One can’t step down for every Pvt. Complaint-Justice Hegde

The moment a case is filed against a politician the instant reaction is to seek his resignation for which ever post he is holding. Yesterday it was the case of three former Chief Ministers of Karnataka against whom an FIR was lodged in connection with the illegal mining case.

The question is when should a person in power step down when certain charges are made against him. The case on hand dealt with a private complaint filed in the court of the Karnataka Lokayukta in which it was alleged that S M Krishna, N Dharam Singh and H D Kumaraswamy had helped certain companies carry out illegal mining activities as a result of which a huge loss was caused to the exchequer of the state. The Lokayukta police after filing an FIR will now prepare a report and submit the same by January 6 as per the directive of the court.

Justice Santhosh Hegde, former Lokayukta of Karnataka who filed a detailed report on illegal mining just before his retirement says that the issue of stepping down in the wake of an FIR being filed should be looked at in three different ways.

On the question as to why S M Krishna did not find a mention in his report, he said he did not wish to comment. I do not want politicians attributing anything to me and if I do speak on the issue then there is every chance that it would happen. All I can say is that my report speaks for itself and there is nothing more to it. I have probed each and every angle to the case and have put up a comprehensive report. Anything more spoken on the issue would be construed wrongly and it could be well said that I had left out some names on purpose in my report.

Regarding this issue of men in power stepping down after cases are filed against them, then it should be looked at in different ways. When there is a charge against a person in public life and the charge shows that his or her behaviour has been nothing but that of a corrupt one then in that case they ought to step down. I for one believe that the concept innocent until proven guilty should not hold good for public issues since these are issues involving moral turpitude.

The other thing that needs to be looked into is whether there is mere mud slinging against a person in public office. In such cases the no decision should be taken until the court frames charges. The police need to file an FIR, investigate the matter and then file a chargesheet with documentary evidence. Once the charges are studied by the court and the charges framed and a prima facie case is made out until then there should be no decision on the person stepping down. The point is that each complaint needs to be studied properly before any action is taken.

However what I would also like to add is that in cases where a private party has thrown a charge the question of stepping down does not hold good at all.

Lok Pal

Justice Hegde who is also part of the Lok Pak bill drafting panel says that he does not have much hope from the Bill. Something will come out today and according to me at every stage of the drafting process the government appears to have maintained that control regarding the appointment. I have my own apprehensions and I am sure it would be a watered down bill.

We are left with no option but to protest. However I don’t think protesting for a change in every section of the bill is feasible. Let us wait and see. If the need be we will seek an amendment accordingly.

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FIR against Krishna and co.

In a set back to Union External affairs minister, S M Krishna, the Lokayukta police have filed an FIR against him in connection with the illegal mining case.
The FIR which is also filed against former CHief Ministers Dharam Singh and Kumaraswamy reads thus:
As per the orders of Addl. City Civil and Sessions Court in P.C.R.27/2011, on 08/12/2011 a case has been registered in Crime No. 63/2011 in Bangalore City Lokayukta Police Station under Sees. 13(l)(d)(e) of Prevention of Corruption Act -I5S4, Forests (Conservation) Act – 1980, u/s 104 and 104 (c) of Karnataka Forest Act,Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act – 1957 and u/s 204, 405, 406,463, 465, 468, 471 r/w sec. 423 and 120(b) of Indian Penal Code against S.M.Krishna ,N.Dharam Singh, H.D.Kumaraswamy and others.
A private complaint had been filed alleging that Krishna, Dharam Singh and Kumaraswamy had shown favour as a result of which illegal mining prevailed during their tenures as Chief Ministers.

In addition to the three former Chief Ministers, FIRs were also filed against 11 bureucrats.
J Abraham, had filed a complaint in the court of Lokayukta judge N K Sudhindra Rao. The court had two weeks vack directed the police to probe the matter and submit a report by January 6.
the Lokayukta police say that they would start probing into the matter on the basis of this complaint. In order to commence the probe, they first needed to file a first information report. A report of the investigation would be submitted to the court on January 6th as per the order of the court.

