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News: Rights forum urges withdrawal of action under NSA

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Puducherry, Dec 9 : The Federation for People’s Rights (FPR) today urged the administration to withdraw the action initiated against some political party volunteers under the National Security Act(NSA) as it was vioalation of human rights and to take action under IPC if necessary.

A resolution to this effect was adopted at a meeting of the Federation here, It’s secretary G Sugumaran said in a press release here.

Taking exception to the provision of Rs.1000 to all towards rain relief, the meeting, in a resolution, urged the government to identify the really affected people and provide relief.

Resolutions urging a CBI probe into the irregularities in the examination for the selection of deputy tasildars, condemning the government for printing application forms for rain releif with the photographs of Lt. Governor Iqbal Singh, Chief Minister V Vithilingam and his cabinet colleagues, among others, were adopted in the meeting.

UNI /  09.12.2010

Dec 10: Human Rights day – Eradicate Corruption and work for good governance!

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Federation for People’s Rights, Puducherry, Organising Committee Meeting held at Federation office at Gandhi Road on 08.12.2010 at 6.30 pm. The meeting was presided over by the Federation Secretary G.Sugumaran and Organising Committee Members R.Rajarajan, P.Markandan, C.S.Saminathan, K.Chinnappa, A.Kalaivanan, K.Saravanan, P.Kalidass, K.Kannan, K.Balaji were attended the meeting.

The following resolutions were adopted in the meeting:

1.    In the eve of the World Human Rights day (Dec 10th), we appeal to people to take oath to eradicate and fight against corruption and work for the good governance.

2.    The government’s decision to give Rs. 1000 as rain relief for all poor and rich is a bad precedence. The government should find out the really affected people and provide them the rain relief.

3.    We condemn the cheap politics of the government by printing the portraits of the Union Minister, Chief Minister and Ministers in the application form of the rain relief.  The government should abandon this and offer the rain relief through officials without any delay.

4.    There was a wide spread news that a lot of irregularities occurred in recent selection of Deputy Tahsildar. The government should order for a C.B.I. enquiry in this regard. Also cancel the selection and initiate a fresh selection process.

5.    The Chief Secretary of the government stopped the purchase of Dhotis and Sarees for the free distribution to the people for Deepavali and prevented a multi crore rupees corruption. The government should order for a C.B.I. enquiry in this regard. The government should take steps to distribute the free Dhotis and Sarees without any delay.

6.    In the notification issued by the Police Department for the recruitment of Sub-Inspector and Constables, the existing reservation for BC, MBC, BCM, EBC, SC and ST was not followed properly. The government should intervene in to this matter and take steps for proper implementation of the communal reservation.

7.    The government invoked the National Security Act (NSA) on the cadres of political parties, organizations and the persons who indulge in criminal activities. We urge the government to withdraw the NSA against them, which is contrary to the Human Rights. If needed take action on them in the normal laws like Indian Penal Code.

8.    We demand the government to scrap the Murthikuppam Harbour Project, which will create a huge damage for the livelihood of farmers and fishermen. The already existing Thengaithittu Harbour affected the coast of Puducherry and Tamilnadu. The government should take measures to prevent the sea erosion by adopting the scientific methods without affecting the coastal people.

9.    There is lot of seats vacant in the Arts Colleges of Puducherry due to the delayed counselling conducted by CENTAC. The students applied for these colleges are not allotted seats and so their one year education was affected. The government should take action to allot the vacant seats for the students applied.

10.    The government is not providing the financial aid for the Para Medical students as per the G.O. issued under the Perunthalaivar Kamarajar Financial Assistance Scheme. We press the government to provide the financial assistance for the Para Medical students without delay following the G.O.

Dec 6th: Tribute to Social Revolutionary Dr.B.R.Ambedkar!

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Federation for People’s Rights (Makkal Urimai Koottamaippu) Secretary  G.Sugumaran and Organising Committee Members C.S.Swaminathan, P.Markandan, Kalaivannan,  Kalidass paid tributes to Social Revolutionary Dr.B.R.Ambedkar in the eve of his 54th death anniversary. They also garlanded the Ambedkar’s statue opposite to the legislative assembly at Puducherry.

Puducherry Students’ Federation Founder Mr. Sathish (a) Swaminathan paid homage to Ambedkar and students from Tagore Government Arts College and Motilal Nehru Government Polytechnic also participated.

TMMK organizes Seminar on Ayodhya Verdict and Secularism in Chennai!

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The Tamilnadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam (TMMK) organizes a Seminar on ‘Ayodhya Verdict and Secularism’ on 25th November 2010 at 6.00 pm at Chennai. The venue of the Seminar is P.T.Thiyagraayar Hall (near Kannadasan Statue) at Thiyagaraaya Nagar (T Nagar).

TMMK President Professor Dr.M.H.Jawahirulla presiding the Seminar. TMMK Chennai South District President Janab Seeni Mohammad welcoming the gathering.

