Tag Archives: karnataka

[Press Note] Protest against false imprisonment and torture of adivasi teacher Soni Sori in Chattisgarh (Bangalore)

Held at 6 pm, Saturday, 24th March 2012, Town Hall in Bangalore

“Arrest Ankit Garg, Release Soni Sori”

“Attn: Ms. President, Mr. Prime Minister, Chattisgarh state, NHRC, Stop Torture of Soni Sori”

These were among the slogans from nearly 20 Karnataka based human rights organizations to the Government of India in support of Soni Sori, a 35 year old adivasi school teacher who has been incarcerated in Chattisgarh police custody since October 2011 despite medical evidence revealing their brutal custodial torture, electrocution, beating, and sexual assault on her, shoving stones into her private parts. Around 100 persons gathered at 6 pm on 24th March 2012 in front of Town Hall in Bangalore to appeal for the immediate transfer of Soni Sori out of Chhattisgarh police custody and her speedy trial. Expressing solidarity with Soni Sori, the people also demanded the arrest of Ankit Garg, Superintendent of Police, Dantewada under whose supervision Soni Sori was subject to verbal and sexual assault in jail. They join people across the country in condemning the award of the Police Gallantry medal to Garg on Republic Day, 2012.

The protesters angrily burned an effigy of Ankit Garg, shouting slogans shaming him, and held a candlelight vigil for justice for Soni Sori. The brutality of police torture was also depicted by protesters masquerading as police and victims, while protesters held up signs condemning the functioning of the criminal justice system and asking for the freedom of adivasi journalists Lingaram Kodopi of Chhattisgarh and Vittala Malekudiya of Karnataka and many other political prisoners such as Manish Kunjam. Venkatesh of Dalit Bahujan Chaluvali, Manohar of SICHREM, and transgender political activists Charu of LesBiT and Veena of Praja Rajya Vedike spoke about the several ways in which the police system and false charges have been used to routinely detain and torture human rights activists and members of the adivasi, dalit, muslim and transgender communities in Karnataka. Comrade Balan of AITUC, Com. Nagaragere Ramesh of PDF, Com. Vishwa of New Socialist Alternative, Arati of PUCL and Pushpa of WSS stirred the crowd into thinking about whether the government today has prioritized the care and protection of its own citizens, or instead persecuted citizens for the benefit of exploitative private corporations. As the rousing songs of Dalitha Mattu Mahila Chaluvali questioned the freedom we have attained in more than 60 years of independence, members of the crowd signed a banner with messages to the President of India to ensure justice for Soni Sori.

Our Demands

– Immediately transfer Soni Sori out of the custody of Chhattisgarh police and ensure the provision of appropriate health care to Soni Sori without police interference.

– Set up an independent investigation into the conduct of Chhattisgarh law enforcement officials in the custodial sexual assault and torture of Soni Sori, and the immediate suspension of the responsible officers and prosecution under the PoA Act pending this inquiry

– Ensure the speedy completion of trial of Soni Sori, Lingaram Kodopi, Manish Kunjam and countless others so that they do not languish for years in custody when their guilt has not been proven.

– Show public proof of the good health and safety of Lingaram Kodopi and other prisoners in Chhattisgarh police custody.

– Set up a high-level independent investigation team to look at the condition of prisoners, especially women, including in the state ofChhattisgarh, to determine whether other women may have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, and investigate the reality ofprisoners’ access to health care.

– Enact the Prevention of Torture Bill and remove the need for prior state authorization to initiate criminal action against the officialsimplicated in custodial torture. Ratify the Convention on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.

– Ensure that the latest central government grants to states to set up police stations in Maoist areas include support for independentmonitoring of detention facilities including station lockups and jails by human rights commissions and civil society groups. Considerrequiring police to videotape interrogations, especially in police stations in Naxalite areas and train police on proper conduct toward women in custody.

– End the use of custodial torture, lengthy custodial holding on false charges, and constant police harassment as tools of repressionagainst the adivasi and other residents of Chhattisgarh.

Participating Organizations/Networks

LesBiT, SICHREM, New Socialist Alternative (CWI-India), People’s Solidarity Concerns, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression: WSS-Karnataka, PUCL-Bangalore, Peoples’ Democratic Forum, Dalitha Mattu Mahila Chaluvali, Concern (IISc), Maraa, Dalit Bahujana Chaluvali, Samanata Mahila Vedike, Vimochana, Sangama, Samara, Pedipics, Alternative Law Forum (ALF)

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[Tehelka] Student, Activist, Naxalite? Framed!

