Tag Archives: impunity

WSS Statement On The Majority Judgement Of The Supreme Court Regarding The Arrests Of Sudha Bhardwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha And Varavara Rao

WSS condemns the majority judgment of the Supreme Court regarding the arrests of Sudha Bharadwaj, Vernon Gonsalves, Arun Ferreira, Gautam Navlakha and Varavara Rao

WSS deeply condemns the majority judgement of the Supreme Court which has dismissed the PIL filed by Romila Thapar, Devaki Jain, Satish Deshpande, Prabhat Patnaik and Maja Daruwalla and has in effect granted the notorious Pune Police impunity to carry on with its fabricated and malafide investigation in the Bhima Koregaon (FIR No. 4/2018) case. The Court in its vague majority judgement has failed to do its duty as a Constitutional Arbitrator and as the vanguard of the fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India to protect the liberty of the dissenting activists – who have been arrested by the Pune police which unabashedly flouted due process.   Continue reading

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Condemn the State Sponsored Massacre Scripted as ‘Encounter’ in Gadchiroli and Bijapur in Central India

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) condemn the recent spate of genocidal violence unleashed by the Indian State on the adivasis of Central India in the form of ‘encounter’ killings in Gadchiroli district of Maharashtra and Bijapur district of Chhattisgarh. The alleged ‘encounter’, a term used in the subcontinent to describe the extra-judicial killing of citizens by the armed forces and police, in Gadchiroli district took place in the Maharashtra-Chhattisgarh border in the Rela-Kasnasur forest in the intervening night of 22nd-23rd April 2018. With more bodies being fished out of the Indravati River, the death toll of this alleged encounter has reached 39, nineteen of whom were women, all of whom killed by the Commando-60 (C-60) Squad of the Maharashtra Police and the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF). This was quickly followed by another encounter in the neighbouring state of Chhattisgarh on the 27th of April 2018 where eight more were killed in an operation led by the notorious Greyhound force of the Telangana Anti-Naxal Unit along with Chhattisgarh Police and the CRPF. This alleged encounter took place near the Ipenta village in Bijapur district with six women among those declared dead. These extra-judicial killings have resulted in the death of 47 persons, several of whom are unidentified, and with fears of more persons, including minors, missing from the districts of Gadchiroli and Bijapur. Reports coming out of area reveal heartbreaking accounts of how villagers including children gathered for a marriage function were rounded up and killed without provocation by the security forces. Continue reading

The Nava Peshwai Terror against the Dalits and State Repression

WSS condemns the wave of state repression following the peaceful commemoration of the Ambedkarite community on the 200th anniversary of the battle of Bhima Koregaon. The most recent wave of repression is a set of raids without a warrant conducted simultaneously at 6 am on 17 April, 2018, upon the homes of Kabir Kala Manch activists Rupali Jadhav, Jyoti Jagtap, Ramesh Gaichor, Sagar Gorkhe and Dhawala Dhengle in Pune; Republican Panther activists Sudhir Dhavale and Harshali Potdar in Mumbai; and Nagpur-based lawyer Surendra Gadling and Delhi-based CRPP activist Rona Wilson. Rupali and Jyoti are also members of WSS and staunch feminist activists. Continue reading

WSS Statement On The Tragic Cost Of Delay In Rape Investigations

January 23, 2018

 

The suicide of the minor dalit girl in Kunduli of Koraput district in Odisha  on 22 January is a moment of reckoning for everyone fighting against the heinous crime of violence against women. She had accused four security personnel of gang rape on October 10, 2017. Very typical of incidence of sexual violence where the accused happen to be police, army or security forces, this incident of sexual assault too went through the usual round of inordinate delays and denial of gang rape. The suicide of the young victim who was very keen to pursue her studies but was never able to get out of the raging controversy and heightened media publicity is a bitter reminder of the continued impunity of rapists in uniform, and of the brazen collusion of the state in denying justice to those who, like this young girl, refuse to remain silent.

Getting justice for survivors of sexual assault has always been uphill in this misogynist and patriarchal society. It becomes even tougher when the state machinery itself puts formidable barriers to protect the accused. In this case, the Odisha government and district administration did exactly that.

Let us have a look at the series of events that went against the complaint of the girl.

The Human Rights Cell of the government on November 7 ruled out the possibility of gang rape due to lack of evidence based on the medical report in their possession. After 17 days of the incident she was kept in the district child welfare committee (CWC).
The girl had repeatedly expressed her distress at not being believed to journalists and others who visited her in the hospital. There was no action taken to identify the culprits from her description or the fact that the accused were in uniform. Instead the  police picked up four boys from the same village for interrogation who were beaten up too. The police had also forcefully taken one of them for a lie detection test to an undisclosed location in Bhubaneswar.