The Eminent Activists like Communist Party India (CPI) Senior Leader R.Nallakannu, Chennai High Court Senior Advocate K.Muthukrishnan, Christian Vaazurimai Iyakkam President Rev Fr. Xavier Arulraj, Writer and Film Director Bharathi Krishnakumar,  Federation for People’s Rights – FPR (Makkal Urimai Koottamaippu) Secretary G.Sugumaran are delivering the key note address.

TMMK Chennai South District Secretary Janab Mohammad Abu Bakkar @ Kori is delivering the vote of thanks.

The TMMK Chennai South District unit organizes the Seminar.

Scrap the Murthikuppam Port project: AGG submitted memorandum to Lt. Governor!

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Sand Dune…
Beautiful Beach..Sand Dune…
Fishing Boats in the Sea Shore…
1974 Survey Map shows the Sand Dune…
Picture taken after 5 days of the Tsunami shows the Sand Dune..
Satellite Picture shows the Sand Dune…

The Alliance for Good Governance (AGG) representatives Mr.Probir Banarjee (PondyCAN), Mr. C.H.Balamohanan (Pondicherry People’s Protection Committee), Mr. G.Sugumaran (Federation for People’s Rights -FPR), Mr. S. Ramachandran (Pondicherry Science Forum), Mr.Mohanasundaram (INSAF), Mr. S. Sathiamurthy (councilor, Mathi Krishnapuram)  met the Puducherry Lt. Governor Shri. Iqbal Singh on 1oth November 2010 at 1.00 PM and submitted a memorandum to scrap the Murthikuppam Port project.

His Excellency, the Lt Governor of Puducherry

Subject: Appeal to stop the man-made disaster in the making in Pondicherry – the Murthikuppam harbour at Puducherry.

Your Excellency,

We had brought to your notice, vide our letter dated 22nd October 2010, that the Murthikuppam harbour is a man-made disaster in the making. The Chief Secretary had promised to look into the problems when the matter was discussed with him on 30th Oct 2010 and has thereafter discussed the matter with the Special Secretary, Environment and the PWD Chief Engineer. A delegation of farmers, members of water users associations of that area and NGOs met the Special Secretary Environment in the presence of the PWD Chief Engineer on 8th Nov 2010 and informed him that the Mullodai channel, which is a fresh water estuary, was never connected to the sea and that the fishermen never parked their boats in the canal as falsely claimed by PWD in their project proposal. It was also explained that if the sand dunes are cut and the Mullodai channel connected to the sea around 400 acres of rich agricultural land on which about 15000 families depend will be destroyed and the network of water tanks which existed from the Chola period will all turn saline. The Special Secretary Environment directed the PWD Chief Engineer to immediately stop the work until the whole project is reviewed. In spite of that the PWD is continuing with the work. We would like to bring to Your Excellency’s notice the following:

  • The PWD has taken up the construction of the fish landing facility, instead of the Fisheries Dept, under the false claim that “During the recent Tsunami on 26th Dec’04, mouth of the link canal was blocked with sand dunes and hence the fishermen could not bring their boats safely to the land” (Annexure I, Para 1). Maps enclosed in our earlier letter to your Excellency clearly show that there has never been any opening from Mullodai channel to the sea and this is confirmed by the people of that area.
  • PWD has not conducted any studies and by-passed public consultations with their false claim “Since this work is only removing the blockage caused by the Tsunami and related improvements no EIA (Environmental Impact Assessment) was conducted” (Annexure I, Para 5).
  • PWD has falsely stated “The construction of piled jetty will not cause erosion in the northern side so the question of mitigation of the erosion does not arise” (Annexure I, Para 9&10) even after knowing that the ongoing destruction of the coastal villages along Pondicherry-Tamil Nadu coastline was caused by the present harbour at Thengathittu. When the govt has no funds to mitigate the devastation caused by the existing harbour, on what basis is the construction of a new harbour of the same size being taken up?
  • Concerns regarding the grounds of approval by MoEF and violations of the conditions laid down (Annexure II):
  • The MoEF approval has been given based on the letters from PCZMA (Annexure II, Para 1) which shows that the PCZMA has not exercised due diligence in evaluating the impacts of this project before approving it. It only shows their incompetence and lack of seriousness in protecting the coastline of Pondicherry.
  • No Marine ecology monitoring is being carried out during the dredging operations (Annexure II, (A) Specific conditions, Para v).
  • The project will not only cause ingress of saline water into ground water as in the case of the present harbour but also in all the water tanks connected to the Mullodai channel (Annexure II, (A) Specific conditions, Para x)
  • The project has been commissioned without getting requisite water supply and electricity to the project (Annexure II, (A) Specific conditions, Para xi)
  • PWD has already destroyed part of the sand dunes (Annexure II, B General Conditions, Para vi) which is confirmed by the villagers. If this project is allowed to continue it will totally destroy the sand dunes which have saved this village during Tsunami while there was heavy casualty in coastal villages just 2 km away in Cuddalore.
  • No funds has been earmarked for environment protection measures and put in a separate account (Annexure II, B General conditions, Para ix)
  • We would also like to know if PWD has informed the Regional Office at Bangalore and the Ministry of Environment the date of start of the Land Development Work (Annexure II, B General Conditions, Para xv).
  • This work is a violation as MoEF has written to PCZMA to stop construction of seawalls and groynes until Anna University completes the study of the Pondicherry-Tamil Nadu coastline (Annexure III).

