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Archive for December, 2009

AN OPEN LETTER & APPEAL

I am a fresh lawyer coming from a tribal family of Jashpur, Chhattishgarh. I finished my law graduation in year 2008, got enrolled with Chhattisgarh Bar Council and started working for poor and underprivileged. For which I had a commitment since my college days. I started learning basics of human rights litigation at Delhi office of Human Rights Law Network and very recently had come to Chhattisgarh to do research for right to food case which is going on in Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and for this. I went to Dantewada, and met Mr. Himanshu Kumar, Director of Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, who has done some study on this issue and taking information, his advice and guidance. I was also providing some legal assistance to him during my stay in Dantewada.

On 10 December, 2009 at about 2:30 P.M. the Thana Incharge (TI) of Bhairamgarh Police Station Mr. K.S. Nand in civil uniform came to the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram (VCA) situated at Katiyarraas accompanied by approximately more than 25 SPO’s in 5 cars. Director of VCA, Shri Himanshu Kumar and few other volunteers of VCA were present. I was also present there. TI spoke to Himanshu Kumar about taking Kopa Kunjam, s/o Lacchu Kunjam, resident of village Alnaar, Block – Geedam, P.S. Dantewada, who is a volunteer of VCA stating that they need him for some interrogation by the Superintendent of Police. He said, “SP Sahab ne bulaya hai, kuch puch tach karni hai”. No notice was served for this. However on being asked by Himanshu Kumar to give some written notice about it, the TI Bhairamgarh immediately wrote on a piece of paper that, “Prati, Kopa Kunjam ! Apse thana Dantewada me kuch poonch thanch karna chahta hoon. Kripya ap mere sath sadar P.S. kotwali chalein.” (I want to do some investigation with you at Dantewada Police Station. Please come with me to P.S. Kotwali). Being an Advocate present at the spot, I thought it to be my duty to accompany VCA Volunteer Kopa Kunjam to Dantewada police station.

With the consent of Himanshu Kumar, Director-VCA I went alongwith Kopa Kunjam. At Dantewada police station we were asked to sit down. After making both of us wait for about half an hour, we were asked to come and sit in a vehicle . Thinking that we were being taken to the S.P. Office, we sat in the vehicle. As vehicle proceeded, I introduced myself to the IT Bhairamgadh saying that I am an advocate, having done my law course from Hidayatullah National Law University , Raipur and am associated with Human Rights Law Network. When the vehicle crossed Dantewada, we became suspicious and asked as to where we were being taken now, to which TI, Bhairamgarh, replied, “Kopa Kunjam is now being taken to Beejapur District”. Kopa Kunjam refused to go further as he was not informed about being taken to Beejapur earlier. I also objected to it, stating that the police should follow necessary procedures under the law and should act as per guidelines of the Supreme Court and that they cannot take Mr.Kopa to Beejapur without giving any notice in this regard. By this time Kopa Kunjam came out from the Bolero vehicle and I also got out of the vehicle.

The TI along with 2 others got hold of Mr.Kopa and with the help of around 15 S.P.O’s bundled Mr. Kopa into another vehicle which was also coming along with them. When I again resisted to such behavior saying that it was illegal to behave in this manner, two S.P.O.’s started abusing and slapping me and bundled me also inside the car.  Before being bundled into car, I somehow managed inform  my senior Lawyer, colleagues and friends in Delhi about this incident. Noticing this two SPOs, started slapping and beating me and tried to snatch my mobile and, but I didn’t give my mobile, but after this they force me inside the car and did not allow me use the mobile phone.