The confession of an IM operative

Targetting religious places, voicing the concerns of Pakistan and large scale destruction- this is what the refurbished Indian Mujahideen had in mind. Special teams from Delhi, Maharashtra and Karnataka continue to grill the recently arrests suspects in the Chinnaswamy Stadium, German Bakery and the Jama Masjid attack cases and they have found a lot of information relating to these incidents. The man that has been providing most of the information to the police is Qateel Siddiqui who speaks about his role both in the German Bakery and the Chinnaswamy stadium blasts. He was part of both the operations, but his job in the Pune blasts was restricted to an operation to be carried out at the Shrimant Dagdusheth Halwai on the same day and at the same time. He tells the police that it was Yaseen Bhatkal who planted the bomb at German bakery while he was assigned the task of undertaking the operation at the temple.

Qateel who hails from Bihar also told the police that during their meetings they had also decided on carrying out an attack at Bangalore during the IPL match. He said that they only wanted to send out a message to the Indian authorities that they did the wrong thing by not playing the Pakistani players.

While the plots in both the German Bakery and IPL blasts case is clear, there is really not sense being made out of the Jama Masjid attack. Some police officials say that it is more of a test run and it was never going to be a major operation. It was timed to coincide with the inaugural of the Common Wealth Games and the intention was only to create panic. It was a hurried operation and the execution showed that there was not much planning in it. However what the police are more curious about is the ammunition and the arms that were used in that attack and it only went on to show that despite the crack down they were able to easily procure rifles and also material to make bombs. However in the Jama Masjid attack, the IM relied on using a pressure cooker bomb which finally blew up a car.

Qateel during his interrogation says that these attacks were all planned under the supervision of Yaseen Bhatkal. He was the direct link between the top IM leadership and also the cadres. They never made use of phones or emails during this operation and always met directly. All the meetings were held in Delhi and the plan was also laid out over there. This is precisely one of the reasons why the police took so very long to nab these culprits since the use of technology was something that was never present during these attacks.

Qateel further points out that Yasin had told them that the Pune operation would be their biggest one since there was a need to hit back at the police. They believed that under the garb of curbing terrorism the police had made the life of some innocents hell and hence they needed to strike. At Pune two blasts were planned, but then only one worked out. Yasin had carried the bomb to the German Bakery while Qateel was supposed to plant it at the temple. However while leaving the bag it was noticed and he was told to take the bag out. He could not go ahead with the operation following which he dismantled the bomb.

When it came to carrying out the IPL blasts, Yaseen stayed away from the actual operation. Qateel is an unknown face in Karnataka and there was never any proper record against him. This was however not the case of Yaseen Bhatkal as he hails from Karnataka. Qateel was assigned the job along with Ghayur Jamil. For both the German Bakery blasts and also the IPL blasts, the material was carried out of Delhi and assembled in the respective places.

The interrogations have also thrown up another interesting fact and that is Delhi had always been the hub for IM activities. Some believed that they were operating out of Pune, but after the earlier crack down two years back they had moved out of there entirely. Investigations have show that Yaseen was always at Delhi and he was also one of the youth who managed to escape during the Batla House encounter. Further it has also been revealed the Bhatkal brother-Riyaz and Iqbal too had made a visit to Delhi to oversee the re-birth of the IM. The re-birth of the IM has always been on the cards. There has been a lot spoken about this, but it is only now that the police have actually been able to find out how these persons were going about their job.

With IT Act in place, Sibal sounds out of place

Photo courtesy: http://socialmediainfluence.com/

Pre monitoring content on social networking sites is a subject matter of debate. Kapil Sibal talks about such an action and one could say with some bit of confidence that it is something that has not been accepted by one and all, leave alone being taken in the right spirit.

