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Letter from university faculty to the Police Chief of Chhattissgarh

by sacw.net, 30 September 2008

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From: freebinayaksen.org

September 27, 2008
- Berkeley, California

To: Mr. Vishwa Ranjan
- Director-General of Police, Chhattisgarh

We, concerned members of university and college faculties, write to condemn the ongoing violations of the human and civil rights of its citizens by the state of Chhattisgarh, primarily through the agency of your department, the Chhattisgarh police force. These violations include the arbitrary arrest and indefinite detention of hundreds of people, including Dr. Binayak Sen, an internationally respected provider of medical services to Chhattisgarh’s tribal communities, threats and assaults against civil liberties activists, lawyers and journalists, and most egregious of all, the growing depredations of the state-sponsored violent militia known as the Salwa Judum. We regret to note that not only have you been unsuccessful in halting these violations of human rights, but you have actively justified them and accused anyone opposing them as “demoralis[ing] the state machinery.”

In a report released this past July, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has documented in detail the human rights abuses committed by the Salwa Judum against civilians in Chhattisgarh. HRW’s report gives the lie to your oft repeated claim that the Salwa Judum is a spontaneous unarmed peaceful anti- Naxalite movement by documenting eyewitness accounts of “police participating in violent Salwa Judum raids on villages - killing, looting, and burning their hamlets.”1 Similar to earlier investigative reports by the People’s Union of Civil Liberties (PUCL) and People’s Union for Democratic Rights, among others, the HRW report also documents the arbitrary detentions and torture of villagers by the Chhattisgarh police. Reporters without Borders noted with concern that “[journalists] are prevented from reporting and investigating by corrupt politicians, police and Salwa Judum members, many receiving harassment, intimidation and beating … Currently journalists report from press releases produced by the government or risk their life and career by reporting objectively both sides of the struggle.”2

Perhaps the best-known case of a non-violent dissenter being arrested and jailed in Chhattisgarh is that of Dr. Binayak Sen, a prominent and early critic of the Salwa Judum and of state violence. Dr. Sen, a physician serving the poorest and most marginalized communities in the interior and tribal areas of Chhattisgarh for more than 25 years, has been a guiding light for peace and community health. He has won many awards for his work, including the Paul Harrison Award in 2004 from CMC Vellore, his alma mater, from which he had been graduated over 30 years ago following a most distinguished academic career, and most recently the Jonathan Mann Award from the Global Health Council in May 2008. Binayak Sen appears to have earned the government’s ire by being a vocal critic of the high-handed and illegal ways adopted by the state in the name of suppressing the Maoist insurgency in Chhattisgarh. For instance, Dr. Sen’s and PUCL’s investigations had exposed that 12 alleged Maoists, killed by the police in Santoshpur village in a supposed gunfight on March 31, 2007, were unarmed tribals executed at close range. The State Human Rights Commission took note of this investigation, and ordered the bodies of the victims exhumed. Shortly afterward, Dr. Sen was arrested.3 Not only have you and the state prosecutor failed to present any legally valid evidence against Dr. Sen, the responsible police officers appear to be blatantly concocting fables and planting false evidence.4

Other citizens who have been harassed by the police include: Amarnath Pandey and DP Yadav, two lawyers who had filed lawsuits regarding the ‘encounter killing’ of one Narayan Khairwar and the custodial rape of one Ledha Bai; filmmaker Ajay TG, a member of the State Executive Committee of the Chhattisgarh Unit of PUCL, and journalist Sai Reddy, both of whom had to be released on bail when the police failed to file a chargesheet even after ninety days; Himanshu Kumar of the Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, an NGO that implements implements government programs on health, nutrition, and education, for the “crime” of assisting fact-finding teams investigating human rights abuses; journalists Santosh Poonyem and Kamlesh Paikra for daring to write about the violence committed by Salwa Judum; and even the participants at the third annual meeting of Chhattisgarh Net (www.cgnet.in), an online citizen journalism initiative.

It bears noting that such actions by the law enforcement machinery of any state are not only in violation of the laws of India, but also run counter to India’s international treaty obligations. The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (CCPR), which India acceded to in 1979, declares in relevant part that:

• All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development. (Article 1.1)

• Every human being has the inherent right to life. This right shall be protected by law. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his life. (Article (6.1)

• No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. (Article 7)

• Everyone has the right to liberty and security of person. (Article 9.1)

• Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation. (Article 9.5)

• All persons deprived of their liberty shall be treated with humanity and with respect for the inherent dignity of the human person. (Article 10.1)5
We strongly urge you, as the highest police official in the state of Chhattisgarh, to:

• Follow in letter and spirit, the values enshrined in the Indian Constitution and the CCPR.

