Monday, January 7, 2008

Vidarbha agrarian crisis far from solution

INDIA GROWING ..........................................

On going Vidarbha agrarian crisis has hit hard third year in row when 1211 distressed farmers committed suicides as per "Farmer suicide dairy” of Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS)" which has released graphic of month wise and district wise farm suicides listed by the VJAS, activist group keeping track of farmers suicides since 1999.

In spite of a major new initiative from the Union Government by launching the National Food Security Mission (NFSM) which aims at increasing the production of rice by 10 million tonnes (MT), of wheat by 8 MT, and of pulses by 2 MT during the 11th Five Year Plan with an envisaged outlay of Rs. 4, 882.48 crore.

And another major intervention in the agriculture sector is the introduction of the Rashtriya Krishi Vikas Yojana (RKVY) envisaging an outlay of Rs. 25,000 crore over the 11th Five Year Plan. This scheme for Additional Central Assistance to the States is designed to boost public investment in a whole range of activities relating to agriculture and allied sectors based on agro-climatic District Agriculture Plans.

Nothing has become operational in suicide prone six district of Vidarbha more over Government totally failed to provide any protection to million of dying farmers on credit and food security front resulting more farm suicides than year 2006, said VJAS president Kishor Tiwari.

The toll claims of Indian Government that Agricultural Extension has been strengthened and Agricultural Technology Management Agencies (ATMAs) have been set up in 544 districts is not even seen on the paper in Vidarbha region, Tiwari added.

As most of the political parties are doing crocodiles cry over the insult of cotton farmer but they are not talking about the solution to redress the hardship of Vidarbha farmers as presently most of the farmers who are committing suicides are the victim of poverty and hunger resulted after the long accumulation of economic collapse in region due to on going agrarian crisis.

Tiwari said they are demanding urgent steps to provide food security and health care facilities to these dying farmers before making arguments over farm suicides being agrarian or non agrarian. “Now time has come to give complete loan waiver and price protection on all agriculture produce from free trade in WTO era to Vidarbha''s dying farmers”, he added.

Reacting to the reports of change guards in Maharashtra, VJAS termed it as too late to address the crisis as it's time now to change policies not the leadership. According to Kishore restoration civil and social administration is need of the hour to stop this Vidarbha farmers mass genocide.

According to VJAS "Farmer suicide dairy “ largest number of 332 farmers committed suicide in Yavatmal district during last year, while it was followed by 210 in Amaravati and 162 in Washim districts. While 112 farmer suicides were recorded during December in Vidarbha, highest number of 113 suicides was recorded during March and September months, respectively.

Prisoners riot in northern India

Indian Prisons are same as Guantanamo Bays Abu Garib Prison by its Nature...

Rioting prisoners in Jalandhar
A prisoner adds fuel to the flames
Hundreds of prisoners have rioted for several hours in the main jail in India's northern city of Jalandhar, in Punjab state.

Officials said the prisoners were protesting against the alleged high-handedness of the staff.

Around 1,500 prisoners went on the rampage, smashing windows, doors and furniture. They also set fire to the hospital and kitchen.

Police said the protesters also threw stones at prison officials.

'Situation brewing'

One prisoner was injured and the police had to use tear gas and baton-charges to bring the situation under control.

The rioting broke out on Monday morning soon after the prisoners began a hunger strike demanding immediate action against the jail authorities, accusing some of them of mistreating prisoners.

"The situation was brewing up for a few days. The prisoners had a number of complaints including lack of proper food and medicine," a senior policeman, Arpit Shukla told the BBC.

Mr Shukla said the superintendent of the jail had been suspended.

One Sikh prisoner, he said, had accused a jail officer of pulling out some of his hair.

Police said the situation had been brought under control and the prisoners had gone back to their cells.

Mr Shukla said there were reports that some prisoners had attempted to take advantage of the melee to try to get away.

"Jallandhar prison is one of the most secure prisons so nobody was able to escape," Mr Shukla said.

A detailed investigation into the incident has already been ordered.

It comes after nearly 300 communist rebels and their supporters escaped from a prison in the central state of Chhattisgarh in an armed jailbreak less than a month ago.

India's jails are overcrowded. The excruciatingly slow pace of justice is often blamed for this, as thousands of people are kept behind bars awaiting trials.

Dozens injured in anti-Jindal violence in Chhattisgarh

Raipur : Heavy police deployment has been made Sunday in tension-hit rural areas of Chhattisgarh's Raigarh district following Saturday's clash between the police and people during a public hearing for Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL).

