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Archive for October, 2008

Joint Resolution

PASSED AT THE JOINT CONVENTION AT GANDHI PEACE FOUNDATION

On 24 October 2008

Demanding

Immediate release and immediate withdrawal of false criminal cases against Abhay Sahu and other activists of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti,

and Condemning

the increasing state repression in Orissa against peaceful resistance of people against anti-people steel project

In exercise of their Constitutional right to dissent, and the right to a life with dignity, which includes the right to a livelihood of their choice, people of Dhinkia, Gobindpur, and Gadakujang panchayats of Jagatsingpur district in Orissa have put up a non-violent resistance for the past three years against forcible take-over of their lands and resources by the Korean steel giant POSCO. The state government’s dubious plans to build a mega steel plant on their lands will not only devastate the sustainable livelihood systems of thousands of local people, it will also pauperize many more lakhs of people, when the port and mining associated with the project are considered.

Using force to repress people’s democratic voices is not new to the state, though this method of repression has reached another high point with the arrest of PPSS president Abhay Sahu, who was arrested on 12 October 2008. The police claim to have registered as many as 25 (completely false) ‘direct’ cases against him. In all Abhay Sahu is implicated in over 70 cases. The police have also simultaneously launched a malicious campaign against him through the already corporatised media. The sole object of employing such tactics is to prolong the process of Abhay Sahu’s release, and further intimidate people opposed to the project and such projects elsewhere in the state including Kashipur, Lanjigarh, and Kalinganagar.

The state’s latest action is also an attempt to hide from the public gaze its utter inability, and barefaced unwillingness to contain the communal violence in Kandhamal and other parts of Orissa. In other words, while the state is working overtime to squeeze all democratic spaces and deny people their rights, it is opening up new areas for communal hatred and corporate land-grab.

Despite the state’s increasingly repressive regime, the ongoing struggle by the PPSS has been intensified to a new height since Abhay Sahu’s malafide arrest, with more local residents, especially women, joining in and more democratic voices from all over the world condemning the state for acting in denigration of Constitutional values and human rights, and in favour of corporate interests.

We demand:

  • · Withdrawal of all cases against Abhay Sahu and other PPSS activists
  • · Immediate and unconditional release of Abhaya Sahu and other PPSS activists
  • · Immediate withdrawal of police forces which have surrounded the area affecting the day-to-day life of the people
  • · Scrapping of the POSCO project, which has been strongly resisted by the local people since it displaces people, violates their land rights, deprives them of their livelihood and destroys natural resources and the ecology of the region
  • Stop repression on people fighting to protect their lands and resources throughout the state.

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PRESS RELEASE

24th October 2008

POLITICAL PARTIES AND CIVIL SOCIETY GROUPS CONDEMN INCREASING STATE REPRESSION OF PEACEFUL RESISTANCES

AND

DEMAND RELEASE OF POSCO PRATIRODH SANGAM SAMITI LEADER ABHAYA SAHU

Political parties and civil society groups, in a Convention organised in Delhi today, 24 October 2008, expressed concern regarding the malafide arrest of Abhay Sahu and other activists of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti and the increasing state repression in Orissa against peaceful resistance of people against anti-people steel project and demanded immediate and unconditional release of Abhay Sahu and other PPSS activists.

Abhay Sahu, the president of the PPSS (POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti), was arrested by the Orissa police near Pattamundai in Jagtsingpur district in the evening on 12 October 2008 while returning from a medical check-up. The police claim to have registered as many as 25 ‘direct’ cases against him. In all he is implicated in over 70 cases. Speakers at the Convention noted that this was the latest attempt by the Orissa government to undermine the anti-POSCO agitation. The Convention noted that while the using force to repress people’s democratic voices is not new to the state, though this method of repression has reached another high point with the arrest of Abhay Sahu.

