The Gulabi Gang – The Fearless Women in Pink


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Sampat Pal Devi and her Gulabi Gang members  (Source: i.facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi)

Sampat Pal Devi and her Gulabi Gang members (Source: facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi)

These women dressed in pink and with laathi (bamboo stick) in their hands are fearless!

Their leader Sampat Pal Devi is a mother of five children and a former government health worker. She has a long list of criminal charges against her: unlawful assembly, rioting, attacking government employees, obstructing officers in the discharge of duty, beating a policeman for abusing her, and so on. Once she even went underground to hide from the law. However, her actions have secured notable victories for the community.

Sampat Pal Devi (Source: facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi

Sampat Pal Devi (Source: facebook.com/pages/Sampat-Pal-Devi

Sampat Pal Devi (born 1960) is a tough woman with a commanding personality. She hails from the Bundelkhand area in the state of Uttar Pradesh – one of the poorest region in India and notorious for its rebels-turned-armed bandits. Sampat is a vigilante and activist fighting for the rights of women in the villages.

She was given in marriage to an ice-cream vendor at the tender age of 12. She bore her first child, a girl, at 15.

In 2006, responding to widespread domestic abuse and other violence against women, Sampat Pal Devi formed the Gulabi Gang (Hindi गुलाबी gulabī, “pink”), a group of Indian women vigilantes. Most Gulabi members dress in pink and carry laathis in their hand.

Despite being born into a traditional family and married off early, Sampat evolved into a charismatic leader who acts as judge and jury for girls and women who are being abused by outlawed patriarchal traditions and the caste system.

Sampat and her gang are constantly on the move fighting causes for the betterment of the community. They crusade against child marriages, dowry, and female illiteracy.

To demand their rights, the rebellious women gang submits petitions and verbally attacks corrupt officials, sneering policemen and complaisant bureaucrats. They visit abusive husbands and beat them up with laathis and warn them to stop abusing their wives in the future.

They usually travel by cart and tractor. At times, they undertake long journeys by bus and train, to fight for justice for women and dalits and other untouchable people.

In 2008, when her village was deprived of electricity because the officials of the department expected to extract bribes and sexual favours from the women, she and her stick-wielding Gulabi Gang stormed the premises of the electricity department, locked the concerned officials in a room until they cried for mercy. An hour after they left the premises, the power was on in their village.

In 2008, the group was reported to have 20,000 members as well as a chapter in Paris, France. Now, the Gulabi Gang has taken root in Banda, Mahoba, Chitrakot, Fatehpur, Farrukhabad, Kanpur, Allahabad, Etawah and Bijnore and has about 300,000 women members.

The Gulabi gang is the subject of the 2010 movie Pink Saris by Kim Longinotto as is the 2012 documentary Gulabi Gang by Nishtha Jain.

Initially, it was reported that the Bollywood film, Gulaab Gang, starring Madhuri Dixit and Juhi Chawla as leads, is based on Sampat Pal’s life, but the director denied this, saying that he recognizes the work done by Sampat, but his movie is not based on her life.

Gulabi Gang's esrtwhile leader Sampat Pal (Source: indiatoday.intoday.in)

Gulabi Gang’s esrtwhile leader Sampat Pal (Source: indiatoday.intoday.in)

Now, the all-women Gulabi Gang is heading for a split as there is a tussle in leadership. On Sunday, March 2, 2014, six years after its inception, the group’s founder commander Sampat Pal Devi was dethroned by the Maharashtra based national convener of Gulabi gang Jayprakash Shivhare at a meeting in Banda following allegations of financial irregularities – “taking money for resolving the problems of poor and suffering women,” and “involvement in self promotion” at the cost of the organization’s mission.

The national convener of Gulabi Gang, Jayprakash Shivhare said:

“There is huge resentment in the organization against Pal. She had been playing in the hands of the Congress party… She had stopped holding meetings of the group and used to take decisions autocratically. She contested Assembly elections on
Congress ticket without taking any suggestion from other members of the group… Later, she decided to visit Rae Bareli along with other members and campaign in support of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and against Aam Aadmi Party.”

“She also went to TV reality show Bigg Boss without consulting the working committee of the group. She had gradually become extremely selfish and minting money at the cost of the organization… Removing her from all posts was the only option left with us. Since she has been defying decisions of the group, it was decided that she would no longer be its primary member.”

Suman Singh Chauhan, commander of Mahoba unit has been appointed as interim commander of the group and a seven-member committee has been constituted to run the organization as of now. A meeting of the group has been convened on March 23 to elect a full-time commander.

However, Sampat Pal Devi, asserted her authority saying she was still the leader of the Gulabi Gang.

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A Sri Lankan Muslim Woman Seeks Rupees 20-Lakh for Illegal Detention


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj

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A crying muslim woman
A division bench comprising Justice K N Basha and Justice P Devadass at the Madras high court summoned Kaja Mohideen was when the habeas corpus petition of K. Rizmiya came up for hearing. The bench referred the case to be settled through mediation scheduled for June 5, 2013.

K. Rizmiya, a Muslim woman hailing from Sri Lanka, claimed her husband KajaMohideen, living in Chennai, had illegally admitted her in a private asylum at Urappakkam, in the suburbs of Chennai, and kept her confined there for 20 months. She moved the Madras high court seeking a 20-lakh compensation.

