Demonstration to protest killing of Dalits in Nagaur Distt. on Saturday, 12noon, on the 23 May 2015 @Rajsthan House Prithviraj Road, New Delhi


Dear All Jai Bhim!
The continuous attacks on marginalized groups particularly Dalits and minorities have shaken the civil society. A week back ​three​  Dalits ​ and a OBC​ were brutally mowed down with moving tractors and killed, women were assaulted in Naguar Distt. Rajashtan. Scores of Dalit families have fled their homes fearing more clashes.

The Rajashtan Government has totally failed to provide security to the Dalits in the state. The culprits have not been arrested.

To protest the killing of the Dalits and assault on their women a demonstration is being organized at Rajasthan House, Prithviraj Road at 12 Noon on Saturday, the 23rd May 2015.

You are requested to participate in the proposed demonstration to express your concern about the insecurity in the Dalits and demand arrests of the culprits.

Jagmati-AIDWA; Kavita Krishana, AIPWA; Shabnam Hashmi-ANHAD (9811807558); Paul Divakar-NCDHR(9910046813), Mansi Sharma, Activits (9818809018); Kiran Shaheen-WSS & Nagrik Ekta Manch; Amar Singh Amar-Samajik Nyaya Manch; Vijay Pratap-Socialist Front (9910770263);  ND Pancholi-PUCL; AC Michael,-Former Member;  Minorities Commission Delhi (9999940633); (9818065092); Navaid Hamid-Movement for Empowerment of Muslim Indians – MOEMIN (9811643929)

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Fact Finding Report on the Seshachalam “Encounter” Killings of 20 Tamil wage labourers by Andhra Pradesh STF Police.


 The killing of 20 wage workers who are alleged to have entered into Sechachalam forests  near Tirupathi  on April 7th by the  Andhra Pradesh Red Sanders Anti Smuggling Task Force (APRSASTF) has shocked everyone. The death of so many unarmed workers who had gone in search of employment without any political or other motives and the increased frequency of such occurrences has created a furore among the civil society. That most often these killings are targeted on Tamil workers has increased concern and anger in Tamil Nadu.  The widespread notion that this is a’ fake encounter ‘ based on the visible evidences  of the bullet injuries  above the chest and on the head, has been articulated not only by civil society organizations in Tamil Nadu and Andhra Pradesh but also even by Andhra Pradesh opposition parties. Further the eye-witness statements  that have emerged now indicate that some of these workers were actually travelling in buses and autos and were pulled out  by STF police add credibility to the belief that the encounter being a stage managed exercise by Andhra STF Police. While the Andhra Police and the AP government have continued to justify these killings, emerging facts are quite contrary. When the loopholes in the police story are pointed out, the DGP of Andhra Pradesh Y.V.Ramudu was able to say only that the police knows better than the activists and journalists who raise these doubts.

However the swift response by civil society groups such as APCLC have resulted now in the filing of two criminal cases against the police teams which perpetrated these crimes.

In this context, a fact finding team was constituted to document the available evidences of the encounter, the politics behind red sanders smuggling and the socio economic conditions of the gunned down tamil workers that forced them to  do such  risky and illegal jobs. The members of the Fact Finding team were:

Prof. A. Marx, Chair Person,  National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO)

Ko. Sugumaran ,ExCo Member NCHRO and Presudent, Federation of People’s Rights, Puducherry

Prof.Praba. Kalvimani, Irular  Tribals  Protection Committee,Tindivanam.

Srinivasan, Environmental Activist, Chennai

Ramani, Democratic Trade Union Council, Chennai,

Mohammad Tanveer,  ExCo Member, NCHRO, Chennai,

Kandasamy, Dalit People Cultural Kazhagam,

Parimala, Ilam Thamilagam Iyyakam, Chennai,

Prof. S. Kochadai, People’s Education Movement, Karaikudi,

Adv. Thamayanthi,  Vidiyal Women Council, Salem,

Adv. Thai. Kandasamy, Dalit Cultural Front, Thiruthuraipoondi,

Abdul Samad, Manithaneya Makkal  Katchi, Puducherry,

Vinayagam, People Liberation – News Magazine, Thiruvannamalai,

Adv. Sekar, People Advocate Group,  Thiruvannamalai,

Vediyappan , Civil Society Activist, Dharumapuri,

Adv. Maniyarasan, Sengam, Thiruvannamalai,

Bharathidasan – Ilam Thamilagam Iyyakam, Chennai.

Methodology

Since the Andhra Government had promulgated section 144 in the areas where the alleged encounter seem to have taken place and officials are prevented from talking to civil rights groups, the fact finding team could not visit the site or talk to the concerned police and district officials. The team however visited on April 15th and 16th, the villages of the gunned down wage labourers near Padavedu in Polur Taluk (Thiruvannamalai District), Namiambadi of Jamunamaruthur block and Arasanatham and nearby villages of Chitteri hills (Dharmapuri District) from where most of these workers hailed. The team members spoke extensively to the families of the slain workers except that of PanneerSelvam of Melakanavayur and Sasikumar of Kallukadu , and carefully analysed the socio economic living conditions of the workers in these areas. The team also collected details on various aspects of the killings including media reports, social media blogs, Forest Rights Act and earlier reports on red sanders smuggling and its politics.

The alleged encounter on April 7 and the events that followed

At about 10 am on April 7th the visual media reported that around 20 workers who were indulging in felling of red sanders trees were intercepted by APRSASTF and killed in the encounter that followed. The police released reports saying that on April 7th around 5.30-6am while combing the forests ,around 100 workers armed with stones, sticks, sickle etc attacked the police and in self defense the police team under the control of DIG Kantharao shot them. While 20 of them died the remaining escaped into the forest.

But many loopholes in the above story were pointed out by media and civil society groups saying that the bullet injuries were found above the chest which suggested that these were deliberate killings and were not done in self-protection. In the next two days, the police returned the autopsied bodies of workers with death certificate and a FIR detailing accusations against these workers including unauthorized entry, felling of banned natural resources and attack on police personnel.  The FIRs cited the following sections: criminal code 147,148,307,332 r/w 149 Andhra Pradesh State Forest Act 20(1), (2), (3), (4), 44 and Biological Diversity Act 7, 24(1), 55. (Reference: FIR 42/2015, April 7, 2015, Chandragiri Police Station, Thirupathi, Time of occurrence of the crime: April 7, 2015, Tuesday between 5.30 and 6.00 am)

Details of those killed

The slain workers were S. Mahendran (22), G. Moorthy(38), G. Munusamy (35), K. Perumal (37), Sasikumar(34), Murugan (38), V.Palani(35) from Padavedu, Thiruvannamalai,

  1. Paneerselvam (22), Govindasamy(42), Rajendran (30), Chinnasamy (48), Vallimuthu (18) of Jamunamarudur of Thiruvannamalai,

Harikrishnan(52), Venkatesan (23), Sivakumar(25), Lakshman(23), Lakshman (46), Velayudham (25), Sivalingam (42) of Chitteri Hills of Dharmapuri and Sasikumar of Salem District.

Of those killed thirteen Malayali hill tribes, one from Boyar community and six workers were from the Vanniyar community.

Subsequent events exposed more number of contradictions in the police version. The media were shown two sites of encounters about a kilometer apart with 9 workers dead in one spot and 11 workers in another spot. That the felled trees lined along with the bodies of the workers were numbered proved that these wooden logs are already seized by the police and kept in their possession.

Eye –Witnesses make hole in ‘encounter’ story

Subsequent to the killings, three workers who escaped the encounter came forward to provide more light on the incident and this contradicted the police version of the incident. Their testimonies showed that the workers were not intercepted by the police at the ‘alleged site ‘of killing but were kidnapped by the STF police while they were travelling in buses and autos. According to Balachandran, one of the workers who escaped, eight persons including him had been brought from Chitteri by a message from an agent named Pudur Venkatesan on April 4th.  The message was conveyed to them by Mahendran and Palani of Padavedu both of them are now killed.  They spent one day in Jamunamarathur in Jawadhi hills and were then brought to Kannamangalam. From there they were to be taken to Renigunta via Thiruthani on April 6th. One Sekar of Padavedu who is an uncle of Mahendran also joined them there. Of these people group of people Balachandran and Sekar escaped the encounter by mere chance.

Balachandran who had gone to visit a friend in Kannamangalam, got drunk and missed the bus and had returned back to his village.

Sekar from Padavedu was the other person who missed the encounter. He had filed his evidence before NHRC stating that he was in the bus along with other workers, when he noticed that others were made to get down from the bus by the AP police. As he was sitting next to a woman, the police mistook him to be the husband of that woman and left him in the bus. Sensing trouble Sekar got down at the next stop and returned to the village.

Ilango is another worker who accompanied Paneerselvam and were travelling in an auto, when they were intercepted by a police team and bundled into a van where around 30 people were herded .They were brought to what looked like a forest office and he escaped from the place where they were kept captive in the cover of darkness. All these evidences point to, that these workers were’ picked’ up by the police on April 6th evening and were not ‘intercepted ‘on April 7th morning in the forest, as alleged by the police. All these evidences have been documented before the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) by Peoples Watch, a human rights organization from Madurai. From these evidences, it is well established, that more than 20 workers were kidnapped by the STF police and the fate of other workers are unknown.

Of the 13 tribal Malayalees killed the bodies of 8 were cremated and 5 buried. The body of the Boyar youth Palani is cremated. The family members of the six slain Vanniyar youths refused to accept the bodies as they had extensive injuries which suggests that they might have been killed after torture The Pattali Makkal Katchi (PMK) activists took the initiative in filing a writ by the family members of these six youths for re- autopsy before AP High Court. The AP High Court ordered a second autopsy to be conducted at Tiruvananmalai GH, by a specially constituted team of doctors from AP. Now the second autopsy is conducted and the report submitted to the court.This could throw more light on the killings. After the second autopsy these bodies are now buried.

APCLC has filed a PIL based on which FIRs have been filed against the APSASTF personnel on charges including kidnapping and murdering of individuals.