If this new harbour is constructed the entire coast to the north will get devastated in the same way as is happening due to the present harbour at Thengathittu. Moreover the accretion of sand in the south will block the mouth of the Pennayar River which will cause flooding of the hinterland.

A cost-benefit analysis and environmental / social impact assessment will reveal that this project is a disaster. In spite of attending the consultation meetings for the protection and restoration of this fragile coastline and being fully aware that this coast has turned into an erosion hotspot, PWD is continuing to take up such catastrophic projects. What is also difficult to understand is that PWD has spent huge sums of money in tank rehabilitation programs in this area and created water users associations for the protection of the ancient water systems and this project will completely destroy all the good work. The matter has been taken up with the government of Tamil Nadu as it is on the border of Cuddalore district and they have not been consulted.

Considering that Tsunami rehabilitation funds are being used to make people more vulnerable, destroying fresh water, a unique eco system and livelihoods of rural communities in Pondichery and Tamil Nadu we appeal to Your Excellency to immediately scrap the project and institute an enquiry as to why PWD has taken up this project on false grounds.

Thanking Your Excellency

Warm regards,


Copy to:

1) Hon’ble Home Minister, New Delhi.

2) Hon’ble Minister of State for Environment and Forests, New Delhi Bahoor Commune

3) Central Vigilance Commission, New Delhi.

4) Dr Senthil Vel, MoEF, New Delhi.

5) Chief Secretary, Puducherry.

6) Sp Secretary Environment, Puducherry

7) Chief Engineer, PWD, Puducherry


Annexure I – Response by PWD to RTI.

Annexure II – Approval by MoEF.

Annexure III – Letter from MoEF to PCZMA, Pondicherry.

Scrap Regional Reservation in Higher Education in Puducherry – FPR.

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On behalf of Federation for People’s Rights (FPR), Puducherry, a consultation meeting was held at Chambre de Commerce, on 22.08.2010 at 10.00 am to 1.00 pm. The meeting was presided by its Secretary G. Sugumaran and about 50 volunteer in and around Puducherry were attended. The following resolutions were passed unanimously:

1)     We urge the Puducherry government to take steps to scrap the regional reservation in higher education in Puducherry, which is contravene to the Constitution of India and the Judgment delivered by the 11 Judges of Constitutional Bench in Indra Sawhney case. Otherwise, we will organize the people and students and fight against it.

2)    We urge the Puducherry government to get the approval of Medical Council of India for the Puducherry Government Medical College and start the courses in the current academic year itself to protect the interest of the students of Puducherry.

3)    We appreciate the Puducherry government for announcing the separate reservation for Muslims and Fishermen community providing 2 percent reservation in education and employment and also we press the government to issue the G.O. at the earliest enabling them to enjoy the reservation in the present academic year itself.

4)    The Home Ministry of India has filed a petition in the Supreme Court of India to recall the whole judgment allowing the private port project in Puducherry. In this context we urge the Puducherry government to cancel the agreement entered with private port developer. The MHA has published the Special Audit Report on Puducherry port project in website, which was constituted by the MHA to probe the various complaints received against the project. The Report reveals lot of deficiency, irregularities and corruption in the port project agreement. In this juncture we urge the Central government to order for a C.B.I. enquiry in this regard.

5)    The village panchayat leaders of Puducherry are struggling for a long period demanding finance, office employees, application for welfare schemes and dilution of powers to the panchayats. We condemn the attitude of the Puducherry government which is totally neglecting the demands of the village panchayats. We urge the Puducherry government to consider their demands and proper implementation of the Panchayat Raj Act.

6)     In the selection process of post of TTGT, the Director of School Education Mr. Sundaravadivel and other officials indulged in mark scandal and corruption. In this regard we complained to the authorities with the bulk of evidence, but the government not yet took any action against the corrupt official is condemnable. We urge the Puducherry government to order for a C.B.I. inquiry.

7)    The petitions sent to the office of the Lt. Governor are not properly enquired and they were merely endorsed and sent to the authorities on whom the complaint was made for comments is a wrong precedent.  We request the Lt. Governor who is having the uppermost power to take stringent action against the erring officials to develop a corruption free administration in Puducherry.

8)    Federation for People’s Rights First State Conference will be held at Puducherry on January 2011 and Former Judges, Human and Social Rights activists will be invited for the conference.

