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Letters

Encounter Killing of Adivasi Villagers
Representatives of many political parties and organisations in Chhattisgarh have demanded judicial inquiry into the alleged encounter of 10 tribal villagers in Pedia village of Bijapur. The incident took place on 17 May where security forces claimed to have killed 12 Maoists in an encounter. The family members of ten villagers who were killed protested before the Bijapur district magistrate office saying their family members had gone to the forest to collect tendu leaves but they were killed by the forces in the fake encounter. Many activists in the area have said to seek legal action against these fake encounters.

A delegation comprising of activists from CPIML, CPI, CPIM, AAP and AISA, AIUF, AITUC and AICCTU sent a memorandum to the Chhattisgarh government through the district administration in Drug demanding the judicial inquiry of this alleged fake encounter. CPIML leader Brijendra Tiwari has said that stern action should be taken against those responsible in the police and security forces who ordered these killings. One of those killed was a minor. Ten villagers were in forests for the seasonal tendu leaves collection. He said the killing and arrests of tribals in the name of Maoists must be stopped by the state government.
ML Update

Robbing Postal Workers
It has been called “the UK’s most widespread miscarriage of justice.” In 1999, new Horizon software was installed in post office branches across the UK. Immediately, sub-postmasters and postmistresses experienced inexplicable shortfalls–missing money–from their branches. By law, they were required to make up the difference.

As they tried, repeatedly, to balance their books, thousands of pounds in many branches continued to show up as missing. Numerous postmasters and postmistresses, unable to stop the flow, lost their life savings, their homes, their marriages and their reputations. Up to 983 were prosecuted; many served jail time.

Seven Post Office workers of South Asian heritage told the BBC they believe racism affected the way people were treated in the Horizon scandal. One man of Indian background said he was told: “All the Indians are doing it. They have relatives so they take the money and send it to them abroad.” A person of South Asian descent said: “It was like we were dumb because English wasn’t our first language that we struggled to make sense of basic accounting.”

Balvinder Gill told Newsnight his life was destroyed after he was wrongly accused of stealing £108,000 from the Post Office in 2004. He had a mental breakdown afterwards.

A BBC TV series, “Mr Bates vs the Post Office,” was broadcast in January. It is credited with sparking the promise of new legislation to clear and compensate all who were wrongly prosecuted, and prompted a long-overdue public apology by Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. The drama showed the pain and mental and physical damage to those who were victimised by the government and its faulty software.

P.S.: Horizon software is still installed on post office computers. It is now claimed to be “robust.”
Susan Van Gelder
[News & Letters]

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Frontier
Vol 56, No. 50, Jun 9 - 15, 2024