See how the so-called largest democracy on Earth, India, treats any one who campaigns for human rights and environmental rights -- click here. The guy in the video is shown chained to a hospital bed after being arrested for campaigning against the illegal eviction of villagers/tribals and others and illegal environmental pollution at the Posco manufacturing sites in Orissa. (the pic below is a snapshot from the youtube video whose link I have given above)
One mainstream media newsreport on it here. Tehelka, a mainstream publication but not afraid to write about the issues affecting tribals and adivasis of India had written about Abhay Sahoo about a month back -- see here. The police, acting on behalf of the state that in turn is acting on behalf of the company, claims that Sahoo has indulged in various law-breaking acts. My take on this is: surely, no mass leader will be free of some acts that won't be legal in the strict sense but the punishment has to fit the nature of the crime and the other activities of the person. Nelson Mandel was too known to have been a bit violent at the beginning of his fight against apartheid in South Africa. Of course, most mass leaders also later realise the futility of most kinds of violence and shun it but thats a process of learning.
But the bigger point is that the companies in India are getting away by violating any law and every law, enivronmental, civil or criminal. The police looks away and does nothing because the state deliberately does not want to invoke the law against the companies. Why are company chiefs and chairmans such as Mukesh Ambani and Ratan Tata never chained and handcuffed? Does this not shatter the illusion that democracy in India is for all its people? Well, Indian democracy is only for a few as I said in an earlier post.
The anti-Posco people's movement leader, Sahoo, has been a member of the Communist Party of India. I rate the communist parties of India as bad or not-so-bad as any other party in India including the BJP. Communism, capitalism, socialism are all isms that many people choose to categorise themselves in. But ultimately its about the greed and excessive ego of people in power and people with influence that determines whether this ism or that ism will bring more good or more harm to Earth and its inhabitants.
Here's some more on the Posco steel company's matter in Orissa followed by another similar matter of tribals (adivasis) being the victims of companies-state terror in Jharkhand:
From: Campaigns and Advocacy Desk - TOM
Subject: Please Endorse: Appeal Letter To Orissa Governor Demanding Proper Treatment to Abhay Sahoo & Other PPSS Leaders
As you might aware, Abhay Sahoo, one of the prominent leaders of the anti POSCO movement in Orissa was arrested on 12th October 2008 under various false charges. Abhay Sahoo who is diabetic and has blood pressure problems had to be admitted to Cuttuck Medical College hospital on 3rd December 2008. Despite his fragile health condition State is continuing with its inhuman atrocities even in hospital. On the pretext of non-availability of bed in the hospital, Abhay Sahoo whose condition is critical has been kept on the floor and he has been handcuffed and chained. He is being treated like a dreaded criminal.
This calls us to come together and show our solidarity with these movements and strongly demand from State to act sensibly by respecting people’s rights. This Appeal letter written to Orissa Governor demands to stop continued harassment of Shri Abhay Sahoo and other POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti leaders in Jail, ensuring immediate proper medical care of Abhay Sahoo and withdrawal of false cases against POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti activists.
Please send your endorsement by tomorrow afternoon.
Shri Murlidhar Chandrakant Bhandare
Governor of Orissa
Sub: Appeal to instruct Orissa Government to stop its continued harassment of Shri Abhay Sahoo and other POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti leaders in Jail, ensuring immediate proper medical care of Abhay Sahoo and withdrawal of false cases against POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti activists
We are writing to condemn the continued imprisonment of Shri Abhay Sahoo, leader of the POSCO Pratirodh Sangram Samiti (PPSS) and other six PPSS leaders on account of several false cases in order to suppress anti POSCO people’s movement in Jagatsinghpur District. As you might be aware, tens of thousands of people in Jagatsinghpur District, Orissa, have put up an exemplary, ‘non-violent’ resistance for the past three years against forcible take-over of their lands and resources by the Korean steel giant POSCO. The state’s dubious plans to build a mega steel plant on their lands will not only devastate the sustainable livelihood systems of thousands of local people; it will also pauperise many more lakhs considering the port and iron-ore mining necessarily associated with the project.
