SDM Tamnar issues public threat to hound out women activists!!
The SDM Tamnar, a representative of the District Administration of Raigarh district, openly issued vituperative and abusive threats to intimidate and harass villagers engaged in a peaceful anti-mining protest, and in particular, targetted Rinchin, a WSS member and a village organizer who has been living with these villagers for the past three years.
Chhattisgarh has long been a battleground where the state, in collusion with corporate capital, is waging a war against Adivasis who are resisting the model of “development” – based on brutal extraction and explotation of natural resources- that is being forced on them, in flagrant violation of the laws of the land and Constitutional rights.
Tamnar Block in Raigarh district of Chhattisgarh is the site of one such struggle. The Jindal group of companies has taken over large tracts of land in this area, in flagrant violation of land acquisition laws and procedures. The company has also continuously flouted all environmental norms laid down for blasting, dumping of waste, controlling dust pollution and mitigation of environmental damage. SECL (South Eastern Coalfields Limited), the current custodian of coal mines in this area, is continuing its mining operations without giving the local people jobs citing that it is merely a custodian though it continues to extract coal from the mines.
On November 1, villagers from six villages of Tamnar came together to enforce an “economic blockade” of the mining operations by sitting on the roads and preventing truck traffic. The main demands of these affected people are fair compensation; cancellation of illegal benami transfers in the name of Adivasi employees; compensation for houses damaged by blasting; provision of passage and access between affected villages; rehabilitation and livelihoods for all those who were dependent on the acquired land, and strict adherence to environmental laws for future operations.
Instead of paying heed to the legitimate demands of the villagers, the administration tried to sideline the protesters by bringing in village middlemen and land brokers, many of whom were immediately identified as BJP goons and the same company stooges who had manipulated people into selling their land at throwaway prices. In particular, Mr Pradeep Kori, the SDM Tamnar who came to visit the dharna site on 3rd November 2016 refused to allow women to speak, ordering them to stay silent until he gave them permission to speak.
Despite these attempts to subvert the struggle, the villagers stood firm. At 10.30 pm on the night on the sixth day of the dharna, after a four-hour long negotiation ended in standoff, the villagers refused to lift the chakka jam until their demands were met.
This infuriated the SDM who launched an abusive attack against Rinchin, a WSS member and local activist who has been working in the region for over three years. He launched a tirade against her, accusing her to of poisoning people’s minds against the company. Calling her an “outsider”, the SDM threatened that she would be killed and buried on the spot and warned that not only should she leave the dharna spot, but she should never be seen in the district again.
Apart from threatening Rinchin’s physical well being, Mr Kori also gave an ominous warning to the villagers that anyone who gave “these outsiders” shelter or engaged with them in any way would be booked and imprisoned. He continued this torrent of heckling and abuse and forcefully ended the blockade.
The actions of the SDM are not only in unseemly and in poor taste, they are also in clear and open violations of the rules of conduct for officials of the district administration. The fact that an officer representing the district administration could publicly threaten, abuse and attack women activists, demonstrates the complete indifference of the administration to the sufferings of the people, and its unwillingness to carry out its duty of upholding the Constitution and the rule of law. By labelling grassroots activists and journalists as “outsiders” and warning local communities to not engage with them, the administration is showing its contempt for the Constitutional rights of every citizen of India to live and work where they choose to.
The message is clear: anyone who raises a voice against the unjust actions of the state will be considered fair game for violent reprisals.
November 14, 2016
JUSTICE FOR TARA, Organized by Delhi Queer Pride. Jantar Mantar, November 14, 6 pm.
We are outraged at the death of Tara, a 28 year old trans woman and outreach worker who was burnt alive before the Pondy Bazar police station in Chennai, and succumbed to her injuries at the Kilpauk Medical College Hospital on the morning of 9 November 2016.
This happened after the police on their rounds at 4 am seized her vehicle and phone and incited her to go kill herself when she pleaded for justice. The police themselves have videos of them hurling transphobic abuse at her and we do not know what other forms of harassment they might have meted out to her at the station, since they are refusing to hand over CCTV footage of the proceedings there.
There is also police video footage of her pleading and attempting self harm, and the police telling her to “get out, go and die”, instead of acting responsibly and ensuring she came to no harm. Soon after she was found with 90% burns in front of the police station and mysteriously there is no footage whatsoever of the events leading to this. Before her death she named police humiliation as the key factor.
Several alarming and vital questions are raised by this:
1. The police claim that Tara has committed suicide. What is the reason for her suicide besides police persecution and humiliation?
2. If she indeed committed suicide, why did she do in front of the police station? Why did the police not take preventive action when she immolated herself. When she tried to self harm, why didn’t the police offer her first-aid or prevent her from attempting suicide?
3. When the whole country was unable to access money resources the 500 and 1000 rupees fiasco, where did the petrol come from?
4. Why was Tara’s mobile snatched from her rendering her helpless?
5. When someone dies in a public spot, the spot would be marked before removing their body. Why isn’t there any mark from where Tara was taken?
6. When they released so many video proof from that wee hours, why did they not record the incidents that lead to Tara’s immolation? When asked for CCTV footage, we were informed that the CCTV wasn’t working from 27 October 2016. If that is the case, 29th October 2016 was Deepavali, did they not have a functioning CCTV in a major spot in the city where thousands of people gather?
Trans activists and allies who went to the Police Commissioner’s office in Chennai to demand action were harassed and illegally detained on Nov 10th. The police and Tamil Nadu government must be held responsible for this. We will agitate until the guilty are held responsible and punished.
We demand that:
1. The culprits of Tara’s death be punished after a proper enquiry
2. The police must be strictly given directions to not harass trans people and any erring officer must be suspended from service and criminal action should be taken against them. Meanwhile hijras face daily harassment from the public and the police need to take cognisance and address these law and order issues instead of dismissing the concerns of trans people and harassing them instead.
3. An atrocities act that covers crimes against trans people to be passed and implemented or included in the Rights of Transgender persons Bill, 2014 with its other excellent provisions of reservations, etc. put forward by Tiruchi Siva, passed in the Rajya Sabha and now in the Lok Sabha. The Rights of Transgender persons bill 2016 of the GOI has watered down these provisions and further more has criminalised trans women who have no livelihood options other than organized begging. This bill which is supposedly about trans rights should be scrapped and the Rights of Transgender persons Bill, 2014 ahould be passed by the Lok Sabha into law.
4. Strict action should be taken against shows like Bathuku Jatka Bandi hosted by Zee Telugu and hosted by TV 9 which incite violence and abuse against transgender and lesbian people.
5. Employment and housing facilities must be provided by the govt to trans people to ensure right to life and livelihood. A lone homeless kothi was killed a month ago in Hyderabad and in the name of her murder investigation the police is harassing the hijra community. With another homeless trans woman found dead in Bangalore yesterday, the number of people in the trans community dying of systemic and structural violence piles up as the NALSA judgement remains on paper without implementation. Implement the NALSA Supreme Court judgment immediately!
6. All criminalising provisions used to target trans people like the beggary act, ITPA, public nuisance, public indecency, Sec 377 should be immediately repealed.
Enough criminalisation! Enough structural violence! Enough police custodial violence!!!
Contact: Bittu 8179542651