Thursday, August 15, 2019

The Myths that are being sold to India on Kashmir

Two days after the parliamentary coup in Kashmir, I laid a bet with a Delhi taxi driver.  A year from now, he said, Kashmir would be ‘normal’, without the need for any troops. If there are still forces in Kashmir, however, he will throw a party for me in Mahipalpur. The ordinary citizen of India has been sold a myth by the RSS and the BJP, a myth which is as old as history – that colonization is primarily for the benefit of those being colonized.

Article 370: How much truth is there in the Government's claims?

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Why the Forest Rights Act is not only Constitutional but essential for Conservation

A Mahagatbandhan in the Forests is the need of the Hour

In the brave new world that defines India today, if your biometrics fail to match those in the Aadhaar database, you don’t get your rations, and could even die.[1] Similarly, if the government fails to recognise your claims on forest land, not only do you not get the title to the land you have been cultivating for generations, but you even stand the risk of being evicted. Again and again, we see that it is the most poor and vulnerable who are at risk of being penalised for government failures.

When the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act 2006, generally referred to as the Forest Rights Act (FRA) was passed, there was hope that it would at last usher in some change in the undeclared civil war that has existed between the forest department and forest dwellers over the last century or more. The Act aimed to redress the ‘historical injustice to the forest dwelling Scheduled Tribes’ by recognising their property rights to land, as well as non-timber forest produce, and the community right of control and management which was appropriated by the forest department. However, recent events show that there is little likelihood of that, with the looming threat of Supreme Court mandated evictions and a highly problematic 2019 Forest Act that is proposed to replace the 1927 Indian Forest Act.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

आरोप पत्र से नाम हटाने के संबंध में नंदिनी सुंदर, अर्चना प्रसाद, संजय पराते, विनीत तिवारी व अन्य का संयुक्त बयान

दिनांक 12 फरवरी, 2019

हम खुश हैं कि शामनाथ बघेल की हत्या के प्रकरण में छत्तीसगढ़ पुलिस ने आरोप पत्र से हमारा नाम हटाया है. हमें आशा है कि सैकड़ों निर्दोष आदिवासी और वे सभी, जो फर्जी मुकदमों में जेलों में है, उन्हें भी जल्द ही न्याय मिलेगा. हम अपने वकीलों, मित्रों और उन सभी लोगों के आभारी हैं, जिन्होंने इस मामले में हम पर विश्वास जताया, हमारा हौसला बढ़ाया और मदद की।

Statement in connection with our names being dropped from chargesheet

We are happy that the Chhattisgarh police have dropped our names from the chargesheet in the murder of Shyamnath Baghel. We hope that the many hundreds of innocent adivasis and all others who have been falsely implicated and are languishing in jail will also soon get justice. We are grateful to our lawyers, friends and all those who helped us in clearing our name.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Letter to Press Council on defamatory headlines by Dainik Jagran and Nai Duniya

Justice C.K. Prasad
Chairman, Press Council of India
Soochna Bhavan, 8 C.G.O. Complex,
Lodhi Road, New Delhi-110003
Dear Justice Prasad and other members
I am writing with reference to an article published by Nai Duniya in its Raipur edition of November 28, 2018, as well as on the Dainik Jagran on 27th November 2018, titled “Maovadi karyakarta Nandini ke khilaf jaanch par Chhattisgarh se report talab
A copy of the article in print and on the website is attached for your perusal.
It is completely false, libelous and defamatory, and contrary to all journalistic principles, to call me a Maoist karyakarta. A karyakarta means a member or active worker.
I am a Professor of Sociology at Delhi University, and a petitioner in the historic Salwa Judum Judgement of 2011 in the Supreme Court where the Supreme Court banned state support for the Salwa Judum.
The Supreme Court has itself said that it is aghast to see well-meaning citizens who took up the cause of human rights called “Maoists”:
“What was doubly dismaying to us was the repeated insistence, by the respondents, that the only option for the State was to rule with an iron fist, establish a social order in which every person is to be treated as suspect, and any one speaking for human rights of citizens to be deemed as suspect, and a Maoist. In this bleak, and miasmic world view propounded by the respondents in the instant case, historian Ramchandra Guha, noted academic Nandini Sundar, civil society leader Swami Agnivesh, and a former and well reputed bureaucrat, E.A.S. Sarma, were all to be treated as Maoists, or supporters of Maoists. We must state that we were aghast at the blindness to constitutional limitations of the State of Chattisgarh, and some of its advocates, in claiming that any one who questions the conditions of inhumanity that are rampant in many parts of that state ought to necessarily be treated as Maoists, or their sympathizers, and yet in the same breath also claim that it needs the constitutional sanction, under our Constitution, to perpetrate its policies of ruthless violence against the people of Chattisgarh to establish a Constitutional order.”