The question is do we need further monitoring of the social media when laws are already in place or is it time India deals with bigger challenges such as cloud computing for which there are absolutely no laws in place.

We have an IT Act in place which came into existence in the year 2000. It is considered to be a mother legislation dealing with all data and information in the electronic form as also the use of computers. This law already has in place certain provisions. These were further amended in the year 2008. After the amendment Section 66 (A) of the amended IT act provided for a very wide offence pertaining to electronic/online defamation. This is made an offence punishable with 3 years imprisonment and fine.

Pavan Duggal, an expert on cyber laws and also an advocate in the Supreme Court who is opposed to the idea put forth by Sibal says we already have enough and more laws in place. While Section 66 (A) deals with these aspects there is also Section 67 of the IT Act which states publishing and transmission of seen electronic information is made out to be a crime. This section is also wide enough to incorporate content that is defamatory or appears to the prurient interest or the effect of which is to tend to deprave and corrupt the minds of those who are likely to see read or hear the same. This is another broad category of offence attracting 3 years of prison or Rs 5 lakh in fine. However today after the amendment the offence has become a bailable one.

Further under the IT Act the government has implanted the rules of 2011 April. These rules provide a mechanism for disabling access to defamatory content and other illegal content. Any affected person can complain to the service provider or government can notify to the service provider about the same. The service provider is mandated to act with 36 hours failing which the service provider becomes also a co accused and a co abettor and could face civil and criminal exposure under IT Act and also the Indian Penal Code.

Rajeev Chandrasekhar, Member of Parliament points out that if Kapil Sibal and Co were really serious about protecting people from defamation on the net, they would first of all read the IT act – there is a section there that allows a victim to legally pursue his/her claim of defamation – its a strong legal provision – and after reading it and understanding it they would then ensure they run a public awareness program – so that victims can then pursue their cases on their own.

This man is a lawyer and he hasn’t read the laws that exist? Are we destined to be governed by people who don’t read, don’t understand and only pander to fears and vote banks and rely on spin/obfuscation as their only tool? :

Duggal further adds that we already have a mechanism in place. Now after the amendment we have in place a few categories designed as intermediaries under Section 2 (1) (w) of the IT Act. This is very vast to include all social media service providers. Under Section 79 of the IT Act, these social media companies are mandated to do due diligence while discharging their obligations under the law. Further they are also mandated to comply with rules and regulations

Once we have this in place, where is the logic for further regulations of social media. Further any kind of regulation of social media is likely to have a prejiducial impact upon the freedom of speech and expression. Now the minister has talked in terms of pre monitoring content which is an extremely difficult exercise given the continuously growing size of social media. Today there more than crores of messages and tweets per day are generated by all social media platforms from India alone. Pre monitoring all such content is not only technologically but also humanly impossible. When you look at laws across the world almost all laws have touched on the aspect post publication period. Once material is published it could be taken down and the author prosecuted. None of the laws talk of the pre publication phase. This is because it not only spells death knell of real time communication, but also that the same is not even warranted by laws of countries in the actual world. Today almost all across the world the speeches or what is spoken is not pre monitored. Hence what is not done in the actual world cannot also not be done on the internet.

There is an inherent flawed approach. Further such an exercise is likely to impact the privacy rights of citizens. Rather than amending the law and making it more in sync with the current level of technological development, the minister is talking about over regulation of social media which even the main legislation does not speak about.

With cloud computing now coming in the law needs to be beefed. Rather than beefing the law we are thinking in another direction.

Omission of Pak players led to IPL blasts?