At least 50 people, including 15 policemen, were injured Saturday when a crowd of over 1,000 people, mainly poor farmers, turned violent during the public hearing for JSPL at Khamaria village, 275 km northeast of capital Raipur.

The people were enraged when the JSPL officials in the presence of the police and district administration officials asked the people to hand over their lands to the company for coal mining in order to feed its power plant. JSPL has 1,000 mw coal-fired power plant at Tamnar in the same district.

"The crowd turned violent after hearing the JSPL proposal and began pelting stones at the police," R.P. Sai, Additional Superintendent of police, told reporters Sunday here.

"Dozens of farmers and 15 policemen have been injured in the clash. Police presence has been boosted after the clash in Tamnar areas and also in the nearby villages from where the farmers came in to attend the public hearing," Sai said.

Local police officials said at least 50 farmers were injured in police baton charge and admitted to a hospital at Tamnar. Eight of them were said to be in critical condition.

A.K. Mukherjee, JSPL's executive director, Sunday said, "The company is committed to welfare, development, employment generation and civil infrastructure build up of not only the coal-rich villages but also the entire Raigarh district."

As a retaliation to Saturday's police baton charge, farmers of a large rural stretch of Raigarh district have blocked road traffic at several places in the district since Sunday morning.

Phani is Virasam secretary

Monday January 7 2008 08:45 IST

GUNTUR: Phani was elected State secretary of Viplava Rachayitala Sangham (Virasam) at the 21st State conference of Virasam here on Sunday.

Those elected to the new executive body are: Chenchaiah, CSR Prasad, M Venugopal, Nagaraju, G Kalyanarao, Ravikumar, Ratnamala, Sharif, P Kotaiah, Varalakshmi, Khasim, Syamrao, Chnnaiah and Ujjwal.

Chalasani Prasad and Vara Vara Rao were nominated as permanent invitees.

The conference sought lifting of ban on People’s March magazine of Kerala and immediate release of its editor Govindan Kutty, extended support to Goans who are agitating against economic zones, expressed solidarity with Taslima Nasreen, demanded due share to local people in the natural gas found in the Krishna-Godavari basin and condemned attacks on churches and Christians in Orissa.

Woman Maoist leader arrested in Jharkhand

Y It is a Women,It is a Maoist.....Peoples Star.Party know how to take rescue her from the false system


Ranchi, Jan 7 - A top woman Maoist leader has been arrested from the Garwah district of Jharkhand, police said Monday.

Acting on a tip off Sunday night, police arrested Vineeta alias Simppi, a zonal commander of the Communist Party of India-Maoist (CPI-Maoist), from Bardari village of Garwah district, about 140 km from Ranchi.

Police said she had masterminded more than a dozen Maoist attacks in Jharkhand. She is accused of attacking a Home Guard training centre in Giridih district in 2006 and looting around 200 police rifles.

'Vineeta had joined the CPI-Maoist group 15 years ago. She was active in Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh,' said a police official.

She was lately involved in spreading Maoist propaganda. She used to show villagers CDs with images of police torturing innocent people in the name of anti-Maoist operations.

According to a police official, Vineeta is an expert in handling sophisticated weapons and making landmines.

Maoist rebels are active in 18 of the 24 districts of the state. Nearly 1,000 people have been killed in Maoist related violence in the state in the last seven years.A

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Indian court orders 'arrest without bail' of Dutch activists

From Indymedia
See the Face of Indian State....

A court in Bangalore has issued an order for the 'arrest without the possibility of bail' of seven campaigners over their websites postings about labour conditions of an Indian supplier of fashion label G-Star. The activists are from the Clean Clothes Campaign (CCC) and the India Committee of the Netherlands (ICN); the director of their Netherlands based ISP, Antenna, is included.

The case could have implications for activists posting anything on the web, with the court using the Convention on Cyber Crime to call for extradition. It all happens with the backdrop of the continuing campaign about labour conditions and particularly the huge number of child workers in India coming up against the religion of 'free trade'.

The case has been running for some time now. As the legal threats get worse the campaign are asking for solidarity. As G-Star is the only remaining buyer from the jeans manufacturer at which the CCC and ICN have highlighted the labour rights violations they are asking people to make demands of them listing things you can do []. In the UK No Sweat! have called a picket of G-star [] focusing on their Covent Garden store. There are lots of outlets around on their store locator [].


