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Letters

Sexual Violence Against Women
People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL), Chattisgarh condemns the incident of sexual violence against adivasi women of Village Kunna, Pedapara, Block Chhindgarh, District Sukma during searching operations on 12th January. It expresses serious concern at the increasing incidents of sexual violence against women becoming a part of the anti-Naxal operations in Bastar.

On 15th January, social activist and convenor of the Aam Aadmi Party in Bastar—Soni Sori, along with the affected women of Village Kunna, Pedapara, Block Chhindgarh, District Sukma met the Bastar Commissioner and presented him a collective complaint of sexual violence committed by security forces during searching operations on 12th January. The Commissioner has given a written Notice to the IG, SP and Collector on the complaint and directed them to conduct an immediate enquiry into the incident.

The following incidents are narrated in the complaint—
1.    Hadme w/o Deva Kartam was stripped by the police, her "waist string" was broken, her upper cloth was removed and police sat on her and abused her with filthy language.
2.   Kartami w/o Bhuiyan was badly beaten, her right hand was injured, right thigh and lower back has got swelling.
3.   Hadpi w/o Lakhma had her blouse torn, and was made to do sit ups. She was asked why she does not have children, and told that if she slept with them, she would have babies. When she started crying, she was beaten with a thorny stick.
4.   Kartami Kosi d/o Budhva was stripped by the police. They made fun of her breasts and then beat her badly.
5.   Podiyami Jogi w/o Ganga was dragged out of her house. She has injuries on her face and body. Her husband and children were picked up and taken to Gadiras Camp. When she said her child is small, she was told to milk her breast. A policeman came and milked her breast. Her necklace, ear rings and Rs 1500 were snatched away.
6.  Apart from this, many other women were also beaten and insulted. Rice, hens, cash and ornaments were also looted. A grenade was also thrown, so there was a fire.
7.   First 29 people had been taken into custody by the security forces, three were released, they are also badly injured.
8.   Police has claimed that there was an encounter in the village during which one police man was injured. Actually when that policeman entered a house, his foot got entangled in a sack and his weapon went off accidentally injuring him. All the villagers are aware of the incident.

In the complaint a demand has been made for a judicial enquiry and medical help has also been sought.

Earlier, on 1st November, affected women of 5 villages including Pedagelur and Chinnagelur of Bijapur district had registered an FIR concerning rape and sexual violence during search operations. Till date no action has been taken on this FIR. In fact, senior police officers, without even investigating into the FIR, are commenting on the reliability of the complaint. In these circumstances there is little likelihood of an unbiased police enquiry. Hence Chhattisgarh PUCL demands a high level Judicial Enquiry into both the above incidents.

Chhattisgarh PUCL also expressed deep concern that in the past 2-3 months, more and more incidents are coming to light where sexual violence has become a part of the anti-Naxal operations. The United Nations and other international human rights organisations have expressed concern that wherever wars are going on world over, violence against women has been used as a weapon to humiliate and subjugate that society. Such an attitude towards the adivasi communities of Bastar is unjust, reprehensible and unconstitutional, and will only alienate them further from the government.
Dr Lakhan Singh, President, PUCL
Adv. Sudha Bharadwaj,
General Secretary, PUCL

Malpractices of Banks
Union government and Reserve Bank of India (RBI) should take note of malpractices of Banks in respect of credit-cards. Arguments put by Banks to have extra-ordinary interest-rate to overcome heavy cost in credit-card operation is in itself confessional for giving banks permission to levy 'hidden charges' to befool customers. Banks can instead levy charges on issuing and transactions made through credit-cards. Even credit-card statements are designed in a manner like 'Minimum Amount Due' to befool customers that they put themselves in heavy dose of interest-rate. Banks also resort to malpractice by deliberately not sending credit-cards statements to make customers defaulters forcing them to pay heavy interest-dose apart from penalty. What is more, any shortfall in payment attracts penalty and interest on complete dues! Likewise penalty imposed for over-limit use of credit-cards should not be permissible. Instead Banks can refuse payment on crossing limit. It is ridiculous that an over-payment of just rupees 100 may attract heavy-penalty of rupees 500 plus service-tax,

Union government and RBI should make necessary amendments whereby there may be uniform rules in respect of credit-cards including interest-rate and penalties. Banks may however be at liberty to charge issue and transaction costs to meet operational costs. But in no case, they should be permitted to levy 'hidden costs' in form of extra-ordinary interest-rates for their profit-earning.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi

A Friendly Outsider
This took me back. I first visited the journal's [frontier’s] office in 1972 as a 'friendly outsider': but I was promptly 'adopted'. There was a bit of a panic as two articles had not been proof-read. Samar Babu handed them to me and pointed to a desk near a window. I remember leaving the room every time I wanted to smoke a bidi.
M D, Delhi

Coconut trees
The Government of Goa calls the coconut trees as tall grass and the coconut tree has lost the status of being called a tree. Coconut tree is a part of the rich Goan Heritage. Hence the Government of Goa has to change its stand of calling the coconut tree as fully grown tall grass.
Imran Admani, Goa

Agenda of Exclusion
Close on the heels of the planned disruption of a speech by Siddharth Varadrajan, noted journalist and ex-editor of Hindu on the Allahabad University campus by members of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) (hnp://thewfire.iiv/2Q16/01/23/editors-guild-condemns-abvp-threats-to-the-wires-foundina-editor-20015/) came the news that Sandeep Pandey, who has been working as a guest faculty in IIT-BHU for the last two and half years was recently threatened allgegedly by members of the same fraternity on the university campus itself.

It may be added here that Mr Sandeep's services were abruptly terminated by the University administration calling him 'anti-national' (http://kafila.org/2016/01/11/letter-against-dismissal-of-prof-sandeep-pandey) and without even following principles of natural justice where he could be allowed to put forth his case. Looking at the aggressive manner in which members of the Hindutva brigade seem to be moving it is quite possible that their threats will not remain merely at the level of words and one definitely perceives a danger to his well being at their hands.

As it is apparent that despite facing wrath of students and youth from across the campuses for its planned attempts to saffronise educational institutions - which is very much evident in the organised resistance put forth by students across the country on the institutional murder of RV or the historic strike by students of FTII which received national-international support and many such cases - the BJP government at the centre is hell bent on furthering its agenda of exclusion and hate in education in very many ways and silencing of critical voices forms an important part of this overall strategy.
Pasted below is a press release issued by Sandeep Pandey himself (25 January 2016)
Press Release
[IIT-BHU has recently terminated my contract on the charges of being a naxalite and being involved in anti-national activities. I've a month's notice and have time until 5 February, 2016 to wind up. Today, on 25 January 2016, at 7:30 pm two people associated with RSS Ravi Singh, who works in an IT firm in Bengaluru and is a 2004 IIT-BHU alumni and Awdhesh Dubey, a Geophysics alumni, encountered me in the IIT guest house. Ravi Singh was especially aggressive and said I should not discuss questions like ‘beef’ in class. I said I discussed the vegan philosophy and think students should be exposed to varied thought. He said if I've to discuss such things I should do it outside the university and instead I should discuss about Indian culture in my class. I said you cannot dictate a professor what he should or should not teach. Then he became more aggressive and started threatening me in a fascist way by saying I don't have the freedom to decide what I’ll teach. I told him that the course has been duly approved by the IIT authorities and if he has any problems with the 'Development Studies' course he should talk to the Director of the Institute. I decided to lodge a complaint with the local Lanka Police Station against Ravi Singh and Awadhesh Dubey for threatening me. Ravi Singh is also going to lodge a counter-complaint against me.
Sandeep Pandey, Visiting Faculty, Dept of Chemical Engineering, IIT, BHU, Varanasi]
Hemant Kannaujia,
Santosh Kumar, BHU

Right to Nota
Right to NOTA (None of the Above) was granted by Supreme Court on 27 September 2013 on petition filed by PUCL. NOTA was enforced by ECI in 2014 general elections across India.

It's difficult to understand the premise for the announcement by Govt of Telangana on 23 Jan 2016, that NOTA option is not available to the 70 lac Hyderabadi citizens who would exercise their vote for much awaited GHMC elections. Are not GHMC elections under the ambit of constitution, Supreme Court and Election Commission of India?

Taking away the citizens' right to NOTA is unconstitutional, illegal, unlawful and total violation of fundamental rights granted by Constitution and affirmed by Supreme Court time and again. It is also contempt of Supreme Court order.
Shri Jeevan Kumar, President,
Human Rights Forum, Telangana & AP,
Dr Babu Rao, President, Human Rights Forum, Hyderabad,
Shri V Sai Prasad Sastry, Retd IRS, Hyderabad,
Dr Lubna Sarwath, participant, Hum-Hyderabadi : a movement

Frontier
Vol. 48, No. 32, Feb 14 - 20, 2016