The investigations into the Chinnaswamy stadium blasts have revealed that the reason behind the attack was to avenge leaving Pakistan out of the Indian Premier League. The Bangalore police which had sent a special team to New Delhi to interrogate the accused arrested by the Delhi police said that during their probe the accused persons had revealed the above mentioned reason. The Bangalore police have zeroed in on two persons by the Mohammad Qateel from Darbanga, Bihar and Ghayur Ahmed Jamali from Madhubhani, Bihar. It has been found that the duo had come down to Tumkur in Karnataka where they prepared the bomb. In the month of April 2010, the duo left to the Chinnaswamy stadium before the match commenced and planted the bomb. The accused persons are said to have told the cops that the Indian MUjahideen, the outfit that they belong to were upset with the fact that Pakistani players were omitted from the IPL. They had decided to carry out an attack in order to send out a message to India that this is what they would face in case they left the Pakistanis. Hence it was decided that they would carry out the attack. The Bangalore police informed that the body warrant of the two persons have been obtained and they would be brought down to Bangalore for further investigation. The Delhi police meanwhile continued interrogating the rest of the persons whom they had arrested in connection with the various blasts to have rocked the country. As of now the leads into the Stadium blasts are the clearest while there is still some time to go before they could crack the 13/7 and the Jama Masjid attack case which took place before the Common Wealth Games.

Radicals on the web- India beware

Recruitments, data theft, cyber crime, communication etc is something that a terrorist would primarily use the internet for. A recent report from the United States of America goes on to indicate that the Lashkar-e-Tayiba has been using the internet extensively to radicalise youth across the world in order to take up the cause of jihad.

Although it is a well known fact that terrorists have always been net savvy, today the use of the internet has gone up ten fold. Although the entire world is at risk, India faces a very big challenge as this phenomenon of radicalising youth with the help of the internet has found favour on Indian soil as well.

Although India today is focusing most of its resources on cleaning up social networking sites, the bigger worry is how the internet is being used as a major tool to rope in the youth into the world of terrorism. Intelligence bureau reports would show that there is greater emphasis being laid on roping in the youth through the internet as compared to the scenario a couple of years back where it was done on a man to man basis.

For terrorists this works better since they save themselves the trouble of sending in the experts to carry out recruitments. Moreover it has been proven that self motivated terrorists have always posed a bigger risk to the security system when compared to those who have been brain washed. What tends to happen is that there is material available on the internet and those who repeatedly read it start deciding for themselves. It is their own thought that is in play in such a case which makes them self motivated.

There are nearly 100 sites in India which carry out such a job. Once a person reads through the content and is convinced that he wants to take up the cause of jihad, he has various means within that website of contacting other persons who will lead him up to his destination.

It has become a nightmare for the security agencies to keep a tab of such sites. Cyber crime experts say that it is hard since firstly these messages are garbled. However the bigger problem is that such sites appear and disappear which makes it very difficult to keep a tab on them. Moreover another thing that has been found that such websites are constantly modified and the moment the security agency lays their hands on them the content is changed which indicates that there is constant monitoring on the site. In more than 50 cases at least it has been found that persons hooked on these sites try getting back into them everyday and hence they never lose track of what is happening. After a couple of times they do realise that these sites disappear or are being modified on purpose and they too are aware of this modus operandi.

In India it has also been found that some of the websites have become very interactive in nature. Terrorists have found to be gathering information about some targets and all this date is provided to them by the user. In addition to this they have also been generating funds through donations as they pose to operate as a charitable trust for the purpose of furthering a religious cause. This aspect has found very many takers, security agencies point out.

While this is one aspect pertaining to radicalising the youth the internet has proven to be an excellent medium to connect with each other. With the help of hackers they have managed to encrypt messages and pass on information. More often than not they have managed to fox agencies since this has sometimes proven to be a ploy to throw security agencies off guard. The mistake that our security always makes is to chase something more complicated and in the bargain forget about the easy methods that are used to communicate. This was found during 9/11 when security agencies chased all encrypted messages while terrorists continued to use the normal email to talk with each other.

The issues such a date theft, cyber crimes have always been there and there are various agencies working on such things. However the biggest headache that Indian agencies find today is the huge recruitment process that takes places through the internet. While security forces and intelligence officials are busy preventing activities on the ground, they have been foxed today with the manner in which recruitments continue to take place with the help of the internet.