A Joint Resolution signed by over 50 people issued at the Convention, noted that it is in exercise of their Constitutional right to dissent, and the right to a life with dignity, which includes the right to a livelihood of their choice that people of Dhinkia, Gobindpur, and Gadakujang panchayats of Jagatsingpur district in Orissa have put up a non-violent resistance for the past three years against forcible take-over of their lands and resources by the Korean steel giant POSCO. The Declaration also noted that the police after arresting Sahu, also simultaneously launched a malicious campaign against him through the already corporatised media.  The sole object of employing such tactics is to prolong the process of Abhay Sahu’s release, and further intimidate people opposed to the project and such projects elsewhere in the state including Kashipur, Lanjigarh and Kalinganagar.   The Convention unanimously demanding immediate withdrawal of false criminal cases against Abhay Sahu and other activists of POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti and their immediate release.

The convention was convened by Manoranjan Mohanty, Sumit Chakravartty, BD Sharma, Usha Ramanathan, Ashok Agarwal, Ravi Hemadri

The speakers at the convention included Prashant Paikray (PPSS, Orissa), Sudhir Pattnaik, Activist and Editor, Samadrusti, Orissa; A B Bardhan (CPI); B D Sharma( Bharat Jan Andolan), Dr. Usha Ramanathan (Legal Researcher); D Bandopadhyaya (Former Land Reforms Commissioner, West Bengal), Aparna Sarin, CPI – ML (New Democracy) and Kavita Krishnan CPI – ML (Liberation) among others.

For the past three years, the people of Dhinkia, Gobindpur, and Nuagaon panchayats in Kujang Tehsil of Jagatsinghpur District in Orissa, under the banner of the PPSS, have also been relentlessly resisting the take-over of their resources for the establishment of a 12-million-tonne mega steel plant by POSCO, the second largest steel-making company of the world. The project, being touted as the largest ever FDI in the history of India, with an investment of 51,000-crore rupees, will have large-scale, irreversible socio-economic and environmental impacts not only on the areas under the threat of immediate acquisition but over vast numbers of the state’s people, and huge tracts of its forests and other lands. POSCO’s assertion that its project will lead to the creation of 45,000 jobs, directly or indirectly, is meaningless in the face of the fact that the proposed steel plant, port, and mines will directly dispossess many lakh people, apart from having very deleterious effects on the lives of many millions more. Further, an examination of the MoU signed by the Naveen Pattnaik government with POSCO establishes the fact that the government has agreed to transfer lakhs of crores worth resources for almost no returns to the state exchequer.

Endorsed by:

PPSS, PEACE, Sandharbh Kendra, Saheli, Pratidhwani, INSAF, Delhi Forum, SRCC, Deshbandhu College, Kalpavriksh, CACIM, Delhi Solidarity Group, National Alliance for Agricultural Worker’s Union, The Other Media, Matu Jan Sangathan, Hazards Centre, South Asian Dialogues for Ecological Democracy ,Centre for Studies on Developing Societies, AISF, AIYF, CPI, JNUTA, National Campaign for Land and Livelihood, CSD, Bonded Labour liberation Front, Himalaya Seva Sangh, Global Gandhi Forum, Bharat Jan Aandolon, Friends of the Earth, Jan Sangharsh Vahini, Teesra Swadhinta Abhiyan, Samajwadi Jan Parishad, National Forum of Forest People and Forest Workers, Kashipur Solidarity Group, PWESCR.

For Further details please contact:

Subrat – 9868182363, subrat69@gmail.com

Sridevi – 9868099304, sridevi.panikkar@gmail.com

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PRESS INVITE

CONVENTION

TO

EXPRESS SOLIDARITY WITH THE ANTI-POSCO MOVEMENT IN ORISSA

AND

CONDEMN THE INCREASING STATE REPRESSION ON PEACEFUL RESISTANCES

AND

DEMAND RELEASE OF PPSS LEADER ABHAYA SAHU

Date: 24 October 2008

Time: 2.30 p.m. – 5.30 p.m.

