THIS IS HOW NAVIN PATNAIK MANAGES ORISSA!

If a picture speaks a thousand words, we would be lost in translation, looking at the dire straits of Orissa.

So we decided to let our brilliant photographer Mr. Laxmi Prasad Pattanayak speak. And he has preferred not to say anything on how Navin Patnaik is managing Orissa. The different parts of Bhubaneswar that he has captured in camera are enough to say how nicely the State is going on, he claims.

Main Road to BJB Nagar
Main Road to BJB Nagar

Front side of Baragarh School
Front side of Baragarh School

The heart of Bargarh Brit Colony
The heart of Bargarh Brit Colony

This water serves Nicco Park
This water serves Nicco Park

VAJPAYEE BE ENQUIRED INTO IN CONTEXT OF FERNANDES

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

The Central Bureau of Investigation has initiated prosecution against the Country’s former defense minister George Fernandes, who, in its probe-propelled opinion, is guilty of weakening our defense system through corruption.

Being in online journalism, it is a moment for me to celebrate because this is the first manifestation of major victory of internet media in India.

One is now reminded of the corrupt and scheming administration that Vajpayee had subjected the nation to.

Instead of acting against corruption, Vajpayee had made Tarun Tejpal and his team in tehelka.com, who had exposed that corruption, face enquiries on their method of locating news!

As is his wont, Fernandes is trying to divert public attention from his misdeeds by shouting that he is being prosecuted because of “that lady” Sonia. But in doing so he is showing his fidgetiness. Why he fidgets?

He is now bound to face the consequences of his involvement in corruptions in defense deals. The game of politics that he nastily played in the Parliament will not come to his rescue in the examination box of the concerned court of prosecution. There is no doubt in the fact that the CBI has taken a lot of time to spot his dubious deals. But it is indicative only of how shrewd is he in transacting venal ventures. Who can and for how long stop the truth from prevailing?

Tehelka tapes had made it convincingly clear that he had reduced his official residence to a dalali hub where his personal preference, the lady president of the political outfit he had formed, Ms. Jaya Jaitley was captured by camera while bargaining for and collecting bribe in the guise of donation to facilitate supply orders for defense materials. These tapes having knocked at the bottom, the CAG of India, in subsequent time, made a sample audit of defense expenditure and came out with more startling instances of corrupt practice in vogue in the Ministry of Defense under Fernandes. And, ultimately, now, the CBI has drawn up the charges.

The CBI has filed necessary FIR against Fernandes, Jaitley and former Navi Chief Sushil Kumar for alleged irregularities in purchasing of Barak system from Israel in 2000. When Fernandes maintains that the present President Mr. A.P.J.Abdul Kalam, during his tenure as Scientific Advisor to Prime Minister, had recommended the Barak system, reports reveal the opposite. According to these reports, Dr. Kalam had expressed doubts over the suitability of Barak. He even had written a letter to Fernandes in 1999 opposing the deal as the system had a 50 percent failure rate. But Kalam’s advice was ignored.

On the other hand, Bishnu Bhagwat, former Naval Chief, who was sacked by Fernandes in December 1998 because he did not favor the shady deal, has alleged that Fernandes was “highly interested” for the purchase and in order to eliminate obstacles, had gone inappropriately ahead to put his own man Sushil in the top most post of Navy. Against this backdrop, the FIR filed by CBI may be viewed as a better late than never step.

I will not, however, speculate on what would be the fate of this FIR.

But to me it occurs, justice cannot be arrived at unless enquiry is conducted into the conduct of former Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee vis-a-vis Fernandes.

If the later has any benefit from the unprecedented volume of purchase of defense materials in the name of Kargil war, the former had derived the principal source of his sustenance in power from the said war only.

Had there been no Kargil war, Vajpayee would never have become the third time Prime Minister of India.

In May 1999 he had lost his alliance majority after AIADMK withdrew its support at the summit of a year long misrule that was anti-people, anti-worker but pro-trader.

The Country was set to set a fresh mandate in October but due to misconceived notion of democracy, Vajpayee continued as a care taker P.M.

Normally he could not have bagged any decisive support as the people had got severely disillusioned. But an abnormal development helped him. That abnormal development was what is known as the Kargil war.

This war gave Fernandes the ground to go for questionable defense deals that are now under the scanner. This war gave Vajpayee a fresh mandate by mesmerizing people to look away from his misdeeds. This being the unread similarity between the two, one gets inclined to ask as to whether there was an extra-parliamentary link between them both? It needs to be investigated into.