Police officials say that while interrogating various terrorists they have found those self motivated one to be the most dangerous. Usually those who have been radicalised by another person always have this sense of dependency and there have been times when they have felt forced to do something against their will. However the likes of Kafeel Ahmed of the Glasgow case, T Nasir among other who have gone through a process of radicalisation on their own have proven to be deadlier compared to the rest of them. This phenomenon could be found across the world and hence terrorist outfit would continue to use the net to rope in the youth across the world. More importantly it has be proven it is a safer operation for them since the trail is very hard to find.

AP trust vote-win for Cong or loss for Jagan?

The Congress in Andhra Pradesh survived a test vote. Although it was a trust vote proposed by the Telegu Desam Party, the bigger picture that everyone wanted to see was how much clout could Y Jagan Mohan Reddy yield within the Andhra Pradesh Congress.

At the end of it, he managed the support of 19 rebel Congress MLAs despite proclaiming all these days that he could pull out 40 MLAs from that part with the wave of his hand. The question now is if Jagan really has the amount of support that he claims to have?

The Congress in AP which managed the numbers with the help of the MIM and the PRP says that this only proves that the YSR Congress party does not have the support it talks about. Winning one by-election is not enough to rattle a party which has a history of over a century.

However there is a lot that is taking place behind the scenes and despite the Congress winning the trust vote, they are still in a direct war with the YSR Congress party. Political observers would say that it would have made no sense if this government had fallen. The Congress had already decided that it would keep the assembly under suspended animation in case they lost the trust vote and then they would got an invitation to form the government after six months. In such a scenario, the YSR Congress party which has one MLA only in the house would not have much to do.

There are problems galore for the YSR Congress party. There is still a long way to go before they even matter in the Andhra Pradesh Legislative Assembly. A source in the Jagan camp said that they would instead wait for the Congress to disqualify the 19 MLAs who cross voted and then go in for by-elections. We are confident that all 19 would win under our ticket and then our strength would 20 in the house. During this period we would also want to build our party in the grass root levels so that we have a good say in the local body polls as well. Speaking of dislodging a government with just one MLA in the house is something very stupid. However the issue that the Jagan camp refuses to address is that they have to go a bit slow in all this since there are a host of cases against their leader being probed by various agencies. Any aggressive move on their part would only ensure that the cases move against him at a quicker pace.

The YSR Congress party now waits for the Congress to disqualify the 19 MLAs following which they would prepare for a by-poll. However the Congress is aware of the strategy and is dragging its feet on the issue of disqualification. Although there was a whip issued to all its MLAs, the Congress has still not acted against those who went against this whip. Each one expected that the Congress would take action against these MLAs in the meetings that were conducted yesterday. However not even a letter has been written to the speaker of the house as yet seeking action against these persons.

The YSR Congress says that this is a deliberate ploy on part of the Congress to delay the evil day. We would however wait a while longer before we can direct these MLAs to resign from the party and then force a by-election. The Congress would try and buy some more time and leave the issue dangling as it would want the YSR Congress to make the first move as then it hopes that the accusation would be on that party for breaking up the Congress.

However the road ahead for Jagan appears to be tough. He may have managed to ensure that 19 MLAs remained loyal to him. However that is not enough as he has to personally ensure that each one of them win the by-election. This would be his real acid test unlike the Kadapa by poll which he won with ease. Losing even one of the seats would send across a wrong message to other Congress who are sitting on the fence trying to cross over into the YSR Congress party.

IM moves to Bihar

Intelligence Agencies had warned of a build up in Bihar and the recent arrests of the Indian Mujahideen operatives only went on to prove this fact. Although the Delhi police are still working on concrete leads into the various incidents of terror after these spate of arrests, the focus has now shifted to Bihar from where several leads regarding the operations of the Indian Mujahideen are coming out.