Socio-economic conditions of Victims

According to the relatives of the workers, none of the workers were involved in tree felling. Their work involved primarily in construction sector, painting and coffee estates and that the workers often travelled  for work outside Tamil Nadu. Evidences of painting tools were found in the houses of Sasikumar and Murugan. However, most of the family members of the slain workers could not explain why these workers were traveling in the Thirupathi region. Earlier some of the relatives had also accepted that these workers had gone for tree felling, before media.

Our interactions with the families show that the families are afraid that the illegal nature of their work could justify the brutal encounter. With more interactions, some of the social economic conditions in which they live emerged. These are not workers who engage in full time tree felling. When there is a dire need for generating income, the tree felling becomes one of the easier avenues for it. The agents also mislead them and tell them that they have either got license from the government or that they have bribed the officials, thus assuring no problems from official sources. The lure of high income is also another factor for choosing this kind of employment. Most of these workers are not educated except Palani who had completed teacher training and Mahendran who is pursuing degree via distance learning. Most of the workers who were murdered were below the age of 40 and their wives are below 30.

Most of these tribals have less than an acre of land and practice rain fed agriculture. There is no infrastructure for harvesting water in this region and no infrastructure for sale of their produce, or even proper road to carry their produce to the markets below.

The village has very inadequate infrastructure for the betterment of the tribals. There is not even a cemetery or a common burying ground and the slain bodies of the Malayalees are now buried in their own lands.  The Tribal Welfare schools in these areas are without basic infrastructures and adequate no of teachers. The Nammiambadi Residential School with 60 students has only one headmaster, security and cook. The headmaster has to double as warden. One school in Chitteri hills has 172 students but with only 2 teachers.

These regions also do not have adequate medical infrastructure or medical personnel. 99% of the births happen at home and postnatal registrations are made in the hospital to avail the Rs12,000 under the Muthulakshmi Reddy welfare scheme of the Tamilnadu government. There is no adequate nutrition for both adults and children and infant mortality rate is high according to Vidyasagar, a UNICEF researcher working in that area. The women seemed anemic and weak. As Dr. Binayak Sen has documented, the tribals do not have adequate weight for their height, usually indicating malnutrition, something that could be observed in this region too.

Forest Rights Act 2006 was enacted to protect the rights of tribals as traditional custodians of forests. According to Bijoy who was one of the members of the drafting committee of this act, 1.5 million tribals have benefited with the distribution of 3 million hectare lands. However, this act has not been implemented in Tamil Nadu and even the welfare funds allocated for the betterment of tribals are hardly used for the purpose it is intended. Often it is transferred to other departments. With no implementation of these acts, the tribals often face harassments by forest officials. With these deplorable living conditions, it is not surprising, that the workers opt for illegal felling of trees as a source of employment.

Red sanders and the ‘politics ‘of smuggling

Red Sanders, one of the costliest woods in the world is abundant in the Seshachalam forest spread in Thitupathi and Kadappa Dts. It is estimated that about 14 million trees are in this area. It is well suited for fine artistic works and is also demanded for its medicinal values. In the year 2000 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) declared Red Sanders as one of the endangered species which increased severe controls in cutting, transporting and selling it to the Buddhist countries such as China, Japan and Burma where there is a great demand for this non aromatic sandal wood pieces. At the same time taking risk in this underground trade also earns unimaginable huge profit. The price of 1 Kg of this wood in 2009 was just Rs 100. Now it is Rs 2000.

A Red Sanders mafia developed in this way has close connection with the political class and the huge black money earned in this way plays now a decisive role in the electoral politics of Andhra Pradesh. A key figure in this mafia world, one Kollam Gangi Reddy is a big shot and a financier of YSR Congress. He is now arrested in Mauritius. Another important person in this black trade is one Kishore Kumar Reddy who is a brother of Congress leader and former CM Kiran Kumar Reddy. Though there are sandalwood mafias in Chandrababy Naidu’s Telugu Deam party also, they are not so strong in this trade when compared to the mafias in the two congress parties. In the recent assembly election in which Telugu Desam had a clean sweep it actually fared very bad in these two districts of Chittoor and Cuddappa. The YSR cong did well here. Even before Chandrababu Naidu assumed charge as CM, he convened a meeting of top police officers and asked them to put an end to this menace within ten days. The officers who were sympathetic to congress parties had been transferred and enormous powers given to the special task force  against Red Sandes smuggling. The APRSASTF is formed in Nov 2014 and DIG M.Kantharao is appointed as its chief. It is this STFunder Kantharao that killed these 20 persons.

What the CM Chandrababu Naidu expected through these measures has happened now. The Red sanders mafia has now begin to show respects to Naidu.

The hands of Tamilians are also present in the operation of Red Sanders mafia. In Vellore, a former folk dancer Mohanambal, was arrested and Rs 4.4 crore cash and 72 sovereign gold earned from smuggling of red sandalwood, were confiscated from her. She is said to have 30 residential properties in Tamil Nadu and Andhrah. During the last parliamentary election, 32 lakh rupees suspected to be earned through smuggling of red sanders were confiscated by election officials in Ercaud, a hill resort in Salem Dt.

The smuggling operation continues with the benefit going to the top and the risk mostly taken by the workers at the bottom, as the recent incident has exposed. Last year, 7 Tamil workers were shot dead by the police in a similar incident. While Tamil Workers are preferred due to their technical skills native workers are also involved in these operations at various levels.

However such encounter killings and arrests are mostly targeted against Tamil Workers selectively to avoid any possible political repercussions locally. A fact finding team (NCDNTHR and HRF) report on the earlier incident when 7 Tamil workers were killed had also drawn our attention to this fact.

In this poaching industry there are many ‘layers’ in between these workers who do the actual work of identifying, cutting and shifting them from the dense forest and the mafia that benefits enormously from them. The relation between the different layers is obscure and not easily intelligible to the people on the lower rungs. In the current incident, two of the slain workers Palani and Mahendran had given the actual travel plan to the rest of the workers and the communication is said to have come from one Pudur Venkatesan. These travel plans are decided and communicated within a short time span. Most often the public transport network is also utilized by them cleverly. The drivers and conductors of the public transport system are also in the network at some levels. As the wood cutters from Tamilnadu are brought to the villages near the forest they are made to stay in the houses of local dalit or tribal communities. The final destination is usually reached via a vehicle or by walk if there is no road. A ‘pilot’ takes them to the spot where the trees are to be felled and they are given little food and necessary tools. Their job is to fell the trees and carry about 25 kg each to another designated spot and have to leave from this spot. The money for this work is usually collected from the agents who sent them only after they reach back their villages. Most often they are not given the promised amount.

Once the workers have left the trees at the designated spot, these are transported in lorries. A separate lorry designated for ’capturing’ is usually sent as a decoy. All the officials including forestry, police and politicians have a share in this according to the locals. These wooden logs are packed, bargained and exported by the top level mafia . Finally these wood pieces are shipped as consignments of vegetables or fruits.

Languishing’ tamil ‘workers in Andhra Prisons

In December 2013, Sridhar Rao and David Karunakar, two forest officials were murdered brutally. Sridhar Rao is said to be a very honest official. The police version is that these officials were killed by the wood cutters when they are about to be nabbed by these officials. It is also widely believed that the 7 Tamils were shot dead in vengeance to the killing of these foresters. It is also said that the hands of some top level mafia and STF personnal are in the killings of the officers as one of them was too honest to approach. Whatever be the background, now hundreds of Tamil workers are now arrested and charged for the murder of theese officials and are languishing in various prisons in  AP.

From Arasanatham and Kalasapadi alone at least nine people are now incarcerated in AP prisons on these charges. They are Murugesan, Kamaraj, Sathiyaraj, Dharman, Venkatachalam, Mahendran, Sivalingam, Govindasamy and Aandi. Of these the first six are languishing for the past one and half years without bail.  We spoke to one Maheswari (30) w/o Venkatachalam (35) and Alamelu w/o Dharman and few others. They however state that their husbands had gone to Thirupathi on a religious pilgrimage and were arrested by Andhra police when they answered their questions in Tamil. Dharman had gone to Thirupathi with his wife, brother and children and  while returning he went with his brother to a tea shop on the other side of the road leaving his wife and children. Three people had approached him and enquired something. When he answered in Tamil, they forcefully took him away. Only after his wife approached a local lawyer she came to know that he was remanded first in Kadappa prison and then shifted to Palur. Another youth Ramesh of Melkupsanur village had also been arrested in a similar way but managed to escape after pleading innocence.

According to the locals, over 430 people were arrested on the murder charges of the forest officials and 100 people were released on bail. All these 100 people now released are Telugu speaking natives. The other 330 Tamil speaking people continue to be incarcerated. One Advocate Chalapathi of Kadappa is their lawyer. When they asked him about this he replied that the court won’t allow the Tamils to go on bail since they would abscond thereafter. Each of these family members has given Rs 22,000 to this lawyer as his fees. Each of them had spent at least another Rs 35,000 in this process.

With tears in their eyes these women lamented that absolutely without any income they are now suffering with their children. Their husbands in the prison lost hope of coming out and advices them to learn to live without them.

When we asked the women that in what basisthey say that 430 people were arrested for the murder of the forest officials, they were not able to reply.

According to DGP J.V. Ramudu, after 2014, 831 cases have been filed related to smuggling of redwood sandals and 5239 people have been arrested, 715 vehicles and 15,520 tree segments have been confiscated. Out of this, 2202 are Telugus and 3033 are from other states predominantly from Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. 31 smugglers have been arrested out of which 16 are Telegu speaking and 10 Tamilians and 3 are from Karnataka and 2 are from other states. 13 of these people have been released on bail. (Deccan Chronicle, April 15, 2015).

From this statement of the DGP we understand that there should be more than 2000 Tamilians in judicial custody in AP. All of these are mostly from Scheduled Tribes and Most Backward Communities from the adjoining districts of Tamilnadu. Most of them have been arrested from the bus stands and railway stations when they were found answering their queries in Tamil.