 The DGP had listed the matter under the red-flag category and initial statements by the police even blamed the Maoists.

 The demand for withdrawal of security forces by local organizations and the community involved went completely unheeded.

The denial of gang rape by the police and administration in the absence of a thorough enquiry and the long delays accompanied by constant media publicity deepened the distress and anxiety of the family and the community. One can only imagine what it can do to a young girl.

The girl first attempted suicide on November 18, 2017 when she swallowed an overdose of iron tablets and was rushed to SCB Medical College hospital in Cuttack. Her mother made a complaint of forceful detention and she was finally discharged from the hospital on November 27. If there has been no gang rape, there was absolutely no need for the police and administration to confine her to the hospital under heavy security.
The Chief Minister ordered a probe by a district judge on November 8. The judicial commission was constituted on January 6.  The enquiry was under way.
In end December the girl once again went on record saying that she was being bribed by senior police personnel to withdraw her case. That perhaps was her last public statement. Her suicide note is in the hands of the police as media reports suggest.

WSS expresses deep grief at the death of the girl and stands in solidarity with her friends, family and community. It is indeed the cruellest of times and the cruellest of societies where a 16-year old puts an end to the ordeal by using her own scarf to hang herself and end the fiasco of seeking justice. Even as we write this statement we cannot do away with the foremost thought on our minds – who is responsible for this suicide?

 Ø  WSS demands that the Odisha government follows the investigation to the end and punishes the guilty. We also demand stringent punishment be meted to all those responsible for delaying the investigation process.

Ø  WSS demands that the Odisha government withdraws all security forces from the area. Women and girls are never safe in such areas. The deployment of security forces and army by no way implies de facto impunity to rape at will. 

 Ø  WSS appeals to all democratic and progressive forces in Odisha and elsewhere to strengthen the struggle for a society free of sexual violence. Let’s work towards a society where those violated do not have to choose the noose in future but are able to live with dignity and with courage. Sexual violence is not only a women’s issue. The culpability of a patriarchal culture where sexual violence is the everyday norm involves entire society at large.

Ranjana Padhi, Pramodini Pradhan, Sudha Bhardwaj, Kalyani Menon,Shobha Raghavan,Rinchin, Madhuri Krishnaswamy and Manasi Pingle

For Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression (WSS) is a non funded grassroots effort started in November 2009, to put an end to the violence being perpetrated upon our bodies and societies. We are a 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. We unequivocally condemn state repression and sexual violence on our women and girls by any perpetrator(s).

wssnet.org // againstsexualviolence@gmail.com

 

Delhi Press Conference of Suneeta Pottam and Munni Pottam on Extra-Judicial Killings in Chhattisgarh: Press Release And Video

PRESS RELEASE

Two teenaged adivasi girls from Bastar take on the state in their fight against extra-judicial killings. A Public Interest Litigation challenging the spate of encounters in Bijapur was filed last year before the Chhattisgarh High Court in Bilaspur by two young women from Korcholi with extra-ordinary grit and determination –Suneeta Pottam (19 years old).and Munni Pottam (18 years old). A national women’s organization, the WSS (wssnet.org) is the third petitioner in this case. Faced with a dozen affidavits of the villagers whose family members were killed, the High Court of Bilaspur held that the questions of extra judicial executions and government policies which are responsible for these are similar in spirit to the issues raised by the Salwa Judum petition (Nandini Sundar and Ors vs. State of Chhattisgarh), currently being heard by the Supreme Court. Following which, the young Petitioners filed a Transfer Petition in the Supreme Court last year seeking the transfer of their PIL to the Supreme Court. Suneeta and Munni Pottam are in Delhi to attend the hearing of their transfer petition on Wednesday, 10 January 2018.

At the press conference these young women spoke about these cases of encounters along with the details of the very recent physical and sexual assault of the the women of the villages where Suneeta and Munni live. They also spoke about the harrassment and threats that they have been receiving by the Bastar police (as recent as few weeks back) as result of filing this petition, who have threatened them that if they keep raising these issues which show the police in a bad light, they would be arrested for Naxalite offences and thrown into jail. Shaken but not defeated, these young women have come to Delhi to put their continuous harassment on record before the apex court at the coming hearing. Continue reading

WSS Statement on the Assault on Adivasi Schoolgirls By CRPF Cadre During Imposed Raksha Bandhan Function

ASSAULT ON ADIVASI SCHOOLGIRLS BY CRPF AT IMPOSED RAKSHA BANDHAN FUNCTION

Women against Sexual Violence and State Repression strongly condemns the molestation of school girls in the name of “Raksha Bandhan” by CRPF men and the deplorable act of the Collector and Superintendent in trying to suppress the matter.