Bihar had all the ingredients to make it one of the biggest hubs for all sorts of notorious activities. Although there were some reports in the past regarding a build of the Indian Mujahideen in this state, it is only now that the police are taking this threat seriously. Bihar according to Intelligence reports acted more as a transit point all these years, but today it has become a recruitment hub.

Today there are at least 11 active modules of the IM operating in Bihar and each of them have been functioning to their potential which eventually helped the re-grouping of the IM. The areas that have come under the scanner are Araria, Madhubani and Sitamarhi. These areas have been considered to be the top hubs for terror recruits. Although it is hard to put a figure on the number of recruitments that have taken place in these areas, sources in police say that the number is quite substantial.

Earlier there was a lot of emphasis on areas such as Old Delhi and Azamgarh. But today it appears that terror operations in those areas have come down a great deal. It was obvious that they would shift their area of operation as it had become too easy for the police to make a search for the usual suspects.

A state like Bihar has always been a happy hunting ground for any sort of illegal activity. Take the district of Kishanganj for instance. It has been notorious for illegal immigration and there is very little that the government has been able to do to stall this problem.

There is a constant influx of people into these areas which make it easier for terrorists in particular to get in and also out after every incident. This is probably one of the reasons why there is such a mystery surrounding the Varanasi blasts as it is believed that the foot soldiers could have slipped out thanks to this uncontrollable menace of illegal immigration.

Another interesting aspect which would need to be looked into here is that all recruitments that have been made for the recent blasts have been from Bihar. All these address details have the name of this state. With nearly 20 million illegal immigrants in India most of whom are in Bihar and West Bengal the task ahead appears to be extremely tough. There are only a handful of ideological terrorists in these modules while the rest of them have been recruited for money. This would mean they carry out the operation and then slip out thus leaving no trail.

Prior to these arrests there was a man by the name Riyazul Sarkar who had been picked up on the suspicion that he had a role to play in the 13/7 blasts. On interrogation it was found that he belonged to Kishangang which is a hub for illegal immigtation. It has been found that there are a large number of touts who are involved in bringing in such persons and in the days to come these persons who be under the scanner. The very fact that these persons live in India with no proper records goes on to make the job harder for security agencies.

Investigations have found that the main transt point has however been a place called Purnea which shares a border with West Bengal which is another state notorious for illegal immigration. This has been the the transit point. Not only does it bring in the illegal immigrants but has also become a major transit point to smuggle arms and also drugs. The fact that Nepal too is round the corner has made matters only worse.

The Bihar operation has been two fold for the Indian Mujahideen. Not only have they tapped persons who are in want of money, but have also targeted the educated youth. There appears to be a change in the mind set of the youth in this state and it has become extremely easy to recruit them. Riyaz Bhatkal who also goes by the name Sharukh Khan has tapped this state extensively. All recent recruitment have been attributed to him and the manner in which he has gone about picking up youth with such ease has attracted the attention of other terror groups as well. Today the police say that apart from the IM, one could find cadres of the Lashkar-e-Tayiba, Hizbul Mujahideen and also the Harkat-ul-Jihadi in this state.

The IB says that Bihar will continue to be a landing point for these terror groups. Not only are they getting their recruitments done with ease, but have also been able to transport and also stock up arms and ammunition with ease.

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The Kandhamal report

A report of the National Peoples’ Tribunal on Kandhamal is out. The tribunal which is headed by Justice A P Shah which runs into 197 pages points out that the brutality of the violence during the violence of 2008 falls within the definition of ‘torture’ under international law, particularly the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Communal forces have used religious conversions as an issue for political mobilisation and incited horrific forms of violence and discrimination against adivasi and dalit Christians.

The twelve member jury relied on the testimonies of 45 victims, survivors and their representatives. In many of its recommendations it goes on to state that National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) and other livelihood schemes of the state and central government to the affected community, without any discrimination on the basis of caste, religion or gender. Act against those engaging in such discrimination.

