by the relevant government

      Mining and Displacement
      7 The Government of Orissa must commission an independent
      economic study of the viability of the UAIL project;
      7 The Government of Orissa must conduct a thorough study of the
      economic, social and environmental effects of mining projects and
      large-scale displacement within the region.

      For further details or clarifications contact the IPT secretariat:
      Maya Nair/ Deepika D'Souza at +91 22 23439651/ 23436692/ (0) 98672
      42514/ (0) 98200 39557

      Indian People's Tribunal (Mumbai) 4th Floor, CVOD Jain School 84
      Samuel Street Dongri,
      Mumbai 400 009 Tel: 022 - 23439651/ 23436692
      Indian People's Tribunal (Delhi) 3rd Floor, 65, Masjid Road,
      Jungpura, New Delhi
      Tel: 011 - 24379855 / 24379856



      Compilation (October 31, 2006)
      Year Seven, No 165

      URL: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/IPARMW/message/176


      [9] Upcoming Events


      An overview of scheduled events at the INDIA SOCIAL FORUM - 9 to 13
      November 2006, New Delhi

      o o o

      For the full official programme and related information on the Indian
      Social Forum go to the India Social Forum Web site



      Tehelka is organising a Summit of the Powerless on 20 and 21 November
      2006 at Dr MA Ansari Auditorium, Jamia Milia Islamia University, New Delhi.


      For details visit www.summitofthepowerless.net. Given below is an
      introductory note and the tentative schedule.

      o o o o o


      India is going through a period of great change and great upheaval. At
      such a time, it has become crucial to ensure that voices across the
      country are heard, and people are given a chance to participate in the
      future being newly moulded for them -- people whose lives are impacted
      daily by the decisions the powerful make.

      To give voice to this silent majority, to find creative responses to
      some of the most difficult questions of our time, on November 20 -21
      this year, Tehelka is hosting a visionary new forum: The Summit of the

      The core idea of the Summit is to bring together the three key
      stakeholders of a free society on to the same platform: money, power,
      and people.

      Political and business leaders wield enormous power and influence over
      the lives of the poor. But in most forums, the converted talk to the
      converted: the powerful to the rich; the powerless to the powerless.

      The unique idea of the Summit is to create an environment where the
      powerful will lend their ear to the powerless. The Summit seeks to
      bring the powerful into a new context. A context visually,
      emotionally, and conceptually constructed to be empathetic to the

      The agenda? Not just to air differences, but hunt for common ground.

      The broad theme for this year's Summit is Two Indias, One Future.
      Under this matrix, the Summit will discuss some of the most pressing
      issues of our time: the role of the State; the farmer crisis; the gap
      between rural and urban India; reservations; naxals; Kashmir; the
      Northeast; land usage; and a vision for more equitable cities.

      Every panel in the Summit will have two or more speakers each from the
      grassroot, political, and corporate sectors. There will also be AVs
      and personal narratives in every panel. More than 50 key human rights
      activists, peoples' movement leaders, political, and corporate heads
      have already confirmed participation. Recognising the importance of
      such a forum, the President of India too has agreed to participate in
      the Summit.

      Apart from the panel discussions, many important conversations,
      arguments, and linkages will be made possible by the Summit. It has
      immense potential and provides an immense opportunity. (An agenda is
      attached with this letter.)

      Tehelka is inviting everybody working to create a more equitable and
      humane world to attend the Summit. Do come and empower the Summit with
      your presence.

      If you can come, please register at www.summitofthepowerless.net

      If you have any queries, please write to summit@...

      And do pass the word around.

      Best wishes,
      The Tehelka Team

      DAY 1
      Tarun Tejpal, Editor-in-Chief, Tehelka welcome address.

      Outlines summit agenda
      Keynote Address by the President of India

      OPENING SESSION: Two Indias, One Future
      Confirmed Speakers
      Aruna Roy
      Anna Hazare
      Kamal Nath
      Sitaram Yechury
      LK Advani
      Arun Maira

      SESSION 1 a
      Farmer Suicides: Urban India vs Rural India
      Confirmed Speakers
      Ajit Singh
      Sachin Pilot
      Rajiv Bakshi
      Vandana Shiva
      Mihir Shah
      Kishore Tiwari
      Sharad Pawar
      Amrinder Singh

      SESSION 1 b (simultaneous)
      The Positive Model: Stories of Rural Success
      Confirmed Speakers
      Father Thomas Kocherry
      Rajinder Singh
      Prakash Amte

      SESSION 2 a
      Reservations: Inclusive Progress or the Death of Merit?
      Confirmed Speakers
      Yogendra Yadav
      Kani Mozhi
      Udit Raj
      Arjun Singh
      Arun Shourie

      SESSION 2 b (simultaneous)
      Equal Education: Excellence or Prejudice?
      Confirmed Speakers
      Anil Sadgopal
      Ashok Aggarwal
      Mushirul Hasan
      Krishna Kumar
      Parth J Shah

      Shubha Mudgal
      Kailash Kher
      Indian Ocean
      Zahroor Sahin

      DAY 2
      Opening Session
      The Indian State: Protector or Alienator?
      Confirmed Speakers
      Kapil Sibal
      Ram Jethmalani
      Praful Patel
      Medha Patkar
      Dipankar CPIML

      SESSION 3 a
      Naxals: Backlash of the Fourth World?
      Confirmed Speakers
      Sumanto Banerjee
      Dilip Simeon
      Dr Vara Vara Rao
      Janak Lal Thakur
      Manendra Karma
      KPS Gill

      SESSION 3 b (simultaneous)
      Kashmir: External Hand or Internal Haemorrhage?
      Confirmed Speakers
      Wajahat Habibullah
      Pervez Imroze
      Omar Abdullah
      Mehbooba Mufti

      SESSION 4 a
      The City and the Powerless
      Confirmed Speakers
      Charles Correa
      KT Ravindran
      Madhu Kishwar
      A Jockin
      Jaipal Reddy
      Milind Deora
      Vijaypat Singhania
      Cyrus Gazdar
      Rajeev Chandrashekhar
      B S Nagesh

      SESSION 4 b (simultaneous)
      North East: On the Map, Off the Mind?
      Confirmed Speakers
      Wasbir Hussain
      Patricia Mukhim
      Lachit Bordoloi

      SESSION 5 (Final)
      Bollywood: Can cinema bridge the divide?
      Prasoon Joshi
      Sudhir Mishra
      Rakeysh Mehra
      Raveena Tandon
      Anupam Kher




      Puspamala N and Clare Arni

      10 Nov - Dec 23

      Bose Pacia
      508 West 26th Street, 11th Floor
      New York, New York


      Buzz on the perils of fundamentalist politics, on
      matters of peace and democratisation in South
      Asia. SACW is an independent & non-profit
      citizens wire service run since 1998 by South
      Asia Citizens Web: www.sacw.net/
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      DISCLAIMER: Opinions expressed in materials carried in the posts do not
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