In the current instance, the Andhra Police has said that 61 individuals have been arrested in addition to the 20 encounter deaths. However, those who escaped say that more than 150 people were captured on that day by the STF. There is still no information on the missing personnel.

Tamil Nadu Political Parties compensation to slain victims’ families.

Political parties in Tamil Nadu have come forward to provide compensation to the families of the 20 slain workers. Tamil Nadu Government has given a compensation of Rs 3 lakhs each, AIADMK has given Rs 2 lakhs each, DMK- 1 lakh each, DMDK – Rs 50000 each and GK Vasan Congress Rs 25000 each. PMK has announced educational assistance to the children of the deceased. BJP has said that they will not provide any financial assistance but is exploring long term assistance to these families.

Meanwhile in a bizarre turn of events, the AP Government has auctioned one tone of red sandal wood for Rs 27 lakhs and generated revenue of around Rs 850 crores in Nov 2014 and is planning for another auction in May 2015.The AP government has also requested the Central Government to remove red sandal wood from the endangered species list.

Demands

  1. Due to the persistent demands of the human rights organizations, the AP state has been pressurized into action and now it has filed two criminal murder cases against the APRSASTF personal. Of these two cases, only in one case an officer was named. All others involved in the encounters are marked as unknown personal. This seems to be a measure of evading justice and we don’t believe that justice will be done to the victims. A Special Investigation Team (SIT) must be constituted and its investigation is to be monitored by the  Supreme Court.  All officials including the APRSASTF chief Kantha Rao must be placed under suspension until the investigation is complete.
  2. The AP government should provide a compensation of Rs 30 lakhs for the families of each of the 20 workers killed.
  3. The ban on entry into the ‘encounter’ areas under section 144 and the shoot at sight order must be revoked so that officials and civil society may ensure that there were no other casualties in this incident and also to track the missing workers. NHRC must also initiate an investigation on the missing workers.
  4. We demand a judicial probe under a high court judge who does not belong to either Tamil Nadu or Andhra Pradesh to investigate the nexus between the red sanders smuggling mafia and the political actors.
  5. A detailed list of all the prisoners who have been captured in relation to red sandalwood smuggling should be published by the Andhra Pradesh Government. It should also be published with all details online.
  6. Thousands of Tamilians are languishing in jails imprisoned on charges of red sandalwood smuggling and murder of two forest officials. They are all from impoverished tribal and most backward communities, predominantly from Thiruvannamalai, Dharmapuri, Salem and Vellore Districts. Most of these people have been caught and imprisoned when they were travelling en route to various destinations and most of them were not really caught in smuggling or felling of red sanders. The Andhra DGP confirms that there are numerous workers from Tamilnadu and Karnataka in the jails of AP. All these people should be released on general amnesty immediately. The Tamil Nadu Government must take steps legally and politically to ensure the release of these workers.
  7. It is estimated that more than 1.4 crore redwood trees are in Seshachalam and Nallamalla forests. These should be enumerated immediately and the details are to be published. The Andhra Government is said to have 10,000 tons of sandalwood recovered from smuggling. These should be auctioned and the money earned should be used for rehabilitation and betterment of tribal communities in these forests. When Chandrababu Naidu’s Government sold the first auction in 2014 May, the Mutt Pathanchali Yoga Peet of Baba Ramdev is said to have procured Rs 270 crore worth of the red sanders at a rate of 27 lakhs per ton. Such groups which procure red sanders via legal auction tend to sell these for greater profits in export market, where the price is said to be Rs 1 crore per ton. This kind of profiteering should be banned. An investigation should be conducted on how Baba Ramdev’s group has been procuring red sandal wood for medicinal purposes so far.
  8. An expert committee must be constituted to protect and safeguard the bio-diversity of red sandal wood trees. New saplings must be planted to compensate the felled trees.
  9. The lack of implementation of Forest Rights Act by Tamil Nadu Government is to be condemned. The State must immediately take steps to remove the legal impediments in the implementation of these laws and provide at least 2 hectare land for each of the tribal family, who constitute 1% of state population. Sensitization programs must be conducted for the forest officials on the issues of tribal communities and their rights.
  10. The inadequate infrastructure in residential schools and medical facilities in Tribal habitations should be strengthened. For every 20 students in these schools, a teacher should be appointed and duly monitored to ensure that they are doing their job. The meals provided in these schools are substandard and unfit for consumption and need to be strengthened with adequate nutrition including vegetables, meat and fruits. The primary health centers with adequate doctors and nurses should be constructed in these regions and should be monitored for effective implementation of health care services. NRHM trained nurses should be appointed in the villages with the task of monitoring and implementing pre and post natal maternal and child care health services and prevention of malnutrition and blindness.
  11. Infrastructure such as roads to tribal hamlets in hill regions should be developed and access to public transport facilities should be provided for the community. The public transport system should allow the tribal farmers to carry their commodities to markets. The government should encourage millet cultivation for the well being of these farmers. The government should setup procurement centers for buying the produce from farmers and eliminate the exploitation of middlemen. Agro based industries must be promoted in these regions. Rain Water harvesting and collection structures should be constructed.
  12. The non-tribal communities such as Vanniyars and Boyers who live near the Jawadhi hills and who are as much embroiled in the red sanders felling are in similar socio economic distress as tribal communities. The Government must promote dry land agriculture and welfare policies for these communities. The state should implement MGNREGA effectively in these regions.
  13. Several regional non-governmental organizations and civil society organizations including APCLC, HRF, NCDNTHR and PUDR have not only condemned the atrocities of the Andhra Pradesh State Government and Police but have also actively taken legal and other actions to counter state terror. We hold our deepest appreciations to such organizations. The poor families Tamilians who are affected by the State Actions find it difficult to come to Andhra to pursue any legal actions against the state, financially and otherwise. We request these groups to initiate a lawyer’s forum which can take up legal actions on behalf of these affected workers.
  14. We strongly condemn the inaction of Tamil Nadu Government which has only paid mere lip service by condemning the actions of Andhra Government and has not taken any substantive steps. The Tamil Nadu State Government should take various legal and political actions to ensure punitive measures for those involved in the encounter, ensure appropriate compensation for the slain affected families and take effective steps to free those who are still imprisoned in Andhra Pradesh.
  15. Tamil Nadu Government should provide government employment to the wives of all the slain workers based on their eligibility and also undertake the educational expenses for the victims’ children. Details of some of them are below:

Name.of Victim                Name of Wife.            Age.          No of Children            Age              

Murugan.                           Thanjaiammal.               –                       2                        –

Sasikumar.                          Muniammal.                 –                        2                    4 and 2

Munusamy.                         Thanjaiammal.                –                      2                    3 and 2

Perumal.                              Selvi.                           –                       3                          –

Govindasvamy                     Muthammal.                  –                       4.                     3,10,5 and 4

Rajendaran.                         Nadia.                         20    (2 months Pregnant)                –

Venkatesan.                         Kanakarani                  20    (married 6 months back)           –

Velayutham                           Padma.                      20.                  1.                          1.5

Contact: Prof. A.Marx, 3/5, First Cross St., Sastri Nagar, Adyar,Chennai –  600020 ,

                                                    Cell: 09444120582

Caste Diversity in Indian Development Sector: Does it Exist?


Caste Diversity in Indian Development Sector: Does it Exist?

 Written by Karthik Navayan, Published on 06 May 2015 published here – http://roundtableindia.co.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=8176:diversity-deficit-in-indian-development-sector&catid=119:feature&Itemid=132
Karthik Navayan

Gramsci uses the analogy of civil society as a system of trenches and redoubts surrounding the state1. All political attempts by the underprivileged classes–castes in Indian context–to overcome the barriers are drowned by the development sector that claims for itself the status of the civil society. Does the civil society, popularly understood as NGO sector, act as the entry point of marginalized sections into better social positions? We need to think about this aspect seriously because those who were fed up by government and corporate sector are increasingly turning towards the development sector because it looks fancy, politically correct, without realising that in fact it can be equally hegemonic. The hegemony of the civil society is nowhere more visible than in its reinforcing the existing social norms of hierarchy in their day-to-day activities. It is starkly visible in their staffing practices, which prefer people of privileged backgrounds especially in important positions. This paper critically views the aid agencies’ mainstream perception of caste discourse, and their lack of will to be inclusive by incorporating the members of the marginalised communities into policymaking bodies. Moreover, I argue that any developmental intervention without the active participation of marginalised communities will be a charade in the name of charity.

why do you worry about caste

Social diversity in public and private sectors in India

Caste is the greatest social reality in India that produces inequality and poverty with its hierarchical social structures, by keeping people from marginalised communities away from accessing resources and power centres. Therefore, any attempt at bringing equality must deal with caste. The participation of people from the marginalised communities should be a precondition. Defining the caste divide in Indian social life, Dr B.R. Ambedkar, the chairperson of the drafting committee of Constitution of India put it this way:

“There is no nation of Indians in the real sense of the world; it is yet to be created. In believing we are a nation, we are cherishing a great delusion. How can people divided into thousands of castes be a nation? The sooner we realise that we are not yet a nation, in a social and psychological sense of the world, the better for us”.2

However, the Brahmanical governing class in India cherishes the delusion that India is a nation, refusing to acknowledge the fact that the Indian society is divided on caste lines. Every caste has its own distinct social practices governed by the Brahmanical framework of social, economic and political hierarchies. This reality makes it impossible for any caste to represent another caste as social interests are hierarchized. This makes equality an impossible ideal in political practice even in civil society.

When Indian National Congress and its leader M.K.Gandhi claimed that they represent all castes including the ex-untouchables before the British, during Round Table Conferences3, Dr Ambedkar pointed out that: “The Congress has been, loudly and insistently claiming that it is the only political organisation in India, which is representative of the people of India. At one time, it used to claim that it represents the Musalmans also. This it does not now do, at any rate not so loudly and insistently. But so far as the Untouchables are concerned, the Congress maintains most vehemently that it does represent them. On the other hand, the non-Congress political parties have always denied this claim. This is particularly true of the Untouchables who have never hesitated to repudiate the Congress claim to represent them”4.