The backhander deals in defense procurement video taped by tehelka.com were televised on 13th of March 2001. The whole nation was stunned. Allies of Vajpayee were ashamed of continuing their support to him. Pressure mounted on dismissal of Fernandes, but Vajpayee was reluctant to drop him or to ask him to quit. Mamata Banerjee resigned in disgust. The south Indian allies declared that it would be difficult for them to support the Government if Fernandes continues in the cabinet. Fernandes had to leave within a few days in March.

But instead of initiating action against the exposed culprits, a commission of enquiry was appointed under K. Venkataswami under the Commissions of Inquiry Act to probe into the modus operandi of Tehelka!

Fernandes played a pressure game. He did not make any remarkable allegation against the Opposition for the predicament he was thrown into. But his proteges were raising their master’s voice against Vajpayee. If their leader was not reinstated they would expose the Prime Minister and his Office (PMO), they were asserting in statements to the media.

Vajpayee succumbed to the circumstances and emitted such signals that bureaucracy which was going to provide the enquiry commission with necessary official information on the defense deals, got the impression that Fernandes was a man who was not at all away from the center of power. He was made the kingpin of NDA with the power to monitor ministries in guise of assessing manifesto implementation.

Despite this shrewd attempt of Vajpayee to enable Fernandes to wield power unfathomable enough to influence officials, the process of the proceedings of the commission of enquiry was so typical that it was felt impossible on part of bureaucracy to keep back any required document from the Commission when called for.

There was apprehension that admirers of Bishnu Bhagawat in the Navy and in the Ministry of Defense may help production of such documents before the enquiry commission that may jeopardize Fernandes.

Production of such documents before the commission may be withheld only by a Minister who can claim privilege over any document under his administrative control. Therefore, he decided to take over the Ministry of Defense without any further delay.

And, he was reinducted by Vajpayee barely six months after he had to quit in March, 2001, in the same position of defense minister!

The Venkataswami Commission was in the midst of its probe on offences exposed by tehelka.com. The Kargil Review Committee headed by K. Subrahmanyam, eminent defense study expert, appointed on 29 July 1999 to “(i) review the events leading up to the Pakistani aggression in the Kargil District of Ladakh in Jammu & Kashmir; and (ii) recommend such measures as are considered necessary to safeguard national security against such armed intrusions”, had submitted its report which was placed before the Parliament on 23 February 2000. This report had clearly shown as to how under Fernandes the defense intelligence and preparedness of the country had collapsed. The tehelka tapes had shown how under him and in his official residence defense-deal brokers and commission agents were having their heydays. He had no legitimacy to be reinducted in the same post of defense minister, at least not before submission of its report by the Venkataswami Commission. But to the astonishment, dismay and embarrassment of the entire nation, Vajpayee reappointed him as the defense minister.

The Opposition refused to accept him as such and the world witnessed the unique and historical boycott Fernandes faced from the Opposition in Parliament.

Had there been an iota of political probity in Vajpayee he would never have reinducted Fernandes as the defence minister and after facing the Opposition boycott, would never have retained him. But he reinducted and retained him. Why? What was his modus operandi? What was the compulsion? Vajpayee was questioned by the Press, was grilled by the Opposition, was looked at askance by the people over these questions. But he never answered, never clarified.

Did he succumb to blackmailing by Fernandes? If yes, what was his weakness that Fernandes was able to exploit?

Only a high power judicial probe can unveil the truth.

Till the truth is found out, speculations will continue. In fact speculations cannot be stopped.

People who love their motherland must try to know as to what was the secret bond between Vajpayee and Fernandes that prompted the Prime Minister to make a farce of parliamentary accountability by misuse of his prime-ministerial prerogative in favor of a man who was considered even by his senior colleagues as a “liability”!

Vajpayee’s conduct in re-inducting Fernandes as defense minister and in retaining him in that position in utter disregard to disapproval thereof by the people, by the Press and by the Opposition was an instance of abnormality besides being an instance of misuse of prerogative. Why Vajpayee, a very normal man known for unfailing wits, behaved so abnormally in favor of Fernandes? Why the ablest leader of the right-wing BJP, once honored as the best parliamentarian of a year in India, willfully misused his prime-ministerial prerogatives for serving the purpose of a leader of the self-styled left-winger Samata? The mystery is not yet solved. But it is a cruel mystery. And the mystery deepens in the context of Kagril.

