Friday, June 27, 2014

IB report on NGOs in contempt of Supreme Court: Justice Sachar

Report “misleading”, defamatory and factually incorrect   
New Delhi: Commemorating the 39th anniversary of imposition of Emergency at Indian Women's Press Corps (IWPC), Jantar Mantar and Gandhi Peace Foundation, Justice Rajinder Sachar, former Chief Justice, Delhi High Court repeatedly expressed his outrage at the manner which the so –called Intelligence Bureau (IB) report has committed contempt court of the Supreme Court, the Delhi High Court and the Parliament. He asked, “will IB decide or law will decide?” whether or not organizations named in the report are complying with the report. He said, this agency has transgressed its jurisdiction.   

He raised the issue of Delhi High Court’s verdict on the funding of Congress and BJP by the London based Vedanta company and how protest against such a company can be deemed anti-development and anti-national.  He said, “like a sensible businessman”, Vedanta funded both the ruling party and the opposition party. It is not surprising that IB is speaking on their behalf.   

Kavitha Krishnan, noted social and women rights activist underlined how there is no conflict between development and environment but in a strange application of logic IB report will have us believe that they who defend environment are anti-national and they who speak for development are patriotic. 

Sanjay Parikh, Advocate, Supreme Court who has fought most the cases named in the IB report on behalf of social organizations wondered that so far he has been pursuing these cases in national interest and for the future generations. But now IB report in its wisdom contends that they who work for environmental protection are anti-national and anti-development.

On the issue of IB report’s section on GMOs (genetically modified/engineered organisms), he said that the IB report by making specific mention of the Supreme Court cases and influencing  Court-appointed Technical Expert Committee Report (TEC) has committed contempt of court. 

The IB report attributes motives to the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report which is akin to interfering with the parliamentary process.

He wondered as to IB report will justify its reliance on the opinion of Dr Ronald Herring of Cornell University who promotes GMOs and the monopoly of Monsanto. How can Government of India be blind to the design of the global GMO seed industry which wants to tame India’s regulators to approve GMOs, by-passing scientific, transparent and independent safety testing. 

If India's intelligence agencies become instruments of global corporations working against the public interest and national interest of India, our national security is under threat.

This IB report is deeply anti-national and subversive of constitutional rights of citizens in our country.  It does India no credit.

Justice Sachar noted as to how the Prime Minister has been misled by the IB’s report because it does not disclose the verdict of the Delhi High Court dated 10.09.2013 in the matter of Indian Social Action Forum and the compliance order of Ministry of Home Affairs dated October 9, 2013. Someone in IB must be held accountable for this grave act misleading the government.   

Gopal Krishna of Citizens Forum for Civil Liberties (CFCL) argued as to how does IB infer that allowing our country to become a dustbin for the hazardous wastes of the developed countries is in national interest. India generates so much hazardous wastes of its own. It has not been able to manage it till date and has no blue print to do so in future. How is allowing of hazardous wastes in the country in national interest and for national development. How can colonization of Alang beach for dumping of end-of-life ships in Indian waters by ship owning countries of the developed world be deemed an act of patriotism? IB’s report fails to recognize that Government of India has a legal obligation to ban hazardous waste trade in compliance with the Supreme Court order, UN’s Basel Convention to which India is a signatory and Ban Amendment.  If the report in question is indeed from the IB then its acceptance of Lawrence Summers’ Principle is indefensible and anti-national because it originated from a 1991 memo by Lawrence Summers, former Chief Economist of the World Bank. In this memo, he promoted dumping toxic waste in the Third World for economic reasons: “Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Least Developed Countries]? […] A given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.” This principle advanced the argument of transfer of harm to the developing countries and externalization of human and environmental costs. This is essentially the principle from the colonial era which cannot be accepted in national interest. 