According to P. Vijendran, counsel for Rizmiya, she had joined the Abha Hospital in Saudi Arabia as midwife in 2002. There she met container driver Kaja Mohideen. They fell in love and got married at Ampara in Sri Lanka.

Kaja Mohideen left for Chennai without informing, leaving her and their three and half years old daughter. It took Rizmiya two years to trace her husband’s address in Chennai, India. She then came to know that Kaja Mohideen was already married and had two children. When she rejoined her husband in Chennai, he compelled her to return to Saudi Arabia, saying that their family needed money to settle down in Chennai.

On returning to Chennai in 2008 she insisted that Kaja Mohideen should live with her.

One day, on the pretext of taking her to a hospital for some medical treatment, her husband admitted her in Oxford Mental Health Home at Urappakkam. He told the institution that she was insane. Rizmiya said she was illegally confined at the institution for 20 months where she was heavily sedated and fed cheap food. Later, the managers of the institution released her after she placed her signatures on some papers, the contents of which she did not know.

In her petition she said that she had worked in Saudi Arabia for nearly seven years and given her entire earnings to her husband.

Rizmiya said she had approached the Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK), Tamilnadu Chief Minister’s special cell, and the Chennai city police seeking help to be reunited with her husband. However, no help came her way and so filed the present petition seeking a 20-lakh rupees compensation.

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‘Follow tradition or you would be thrown out, they warned me’


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Mirror in conversation with Lt Kabdaula’s wife, whose allegations of wife-swapping have rocked the Indian Navy’s boat

By Gitanjali Chandrasekharan

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Three complaints in three cities make you wonder about their authenticity, especially since the 25-year-old complainant has accused Marine Commando officials (an elite unit of the Navy) of wife-swapping. “You can’t file the same FIR in two different police stations,” says the wife of Lt Ravi Kiran Kabdaula, refusing to be identified by her name. “Call me Mrs Ravi Kiran if you want,” she told this writer, speaking over the phone from New Delhi.

Kiran, the daughter of an IAS officer and the niece of a senior IPS official posted in New Delhi, says her complaint against her 26-year-old husband and his colleagues posted at INS Venduruthy, base station of the Southern Naval Command — she has accused them of beating, molesting, and illegally detaining her and forcibly cutting her hair — was lodged in Delhi on March 1.

“Since my husband and his colleagues are posted in Kochi, and the incident also occurred there, the case was transferred to the local Harbour Police.”

The incident Kiran refers to happened in mid-January. A week before that, she alleges that she had discovered her husband in bed with a senior officer’s wife. She also alleges that she was given an injection at the unit chief’s office that left her unconscious. She left the base for New Delhi on the first flight the following day, but left her preparation books behind. Kiran, a 2008 BTech graduate from IIT (Powai), plans to give her Civil Services examinations next month. When she returned a week later to collect her books, she says she was confined in a room by her husband and his colleagues, who tied her up, beat and molested her. One officer, she adds, even forcibly cut her hair.

“I used to have long hair. Now it is like a man’s,” she rues.

Her story

This wasn’t the first time she had lodged a complaint. “I had filed one with the Amboli Police Station on February 18, 2012, against my husband, his senior and the senior’s wife,” she says, because the trio had reportedly put up a “bedroom picture” of hers and Kabdaula’s on a social networking platform. The senior and his wife would often make threatening calls, or send her text messages and emails, she says. When asked why, she replies, “Because I was pressuring my husband and his parents to legalise our marriage.”

Kiran married Kabdaula, who hails from Uttarakhand, in a Kochi temple in November 2010, in the presence of his parents. Her parents had passed away earlier that year in a car accident in Bhubaneswar. “My parents knew about Kabdaula — I had been in touch with him since 2008 — and liked him. My brother didn’t approve and argued that Kabdaula wasn’t educated enough.”

Kiran withdrew her complaint and the duo registered the marriage in the following month. However, according to Kiran, the rest of Kabdaula’s family didn’t know of their wedding till December.

Was it a stormy courtship? Kiran says no. Kabdaula had contacted her through a common friend on social networking platform Orkut. He would visit Mumbai to meet her, says Kiran, who was studying at IIT at the time. “He was a good-looking guy and I felt flattered. His parents would also call and talk to me at length. So I felt he was serious about us.”

Kiran moved to the United States in 2008 to study Economics and stayed on as an equity research analyst at Morgan Stanley, New York, but returned to India — once in 2010, to marry Kabdaula, and then for good, in 2011 — to be close to him.

While dating, Kabdaula didn’t tell her much about Navy life, she says. “He wasn’t a full-fledged officer till the end of 2011. Perhaps he didn’t know it himself. Perhaps he knew and he didn’t tell me.”

The first time she realised that all was not well was in May 2012, when she was living in Vishakapatnam, while Kabdaula was posted in INS Kalinga. While out for a walk with her dog, she saw an officer getting cosy with another’s wife. Later, she spoke to her husband who, she says, told her to accept it as part of the Navy life. “He didn’t suggest at that time that he was involved”.

Describing the “Navy life”, she says there are regular parties at the base and a junior officer often makes a round of everyone’s houses, outlining a dress code. Sometimes it would be ‘wear short above-the-knee dresses’, and sometimes it would be ‘sleeveless’. Yet, Kiran admits that she only attended two parties — in May 2012 and March 2013.