Hence, Ambedkar demanded fair representation in the entire system of governance and administration, but Gandhi, the leader of caste Hindus blackmailed Dr. Ambedkar and made him sign the Poona Pact5 on 24th September 1932. Thus, the term “reservations6“, widely adopted by the government functionaries, media and academicians, instead of the more dignified “representation.” But, the reservation policy remained on paper, the Brahmanical governing class of India consciously resisted in many ways the implementation of reservations for the Scheduled Caste (SC), Scheduled Tribe (ST), and Other Backward Classes (OBC). It never honoured in practice the reservations as the Constitutional principle of social justice. Instead, it has adopted different strategies to recruit their own kith and kin in the positions of power reserved for SC, ST and OBC categories. The SC, ST and OBCs have reservations, but Brahmins and their allied castes have “preservations“, as one Dalit activist put it.

Many studies pointed out that 94.01% of the judges in Supreme Court, the apex court of India and High Courts, the federal courts are Brahmins and their Brahmanic7 allied dominant castes. According to a survey by Outlook magazine in 2007, Brahmins are a micro minority community that constitutes 5.6% of the total population of India, but they occupied 47% of chief justice posts and 40% of associate justice positions between 1950 to 20008. Around 75-90% of the Class-I-Class-II officers in the Indian administration, professors, lecturers and readers in all government-funded central and state universities are from Brahmin and Brahmanic allied dominant castes. 88% of most significant positions in the media are also occupied by the same castes9.

More than 80% of the land holdings, including other resources and means of production rest with Brahmanic dominant castes. “In 1991, 70% of the total SC households were landless or near landless (owning less than one acre). This increased to 75% in 2000. In 1991, 13% of the rural SC households were landless. However, in 2000 this saw a decline and was 10%. As per the Agricultural Census of 1995-96, the bottom 61.6% of operational holdings accounted for only 17.2% of the total operated land area. As against this, the top 7.3% of operational holdings accounted for 40.1% of the total operated area. This gives an indication of land concentration in the hands of a few10.

Despite the fact that the practice of reservations system has been on for more than half a century, the total strength of SC, ST and OBCs in central and state government jobs are around 20%, but they constitute 85% of the people. “The backlog in Dalit and Tribal appointments reported to be 25,000 in the State (the state here is Tamil Nadu and the similar situation prevails in other states too) and 1,000,000 in Union Government services. Some vacancies have not been filled since 1978. Reported by National Daily- The Hindu, Feb 2, 1999″11. This is the story of the public sector. When it comes to the private sector, which is answerable to none, the story is worse.

Development Sector: Neither social diversity nor transparency

The scenario portrayed above is not limited to the public sector. The development sector, which varyingly calls itself as civil society, the NGO and the voluntary sector, does the same thing. The sector, which claims to be working for the welfare of the marginalised, is disproportionately occupied and operated by privileged sections with Brahmanic cultural capital. They act as bleeding hearts out to work for the welfare of Dalits and Adivasis before the international donor agencies; they write policies and strategies, and they make interventions for the sake of the marginalised communities. However, none of these processes involve those affected sections that they claim to represent. When a privileged caste individual wants to work for the unprivileged castes he or she should accept the fact that they are from the privileged caste; that their privilege is the reason for the production of marginalisation of others. They should not hide their social position, their caste and their activities against marginalisation before the respective communities. In the absence of such disclosure, their work for the marginalised will only normalise their privileges.

The Brahmanic dominant caste individuals who occupy the positions of directors, managers, officers and coordinators in the development sector have recently been criticised by the development workers belonging to the marginalised communities. Their criticism was that, those Brahmanic dominant caste people employed in the development sector actually work against the development of marginalised communities. Mahendra, a development worker, pointed out this fact in his email tohrm@yahoogroups.com, on 26th March 2015, in reply to an article titled, “Does ActionAid International Support Caste Discrimination?”

“it is known fact that large majority of dominant caste who couldn’t find jobs in Government Sector, moved strategically to the development sector, saying they are working for the poor and marginalized. Actually, they wanted to control the funds and delay the process of development. It is only few individuals from the dominant caste have really given up their caste prejudices and worked for poor. As long as they continue to practice the Brahmanical rituals, they will continue to discriminate the SC/STs, the trend now among the dalit groups and Christian-background support agencies is appointing Brahmanical candidates as their CEOs/ top positions, so they also don’t want backward and Dalit Christians to head NGOs. Sorry state of affairs in the name of development of SC/STs”12.

An attempt to understand the social diversity in 34 organisations

The managements and the people associated with developmental organisations are always ready to lecture about transparency and accountability particularly in government, often referring to its poor functioning and corruption. Nevertheless, when we look at the development organisations themselves, we hardly see them maintain those values of transparency and accountability in their own institutional spaces.

A small study of 34 development agencies, through the Right to Information Act 2005, was conducted, but no valuable data on the social diversity within their organisational structures was made available. They were practically evasive. As a lawyer, I was well aware of the fact that technically they do not come under the definition of “Public Authority” according to the RTI Act. However, my intention was to check their moral and ethical commitment towards the ideals of transparency and accountability. Moreover, every legal right was initially an ethical and moral value. By including those values in the legislations, we add legal status to them. In addition, the value of transparency in public life need not necessarily be a technical requirement imposed by the RTI Act. That these NGOs, technically, did not fall under the purview of the RTI Act doesn’t mean that they need not follow norms of transparency. They are ethically and morally more accountable to the people than the Government. It is interesting to note that some of these NGOs were involved in the campaign to strengthen the RTI Act itself. That they preach an ethical value that they themselves do not practice in their backyard cancels their commitment to the cause itself.

ngo rti 1

ngo rti 2a

ngo rti 3a

The above table reveals two things; one, the development organisations are not ready to share the information on the social diversity of their staff. Two, they fear, it seems, that it will reveal their poor record in implementing social diversity policies.

Of the 34 organisations, only 10 have replied and of the ten only two- PRIA (Participatory Research in Asia) and National Foundation of India – have provided the information. Nevertheless, that information was insufficient. PRIA provided only the list of their employees, their gender and state of domicile, but not caste status of their employees. The National Foundation of India has provided only a two-line reply, which said that “in professional staff one female and in support staff, two males underrepresented.” Still, there was no mention of caste status of their staff.

Save the Children – BAL Raksha Bharath, which claims “To inspire breakthroughs in the way the world treats children, and to achieve immediate and lasting change in their lives”23. replied saying that “[W]e have a policy of inclusion and equal opportunity policy for our employees, as a policy, we do not ask our employees about their caste, religion or ethnicity at the time of recruitment”24. This is a self-contradictory statement. Without recognizing the social identity of staff, how can you pretend to follow an ‘inclusive policy’? How do you think some people need the benefit of equal opportunity if you cannot identify the forms of discrimination? They have an inclusion and equal opportunity policy in place, but they never ask the caste, religion or ethnicity at the time of recruitment. Then, on what basis does their inclusion policy work, when the caste, ethnicity and religion themselves form the basis of social exclusion and marginalisation? Equal opportunity and inclusion – all tall and high-sounding principles, but they will forever remain in the realm of the abstract without ever transforming into concrete actions.

rti ngos

Aid at Action says that caste is an item of personal information, which cannot be shared with other people. How can caste be a personal thing? It is also contrary to their own understanding that the personal is political. If it is ‘personal’, why do people from the Brahmanic dominant castes flaunt the caste-titles in their surnames in public? Verma, Sharma, Shastri, Pundit, Reddi, Naidu, Patel, Thakur – there are so many such caste tails in India. They are okay with disclosing their own caste in the public because it is a privilege, but they will not disclose the caste-wise data of their staff, even if it was asked for the purpose of a study on social diversity. Some organisations like ActionAid India preach to others that “personal is political, because personal affects political and political affects personal” in the context of their feminist approach to the problems of women. If that is so, there should not have been anything to hide.

58% of the ActionAid India staff are from Brahmanical dominant castes25, who constitute only 18% of the entire Indian population, as furnished to the VODI – Voice of Dalits International. Still, some people on social media argue that, “It just shows that more people from Brahmanic dominant castes are interested in working for the development of marginalised communities.” Is that so? If they are interested in the development of marginalised communities, why can’t they work voluntarily by giving up their privileges and huge salaries?

Despite the fact that the international aid agencies have been working for the upliftment of the marginalised communities in India since decades, there is no visible or substantial change in their lives. Those communities, particularly the SCs and STs, continue to be in the lower strata of society. One reason that led to this failure was these agencies’ inability to understand the social, political and cultural dynamics of the Indian caste system. Without proper understanding of the caste system, one cannot comprehend the resultant systematic exclusion which, in fact, led to the perennial poverty of those communities. The aid agency’s institutional setup itself is “caste-blind” because they peopled it with Brahmins and Brahmanic dominant caste individuals. Any developmental intervention for the marginalised communities without their active participation will be a charade in the name of charity.

As Ambedkar observed, the idea of charity in India itself is caste-ridden: “Go into the field of charity. With one or two exceptions, all charity in India is communal. If a Parsi dies, he leaves his money for Parsis. If a Jain dies, he leaves his money for Jains. If a Marwadi dies, he leaves his money for Marwadis. If a Brahmin dies, he leaves his money for Brahmins. Thus, there is no room for the downtrodden and the outcastes in politics, in industry, in commerce, and in education”26. Now the international charity organisations that set up their offices in India continue the same old idea of charity through which their own kith and kin benefit; not the downtrodden people of India

The lack of access to resources and opportunities for the underprivileged castes and classes in the NGO sector is the result of deep-rooted prejudices, which the powerful privileged castes carry along with themselves. The more they claim to adhere to the values of equal opportunity and inclusion in the language of modernity, the less is the possibility of them identifying and overcoming their own biases. Civil society was always seen as the theatre of all forms of power politics, as per Gramscian understanding. But the term is now colonised by NGOs who claim to represent all the progressive values but, in fact, they have been reinforcing all the hegemonic values that suppress the marginalized. Historically, the movements of the underprivileged have generated many democratic values, but in practice the NGOs appropriate them; where do they deploy them and to what end should have been important concerns of public life.