The story of Vittala is uncannily similar to Lingaram Kodopi. On 10 September 2011, Kodopi, a tribal journalist from Chhattisgarh, was arrested and falsely accused of being a Maoist. Vittala’s story is no different. The 22-year-old tribal, a first-year student of Mass Communication and Journalism from Mangalore University and his father were arrested from their house by the elite anti-Naxal force (ANF) of the Karnataka Police on charges of aiding Maoists.

[…]

Vittala and his father have been booked under Sections 10 and 13 of the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) and under Sections 34 and 121 of the Indian Penal Code. During the search of the house, the police claims to have found handbills, paper cuttings on Naxal issues, binoculars and other related materials.

“The binoculars recovered from him were purchased four years ago during the Laksha Deepotsava festival in Dharmasthala,” says Vittala’s friends. “The handbills were of DYFI programmes and other than that, the police recovered 250 gm of tea and sugar from his house.” […]

Read the full article here.

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Protest Custodial torture of Soni Sori: 24th March, 6 pm Town Hall, Bangalore

Stop Custodial Violence on Women

“Giving me electric shocks, stripping me naked, shoving stones inside me..Was the abuse on me not enough?…This is a plea from a helpless daughter…This is a mother’s plea for her children”,- Soni Sori in a letter to the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court

Soni Sori, a 35-year-old Adivasi school teacher in Chhattisgarh, has been languishing in Raipur Jail since October 2011, she has written letters from jail asking the Nation to help her. Soni has been tortured by the Chhattisgarh police – she complained that she was stripped naked and given electric shocks. A recent medical examination ordered by the Supreme Court at NRS Medical College and Hospital in Kolkatta found stones inserted in her vagina and rectum. Medical reports submitted to the court three days after her arrest show she sustained a head injury caused by a “hard and blunt object”, that she had tenderness in her back, and blackened fingers –a classic sign of electrocution.

The torture was under the supervision of Ankit Garg, Superintendent of Police. In a terrible twist of events he was given the President’s Award on Republic Day. Soni lives in Dantewada. a Naxalite stronghold. Last year, Soni fought with the Naxalites when they tried to stop her form hoisting the national flag on Independence Day. Naxalites shot her father in the leg saying he was a police informer. Yet the police first arrested her husband, and now Soni, for being Naxalite supporters! Because she has constantly fought for her people’s rights – for minimum wages. She has taken on powerful companies that want the Adivasis’ land, and the Chhattisgarh government that supports these companies. She has taken on the police for their illegal activities. Her nephew Lingaram Kodopi who has been arrested on the same charges is a trained journalist who has reported on the abysmal human rights record of the Chhattisgarh government from the ground. Now, fed up of being in jail, far from her three young children, Sori has gone on hunger strike. In a letter to her lawyer she writes: “We Adivasis are only fated to suffer atrocities and die. We Adivasis are a business for the government.’’

Due process has been violated in the case of Soni Sori repeatedly. When these injuries prevented Soni from being produced before a magistrate, an order converting her police custody into extended judicial custody was still signed by Additional District Judge Yogita Wasik without her presence – which is completely illegal. She was outside the court in a vehicle and never left it. She was chained to the bed while undergoing treatment for her injuries in a Raipur hospital, explicitly against Supreme Court orders. She was also incarcerated in police lockup for 24 hours against Supreme Court orders when taken to Kolkata for a medical re-examination. Soni has now testified on video that she has been threatened by the police to not reveal her custodial torture for fear that they will arrest her brother, the sole caretaker of her children.
The undersigned groups from Karnataka State strongly condemn the custodial sexual assault and torture of Soni Sori, an Adivasi school teacher from the Dantewada district of Chhattisgarh.

Our demands
*Immediately transfer Soni Sori out of the custody of Chhattisgarh police and ensure the provision of appropriate health care to Soni Sori without police interference.
*Set up an independent investigation into the conduct of Chhattisgarh law enforcement officials in the custodial sexual assault and torture of Soni Sori, and the immediate suspension of the responsible officers and prosecution under the PoA Act pending this inquiry
*Ensure the speedy completion of trial of Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi so that they do not languish for years in custody when their guilt has not been proven.
*Show public proof of the good health and safety of Lingaram Kodopi and other prisoners in Chhattisgarh police custody.
*Set up a high-level independent investigation team to look at the condition of prisoners, especially women, including in the state of Chhattisgarh, to determine whether other women may have been subjected to torture and other ill-treatment, and investigate the reality of prisoners’ access to health care.
*Enact the Prevention of Torture Bill and remove the need for prior state authorization to initiate criminal action against the officials implicated in custodial torture. Ratify the Convention on Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment.
*Ensure that the latest central government grants to states to set up police stations in Maoist areas include support for independent monitoring of detention facilities including station lockups and jails by human rights commissions and civil society groups. Consider requiring police to videotape interrogations, especially in police stations in Naxalite areas.
*Work with civil society groups to train police on proper conduct toward women in custody.
*End the use of custodial torture, lengthy custodial holding on false charges, and constant police harassment as tools of repression against the adivasi and other residents of Chhattisgarh.