At about 5 P.M., we reached Bhairamgarh police station. The IT, Bhairamgadh asked me to give my mobile phone and also asked to switch it off and we were asked to sit there inside the police station. We were kept at a place inside police station with two S.P.O. keeping an eye on us. At about 8 p.m. we were taken for dinner in a nearby Hotel, from where we came in 15-20 minutes. At about 8:45 P.M. the officials of Bhairamgarh police station called me inside a room and tried to ask about the reason of me deciding to accompany Mr.Kopa. About three minutes later TI of Bhairamgarh started addressing me in an extremely rude and disrespectful manner and soon became violent and abusive. He started abusing me with slur and offensive language, which was followed by beatings with a thick bamboo stick and with a hard rubber cane, continuously slapping me while pulling my hair and kicking severely. After sometime he went out and started beating Kopa Kunjam. Kopa Kunjum was brought into the same room and both of us were beaten severely for 30 minutes by the TI Mr. Nand and an assistant constable Banjara, while some 15 other police staff & S.P.Os surrounded both of us. TI Mr. Nand  also said that ” No Advocate in Bastar dares to speak in my presence and you talk a lot. Now show me how much you can talk!  Show me how much law you know?” Later I was taken to a separate room and was questioned about the purpose of my stay in Dantewada and association with VCA. At around 10 PM, I listened someone saying that , “Sala Bada Admi hai , Delhi se Sahab ka phone aya hai.” Soon after this I was asked to write in a paper that I was brought to Bhairamgadh and as it has become late evening and there is no mode of transport and since the area is a very sensitive and unsafe, I  decided to spend the night at Bhairamgarh station, where I am safe. In Bhairamgadh Police Station, they said that that Himanshu is a Naxalite and whoever is working with Himanshu is a naxalite and who stays with Himanshu it a Naxal supporter.

Mr. Kopa was very badly beaten and had received serious injuries on his chest, back and leg, due to which he was even unable to walk and sleep properly. I have got injuries on front portion of elbow of right hand, biceps and back causing severe pain and swelling. I was even not able to move my hands and back due to severe pain. I spend whole of night shivering and in pain, speculating what next is to happen.

On 11 December, 2009 at 9:30 a.m. I was send to Dantewada police station accompanied by 4 S.P.O.’s in a vehicle and one head constable of Bhairamgarh police station, while Mr. Kopa was kept detained. When they reached Dantewada Police Station, two volunteers of VCA were called and I was handed over to them.

After being released, next date day, I went to Ambedkar Hospital, Raipur to get a medical examination done, however I was asked make a compliant before the police and I was informed that the police will come after I make the complaint and then MLC will be conducted in the presence of police. I thought of going back to Dantewada to lodge the F.I.R. but because I was scared of being implicated in any false case this time, I did not go there.

However, being very much concerned about the trend of even lawyers not being allowed to function freely and being beaten up like this, I have no other option except to write this open letter-cum-appeal addressed to every body so that the issue could be taken up by the society itself. I have been subjected this kind of brutality for working for poor and powerless. It is against law, against democracy and even against morality to do this to an advocate. If such kind of treatment is given to young lawyers who want to work towards a better society, young generation will loose hope.

Kindly take appropriate step against those who have abused power vested in them to beat and insult me in this gruesome manner and help restoring the faith of young people in the democracy and rule of law.

Yours Sincerely

Alban Toppo
Advocate

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Press Release 15th December 2009

Campaign for Justice to Vikram Buddhi challenges the US Court’s sentencing of Vikram for 57 months; Demands fair trial for Indian student in US –

Vikram to appeal to Higher Court; Reaffirms innocence

In a case of a gross injustice, Vikram Buddhi, an IIT-graduate working on a double PhD at Purdue University in the United States, has been sentenced to four years and nine months for a crime he did not commit. He was charged by the US Secret Service of having circulated emails, nstigating Iraqis to kill US President and bomb infrastructure in USA. He was initially picked up for interrogation by the US Secret Service in January 2006 only to be cleared in three days time and released. The Secre Services also then cleared him of all suspicions after rendering a formal report on 3rd Feb 2006. The report clearly stated that Vikram was no threat to any US Secret Service Protectees, including the President. However, he was mysteriously picked up again on April 14, 2006 and then after invalid indictments (charges), unfair trial and guilty verdict, he has been held in jail since June 2007.

