India’s Daughter
All those having internet-facility could easily watch BBC documentary 'India's Daughter' also because the documentary became a big hit after Indian government imposed a ban on it. Some of the websites which initially removed the documentary re-loaded again after some time. Documentary comprised of differing views on conditions of women in India for which everyone has a right to express. But film-maker should have muted derogatory remarks against the victim. It remains a bitter fact that woman in comparison to man is physically weak creation of nature. Disclosure of real name of victim 'Nirbhaya' in the documentary has no relevance now because web-search could always expose it soon after day of unfortunate incident.

But some features in the documentary were especially noteworthy. Firstly mother and father of 'Nirbhaya' seem to have cooperated with the film-maker with a major part of the documentary having conversation with them and even childhood-photos of 'Nirbhaya' also provided to film-maker. Even the film was started with a clear mention of cooperation of 'Nirbhaya'-parents in making of the film. It should be enquired if the film-maker having made the film made payments to those interviewed for the film. If so, then there remains no logic in insisting on banning the documentary which rather should serve as an eye-opener for all concerned including the society.

But it was shocking that there was no sign of fear and remorse on faces of culprits even after making open confession of the crime. Rather Mukesh Singh repeatedly changed clothes during the interview. Supreme Court on fast track should decide appeals filed by culprits in the case. Culprits if found guilty by the Apex Court, should be hanged soon after the verdict with even mercy-petition if filed being decided soon. It may be recalled that there has been a case of one Ramchadra @Raoji where the culprit was ultimately hanged to death within less than three years of committing crime with his mercy-petition having been decided to be rejected in record six days.

Claim of culprits' lawyer in the film of about 250 Indian Parliamentarians accused of rape is indeed a matter of serious concern. Propriety demands that criminal cases against law-makers should be decided at supersonic speed for ensuring them to be role-model citizens. It also makes a fit case for converting 'None-Of-The-Above' (NOTA) option in voting machines to 'Right-To-Reject'. But such reforms can come through judicial intervention only rather than being expected from privileged ones in legislature. Even NOTA and other such reforms could only be affected through judicial intervention only.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi

Women’s Day
Formality of celebrating International Women's Day is fulfilled every year on 8th March but without any attitude-change towards women which though being 50-percent of population, get only a minute representation in law-making system. Many political parties cry for reservation on man-made aspects like religion and caste evidently for vote-bank politics, but oppose reservation to women.

Even Islamic world including Pakistan and many other democratic countries including fresh democracy in Nepal have adopted Women-Reservation in legislature. In the meanwhile till the Bill becomes a law, Election Commission's formula to make it compulsory for every political party to give at least 33-percent party-tickets to women may be immediately enforced as an interim measure. However it should be ensured that such distribution may be state-wise rather than on country-basis. Otherwise parties will fulfil formality of women-quota by giving all tickets from reserved quota to women in states with no base of the concerned party. However to prevent wives or other relations/associates being misused as 'proxy' of male politicians, there should be a system whereby name or photo of husband or any other relation may not be permitted in election-campaigns of women candidates.

At a time when women-quota in panchayats and local bodies is being increased to 50-percent from earlier 33 percent, it is meaningless to resist 33 percent reservation to women in legislature. Rather there should be uniform 33 perecent reservation for women at all stages from civic bodies to Parliament.
Madhu Agrawal, New Delhi

Last Wish
Purnendu Mukherjee, a maoist political prisoner sent an appeal to the Chief Minister of West Bengal urging her to allow him to donate his body for any medical research hospital in Paschim Banga and his eyes to Visually challenged poor persons after his death and to take necessary action if and when his death occurs in any of the prisons in the country.

He had sent this appeal way back in February 2011, through the superintendent of special prison, Bhagalpur, Bihar, when he was lodged there. He had also sent a copy to the chair person, National Human Rights Commission, New Delhi during the same time. It is four years now. Presently he is lodged in the central prison Cherlapally, Hyderabad, Telangana State.

He handed over a copy to this letter writer to bring to the notice of the people through the media, his last wish, so that the public opinion can break the silence of the concerned authorities and accept his plea. Earlier, Susheel Roy's such last wish was published in Bengali media, when he sent it from Ranchi (Jharkhand) prison and All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi obliged his appeal and accepted his dead body when he died there.

Now Purnendu Mukherjee is 74 and suffering from many ailments including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), gastric ulcer, recurring and sudden blockades of memory etc. He is not asking for any favor from the government. Instead as a communist since five decades he wants to serve the people by donating his body and eyes after his death so that they can be used for the needy people and medical research.
Varavara Rao, President,
Revolutionary Democratic Front,

‘War in Chattisgarh’
Between December 26th and 31st 2014, a PUDR fact-finding team visited 9 villages of Bijapur district, Chhattisgarh to ascertain reports of arrests, intimidation and harassment, including sexual abuse by security forces who are stationed there to fight the Maoists. Predominantly Adivasi villages, the residents of Basaguda, Kottaguda, Pusbaka, Lingagiri, Rajpeta, Timmapur, Kottagu-dem, Korsaguda and Sarkeguda, narrated the daily acts of violence and violations committed by armed personnel residing in security camps. Apart from documenting the continuance of 'area domination' by the security forces, the report draws particular attention to:

1.    The large number of ‘permanent warrants’ issued against the populace, of which a significant number is declared as 'absconders'. A rough estimate indicates that as many as 15-35,000 people live under the threat and fear of these warrants in Bijapur alone.
2.   The lawless conduct of the armed personnel and Special Police Officers (SPOs) who routinely raid, beat, loot detain and compel the Adivasi villagers to perform 'begar' (free labour) at the security camps. Instances of sexual torture were also noted.
3.   The impossibility of lodging FIRs against the security forces as against the rising number of arrests of villagers who languish in jails.
4.   The intensification of armed presence on account of increased road building activity by the army for securing supply lines to the camps. Roads are opened only after road opening exercises by the forces followed by routine interception of passengers at frequent check-posts and road barriers.
5.   The further harassment faced by villagers during travel on account of armed personnel in civilian buses plying between Bijapur and Basaguda. In flagrant disregard of international covenants, the security forces deliberately regard passengers as 'human shields' against possible encounters.
6.  The impact of camps on the living conditions of the Adivasi villagers which have been severely affected. The decrease in agricultural activity is a definite consequence of harassment as is the fall in family income and wages. Besides poor health facilities, the existing school system which utilized local village helpers is being intentionally replaced by 'ashram schools' which aim to wrench the Adivasi children from their homes and village environment.
7.   The intensity of the present situation is comparable to and a continuance of the Salwa Judum activities - eviction and mass displacement of villagers between 2005 and 2009. The present brutality has only underlined the earlier misery of displacement and attempted rehabilitation which the villagers were compelled to undergo.
8.   Despite recurrent incidences of bomb explosions and targeting of the roads by the Maoists, the villagers fear the security camps as it is the armed personnel who punish and brutalize them.
9.  In tandem with periodic massacres, the daily harassment is part of the dual strategy of the State's war in the region.
10. The intention behind the present military initiative is to cleanse the area for redoubled mining activity. The effort is directed towards eroding the Adivasi will in resisting the State and in compelling them to be receptive towards official overtures.

The fact-finding report can be accessed at the following link:
Sharmila Purkayastha,
Megha Bahl,
Secretaries, PUDR

Vol. 47, No. 38, Mar 29 - Apr 4, 2015