OBSERVATIONS:

Communal Violence in Orissa: The targeted violence against the adivasi and dalit Christian community in Orissa violates the fundamental right to life, liberty and equality guaranteed by the Indian Constitution, and affirmed by the ICCPR, ICESCR, CERD and other international covenants. The brutality of the violence also falls within the definition of ‘torture’ under international law, particularly the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. Communal forces have used religious conversions as an issue for political mobilisation and incited horrific forms of violence and discrimination against adivasi and dalit Christians.

Violence in Kandhamal: The 2008 attacks in Kandhamal were widespread, and were executed with substantial planning and preparation. The violence meets all the elements of ‘crimes against humanity’ as defined in applicable international law. Christians who refused to abandon their faith and convert to Hinduism were brutally killed or injured. Burning and destruction of property (residential, official and religious / charitable institutions) was also a predominant form of violence. Human rights defenders have been deliberately targeted for their role in assisting victim-survivors. Moveable property, valuable documents and certificates were looted / destroyed to economically impoverish and lower the socio-economic status of the victim-survivors. Evidence of the attacks was systematically and meticulously destroyed in order to scuttle the processes of justice and accountability.

Gendered Impact: The jury observes, with deep concern, the silence that prevails in matters of sexual assault, at various levels including documenting, reporting, investigating, charging and prosecuting cases. The threats of sexual violence against women and their daughters continue, heightening women’s sense of vulnerability. The attacks on women violate constitutional guarantees of equality and non-discrimination on the ground of sex, and other international standards, including the CEDAW. The relief measures undertaken by the government have been marked by gender blindness and did not address women’s special needs for privacy, nutrition, medical and psychological support. There is no implementation of government schemes by which widows, single women and women survivors of violence can be restored to a life with dignity.

Impact on Children: The impoverishment of the victim-survivor community after the violence has had an adverse impact on the children jeopardizing their physical, psychological and intellectual development. Many children have witnessed horrific violence to their close family members and suffer from acute trauma with no access to services of socio – psycho support and healing. Many children have dropped out of school due to the financial inability of the families to bear the expenses, due to fear or discrimination by the school authority. Children having been forced into the labour force, in hazardous conditions, in order to supplement the family income, and have also been trafficked for the purposes of forced labour, sexual exploitation and abuse.

Impact on Socio-economic and Cultural Rights: The violence against Christians has caused large-scale displacement, leaving the victim-survivors with a sense of rootlessness. The destruction of many churches and prayer halls, and the failure to reconstruct them has deprived the victim-survivors of their right to religious practice. The victim-survivor community is unable to freely practise its faith and is thereby reduced to a state of secondary citizenship – an anathema in a democracy like India with a constitution that guarantees fundamental rights. The violence has had an adverse impact on the livelihood and economic well-being of the affected people. Socio-economic boycott of the Christian community continues to be implemented in a variety of ways. The provisions of NREGA too do not benefit them as it is implemented in manner that discriminates against persons on grounds of religion, caste and gender.

Role of State Administration and Public Officials: The jury members observe, with grave concern, the deliberate dereliction of constitutionally mandated duties by public officials, their connivance with communal forces, participation in and support to the violence and a deliberate scuttling of processes of justice through acts of commission and omission. The state agencies have blatantly failed to extend much-needed institutional support to victim-survivors and protect them from attacks to their persons and properties, ostracism, socio-economic boycott and subjugation by non-state actors. The state government has also failed in its responsibility to prevent the violence in Kandhamal in August 2008.