Then, in January this year, she returned home to find her door locked. “My husband never locks the door, so I entered the house from the rear and found him with a senior officer’s wife. I cried and abused them, but once again he said this was common in the Navy and that I’d have to do it too. The woman said that if I don’t follow their tradition, I’d be thrown out.” Kiran alleges that when she threatened to call in the cops, they started beating her.

Asked how she made an allegation of wife-swapping based on this incident, she replies, “I could make out what’s happening. Young officers (spend time) with married officers’ wives when the seniors aren’t around.”

The split

Soon after the incident, Kiran telephoned the Defence Minister AK Antony’s office and wrote to the Chief of Naval Staff Admiral D K Joshi and the chief of the Southern Naval Command, Vice-Admiral Satish Soni. She complained that she was being forced into sexual relations with her husband’s seniors.

The FIR she filed accuses three senior officers, two colleagues and the wife of one officer. She also accused her father-in-law, mother-in-law and sister-in-law of dowry harassment.

Kabdaula filed for a divorce on March 28, claiming mental and physical torture. “He must have done that under the order of his seniors. I am 5’1” and have never weighed more than 45 kg. How can I cause him any harm?” It is his physical abuse, she alleges, that has left her with a damaged left ear drum and a broken tooth. “Who is he to divorce me?” she asks challengingly. Kiran doesn’t see any chance of reconciliation. “I want to see all the accused arrested. My husband has got an anticipatory bail but what is stopping the Harbour Police from arresting the others?”

The Navy denied the allegations and issued a statement which said, “In cases of marital discord, there is bound to be bitter acrimony and mutual accusations and counter-accusations. Such issues need to be dealt with sensitivity and as per laws of the land.” A spokesperson said that the officers were being unfairly dragged into the matter and that they had only tried to resolve problems between the couple. The spokesperson also alluded to a prior instance, where the Navy Wives’ Welfare Association intervened and sent the couple to a marriage counsellor. However, Kiran emphatically denies that. “I have never been to a counsellor or a marriage counsellor. To get an appointment from the Navy Wives’ Welfare Association (NWWA), one has to write an application and submit it. When I never wrote one, how would there have been any counselling session?” Meanwhile, the Southern Naval Command has begun an internal inquiry, and Antony asked officials to take serious note of the allegations, after a previous allegation of wife-swapping — also squashed by the Navy — surfaced in 2011 in Kochi.

Sitanshu Kar, Additional Director General (Media & Communication), said that two inquiries are on in the case. “The Kerala police is inquiring into it and the Navy is also conducting its own inquiry. The final decision can be taken only after reports come in.” He refused to entertain any other questions regarding the matter.

There are also many within the Navy who are raising questions about the truth of Kiran’s allegations. They wonder how a Marine Commando — known for being highly disciplined and hard working — would be involved in such an act. The Marcos is a highly elite section of the Indian Navy. Many who volunteer for this branch of the Navy don’t last the rigorous year-long training, which involves swimming several miles, going without sleep for days on end, and sometimes, spending time in the ocean without supplies.

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Re-posted from Bangalore Mirror

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ASP Insults Rape Victim: “Who Will Rape Such an Old Woman?”


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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On Wednesday, March 20, 2013, a person assaulted and knocked unconscious a 35-year-old Dalit woman returning home from the field around 9:30 pm. This incident happened in Karan Chapra village in Deoria’s Bankata area in Uttar Pradesh, India. On regaining her senses, she found herself raped. On reaching her home she informed her husband about it.

The following day, the woman and her husband went to the Bankata police station to lodge a complaint alleging that Santosh Kumar Singh of their village had molested her. The officer in-charge of the police station registered a case of eve-teasing and nothing more.

Keshav Chandra Goswami, ASP, Deoria.

Keshav Chandra Goswami, ASP, Deoria.

Dissatisfied with the Bankata police, the couple approached Keshav Chandra Goswami, Additional Superintendent of Police, Deoria, seeking his intervention.

After she narrated her ordeal to the ASP, he asked the people accompanying her how old she was and the number of children she has. On being informed that she was a mother of four children and that her eldest son was 17 years old, the insensitive officer, caught on camera, humiliated the rape victim by retorting: “Itni purani aurat se kaun balatkar karega (who will rape such an old woman)?”

When media people met the ASP, he said the woman’s husband had lodged a complaint at Bankata police station yesterday alleging that a person named Santosh Kumar Singh had molested her when she was returning home from the field around 9:30 pm on March 20th. The accused is still not arrested. He also said that the complainant had levelled a charge of eve-teasing and then gave a second complaint mentioning rape. The ASP added that medical examination of the woman did not confirm rape.

Women organizations of the district have condemned the police officer and have demanded action against him for his “insensitivity and insulting remarks”.

Meanwhile, A.C. Sharma (IPS) Director General of Police, Uttar Pradesh, has offered an apology. He has sought an explanation from the ASP and has ensured strict action against him.

In Lucknow, R.K. Vishwakarma, Inspector General (IG) Law & Order apologised on behalf of the ASP. He referred to the statement of the ASP as unfortunate and said that the officer has to submit his explanation within two days. “The DGP also expressed regret over the hurt caused to the woman because of the insulting remarks,” the IG said adding the police have registered the case.

