Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) strongly condemns the manner in which our member Ms Bondita Acharya, a well known women’s activist from Jorhat, Assam, is being criminally intimidated, abused in sexual language, defamed and trolled on her Facebook account only because she expressed her personal opinion regarding eating of beef, a common practice in her state of Assam, and opposed targeting of Muslims for the same. She is being threatened with acid attack, rape and gang rape and issued death threats. It is clear that the persons making these threats are associated with hindutva organisations and the Bajrang Dal has even issued a press release demanding a public apology. We demand that the complaint she has lodged with the Superintendent of Police (CID) be immediately registered and strong action be taken against the perpetrators of threats. Since Ms Bondita Acharya is also the North East Coordinator of Human Rights Defenders Alert and a member of Women In Governance, the inactivity of the administration in this regard is even more serious.
The background of the incident is that 3 Muslim persons including a minor were arrested on the outskirts of Jorhat town on 7th April 2017 while returning home with half a kg of beef. It is claimed that they were cooking the same in a temporary hut at a construction site where they were working. The arrest has been made under The Assam Cattle Preservation Act of 1950, which does not criminalize possession or consumption of beef but only lays down the circumstances under which cattle may be permitted to be slaughtered. The FIR had been lodged by an active BJP supporter Mridu Pawan Bora. Many people were critical of this arrest on the social media since the consumption of beef is common in the North East and not confined to only the Muslim community. While participating in the conversation, Ms Bondita Acharya also commented that people even from higher castes of Hindus consumed beef. Upon this there was a systematic and targeted barrage of extremely vicious, sexually laden and defamatory posts on social media regarding Ms Bondita Acharya threatening her with rape, murder, acid attack, public beating etc. It is pertinent that the Muslim community is already a target in Assam on account of criminalizing Muslim refugees from Bangladesh even while an exercise to grant citizenship to Hindu refugees is going on. WSS expresses serious concern at the deliberate efforts to communalise society by the Hindutva organisations and the newly elected BJP government and the consequences this will have upon the freedom and security of women of all communities.
Sudha Bhardwaj, Kalpana Mehta, Bittu, Rinchin, Kalyani Menon, Nisha Biswas and Ranjana Padhi
On Behalf of WSS
WSS Statement on Recent Blasts in Sukma
WSS condemns the IED blast in Sukma on 11.3.2017 in which 12 CRPF personnel lost their lives and several others, including members of a road-construction crew, were injured. We express our condolences to the families of the deceased.
We are concerned that this incident will further fuel the cycle of pointless violence in which the entire Adivasi community is made to pay the price for the violent acts of others. Our experience shows that such attacks are followed by violent reprisals against the community in surrounding villages, through random arrests, forced “surrenders” and illegal detentions. Such responses, and the rhetoric of “revenge for the blood of martyrs” that is used to justify them, only deepens the alienation and exclusion of Adivasi villagers.
We hope that the state government will continue with efforts to restore the rule of law and regain public confidence, signaled by the shake-up in the police and administration in Bastar. But this is only a first step – the situation on the ground continues largely unchanged. We have a long way to go in combating the mindset that labels all Adivasis and human rights defenders and journalists questioning state violence as “Maoist supporters”, thereby legitimizing the harassment and violation to which they are subjected.
We reiterate our stand that militarization is not the answer to the present situation. The lives of combatants on both sides, and uncounted adivasi villagers continue to be lost in this war. Nothing can justify the bloodshed and loss of human lives and the destruction of the land and forests where this war is being fought.
