An Year Of Continued Denial Of Justice For Rohith Vemula

januaryphotoAn Year Of Continued Denial Of Justice For Rohith Vemula

Caste Based Discrimination Must End Now In Educational Institutions Towards Equitable Democratic Spaces 

Hyderabad / New Delhi, January 17th 2016 : It’s a year since Rohith Vemula gave up his life in the struggle against caste discrimination and Brahminical prejudices and practices dominating spaces of Higher education in the country. His death caused a major uproar in the country and gave strength to students coming forward resisting the same and to various ongoing agitations across the country in different universities. His words still continue to haunt and remind us of the complex social structures and deep fissures and inherent inequality in the society. He said, “… the value of a man was reduced to his immediate identity and nearest possibility. To a vote. To a number. To a thing…. My birth is my fatal accident….

If we look back, nothing seems to have changed in last year, Najeeb Ahmed remains missing from JNU for more than two months; eleven students remain suspended for raising voice against the administration and teachers are facing action too for supporting students and their voices; in another central university in Hyderabad, EFLU, five Dalit students have been suspended for raising issues of caste based discrimination; in BHU seven students have been rusticated for demanding 24×7 library facilities; women students continue to face restrictive measures across the country in various universities; and the doors for commercialization of the higher education is being opened through the allowing of corporate investments and the dismal status of the primary and secondary education in the country shows no signs of improvement. The rise and growth of ABVP is being supported and facilitated by the government in Centre and State and the agenda of saffornisation of the education and educational institutions is gaining strength everyday. However, the year has also seen an increase in resistance from the progressive forces and students community at large, and Rohith’s sacrifice has united the students community from various varsities resisting the discrimination and brahminical prejudices and practices.

Our collective struggle for #JusticeForRohith remains unfulfilled since past one year as none of the culprits have been punished and in fact government appointed committees continue to peddle lies and half truth about Rohith’s caste and what happened preceding to his death. These are not going to deter the students and Dalits community in their resolve for an equal space within the university campuses and in the society at large. The heightened consciousness and realization today has helped coming together of the students community, dalit struggles and other identity and issue based struggles together to work for annihilation of caste and fight the caste based discrimination. The hidden discrimination in the ‘merit’ based institutions of the higher education, media, other professional bodies, civil society spaces, are constantly being exposed and challenged.

Government on its own part have done and reacted with violence, vengeance and vilification of the struggle and bestowing of rewards on the perpetrators. In HCU, Radhika Vemula, Rohit’s mother, till date hasn’t been able to visit the ‘Rohith Smarak’ inside the campus; Rohith’s friends continue to be persecuted;  and on the other hand VC Prof Appa Rao was recently felicitated. These practices are similar to what’s happening in other universities. Smriti Irani, former minister of HRD was shunted to another Ministry but that hasn’t changed the nefarious design of those in the power. We condemn every such attempt of this government and vow to continue fighting along with others.

We want to reiterate our support for the call of enactment of the ‘Rohith Act’ for ending caste based discrimination within the educational institutions and fasten the investigation into the circumstances which led to his suicide and punish those responsible for it.

National Team of Advisors, Convenors and Special Invitees of NAPM

NAPM : Advisors and Special Invitees

Medha Patkar, Aruna Roy,  Prafulla Samantara, Binayak Sen, Sandeep Pandey, Sudhir Vombatkere, Gabriele Dietrich, Geetha Ramakrishnan, CR Neelakandan, Anand Mazgaonkar,  P. Chennaiah, Ramakrishnam Raju,  Sister Celia,  Suniti S R, Gautam Bandopadhyay, Anjali Bharadwaj, Kavita Srivastava, Arundhati Dhuru, Kaladas Dahariya.

National Conveners : 2016-2018

Amitava Mitra, West Bengal; Arul Doss, Tamil Nadu; Ashish Ranjan, Bihar; Dayamani Barla, Jharkhand; Dr. Sunilam, Madhya Pradesh; Faisal Khan, NCR & Haryana; Kailash Meena, Rajasthan; Krishnakant, Gujarat; Lingraj Azad, Orissa; Madhuresh Kumar, Delhi; Manesh Gupta, Uttar Pradesh; Mahendra Yadav, Bihar; Meera Sanghamitra, Telangana; Nanhu Prasad, Delhi; Rajendra Ravi, Delhi; Richa Singh, Uttar Pradesh; Sister  Dorothy, Bihar; Suhas Kolhekar, Mahasrashtra; Vilayodi Venugopal, Kerala; Vimal Bhai, Uttarakhand.