Come join us for a protest against the custodual torture and sexual assault of Soni Sori and many such women on 24th March 2012, Saturday, at Town Hall Steps, at 6.PM

LesBiT, SICHREM, Vimochana, Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression: WSS -Karnataka and WSS-National, People’s Union for Civil Liberties: PUCL-Bangalore, Alternative Law Forum (ALF)

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[Newzfirst] Student’s Arrest: The Lingaram Kodopi of South India?

MANGALORE – Arrest of a student pursuing Post Graduation from Mangalore University on the charges of Naxal link, has created a row between civil society and administration in Dakshina Kannada district.

Vittala, a student of Mass Communication and Journalism, along with his father Linganna (53) was arrested on Friday 2nd March, from his house located in Kutlur village of Beltangadi Taluk amidst the dense Western Ghats, while another son of Linganna, Purushottam is absconding. Anti Naxal Force (ANF) armed with various charges like sedition, is hunting for him. […]

Read the full story here.

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Update on Abdul Nasser Madani from Adv. Venkatesh Bubberjung of Bangalore

Abdul Nasser Madani is a Muslim political leader from Kerala, India. He has spent more than a decade in Indian prisons without being convicted of any crime. He started the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), with the stated objective of “Muslim-Dalit-backward caste” alliance. In August 2010, Madani was arrested by Karnataka police for his alleged involvement in the Bangalore Serial blasts and is currently lodged under judicial custody. Here is the Justice for Madani official website.

Here’s an excerpt from a facebook note from Advocate Venkatesh Bubberjung of Bangalore.

[…] Bangalore Blast case ( a series of 9 chargesheets filed against some 30+ accused mostly malayalam speaking including Abdul Naser Madani as they are referred to ) was posted today for orders on the applications on discharge, on orders on hearing before charge, on consideration of bail applications of some of the accused in Bangalore Central Prison.

Hearing of applications and charge is going on for couple of months before the Court. The hearing of the case was demonstrating number chinks in the armour of the story of prosecution. The advocates for Madani and other accused had explained in detail for days on the aspects of law violated in prosecuting them and poor quality of evidence that is available or framed against them. As the hearing on the applications gained momentum, the accused persons who were housed in Bangalore Central Prison were suddenly transferred to Belgaum Prison without any information as to why they were being transferred. When enquired even court had no proper information to give ( accused are in judicial custody ). When the counsels insisted for the presence of the accused at the time of hearing before charge as they had to take instructions from their clients, they were advised to take the same under video conferencing.

Serious question about the jurisdiction of the Court to conduct the case was raised in the light of National Investigation Agency Act. A procedural law that mandates that all cases under some statutes mentioned in the schedule be investigated and tried by National Investigation Agency apart from other grounds.

What was expected was that the court would pass orders on the applications for discharge and for orders on hearing of the parties before framing of charge. Usual practice is that when orders are passed some time is granted to the accused to challenge the same before the High Court, if they are not satisfied and if they feel that the grounds urged by them before the court were not properly appreciated by the court.

Most of the accused have little knowledge of English or Kannada. The learned judge passed orders on the applications rejecting them and the counsels had sought for copies of the orders as they intended to challenge the same before the High Court of Karnataka. Even without making the copies available for the accused and the counsel to know on what grounds the Learned Judge had rejected the applications, the court rushed to post the matter for framing charge in the case. strangely the order was passed in Kannada, a language not known to the accused persons. order was passed on 25th February, 2012 and was posted for framing of charges on 27th February, 2012, mere 48 hours to secure copy of the order, analyse and to decide whether to challenge the order or otherwise, 26th February, 2012 is Sunday.The advocates only know the operative portion of the order as the entire order is yet to be provided to them for studying. When will they get the copy of the orders? when will they study? when can they give their opinion on the orders that whether it is a good one or that one that needs to be challenged? The court rejected the prayer of the advocates that the case may be adjourned by atleast five to seven days so as to enable them challenge the order. Most of the advocates appearing for the accused are not acquainted with knowledge of Malayalam. Their difficulty is compounded. They have serious problems relating to confidentiality of communication with their clients as they are compelled to take assistance of the other accused or the police for translation.

