‘‘At the Crossroads’’
Mr Debaranjan Sarangi is an anti-mining activist, writer and a documentary film maker. He is an active member of Ganatantrik Adhikar Surakyaa Sangathan (GASS). In the early morning of 18th March 2016, Debaranjan Sarangi, a Human Rights Activist, was picked up by plainclothes police from the Kucheipadar village of Rayagada District, Odisha. Debaranjan was in Kucheipadar to attain a funeral ceremony of one of his friends' father. The police claims of arresting Debaranjan while executing a non-bailable warrant issued by the court of JMFC, Kashipur, in pursuance of a criminal case registered in the Tikri police station of Raygada District in 2005. Everyone including his advocate was clueless about the whereabouts of Debaranjan, till he was produced before the court of JMFC, Kashipur, in the evening. Without considering his bail application the court extended his remand till 22nd March 2016.
The police is fabricating cases against the defender Mr Debaranjan Sarangi to intimidate and immobilise him. According to sources, Mr Debaranjan was in Malkangiri district on August 8 and 9, 2015 to shoot a documentary film on changing life and problems of tribals and during his visit to Malkangiri district he was harassed and intimidated by the police.
Mr Debaranjan spent almost eight years with the anti-mining movement of the Adivasis in Kashipur, which inspired him to make a documentary film "At the Crossroads" on the oppressed tribals of South Odisha and their struggles with the state. The hapless adivasis and dalits of the region are caught in the crossfire between the state and the Maoists, rendering their existence completely unstable and miserable. He has been part of extended fact-findings that investigated attacks on Christians in Khandhmal in Odisha and Karnataka and or massacres of civilians by the paramilitary in South Chhattisgarh. As a prolific writer and human rights activist, he has been writing extensively on unbridled mining practices, displacement, police impunity, communalism, atrocities on dalits, women and adivasis in the state..It needs to be noted that Kucheipadar village had played a crucial role in the anti-Bauxite mining movement and Sarangi was closely associated with the movement for many years supporting the community in their struggle against displacement.
The movement had to suffer tremendous state repression. In the year 2000, three Adivasis were killed in police firing. During 2005-2006, hundreds of people were picked up by police and put in jail on false cases of which people had no knowledge. Even today, people are being arrested for cases registered ten years ago.
What is common to all these areas is the rich Bauxite deposits and the sinister design of the state to handover these resources to the corporate houses by silencing the voice of opposition. The arrest of Debaranjan is just an example of it.
International Working Women’s Day
Das Theke Das Hajar (DTDH) is a non-party network, involving various rights organisations, women's organisations, NGOs, students, and individual activists.
To commemorate International Working Women's Day, and to protest against rapes and sexual violence continuing unabated in West Bengal, Das Theke Das Hajar organised a programme on 18th March, 2016. The background to the programme was the several months long campaign by DTDH against sexual violence, not only against women, but against transgender, and against women with disabilities. Despite attempts for the last two months, appointments were not forthcoming from either the Home Secretary or the Health Secretary. So the issues over which DTDH had wanted to meet them were summarised in an Open Letter to the Chief Minister.
Among the speakers were Joyanti Sen (DTDH-Sachetana), Mitali Biswas (DTDH-AIPWA), Kunal Chattopadhyay (DTDH), Maroona Murmu, Rupkatha, Soma Marik (DTDH), Robi, Anurag Maitreyee, Swagata Chatterjee, Raina Roy, Poushali, Indrani (AIPWA) and others. Alindo presented a play reading. Songs were sung by Bandana and Rupkatha, by the Azad Foundation team, by Kakoli and other members of Maitree.
Two reports were also made. One was a report of a deputation given to the DC Central over the episode in the Muchipara Police Station, where SI Atanu Panigrahi had written the name of a young girl as "dharshita" (raped) Chakraborty, and where the Police Station had behaved badly with a delegation from DTDH, APDR and AIPWA. In this case, the DC also tried to defend the local police, but eventually agreed that an inquiry would be made and a report would be given in fifteen days. The DC was also forced to admit that the taking of photos of educationists while a deputation was going on, at the Muchipara PS, was an illegal action.
The report of the meeting with the DIG, CID, highlighted the bureaucratic behaviour of those higher up in the police. After spending a lot of time (three days) checking the political antecedents of DTDH activists, the police eventually met them. But they were then told that they must submit the case number of everything they were bringing up.
Soma Marik, Astabala Maiti, and Rupkatha talked about the significance of 8th March. Marik also related International Women Workers' Day to the lives of present day people.
Kunal Chattopadhyay examined the role of parties, the pre-electoral stunts by all parties that are now putting up condemnations of rapists, and showed the rising curve of violences against women, the total lack of sensitivity, or even of law implementation by the police.
Judging the ‘Kanhaiya Judgement’
Who will tell the Judges three things about the historical processes of Nation-making?
1. In the past, Nations integrated people of different communities, religions, languages and regions. But, now, Nation-State(s), including the Indian one under Modi, are forking out MoUs to sell India's mineral wealth and parcelling off the markets of these nations to MNCs? Isn't that an undeclared attack on National resources for profiteering by a few?
2. Preserving the territorial integrity of India is the duty of the soldier in uniform and want it to remain so. So, we have a Nation but should we not have Justice and Equality in it? Isn't it the duty of the students in universities to re-think, re-imagine and suggest alternatives to socio-cultural repression and politico-economic exploitation?
3. If 'We, the People" gave unto ourselves a Constitution in 1950, don't we have a right to discuss it now? Can we ask how the Nation has functioned? Does RSS/BJP/ABVP have a monopoly over the terms of this debate? Or do the Citizens of India have the freedom and liberty to frame the terms of this debate?
Vol. 48, No. 40, Apr 10 - 16, 2016