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Updates on Coal, Energy, Land, Water and Forest: 23 May 2016

A Coal & Energy

Adani Power shuts 2,640-mw units at Tiroda plant in Maharashtra: http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2016-05-16/news/73126367_1_acute-water-shortage-4-units-adani-power-ltd
सासन प्रोजेक्ट को चीन और अमेरिकी बैंकों से फायनेंस की इजाजत नहीं http://epaper.bhaskar.com/detail/?id=1000684&boxid=5173711763&view=text&editioncode=180&pagedate=05/17/2016&pageno=1&map=map&ch=mpcg
3 engineers killed, 24 others injured in Moser Bear’s boiler blast: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bhopal/3-engineers-killed-24-others-injured-in-Moser-Bears-boiler-blast/articleshow/52303879.cms
Another Village In Odisha Rejects Mining: http://www.countercurrents.org/pr040516.htm
What Paris agreement on climate change means for India: http://www.dailyo.in/politics/cop-21-paris-agreement-unfcc-climate-change-sustainable-living-kyoto-protocol/story/1/10749.html
Arunachal’s unfinished Lower Subansiri dam could be tomb for India’s giant hydropower projects: http://scroll.in/article/718809/arunachals-unfinished-lower-subansiri-dam-could-be-tomb-for-indias-giant-hydropower-projects
हिंडाल्को कम्पनी को जमीन देने के लिए चलाया आदिवासी बस्ती पर बुलडोज़र : डॉ लखन सिंह: http://www.januday.com/NewsDetail.aspx?Article=7349
Electric Companies Duping Indian Consumers: DRI Investigates a 29,000 Crores Rupees Scam: https://sabrangindia.in/article/electric-companies-duping-indian-consumers-dri-investigates-29000-crores-rupees-scam
Panel recommends forest clearance to SCCL’s coal project in AP: http://www.business-standard.com/article/pti-stories/panel-recommends-forest-clearance-to-sccl-s-coal-project-in-ap-116052200102_1.html

B.IFIs

China Launches Asia Investment Bank with 2 Silk Road Projects: http://www.voanews.com/content/china-launches-asia-investment-bank-with-two-silk-road-projects-/3338589.html
AIIB looks for Russia financing: http://en.prothom-alo.com/economy/news/105207/AIIB-looks-for-Russia-financing
China-led AIIB to co-finance first Indonesia project : http://www.gulf-times.com/story/494013/China-led-AIIB-to-co-finance-first-Indonesia-proje
Asian Development Bank (ADB) that will act as the lead financier for the project in Pakistan M4 highway: http://pakobserver.net/2016/05/22/asian-bank-to-finance-projects/
India a beacon for foreign investment: Jaitley: http://www.domain-b.com/economy/general/20160521_jaitley.html#sthash.BZphxIjt.N739mjbz.dpuf
US Senate Nominates Indian-American Swati Dandekar As Asian Development Bank Director: http://www.theindianpanorama.news/indians-abroad/us-senate-nominates-indian-american-swati-dandekar-asian-development-bank-director/
5 Major Banks Rigged US$9trn Bond Market: Lawsuit: http://www.telesurtv.net/english/news/5-Major-Banks-Rigged-US9trn-Bond-Market-Lawsuit-20160520-0004.html
Putin hails AIIB as complement to int’l financial structure: http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2016-05/19/c_135369920.htm
PNB tops list of worst losses in Indian banking history: http://www.livemint.com/Industry/nyp8yAz9fEXYdkcstG4CEP/PNB-tops-list-of-worst-losses-in-Indian-banking-history.html?%3F
How to kill a bank in India: http://www.livemint.com/Opinion/EZfzm1RzenHu7xURxgJDoM/How-to-kill-a-bank-in-India.html
World Bank offers $625m loan to boost India’s rooftop solar PV capacity: http://solar.energy-business-review.com/news/world-bank-offers-625m-loan-to-boost-indias-rooftop-solar-pv-capacity-160516-4893781
India will need to find new mechanism for financing smart city projects: http://news.webindia123.com/news/Articles/India/20160519/2864265.htm

Press Release: Delhi Citizens join in solidarity with the Chetawani Upwas in Bhopal

Press Release

Delhi citizens come together to extend solidarity with the Chetawani Upwas in Bhopal by the people from the Narmada Valley

New Delhi, April 28: A group of more than 50 protestors under the banner of Delhi solidarity Group and National Alliance of People’s movements gathered in front of Madhya Pradesh Bhawan today to provide solidarity to the ongoing Chetawani Upwas (27-29th April) by Narmada Bachao Aandolan in Bhopal. The people, who wanted to submit a memorandum to the Resident Commissioner, had to confront a strong police barricade in front of MP Bhawan. They spoke about the current situation of the people already displaced by the dams and lack of implementation of rehabilitation to them. People also raised concerns about the apathy shown by the Government of Madhya Pradesh in insisting on raising the height of Sardar Sarovar without having any plans to safeguard the lives and livelihood of the people. They also strongly demanded the release of the Justice Jha Commission report withheld by the state government. Linking it with the current issue of water shortage, they demanded that the government is losing its priorities when it is drowning people on one side and killing others due to drought on other side.