~

Notes

[1]. Gramsci, 1971 p.234, available at-http://marxisttheory.org/antonio-gramsci-theories-of-hegemony-civil-society-and-revolution/#note-635-11

[2]. Ambedkar, ‘Thus Spoke Ambedkar’, Quotations of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, available at – http://www.ambedkar.org/Babasaheb/quotations.htm, viewed on 16th April 2015

[3]. The three Round Table Conferences of 1930–32 were a series of conferences organized by the British Government to discuss constitutional reforms in India.

[4]. Ambedkar, What Congress and Gandhi have done to the untouchables, Chapter IV, A False Claim, available at –

http://www.ambedkar.org/ambcd/41G.What%20Congress%20and%20Gandhi%20CHAPTER%20VI.htm viewed on 17th April 2015

[5]. The Poona Pact refers to an agreement between Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar and Mahatma Gandhi signed on 24 September 1932 at Yerwada Central Jail in Pune (now in Maharashtra), India. It was signed by Pt Madan Mohan Malviya, some Hindu leaders, Dr BR Ambedkar, and some Dalit leaders to break the fast unto death undertaken by Gandhi in Yerwada jail to annul Macdonald Award giving separate electorate to Dalits for electing members of state legislative assemblies in British India.

[6]. Reservation in India is the process of setting aside a certain percentage of seats (vacancies) in government institutions for members of backward and under-represented communities (defined primarily by caste and tribe). Reservation is a form of quota-based affirmative action. Reservation is governed by constitutional laws, statutory laws, and local rules and regulations.

[7]. The term Brahmanic is used here for the jatis that believe in Brahmanic caste system as an ideology and practice prejudices against unprivileged communities; they are the non-Brahmin landed communities who lead the Brahmanic way of life. They are Kammas, Reddis, Velamas, Rajus and Kapus in the Telugu states, Marathas and Kunbis in Maharashtra. The Vellalar jatis, Thevars and Nadars in Tamil Nadu. Vokkaligas, Lingayats and Reddis in Karnataka. Patels in Gujarat, Jats, Rajputs, Bhumihars, Khatris, Kayasths, Yadavs and Kurmis etc in the various northern states. Baidyas, Kayasths in West Bengal; Karanas in Odisha etc.

[8]. “Brahmins in India”, Outlook India, June 4, 2007, http://www.outlookindia.com/article/brahmins-in-india/234783

[9]. ‘Upper castes dominate national media, says survey in Delhi’, The Hindu,  http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/upper-castes-dominate-national-media-says-survey-in-delhi/article3115113.ece

[10]. Problems of Dalits in India, published at- http://indiacurrentaffairs.org/problems-of-dalits-in-india/, available at- https://karthiknavayan.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/problems-of-dalits-in-india.pdf. p.2

[11]. ‘Dalit Reality’, People’s Democracy, Chennai edition published on April 6-12, 2015

[12]. Mahendra’s reply to the article, Does ActionAid International Support Caste Discrimination, email dated 26th March 2015, available at – https://karthiknavayan.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=1816

[13]. The Right to Information Act (RTI) is an Act of the Parliament of India “to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens” passed by Parliament on 15 June 2005 and came fully into force on 12 October 2005.

[14]. Available at – https://karthiknavayan.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=1826

[15]. Available at – https://karthiknavayan.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=1821

[16]. Available at – https://karthiknavayan.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=1822

[17]. Available at – https://karthiknavayan.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=1823

[18]. Available at – https://karthiknavayan.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=1824

[19]. Available at – https://karthiknavayan.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=1825

[20]. Available at – https://karthiknavayan.wordpress.com/?attachment_id=1827

[21]. Available at – https://karthiknavayan.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/gmail-application-for-information-under-section-61-of-the-right-to-information-act-2005.pdf

[22]. Available at – https://karthiknavayan.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/gmail-application-for-information-under-section-61-of-the-right-to-information-act-2005-aa-india.pdf

[23]. Save The Children‘s Mission Statement, available at – https://www.savethechildren.in/about-us/mission-and-vision-child-ngo.html

[24]. Available at – https://karthiknavayan.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/gmail-letter-to-save-the-children-india.pdf

[25]. Available at – https://karthiknavayan.files.wordpress.com/2015/04/untitled.png