9)    To run a newsletter in the name “Kural (Voice)” to take up the activities and issues taken by Federation for People’s Rights to the people.

10)    We thank the newspapers and visual media for extending the support for the activities of Federation for People’s Rights.

Puducherry Students boycotted the classes and rallied to LG office and submitted 11 demands to Lt. Governor!

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The School and College Students of Puducherry around four thousand boycotted the classes and rallied towards the Lt. Governor’s office and submitted a Memorandum to the Lt. Governor of Puducherry on 14/07/2010 demanding to implement 11 vital demands of students issue:

We are submitting this representation for your Excellency’s kind attention and for suitable action to protect the interest of the students’ community of Puducherry.

1)    On 05.07.2010 in the Immaculate Higher Secondary School at Nellithoppe, a girl student studying 10th standard was severely beaten up by the Head Mistress of the School. The student fell unconscious and admitted in the Government Hospital and treated. The parents have lodged a complaint in the Orleanpet Police Station but till date no action was taken by the Police. We request your authority to take steps to file FIR against the Head Mistress responsible for this heartless attitude towards the students and also to remove the Head Mistress from the service by initiating departmental action. We urge your authority to instruct the Puducherry Government to strictly follow the guidelines sent on 09.08.2009 to all State and UT Governments by the National Child Rights Protection Commission banning the corporal punishments in Schools and Colleges.

2)    The administration of the St. Joseph Cluny Higher Secondary School at Lawspet ‘compulsorily’ collecting Rs. 6,000 to 10,000 from all the students as building fund and also getting around Rs. 1 Lakh as capitation fee from the parents for the admission of L.K.G. This compulsory collection is totally illegal and amounts to penal punishment under the prevailing Law. We request your authority to initiate action against the school administration and also to take action to refund the illegally collected fund to the parents.

3)    The student’s admission to various professional colleges through CENTAC is delayed reason best known to everybody. We request your authority to take steps to finalise the CENTAC list and admission by fixing the counseling date at the earliest.

4)    The Priest University at Tanjore is running an off campus Engineering College at Abishegapakkam in Puducherry without any valid recognition from UGC and AICTE. The off campus study centers are not permitted as per the UGC norms and other provisions of Law. The University administration is going on admitting the students without bothering the future of the students. We request your authority to take action against the Priest University and also prevent the administration from admitting the students.

5)    We request your authority to take steps to run the Government Medical College in full-fledged manner immediately by getting recognition from the Medical Council of India and also to start the MBBS and other related courses in this academic year itself.

6)    The Government failed to place order for the text books for the school students from Tamilnadu in time. The school students are very much affected due to this.  We request your authority to take steps to get and supply the text books to the school students.

7)    The Government had issued a G.O. that the students who have continuously studied in Puducherry for 3 years will only be eligible to apply for the CENTAC. We request your authority to withdraw the said G.O. to protect the interests of the Puducherry students.

8) The private schools in Puducherry are collecting enormous fees from the parents for admitting the students without any norms and forms. The Tamilnadu Government enacted an Act to regularize the fee structure (Tamil Nadu Schools (Regulation of Collection of Fee) Act). We request your authority to instruct the Puducherry Government to bring an Act immediately to regularize the fees structure following its counterpart.

9)    The Private Medical Colleges are cheating the Government in allotting the MBBS seats every year. We are sorry to state that the Government almost surrendering to the administration of the Private Medical Colleges. We request your authority to intervene and take necessary steps to get 50 percent MBBS seats this year as Government quota and also in PG courses.

10)    The Bar Council of India had cancelled the recognition for the Government Law College due to various reasons including lack of facilities. The first year admission was also barred due to this decision of the Bar Council. The students of Puducherry are very much affected by this. We urge your authority to instruct the Government to take steps to get back the recognition of Bar Council of India and resume the first year admission.

11)     The U.G.C. recognition of the Kasthuribai Government Women’s Arts College in Villianur is in peril due unavailability of adequate buildings for the college. We request your authority to take action to allot fund and construct the building for the college to retain the U.G.C. recognition. It is worth to note here that the poor students in and around the Villianur area are studying in this college.

We, the organization concerned in the student’s welfare and students of various schools and colleges kindly place these demands before your Excellency for immediate attention and necessary action.


1) G. Sugumaran, Federtion for People’s Rights (FPR), Puducherry.

2) C. S. Saminathan, Convener, Puducherry Students’ Federation.

3) S. Sathiamurthy, President, All India Students’ Federation (AISF).

4) V. R. Elumalai, Secretary, Students Wing, AIADMK.

5) P. Saravanan, General Secretary, Puducherry Makkal Vizhipunarchi Iyakkam.

6) M. Narayanasamy, President, Parents, Teachers and Students Association.

7) Veera. Mohan, Treasurer, Periyar Drividar Kazhagam.

8) K. Ayyanar, Tagore Arts College, Puducherry.