The IG added that the DGP Headquarters will hold a workshop on public relations for officers who have been recently promoted to Additional SP rank. Goswami was a deputy SP, promoted to Additional SP rank last month and posted in Deoria on March 11, 2013.

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Justice K. Chandru “A People’s Judge” Retires


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Myself By T.V. Antony Raj

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Justice Chandru

Justice K. Chandru

In India and elsewhere, when a High Court Judge retires, it is usual for all the judges of the High Court would to assemble a meeting in the Court of the Chief justice and the Advocate General would deliver a farewell speech followed by a photo session, high tea and dinner in a five-star hotel. However, Justice K. Chandru, who served as a judge of the Madras High Court for the past sevens years, did not want this ritual farewell. In a letter to the acting chief justice R K Agrawal, dated February 8, 2013, Justice Chandru requested him not to order the farewell ritual for him as he would like to leave office quietly.

The last time a judge declined a farewell function was in 1929, when Justice Jackson told the Advocate General, “I have done my job; where is the question of a farewell for me?”

Friday, March 8, was the last day in office for Justice Chandru. He submitted a copy of his ‘voluntary declaration of assets’ to acting Chief Justice R K Agrawal. After returning to his chambers, he signed a few documents. From there he went to the press room and e spent a few happy moments with the journalists who had assembled there,  answering their queries.

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Justice Chandru on his way to MRTS station. — (Photo - Deccan Chronicle)

Justice K. Chandru on his way to MRTS station. — (Photo: Deccan Chronicle)

After leaving the court premises, he walked up to Sangeetha Restaurant across NSC Bose Road. A group of friends was waiting there, and he had coffee with them. From there he walked up to the Beach Station and boarded a suburban MRTS train bound for Velacherry.

Posted as an Additional Judge of the High Court on July 31, 2006 , Justice K. Chandru became a Permanent Judge on November 9, 2009. He had disposed of nearly 96,000 cases, both at the Principal Seat and at the Madurai Bench. He is altogether a different kind of Judge. Known for his simplicity, he shunned some of the accoutrements that usually accompanied a Judge. He disliked pomp and pageantry. He was a role model for others.

    • He dispensed with the practice of his duffedar carrying a mace while escorting him to the court and returning to his chamber.
    • He did not have a gun-toting personal security officer (PSO) beside him.
    • He did not have official servants at home.
    • He did not approve lawyers calling him “my lord”.

Justice Chandru would be remembered for several of his landmark judgments including a ruling that women could become priests in Hindu temples.

Regrettably, the websites of Madras High Court that carry the bio data of its judges has no links to details about Justice K. Chandru. For example, the page, “The Honourable Judges of the Madras High Court,” lists the name of 48 judges, but Justice Chandru’s name though listed does not link to any page with details about him. With his retirement, the strength of the Madras High Court has come down  to 47 judges while the sanctioned strength is  60.

A notice displayed at the entrance to his chamber declared:

No deities – no Flowers
No one is hungry – no Fruits
No one is shivering—no Shawls
We need only best wishes

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Congress Party in India Not for Chemical Castration


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj
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Peaceful Protest against Delhi gangrape

Peaceful Protest against Delhi gang-rape.

Congress leaders like Renuka Chaudhary had sought chemical castration of rapists.

Unlike surgical castration, where the testicles or ovaries are removed through an incision in the body, chemical castration involves the administration of anti-androgen drugs, such as cyproterone acetate or the birth-control drug Depo-Provera, given as an injection every three months. The antipsychotic agent Benperidol can also be injected for this purpose. Chemical castration does not actually castrate the person, nor is it a form of sterilization.

Chemical castration does not castrate the person, nor is it a form of sterilization. Although reversible on discontinuation of treatment, sometimes permanent changes in body chemistry can be seen, such as bone loss of density due to the use of Depo Provera for a length of time.

From time to time, chemical castration used as an instrument of public and/or judicial policy despite has evoked concerns over possible side effects and human rights.

On Saturday, January 5, 2013, submitted its suggestions on stringent laws for crimes against women to the three-member committee headed by former Chief Justice of India J.S. Verma.

The Verma Committee set up on December 23, 2012, with a mandate to review the present statute and give recommendations on amending laws to provide speedy justice and greater punishment, in cases of aggravated sexual assault, has to submit its report in 30 days.

The Congress party made it clear that its party chief Sonia Gandhi has not made any suggestion to The Verma Committee regarding chemical castration.

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The Ant in the Ear of the Elephant


DAVID BRADLEY REPORTS BACK ON HIS OVERLY EVENTFUL TRIP TO KOONDANKULAM AND THE NEED FOR AUSTRALIANS TO TAKE NOTICE OF WHERE OUR URANIUM IS GOING AND THE HAVOC AND DANGER IT IS CAUSING! – Dr Helen Caldicott

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By David Bradbury

I knew we were in trouble when the young auto-rickshaw driver pulled his vehicle off to the side of the road to take a phone call. Normally Indian taxi drivers take their mobile phone calls while driving at breakneck speed weaving in and out of traffic with an inch to spare either side. This was unusual.

We had just slipped past the police barricades at the entrance to Kundakalum town with the plastic flaps of the rickshaw down protecting us from the monsoon rains and the lazy eyes of police on the lookout for any foreigners or troublemakers who dared to stray into this forbidden zone.