[26]. Ambedkar B R, “Prospects of Democracy in India”, Voice of America, 20th May 1956, available at – http://old.bamcef.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=154:prospects-of-democracy-in-india-babasaheb-dr-b-r-ambedkar&catid=10:news&Itemid=13

~~~

 

Karthik Navayan is a human rights activist.

Cartoons by Unnamati Syama Sundar.

Buddha Jayanti and its political significance Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar


Buddha Jayanti and its political significance
Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar
(Published in Janata in Marathi on 17th May 1941: BAWS, Vol. 20, pp. 327-335)
 
            There is no need to tell that Indians love festivals. They spend half of the year in festivity and religious rites. They also give great importance to celebration of birth and death anniversaries of great people. The celebration of Krishnajanmastami, Ramanavami and Hanuman Jayanti are testimony to these mental attitudes of the Hindus. It will surprise the foreigners that Indians do not celebrate the Buddha Jayanti in the same spirit though the Indians are fond of such celebrations. Of all the great people born in India, the status of the Buddha is the highest. The followers of the Buddha regard Him as the great Sun who illuminated this world. Christians, though envious they are of the Buddha, compare Buddha with the Light of Asia.   Hindus also regard the Buddha as the tenth incarnation of Vishnu. This famous person was buried in the memories and Indians do not remember him at all. There are many people who will know the name of Bajirao’s harlot, Mastani. But I guess that the numbers of people who are familiar with the name of the Buddha are far less than this. This famous person has been forgotten to this extent is a matter of great shame and surprise. In this situation, it is a matter of joy that in Bengal and other provinces the celebration of the Buddha Jayanti has been started. This is very praiseworthy. But we think that this event has a great political significance. Therefore in order to make people aware of this significance we have planned to introduce people the importance of the life and mission of the Buddha.
 
Before 2500 years, King Suddhodhan of Sakya clan was ruling Kapilvastu. The name of the family was Gautama. Kapilvastu was located in what is now called United Province. It was located between Shravasti and Ayodhya and 50 miles east of Faizabad. Suddhodhan had two wives. One of them was Mayadevi and another was Prajapati. After marriage of Suddhodhan and Mayadevi, Mayadevi conceived after some days. According to social tradition, the first delivery was to be carried out in her maternal home and therefore her father Subuddha sent a message to his son in law for sending Mayadevi. Therefore Mayadevi and her sister Prajapati left for her maternal house with retinue. On the way they halted in Lumbini forest. On that place Mayadevi underwent labour of birth of a child and she gave birth to a boy in that forest. After giving birth to the boy, Mayadevi died in a very short time. The boy was nurtured by Mayadevi’s sister Prajapati. The boy was named as Siddhartha. Later on he became famous as the Gautama Buddha.
 
As he was born in warrior class and ruling family, he was provided education according to the situation of the time. He was not only trained in warfare but also was he well versed in the Vedas. But Siddhartha was more inclined to the life of solitude. He was not specially interested in enjoying the royal life. Due to fear that Siddhartha might become a Sanyasin, Suddhodhan decided to marry Siddhartha to confine him to family life. And therefore he married Siddhartha to daughter of Dandapani whose name in the father’s house was Gopi and in law’s home was Yashodhara. Yashodhara gave a birth to a boy whose name was Rahula. In order to provide luxuries to his son, Suddhodhan built three palaces. He made all the arrangements so that Siddhartha could live in comfort.
 
One day Gautama decided to wander in the village and to see the social situation and therefore he left palace in his chariot. Entering the city, he saw four events. First of all he saw an old man, suffering, hopeless, toothless, wrinkled faced, white haired, back bent like an arrow, with a stick in hand moving with ant’s speed whispering something inaudible and with all the body shaking uncontrollably. When he moved forward, he was another scene. A man suffering from heavy fever, enervated and fainted, homeless he was lying on the road. On the further journey, he saw a dead body carried in procession by his friends and relatives. The fourth scene he saw was that of a Sanyasin with a pleasant and peaceful mind carrying a begging bowl. These four scenes had a terrific impact on the Gautama’s mind. By seeing this, Gautama understood that there is a suffering in the world. Human life is uncertain and mortal. If it were otherwise, man would have not suffered diseases, never became old and would have never died!!!. And the fourth sight of a Sanyasin is the aim of the life-Gautama thought. And as this world is full of suffering, full of diseases, full of deaths therefore there is no meaning to this worldly life, Gautama further thought. Caught in this thought web he returned home. Returning home he came to know that Yashodhara delivered a boy. This is another binding chain-Gautama thought. But his resolve of renunciation was firm in his mind. And therefore he conveyed this resolve to his father. Not to say that Suddhodhan tried to refrain Siddhartha from not taking this course of action by a lot of persuasion and providing various entertaining things. But Gautama was firm on his resolution. But he thought that he should not go without informing his father. In order to express his mind, he went to the palace to and told his father, “Please do not stop me. Let your kingdom and your property be with you, O, Father! I do not want anything.” Next day Suddhodhan called upon his ministers and conveyed the situation. Hearing this, the ministers replied, “We will keep an eye on him and we will not let him go.” It was not easy to renounce home in this situation. Therefore he deferred his renunciation that day. The next mid night he got up and told his charioteer Chhanna and said, “I have to go, please go and bring my horse.” Chhanna refused to take this order and requested Gautama not to go. But seeing Gautama’s strong will, he brought Kanthaka, the horse. After a last glance at his wife and son, Siddhartha left Kapilvastu on Kanthaka’s back.
 
After renunciation, Gautama became disciple of two teachers to understand why there is suffering in the world. First of all he became disciple of Alara Kalam and after that that of Uddaka Ramaputta. In this way, he spent seven years in their company. But their teaching could not satisfy Gautama. Therefore he left them and went to Uruvela in the Magadha Kingdom ( Uruvela is now known as Bodhgaya). Like him there were five persons who renounced family and now were taking refuge in the forest. With them the Buddha started austerity to the severe extent. After leading hard ascetic life for six years, his body became thin and he had no energy to walk. One day when he was returning from the Falgu river after bath, he fainted on the way. There was a cowman residing nearby. His elder daughter Sujata saw Siddhartha fainted and offered him rice milk from her house. After coming to conscious, Gautama realized that ascetic life will not lead to the solution to the problem of suffering in the world. As Gautama took food, his five companions thought that the he is a fallen man now from the path and therefore they deserted him and in that Buddhagaya, Buddha remained solitary.
 
One night beneath one tree while seated Gautama realized the cause of suffering in the world and also way to end the suffering in the world. He saw that human beings are treading two paths. One is that of sensual pleasures and other is that of self mortification. Buddha saw that these two paths are wrongs and they will not end suffering in this world. Due to this vision, Gautama became enlightened and was therefore called the “enlightened one”. After that he became famous as the Buddha and that tree became famous as a Bodhi tree all over the world.
 
Due to result of this new vision, Buddha left the path of self mortification. He did not enter in the family life again. But he returned back to the society and for the welfare of the society started preaching the Dhamma. He himself went across the length and breadth of India and taught his Dhamma to all without distinction. He taught the Dhamma for 40 years. At the end, when he was propagating his Dhamma he arrived at Pava. In that village lived an ironsmith known as Chuda. Chuda invited Buddha for a lunch and Buddha could not digest the food and fell sick. In that sickness, the Buddha went to Kusinara village and died.
 
The Buddha was born in 563 BC as a prince and died in 483 BC as a founder of religion.
 
Mission of the Buddha
 
What are the fundamental teachings of the Buddha Dhamma? What did he accomplish? Without understanding these questions, importance of the Buddha can not be understood. However the detailed explanation is not possible due to constraint of space; but it is not true that the Buddha’s mission can not be explained in the brief. During the time of the Buddha, the Brahmanism has three pillars. The first pillar was infallibility of the Vedas, sacrifice was the second and the third pillar was Chaturvarna dharma. Whatever is written in the Vedas is infallible whether it is intellectually valid or not. Buddha was against accepting that the Vedas are infallible and he considered it as the first fetter. Instead of believing in the infallibility of the Vedas, Buddha’s position was that the truth has to be accepted on intellectual basis. In the Brahmanism, the stress was on attaining the God. Without making sacrifices the God can not be attained and therefore sacrifice was the considered as the religion.  Even before the Brahmans used to sacrifice human beings and the flesh of the human being was to be consumed by the organizers. This norm did not exist at the time of the Buddha however the system of animal sacrifice existed. Whoever has read the literature of that period will know that the ancestors of the Brahmans killed innumerable cows in sacrifices. One is forced to think after reading this literature that the number of cows killed by the Brahmans far outnumber the cows killed by the Muslims. The Buddha attacked the belief of infallibility of the Vedas and in the same force attacked the custom of sacrifices. One can say that Buddha’s position in this regard was revolutionary. Buddha advocated that there is no connection between the religion and attainment of God. The purpose of the religion was related to human’s behaviour with another human. This was the Buddha’s position. Buddha thought that attainment of the god is not concern of the religion. On one hand, strive for attainment of god and on another treat the neighbors with the contempt is the antithesis of the religion. Buddha attacked the third pillar of Brahmanism that is Chaturvarna Dharma vehemently. The essence of Brahmanism lies in the Dharma of Chaturvarna. The concept of caste based on superiority or inferiority of the birth is responsible for this belief in Chaturvarna Dharma. In Brahmanism the lowered caste and the women do not have a respectable position, they do not have means of livelihood and they do not own anything and therefore these two classes are not free. This is their condition when they are alive. This same condition will follow them after their death. In Brahmanism there is no freedom even after death for these two classes. According to tenets of Brahmanism only those who can become Sanyasin can be free and these two classes (lowered castes and women) were denied right to become a Sanyasin. Buddha did not accept this unjust position. Buddha was opposed to the concept that even if the Brahman is fallen he is worthy of worship by the three worlds. Buddha wanted to remove this wrong propaganda. Buddha was the greatest proponent of the social equality and like of him can not be found elsewhere. There was no freedom for the women in Brahmanism, Buddha opened the gates of freedom for them. Even for the lowered caste, the Buddha accepted them as monks in his Sangha. Buddha not only advocated the principle of social equality, but also made efforts to make it possible. He not only made the women and lowered caste the members of his order, but also made other lowered castes the members of his order.
 
The above explanation is not sufficient; however it is useful for readers to understand what the Buddha did for this country. The principles of Buddhism were beneficial and very bright and it led to huge spread of Buddha Dhamma all over the world. In south, it spread to Sri Lanka and many islands in the Pacific Ocean. In the east, it went to Burma, Assam, Thailand, China and Japan. In the north, it went to Tibet, Nepal and Turkstan. Buddha Dhamma also went to Afghanistan. No religion spread to this extent. There is another specialty of the Buddha Dhamma.   Not every religion spread due to its values and ideas. Islam grew on the basis of wars. Christianity grew on the basis of law. Only Buddhism spread with its values and ideas. It did not need the support of sword or force of law. Buddha never forced people to follow his teaching. People forced themselves to follow his teachings.
 