The Kagril Review Report placed before the Parliament on 23 February 2000 fails to convince that there was a real war. It reveals that the Committee had before it a lot of evidence that the Pakistani armed intrusion in the Kargil sector had come as a complete and total surprise to the Indian Government, Army and intelligence agencies as well as to the J & K State Government. The Committee did not come across any agency or individual who was able to clearly assess before the event the possibility of a large scale Pakistani military intrusion across the Kargil heights. On the other hand, the Pak intrusion was half hazard. A number of former Army Chiefs of Staff and Director Generals of Military Operations were near unanimous in their opinion that a military intrusion on the scale attempted was totally unsustainable because of the lack of supportive infrastructure and was militarily irrational, the Committee has noted while in course of observation harping on how, whatever be the circumstances, our surveillance posts were left unmanned. So the Kargil war does not convince that it was a real serious war.

But this war helped Vajpayee in coming back to power and helped General Musharraf in becoming supremo of Pakistan. More intriguing is the fact that when the world had refused to recognise Musharraf as the new leader of Pakistan, it was only Vajpayee who had unreservedly recognized him and had felicitated him in India. Was there a secret pact between Vajpayee and Musharraf even before the mysterious Kargil war?

Mystery deepens over the fact that the Kargil war, held as India’s first video-war, had been followed by fake encounters in subsequent times. An example jumps from a June 2004 confession of some Indian soldiers that they had helped in staging fake encounters with Pakistani troops on Siachen in August 2003.

On 7 June 2004, Rifleman Shyam Bahadur Thapa had told a military court that he had not only demolished a fake “enemy-held” objective with a rocket launcher in August 2003, but also had acted as a Pakistani soldier killed in the action when video cameras were whirring away. He said that he had to do this at the behest of a company commander, Maj. Surinder Singh, who had asked him “to remove the jacket and cap and to lie there” (near the demolished objective).

Whether the order of termination and imprisonment passed against Maj. Singh was finally implemented or not is a different issue. But it established that he had documented the stage managed encounter to convince people that Pakistan had attacked us but under him our forces had annihilated the attacker. If anything, this was part of a fraud played on our people, whatsoever might have been its impact.

It also established that there was a climate in that terrain which was made congenial to fake encounters or wars when Fernandes was the defense minister and Vajpayee was in search of an escalade to fetch back votes. Then, was the Kargil war a fake war which Fernandes had organised to help Vajpayee get the escalade? Was it a secret between them two? Had Musarraf joined hands?

It cannot be ignored that Fernandes was known for his frequent trips to Siachen; at least 17 times is on records, during his tenure as defense minister. Was he really in sympathy with the soldiers or was he anxious to see that our defense personnel do not keep in mind the climate of such a fraud? Answer is yet to be found out. Answer can be found out if modus operandi of Vajpayee’s patronization to Fernandes is openly enquired into by a team of experts including criminologists and psychologists.

Looking at Vajpayee’s illogical and disproportionate patronization to Fernandes in retaining his defense minister portfolio, notwithstanding the frauds, one is inclined to suspect that unless his modus operandi in continuing this patronization or his acquiescence into extending this patronization is enquired into, the gamut of the background of the defense-deal offences that Fernandes is charged with will not be fully discovered and hence the history of the relevant period shall remain blurred for ever.

Therefore, in national interest, and in the interest of Indian sub-continent, Vajpayee should be enquired into in the context of Fernandes.

NISER TO BE FUNCTIONAL IN 2007

All who worked for working of the National Institute of Science in Bhubaneswar would be happy to know that the National Institute of Science Education and Research (NISER), its improved incarnation, will be functional in 2007. According to Prof. Y.P.Viyogi, Director of IOP that shoulders the responsibility of its establishment, a lot of ground work has already been done and the project report will be ready within about a week’s time. The standards within the DAE are very high and it is mandatory for the project report to be reviewed by a panel of experts. Such a panel has already been constituted by the Chairman of the IOP Governing Council, and consists of scientists and educationists from all the branches of science which may be taught at the NISER. The report will move further up for financial approval at the AEC and the Cabinet immediately after such a review and approval by the Governing Council, which is expected to be completed by the end of October.