The NaiDuniya and Dainik Jagran articles are in the context of a petition I filed in the Supreme Court asking for my name to be dropped from a false and malicious FIR. The state had itself previously assured the Court that they would not arrest or investigate on the basis of that FIR. The headline not only calls me a Maoist karyakarta, but only at the very end notes that the order to submit a report was on my petition. The newspaper is thus clearly motivated to spread a defamatory impression about me. 
The hastags are also #Maovadi karyakarta and #Maoist activist Nandini
I have repeatedly criticized both the Maoists and the Government for human rights violations and my writings are widely available in public. On no grounds whatsoever can anyone call me a Maoist karyakarta or Maoist activist.
I would be grateful if the Press Council took stern action against Nai Duniya and Dainik Jagran and asked them to issue a front page apology for their defamatory headline, and refrain from such motivated and malicious reporting in future.

Yours sincerely

Nandini Sundar

Friday, October 12, 2018

'Final Hearing' of Salwa Judum matter begins - an update

'Final hearing' of the salwa judum matter started on 11 October 2018 - or perhaps I should more accurately say first hearing under this bench. This is the first time the new set of judges we have had since 2015 have actually had the matter explained. There has never been time earlier; and CG counsel/UOI lawyers have always heckled and interrupted. Its only because it was listed as final hearing that our counsel got time to speak uninterrupted.
At the beginning, the State of CG and UOI tried to get it adjourned as usual - they want the current judge to retire so matter has to be heard all over again and goes into cold storage. They argued that elections precluded court hearings. Fortunately the judges proceeded, but alas, the next date is only November 27...and Justice Lokur retires in December. The bench consists of Justice Madan Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta. 
Advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan argued for 3.5 hours -brilliantly laying out the horror of what has been happening over the last decade and the complete impunity. First she started by reading the 2011 judgment, then showing how the same SPOs had been absorbed lock stock and barrel into the auxiliary forces with effect from the date of the order saying they should be disbanded and disarmed, then she showed how these very same people had attacked the CBI a year later in 2012. Then she shifted attention to the huge scale of violations since 2005; and read from the NCPCR report prepared by Shanta Sinha, JM Lyngdoh and MV, and the horrible tale of abuse it told; read from the NHRC report, and emphasised again and again that in the face of this huge scale of violations the state had filed only 8 FIRs, 7 of which have been closed. She had prepared a compilation of 7 volumes through which she was taking the judges. (The state had not bothered to file its compilation despite directions saying they should file a week in advance). The Judges asked good questions.
To think that so many deaths, rapes and arson have occurred; there have been over 60 hearings/100 listings of this matter... and no compensation, no prosecution. This is what IMPUNITY looks like.
People are often surprised that this case is still on - because they think it finished with our 2011 judgement banning Salwa Judum and the use of SPOs in counterinsurgency. But after that we filed contempt... and also continued to push on other aspects which were not covered by the 2011 judgement - such as a monitoring committee without which all the directions to file FIRs and compensate people are meaningless, because the CG government never implements the Court's directions.

27th November: The matter was listed as part heard, which meant that it had to be heard by exactly the same bench. On November 27, a third judge was sitting on the bench so it could not be heard. Justice Lokur has retired and now the matter will be heard all over again by a new bench. Such is the Indian legal system. I cut short a research trip to Oxford by a week to make it back for a hearing that never took place. Such has been the story of my life for the last 11 years. It would be worth it if we could finally get some justice for people. Who knows?