When the driver started to turn around to head back into town, my instincts automatically kicked in to bail out of the rickshaw: I grabbed my suitcase, tripod, camera bag and a perplexed three-year-old Omar. Partner Treena jumped out as well.

The next few minutes are a blur. A mad frantic phone call from the driver back to the police in nearby Kundakalum reported our attempts to do a runner. I thought of wrestling his mobile out of his hand but then thought better of it. Next I dashed to the side of the road, little better than a goat track, and tried flagging down a car and then a young lad on a motorbike. God knows how I intended to fit two adults, a toddler, plus a heavy suitcase and camera equipment on the motie – had the kid stopped. Some old women collecting firewood seemed to know our purpose and gave encouraging fist waves to keep going.

A lumbering fish truck returning to our intended destination of the seaside village of Indinthakarai came into view. Like a man possessed, I stepped into the middle of the road to flag it down. By now a plainclothes cop on a motorbike had appeared. But I wasn’t to be stopped. Having flown over 10,000km to record our prime minister Julia Gillard offering to sell uranium to the Indian PM and then another 3,000km from New Delhi to the southernmost tip of India, I wanted to reach the valiant anti-nuke fisherfolk of Indinthakarai. This where the Russians have built two nuclear power plants on a seismic fault line – right where the Boxing Day tsunami of 2004 swept nearly two thousand locals to their deaths and demolished all buildings in its wake.

Two carloads of police soon turned up and we were bundled into the 4WD headed back to the Kundakalum cop shop. With his bullet-bald head and an impressive handlebar moustache, deputy superintendant NK Stanley Jones was an Indian cross between Kojak and Jimmy Edwards. He was decidedly unimpressed with my feeble story that Omar had a fascination with fishing boats and wanted to visit the seaside fishing village of Indinthakarai. Why this particular part of the coastline, I would have immediately asked, when there are thousands of kilometres of beachfront around India?

‘It is a prohibited zone!’ he said, eye-balling me from across the table to see any falter, any slippery eye movement as Treena and I gave him our made-up-on-the-spot pitch.

‘The people there are dangerous!’ Stanley Jones told us.

We showed Stanley our passports and gave him our mobile phone numbers to be duly recorded – which left me paranoid for the rest of the trip, as the activist phones there are all tapped by Indian state security. We’re talking national security and big bikkies here – $140 billion in nuclear power contracts if the Centre Government has its way.

He repeated that the area was a prohibited zone under Section 144. I didn’t bother to draw the parallel for him that this was exactly the same rationale used by the South Australian coppers two months earlier in arbitrarily arresting people at Lizards Revenge outside Olympic Dam uranium mine. There, SA police in similarly threatening Orwellian tones repeatedly warned us over loudspeakers, ‘You are now entering a Protective Security Zone. Under the Protective Security Act of the South Australian Parliament 2007, you are subject to arbitrary arrest, strip search and detention…’

It would seem the nuclear lobby worldwide has a special dispensation for suspending people’s normal rights of assembly, freedom of speech and freedom of non-violent protest.

I was smart enough this time to travel on a business visa. It cost four times as much as a normal tourist visa but worth every penny now that push had come to shove. I could truthfully say I was in India on business as a film producer and this was a side visit en route to the Kolkata film festival in a few weeks’ time.

He looked at me over his handlebar moustache to see if he could detect any smug Anglo-Saxon superiority in my bearing or any other legitimate pretext to immediately deport me from the country. Three weeks earlier, three Japanese activists travelling on tourist visas didn’t get past the airport inquisition before being deported. Indian Security had intercepted their emails to Kundakalum activists before they arrived and were waiting for them.

We were escorted out of town and sent packing. Back at our hotel the booking clerk was decidedly rattled. He’d been rung by police and his friendly attitude had changed. He demanded our passports again. We decided to pack our bags quickly and leave town before police googled my anti-nuke track record and came back. We hailed a passing bus and threw our suitcases and film gear onto it with the help of locals. I felt a huge surge of relief as we headed out of town.

Four nights later, under cloak of darkness, I found myself bumping along another goat track entering the seaside village of Indinthakarai. A lit-up Virgin Mary bobbed along on the dash of the 4WD, turning blue to brilliant red to lime green and flashing purple as a very happy-go-lucky 74-year-old priest clapped along to a popular Bollywood song, and three strong anti-nuke activist women from Indinthakarai sang heartily. The priest told me he was married with a special dispensation from the pope in Rome and had two grown-up children. I felt like I was trapped inside a Graham Greene novel: all we lacked was the bottle of whisky. We were headed towards Indinthakarai via a little-known potholed road that hugged the sea coast.

The next morning the village and I awoke to the bells of Lourdes church summoning people to early morning mass at 5.40am. The priest’s melodic voice incanted over the loudspeaker across the rooftops, for any worshippers too lazy to get out of bed. I watched as Leon the fisherman rubbed ‘440 days’ off the whiteboard and added a ‘1’ to it. For 441 days the people of Indinthakarai have resisted the dictates of the Centre Government 3,000km away in New Delhi to incorporate their village into the grand scheme of things.

The growing Indian economy needs power. Power. More POWER to ‘beat’ China. To fill still more the overflowing pockets and black Swiss bank accounts of the burghers of Bangalore, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. To put kids into sweatshops and factories at 10 years of age – dragged from finishing their schooling to make cheap acid-washed jeans, footwear and toys for a dollar a day for people living in western ‘democracies’ like Australia – items that last a day or two before they are sent off to landfill.