The IOP is taking care of infrastructure needs to start the course in the academic year 2007 and keeping this in mind, it has started the hunt for faculty through informal channels both nationally and internationally. It is trying to attract the best of the faculty and is planning to provide the most conducive research environment for the faculty. We do not want to copy any system but would pick up best ideas from all past experiences. We propose to emphasize both teaching and research simultaneously as the synergy between the two is essential for sustained excellence in either, Prof. Viyogi has declared in a conversation.

The IOP has also started dialogue with several superannuated scientists from various centers within DAE family and outside for the immediate needs of the coming academic season. Arrangements have already been made for the girls’ hostel within the IOP campus and the State Government is being prevailed upon for provision of a hostel for boys, Prof. Viyogi has revealed.

IMBROGLIO OVER BHUBANESWAR AIR PORT

People of Bhubaneswar are in deep despair over closure of several roads for expansion of the runway of Bhubaneswar Air Port.

No less than fifty thousand families residing in Pokhariput (Village, BDA colony, Ananta Nagar Phase I & II, Keshari Villa) Gandamunda, Bhakta Madhu Nagar, Jagamara (Village and six Colonies), Barabari, Krishna Garden Colony over and above the inhabitants of Dumuduma, Sarakantara, Khandagiri area have been disadvantaged by this expansion.

United under the banner of Bhubaneswar Nagarika Adhikara Suraskhya Samiti, hereinafter called the Samiti, they have held a massive rally here on 30 September to remind the Government of their continuous protest against the oppression that spans from this day of 2004 when Chief Minister Navin Patnaik had passed orders to block the Khandagiri-Siripur main road for facilitating the runway construction.

The Samiti has documented that around five Lakh people including poor farmers, daily wage earners, farm laborers, who were using the Khandagiri Siripur Road daily in search of bread and butter in the heart of the Capital City have been the worst sufferers. School & College Students reading in both the sides of the city and employees working in the city sans residential accommodations have been affected. It has been playing havoc with the lives of senior citizens, retired employees, the pensioners as well as the poorest of the poor patients who depend on the Capital Hospital for health care. They are being bound to traverse more than eight kilometers every day once or twice or more times, the road that was there as per original town plan having been arbitrarily blocked for the Air Port expansion.

What would be the long term loss over fuel and time in traversing eight kilometers once or more times a day by so many people is not estimable; but experts who are in the Samiti in large numbers have estimated that the financial loss over disablement and abandonment of existing and ongoing road projects would be no less than Rs.20 crores.

Rendered inconsequential, the investment of Rs.1.00 Cr. on the Jagamara Barabari- Delta Colony Road is lost when Rs. 17.00 cr. is tagged to premature closure of the RED ROAD promised by the state Government in the Orissa High Court; proposed closure of KARGIL ROAD connecting Pokhariput with Palashpalli accounts for another Rs.2.00 cr., the Samiti has pointed out.

The motivated misadventure would cause serious dislocation in agro-research also as huge areas of land of OUAT are being converted to the runway. It would jeopardize seed production, plant genetics research and other agronomical research work. Loss to farmers of the entire state due to this is beyond comprehension.

But most menacingly the ultimate outcome of this expansion would damage the most invaluable archaeological heritages of Orissa by uncontrollable vibrations caused by aero activities. This damage has not been assessed.

This damage is unbearable specifically as, according to the experts, the so called International Air port cannot stay as International if the area within its command is not within the range of 3000 to 5000 acres of land required for providing for a two-lane-runway, intra state airport connectivity, further scope for expansion including housing Airport Hotel, Terminals, Hangers, Staff Quarters, Ground Staff, Security, Aircraft maintenance, Fuelling etc. To do this the authorities are to dismantle half of present day Bhubaneswar.

Therefore the citizens of Bhubaneswar have been insisting upon shift of the Air Port to a new location away from the present Capital City and heritage centers where at least 5000 acres of land could be addressed afresh to the Air port. The speed in which land grabbing by the rich and mafia around Bhubaneswar is taking place would make it impossible to get such a stretch of land unless the decision in this regard is immediately taken.

But to the mandarins in the state Secretariat, citizens are idiots. And, the political leadership has no foresight.

It would be a sad chapter in our history if the present imbroglio over the location of the Air Port is not quickly settled.