It’s been three decades since the people of the Narmada valley have been struggling against the unjust displacement due to the construction of the Sardar Sarovar Dam. The construction of the dam was restarted in June 2014 and now the dam height is nearing completion. As we approach the Monsoon, two hundred thousand people are faced with the threat of submergence. These families are still living in the submergence zone, they will lose their villages with schools, temples, mosques, houses, farms with prime agriculture and horticulture panchayats and one township partly submerged before, will be further affected.

The Narmada Bachao Andolan has challenged the government’s false affidavits on the question of complete R&R and exposed the massive corruption involved in the process. The petition of NBA to the Madhya Pradesh High Court constituted a commission of Enquiry under Justice S. S. Jha (referred as Jha Commission). The Jha commission submitted its report after nearly 7 years of detailed investigation into cases of corruption involving government employees and accepted the massive fraud to tune of 1000 crores. The Justice Jha Commission report has the numbers – 1500, 2000 or may be more and details of all fake registries, the amount of money wasted, and all the agents and officials involved in the scam.

But the State of Madhya Pradesh has refused to grant NBA access to the report! Furthermore, even the MLA’s have not been given access to the report. All this has been done citing privilege of the State Assembly. The corruption in the Narmada Valley Development Authority (N.V.D.A) must be uncovered.

In addition, the question of the quality of resettlement sites cannot be ignored. All culprits involved must be punished regardless of being an officer or an agent.

During decades of struggle NBA could succeed in getting 14,000 Adivasis, Dalit farmers and their families could receive land and due to R&R especially in Gujarat and Maharashtra. But Madhya Pradesh is a different story, only 40 to 50 displaced families have been allotted land. Even today, 40,000 families live in the submergence zone.

The Madhya Pradesh government has constantly fudged the number of oustees even changing Back Water Level data, and thereby excluded many people from the submergence area and lists of Project Affected People thereby denying them their due R&R share – initially 4,374 families and then another 15,900 families. Such action affecting about 20,000 families is both unscientific and illegal.

These villages that lie in the submergence zone are full of life and activity, with its houses, panchayats, temples, masjids, shops, markets and lakhs of trees, which cannot be submerged without proper resettlement violating the Narmada Water Dispute Tribunal and Supreme court judgments of 1992, 2000 and 2005.

Despite all this, Central government along with the Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat governments, have continued the construction of dam, which is almost complete to the height of 139 metres.

Immediate action must be taken to release the Jha commission report and complete the R&R of the affected people before submergence of adivasi families/villages and township causing devastation & destitution.

The demands raised by the Narmada Bachao Andolan are,

1. Make the Jha Commission Report on massive corruption in rehabilitation public. Send the guilty to Jail. Now!

2. Complete R&R of farmers, labourers, fisher people, and artisans numbering thousands before monsoon. Gates of the dam shouldn’t be closed till R&R is complete and all affected are resettled at new sites, in 3 states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Gujarat at the earliest with all entitlements as per law and SC judgments.

For more details, please contact at: 9958797409

People’s Movements in India & Bangladesh Join Hands to Save Sunderbans:

PRESS RELEASE : March 21, 2016

People’s Movements in India and Bangladesh Join Hands to Save Sunderbans:

Support Extended to the Struggle against Rampal Coal Power Project in Bangladesh

New Delhi: In yet another major initiative strengthening people-to-people cooperation between South Asian nations, people’s movements in India joined hands with their Bangladesh counterparts to save the Sunderbans. This was declared in Delhi by a delegation of 11 senior activists who took part in the Long March organized by National Committee to Protect Oil, Gas, Mineral Resources, Power and started from Bangladesh’s capital city Dhaka on March 10 to Kathakhali Morh, Bagherhat district, Bangladesh – a distance of 250 kms from the capital.

Ashok Choudhury, and Roma Malik of All India Union of Forest Working People, Soumya Dutta, of Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha and India Climate Justice, Magline Peter of National Fishworkers Forum, Bharat Patel of Machimar Adhikaar Sangharsh Sangathan, Gujarat, representatives of Delhi Solidarity Group and other environmentalists were part of the Indian delegation.

The Rampal power plant is being built through a joint-venture by Bangladesh’s Power Development Board and India’s National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), with machinery coming from India’s Bharat Heavy Electricals Ltd (BHEL), finance coming from Indian ExIm Bank and PricewaterhouseCoopers (India) contracted for Long term coal sourcing, maritime transportation, transshipment, inland water transport and logistics.