Venue: Gandhi Peace Foundation, New Delhi

Speakers include: Prashant Paikray (PPSS, Orissa); Sudhir Pattnaik (Activist and Editor of Samadrusti, Orissa); A B Bardhan; Justice Rajendar Sachar; B D Sharma (Bharat Jan Andolan); Surendra Mohan (Samajwadi Jan Parishad); Usha Ramanathan; Prashant Bhushan; D Bandopadhyaya; and Others

Conveners: Manoranjan Mohanty; Sumit Chakravorty; B D Sharma; Usha Ramanathan; Ashok Agarwal; Ravi Hemadri

Background

For the past three years, the people of Dhinkia, Gobindpur, and Nuagaon panchayats in Kujang Tehsil of Jagatsinghpur District in Orissa, under the banner of the PPSS (POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti), have been relentlessly and non-violently resisting the take-over of their resources for the establishment of a mega steel plant and a port by the Korean steel giant POSCO. In the latest attempt by the Orissa government to undermine the anti-POSCO agitation, the president of the PPSS, Abhay Sahu, was malafidely arrested on 12 October 2008. His arrest once again brings to public attention how the government has become brazen in favour of corporate interests, and is increasingly overt in using repression, intimidation and, worse, to silence people’s democratic voices. While the state government has an obligatory duty to contain the spreading communal violence at the moment, it has rather adopted the age-old tactics to divert public attention from its inability and unwillingness to do so by arresting Abhay Sahu in a desperate bid to intimidate all democratic peaceful resistances. Despite the repression unleashed on them, the villagers and their supporters have stood their ground and have further intensified the resistance, refusing to part with their land and soil.

Undemocratic measures taken by the state to crush peoples’ peaceful movements needs is widely condemned and it is time for all concerned citizens to strengthen the collective resistance against such repression. The convention is aimed to consolidate people’s strength into a collective in order to contribute to the process of resisting forceful acquisition of lands and natural resources in the name of ‘development’ (that has become synonymous of ‘devastation’) and uphold people’s right to dissent in defence of their lives and livelihoods.

Contacts:

Sridevi Panikkar – 91+9868099304; sridevi.panikkar@gmail.com

Subrat K Sahu – 91+9868182363; subrat69@gmail.com

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VIOLENCE AGAINST MINORITIES:

GANDHIAN UPVAS ENDS AFTER 72 HOURS AT RAJGHAT

WITH CITIZENS’ PLEDGE AGAINST VIOLENCE

New Delhi: “The 72 hour fast is yet another initiative against the forces of fascism and communalism. This Upvas is our way of expressing our anger against the Sangh Parivar groups, which are spearheading the hate campaign against minorities”, said Vimalbhai during the public meeting on the concluding day of the Upvas in front of Rajghat. He added that none should misunderstand Upvas as a mild and non-effective way of protest. He also said that the Upvas is only one of the first in a series of public action that the organising groups were planning.

The otherwise non-descript road opposite Raj Ghat was covered with several colourful banners calling for peace and justice to the victims of communal violence, as the three-day fast against atrocities on minorities in Orissa and elsewhere, ended today. The fast was led by Gandhian activist Vimalbhai.

Several others including journalists Sagari Chhabra, Suhas Borkar, activists like Rajendra Ravi, Ch. S. A. Azad, Vijayan MJ, Madhuresh Kumar, Vasundhara Jairath, Jibin R, Bipin Rai, Fr. Paulose, Nandini, Sunita, students from Vidyajyothi, etc joined in solidarity with the UPVAS by undertaking day long fast on the last day. Last day speakers included Ms. Roma (Kaimur Dalit Adivasi Mahila Union, UP), Com. PK Sahi (CPI-ML), Smt.Veena (Gandhi Sannidhi), Shri. Bhupender Singh Rawat (Jan Sangharsh Vahini). Shri Subhendu Ghosh (Pratidhvani) sang several songs and bhajans of Sahir Ludhianvi and Kabir.

Earlier, the 72 hour fast was started by children and dalit women from Gandhi Samadhi. It commenced in the presence of Planning Commission member Dr. Syeda Hameed, former MP Kuldip Nayyar, peace activist Kamla Basin and Sheeba George, Kusum Shah (Secretary Gandhi Hindustani Sahitya Sabha) and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan among others.