State repression on the movement started right from the day one and it reached a high point when the president of PPSS, Abhay Sahoo, was malafidely arrested on 12 October 2008 evening near Paradip. Now even after period of nearly two months there has been hardly any progress on litigation part. Clearly Orissa Government in synchronization with POSCO is trying to delay judicial proceedings to languish Abhay Sahoo and others for longer period of time with these unjustified and unfair legal tactics. One can understand these legal maneuverings with the fact that State is still piling false cases against these leaders, allegedly very recently six new cases has been framed against Mr. Sahoo.
Sir, its not only that State is employing legal plotting to defame and unjustly detain Abhay Sahoo and others in order to silence people’s voice but dangerously they are also playing with lives of these protestors who are in jail, especially with the life of Abhay Sahoo. It’s a fact that Abhay Sahoo was arrested while coming back from hospital after attending his on going treatment sessions. After his arrest, due to deliberate negligence of his fragile health status on the State part he is under consistent life threat. Only after his health status turned from bad to worst jail authorities bother to admit him to hospital on December 03, 2008. Apart from other health problems Mr. Sahoo is acute diabetic and patient of blood pressure. Even in hospital Police is continuing with their inhuman atrocities, not only he has been kept on the floor but also Mr. Sahoo has been handcuffed and chained like a dreaded criminal.
We therefore call upon you to ensure:
· Ensuring human treatment and immediate arrangement of proper medical facilities and care for Mr. Abhay Sahoo
· Immediate release of Mr. Sahoo and all other arrested PPSS leaders and withdrawal of false cases framed against them
· Restraining Police from carrying their physical and mental atrocities with these leaders
Prosecution of all those responsible for human rights violation of these leaders
From: Campaigns and Advocacy Desk - TOM
Subject: Against unlawful police firing on peaceful demonstration in Dumka
Action Alert: Police firing against peaceful adivasis protestors in Jharkhand : Write to CM & NHRC
by Mukta Srivastava, 6 December 2008
Voice your protest
Write to the Jharkhand CM and NHRC
Against unlawful police firing on peaceful demonstration in Dumka
Against unjust corporate-led mass displacement of adivasis
We, members of people’s movements unequivocally condemn the unlawful obstruction of the peaceful protest of 7000 adivasis from the Dumka region in Jharkhand and the police firing unleashed against them today afternoon at Kathikund that has left 5 people battling for their life. We are receiving messages from Jharkhand that even now the firing is on and the situation is quite tense and Section 144 has been clamped in the area.
The adivasis in the Dumka region of Jharkhand have been struggling against the plunder of natural resources and destruction of livelihoods by the giant mining corporates and are asserting their right to community control and ownership over their resources, including land, water, fish, forests and minerals. They started a new phase of their Satyagraha today, which also took the form of a Jail Bharo Rally, strongly protesting against this unjust displacement and the false cases being foisted against the local activists and movement leaders, including Amelia Hansda of the Jharkhand Ulgulan Manch Leader and National Convenor, NAPM.
It is notable that in addition to the two strong people’s movements in the region, including the Jharkhand Ulgulan Manch (JUM) and Jharkhand Hulgulan Mahila Manch (JHMM), the mass movements of the local adivasis with local leadership, the Gram Sabhas of the regions, which repeated denied land for acquisition through oral and written means were also fully involved in organizing the non-violent demonstration.
Many leaders of people’s movements, including National Convenors of the NAPM had very recently written to the CM of Jharkhand to take a firm position against the unjust displacement of the people by holding a conclusive and intensive dialogue on the issue and ensuring that all the due process as enshrined under the Constitution and the PESA Act are implemented.
We mark this day of violence and repression as one more Black Day in the history of peaceful people’s struggles in this country agitating for a constitution-based movement for basic rights and call upon all progressive minded individuals and groups to strongly condemn the unlawful corporate-state tyranny.
Mukta Srivastava, Anand Mazgaonkar, Simpreet Singh, Shrikanth