Why was this mad rush to Frame Charge against the accused persons? They have not demanded that the court to immediately conclude the trial. They are also not running away from the court. All of them are in judicial custody? Why is this mad rush to charge? They are in custody of the court for more than three years. While the courts offer ‘reasonable opportunity’ for challenging the orders of the courts in higher courts, be it the case of 2G, Commonwealth games cases and in long list of cases of corruption accross India, strangely even on repeated request these accused are denied that opportunity.

The oft repeated statement in the court is that trial of the case needs to be completed at the earliest and hence process needs to be expedited. Question that worries us is that whether it is being expedited or short changed. What is the reason for this tearing hurry to frame charges?

These persons are accused of committing offences. The police have investigated and filed charge sheet against them. The matter is in the court. Court has to conduct the case in accordance with the procedures giving equal opportunity to the parties whether it is prosecution or defense. In the process of expediting the conduct of the case can the court deny the rights to the accused persons?

Even before many of you read this, the court might have already framed charges against the accused for long list of offences alleged against them and expedited the process of trial in the interest of the accused persons! […]

Read the full facebook note here.

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[Sichrem] Rights Panel Finds Boy Illegally Detained in Police Station

Via Sichrem

A 16-year-old boy was found by the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) illegally detained, handcuffed and chained to a window at the Sampigehalli police station on Tuesday.

According to a press release, the commission received information that the minor had been detained at the police station since December 17. When a team reached the police station, they found the boy seated on a blanket and handcuffed with a leading chain attached to the bars of a window.

In the release, chairperson of the commission Nina Nayak said that the boy appeared to be in pain and showed several fresh bruises on his torso, arms and legs. He said that he was given little food and was chained since Saturday evening. He claimed that he was picked up by the police on December 17 at around 9.30 p.m. near his home at Sadiq Layout, Thaneersandra, when he was going to a pharmacy to purchase medicines. The boy alleged that he was beaten by several police men at the station.

The release stated that the boy’s parents received a call that he was at the police station. When they went there, they were not allowed to meet him. The boy’s father Dastagi, a welder, reportedly produced documents showing that his son was 16.

Read the full article here.

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[Sichrem] 22 Minors Lodged in Central Prison In Bangalore

Via Sichrem

Members of Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) made a surprise visit to the central prison and found that 22 minors have been lodged there for several months.

Acting on a complaint, a team headed by commission chairman Vasudeva Sharma visited the jail premises and reviewed case files of all the 22 inmates. During the review, the team found the records of their dental examination, which suggest that all 22 of them are below 18 years of age.

“The complaints received by KSCPCR are grave in nature. Nine juveniles at the observation home in Madiwala revealed that they had spent a few weeks to more than 12 months in judicial custody without proper hearings despite of repeated efforts made by their families to establish their minor status. SICHREM, a human rights organisation, also filed a complaint with the KSCPCR, alleging that two inmates released on bail from the central prison had spent several months in judicial custody despite being minor,” a press release from the child rights commission said. […]

Read the full article here.

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[Karnataka State Groups Joint Statement] End Custodial Torture & Sexual Assault : Free Soni Sori and Lingaram Kodopi

[…] Due process has been violated in the case of Soni Sori repeatedly. When these injuries prevented Soni from being produced before a magistrate, an order converting her police custody into extended judicial custody was still signed by Additional District Judge Yogita Wasik without her presence – which is completely illegal. She was outside the court in a vehicle and never left it. She was chained to the bed while undergoing treatment for her injuries in a Raipur hospital, explicitly against Supreme Court orders. Soni was also incarcerated in police lockup for 24 hours against Supreme Court orders when taken to Kolkata for a medical re-examination6. Soni has testified in a video recorded statement that she has been threatened by the police to not reveal her custodial torture for fear that they will arrest her brother, who is the sole caretaker of her children.

Soni Sodi and her nephew Lingaram Kodopi have been framed by charges that they were collecting money on behalf of the Maoists from the company Essar. Constable Mankar from the Kirandul police station admitted to fabricating the charges in a phone conversation with Soni Sodi recorded by Tehelka. […]

Read the rest of the statement here.

Note: This is the video evidence mentioned in the statement.

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