Despite of this, the question arises as to why Indians forgot the Buddha Dhamma. Buddhism is still living outside India. There are many Buddhists in the world. However in India Buddhism was killed. Due to space constraint, the detailed reasons can not be enumerated. However it is important to discuss in brief. The time can not forget the Buddha. Buddha is eternal, deathless and timeless. How will his name vanish from this world? China did not forget the Buddha. Japan did not. Burma did not. Only India forgot the Buddha. It is clear that time is not responsible for this, but the enemies of the Buddha are responsible for this situation. Brahmans were the enemies of the Buddha. It is not true that Brahmans were only opposed to the Buddha. They also opposed Mahavir, the founder of Jainism.   But the way the Buddha attacked Brahmanism, Mahavir did not. The reason is that the Buddha was the greatest opponent of Chaturvarna Dharma, Mahavir was not. Brahmans were not very concerned about the Buddha’s attack on the Vedas or sacrifices. But they had a different view on Chaturvarna Dharma. If Chaturvarna is eradicated, Brahmanism will be eradicated. Brahmans knew this. In fact, they considered Chaturvarna dharma as their breath. The attack on the Chaturvarna dharma was therefore attack on the Brahmans. One can say that the Buddha’s movement was the anti-Brahman movement of that time and the Buddha was the leader of that movement. The Brahmans conspired to destroy the Buddha and His Dhamma by all means. They left their vedic gods and made warrior gods as their own gods. Brahmans started worship Rama, the way the Brahmans worship Jedhe (Jedhe was a leader of non Brahman movement) these days. With one god they could not satisfy, they started supporting another warrior class god, Krishna. Now that Brahmans started worshipping our gods, thinking thus, the non Brahmans thought that there is no point in continuing fight against them. Thus the Buddha’s movement against Brahmans was weakened. The Brahmans started advocating that though the Buddha is yours, we accept him as the reincarnation of Vishnu.   People became happy. Now that the Brahmans accept the Buddha as the tenth reincarnation of Vishnu the matter is over. Now what is the point of fighting? On one hand the Brahmans tried to pacify the non Bramhans and on the other hand they started imitating the Buddha Dhamma and started misguiding people that Brahmanism and Buddhism are the same. The Buddhists built the Vihars. Vihars are the signs of burning fire of Buddhism for the Buddhists. The Brahmans started constructing their temples next to the Buddhist Vihars. With this outer change people forgot making differentiation between Buddhism and Brahmanism. And at the end when the Muslims invaded India and destroyed the Vihars, the monks fled to other countries in their absence the Brahmans started destroying Buddhism and started addressing the Buddhist caves as Pandav leni and broke the images of the Buddha and converted them into phallus of Shiva.
 
It is understandable that the Brahmans opposed Buddhism as it was their main opponent. How would they entertain a thought of celebrating Buddha Jayanti? However the non Brahmans should not have forgotten the great man who tried to liberate them from the clutches of blind faith, who tried to liberate them from the slavery of magical spells, who tried to bring them on humanistic way, who tried to make them humans, who gave up his royal life for their welfare, who fought for their self respect, who made this country glorious by his deeds. It is great pity that the non Brahmans forgot such a great man. They should have kept the Buddha’s memory alive.
 
We do not want to tell that this is the only reason the Indians should celebrate the Buddha Jayanti. Our reason is different than the above stated reasons and it is a very solid reason. The educated class amongst the Hindus desire to establish democracy in politics based on Hindu culture and for the Hindus. They are striving for this. We pity on the intellect of such people. The people who want to establish democracy in this country might be stupid or cunning. But this stupidity and cunningness can not last long. Faced with experiences, it will be clear that Brahmanism and democracy are two opposite things. For the establishment of democracy there is a need to eradicate Chaturvarna Dharma. In order to kill the germs of Chaturvarna there is no medicine powerful than the Buddha Dhamma. Therefore we think that in order to purify lifeblood of politics all Hindus should celebrate Buddha Jayanti. It is important and in their benefit.
 
Politically India is like a sick man. When we remember India, we imagine a picture of a man whose belly is big, his hands and feet reduced to mere bones, face paled, eyes deeply buried in the socket and a skeleton. He has no power to run the democracy but he has a great desire to run it. In order to satisfy this desire, power is important. This power can not be achieved without medicine. But what use is the medicine! Every one knows that in order to take medicine, it is necessary to clear the stomach. All the impure elements should be removed. Without this the medicine will have no effect. The stomach of Hindus is not clean. The filth of Brahmanism is stored in their stomach for a long time. The doctor who can wash this filth will help in establishing democracy in India. That doctor undoubtedly is the Buddha. The lifeblood of Hindus can not be purified by celebrating Rama Jayanti, or Krishna Jayanti or Gandhi Jayanti. Rama, Krishna and Gandhi are the worshippers of the Brahmanism. They are useless in the establishment of democracy. The Buddha can only help in establishing democracy. Therefore it is important to remember the Buddha and take his medicine for cleansing the political and social lifeblood of the Hindus. Therefore we think that people should chant this greatest mantra for establishment of democracy:
 
Buddham Saranam Gacchaami!
Dhammam Saranam Gacchaami!!
Sangham Saranam Gacchami!!!
 
 

Encounter Killings of Five Muslims by Telangana Police A Fact Finding Report by the NCHRO Team


NCHRO Fact Finding Team Press Meet on Aler Encounters on 30.4.2015Two weeks after Hashimpura verdict which acquitted all the police personnel involved in the custodial killings of 42 innocent Muslims, the news about the killing of five Muslims in custody by the Telangana police came as a rude shock to all peace loving people. A seventeen member escort police team of Warangal central prison led by one Uday Bhaskar (RSI) shot and killed five under trial prisoners on their way to Hyderabad trial court. The persons who lost their lives are 1.Viquar Ahmed (UT No 1064) 2.Mohammed Haneef (UT No 1077)  3.Syed Amjad Ali (UT No 1065) 4.Mohammed Zakir (UT No 1002)  all from Hyderabad and 5.Izhar Khan (UT No 1066)  from Uttar Pradesh. All of them are accused of forming a militant outfit Tehreek – e- Galba -e – Islami and operating a hitting squad targeting the police. They were arrested between 2007 and 2010 on various charges that included terror acts such as attacking police and killing them. They were shifted from prisons in Cherlapalli and other places on the pretext that they were creating trouble there.

According to police version all these five were  taken in a minibus from Warangal prison on April 7 morning at 7.55 am to Nampalli trial court in Hyderabad. “On the way at about 10.05 hours when the escort vehicle reached out skirts of Tangatur Village in ALer police station limit  UT Prisoner Viqar insisted to stop the vehicle for passing urine, after passing urine and getting into the bus the UT prisoners led by Viqar pounced on the police party snatching an INSAS RIFLE by uttering words ‘MAR SALEKU, CHODNA NAHI’, Then he opened fire on RSI Uday Bhaskar and party. In self defense, police party opened fire resulting in the death of 5 UT prisoners.”

A case is now registered against those killed in  this encounter in Alair PS, Nalgonda district (35/2005 u/s 120 b, 143, 147,397,307, 224,332 r/w 149 IPC & S 25 (1), 27 Arms Act).

Loopholes in the police story

The media as well a number of Human Rights Activists have pointed out many loopholes in the police story. Some of them are:

  1. Usually the escort team with the trial prisoners start from the prison complex at about 11 am. Why on this fateful day they have started at 7 am itself? Is it because they want to finish the matter at the early hours on the highway?
  1. The distance between Warangal and Hyderabad is 147 km which can be crossed with in 3 hrs at the maximum. Usually at the start itself the prisoners are asked to attend the nature’s calls and there is no need to stop the vehicle in the midway for this purpose.
  2. The photographs published in the media reveal that all of these 5 UT prisoners were hand cuffed and some of them are tied to their seats. Then how can they over power the 17 strong armed police and tried to kill them?
  3. The trial court had said that the trial will continuously conducted from April 1 to 10 and all the accused should be present in the court daily. Fearing that something very bad is going to happen, the trial prisoners were also pleading that they should be shifted to some prisons in Hyderabad. The accused prisoners had complained to their near and dear that they were tortured heavily during such transists. Viquar Ahmed’s father Mohammed Ahmed had submitted a written petition to the chief justice of AP high court on 25th April 2012 praying that his son should be shifted from Warangal prison as his life is in danger. On the 6th April 2015 Viquar Ahmed himself  submitted an affidavit that his life is in danger and hence he should be shifted immediately to any prison in Hyderabad. That prayer was to be heard on the next day in which he and his four other co accused were killed. The under trials had also complained to their relatives that in a previous occasion they were asked to get down from the vehicle and run away which they refused as they knew that it was a ploy to kill them.
  4. The trials are to be completed within a few days and the prosecution was not able to prove their cases convincingly due to lack of evidences. The police were fearing that all these five accused will be acquitted at last and left free. Since they were all arrested on charges that included targeting and killing of police personnel the department is not ready to leave them free. Also two weeks back in an encounter between some escaped prisoners and police, those two prisoners and three constables were killed. The Telangana home minister N.Narasimha Reddy termed them as escaped gangsters from UP while the Telengana police branded them as SIMI activists. In these backgrounds to boost the morale of the police these five people should have been killed in a fake encounter.

The Telangana government is keeping its mouth tightly shut up and the police higher ups were not able to satisfactorily counter the loopholes identified by the activists. The Seshachalam fake encounters in which 20 innocent Tamil workers were killed by the AP police also happened in the same day. We are happy that it was widely condemned by almost all political parties and other such organizations. The NCHRO also performed a fact finding operation joining hands with others on that incident. At the same time we are worried that due attention was not given to this incident by the political parties and organisations in which five youths from a minority community were brutally killed in custody.

Fact Finding Committee

In this background the National Confederation of Human Rights Organizations  (NCHRO) has organized a fact finding team to investigate the encounter killings of these five Muslim youths. The team members are:

1.Prof.  A.Marx, Chair Person, NCHRO, Chennai, Cell: 094441 20582,

2.Reny Ayline, National Secretary, NCHRO, New Delhi, Cell: 086063 37319,

  1. Ko. Sugumaran, Ex-Co Member, NCHRO, Puducherry, Cell: 094980 54640,
  2. Adv. A. Mohamed Yusuff, National Secretary, NCHRO, Madurai, Cell: 094898 71185,
  3. T.V.H. Prathmesh, Peoples Democratic Forum, Bangalore, Cell: 099163 80689,

6.Talaha Hussain, Student Activist, Bangalore, Cell:080505 65771,

7.Mohammed Abdul Ahad, Human Rights Activist, Hyerabad, Cell:090303 5044.

8.B.Sreenivasa Rao, National Ex-Co Member, NCHRO, Cell:093938 75195.

This team visited the houses of the victims in Hyderabad and also the encounter spot on the Warangal – Hyderabad highway near Tangatur village in Aler police station limit at which these five youths were shot and killed. We met the closest relatives of at least four of the victims, their lawyer Khalid Saifullah,   Lateef Mohammed Khan and Kanneez Fathima of Civil liberties Monitoring Committee,  Senior  journalist and Editor of Siasat  Urdu daily Zahid Ali Khan, some  other people and shop owners in Hyderabad and Aler.

After visiting the place of encounter we went to Aler police station  where no senior police officers were available. When we contacted the DSP Mohan Reddy, he replied that he was going to attend the magistrate enquiry about the encounters and could not answer our questions. However we were able to meet the Director General of Police of Telangana state Anurag Sharma IPS and the state Minorities Commission Chairman  Abid Rasool Khan.

Statements of the relatives of the victims

1.Ishrat Bhanu (32) w/o Dr. Mohammed Haneef

“My husband Haneef (38) is a Gujarati. His aunt is married to one of our relatives in Hyderabad. In a marriage ceremony we met and married. He is an Unani doctor (BUMS) and he practiced  near by. He had no interest in politics and had no contacts with any political parties or movements. Except attending without fail the Friday namas he cannot even be charecterised  as a religious person. He used to spend at least four hours in the morning and six hours in the evening in his clinic attending his patients. We are shocked to hear from our neighbors on July 11, 2010 that Haneef was arrested from his clinic and taken away by the police after covering his face with a black cloth. He was then implicated with Viqarudeen and others in various cases. We don’t know till today why he was targeted by the police. He didn’t know Viqaruddin or other people implicated with him till the day before they were arrested. Police never came to our house nor they took him for any enquiry before his arrest. This you can enquire with anybody in the surrounding area. Now my mother and three children aged 9,8 and 4 are without any bread winner. There were torture marks on the body of my husband apart from eight bullet injuries….”

When we came out of their house a man in plain clothes photographed us all.

  1. Lakshmi Narayanan, the building owner of Haneef’s clinic and V. Narsingh, the owner of Annapoorna Medicals in the same building

“Mohammed Haneef is a very normal person and is a good character. Nothing suspicious about his activities. No others except his patients come to see him. Only after his arrest some police came here twice and enquired about him. Before that nobody came here and asked about him. We feel sad to hear his end.