• Stop encouraging an all-out civil war in Chhattisgarh in the name of Salwa Judum, an organization whose violent activities are so distasteful and blatant that the Supreme Court of India recently noted that support of Salwa Judum by the state amounts to abetment of murder by state officials, and whose excesses as documented in a recent NHRC report were deemed “very painful to read” by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of India.

• Drop all charges against political prisoners, including Dr Binayak Sen, filmmaker Mr. Ajay TG, journalist Mr. Sai Reddy, release them unconditionally, pay compensation for the harassment and loss of liberty they have suffered due to their unwarranted detention, and arrest and prosecute all police officers involved in arresting and holding all these political prisoners.

• Stop victimizing dissenters in Chhattisgarh;

• Ensure a just and honest governance that improves the lives of millions of desperately poor people in Chhattisgarh.

— 
EndNotes
- 1 http://www.hrw.org/english/docs/2008/07/14/india19345.htm
- 2 http://www.rsf.org/IMG/pdf/Report•Chhattisgarh-2.pdf
- 3 http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/asset/ASA20/013/2007/en/domASA200132007en.html
- 4 http://www.phmovement.org/cms/en/node/751
- 5 http://www.unhchr.ch/html/menu3/b/a•ccpr.htm

——

Signed,

Concerned Faculty of Universities and Academic Institutes

Itty Abraham
- Associate Professor of Government
Director of South Asia Institute
University of Texas at Austin

Meena Alexander
- Poet & Distinguished Professor of English
Hunter College, City University of New York

Bernardo Attias
- Professor and Chair of Communication Studies
California State University, Northridge

Niharika Banerjea
- Assistant Professor, Sociology
University of Southern Indiana

Pranab Bardhan
- Professor of Economics
University of California at Berkeley

Dilip Basu
- Professor and Founding Director
Satyajit Ray Film and Study Center
University of California at Santa Cruz

Amitabh Behar
- Executive Director
National Centre for Advocacy Studies, Pune

Kim Berry
- Associate Professor of Women’s Studies
Humboldt State University
Arcata, California

Satindar Mohan Bhagat
- Professor of Physics
University of Maryland College Park

Nirveek Bhattacharjee
- Senior Research Fellow
University of Washington

Arabinda Bhattacharya
- Reader in Statistics & Business Management
Calcutta University

Purnima Bose
- Associate Professor of English
Indiana University

Peter E. Caines
- Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering
McGill University
Montreal, Canada

Mia Carter
- Associate Professor of English
University of Texas at Austin

Rabin Chakraborty
- Reader in Applied Physics
Calcutta University

Nandini Chandra
- Visiting Assistant Professor of Asian Languages and Literature
University of Minnesota

Shefali Chandra
- Assistant Professor of South Asian History
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Sharad Chari
- Assistant Professor of Geography
London School of Economics

Angana Chatterji
- Associate Professor of Anthropology
California Institute of Integral Studies
San Francisco

Indrani Chatterjee
- Associate Professor of History
Rutgers University, New Jersey

Kalyan Chatterjee
- Distinguished Professor of Economics and Management Science
Pennsylvania State University

Kumkum Chatterjee
- Associate Professor of History
Pennsylvania State University

P.S. Chauhan
- Professor of English
Arcadia University
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

B. J. Cherayil
- Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Harvard Medical School
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Lawrence Cohen
- Associate Professor of Anthropology and South & Southeast Asian Studies
University of California at Berkeley

Dia Da Costa
- Assistant Professor
Queens University
Kingston, Canada

Om Prakash Damani
- Associate Professor of Computer Science
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

Veena Das
- Professor of Anthropology;
The Johns Hopkins University
Baltimore, Maryland

Soumya Datta
- Lecturer in Economics
University of Delhi

Monimalika Day
- Assistant Professor of Education and Human Development
George Mason University
Washington, DC

Mara de Gennaro
- Assistant Professor of English
Bucknell University
Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

Hemang Desai
- Robert B. Cullum Professor of Accounting
Southern Methodist University
Dallas, Texas

Parijat Desai
- Fellow, Institute for Diversity in the Arts Stanford University

Amiya Dev
- Professor of Comparative Literature (Retired)
Jadavpur University, Kolkata

J. Devika
- Associate Professor
Centre for Development Studies
Trivandrum

Ganesh Devy
- Professor of Humanities
Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology
Gandhinagar, Gujarat