9) A. Madan, Government Law College, Puducherry.

Demo pressurising the Govt to consider the fasting prisoners demands immediately!

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Federation for People’s Rights (FPR) organized a demonstration on 12.02.2010, at 10 am, near Swadesi Mill, Puducherry, pressing the Government to consider the Central Jail prisoners reasonable demands and end the on to death fast struggle of prisoners. The relatives of the Jail inmates participated in the demonstration in huge number. The demonstration was presided over by the FPR Secretary G.Sugumaran.

The prisoners are undergoing onto death struggle for the past 4 days at the Central Prison, Kalapet, Puducherry. The prisoner’s demands to provide pure drinking water, proper water supply for the latrines, cut shot the distance in the visitor’s interview room to speak and interact with the relatives closely, parole leave without discrimination and delay and premature release of lifers who have completed 7 years imprisonment.

Various political party and social organization leaders including Village Panchayat Presidents Coordinating Federation’s Vice President G.A.Jaganathan, Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Party’s Organising Secretary Su.Paavanan, Bahujan Samaj Party’s Organiser C.Murthy, All India Forward Bloc General Secretary U.Muthu, Lok Jana Sakthi Party’s President Puratchivendan, Manitha Neya Makkal Katchi Secretary M.A.Asraf @ Ragamathulla, Tamilnadu Muslim Munnetra Kazahagam President A.Abdul Rasak Khan, Vice President Abubakkar, Marxist Periyar Communist Party’s President Thirunavakarasu, Puducherry Students’ Federation Convener Sathish @ Saminathan, Makkal Vizhipunarchi Iyakkam Secretary Saravanan are participated in the demo and spoke. More than 200 people were attended the demonstration.

Memorandum submitted to LG to ban GM BT Brinjal in Puducherry!

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Various organisation representatives of “Joint Action Committee Against the Introduction of GM Foods like Bt Brinjal” submitted a memorandum to His Excellency Lt. Governor’ s office on 09.02.2010 pressing not to allow Bt Brinjal. They also handed over the thousands of signatures obtained from the village people and farmers.

The Committee comprises with 13 organisations: Puduvai Ariviyal Iyakkam, Poovulakin Nanpargal, Sempadugai Nanneeragam, Confederation of Puducherry State Govt Employees, Phoenix Science Forum, Kalanjiyam Organic Farmers’ Association, Federation for People’s Rights (FPR), Puducherry, LIC Employees’ Union, Samam Makalir Suyasarbu Iyakkam, All India Kisan Sabha, Puducherry, Teachers’ Association, Puducherry, Centre for Ecology & Rural Development, Murpokku Ezhuthaalar Sangam.


Your Excellency might be aware that the United Nations Organization have announced the year 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity. But thousands of our traditional Brinjal varieties are facing severe danger of being becoming extinct due to the introduction of the genetically modified (GM) BT Brinjal by the Union Government, if it goes ahead with the approval of this GM crop.

We, the citizens and civil society organizations of Puducherry request the Union and State governments not to allow this extreme step which will completely erase the diversity of not only the Brinjal crop but other vegetables species like Potato, Tomato etc. which fall in the same family of Brinjal.

In BT Brinjal, a gene from the bacteria Bacillus Thuringeinsis (BT) which occur in the soil in trace quantities are extracted and introduced into the DNA of Brinjal where the BT toxin is introduced into the whole plant. This BT is known to be active against the major pest of Brinjal, the fruit bore worm but not against lots of other pests of the plant.

Already leading scientists like Dr.Pushpa Bhargava (former Director of the Central for Cellular Molecular Biology (CCMB, Hyderabad & Member of the Genetic Engineering Approval Committee), Dr.M.S.Swaminathan (MSSRF) etc have expressed that the BT Brinjal or any other GM foods should not be allowed to be introduced in India for lack of adequate and transparent testing by public sector laboratories.

Already states like Orissa, West Bengal, Madhya Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Bihar, Kerala have banned the crops in their respective states. Large number of biotechnologists and Agricultural Universities have come openly against this. Organisations like World Health Organisation (WHO) and many countries including many states in the US have not allowed introduction of GM crops. The impact of high doses of BT in the soil could also harm the soil bacteria, earthworms and other macro fauna and adequate studies have not been conducted in these aspects.

In this context, we the voluntary organizations in Puducherry request the Government of Puducherry and Government of India not to allow the introduction of BT Brinjal or for that matter any other GM food crops in our soil as India is one of the rare countries where the majority of vegetable and plant biodiversity in the world still exists.

In line with as many as 10 states have banned the entry of the genetically modified crop BT Brinjal in their respective states, we earnestly request His Excellency to ban the GM BT Brinjal in Puducherry also thereby protecting the interests of not only the farming community but also the population of Puducherry from the short term and long term ill-effects it could cause.