COLLEGE UNION DEBACLE: ORISSA PCC CHIEF MANUFACTURES FALSE DATA

Students of Orissa who pride in being associated with the party that brought independence to India are now a frustrated lot. Their candidates in the just concluded College Union elections have measurably failed. But more than this humiliation, they are embarrassed by the total false claim of the PCC Chief Mr. Jayadev Jena that the partys student wing (N.S.U.I.) candidates have grabbed most of the posts and majority of Unions.

This false claim of the PCC Chief is being used by winners, belonging mostly to ruling coalition, to tease the vanquished candidates of the congress wing.

The N.S.U.I. had never suffered a set back as devastative as it has experienced this year. Student ctivists like Ajaya Mohapatra, highly experienced in steering student-psychology, known to wider spectrum of students with his Vani-Vihar background, who has in previous years made remarkable contributions to victory of Congress candidates in most of the College Unions and other experienced student-leaders including some of the incombent office-bearers were ready to write congress victory this year too. But the PCC president made a mess of everything.

As is being seen, he was eager to alter the N.S.U.I. chief of Orissa in order to bring in his protg Biswa Ranjan Mallik. In a press conference eminent office-bearers of N.S.U.I. state branch including Vice-presidents Saumyakant Samantasimhar, Biswa Bhusan Das and Biswajit Baral, General Secretary Ranjan Choudhury, Secretary Nishikant etc have alleged that the PCC Chief is trying to usher in such a student as their chief who has not even been successful in +2 Exam. How can the student community accept him as leader? they have asked and alleged that the PCC chief, in order to clear the way for his protege, has played the game cunningly by sloughing over organizational requirements of the students. They have even alleged that the PCC Chief had planted parallel candidates against official candidates of N.S.U.I. clandestinely. This is evident from a recent statement of the son of the PCC chief, they claimed.

The incumbent chief of the N.S.U.I Jinesh Das has taken the extreme step by resigning keeping on records his allegations that they were getting no guidance and encouragement from the PCC Chief. To the amusement of Congress baiters, the PCC Chief has preferred to counter Das by saying that the debacle in college-union elections was caused by his continuous absence, not by PCC negligence.

Who of the two is correct is Congress botheration to know.

But for the people of Orissa, at the moment, Congress is the last hope. The present government has ruined every norm of democracy. Commission agents have flourished everywhere from villages to the capital city. Starvation deaths have spread. Distress sale of crops and kids has increased. Number of workers migrating away from the State in search of bread has increased even as project-induced poverty has engulfed poor tribal population in every corner of Orissa. Administration has forfeited its credibility and Orissa has a Cabinet that has no commitment to the cause of Orissa.

People need a change. People need the educated youth to usher in the change. Unpolluted activists as they are, the student-wing of Congress can lead mass mind against the present misrule. Students are capable of making a change. Biju Patnaik was thrown out of power because of the students agitation in 1964. Therefore, in interest of the people of Orissa, the student wing of Congress must be saved from the self-centric design of PCC President Jayadev Jena so that they can bring forth the change Orissa is craving for. It is clear that he has given a false statement in matter of College Union elections. He has fidgeted and made the false claim in order to save his own skin, but in the process, has done a disservice to the party he has been appointed to lead in Orissa.

It would be proper for Congress high Command to investigate into the debacle its student wing had to suffer and to take stern steps to stop PCC Chief playing his nefarious game of nepotism any further.

orissamatters.com being the sentinel of Orissa feels it prudent to advance this advice as saving the State from the present misrule is the most urgent need of the moment.

IPTCO EXPOSES SANGH PARIBAR CONSPIRACY AGAINST THE COUNTRY

Subhas Chandra Pattanayak

On in-depth investigation the Indian Peoples Tribunal (IPT) on Communalism in Orissa has found that the majoritarian communalist group of organizations have consolidated its power in twenty-five of thirty districts of the State, using violence to target women, religious and sexual minorities, along with disenfranchised caste, class, ethnic and other social groups. It has called upon the Central Bureau of Investigation to investigate the activities of the Bajrang dal, Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and RSS under Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act, 1967.