Aparna Dharwadker
- Associate Professor of English
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Vinay Dharwadker
- Professor, Languages and Cultures of Asia
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Pawan Dhingra
- Associate Professor of Sociology
Oberlin College
Ohio

Anuradha Dingwaney Needham
- Longman Professor of English
Oberlin College, Ohio

Shahnaz Duara
- Professor of Pediatrics, Obstetrics & Gynecology
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine

Arindam Dutta
- Associate Professor of Architectural History
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Indranil Dutta
- Lecturer, Center for the Study of Languages
Rice University
Houston, Texas

Meher Engineer
- President-Elect
Indian Academy of Social Sciences

Mary Ganguli
- Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology, and Epidemiology
University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

M.K.George S J
- International Visiting Jesuit Fellow
College of the Holy Cross
Worcester, Massachusetts

Anuradha Ghosh
- Lecturer in English
Jamia Millia Islamia
New Delhi

Kaushik Ghosh
- Assistant Professor of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin

Saroj Giri
- Lecturer in Political Science
University of Delhi

Michael Goldman
- Professor of Sociology and Global Studies
University of Minnesota

Sumanth Gopinath
- Assistant Professor of Music Theory
University of Minnesota

Patricia Gruben
- Associate Professor of Film
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

Jeanette Herman
- Lecturer, Asian American Studies
The University of Texas at Austin

Robert Jensen
- Associate Professor of Journalism
University of Texas at Austin

Manas Joardar
- Reader in Applied Physics
Calcutta University

Mary E. John
- Director and Senior Fellow
Centre for Women’s Development Studies
New Delhi

Vinod John
- Assistant Professor of Electrical Engineering
Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore

Sreevidya Kalaramadam
- Assistant Professor of Women’s Studies
William Paterson University of New Jersey

Sangeeta Kamat
- Associate Professor of International Education & Educational Policy
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Suvir Kaul
- A. M. Rosenthal Professor and Chair
Department of English
University of Pennsylvania

Nadia Y. Kim
- Assistant Professor of Sociology
Loyola Marymount University
Los Angeles, California

Jesse Ross Knutson
- Visiting Lecturer in Sanskrit
Department of Asian Languages and Literatures
University of Minnesota

Vinay Lal
- Associate Professor of History
University of California at Los Angeles

Vincent A. Lapomarda
- College of the Holy Cross
Associate Professor of History
Worcester, Massachusetts

Jinee Lokaneeta
- Assistant Professor of Political Science
Drew University
Madison, New Jersey

Amman Madan
- Professor of Humanities & Social Sciences
Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur

Mokshay Madiman
- Associate Professor of Statistics
Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut

Sunaina Maira
- Associate Professor of Asian American Studies
University of California at Davis

Biju Mathew
- Associate Professor of Information Systems
Rider University New Jersey

Mary Jo Maynes
- Professor of History
University of Minnesota

Sharmistha Majumdar
- Research Scholar of Molecular & Cell Biology
University of California at Berkeley

Ernestine McHugh
- Associate Professor of Anthropology and Religion
University of Rochester
Rochester, New York

Nivedita Menon
- Professor of Political Thought
School of International Studies
Jawaharlal Nehru University

Ali Mir
- Professor of Management
William Paterson University of New Jersey

Raza Mir
- Associate Professor of Management
William Paterson University of New Jersey

Ish Mishra
- Professor of Political Science
Hindu College, University of Delhi

Amitabha Mukerjee
- Professor of Computer Science
Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur

Richa Nagar
- Professor of Women’s Studies
University of Minnesota

C. M. Naim
- Professor Emeritus
South Asian Languages and Civilizations
University of Chicago

N.K. Nandan
- Professor of Hindi
BBA Bihar University

Dev Nathan
- Visiting Professor
Indian Institute of Public Administration

Balmurli Natrajan
- Assistant Professor of Anthropology
Director, Gandhian Forum for Peace and Justice
William Paterson University of New Jersey

James Nye
- Director, South Asia Language and Area Center
University of Chicago

Rupal Oza
- Director, Women and Gender Studies
Hunter College, City University of New York

Gyanendra Pandey
- Distinguished Professor of History
Emory University
Atlanta, Georgia

Kavita Philip
- Associate Professor, Women’s Studies
University of California at Irvine

Shiv Pillai
- Associate Professor of Medicine
Harvard University
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Veena R Poonacha
- Director, Research Center for Women’s Studies
SNDT Women’s University
Mumbai