‘Stirrings will be there and the struggles may break out’ – S.V. Rajadurai

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A One Day National Seminar on The Scope and Extent of Civil Rights Organizations was held at Chennai on 30.01.2010, organised by People’s Union for Human Rights (PUHR), Tamilnadu and Federation for People’s Rights (FPR), Puducherry.  The veteran human rights activist and noted writer S.V.Rajadurai delivered key note address.

Let me first whole heartedly congratulate the organizers of the one day National Seminar since they could not have chosen a better time. It takes place in a city that has a significant, if not a glorious record of human rights activities. It can boast of having the first provincial chapter of the first Civil Liberties Organization of this country-Indian Civil Liberties Union (ICLU) founded by Jawaharlal Nehru in the course of the anti-British Nationalist struggles. In 1937 I believe, it organized one of its National Conferences in this City. Its history and its commitments to uphold the civil and democratic rights are yet to be properly documented. Though Nehru dismissed the need to keep alive this organization after 1947 – in his view civil rights movement had become superfluous once the country became independent – one can not but remember some of the admirable positions- non partisan ones- it took despite the leading lights being the Congressmen themselves.The ICLU took strong positions against C.Rajagopalachari government of 1937-1939 when it invoked the draconian  laws of the British – not so draconian as our Swadeshi versions like POTA and UPALA- such as 124A and Criminal Law Amendment Act 1908 – to arrest Socialist leaders like Batliwala, ban certain journals and publications and put down with an iron hand the anti-Hindi agitation.In stifling the civil and democratic rights the rivals within the Congress closed their ranks to the extent that S.Satyamurthi even clamoured for death sentence to the anti-Hindi agitationists.

Some of the stalwarts of the ICLU such as Thiru.Vi.Ka. a nationalist to the core, a great Tamil scholar and a respected  trade unionist continued with the spirit that inspired and animated the ICLU in the initial years. He was joined by other civil rightists, some of them Brahmins in condemning in no ambiguous terms the repressive measures of the Congress Government. He stood with the workers of Buckingham & Carnatic Mills in the first year of independence while the Congress ministry chose to be on the side of the employers.He and some of his colleagues  linked themselves up with those of the Communist movement and Periyar’s Dravidar Kazhagam to protest against the repressive measures the members of the banned Communist Party faced-particularly the brutal torture to which the Communist prisoners were subjected to. The last of these first generation civil rightists – former Mayor of Madras Krishnamurthy, together with Dr S.Vijayalakshmi of the erstwhile Socialist Party, continued well into the 1970s, though by that time there was no ICLU – we had TNCLU (Tamil Nadu Civil Liberties Union) that sprang up in the 1960s just as APCLC and APDR- to name a few- to respond to the ways in which both the centre and states handled the naxalite problem.

Though the focus of the TNCLU was narrow, it enjoyed credibility in view of its links with such impeccable characters as ‘Mayor’ Krishnamurthy and Dr.S.Vijayalakshmi. Subsequent years saw the emergence of quite a few Human Rights outfits in Tamil Nadu, some of them, despite their claims and pretentions to be non-party organizations and  their occasional interests in issues that affect popular masses, ended up as front organizations of this or that naxalite parties and groups. There have been, following the international and national trends, funded Human Rights NGOs, a few of which have assumed Corporate dimensions. I must confess that due to paucity of funds within the organizations in which people like us functioned and also in view of the lack of imagination or the inspiration generated from within and without, an inspiration that would have propelled us into identifying the important human rights issues- many of them pertain to the terrain of  micro-politics which nevertheless in the long or short run aggregate into the larger terrain of macro politics and address them adequately without the kind of tokenism with which many amongst us indulge in self-delusion if not outright bad faith, or because of the urgency with which we had to tackle certain problems, we sometimes found ourselves sharing the platforms of these funded organizations, thus unwittingly subscribing to the unethical principle of end justifying the means. This naturally met with sharp criticisms, the substance of which were essentially correct, but which instead of appreciating the genuine concerns and commitments with which we had dedicated the best part of our life for the cause of human rights, tended to throw the baby with the bathed water. Most of these criticisms came either from those friends, who,enjoying the cozy warmth of their comfortable sectarian cocoons, were deeply convinced of the effectiveness of their cultural and political propaganda in being the universal panacea for all the social evils including the violation of human rights or from the  militants for whose cause we had many a times risked  our skins – the militants whose self-righteousness blinded them from seeing the beam in their eyes.