Invalid Indictments: Despite the fact that the crime Vikram is accused of committing has to do with posting offensive messages on the internet, the indictments are worded without any references to the messages and simply state that Vikram threatened to kill the President, Vice President and others.

Unfair Trial: The trial was unfair for the following key reasons:

1)      The Judge, James T. Moody refused to instruct the jury on the law

2)      When the court-appointed defense attorney tried to link the evidence on record to the relevant law, the judge threatened to embarrass him in open court and shut him up

3)      When the jury asked for clarification on what they believed was a contradiction in the Judge’s instructions, they were sent another refusal and summarily told to continue their deliberations, though without any basis.

Other Anomalies: Additionally, there were several other problems with the investigation and trial. The evidence that supposedly proved that Vikram sent the messages is the Address Resolution Protocol (ARP) table which has been admitted to be poisoned (admitted in affidavit by the prosecution). This allows for the possibility that hacking took place. To assist the defense attorney in discussing the technical matter in detail, Vikram’s father, Dr. BK Subbarao was present during the trial but was prevented from participating by the prosecution who named him a government witness, in a clear case of professional misconduct.

Vikram’s sentencing was scheduled for Dec 10, 2009. As per the schedule, the hearing started and Vikram himself fought for 7 hours and the sentencing was pushed for next day. On Dec 11, 2009, Vikram filed 17 pages motion for subpoena of alleged victims’ impact assessment reports and the deliberations continued. Prosecution was pressing for 35 years of imprisonment. Finally the court sentenced Vikram to imprisonment of 57 months (4 years and 9 months) and 3 years of probation.

Finally, the Indian Government has demonstrated its complete unwillingness to help its citizen jailed wrongfully in a foreign country. Concerned citizens, including Adv. Somnath Bharati, met Shri S.M. Krishna, but no action was taken, though he expressed during the meeting that the indictment (charge) was invalid and the matter of how the trial was conducted was ‘fishy’.

v     In this case, we demand that the Government of India keep up its promise as made by the Minister for External Affairs that they will intervene in this matter and make sure legal support is provided to Vikram in a fair trial process.

v     We also demand that the Government of India send a letter to the US Attorney General and Government asking him to review the details of the case.

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Police and Salwa Judum join hands to disrupt the Padayatra and harass activists

Satayagraha to begin from 25th December:

Struggle for peace to continue

New Delhi: Chattisgarh State Government and the Salwa Judum prevented Himanshu Kumar, Sandeep Pandey and others from taking out padyatra in Dantewada with the objective of restoring peace and normalcy in an area suffering from state repression, militarization and violence. Even though the DGP, Mr. Vishwaranjan has claimed in a newspaper report that the padyatra started under the police protection, it was evident from police and SPOs action that all efforts were made by the state Government to stop the Padyatra from taking place. Earlier yesterday, 39 women activists from all over the country who tried unsuccessfully to reach Dantewada from Raipur, on the way back were mobbed by Salwa Judum in Kanker who forced them to come out of the bus. The women activists were harassed before being allowed to return to Raipur.

All of this has been happening even when Home Minister P Chidambaram, has expressed his intentions of travelling to Dantewada on 7th January, 2010 to attend a public hearing to be organised by Vanvasi Chetna Ashram and other groups where tribal residents of this region will share their experiences of the Salwa Judum, Operation Green Hunt and their struggle for justice. It is obvious that the Government of Chattisgarh is all out to sabotage this democratic process through intimidation as well as direct attack and stop the large number of adivasis from ventilating their grievances.

In the changed circumstances, Himanshu Kumar and others from Dantewada have declared that there would begin a Satyagraha against the unjustifiable State violence, asserting their right to support the adivasis in their struggle for peace and justiceThey also have requested the Home Minister to immediately make an official announcement of his visit and not to withdraw in any situation of deliberate sabotage by the state government of Chattisgarh.