Gyan Prakash
- Dayton-Stockton Professor of History
Princeton University

Ashok Prasad
- Research Scientist in Physics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Gautam Premnath
- Assistant Professor of English
University of California at Berkeley

Jyoti Puri
- Chair and Professor of Sociology
Simmons College
Boston, Massachusetts

Bandana Purkayastha
- Associate Professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies
University of Connecticut

Imrana Qadeeroy
- Emeritus Professor of Social Medicine and Community Health
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi

Mridu Rai
- Associate Professor of History
Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut

Bhagavati Ramamurthy
- Associate Research Scientist
Yale University
New Haven, Connecticut

Bhaskaran Raman
- Assistant Professor of Computer Science
Indian Institute of Technology Bombay

Ashwini Rao
- Assistant Professor of Physical Therapy
Columbia University
New York, New York

Nagesh Rao
- Assistant Professor of English
The College of New Jersey

Velcheru Narayana Rao
- Professor, Languages and Cultures of Asia
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Raka Ray
- Professor and Chair, South Asia Studies
University of California at Berkeley

Chandan Reddy
- Assistant Professor of English
University of Washington Seattle

Modhumita Roy
- Professor of English
Tufts University
Medford, Massachusetts

Sharmila Rudrappa
- Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Texas at Austin

P. Sainath
- Lecturer in Journalism
University of California at Berkeley

Mahua Sarkar
- Associate Professor of Sociology
State University of New York Binghamton

Sumit Sarkar,
- Professor of History (Retired)
University of Delhi

Tanika Sarkar
- Professor of History
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi

Simona Sawhney
- Associate Professor of Asian Languages and Literatures
University of Minnesota

Meera Sehgal
- Assistant Professor of Sociology
Carleton College
Northfield, Minnesota

Sagaree Sengupta
- Translator and Lecturer in Asian Studies
Bates College
Lewiston, Maine

Manisha Sethi
- Lecturer in Comparative Religion
Jamia Millia Islamia
New Delhi

Hemant Shah
- Professor of Journalism
University of Wisconsin-Madison

Aradhana Sharma
- Associate Professor of Anthropology
Wesleyan University
Middletown, Connecticut

Hari P. Sharma
- Professor Emeritus of Sociology
Simon Fraser University
Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada

Jayeeta Sharma
- Assistant Professor
History and Global Asia Studies
University of Toronto

Magid Shihade
- Visiting Scholar, Middle East & South Asia Studies
University of California at Davis

Amritjit Singh
- Langston Hughes Professor of English
Ohio University

Harjinder Singh (Laltu)
- Professor of Computational Natural Sciences
International Institute of Information Technology, Hyderabad

Subir Sinha
- Sr. Lecturer in Development Studies
School of Oriental and African Studies University of London

Ramesh Sitaraman
- Professor of Computer Science
University of Massachusetts Amherst

Ajay Skaria
- Associate Professor of History and Global Studies
University of Minnesota

Nigamanth Sridhar
- Assistant Professor of Electrical & Computer Engineering
Cleveland State University

Nidhi Srinivas
- Assistant Professor of Management
The New School of Management and Policy
New York, New York

Aparna Sundar
- Assistant Professor of Politics and Public Administration
Ryerson University
Toronto, Canada

Lisa Sun-Hee Park
- Associate Professor of Sociology
University of Minnesota

Abha Sur
- Lecturer in Women & Gender Studies,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Mriganka Sur
- Newton Professor and Chair of Neurosciences
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Gitam Tiwari
- Professor of Transportation Engineering
Indian Institute of Technology Delhi

Achin Vanaik
- Professor and Chair of Political Science
Delhi University

Ajit Varki
- Distinguished Professor of Medicine and Cellular & Molecular Medicine
- Associate Dean for Physician-Scientist Training
University of CaliforniaSan Diego

Rashmi Varma
- Associate Professor in English
University of Warwick, UK

Supriya Varma
- Associate Professor of History
Jawaharlal Nehru University
New Delhi

Rahul Varman
- Professor of Industrial Engineering
Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur

Ramaa Vasudevan
- Assistant Professor of Economics
Colorado State University

Mahendra K. Verma
- Professor of Physics
Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur

Kamala Visweswaran
- Associate Professor of Anthropology
University of Texas at Austin

Chetan Sethi Zaidi
- Associate Professor of English
University of Delhi

Stephen Zavestoski
- Associate Professor and Chair
Sociology and Environmental Studies
University of San Francisco

letter from 139 academics
(Formatted PDF version)