“People’s movements in India resonate with the key message of the Bangladesh movements – that while there are alternatives for sources of energy, there is no alternative to the Sundarbans. Sundarbans is a critical life-support ecosystem to India as much as it is for Bangladesh. Protecting it is the responsibility of people of both countries”, Ashok Choudhury, General Secretary, All India Union of Forest Working People said.

“If Rampal and the adjacent Orion projects are allowed to come up, everyday, lakhs of litres of hot water would be pumped out from these projects to the Passur river along with the release of millions of tons of toxic coal ash in the surrounding air, water and soil every year., severely affecting , vegetation, fish and other aquatic wealth, and reducing the oxygen level in the river drastically, devastating farming and fishing livelihoods ”, Soumya Dutta, Convener of the Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha said.

“Amongst the fishworkers, women are the worst affected,” Magline Peter of National Fishworkers Forum said. “While they are already burdened with running the household, Rampal project makes it further difficult. The project would be detrimental to the food security of the region,” she added.

The delegation, after talking to different political and civil society representatives, expressed concern about the increasing anti-India sentiment in Bangladesh. “At a time when it is important to strengthen relationship with neighboring countries, it is unfortunate that India is promoting this project which is alienating India further. It is important that a Parliamentary delegation visit Bangladesh and discuss the implications of the project with different stakeholders and take a pro-people position on the project to restore the faith and confidence on India,” Roma, deputy General Secretary of All India Union of Forest Working People said.

The delegation expressed grave concern over the news about the coal-laden vessel sinking in Shela river in the Sundarbans two days ago. One may recall that in December 2014 a oil tanker sank in Sundarbans causing immense damage to the river and reverie ecology. In last year May, a fertilizer vessel sank in the vicinity. The delegation warned that with coal projects coming up in and near Sundarbans, with a requirement of over 4 million tons of imported coal each year for Rampal project alone, grave accidents are just round the corner and the governments should take cognizance of it and should restrain from exposing Sundarbans from more danger.

Recalling his experience from two mega coal projects in Kutch – Tata Mundra and Adani projects – Dr. Bharat Patel of Machimar Adhikar Sangharsh Sangathan warned that projects like Rampal are promoted in the name of poor and development of the country. “However, we have experienced that such projects endanger the livelihood of the poor and push them to destitution, and only a handful of rich corporations profit from it,” he said.

The delegation reiterated their support to the movement to protect the Sundarbans and called upon the Governments of India and Bangladesh to cancel the project and seek decentralized and sustainable solutions to address the energy issues. They warned that in the coming days a more coordinated opposition will be build on both sides of the boarder, bringing together likeminded people’s movements, political parties and intellectuals, to protect Sundarbans.

 

10 March 2016 – Protests in Delhi

Fishworkers Protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. Fishworkers from several parts of the country gathered at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi to protest against the government’s policies towards the fisherfolk in the coastal regions of India. They demanded a separate ministry for fishing and criticized the government for allowing the constructions of innumerable ports without looking into the environmental hazards they pose.

Tibetans in Delhi protest at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. Tibetans observed the 57th Anniversary of Tibetan National Uprising Day which took place on this day in 1959. The protesters called for global intervention in Tibet to save Tibetan Lives and send fact finding delegations in Tibet to access the real situation of the Tibetans living there under the Chinese regime.

Dalit Christians and Muslims Protests at Jantar Mantar, New Delhi. National Council of Dalit Christians, Catholic Bishop’s Conference of India, National Council of Churches in India strongly condemned Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, Mr. Thawar Chand Ghelot for his offensive statements. The protesters demanded to grant SC status to Dalit Christians and Muslims in India.

Villagers in Odisha, India decide to reoccupy their land

Villagers in the state of Odisha in India have decided to reoccupy their land which was earlier acquired by the state for various development projects. South Korean steel company POSCO and its Indian subsidiary POSCO India Private Limited had signed an MoU in 2005 to begin $ 12 billion steel project. However, controversies and regulatory delays have prevented Posco India’s Odisha project to proceed beyond the concept. Affected villagers have been protesing against unjust land acquisions, police violence and attrocities committed by the company. Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS), which is spearheading movement against acquisition of land by POSCO has now decided that the villagers would re-occupy land acquired for the project.

According to Prashant Paikre,  the spokesperson of the PPSS, “Land has been acquired for the steel project in pen and paper and some patches by use of force. But, villagers are determined to re-occupy land which had been enjoyed by them generation after generation.” (To read more on the issue, go online at: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-otherstates/villagers-to-reoccupy-land-acquired-for-posco-project/article6459153.ece