Founded on 5 June 1993 as a peoples investigator on Environment and Human Rights, IPT is led by Justice K.K.Usha (Chief Justice [Rtd] of Kerala High Court) with Dr. Angana P. Chatterji (Associate Professor of Social & Cultural Anthropology at California Institute of Integral Studies) and Mihir Desai (Human Rights lawyer practicing in Bombay High Court) as Joint Conveners. Mandated to look into spread of communalism in Orissa, it assumed the role of Indian Peoples Tribunal on Communalism in Orissa (IPTCO) by taking in Mr. Sudhir Pattnaik (Scholar-activist from Orissa), Dr. Asha Hans ( Professor [Rtd], Political Science, Utkal University), Ms. Lalita Missal (National Alliance of Women-Orissa chapter), Dr. Shaheen Nilofer (Scholar-activist from Orissa) and Dr. Ram Puniyani (EKTA Committee for Communal Amity) as members.

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When the IPTCO was in the midst of its investigation and interacting with the general public at Bhubaneswar, on 14 June 2005, its members were subjected to furious attacks by the activists of the majoritarian communalists group that took pride in transgressing the limits of civilian decency by threatening to rape its women members if felt necessary to stop intellectual conspiracy against Hindu Rastra. They were so rampageous that as the media profusely published the dastard attack, Subas Cauhan, State Convener of Bajrang Dal asserted in a Press Conference in a elite hotel at Bhubaneswar in the evening of 16 June 2005 that if Dr. Angana Chatterji, who was to stay on for continuous investigation, does not quit Orissa immediately, it would be the duty of his organization to strongly challenge and repress her.

Braving all such odds, IPTCO has conducted its investigation and released its well documented Report at Bhubaneswar on 29 September 2006. The Report containing 80 fact-loaded pages was officially released by former Lok Sabha Speaker Rabi Ray in a Press Conference addressed also by Justice Usha and the two conveners. From amongst the members of the Tribunal, Sri Pattnaik also addressed the Press.

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As elsewhere in India, Justice Usha said, these groups legitimize their actions against minorities by invoking specific and fabricated threats to Hindus from Muslims and Christians. Indicating that the investigation on communalism in Orissa was legal, she said, IPTCO understands its mandate to investigate communalism as being a constitutional one, delineated in Article 51A, Clause E which specifies the Fundamental responsibilities of citizens to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people of India transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities and to renounce practices derogatory to the dignity of women. This obligation, Justice Usha emphasized, is reinforced by the Indian Penal Code, specifically in Sections 152A, 153B, 295-298 and 505 that prescribe criminal prosecution for persons promoting enmity on sectarian or economic grounds, thus, undermining national integration. The Report, she said, warns that if the communalization of Orissa is indicative of the failure of the nation, then the signs are truly ominous for Indias democratic future.

In Orissa, Dr. Chatterji revealed, the Sangh Parivar has successfully established centers at every level of civic life, ranging from villages to cities. The sangh Privar operates through thirty-five primary organizations, including ideological, service and charitable institutions, militant and educational groups, trade unions and student unions, political and womens organizations. Exposing their modus operandi, Dr. Chatterji said, Forcible conversions to dominant Hinduism, social and economic boycotts, tonsuring, physical intimidation and violence, arson and even murder are the weapons that the Sangh Parivar cadre wields to intimidate and target disfranchised groups and religious minorities such as Adivasis, Dalits, Christians and Muslims.

Revealing how the investigation consisted of meeting with persons and communities targeted by majoritarian communal groups and those who have suffered abuse in the context of majoritarian communalism such as public lynching, rape, tonsuring, economic boycotts, segregation and discrimination, Mr. Desai said, In addition to documenting communalisms reach in Orissa, IPTCO was lunched as an injunctive mechanism to help formulate remedial and preventive action for Human Rights abuse in future.

The Report, elaborating the findings, has, besides the call to the CBI as noted supra, has stressed on the following needs to save Orissa from communalism and to defeat the conspiracy of Sangh Parivar against the country It has emphasized on:

1. Establishment of a Review Panel appointed by Govt. of Orissa in consultation with National Human Rights Commission, National Minority Commisson and other independent bodies such as the Peoples Union for democratic Rights and the Peoples Union or Civil Liberties, to identify and investigate the actions and finances of communal groups;
2. Investigation and monitoring, and when appropriate, requisite action to safeguard minorities against the actions of these groups and reparations retroactively to communities and individuals who have suffered as a consequence of the actions of these groups;
3. Government of Orissa and the Central Government making concerted efforts to investigate and eradicate Para-military hate camps operated by the communal groups;
4. Review on the charitable status and privileges of certain organizations such as the VHP and vanavasi Kalyan Ashram, which are registered as charities, given the nature of their activities;
5. Statutory prohibition on disparagement, deionization and vilification of any religion making it punishable under the IPC;
6. Repeal of the Orissa Freedom of Religion Act,1967, which has been used by communal groups to target and prohibit voluntary conversion within minority communities;
7. Official safeguarding the right of individuals who convert voluntarily to practice their religion;
8. State insistence on immediate and authoritative actions of Police and Courts to stop communalists from forcibly converting or reconverting individuals to Hinduism with instructions to Police to submit regular and public reports on their work;
9. Establishment of special desks in Police Stations for registering minority grievances and FIRs;
10. Appointment of special prosecutors by Government of Orissa to conduct cases involving grievances of minority communities or their members;
11. Categorization of Trisul (Trident) as a weapon and prohibition on its mass distribution under the Arms Act of 1959 and
12. Review of Orissa Prevention of Cow Slaughter Act,1960, which has been used against minorities and economically disenfranchised in the cattle trade.

Pictures of release of the Report are from Laxmi Prasad Pattanayak.

WOMEN OF UNDEVELOPPED KEONJHAR HOLD COURT ON SAFE MOTHERHOOD

Better late than never. We have the pleasure in sharing information on an event that occurred on 19 September 06 at Keonjhar which we received from Mr. Biplab Mishra along with photographs. The event is indicative of how mass awareness can make administration answerable and responsive.

More than a thousand women, coming from all the 13 Blocks of the mineral-rich but economically undeveloped hilly district of Keonjhar, voiced their concern over safe motherhood in a unique program styled as Safe Motherhood Adalat, coordinated by Prakalpa, a leading NGO of the district. The Orissa State Commission for Women (OSCW) as well as the Unicef supported Prakalpa in this endeavor.

Chaired by Mrs. Namita Panda, chief of OSCW, the Adalat heard a lot of pertinent issues and cases related to safe motherhood as raised by the women participants. While welcoming the Adalat, Secretary of Prakalpa, Mr. Biplab Mishra, regretted that in spite of lots of propaganda, a government programme rarely reaches the people in remote areas. There are discernible gaps in service delivery like registration of marriage, ante-natal and post natal care and institutional delivery etc. for which rate of Maternal Mortality and Infant Mortality is in the rise. Ms. Kusum Mohapatra, another functionary of Prakalpa explained the modus-operandi of the Adalat. Then the women participants raised their allegations.

One instance:

A very poor tribal lady from Sibanarayanpurgoda in Telkoi block, Mrs. Gitanjali Naik, alleged that she had been to the Telkoi Primary Health Center for delivery of her child in a condition of severe bleeding. The Medical officer referred her to District Headquarter Hospital (DHH), Keonjhar, noting that her condition was very critical. She reached the DHH and registered for confinement. But then the O&G specialist asked her for money to conduct an operation. She and her husband had no money with them to give and the Doctor had no mercy to show. So, immediately her husband ran to his village and sold their land at a throw away price and came back with money and gave Rs.2200/- to the doctor.

On hearing her allegations, the Adalat where the Chief District Medical Officer, District Social Welfare Officer and Collector were present to answer, summoned the concerned doctor, who was eventually identified by Gitanjali.

The Chairperson and Member of Orissa State Commission for Women directed the CDMO to look into the matter and settle the grievance of Gitanjali. The CDMO was further directed to ensure that such type of incidences is not repeated in the district, which he promised to comply with.

Collector of the District Mr. Sushil Kumar Lohani told in his reply to various allegations on administrative apathy and malfeasances, that the women in groups should come forward to protest against corruption and demand services meant for them not only in health sector but also in other sectors too. As the Chief of District administration, he declared, that all the issues of public interest raised by women en masse will be looked into with utmost priority, he assured.

This was a unique initiative where women from remote areas were brought to a single platform to voice their problems and difficulties in availing mother & child health care to the district administration in this first of its kind Adalat that makes administrators conscious of their answerability to the society.

The Adalat was inaugurated by Mrs. Namita Panda, Chairperson of OSCW and addressed by its member Dr.(Mrs.) Biswa Kalyani Das, as well as by Mr. Debajit Mitra, Unicef, Dr. Usha Tripathy, Chief District Medical Officer, Mrs. Jamuna Triya, District Social Welfare Officer and Mr. Purna Chandra Nayak, Additional District Magistrate,Keonjhar.

Photographs by Biplab Mishra

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