The Justice Process: The jury observes, with deep concern, that the criminal justice system has been rendered ineffective in protecting victim-survivors and witnesses, providing justice and ensuring accountability for the crimes perpetrated. The complicity of the police and their collusion with the perpetrators during the phase of investigation and prosecution, indicate an institutional bias against the targeted Christian adivasi and dalit community. Victims and witnesses engaged in the justice process have been threatened and intimidated, as there is no guarantee of safe passage to and from the courts. Guidelines on witness protection, issued by the Supreme Court and various High Courts, are not followed by the Fast Track courts. Women and child witnesses face extreme vulnerability. The jury further observes that clear gaps exist in substantive, procedural and evidentiary law to prosecute and punish those responsible for targeted mass violence, and that international jurisprudence in this regard has potential relevance for filling the gaps in Indian criminal law.

RECOMMENDATIONS:

Socio-economic Rights

Apply National Rural Employment Guarantee Act and other livelihood schemes of the state and central government to the affected community, without any discrimination on the basis of caste, religion or gender. Act against those engaging in such discrimination.

Implement widow pension schemes; provide government jobs to individuals from families of deceased victims, on compassionate grounds.

Ensure that relief camps meet the minimum international standards of health, hygiene and privacy.

Incorporate a separate section in the State policy on relief and rehabilitation that conforms to Article 3 of the Child Rights Convention, as the guiding principle for all relief and rehabilitation work.

Address educational needs of the children who have suffered displacement as a result of the violence.

Address the long-standing problem of landlessness and land alienation of the dalits and adivasis in a comprehensive manner through land reform and redistribution.

Reparations

Adopt, at the very minimum, the 1984 anti Sikh and 2002 anti Muslim Gujarat compensation package to enhance the compensation already announced. In addition, victims of sexual and gender-based violence should be included as a ground eligible for compensation and employment.

Recognize the right of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to return home and create enabling conditions to facilitate such safe return in accordance with the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement, 2007 and UN Guiding Principles on Internally Displaced Persons.

Facilitate the return and reintegration of the affected families back in their villages of habitual residence, or resettle them in safe and secure alternative places of residence that is near to agro-based or other livelihood possibilities.

Minority Rights

Protect the right to religious freedom and clarify that this freedom means and includes the right to remain animist, areligious and/or atheist, and make any form of forced conversion or reconversion illegal.

Formulate a policy / programme to urgently address the issue of institutional bias against the minority Christian community in Kandhamal and other parts of Orissa, through a combination of perspective-building and stringent action that is intended at upholding the rule of law.

Bellary win-is it defeat for Justice Hegde

Bellary has been retained by Sriramulu, one of the closest aides of the Reddy brothers who are all part of the illegal mining scam. The big question that is being asked is whether the likes of Anna Hazare and Justice Santhosh Hegde who have been raising their voice against corruption been silenced?
Sriramulu has been in the news for his role in the illegal mining case. It is Justice Hegde’s report on illegal mining which had Sriramulu’s name as one of the accused in the case. Today does the victory of Sriramulu mean the defeat of Justice Hegde’s movement against corruption?
Justice Hegde does not think so. He has won alright. Is he the only corrupt one over there? Do you mean to say the others have not spent money?
How can you say the movement against corruption has been defeated? Such things happen. It takes a while. The objective should not be defeated. If some have taken money and voted then they should answer their conscience.
Speaking of the Bellary election today each of the parties has been corrupt. Each one has had a role to play in the illegal mining case and hence there is very little choice.
You can make light of the movement against corruption. Although I agree when you would say that the issue of electoral reforms ought to have been taken up by us first before the issue of corruption. There is a need to change electoral laws first if we want to see some impact in the system.
However I would want to take this issue up. I would want a performance audit of all MP’s and MLA’s. Such things should be made public and the voter must have the power to recall his vote. This would keep these leaders on tenter hooks. Let this be put in and the next election would have a better result.
The question of fielding tainted candidates is another issue. Once a charge is framed by a court then the candidate should be denied a ticket. When the charge is framed it would mean that the court has applied its mind. However merely being an accused does not mean he should be denied a ticket. Even naming someone in a Lokayukta report is not a criteria to deny a ticket. A Lokayukta report is not a conviction, it is just first information.