3.Mohammed Ahmed  f/o Viquar Ahamed (34)

“I am a retired civil engineer and I spent much of my life in gulf countries.  I have five children and Viquar is my younger son. He is pious in nature. He is a B.Com degree holder. He is little emotional and actively takes part in  rallies against Babri Masjid demolition.  He used to attend DJS programmes. Everything went normal till the Mecca Masjid blast happened. Viqar’s name was implicated with other innocent Muslim boys in that blast case. Since these boys were arrested and tortured by the police my son went underground in late 2007. There afterwards we don’t know his whereabouts. If we had contacts with him we would have advised him. He is good in nature and only the fake cases foisted  by the police led him to this end. He was arrested in 2010.  He has nothing to do with the conspiracy to kill Narendra Modi. But he was implicated in that case also. He was shifted from Cerlapalli jail to Warangal prison and then to Sabarmathi jail in Gujarat and finally brought to Warangal for trial. Whenever we met him in the jail he complained about police tortures during transits.  In the year 2012 I gave a complaint to the chief justice of AP to shift him to any prison in Hyderabad since his life was in danger. Even the day before he was killed he gave a written complaint to the trial judge to shift him from Warangal. In this country and in this life we don’t believe that we can get justice. But I am sure my son will get justice here after…”

  1. Imtias Ali b/o Amjad Ali

“Amjad is my elder brother. Viquar Ahmed is our cousin. Amjad was doing embroidery works. He used to go to jim and had no other connections with any organizations, After the Mecca masjid blast Amjad was also implicated in the blast case. He went underground one day after Viquar Ahmed went underground. In the year 2010 he was arrested. During his underground years  he was implicated in a number of cases. Of the thirteen cases against him he was acquitted in almost ten cases. Last year he gave a letter of threat to his life. On 6th April, one day before he was killed he requested the trial judge to allow him not to be present everyday during the trial since it is difficult for him to travel daily because of his disc problem. But the judge refused. There were so many torture marks in my brother’s body. I have photographed all of them. During my brothers underground period police never gave any trouble to our family.”

  1. Mohammed Shahid b/o Mohammed Zakir (32)

“My brother was an auto driver. He was married and has two children. But they were not living with him. He had some financial troubles. He met Viqarudeen when he went to offer prayers in Musheerabad mosque. When Viquar Ahmed asked him to arrange a house for him he helped to find one. Apart from this he had no connection with either Viquar Ahmed or others. He had just passed 10th std and had no political affiliations.”

  1. Advocate Shaik Saifullah Khaled

Saifullah Khaled is the lawyer for three of those killed (Viquar Ahmed, Amjad Ali and Zakir). He told that judiciary, NHRC and the political class all have different standards of justice when they face violations of the rights of Muslims. They didn’t take the cold blooded murder of these five Muslim youths seriously. NHRC sent a special team to investigate the Seshachalam murders and asked to submit a report. “Muslim ruling class also not worried about this since they have strong connections with the ruling parties” he said.

When we asked him about Viquar Ahmed’s connection with the DJS, he replied that, “Viquar Ahmed is an emotional person and DJS is neither a banned organization nor a terrorist outfit. It is just like the RSS. It gave training in physical exercises and some martial arts”. When we asked him about the police propaganda that Viquar Ahmed was the founder member of one Tehreek –e- Galba –e- Islami (TGI), he said that it is a total lie.

After the murder of all these five people he moved the High Court of AP and Telangana with a prayer to exhume the bodies and conduct a re-postmortem. He also prayed for the registration of a case of murders against the escort team. The court was reluctant to pass an order and had postponed the case to June 8 which is meaningless since the bodies will be decomposed totally in the meantime.

When we asked him about the Special investigation team appointed by the Telangana Govt to investigate the encounters he replied that many of the police officers included in that team are notorious for their hate against Muslims.

  1. Lateef Mohammed Khan and Kaneez Fathima, the office bearers of ‘Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee’

The ‘Civil Liberties Monitoring Committee’ has published a detailed report on this encounter killings immediately after it happened.  Lateef Mohammed Khan has moved the court to pass order for a magisterial enquiry on the encounter which is mandatory as per CrPc 176 (1) (a). This case is also posted to June 8. He had also given a complaint to the station in charge of the Aler PS to register a separate case against the escort party for murder charges under Sec 302 IPC which was refused.  Lateef is of the view that the lives of the Muslims of India are in danger and the lives of Muslim prisoners are more dangerous. When we asked about Viquar Ahmed’s connection with the ‘terrorist outfit’ TGI he laughed and said that TGI is an invention of the police to kill these people. He also said that these five youths might have been killed in a nearby ‘tanda’ and brought here.

  1. Zahid Ali Khan, Editor, Siasat

Zahid Ali Khan is the editor of the Urdu daily Siasat. He told that except Abu Asim Azmi, Samajvadi Party leader local Muslim leaders have not opened their mouth to condemn these fake encounters. It is a clear case of revenge killing contemplated in the higher levels. He opined that some other killing squad other than the escort party might have been employed to kill these victims. Finally he said that he still has strong faith in Indian judicial system and he felt that a judicial enquiry by a sitting judge will bring the facts behind these killings.

  1. Abid Rasool Khan, Chairman, Minority Commission

When we started to raise our doubts about this encounter story the minorities commission chairman Abid Rasool Khan began to cogently narrate all the loopholes in the police story and said that the commission has raised all these questions and sought explanation from the police and other authorities. When we asked him about his impression on this so called encounter he replied that as a constitutional body he cannot form any impression before proper investigation. Regarding the SIT formed by the government, he said that it is just another police investigation and the commission will press for proper enquiries. When we complained that the Supreme Court directions and NHRC directives were not followed in this case, he said that if we give a written complaint to the commission explaining in what way these directions are violated, he would necessarily take action. Regarding compensation to the families of those killed , he said that if there are any precedents for this, the commission will recommend  this also to the government.

10.DGP Anurag Sharma

Even before we begin to raise our questions he told that the case is under investigation and replying to our questions would be subjudice. When we asked why no murder case was filed against the police, he replied that the police happened to kill when performing their duties and hence no such case can be filed against them. When we pointed out that in the PUCL vs State of Maharashtra case SC has said (Sep 23, 2014) that such a case should be filed when a person dies in police firing, he asked us to show any reference to it. We immediately showed him a copy of the judgment which he brushed aside saying that they have already consulted legal experts  and  the attempt to murder case filed  against the five persons killed in the encounter is enough to investigate the encounter. He also continued that the SIT will do that. When we pointed out that the leader of the SIT DIG Sangalia has resigned he said that he did it because of personnel reasons. Before we came out we said that our impression is that it is a cold blooded murder and he replied that he would not respond to this.

  1. Boora Narsaiah Goud, Nalgonda MP (TRS)

When we contacted Member of Parliament, Nalgonda Constituency Boora Narsaiah Goud over phone, he hesitated to comment on this encounter. “Now I am in Delhi attending the Parliament. I can’t tell at this time, whether it is a real encounter or a fake one without knowing the full facts. I feel that the appointment of a Special Investigation Team is a correct act”.

Our Observations

All the loopholes in the police story , that we have narrated in the first part of this report remains unanswerable. All these five people were arrested more or less at the same time and all of them are implicated in all the cases with two other people who are now in jails. In the second part of our report the family members of  Viquar Ahmed, Amjad Ali, Mohammed Haneef and Mohammed Zakir narrate their versions about how these five people were implicated in all these cases. The fifth person Izhar Khan from UP is charged as the person who gave a pistol to them.

Of all these five people only Viqarudeen  had some political connections. He and his cousin Amjad Ali went underground only to avoid arrest and torture through implicating them in the Mecca majid blast case. The irony here is that a Saffron outfit was behind that blast. But the police targeted   Muslim youths as usual. This led Viquar Ahmed and Amjad to go underground. Even their family members didn’t know what they were doing and who were behind them in the next three years.

As human rights activists we are concerned here only with rights of these accused. Even if we assume that Viquar Ahmed was responsible for attacking the police we don’t know how even before he was arrested the others were implicated in these cases. S 120 (b) was also invoked against them. For this at least five people should be involved in the conspiracy. Without arresting Viquar Ahmed how the police came to know that others are also involved in it?

Though the trials are going on in Nampalli court in Hyderabad,  all these arrested were shifted from jails near Hyderabad to Warangal prison on the pretext that they were creating trouble there. This was done only to kill them.

On the fateful day, they started earlier, reached a comparatively safe place where there are no houses nearby, diverted the traffic away from the highways for more than an hour and killed all these five under trials who were handcuffed and tied to their seats.

We strongly believe that this is a cold blooded murder to avenge the killings of police personnel. It was contemplated at a higher level to boost the sagging morale of the Telangana police. Not only those executed this at a lower level are responsible for these murders but those who contemplated this which include not only  the higher police officials but also those in political power.

The political class as well the so called custodians of law and order are worried  only about the sagging morale of the constabulary, but they were least bothered about the consequences of the solution they choose. This encounter remedy they choose will lead the minorities to loose faith in our democracy and justice delivery system. The ruling class should understand that peace is possible only with justice.

We are very upset with the way in which the judiciary handled this case before and after the encounters. The only last hope of  the deprived people is the judiciary. Even the judiciary also leaves them without hope where will they go?

It is high time that we should put an end to this injustice of allowing those responsible for such heinous crimes to escape without facing the law of the land. In the Hashimpura case those cold blooded murderers who killed 42 innocent Muslims are allowed to escape from the law on the pretext that there were no evidences.  How could strong evidences be presented before the court when the offenders themselves act as the investigators and prosecutors?

We have to create a clear cut mechanism that will ensure justice to those who are eliminated by the law enforcing agencies of the state.

Demands

  1. The special investigation team (SIT) formed by the Telangana government will not do any justice to the victims. This is formed just to give a clean chit to the persons responsible for this fake encounters. We demand a CBI enquiry monitored by the Supreme Court. The bodies of all these five persons killed on April 7, 2015 should be exhumed and re postmortem should be done immediately.
  1. All these five persons killed in this fake encounter were in the judicial custody. Killing people in judicial custody is an increasing phenomena in this country. Judiciary is responsible for the life and security of the people in its custody. It is deplorable that judiciary is not concerned about In this encounter in the Aler police station limit  the judiciary and the Telangana state government should take the full responsibility for these cold blooded murders of the five under trials. We demand a compensation of Rs 30 lakhs to the family members of those killed.
  1. Though detailed directives are provided by the Supreme Court and NHRC on what is to be done in the cases of encounter killings a clear cut mechanism should be evolved immediately without any loopholes so that the guilty should not escape from the clutches of law. It should be mandatory that cases should be filed against the police team involved in encounter killings for murder charges (Sec 302 IPC) and they should be suspended from service till they prove that they had no other way except to kill them to save themselves.

________________________________________________________________________

National Confederation of Human Rights Organisations (NCHRO)

N-44, Hilal Homes, 2nd Stage, Ground Floor, Abul Fazal Enclave, Jamia Nagar,                                                                    New Delhi – 110 025 Email: nchromail@gmail.com, Web: www.nchro.org

Note:   This Report was published today (30.04.2015) at NSS Press Club, Hyderguda,

Hyderabad.