Speaking at a press conference Retd. Justice Rajinder SacharPeoples Union for Civil Liberties said, “It is shameful that citizens of this country are being prevented from travelling to Dantewada by the Chattisgarh administration and a peaceful padyatra is stopped in close collaboration with Salwa Judum, which has been condemned from various quarters for the atrocities it has committed on the tribals of the regions. The denial of civil liberties to citizens in the Dantewada today is a cause of grave concern to everybody.” Uppermost in our mind today is, however, protecting the rights of the adivasis who are facing all kinds of deprivation because, the State, notwithstanding its public profession, is not fulfilling its duty to ensure that development is planned within the framework of justice and equity.

Medha Patkar, National Alliance of People’s Movements, condemned the attempts of the State government to stifle any resistance and labelling of false charges (including of murder) against Kopa Kunjam, the adivasi activist with Vanvasi Chetna Ashram and Alban Topo, an adivasi and human rights lawyer who were beaten up at the police station ironically on December 10, Human Rights Day. “This cant, however, act as a deterrent to the committed and peaceful movements”, she affirmed. In a letter to Home Minister P Chidambaram she urged to take urgent note of the potential threat from the Salwa Judum and the SPOs who took out a rally on December 10th condemning Himanshu Kumar and openly raising life-threatening slogans such as, “Himanshu Bhagao Bastar Bachao” and “Himanshu ko Maro”.  “The Centre can’t deny its responsibility to ensure and guarantee not just legal rights, but human justice,” she reiterated.

Prashant Bhushan, senior lawyer further added, “the happenings in Chattisgarh is a well thought out and planned strategy of the State to enforce a complete blackout of tribal areas when government is planning an unprecedented attack on the tribals in the name of war against Naxals. Not only the legislature and the Executive, but the Judiciary also should have intervened with much more sensitivity and clarity by now, but unfortunately, all action towards establishing justice and democracy is only left to the people’s movements. He appealed to the sensitive intellectuals to support the movements, in every possible way”.

Mamata Kujur, Adivasi Mahila Mahasangh, Chattisgarh narrated the atmosphere of distrust and fear prevailing in the State, since many young tribals are being branded today as naxals by the state. She added, “it is an attempt at finishing off the democratic voices in the region since they are posing the biggest opposition to the state’s and private corporations unlawful attempt at exploiting the mineral resources of the region.

Ashish Gupta, Peoples Union for Democratic Rights, added that, “it’s an irony that the democratic processes in the country are under pressure from the state forces itself who are supposed to protect them. The demolition of the Ashram first and then continued harassment of anybody associated with the Vanvashi Chetna Ashram is shameful and unjustifiable. What we are witnessing today in Chattisgarh or Naraynpatna, Orissa where an all women fact finding team was harassed and threatened by the local goons in collusion with the police is completely savage behaviour of the state and unexpected in a democracy.”

Abhay Sahu, Posco Pratirodh Sangram Samiti, while condemning the incidents urged the left secular forces and progressive people’s movement to put together a joint platform and resist any onslaught on civil and political liberties of the citizens of this country.

It’s indeed a grave and grievous situation that is faced by the adivasis, especially in Chattisgarh i.e. one of violence and the other of deprivation, both the vices trampling upon their right to life, livelihood and peace. Their existence itself being threatened the State either failing to intervene with a dialogue with the people’s movements, even in an unarmed struggle, or as in Chattisgarh, evicting and killing them in the garb of ‘combating Maoism’. All this is apparently an offshoot of the political-economic agenda of grabbing their rich resource base.

The citizens team re-appealed and re-asserted that those who are struggling within the secular democratic and non-violent framework must not be targeted by the State in such trumped up criminal charges or in any other manner as this would only shrink the space for those who are attempting peaceful resolution of conflicts and are for establishment of democracy and justice. It is the duty of the Central and State government to pro-actively protect such individuals and organizations from any physical attack or otherwise and immediately release Kopa Kunjam and punish the guilty police officials involved in harassment of the activists.