The fast concluded when Ms. Roma and Sister Shalini gave fruit juice to Vimalbhai who successfully completed 72 hours of Upvas. The organisers declared the end of this phase of public action against communalism with the collective pledge that was taken by all; to fight communalism and communal forces.

The fast was organised as part of different activities to express solidarity with the victims and to demand justice. The National Alliance of People’s Movements (NAPM), a network of over 150 people’s movements across the country, Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG) and Matu Jan Sanghtan organised the three day event, which included a public meeting on communalism and musical performances by activist groups and Gandhians. Sunday witnessed a children’s painting programme on communalism that was organised as part of the three-day event.

“This Upvas goes a long way in Delhi civil society’s response to the forces of communalism”, stated Smt. Nandini (Coordinator, JAGORI women’s resource centre). “Presence of children at the Upvas has been the most inspiring part of this public action against communalism. It is indeed a great realisation that children and youth participated in this three day event wholeheartedly, strengthening our vision for a peaceful India” added Shri. Rajendra Ravi (Convener, NAPM). An exhibition on ‘Fight against Communalism in India’ was organised at the venue by ANHAD, JAGORI and SANGAT.

Background – The ongoing orchestrated attack on minorities by the Sangh Parivar led communal forces in Orissa, Karnataka and other parts of India is a matter of deep concern for our entire society and polity. The violence has claimed several lives, hundreds have been wounded and women have been raped by organised gangs led by fundamentalist groups. Minority religious institutions have been destroyed or damaged in several states. Muslims and Christians have borne the brunt of the recent attacks. Refugees in shelter homes in Orissa are being forced to convert to Hinduism if they want to return back to their homes. Muslims are being labelled as ‘anti-national’.

The failure of the state (both at the UPA government level and state governments – mostly BJP ruled) to use constitutional provisions to protect minorities and arrest the guilty is a matter of deep shame. This crisis raises several questions about Indian democracy. Why is the state consistently failing to act against Hindutva forces? Why are all citizens not being treated equally? Do citizens have the right to choose and practice a religion of their choice? Unfortunately communal forces are driving the agenda and deciding the answer to these questions.

In Solidarity,

Madhuresh (9818905316), Vasundhara Jairath (9953034105) & Jibin (26680914/883)
On Behalf of National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements and Delhi Solidarity Group

Some Photographs from the Upvas sthal:


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VIOLENCE AGAINST MINORITIES: GANDHIAN ACTIVIST BEGINS 3 DAY FAST

New Delhi: The otherwise non-descript road opposite Raj Ghat was covered with several colourful banners calling for peace and justice, as the three-day fast against atrocities on minorities in Orissa and elsewhere began today. The fast is being led by a young Gandhian activist Vimalbhai.

The fast commenced in the presence of Planning Commission member Sayyeda Hammid, former MP Kuldip Nayyar, feminists Kamla Basin and Sheeba George, Secretary Gandhi Hindustani Sahitya Sabha Kusum Shah and Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

‘We are deeply disturbed by the continuing violence on minorities in Orissa and different parts of the country. Civil society organisations and concerned citizens need to raise their voices effectively to put an end to this’ said Vimalbhai as he began his fast while spinning his charkha.

The fast is organised as part of different activities to express solidarity with the victims and to demand justice. The National Alliance of People’s Movements, a network of over 150 people’s movements across the country, Delhi Solidarity Group and Matu Jan Sanghtan are organising the three day event, which includes a public meeting on communalism and music by activist groups.

Background

The ongoing orchestrated attack on minorities by the Sangh Parivar led communal forces in Orrisa, Karnataka and other parts of India is a matter of deep concern for our entire society and polity. The violence has claimed several lives, hundreds have been wounded and women have been raped by organised gangs led by fundamentalist groups. Minority religious institutions have been destroyed or damaged in several states. Muslims and Christians have borne the brunt of the recent attacks. Refugees in shelter homes in Orrisa are being forced to convert to Hinduism if they want to return back to their homes. Muslims are being labelled as ‘anti-national’.