WSS (Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression) is a non funded, nationwide network of women from diverse political and social movements comprising of women’s organizations, mass organizations, civil liberty organizations, student and youth organizations, mass movements and individuals. For more information, please see wssnet.org
Sexual Violence and Police Impunity in Gadchiroli District
Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS)
The impunity with which police forces have been operating in south Gadchiroli has become a matter of grave concern. The mountain of Surjagad which has been leased to Lloyd’s Chemicals for mining will destroy the mountain which has religious and cultural significance to the highly marginalised Madia Gonds residing in the area. who have opposed the lease. Police repression on the tribals has been intensifying, with random picking up, illegal detention and inhuman beatings of tribals, Things really however, took an extremely murky turn on January 20th, 2017 when two tribal women of Gonwara Village of Bande Block of Chhattisgarh were picked up by C-60, Maharashtra police personnel near Todgatta village while they were on their way to Gadchiroli district. Continue reading
CONDEMN STATE REPRESSION AND ARBITRAY ARRRESTS OF THE WEST BENGAL GOVERNMENT
SUPPORT THE ANTI-LAND GRAB MOVEMENT OF THE PEOPLE OF BHANGAR, SOUTH 24 PARGANAS
A NOTE BY WOMEN AGAINST SEXUAL VIOLENCE AND STATE REPRESSION (WSS)
FEBRUARY 6, 2017
WSS stands with the struggling people of Bhangar against the severe repression unleashed by the state in order to establish a power grid and high power transmission lines across the area by force. In the course of this struggle:
- Two people have died as a result of bullet wounds inflicted by the police and armed goons while several more people have been beaten and injured.
- On 22 January 2017, K. N. Ramachandran, General Secretary of CPI (ML) Red Star, was overpowered, blindfolded and abducted as he arrived at Howrah station. He was detained for twenty six hours by the police without being produced in court or any information provided to his family before finally being released without the money in his pocket with which to proceed to the location of the protests.
- On the evening of 25 January 2017, Sharmishtha Chowdhury (a member of WSS), Shahnawaz Mandal and Pradip Singh Thakur have also been picked up by the police around 6:30 pm from Panapukur in Bhangar area. A staggering array of false charges have been slapped on her
and 35 other people including other members of WSS, under sections of the IPC for allegedly inciting violence, instigating people, destruction of public property and various sections of the Arms and Explosives Acts, in FIR No. 339/17 dated 18.01.17.
- On 18.01.17. itself, 11 persons including 2 juveniles were arrested, of which the two juveniles have obtained bail as of 25.1.17.
- Since then, Sharmishtha Chowdhury, Shahnawaz Mandal and Pradip Singh have been held for eight days in police custody during which they were not allowed to meet family nor even allowed to take essential medicines which their families brought for them.
- Finally, attempt is being made to add sections 18 and 19 of the draconian Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) for which we await the next hearing.
Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression
7 January 2017
NHRC indicts Chhattisgarh police for sexual violence against Adivasi women in Bastar
Interim order validates WSS complaints
WSS welcomes the decisive intervention of the National Human Rights Commission in cases of sexual violence against Adivasi women by police and security forces engaged in anti-Maoist operations in Chhattisgarh. Validating our assertion that sexual violence is being used as a weapon of war in Bastar, the Commission has held the State government “vicariously liable” for gross violations of human rights.
Taking cognizance of press reports based on WSS fact-findings and successive complaints submitted by us, the NHRC conducted its own field investigation in March 2016, meeting and recording the statements of 16 women. In its strongly-worded note issued today, the Commission has prima facie validated their FIRs of rape, sexual assault and physical violence. Statements are awaited from 20 more women who have also filed FIRs of sexual violence ranging from mass rapes to sexual assault of minor girls and pregnant women. Continue reading
Hindi version of the WSS statement on harassment and intimidation of Adv Shalini Gera and the team of Jagdalpur Legal Aid Group: statement_hindi
Women Against Sexual Violence and State Repression
28 December 2016
Bastar police continue their vendetta against women human rights defenders. SP Bastar threatens Adv Shalini Gera, JagLAG lawyers with false cases
Clearly rattled by the mounting body of evidence of blatant violations of the rule of law and Constitutional rights under the cover of anti-Maoist operations, the Bastar police has launched a no-holds-barred attempt to silence all those who are calling them to account.
Advocate Shalini Gera and her colleagues of JagLAG who were in Jagdalpur in connection with a case of false encounter of a young Adivasi boy , were confronted on the night of 26 December by a police team which entered the dharamshala where they were staying and accused them of being there in an “unauthorised” manner. Despite the fact that they were following up on an order by the Chhattisgarh HC for exhumation and a second postmortem in the case and their accommodation had been arranged by the office of the Divisional Commissioner, Adv Shalini and her colleagues were ordered to come to the police station for interrogation. Attempts were also made to forcibly search their rooms and belongings. When asked to produce a warrant, the SI in charge of the team became even more aggressive and abusive. It took a personal call from the Divisional Commissioner to the SI to force the police to back off.