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Free Vikram Budhi :US court sentenced Vikram to imprisonment of 57 months (4 years and 9 months)

Vikram’s sentencing was scheduled for Dec 10. As per the schedule, the hearing started and Vikram informed the court that the appointed attorney Mr. Arlington Foley never took interest in the matter and met him only once way back in June 2009. Vikram further informed the court that he had lost trust in Mr. Foley and would like the court to appoint a new suitable attorney. On this Judge Moody told Vikram “either you go ahead with Mr. Foley or represent yourself pro se.” On hearing this, Vikram had no option but to go pro se. The court permitted him to go pro se. Vikram presented all the facts but orally. The court denied admitting them unless they were filed as a motion. The judge did not let Mr. Foley go off completely and appointed him as stand-by counsel. Vikram having been left on his own had to compose himself before doing the cross of the witnesses and took slightly more time than an attorney would normally take. On this, the Judge commented sarcastically “Sure, take your time. We’ll just sit here all day. How’s that?”
Vikram like Abhimanyu of Mahabarata fought for 7 hours and argued much better than many of the attorneys.  The sentencing was pushed for next day.
On Dec 11, 2009, Vikram filed 17 pages motion for subpoena of alleged victims’ records and the deliberations continued. Prosecution was pressing for 35 years of imprisonment. Finally the court sentenced Vikram to imprisonment of 57 months (4 years and 9 months) and 3 months of probation if he is not deported. The court gave him 10 days of time to appeal against the judgment in seventh circuit court of appeals.
10 days of time to file appeal seems to me too less for Vikram to prepare in absence of an expert attorney to do the paper work in view of which we must get him a suitable attorney as quick as possible. Either we get him a pro-bono attorney or hire one for him.
I would like you to know that government of India did nothing to extend any help to Vikram and it is a matter of shame. In the morning of Dec 10 I had met Mr. L K Adwani to know what Mr. S M Krishna communicated to him on the steps he took on Vikram during his last visit to Washington DC. As per Mr. Adwani, SMK did not sound confident at all and did not seem to have done anything.

GoI has done nothing and has been befooling us, media and Indian people that they are in touch with USA attorney General’s office on the issue.

In view of the above, we can  propose the following.
1.   Each of us needs to use our sources/contacts to get a pro-bono attorney to file appeal against the judgment or we donate/collect enough money to get an attorney for him.
2.   We write emails/letters and/or call and/or send a fax to prime minister’s office/ministry of external affairs/office of USA president to register our anguish and concerns over the vikram’s issue.
3.   People who are based at Delhi meet and do a march to PMO and register the protest over the carelessness of the government in handling Vikram’s case.
4.   There is a fund allocated by the government to help needy Indians abroad and the same was brought to the notice of Mr. S M Krishna but still they did not appoint an attorney to defend Vikram. We must gherao the government on such lax and irresponsible behavior.
5.   Because Vikram is symbolic to any and every Indian living and studying abroad, we must unite and form an association to provide financial, legal, emotional support to a Vikram. We must do enough to fix government’s accountability in such cases. I am aware that there are hundreds of Indians jailed abroad for no fault of theirs and government has done nothing to secure justice for them.
6.   We get in touch with members of parliament to get the issue raised in parliament and seek formal answer from the government as to what they did to secure justice for Vikram.

Who is Vikram Budhi????

CASE BACKGROUND ON VIKRAM BUDDHI:

-Vikram Buddhi (Silver medalist, IIT-Bombay) was a graduate student studying at Purdue University, Indiana, US. He was pursuing a PhD in both pure and applied mathematics.

-In January, 2006, he was accused of posting messages to internet chat boards threatening the lives of the then-President of the US, George W. Bush and others. The messages urged the Iraqi people to avenge the deaths of innocent people in Iraq.

-Vikram was picked up for interrogation on January 16, 2006 and released two days later by the U.S. Secret Service. They completely exonerated him of any guilt, and even went so far as to prepare a report, dated February 6, 2006 stating clearly that he was not a threat in any way to Secret Service protectees.