The latest round of opposition to stop the opening of the Kundakalum nuclear power plants has raged for more than ten years now, with this last year seeing opposition to the Russian-built nuclear power plants at Indinthakarai reach fever pitch. They are a hair’s breath away from being fully operational. The nuclear fuel rods have been loaded. Tests are being done and are only waiting now for the green light. Maybe President Putin’s visit to India in December will be the symbolic moment for the plants to start generating power.

However, seaside villages all along the coast, not just Indinthakarai at ground zero, have opposed the opening of the first two of six planned nuclear reactors every step along the way. Tens of thousands of fisher folk who live off the ocean have taken part in a series of hunger strikes and imaginative land- and sea-based demonstrations and peaceful blockades. They’ve buried themselves up to the neck in sand at the approach to the plants. They’ve immersed themselves in the ocean and blockaded the harbour with their fishing boats.

These rolling protests, born out of the non-violent leadership of Mahatma Gandhi, have been continuous since 15 August last year – India’s day of Independence. Since then there have been two major police raids in March and September involving thousands of police each time. In the last raid, the police lathi charged (with bamboo sticks) peaceful protestors and beat everyone in their path who could not flee fast enough: children, the crippled, old men and women. One fisherman was shot dead. Another fell down and died from his injuries. People threw themselves into the sea as they tried to escape the tear gas and baton charges. The tear gas shells used showed an expiry date of 2002, ‘Made in the USA’, and they caused permanent horrible sores on the faces of the kids and those exposed to the outdated chemicals. The police entered the Lourdes church, broke the statue of Mary and urinated in the foyer area of the church. All of this I was given as firsthand witness accounts. That is the price to people’s lives of going nuclear.

I filmed for the next ten days and was given a very humbling and wonderful insight into the life of this courageous little village. It will form the basis of my next film which could be called simply ‘Business As Usual’ or more enigmatically, ‘The Ant in the Ear of the Elephant’ – an expression used by one of the leaders in Indinthakarai to sum up their chances of winning against the huge nuclear beast. An ant biting in the right place in the ear of an elephant can inflict a lot of pain and trip the animal up. That’s what’s happening in India right now.

Certainly I enjoy the challenge and the adventure of going to places where authority and corrupt governance don’t want others to go and point a camera. It’s often quite nerve-wracking though, and sometimes dangerous to one’s life.

However, I don’t go to the edge for the sense of the adventure it brings. I go there so I can inform other Australians and my local community about what’s really going on and the hidden agendas operating. If taking the risks involved – physical, psychological and financial – result only in a pat on the back for the courage it takes, that’s not enough for me. I want my community, my fellow Australians, to take ACTION with the information I bring back.

Other communities who entrust me to film do so believing I can help them in their struggle. That’s the punchline for me. You have to take the information and run with it, and find ways of supporting the people of Indinthakarai by hassling the Indian government through the local High Commission in Sydney, Brisbane and Canberra. Let both the Australian and Indian governments know you don’t appreciate this brave community being put through outrageous and anti-democratic actions any more than you appreciate our government opening up our local area to CSG mining and so spoiling the aquifers forever. It’s about human greed by a few at the expense of the majority of us. And it needs ACTION.

I’ve just been informed 30 people including the woman who helped me get to Indinthakarai have been arrested and detained by Tamil Nadu police. They join another 54 others who were arrested in September and have been refused bail, wasting away in dirty conditions in jail after a big police operation invaded their village and beat the daylights out of anyone who could not run away fast enough. These activists have been charged with various offences including sedition, being ‘terrorists’ and waging war against the state. Some charges carry the death penalty. They are ordinary people like you and me. The police couldn’t get away with putting me in jail, but they can do this to their own people. We have to agitate for their release. They are only exercising their democratic rights to non-violently oppose the spoiling of their ancient environment, the same as people opposing coal-seam gas fracking here.

If anyone wants to contribute a tax-deductible donation to seeing the film completed contact david@frontlinefilms.com.au or 6684 0015.

Source: Echonetdaily

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Which Countries Voted for Palestine …


Palestine vote

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The UN general assembly has just voted overwhelmingly to recognize Palestine as a state. An astounding 138 nations chose to support the path of peace and justice.

Just weeks ago, the vote was expected to be much closer, with Israel and the US lobbying hard to deny Palestine key European support. But in the face of major public pressure and vigorous campaigning by the Avaaz community, countries such as France, Spain, Belgium and Sweden decided to vote yes to statehood for Palestine. In the end, just nine countries ended up on the wrong side of history: Israel, the US, Canada, the Czech Republic, Panama, Palau, Nauru, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands.

Celebrate this historic moment, share this map with everyone.

[Update: This map has been corrected to show New Zealand also voted in favor, rather than abstaining.]

Source: AVAAZ.ORG

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Family Court Disputes Taken Away From Honourable Justice K. Bhakthavatsala


High Courts and the Supreme Court are courts of principles. The judges should not speak anything beyond the principles of a particular case. Let us not give lectures to the society. The problem is sometimes we judges impose our own values; our own likes or dislikes on the society.” - Chief Justice S H. Kapadia

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All family court disputes, along with child custody and guardianship matters, got moved from the court of Honourable Dr. Justice K. Bhaktavatsala and Justice B.S. Indrakala of the High Court of Karnataka to the court of justices K.L. Manjunath and V. Suri Appa Rao. Official sources said the changes should come into effect from September 10.