On Monday, 31 July 2017, many officers and about 100 CRPF men went to a girlsschool in Palnar in Dantewada, Chhattisgarh to observe the festival of Rakhi by getting the girls to tie rakhis to the male members of the CRPF armed forces. It was clearly a PR exercise to show the CRPF men as the protectorsof the tribal girls studying in the school. Once there, 5 to 6 CRPF men used the opportunity to follow 3 young school girls while they were in line to use the bathroom. Three of these men entered the toilet when a girl ws already inside and stayed there for about 15 minutes. All this while, the men who were outside sexually assaulted the girls who were just outside the bathroom, squeezing their breasts and threatening them.

In the evening, the girls complained to the warden, Draupadi Sinha, who took the matter to the district Collector and the Superintendent of Police. However, instead of taking cognizance of the matter, both of them threatened the girls and tried to silence them. Later the warden and a police woman stood guard outside the school gates and stopped any Human Rights activist from entering the school to talk to the girls. It is only when the girls came back home from the hostel during break that Soni Sori, human rights activist, was able to meet the girls and talk to them. When Soni Sori went to the school to investigate the incident which has been further brought to light by the social activist, Himanshu Kumar in a facebook post, she was threatened and told to turn back.

This is another reminder of the horrific ordeals that the tribal women and girls are subjected to at the hands of the CRPF, para-military and the police in Chhattisgarh at the behest of the State. WSS in the past two years has, through various fact finding reports from the ground, highlighted cases of the mass rapes and sexual assault s of women under the pretext of fighting Maoist insurgents. The ex-IG of Bastar, Mr SRP Kalluri, oversaw indescribable acts against the tribal villagers as has been amply documented and reported by WSS. Mr Kalluri has refused to appear before the National Human Rights Commission despite a summons being issued. He had been invited instead to hoist a flag in Jawaharlal Nehru University on the occasion of the Indian Independence Day on August 15, and only political pressure on his repeatedly gracing education institutions instead of fulfilling his obligation to attend the NHRC summons seems to have led to a cancellation of the event.

Patriarchal customs like Raksha Bandhan evoke men as protectors of women while ignoring the patriarchal roots of violence against women. Despite the attempts to legitimize it by calling it a “celebration” of sibling bond, this only serves the interest of a patriarchal state in proscribing womens freedom and their legitimate demand for equal rights. In this case, the fake exercise of making the tribal girls tie rakhi to CRPF men to project them as the protector of their virtueand broadcasting it through state-controlled media served only as an opportunity for the repetition of the historic pattern of army men sexually assaulting adivasi women. These empty gestures are masterminded by the state to improve the image of CRPF and para-military in the region who are under severe criticism for their human rights violations and especially sexual violence in Chhattisgarh.

While it is a larger feminist struggle to fight against patriarchal customs like Raksha Bandhan which sees women as weak and designates brothers/men as their protector, the use of such regressive customs as a public relations opportunity by the state to justify the brutality wrought by CRPF, para-military, and the police on the tribal women reminds us once again of the depravity of the state that would stoop to such unimaginable levels.

WSS is glad that a case has been booked under Section 354 IPC and POCSO Act cand hope that after a speedy investigation the culprits will be appropriately punished as per criminal law. We repeat that criminal punishment for cases of sexual violence by the armed forces can not be substituted by internal army investigation and punishment.

WSS Statement on the violence of Domestic Worker and State Repression on workers.

WSS Statement on the violence of Domestic Worker and State Repression on workers.

We condemn the forceful confinement and brutal abuse of Domestic worker Zohra Bibi at Mahagun Modern Society, Sector 78, NOIDA and the subsequent repression by the police and Central Culture Minister of other workers.

On 11th July 2017, Zohra Bibi, aged 27, a domestic worker, native of village Maidan, Dinhate, Cooch Behar AR West Bengal 736134, went missing according to her family members. Zohra worked as a domestic worker in 7 residences of Mahagun Modern Society, Sector 78 Noida and usually returned to her family of husband and four children residing in Sector 78 Noida, between 6:30 and 7:00 pm daily. As Zohra did not return home, Abdul Satter, her husband, went to the society at around 8.00 pm and enquired with the guards, who claimed she had eloped with a man, although the register of visitors clearly showed that while her entry was marked, no exit was recorded. He then went to the alleged accused employers residence Harshul Sethi R/O 012, who told Abdul that Zohra is accused of the theft of Rs 17000, and claimed to know nothing of her whereabouts. Abdul immediately dialed 100 and the police spoke to the Sethis and reiterated the possibility that his wife had eloped with another man and that he should come to the police station to file a missing complaint. Abdul was handed a blank sheet of paper when he reached the police station and told to return the next morning. On the contrary, on the 11th of July Zohra had gone to Sethis’ house to ask for her salary that had not been paid for two months. When she insisted she be paid, she was accused of theft by the Sethis and then she was brutally beaten by Harshul Sethi. Her phone was also confiscated by the family.