-On April 14, 2006, he was mysteriously picked up again and jailed. The case went to trial, and a guilty verdict was returned on June 25, 2007 on eleven counts – threats to the life of George W. Bush, Laura Bush, Dick Cheney, Lynn Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld as well as threats to US installations.

-Due to a hostile judge, the jury was not allowed to be briefed on details of the case, such as the fact that these were internet postings directed to Iraqis and the lack of evidence linking Buddhi to the messages. The Purdue computer system, from which these messages were posted, have had a history of being hacked.

-It is recorded in the trial transcripts that the judge refused to instruct the jury on the law regarding speech threat cases. The judge went so far as giving the defense attorney a stern warning that he would embarrass the Defense Attorney if the Defense Attorney attempted to link the evidence on record with the applicable law during the closing address to the Jury .

-Vikram is still in jail in Chicago, where he teaches mathematics to convicts. No sentence has been pronounced; and thus, no appeal could be filed. The sentencing is likely to be pronounced at the end of August, 2009. These charges could invite a maximum sentence of 35 years.

-The Indian Government meanwhile, has not responded to numerous requests for help from his family. The embassy has not come forward with any assistance, something that is hard to imagine that the US Embassy in India would fail to offer to its citizens here.

HARASSMENT OF HIS FATHER, DR. BK SUBBARAO:

-Dr. Buddhi Kota Subbarao (Former Indian Navy Captain, PhD in nuclear technology from IIT-Bombay) went to the US on an emergency visa on June 25, 2006, as per the legal requirement. On April 19, 2006, the magistrate had stipulated that Vikram would be released on bail in the presence of a family member, who could serve as a guarantor. The trial was deflected to June 26, 2007 at which point Dr. Subbarao applied for an extension for his US visa. This was denied (and the appeals process is ongoing) and he was put under pressure to voluntarily leave the US.

-Dr. Subbarao was not allowed to attend the trial for which he has been living in Lafayette, Indiana and forgoing all income. The reason given by the judge, at the very last minute, was that he had been selected as one of three government witnesses.

-In August 2007, Dr. Subbarao’s passport was confiscated. He was told it would be returned to him if he voluntarily left the country, although that would mean that he could not return to the US for ten years. He was held in three different jails and released after three days. At another occasion, he was jailed for seven days and subjected to humiliating treatment, including being paraded around in chains through the Purdue campus.

-A few days ago, on August 5, 2009, Dr. Subbarao was picked up by the FBI while he was at the library at Purdue University. He was deported the next day and is now at his home in Vashi.

BACKGROUND ON VIKRAM BUDDHI AND DR. BK SUBBARAO

-Vikram was a National Science Talent Scholar during his student days in India. He graduated in mathematics with M.Sc degree from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay, stood first in the class and received silver medal from IIT. Thereafter he worked for a year at the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR), Bombay and then joined the mathematics department of Purdue University, West Lafayette, Indiana in the year 1996. At Purdue he received MS degree in mathematics and thereafter has been pursuing Ph.D degrees simultaneously in pure and applied mathematics. At Purdue he received two times Best Teaching Award from the Department of Mathematics.

-In 2005, he led a campaign against racism in Purdue after the punishment of an African-American student for cheating at an examination, a charge for which three non-African-Americans were released.

-Vikram’s father, Dr. Buddhi is a former Indian Navy Captain with Ph.D from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, in nuclear technology. He is also an advocate of Supreme Court of India, having degree in law from Bombay University. He has represented successfully in public interest matters before Bombay High Court taken up by the social organization ‘Citizens For A Just Society’ founded by Dr. Usha Mehta, noted Gandhian, Freedom Fighter and Padma Vibhushan, during her life time and also subsequently.

-Dr. Subbarao is an ardent anti-nuclear activist. He wrote an article on the matter at countercurrents.org, in March 2006, right before his son was re-arrested and incarcerated. The article is here: http://www.countercurrents.org/ind-subbarao090306.htm.