On the issue of Par-Tapi-Narmada link project which part of Interlinking of Rivers (ILR) project, Gopal Krishna argued as to how can diversion of rivers be allowed in the name of development without learning lessons from Ara sea disaster which dried because of diversion of two Siberian rivers. How can the resolution of Kerala Assembly rejecting ILR project be ignored? How can Prof. S R Hashim Commission report of September 1999 that rejected linking of Himalayan and Peninsular rivers be forgotten? Is it in national interest to ignore the fact that Brahmaputra, Ganga and Kosi are transboundary rivers? Rivers are “veins and arteries” of nature, is it in national interest to allow their mutilation in the name of ILR? Aren’t such initiatives climate insensitive and outdated as they were conceived where climate crisis was not yet an admitted reality? IB report fails to appreciate these issues of far reaching implications.         

A Statement of Concern signed by many eminent personalities, academicians, human right activists, concerned citizens etc. from all over India against this so-called IB report was shared with the media. The statement titled "Uphold Sustainable Development! Condemn `Foreign Funded’ Destructive Development Promoted by IB expressed deep shock “at the dubious methods used by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) of the Home Ministry of India, to discredit many important social activists in the country who have committed their lives in social action for years.  For a long time, these activists have consistently questioned the destructive path of development India is following and have demanded a model of sustainable and equitable development which does not harm the environment, local communities, culture and the future generations.”

Uphold Sustainable Development!

Condemn `Foreign Funded’ Destructive Development Promoted by IB!

We, the undersigned, are deeply shocked at the dubious methods used by the Intelligence Bureau (IB) of the Home Ministry of India, to discredit many important social activists in the country who have committed their lives in social action for years.  For a long time, these activists have consistently questioned the destructive path of development India is following and have demanded a model of sustainable and equitable development which does not harm the environment, local communities, culture and the future generations.

For obvious reasons, the IB has selected activists connected with issues like POSCO, genetically modified food, nuclear energy, etc and branded their promotion as `development for the nation’ and those activists who question the un-sustainability, environmental implications, the impact on livelihood of thousands people and other social costs of such `proven disasters’ have been named `foreign funded’ activists trying to block India’s development. We condemn the IB report on the following reasons:

1.       IB report is a calculated character assassination attempt on a large number of credible activists in this country including Admiral Ramdas, Justice P K Mishra, Medha Patkar,  Dr. SP Udayakumar, Achin Vanaik, Praful Bidwai, Prashant Paikray, K. P Sasi, Dr. Surendra Gadekhar, Babloo Loitongbam, Lalita Ramdas, Late Banwarilal Sharma, Late Fr. Tom Kochery, Aarti Chokshi, M G Devasahayam, Aruna Rodrigues, Kavita Kuruganti and others. We understand that the present government is planning to execute a major corporate agenda of destroying India’s land, water and forests. Therefore, this slander campaign is only to clear the ground to benefit the Indian and foreign multinational interests.

2.       We strongly oppose the use of the term `foreign’ to describe credible activists of this country. We consider it as only a political gimmick to facilitate the real `foreign’ interests.

3.       Among the issues mentioned is POSCO which is already discredited very badly in India and abroad and this multinational company is investing one of the largest `foreign’ investments of Rs. 54,000 Crores, causing large scale livelihood problems and displacement of tens of thousands of fisher folk, farmers, Dalits and Adivasis. This `foreign funded’ project is also violating all norms of existing laws of protection of the forests under the Forest Rights Act and protection of the coastal lands under Coastal Regulation Zone Notification and many rights of women and children. The draconian project is also responsible for throwing over hundred bombs on the struggling villagers and over 100 people have been shot in peaceful protests. We extend our full solidarity and support to the local villagers against this `mega foreign funded’ project.

4.       Among the other issues mentioned, the people’s movement against Koodankulam nuclear plant is noteworthy. Perhaps the IB should check the developments of nuclear plants in Japan, Germany, the United States and other countries and explore the reasons for why they are closing down the operations on nuclear energy due to large scale social and environmental disasters followed by large scale protests of people against such destructive developmental projects even in these `foreign’ countries whose nuclear technology is more advanced than what is there in India. IB should also understand that the immediate effects of radiation due to Koodankulam nuclear plants will be on southern Tamil Nadu, Southern Kerala and Northern Kerala and if the IB wish to lead a life without cancer and genetic disorders for their children and their own future generations, it is most advisable that they remove their officials from this `foreign’ initiated nuclear plant. The IB should have the minimum intelligence to understand that you suffere from cancer and Down syndrome due to radiation from any `foreign’ installation like Chernobyl, Fukushima,Three Mile Island or a nuclear plant in Koodankulam. The health effects and the environmental impacts are similar. We hereby extend our full solidarity to the struggle of the brave villagers of Koodankulam under the leadership of Dr. S P Udayakumar.