The failure of the state (both at the UPA government level and state governments – mostly BJP ruled) to use constitutional provisions to protect minorities and arrest the guilty is a matter of deep shame. This crisis raises several questions about Indian democracy. Why is the state consistently failing to act against Hindutva forces? Why are all citizens not being treated equally? Do citizens have the right to choose and practice a religion of their choice? Unfortunately communal forces are driving the agenda and deciding the answer to these questions.

As part of this initiative, Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG), National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM) and Matu Jan Sangathan have decided to organise a 72 hours UPVAS against communalism and violence. This will be organised at Raj Ghat, near the Samadhi of Gandhiji, in the capital city of India.

Programme:

· Public meeting and beginning of fast on 10th October at 1 pm (72 hours fast by Vimalbhai of Matu Jan Sangathan and others)

· 11th October Seminar at UPVAS place from 3pm to 6pm

· 12th October paintings by children on peace and harmony and against communal violence

· 13th October UPVAS will end at Gandhi Samadhi with all religious prayer for communal harmony

Contacts:

Madhuresh: 9818905316, Rajendra Ravi: 9868200316, Vimalbhai: 9891814707, Jibin: 26680914 / 883

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72 HOUR FAST (10-13 OCTOBER)

IN DEFENCE OF A SECULAR INDIA

NO TO VIOLENCE AND COMMUNALISM

YES TO PEOPLES’ RIGHTS, DEMOCRACY & PLURALISM

Opposite Rajghat, Gandhi Samadhi, New Delhi

10th October 1pm onwards

Dear friends and comrades,

The ongoing orchestrated attack on minorities by the Sangh Parivar led communal forces in Orrisa, Karnataka and other parts of India is a matter of deep concern for our entire society and polity. The violence has claimed several lives, hundreds have been wounded and women have been raped by organised gangs led by fundamentalist groups. Minority religious institutions have been destroyed or damaged in several states.

Muslims and Christians have borne the brunt of the recent attacks. Refugees in shelter homes in Orrisa are being forced to convert to Hinduism if they want to return back to their homes. Muslims are being labelled as ‘anti-national’.

The failure of the state (both at the UPA government level and state governments – mostly BJP ruled) to use constitutional provisions to protect minorities and arrest the guilty is a matter of deep shame. This crisis raises several questions about Indian democracy. Why is the state consistently failing to act against Hindutva forces? Why are all citizens not being treated equally? Do citizens have the right to choose and practice a religion of their choice? Unfortunately communal forces are driving the agenda and deciding the answer to these questions.

Gandhji believed that: ‘Eye for an eye will make the whole nation blind’. The politics of hate is now mobilising thousands blindly against their fellow citizens.

Progressive forces across the country need to stop this and act now! Several individuals and organisations have taken the initiative to campaign against the fascist forces. Peace marches, seminars and fact-finding missions to sensitive areas have been organised but much more needs to be done.

As part of this initiative, Delhi Solidarity Group (DSG), National Alliance of Peoples’ Movements (NAPM) and Matu Jan Sangathan have decided to organise a 72 hours UPVAS against communalism and violence. This will be organised at Raj Ghat, near the Samadhi of Gandhiji, in the capital city of India.

Programme:

· Public meeting and beginning of fast on 10th October at 1 pm (72 hours fast by Vimalbhai of Matu Jan Sangathan and others)

· 11th October Seminar at UPVAS place from 3pm to 6pm

· 12th October paintings by children on peace and harmony and against communal violence

· 13th October UPVAS will end at Gandhi Samadhi with all religious prayer for communal harmony

We request like-minded individuals and organisations to join the fast in solidarity and also to endorse this call and invite. A hindi leaflet is attached for your reading and circulation.

Appealing for your support, solidarity and presence.

Madhuresh Kumar, Shalini Sharma, Bijulal MV, Benny K, Bipin Rai, Vasundhara Jairath, Vijayan MJ

On Behalf of Delhi Solidarity Group

Rajendra Ravi, Sunita, Nanu Gupta, Anita Kapoor, Bhupender Rawat

On behalf of NAPM

Madhuresh: 9818905316, Rajendra Ravi: 9868200316, Vimalbhai: 9891814707, Jibin: 26680914 / 883

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