Death in Custody
'Ganatantrik Adhikar Suraksha Sangathan, Odisha' condemns death of Bari Pidikaka, a Dongaria tribal in judicial custody. He died on 24th June, just few hours after his admission, at SCB Medical College, Cuttack. But his family members were informed on 25lh June, 2017 after one day of his death by the local police. His son Dabru Pidikaka received the body on 27th June at Cuttack travelling 600km from his village. His body was cremated on 28lh June 2017. Bari was an under-trial prisoner, confined in Rayagada district jail for last two years. Bari Pidikaika belonged to the village Tahali of Munikhola Panchayat coming in Muniguda Police Station of Rayagada district. He was 67 years old. If Bari Pidikaka was seriously ill, then his family members could have been informed much earlier either through local police or through his advocate. GASS got to know from activists of "Niyamgiri Surakhsa Samiti" that when situation became worse, then only he was admitted in Rayagada District Medical Hospital. But the doctor referred him immediately to Cuttack Medical College. Bari died there.

Death of Bari is not one incident. Death of poor tribals, dalits and others while in judicial as well as in Police custody has been rising in Odisha. On 19th June, just few days before death of Bari, Abhaya Singh died in Burla Medical College, Sambalpur, Abhaya (25years) belonged to Haripur village of Bardhaman district in West Bengal.
Abhaya and 40 other member of his village had come to Sambalpur town of Odisha in 3rd week of May for selling toys and other items at road side. On 30th May 2017 Sambalpur police picked up Abhaya Singh and two others, Ajay Singh and Khata Singh suspecting them of stealing mobiles. Their family members tried from pillar to post to know about their whereabouts. At last resort when they went to the Court and the SDJM Court intervened then only three of them were produced before the Magistrate on 8th June, 2017 that is after 7 days of their arrest on charges of selling narcotics. Three of them were injured and were unable to walk. The police had beaten three of them what the family members alleged. Abhaya was admitted in Burla Medical College on 10th June 2017 by the jail authority for treatment. He died on 19lh June 2017.

Both, Bari Pidikaka and Abhaya Singh belonged to poor families. Both of them died due to negligence of jail authority of their respective jails. In case of Abhaya Singh, police torture at the time of arrest is an additional complaint which should be investigated. Often it comes in the media that due to lack of judges number of cases in various layers of the Court has been increasing. In this case, the worst sufferers are poor people of this country who are neither getting bail nor are facing trial for a longer time. This is the reason why Bari Pidikaka languished in jail as an under-trial for such a longer time.
Ganatantrik Adhikar Suraksha Sangathan (GASS),

The Goldman Environmental Prize
Prafulla Samantara, National Convener, National Alliance of Peoples' Movements and the leader of Lokshakti Abhiyan, Orissa has been awarded The Goldman Environmental Prize, Asia, 2017. The Goldman Environmental Prize honours the achievements and leadership of grassroots environmental activists for their sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the Natural environment.

He has been awarded the Prize for committing his life for the people's struggle and the hardships that he has faced in the historic 12-year legal battle along win Niyamgiri Suraksha Samiti that affirmed the indigenous Dongria Kondh's land rights and protected the Niyamgiri Hills from a massive, open-pit aluminium ore mine proposed by Vedanta.

Prafulla Samantara, 65, a socialist by thoughts, has been a part of many leading Peoples' struggles, one of which is Anti-POSCO Movement (POSCO Pratirodh Sangharsh Samiti) in Orissa. POSCO planned to invest in the mining industry, the building of a Steel Plant, captive power plant and a port in Erasama block of Jagatsinghpur District. Along with the activists like Abhay Sahoo, Prashant Paikaray, Manorama, and many others, he stood against the land acquisition process by POSCO; and has fought the legal battle in the Courts. He has undertaken Satyagraha, hunger fasts, padyatras, rallies against the building of Dams and Barrages and the emerging issues out of it on the upper stream of river Mahanadi. Living on the campus of Lohia Academy, Bhubaneshwar, he has kept its doors open for everyone and movements struggling for equity, justice and rights-based development. Respected by people's movements and academics and intellectuals alike, he has given articulation to a socialist vision for Odisha and is an ardent advocate of the open loot of the natural resources of Odisha by corporations. He has been kidnapped, assaulted and attacked on many occasions by the mining company for his activism, and continues to receive threats for his 'anti-development' stance. But he stands strongly against such threats by believing in "We Shall Fight, We Shall Win!"
New Delhi

GST Returns
It is now certain that central government is not going to look into practical difficulties faced by a totally irrational and non-practical procedure stipulated for otherwise ideal Goods and Services Tax—GST—forced on the nation from 01.07.2017. At least central government should look into a manifold increased high fees now being charged by auditors, consultants and chartered-accountants, which can be done by making filing of GST-returns on quarterly basis at least in the initial phase of implementation of GST.

Perception of Union Revenue Secretary that GST-returns can even be filed by a click through mobile-phones of kin of illiterate traders is far from a practical aspect, because with too many complexities in trade and industry and general government-perception of taking traders as tax evaders, mostly educated next-generation of middle-class business-families is switching towards jobs in and outside the country, it is sin to understand every trader as educated as planners and decision-takers. Presently GST is forced on the country like suddenly putting a truck-engine in a horse-cart.

However best and only way to prevent tax-evasion and creating a tension-free regime is to impose GST on basic point only with distribution for share of states being done according to population and other aspects of different states. It will create a wonderful environment for tax and industry with everyone finding it convenient to adopt practice of voluntary tax-compliance system resulting in tremendous increase in revenue-earning and prosperity of nation and people.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal,

Stamp Duty
It refers to welcome move of Jharkhand Chief Minister in making a symbolic stamp-duty of just one rupee on properties registered in name of women. Move will make women financially and mentally secured in a male-dominated society. Such good steps taken by any state-government should be followed by other states cutting across party-lines. It is significant that registration of properties in women's names showed remarkable rise in Delhi after stamp-duty on such deals was subsidised for women. Central government should move further by directing all financial institutions including banks and non-banking-finance-companies both in private and public sector to provide half-percent discount in annual interest-rate on home-loans to women.

Such and similar steps should be taken to make Indian women feel financially secured. Women should get half-percent extra annual interest-rates on deposits in banks and other government-sponsored saving-schemes. Then male family members will tend to make deposits in name of their female family members.
Madhu Agrawal, Delhi

Vol. 50, No.5, Aug 6 - 12, 2017