Dr. Justice K. Bhakthavatsala

Dr. Justice K. Bhakthavatsala

This move transpired after the outrage triggered among women lawyers and activists over a number of oral comments expressed by the justices.

Recently, women advocates headed by Ms. Pramila Nesargi, a well-known senior attorney and former Chairperson of Karnataka State Commission For Women gave a representation to Chief Justice Vikramajit Sen. They expressed their concern and objection to the remarks articulated especially by Justice Bhaktavatsala.

A few days back, in response to the uproar, Justice Bhaktavatsala conveyed his displeasure regarding the reports showing up in various sections of the media with regards to the oral observations made by him in the courtroom. He alleged his comments were “twisted out of context” and that he never intended to condone physical violence against women.

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Are His Judgements Justified?


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Myself . By T.V. Antony Raj .

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High Courts and the Supreme Court are courts of principles. The judges should not speak anything beyond the principles of a particular case. Let us not give lectures to the society. The problem is sometimes we judges impose our own values; our own likes or dislikes on the society.
- Chief Justice S H. Kapadia

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The responsibilities of judges to the public begin and end with their evaluation of the current law and its precise usage, without having to preach their very own beliefs, philosophies or preferences.

Honourable Dr. Justice K. Bhaktavatsala of the High Court of Karnataka seems to have overlooked this advice. Even so, some hail him as a judge clearly wearing a different judicial cloth.

Whereas other judges will definitely perceive an abusive and irresponsible marriage as good enough factor for permitting a divorce, he believes that it is his moral duty to play the role of a peacemaker in the matrimonial cases which often come before him.

Justice K. Bhaktavatsala Says,  “Girl Under 21 must Get Parents’ Consent for Marriage”

Source: High Court of Karnataka

Last year, on February 2, 2011, Avinash, a resident of Bangalore, eloped with a minor girl to Krishnagiri. Five days later, the girl’s parents lodged a complaint of kidnapping against Avinash with the Wilson Garden Police, Bangalore.

Avinash too filed a habeas corpus plea. In his petition, Avinash said that he knew the girl, Ms. Sanghavi, for two to three years and they were in love for two to three months. However, their parents did not approve their marriage. Therefore, they left Bangalore and got married on March 2, in a Temple at Tali Village, Tenkanakote Taluk, Krishnagiri District, Tamil Nadu. When he came to know that the father of the girl lodged a missing complaint with Wilson Garden Police Station at Bangalore, he brought the girl to the Police Station. The custody of the girl was given to the girl’s father and her maternal uncle after they agreed to allow him to speak to the girl twice daily, but in vain. On April 4, 2011 he along with his friend Ajay went to the house of the girl’s maternal uncle inquiring about the whereabouts of the girl for which the maternal uncle abused him and threatened with dire consequences.

This Writ Petition (HC) filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, praying to issue a writ or order in the nature of habeas corpus directing the respondents to produce the corpus of the detenu Mrs. Sanghavi came up for hearing before the bench of Honourable Dr. Justice K. Bhaktavatsala and Justice K. Govindarajulu at the Karnataka High Court.

Sri K. N. Puttegowda, learned counsel appearing for the father of the girl, submitted on February 4, 2011 that Avinash, the petitioner kidnapped the girl, who was a minor. He alleged that on March 3, 2011, the petitioner had not completed the age of 21 years and therefore the petitioner’s claiming that the girl was legally his wedded wife, is not correct. He also submitted that it was the third love affair for the the petitioner.

On May 12, Honourable Dr. Justice K. Bhaktavatsala and Justice K. Govindarajulu pronounced judgement on the case. Here are some excerpts from this judgement.

6. The girl, who is present before us, submits that she was studying II Year PUC (2010-11) in NMKRV College, Jayanagar, Bangalore, and on 4.2.2011 when she was going to the College, the petitioner, who is friend of her brother, kidnapped and took her to Tamil Nadu and she did not marry the petitioner and she is happily living with her parents. 

11. We have seen many cases of run away love marriages and untold misery and hardship of the parents of the girls. All the love marriages are not successful. In the event of failure of the love marriage of the girl, it is the girl and her parents have to suffer for their life long. The girls, later on, realise their mistake that they were hasty in love marriage and repent at leisure.

12. … In our opinion, the girls below the age of 21 years are not capable of forming a rational judgment as to suitability of the boy, who is in love. It is relevant to mention that those girls, who are suffering from harmonal imbalance easily fall prey to the boys and fall in love, marry and repent at leisure. The parents of the girl are interested in selecting a suitable boy and see that the girl leads a happy married life. … Hence, We suggest that in the case of love affair of a girl, who is below the age of 21 years, there shall be a condition that the parents of the girl should approve the marriage, otherwise such marriages shall be declared void or voidable. 