In 2006 the CCC and ICN launched a campaign to draw attention to severe labour rights violations at Indian jeans manufacturer Fibres and Fabrics International and its subsidiary Jeans Knit Pvt Ltd (FFI/JKPL). The campaign highlighted the workers own words. At the time FFI/JKPL were producing jeans for companies including G-Star, Armani, RaRe, Guess, Gap and Mexx and had a gagging order of local labour rights organizations that were informed about labour rights violations at the factory by workers in 2005. To date FFI/JKPL has refused to engage with the local labour groups to resolve the outstanding labour issues. For doing so while there was a gagging order the activists were accused of 'cyber crime', 'acts of racist and xenophobic nature' and 'criminal defamation' by the Indian jeans manufacturer Fibres and Fabrics International and its subsidiary Jeans Knit Pvt Ltd (FFI/JKPL). News 07 Sep 07 []

As they did not travel to India in person for the first hearing of the case (no doubt to be kept in the country while the trial proceeded, something that could take years) the court ruled on Saturday that international warrants will be issued for their arrest.News 03 Dec 07 []

Free Speech a Cyber Crime?

The potential restriction on free speech could have immense implications for all activists. Extradition is requested using the Convention on Cyber Crime, and its Additional Protocol.

The Original court order of June 14th 2007 [][pdf] referred to:

'The continuous publication and hosting of the false defamatory material on the website amounts to cyber crime and a cyberspace libel...' 'the representation of their alleged theories and ideas advocates and promotes hatred, discrimination and violence against the complainant and the country based on national origin thus being xenophobic in nature...' 'publish material to insult the country and the complainant publicly through a computer system on grounds of national origin...' 'All the accused... commission of the cyber crime of publication of xenophobic material'.

This according to the Indian court makes potentially 'criminal defamation' of telling Indian workers own stories from interviews [][pdf] and publicising the results of a fact finding mission extraditable under the Additional Protocol.

In 2001 when the Council of Europe drew up the Convention they explicitly left out integration with the European Convention on Human Rights. At the time activists were highlighting it could be used to restrict freedom of speech, now it seems they may have been right. Two years later as the Council drafted the Additional Protocol to target racism and xenophobia on the internet again they seemed to ignore differences of freedom of expression that exist around the world.

There is a handbook on the Convention on Cyber Crime for activists [][pdf]

Campaigners pawns in global free trade power game

The escalation of this case times itself with the growing push by Indian Commerce Minister, Kamal Nath, to increase foreign trade and stop international campaigns particularly about child labour in India. Nath has been removing restrictions on trade, and claims that governments supporting NGOs that are campaigning about working conditions in his country are 'disguised protectionism' [][dutch]

Who knows maybe the tactics are working? On Friday 30th November, the EU and India released their Joint Statement of the 8th India-EU Summit []. It spends much time praising growth in 'multilateral trade', and while mentioning efforts on climate change they are also 'recognising the importance of strengthening transportation links ... the growing importance of India-EU civil aviation'. There is no explicit mention of working conditions and child labour, just that they have a 'strengthening of the EU-India dialogue and cooperation on employment and social policy on the basis of the Memorandum of Understanding' with its visits and seminars.

India's government, its manufacturers, and the companies they supply are however under immense pressure from non-governmental and grassroots groups about the use of child labour. The country has some of the highest number of children under 15 working, sometimes in terrible conditions. The most recent case to highlight this was the Observer's exposure of a factory producing for GAP kids [], 'child workers as young as 10 found working in conditions close to slavery... the children described long hours of unwaged work, as well as threats and beatings.' GAP has been a long target of campaigns about sweatshops and labour, so this time GAP moved quickly at this exposure.

This is not the first time Kamal Nath has played the free trade card to try and remove some external pressure on standards within the country. In 1994 as Minister for the Environment he pushed for the de-linking of environmental standards from trade [][rtf]. Also while he was Environment minister a commercial venture of his damaged the environment [] so much so he was later fined Rs 1.000.000 by the High Court

Zapatistas smell war in the air of Chiapas

North AmericaNativity scenes are plentiful in San Cristóbal de las Casas, a colonial city in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. But the one that greets visitors at the entrance to the TierrAdentro cultural centre has a local twist: figurines on donkeys wear miniature ski masks and carry wooden guns. It is high season for "Zapatourism", the industry of international travellers that has sprung up around the indigenous uprising here, and TierrAdentro is ground zero.

Commentary By Naomi Klein

SAN CRISTÓBAL DE LAS CASAS, CHIAPAS–Nativity scenes are plentiful in San Cristóbal de las Casas, a colonial city in the highlands of Chiapas, Mexico. But the one that greets visitors at the entrance to the TierrAdentro cultural centre has a local twist: figurines on donkeys wear miniature ski masks and carry wooden guns.