5.       The other issue which is mentioned in the report is GM (Genetically Modified)) crops. The hazards of such crops are well known in India as well as abroad. The interests of such development is only for the `foreign’ multinationals like Monsanto. While the IB has assumed all these destructive projects as `national interests’, it has conveniently ignored the objections to GM crops by the Moratorium Orders of Shri Jairam Ramesh, the Parliamentary Standing Committee Report and the Supreme Court-appointed Technical Expert Committee Report (TEC) because they have found that GM crops have little to contribute to Indian agriculture, safe food and food security in this country. We bring to your notice that IB has no business to indirectly facilitate a foreign multinational company like Monsanto and malign the credibility of activists who are raising the question of large scale potential disaster to this nation due to GM crops.

6.       Singling out “activism against Extractive Industries in North East” as a separate issue in the report,  painting legitimate and democratic people’s development related activities and the struggle to stop mass extrajudical executions in the Supreme Court by local organizations as anti-national and anti-development amounts to a deeply discriminatory slant. A number of false, unfounded allegations such as “routing of foreign funds” have been raised without any rational or factual basis naming two NGOs of Manipur and linking them to other organizations at the national level in an imagined association that is untrue. On the other hand there is no “Manipur Coalition of Extractives” as alleged in this report. The IB report is concocted by uninformed sources.

7.       The document of IB report which was classified as a `secret report’ was released by the IB itself to the press with an agenda to malign, scandalize and create a character assassination of credible activists in this country. We strongly condemn such dubious methods.

8.       As far as the few NGOs mentioned are concerned, it is clear that the IB has conveniently selected them due to their stands on the above issues and it has nothing to do with foreign fund. The Intelligence Bureau knows that there are over 40,000 NGOs operating in this country and they never objected to the visit of Narendra Modi for blessings to  one of the largest foreign funded NGO under Mata Amritandamayi, a well known hub of RSS activists. IB had no problem when even BBC reported that large scale foreign fund was diverted by the NGO called Vanavasi Kalyan Kendra, another hub of the Sangh Parivar, for the brutal murder of over 2000 innocent Muslims in Gujarat. Therefore, it is obvious that the IB is facilitating a political game rather than serving any national interest.

9.       We would also like to bring to your notice that the space for criticisms of any Government is a crucial space which is fundamental to any democracy. What the IB is attempting to do is to block this important critical space which is against long-term national interests.

10.   We are aware that thousands of crores of rupees are regularly being spent on the unaccountable and illegitimate intelligence agencies in this country and such financial resources collected from the tax payers’ money in this country is ultimately getting used against the rights of the citizens of this country. The present IB report is a classic example. We demand a drastic cut of such financial resources which are regularly used against the rights of the minorities, Dalits, Adivasis, the people’s movements and activists in this country for the preservation and sustainance of democracy. We also demand  that all the financial resources used by the intelligence agencies be brought under public audit and be reported to the Indian Parliament so that such institutions also realize that there is a public accountability which rests on them.

11.   We demand that immediate action on all those officials be undertaken for executing such criminal behavior and misusing their official powers.

Due to all the above reasons, we are convinced that the IB report is only a politically motivated instrument of the vested interests in this country. We strongly condemn the public use of IB against activists, people’s movements and credible journalists.

We appeal to all members of the civil society to condemn the IB report and strengthen the people’s movements for they are the only source and hope for the survival of our future, despite the interventions of irresponsible politicians and irresponsible intelligence departments.

We appeal to all members of the civil society to uphold sustainable and equitable development, no matter what the authorities speak of destructive foreign motivated development as `national interest’!