13. Now, We refer to Section 361 of the Indian Penal Code. According to Section 361, whoever takes or entices a girl, who is under the age of 18 years out of the keeping of the lawful custody of such minor, without consent of such guardian, is set to kidnap such minor from lawful custody. The offence under Section 361 of the Indian Penal Code is punishable under Section 363 of the Indian Penal Code. From the above facts, We notice that the petitioner has kidnapped the girl, who was minor. It is an offence under Section 361 of the Indian Penal Code. We cannot close our eyes when it is brought to our notice the offence committed by the petitioner under the Penal Code. Therefore, We have to direct the Police to apprehend the petitioner, who is present before the Court, and he shall be dealt with, in accordance with law.

14. In the result, the Petition fails and the same is hereby dismissed, imposing costs of `10,000/-, which amount shall be deposited by the petitioner with this Court, within a month from today. Statement of Ms. Sanghavi made before us shows that the petitioner has kidnapped her. Hence, the Wilson Garden Police is directed to register a case against the petitioner. Further, the Wilson Garden Police is directed to apprehend the petitioner, who is present in the Court, and he shall be dealt with, in accordance with law. …”

Justice K. Bhaktavatsala Says, “Unmarried Lawyers Are Unfit to Argue Matrimony Cases”

Source: bangaloremirror.com

A couple, both software engineers, after their marriage lived together for only a few months. They have a daughter who now lives with the mother.

On March 9, 2010, a family court rejected a divorce plea filed by the husband and advised the couple to forget the past and minor differences and live happily. However, the husband filed another appeal.

In September last year, a division bench said that “learned counsel for both parties have submitted that, in spite of granting enough time, they could not settle the matter amicably and, therefore, this matter may be heard on merits”.

On August 9, 2012, the case came up before the division bench of Justice K. Bhaktavatsala and Justice B.S. Indrakala. A young woman advocate took up the case on behalf of the estranged wife while the husband had taken the services of a senior designate – advocate M.T. Nanaiah.

While the woman advocate was citing the allegations against the husband, Justice Bhaktavatsala stopped her midway and asked, “Are you married?”

When she replied in the negative, the judge said, “You are unfit to argue this case. You do not know real life. Why are you arguing like this? He is your (client’s) partner, not a stranger. Family matters should be argued only by married people, not spinsters. You should only watch. Bachelors and spinsters watching family court proceedings will start thinking if there is any need to marry at all. Marriage is not like a public transport system. You better get married and you will get very good experience to argue such cases.”

The judge then asked the other advocate who was also appointed on behalf of the wife whether he was married. He said he was. The judge said it would be better if he argued the case.

The wife then said she was willing to go with the husband immediately. Even so, the husband’s advocate said they would rather live together for three months and then decide if they were compatible. The judge said he would have none of it, and asked the husband and wife to go out for lunch together and return immediately.

The judge said, “We feel very bad when such cases come before us. Think of the child and that will be the link between you both.”

He told the husband, “Take your wife out. Take her out for a coffee or better for lunch. Will you take her to Capitol Hotel?”

Then he turned to the wife and said, “Go with him.”

He asked them to speak to each other and solve their differences, and come back after lunch. He then asked, “You want money? I will pay for the expenses.”

When the couple came back after lunch, the judge asked them how much the bill was and who had paid it. The husband said he paid the bill of about Rs 500. The wife said she was willing to pay the amount to her husband. This indicated that they had not resolved their differences.

The wife said her husband wanted her to quit her job but she could not at this point of time as she was working in the US and was on leave for three months. The husband’s counsel insisted that they had to wait for three months before living together again.

Justice Bhaktavatsala said to the couple, “You will be happy together. In every family there are differences. You have a young daughter and both of you are software engineers. But if you separate, don’t think you will have a great time outside. Nobody will respect both of you. I have seen the case of two doctors who divorced. Both did not get good partners later. You will repent at leisure.”

The court ordered that the two appear again in court the following week along with their daughter.

Justice K. Bhaktavatsala Tells Abused Wife to ‘ADJUST’

Source: bangaloremirror.com

A 37-year-old husband approached the High Court, stating that his wife had deserted him and had taken their two sons along with her. On August 17, both the parties were asked to be present before the court on August 31.

Both parties presented themselves before the bench of Justice K. Bhaktavatsala and Justice B.S. Indrakala on August 31,

The 28-year-old wife stated that her husband used to beat her and had driven her out of the house.

Justice Bhaktavatsala went on to advise the woman. He said: “Women suffer in all marriages. You are married with two children, and know what it means to suffer as a woman. Yesterday, there was a techie couple who reconciled for the sake of their child. Your husband is doing good business. He will take care of you. Why are you still talking about his beatings? I know you have undergone pain. But that is nothing in front of what you undergo as a woman. I have not undergone such pain. But madam (Justice B.S. Indrakala) has.”

When the woman’s advocate produced photographs showing her swollen face, Justice Bhaktavatsala said, “You have to adjust. Are you just behind money? There is nothing in your case to argue on merits. You have to give him a divorce or go with him. Have you read about actor Darshan. He spent 30 days in jail after beating his wife. But they are living together now. What is on your mind and what is on your agenda?”

The court directed the couple to go out and talk to each other. The man was told to speak to his son, and the judge asked, “What have you got for your son?”

When the boy refused to go near his father, the judge asked the woman, “Have you told him not to speak to his father?”

The woman replied that her husband had never spoken to their son. Therefore, the child feared him.

The court adjourned the case to a later date.

The Honourable Dr. Justice K. Bhaktavatsala of the High Court of Karnataka seems to be an enigmatic person indeed. NOW, YOU BE THE JUDGE…

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