It is high season for "Zapatourism", the industry of international travellers that has sprung up around the indigenous uprising here, and TierrAdentro is ground zero. Zapatista-made weavings, posters, and jewellery are selling briskly. In the courtyard restaurant, where the mood at 10 p.m. is festive verging on fuzzy, college students drink Sol beer. A young man holds up a photograph of Subcomandante Marcos, as always in mask with pipe, and kisses it. His friends snap yet another picture of this most documented of movements.

I am taken through the revellers to a room in the back of the centre, closed to the public. The sombre mood here seems a world away. Ernesto Ledesma Arronte, a 40-year-old ponytailed researcher, is hunched over military maps and human-rights incident reports. "Did you understand what Marcos said?" he asks me. "It was very strong. He hasn't said anything like that in many years."

Arronte is referring to a speech Marcos made the night before at a conference outside San Cristóbal. The speech was titled "Feeling Red: The Calendar and the Geography of War". Because it was Marcos, it was poetic and slightly elliptical. But to Arronte's ears, it was a code-red alert. "Those of us who have made war know how to recognize the paths by which it is prepared and brought near," Marcos said. "The signs of war on the horizon are clear. War, like fear, also has a smell. And now we are starting to breathe its fetid odour in our lands."

Marcos's assessment supports what Arronte and his fellow researchers at the Centre of Political Analysis and Social and Economic Investigations have been tracking with their maps and charts. On the 56 permanent military bases that the Mexican state runs on indigenous land in Chiapas, there has been a marked increase in activity. Weapons and equipment are being dramatically upgraded, new battalions are moving in, including special forces–all signs of escalation.

As the Zapatistas became a global symbol for a new model of resistance, it was possible to forget that the war in Chiapas never actually ended. For his part, Marcos–despite his clandestine identity–has been playing a defiantly open role in Mexican politics, most notably during the fiercely contested 2006 presidential elections. Rather than endorsing the centre-left candidate, Andrés Manuel LÓpez Obrador, he spearheaded a parallel "Other Campaign", holding rallies that called attention to issues ignored by the major candidates.

In this period, Marcos's role as military leader of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) seemed to fade into the background. He was Delegate Zero–the anticandidate. Last night, Marcos announced that the conference would be his last such appearance for some time. "Look, the EZLN is an army," he reminded his audience, and he is its "military chief".

That army faces a grave new threat–one that cuts to the heart of the Zapatistas' struggle. During the 1994 uprising, the EZLN claimed large stretches of land and collectivized them–its most tangible victory. In the San Andrés Accords, the right to territory was recognized, but the Mexican government has refused to fully ratify the accords. After failing to enshrine these rights, the Zapatistas decided to turn them into facts on the ground. They formed their own government structures–called good-government councils–and stepped up the building of autonomous schools and clinics. As the Zapatistas expand their role as the de facto government in large areas of Chiapas, the federal and state governments' determination to undermine them is intensifying.

"Now," Arronte says, "they have their method." The method is to use the deep desire for land among all peasants in Chiapas against the Zapatistas. Arronte's organization has documented that, in just one region, the government has spent approximately $16 million expropriating land and giving it to many families linked to the notoriously corrupt Institutional Revolutionary Party. Often, the land is already occupied by Zapatista families. Most ominously, many of the new "owners" are linked to thuggish paramilitary groups, which are trying to force the Zapatistas from the newly titled land.

Since September, there has been a marked escalation of violence: shots fired into the air, brutal beatings, Zapatista families reporting being threatened with death, rape, and dismemberment. Soon, the soldiers in their barracks may well have the excuse they need to descend: restoring "peace" among feuding indigenous groups. For months the Zapatistas have been resisting violence and trying to expose these provocations. But by choosing not to line up behind Obrador in the 2006 election, the movement made powerful enemies. And now, says Marcos, their calls for help are being met with a deafening silence.

Exactly 10 years ago, on December 22, 1997, the Acteal massacre took place. As part of the anti-Zapatista campaign, a paramilitary gang opened fire in a small church in the village of Acteal, killing 45 indigenous people, 16 of them children and adolescents. Some bodies were hacked with machetes. The state police heard the gunfire and did nothing. For weeks now, Mexico's newspapers have been filled with articles marking the tragic 10-year anniversary of the massacre.

In Chiapas, however, many people point out that conditions today feel eerily familiar: the paramilitaries, the rising tensions, the mysterious activities of the soldiers, the renewed isolation from the rest of the country. And they have a plea to those who supported them in the past: don't just look back. Look forward, and prevent another Acteal massacre before it happens.