We appeal to all members of the civil society to speak up against the suppression of critical voices, without which in the final analysis, freedom of all individuals will be at stake very soon.
Prof. Romila Thapar
Dr. Mallika Sarabhai, artist and activist
Mahesh Bhatt - film director, producer
Maj Gen (Retd) S.G.Vombatkere
Vrinda Grover - Lawyer - Supreme Court of India
Anand Patwardhan, film maker
Buddhadev Dasgupta, filmmaker.
Prof KN Panikkar, historian
Aruna Roy
Sandeep Pande, activist
V Suresh, National General Secretary, PUCL
Dr(Brig) R S Rajan (Director, Vivekananda Institute for Leadership Development, Mysore)
Dr P M Bhargava (Molecular Biologist & Former Member, National Security Advisory Board; GoI)
Manisha Sethi, Associate Professor, Jamia Milia Islamia Univesity
K. Satchidanhandan, Ex Chairperson, Kendra Sahitya Academi
Ajit Shahi, Former Editor, Tehelka
Goutam Ghosh, film maker
Kavita Krishnan, Secretary AIPWA
Sadanand Menon, art critic, journalist.
Kedar Misra (Poet and journalist, Odisha)
S. N. M. Abdi, journalist
Debabrata Roy Laifungbam, Convenor, Civil Society Coaliation on Human Rights in Manipur and the UN
Raja Sen, filmmaker
Sunanda Mukhopadhyay, Chairperson - West Bengal Women's Commission.
Malini Bhattacharya, ex MP.
P Baburaj, film maker
Leena Manimekalai, Poet, Filmmaker
Amar Kanwar - film maker
Kshetrimayum Onil, Just Peace Foundation, Manipur
Kavita Srivastava, National Secretary, PUCL
Prof. Mihir Bhattacharya
R.P. Amudhan, Film Maker
Bidyarthi Chatterji, film Critic.
J Devika, historian, social critic & feminist
Teesta Setalvad
Sohini Dasgupta, filmmaker.
K R Mohan, former Chairperson, Kerala Chalachitra Academi
Gopal Menon, film maker
B. Suresh (film Director & play writer)
Sadique Hossain, Yuva Sahitya Academy Award Winner Author.
Ashok Viswanathan, filmmaker.
T V Chandran - film maker.
Prof A Marx - writer, critic.
Sampad Mohapatra -Journalist,Odisha
Soumitra Dastidar, documentary maker,columnist.
Sudarshana Chakraborty, Journalist,documentary maker.
Dr. Ram Puniyani
Pradosh Pattanaik., Journalist, Ex Editor of "The Samaja "premier Odisha daily.
Bhabani Charan Pattanaik.-Freedom Fighter and Ex Rajyasabha member.
Fr . Jimmy C Dabhi (Human Development & Research Centre, Ahmedabad)
Ramdas Rao, PUCL, Karnataka
Rabi Das-Senior Journalist ,Odisha.
Babloo Loitongbam, Executive Director, Human Rights Alert, Imphal
Basantakumar Wareppa, Lawyer, Manipur
Mary Beth Senate, Rural Women's Upliftment Society, Manipur
Renu Takhelambam, President, Extrajudicial Execution Victim Families Assocaition, Manipur

Shabnam Hashmi
Joy Chingakham, Vice President FRIENDS, Manipur
Nandini Thockchom, Forum for Indigenous Perpective and Action, Manipur
Leishangthem Ranjana, Forum for Indigenous Perpective and Action, Manipur
U Nobokishore, North East Dialogue Forum, Manipur
O. J. Metei, United NGO Mission Manipur
Dr. Vijayamma, journalist & feminist
Jagadish Chandra, activist, Bangalore
Dr. Swarajit Jana, social activist.
BRP Bhaskar, activist, Kerala
Civic Chandran, activist, Kerala
Prof. K.P. Jayasankar
Dr. Vinod Vyasulu
Prof. Anjali Monteiro
K R Seshadri
Subhodip Maitra, writer, journalist, cultural activist.
Ambrose Pinto
Prafulla Samantara
Dr. T T Sreekumar, Assoc. Prof. & Chair, FPM-C, Mudra Institute of Communications, Ahmedabad
Sudhir Patnaik, editor/journalist
G R Vidyaranya, Social & RTI Activist, Mysore
Syed Tanveeruddin, RTI, Human Rights and Social Activist, Mysore 
Prof. Moidul Islam
Prof. Barnali Ghosh
Arundhati Duru, activist
and many others.

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