On 12th morning, Abdul, some relatives and neighbours around 30 to 40 from the neighbouring slums, reached the gates of the society to enquire about Zohras whereabouts again. The beat constable stationed in front of the society, as well as the guards of the society fired three rounds in air, which further agitated the crowd of people and then, they tried to barge in through the gates. Roughly 40 police and guards clashed with the domestic workers. During the melee one guard came out and said that Zohra was found and soon, Zohra was seen dragged by two guards. Her clothes were torn, she was semi conscious and Abdul was asked to take her home. Abdul refused to take Zohra home in the state she was in. The police intervened and took her to Ambedkar Government Hospital where an MLC was done. The police claimed in front of the media that she did not suffer any injuries.

After the MLC, Zohra and Abdul went to the police station in sector 49 NOIDA to file an FIR against the Sethi family on 12 th July 2017 at 8:30 am. The FIR registered merely mentions that she was forcefully detained by the Sethis beyond normal working hours. Some 3 hours after this, three more FIRs were filed in the same police station, first by the Sethis charging them with theft, second by members of the Society and third by the Mahagun Society builders. On the basis of the FIR filed by the Sethis, the police raided the slum colonies (bastis) where the domestic workers live and detained 58 men, including Zohras 15 year old son and kept them in the police station till late at night. 13 men were arrested and sent to judicial remand to Dasna Jail under section 307 and the rest were sent back home after a prolonged detention.

Mahagun Society members have been making claims that the majority of domestic workers are Bangladeshi immigrants, primarily Muslim, and who are illegally working in India. RWA of the Mahagun society have begun creating a blacklist of domestic workers (147 persons) and scheming for ways to reduce the wages of the workers. We need to recognise the conditions of labour these domestic workers have endured, the attitude of the residents, the political provocation by Mahesh Sharma MP of NOIDA who is also the Minister of State for Tourism and Culture, GOI, who has dismissed the complaints against the Sethis, the corruption and complicity of the police force and the power of prominent builders like Amit Jain in scuttling such issues through the use of brute force and threats. Also lack of legal mechanisms has led to severe exploitation of women and children which include depriving domestic workers of their entire salary for months, work hours more then 16-18 hours per day, absence of proper food and living/sleeping condition, forced and total cut off from their family members, bonded labour, sexual exploitation by placement agents during transit, at the office of the agency and at the work place in houses of employers. In the data released by the Ministry of Women and Child Development in February 2014, there were 3,564 cases of alleged violence against domestic workers reported in 2012, up from 3,517 in 2011 and 3,422 in 2010. While several legislations such as the Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008, Sexual Harassment against Women at Work Place (Prevention, Prohibition & Redressal) Act, 2013 and Minimum Wages Schedules notified in various states refer to domestic workers, there remains an absence of comprehensive, uniformly applicable, national legislation that guarantees fair terms of employment and decent working conditions. Meanwhile only a unionised, united domestic workers force can face the crude brutality they face at the hands of the residents.

We condemn unequivocally this unravelling communal, anti-worker, anti-woman, anti-Muslim politically vitiated climate.

We Demand

  1. Action against the Sethis for illegally detaining, brutally assaulting and falsely accusing an employee while failing to pay her wages.

  2. Charges against 13 detained people as well as against Zohra and Abdul be dropped immediately and to release them unconditionally.

  3. Action against the police for its refusal to act on the FIR filed by Zohra and Abdul, their abuse of power in detaining 58 persons including minors, and complicity with the builders and the political establishment in communalising the case.

  4. Action against the Mahagun builders Amit Jain for their complicity in covering up this clear case of violence against a woman belonging to the minority community.

  5. Action against Minister of State for Tourism and Culture, GOI & NOIDA MP Mahesh Sharma for further vitiating the environment by making provocative and inflammatory speeches in the society meetings.

  6. Workers in the Mahagun Society complex be paid their due wages, withdraw the list of blacklisted workers, and ensure the safety and security of the workers in the residential complexes and also in their residences.

Bittu, Nisha, Ranjana, Rinchin & Kalyani

WSS Coordinators

July 26, 2017

Contact Fact Finding team: Ajita