-Dr. Subbarao has faced persecution of his own as a result of his being a vocal critic of a submarine design. He was arrested on his way abroad for an academic conference and charged with espionage – an accusation he successfully disproved after long periods in jail.

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As a part of the Campaign of Sexual Violence Against Women and State Repression – women, women’s organisations and women’s groups from across the country met in Raipur on the 12th and 13th to discuss the increasing and rampant use of sexual violence against women as a method of state Repression. The vulnerability of women in the adivasi-dominated areas of Chhattisgarh, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand, Orissa, West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra has increased manifold with the state’s armed offensive in these areas.
In order to show solidarity with the women who have stood up against sexual violence and sought justice through democratic means, the women of the campaign set out for the Dantewara district of Chhattisgarh on 13th evening. They were to later join the peaceful padhyatra seeking rehabilitation for displaced villages to begin at the Chetna Van Vasi Ashram.

The women set out in 4 private vehicles from Raipur. They were stopped at Charama Thana, Kankar which falls at the border of the Bastar sambhag. Here they were detained for over an hour and their identities checked and papers of the vehicles and drivers scrutinised. They were then told that the private vehicles could not be taken further as there was a problem with their documents.

The women let the private vehicles return and themselves got into public transport buses at Makdi tola to proceed towards Dantewara as planned. The buses which they boarded were stopped again and they were again questioned and the driver and conductor warned about carrying them as passengers.

At Kondagaon again the buses were stopped by the police and the driver, conductor and other passengers told that the buses could proceed on the condition that the women got off. The women were left with no choice but to disembark to avoid putting the driver and conductor at risk from the police or inconveniencing the passengers.

The police has constantly been threatening that there is great danger and risk for the women if they went further as local groups would create problems for them. Therefore they are being detained for their own safety.
The group will try once again to go proceed to Jagdalpur which is about 70 to 80 km away, a journey of about 2 hours by bus. They will try to use public transport.

> Contact of Shri Vishwaranjan, DGP chhattisgarh is 09981551000.

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Dec 14th, 2009

Padyatra not allowed to be taken out by the CG government

A Padayatra planned by Himanshu Kumar of the Vanavasi Chetna Ashram was due to start today from Nendra village in Dantewada district. The objective of the padyatra was to resotre peace and create an atmosphere where justice can be ensured by instilling confidence among the people to stop migrating from the area in the face of atrocities being committed on them by security forces, SPOs and anti-constitutional forces like Salwa Judum. The local administration has taken several steps to prevent the Padayatra. Roads leading to Nendra have been blocked by felling trees and VCA workers are being prevented from leaving their homes by the government backed armed Salwa Judum and its latest incarnation Danteshwari Swabhiman Manch goons. A group of 40 women activists from all over the country on their way to Danteawada from Raipur last night were stopped, their vehicles were seized and the women themselves were detained by the Police first in Charama and then in Kondagaon. They were subsequently released but were told that a mob of 4000 with the objective of confronting them was waiting for them enroute to Dantewada.  The police threatened the local bus operators not to take the women to Dantewada.

Even the journalists are being threatened not to go to Himanshu’s Ashram.

Meanwhile the Home Minister Shri Chidambram has expressed his willingness to visit Dantewada and listen to the grievances of tribals in an informal public hearing to be organized by Vanvasi Chetna Ashram on 7th January, 2010. We appeal to all NAPM members and supporters and even other friends to come here for the public hearing on 6-7 January.

For more information contact Himanshu Kumar at 09425260031.

Sandeep Pandey, National Alliance of People’s Movements

Contact Mobile Number (of Amit Basole) 09559374152

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PRESS RELEASE

POLICE ASSAULT WOMEN FACTFINDING TEAM IN NARAYANAPATNA, ORISSA
Update at 2.45 p.m., 9 December, 2009

A 9 woman fact-finding team and their driver were assaulted in the Narayanpatna Police Station premises when they went to enquire into the conditions leading up to the police firing of 20 November, 2009, in Narayanpatna, Orissa.

For more information click here

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