These observations lead us to reflect on the question of the credibility the position paper says the Civil Rights Organizations must strive to achieve – one of the main themes the paper is concerned with. The position paper correctly identifies the dangers and pitfalls that lay ahead of the path the Civil Rights movement treads and offers a few suggestions to avoid them. These suggestions are laudable but the question remains: In whose eyes we want to establish our credibility? Definitely not in the eyes of the State. There had never been an Ideal State, nor, as non-Millenarians like me tend to believe, there is going to be one in a foreseeable future which would allow an honourable co-existence of a viable Civil Rights Organisation.We can however speak of establishing our credibility in the Civil Society. However, to what extent is it possible? The Civil Society itself has been corroded by the intrusion of the organs of State Power aided and abetted by the mass media, which manipulates and manufactures ‘consent’. The position paper speaks of the shrinking of public space. This is a feature shockingly characteristic of Tamil Nadu. When we speak of the printed media, with a sole exception, the vernacular dailies never entertain regular columns through which people of different ideological or political persuasions can air their opinions and contribute to the general debate of problems of public nature; these papers do not carry even editorials. The only exception is a right wing daily, which in tune with the electoral fortunes or misfortunes of the major political parties, some times expresses its explicit Hindutva bias and at other times masquerades as a Nationalist paper with a penchant for Tamil cultural nationalism. We sometime envy our friends in neighbouring state who manage to find spaces in liberal dailies, but we are not sure to what extent their journalist skills mold the public opinion. As regards the electronic media, less said the better.

As the positions paper says, even the hall meetings are rendered rare and at times impossible. There are almost no public halls. In my life I have attended or spoken in a number of public halls, but the situation started changing from beginning of 1980s, thanks to the naxalite challenge. Today, one need not be a naxalite sympathizer to be denied access to a public hall owned either by the Government or by private institutions and individuals. By threatening the owners of the hall, by refusing permission to hold meetings either in the halls or in public places the opposition groups are forced to seek legal remedy, but the court either denies justice or delays it. Thus the state indirectly ensures that one’s material and human resources are thoroughly exhausted and frustration sets in.One public hall, that happened to be relatively easy to access, is one that is attached to the Government run Library authority. Even during the emergency days meetings were held in this hall, though most of them were organized by the right wing opposition to Indira Gandhi.It was during the emergency, the authorities in charge of the hall started insisting on getting prior permission from the police. In the post-emergency years,police permission to conduct the meetings was made mandatory. Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer, who addressed a number of meetings in this hall,  questioned the illegality of this procedure and asked the Civil Rights Organizations to take up this issue. One of the failures of Civil and democratic rights movement in Tamil Nadu was that it did not challenge this illegality in the Court of Law, though the authorities would nevertheless have found other means to prevent the meetings in this hall, as they have done recently. The present Government fixed air-conditioners in the hall and hiked the rent to Rs7500 for three hours!

One can list out any number of such impediments in the way of normal, legal, democratic functioning of a Civil Rights organization. But I would like to focus on certain problems that we have to face in the caste ridden Civil Society. Whatever may be the shortcomings of the Civil and Democratic right organizations,all over the country,they have never wavered in their support and solidarity with the Dalit and Adivasi masses and in addressing the multiple injustices inflicted on them. It is easy to focus on the upper caste elements or the state machinery with its cattiest prejudices. But the castes and Brahmanism are much more deeply rooted in our social life and in our individual and collective psyche. It operates both in converse and reverse methods. It can always be used as a trump card to discredit and defeat the opponents .As anti-caste radicals Dr.Ambedkar and Periyar said, casteism has negated the spirit of brotherhood, fraternity and evolution of a common ethical life. I am concerned about the last aspect, because it puts us in tricky situation where, however much you try, you can not achieve credibility amongst a section of the masses. We are not bothered to be called an anti-Brahmin, anti-Reddy, anti-Thevar, anti-Rajput and so on.But to be called an anti-Dalit is really painful. Not only painful, it sometimes makes us baulk at taking honest decisions. It is easy to be politically correct and turn a blind eye to the misdeeds of the elements from Dalit community, especially when the misdeeds injure the interests of oppressed and exploited people themselves. Can the fact that the justice long denied to the Dalits has been slightly restored to them by having a Dalit Chief Justice in the Apex Court and another in a High Court can be held against another fact that the judicial functions of these two judges have only been serving the interests of the neo-liberal regime and that the one in the Apex Court, uses the unchecked judicial authority not only to shield the one in the lower but also induct him into the higher echelons of the judiciary for the sole reason that both of them are Dalits?

Similarly, the task of the Civil Libertarians in Tamil Nadu in making a correct judgments was rendered difficult when there was a clash between the caste Hindu students and Dalit students in the Law College premises last year.Surely,one needed to approach that issue with a high level of sensitivity to the genuine grievances of Dalit students, the extremely inhuman conditions obtaining in their hostels and implacable casteist arrogance of the caste Hindu students ,but many of us found it easier to come to an a priori, politically correct conclusion and issue statements for the fear of  getting the anti-Dalit labels stuck on our shirts. One needs to be a Balagopal with a very high degree of moral caliber to remain unruffled by unfair criticisms and vicious canards and carry on with the conviction that all human beings are equal in all respects.

Likewise, most of us were hesitant to address the fact that the immature behaviour of some young lawyers and their irresponsible speeches and acts in the High Court premises helped to make the entire community of lawyers vulnerable to police brutality and helped strengthen the hands of  the most hated right wing elements.

