A letter was sent to the Chief Minister of Madhya Pradesh, Shri Shivraj Singh Chauhan demanding the release of Madhuri from JADS and a withdrawal of all charges being pressed by Health department staff against her and others from JADS. This arrest has been carried out in context of an earlier protest by JADS, carried due to the inhuman conditions in which an adivasi woman, Baniya Bai was forced to deliver at the roadside in public, since delivery care had been denied to her by the nearby Menimata PHC in Barwani district in November 2008. An independent enquiry into the entire incident related to Baniya Bai at Menimata PHC was also demanded along with prompt and effective action to improve maternal health services in Barwani district and other districts of Madhya Pradesh, to ensure that such denial of basic health rights and human rights is not repeated in future
We are shocked and distressed to know that Ms. Madhuri, a leading organiser of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS) has been arrested in Barwani on 16th May 2013. This arrest has been carried out in context of an earlier protest by JADS, carried due to the inhuman conditions in which an adivasi woman, Baniya Bai was forced to deliver at the roadside in public, since delivery care had been denied to her by the nearby Menimata PHC in Barwani district in November 2008. Some of us have met Baniya Bai and her family, and have documented from them directly the details of the event and the denial.
This report presents the terror faced by the people living in village Chaukhand, which is a village on the dam site of the Kharak dam proposed to be built on Kharak river in District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh. The incident occurred on 26th May 2013
TERROR IN THE VILLAGE:
At around 10.30 in the morning of the 26th of May 2013, a cavalcade of four large police vans filled with around 150 male and female police personnel, and several cars and jeeps and a large machine for work on the dam-site headed by Shri Jitendra Singh, SDM, Bhagwanpura arrived at Village Choukhand, which is a village on the dam site of the Kharak dam proposed to be built on Kharak river in District Khargone, Madhya Pradesh. These villagers, all adivasis, Bhils and Bhilalas, as well as those of the accompanying villages had been resisting the construction of the Kharak dam, until they are rehabilitated and resettled, and their claims are justly settled. On that morning, as the cavalcade stopped at the village, many adivasi villagers went up to the administration to talk to them about the dam, and find out the reason for the police presence. The SDM was the first to emerge from his car, however he did not talk to the people or respond to their queries in any manner. The police force got down thereafter and grouped themselves in a single file. The SDM then ordered that the villagers should be arrested and put into the vans. At this, the police brutally lathi-charged the villagers. The villagers were chased all through the village. Those in their houses were not spared as the police personnel and the SDM himself went from house to house, dragging out people. Even the small children and any others who pleaded with the administration to talk to them were not spared.
On 26th January last year, IPS officer Ankit Garg who was charged with sexual assault of Soni Sori, was conferred the President’s Police Medal of Gallantry. Conferring this award amounts not only to condoning the sexual torture inflicted on Ms Sori and the violence which is being perpetrated in the name of anti-Naxal operations, but actually encouraging it. Today, when the nation’s conscience is stirred by heinous sexual crimes committed against women and the government is promising zero tolerance for sexual crimes, what signal does a gallantry award to Ankit Garg give? At best it means that even the President’s office does not take too seriously the complaint of sexual assault of an adivasi woman, even after it has been independently verified by some of the nation’s best medical practitioners. At worst, it signifies that some sexual assaults are not only tolerated by the government, but also decorated.
A year on, the campaign to withdraw the medal continues. Below is a letter to the President of India, demanding for its withdrawal together with a signature campaign. Read on and join in!
The National Commission on Women (NCW) is mandated to ‘investigate and examine all matters relating to the safeguards provided for women under the Constitution and other laws’, ‘ and ‘take suo moto notice of matters relating to deprivation of women’s rights’. Soni Sori turned to them for support. As early as 10th October, 2011, several women’s groups and activists too, called upon the NCW to take action in Soni’s case. Many visits and appeals later, it became clear that their pleas were falling upon deaf ears.
On the 10th of October, 2012, around a hundred women and student activists stormed the NCW office on Delhi’s Deen Dayal Upadhayay Marg, protesting against its year-long inaction.
Video of the protest by women’s groups and activists as they storm the NCW office, demanding action
The Justice Verma Commission constituted in the wake of the Delhi gang-rape to provide recommendations to the government for amending existing laws for ensuring speedier trials and enhanced punishment in cases of crimes against women, has interpreted its terms of reference widely to include connected areas such as gender justice, respect towards womanhood, and ancillary matters. In response to the Commission’s call to the public for suggestions, WSS has submitted the following recommendations which can be accessed as a pdf or in the following post.
WSS notes with concern that the entire public debate arising out of the recent Delhi gang rape incident has centered round the issues of “enacting a strong law” and “prescribing harsher sentence.” It has failed to recognize more basic issues – the enormous social obstacles encountered in registering complaints, in the conduct of thorough investigation, in the protection of witnesses, in fast and efficacious prosecution and in unbiased adjudication – in other words, the issues of implementation of the law, and the functioning of the police and judicial machinery – which necessarily precede sentencing. The debate has also largely failed to take into account the deeply patriarchal character of our social institutions, and law enforcement machinery which render women vulnerable to violence in the family, in the larger community, in their work places and public places. Continue reading
In Madhya Pradesh, Ministers have been making anti women statements and endorsing and participating in actions like burning jeans etc. siting these as the cause behind sexual harrassment that women are facing. Women’s groups and other progressive organisations have strongly opposed such actions and statements. Download the statement here – Statement_mpmahilamanch_31.12
This post presents a comprehensive and informative fact sheet of Soni Sori’s case so far. Continue reading