‘No’ to BRICS Summit
The All-Goa Fishermen’s Union (AGFU), the umbrella body of various fishing and traditional coastal communities, recently issued an ultimatum to the Centre that if the projects such as dredging of Monodovi and Zuari, Betul, Sattellite Port proposed for Goa are not withdrawn, they would disrupt the BRICS Summit scheduled to be held in October.

The organisations led by Goenchea Ramponkaranchea Ekvott and several others have joined hands to form new union named All Goa Fishermen Union (AGFU) to forge unity among traditional fishermen and boat owners.

The AGFU has slammed the BJP government at the centre and in the State for ‘‘taking fishermen and traditional coastal communities of Goa for granted and impsoing anti-fishermen projects on Goa’s fragile coastal ecology’’.

General Secretary of AGFU Olencio Simoes has said that apart from scrapping the various projects, the government should also constitute direct-level committies and notify the fishing villages.

The AGFU has threatened to disrupt the BRICS event if the government failed to constitute direct-level committees and legalise all traditional houses as per CRZ notification, 2011, notify the fishing villages as per CRZ notification 2011 to protect the fishermen houses at Baina in port town of Vasco da-Gama.

He said that, apart from opposing dredging of rivers Monodovi and Zuari, proposed Betul Satellite Port, they have other demands : to increase the monsoon fishing ban period from 61 to 90 days, strict implementation of the ban on use of LED lights, bull trawlling and high-speed engine.

Meanwhile, Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar called the threat of disruption of the BRICS conference, issued by the All Goa Fishermen’s Union (AGFU), the umbrella body of various fishing and tradiditional coastal communities over their opposition to proposed marine projects, as an ‘‘extreme, unwarranted and misplaced reaction’’.

The Chief Minister further said such an extreme stand is never conducive in a democracy. First, he recalled that he had made it clear in front of the Minister for Shipping Nitin Gadkari that the proposed Satellite Port was just an idea put before the people for their comments at this stage. Therefore, the question of imposing it on the people did not arise.

Disassociating from their demand to disrupt BRICS, Congress Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik backed the demands of the fisher communities to scrap all the projects they had mentioned. He went to the extent of calling the propsed Satellite Port a ‘‘land grab scam’’.
Prakash Kamat, Goa

Fir Against amnesty
PUCL condemns the actions of the Bengaluru Police in foisting a case of sedition, creating enmity and other charges against Amnesty International India and unnamed staff for holding a meeting on 13th August, 2016 in Bengaluru on human rights abuses in Kashmir in which families of victims participated. From the statement of Amnesty it is evident that the police had been informed about the meeting, were present at the venue and had observed firsthand the event and therefore had knowledge that the allegations of the VHP about the meeting were politically motivated and false. That the Karnataka police chose to register a FIR despite all this only highlights the dangers of arming the state with such draconian laws like the anti-sedition laws.

The 13th August 2016 event itself was in the backdrop of the 2015 Amnesty International report "Denied : Failures in accountability for human rights violations by security force personnel in Jammu and Kashmir". The Report focused on the travails of families of persons who lost their loved ones due to excesses by security forces. This report is in the public domain.

Families of victims of State violence were present to narrate in first person, the situation in Kashmir and the difficulties in claiming justice and accountability in cases where innocent people are killed in encounters or enforced disappearances. The meeting itself included showing video films of testimonies of other victim families, a panel discussion, musical performance and skit.

The recent registration of an FIR for sedition against Amnesty International India and the witch hunt into the finances / funding of the organisation as yet another instance in the long string of events where the Stale has used right-wing majoritarian groups to stifle dissent, prevent discussion and Control debate.

It also needs to be highlighted that the repealed invocation of the anti-sedition offence (sec. 124 A IPC) over any other section of IPC is mainly to create a public opinion that those who demand accountability of the state and its agencies, including the police, para military and security forces, are essentially "anti-national". This creates a negative image about them amongst common people; the 'anti-national' tag in turn, ensures that the state can further persecute them without much adverse public opinion.

PUCL also demands that the Government of Karnataka and the Karnataka Police immediately withdraw the FIR lodged against Amnesty International India for the meeting organised by it on 13th August, 2016 in the United Theological College in Bengaluru.
Prof Prabhakar Sinha President,
Dr V Suresh,
National General Secretary,
People's Union for Civil Liberties

Vol. 49, No.11, Sep 18 - 24, 2016