Another point – related to the above issues – I would like to make, is that whatever claim we Civil Rightists make about our impartiality, non-partisanship and so on, the hard fact is that most of us have come from certain social or political milieu which are not ideologically neutral -we still suffer from the hangovers and as public intellectuals, writers and publicists we  indulge in polemical exercises which rarely help endear ourselves to all sections of the Civil Society. We definitely do not know where to draw the line, if that could exist, between on the one hand our role as writers and publicists and on the other our role as civil rightists.

The last point I want to make in relation of the question of credibility of Civil Rights organizations is about the need to reflect on the role of lawyers associated with them. While not denying that the crucial role the lawyers play in the Civil Rights Organizations, I feel there must be some parameters which ensures their pursuance of their profession for livelihood does not become totally incompatible with the commitments they are expected to make as Civil Rightists. I do not expect every one becoming a Balagopal, but he should be a role model to be emulated, because in my limited experience in the Civil rights movement in Tamil Nadu, I have seen a few lawyers using the Civil Rights platform as a spring board to build their careers, promote their self interests, taking advantage of the situation where acceptance of certain briefs was viewed dangerously anti-national and pro-fundamentalist. This careerism has helped such people build their own net works about which the members of the respective Civil Rights Organizations themselves are not aware of and travel across the lands and seas as  Human Rights Messiahs from India. One may argue,“why single out lawyers, there are careerists  amongst non-lawyer members as well”. Yes, in that case, similar ethical standards that applies to everybody become all the more essential.

The position paper talks about the neo-liberal regime and its ramifications particularly the Special Economic Zones. It seems to me that a unique kind of fascism is building up in our country, a secular version of fascism sharply distinct from the blatantly communal variety of Hindutva forces. The neo-liberal agenda has consistently targeted the organized working class, without making any radical changes in the existing Labour Laws since its purpose is being achieved by other means: by measures to circumvent the provisions of the Labour Laws which protect workers’ interests, by preventing the formation of trade unions and by informalising the economy.Similarly,the SEZ acts and rules contain an in-built provision that allows the state machinery to declare the SEZs as public utilities to facilitate invoking ESMA.In Tamil Nadu, state repression relating to SEZ affair is not very pronounced since there has been no well organized mass movements similar to ones we witness in Bengal or Orissa. The judiciary continues to approve the taking over of lands from the people in the name of development. In most cases, there is no presence of the state in the acquisition of lands. The TNCs also avoid making themselves visible. The job is taken care of by the by the seasoned real estate brokers. There are instances where people are willing to sell their lands, which they feel, are not productive.

The grand plans of beautification of our cities have already displaced millions of slum dwellers, in some instances even the lower middle class residents. Now, the Tamil Nadu Government has launched a plan to construct an elevated High Way from Maduravayil (one of the suburbs of Chennai) to the Chennai Port. This zig zag High Way is to be built over the entire stretch of Coouvm river starting from Maduravayil covering more than double the distance between these two points.This means above all displacement of millions of slum dwellers who managed to survive the unbelievably inhuman conditions for several decades. No opposition party has taken up this issue though there have emerged  pockets of resistance which may or may not aggregate into mass mobilizations. I add the provision ‘may not’ here, because, Tamil Nadu has perfected a model for corrupting not just the political class, the three pillars of democracy and the so called ‘fourth estate’. It has corrupted the minds and souls of the popular masses, through the welfare schemes, through bribing the voters and buying off the opposition leaders. If one goes by the methods by which the by-elections are held in Tamil Nadu,she/he may expect the common people getting disillusioned with the electoral processes. But people want elections, though they know for certain only the ruling party  would win, because if there are no elections, you won’t get the money for the vote. In popular perception, the politician who shares at least a tiny part of the loot is preferable to the one who does not share. If the money can not do the work, the muscle power would do it. Recently, nearly 50 villages showed signs of concerted resistance to the scheme of constructing a thermal plant in Nagapattinam. Money made its journey accompanied by muscle power Now the villagers are divided into two groups, one pitted against another. I may be exaggerating things, but we who talk about human rights must understand that popular masses, if not all at least a sizeable chunk of them – from whom nine things are taken away while  given one thing is given as Balagopal used to say-tend to acquiesce into the dirty games of the government and the ruling parties. So where is the head of the SEZ where one can put his pistol onto?

Democracy  can be sustained only by the struggle of the people and in the course of these struggles, the scope and meaning of democratic rights get enlarged. Once the fighting spirit of the people is blunted, no law of the land or the Court (which is menacingly becoming anti-people) can not do much.

Things may not remain static. People won’t keep quiet for long. Stirrings will be there and the struggles may break out.

I am making these submissions for deeper reflections and for evolving efficient methods of work and a proper tactics that are capable of coping with the time and its spirit in which we are all living.