By Our Staff Reporter
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM APRIL 9. The Kerala Dalit Yuvajana Federation took out a march to the Secretariat and staged a dharna on Monday to protest against the economic policies pursued by the State and Central Governments.
The agitation was organised to demand job reservation for Dalits in the private sector, district-level projects to create employment opportunities for Dalits in the cooperative sector, constitution of a recruitment board for appointments to primary societies and steps to check diversion of funds earmarked for tribal sub-plan and special component Plan projects, among other things.
Inaugurating the march , the Kerala Dalit Federation State president, P. Ramabhadransaid unemployment had emerged as a major obstacle to the development of Dalit communities.
(Gandhinagar, April 9)
The Gujarat riots have brought about an unexpected — if temporary — alliance between the upper caste champions of Hindutva and the tribals and Dalits who languish at the bottom of traditional Hindu social hierarchy. At several places, Dalits eagerly joined Hindu fanatics to kill and loot Muslims.
Dalits of nearby shanty clusters led the attacks on Muslim homes and shops in Ahmedabad's Gulbarg Society (where Congress ex-MP Ehsan Jaffrey was burnt alive), Behrampura, Dani Limda and Gomtipur areas.
The co-option of groups expected to be naturally antagonistic to Hindutva was brought about, at least in part, through money and alcohol.
In the most common instance, VHP and Bajrang Dal members began the carnage in urban upper and middle class Muslim clusters, and then invited the poor Dalits to share the booty.
However, the entente was not always based on the lure of lucre.
Over the years, the Sangh Parivar has gradually worked its way into new constituencies of Dalit and tribal Gujaratis. In several urban clusters, Dalits have hold ornamental positions in local Bajrang Dal and VHP units, bringing upward social mobility to the whole communities.
In many areas, Hindutva forces have cashed in on poverty. Inroads have been made over years into Dalit constituencies hit by textile mill layoffs. Through meticulous campaigns, Muslims have been identified as the 'other' who have taken away Dalit jobs; and frustration has been channelised into hatred against the community. In Sabarkantha, the VHP front Vanvasi Kalyan Parishad has distributed food and fodder to tribals during two years of drought, earning a lot of goodwill.
Yet, the anti-Muslim alliance between Dalits and tribals and the champions of Hindutva is not a pan-Gujarat phenomenon . In areas where Sangh Parivar outfits are weak, the OBC, Thakores and Dalits provided safe passage to Muslims.
By V. S. Mani.
The legislation should be such that all perpetrators of genocide, be they individuals, groups or the constitutional rulers, can without exception be readily punished.
THE RECENT carnage in Gujarat appears to qualify as genocide under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, 1948, (`the Genocide Convention'). Indeed, the genocidal tendencies of the fanatical groups will need to be urgently tackled at various levels — social, political, legal, and even religious. This highlights the need for enactment of a special law on genocide.
Four principal reasons were advanced in support of a special enactment on Prevention of Terrorism. One, India as a member of the United Nations has a legal obligation to put in place a specific law on terrorism, flowing as it does from the resolutions of the U.N. Security Council adopted since September 28, 2001, in response to the September 11 attack on New York's World Trade Center. Two, terrorism is a special category of crime that requires a special law to deal with. Three, only a special law can have a deterrent effect on terrorism. Four, such a law is necessary to protect the territorial integrity and moral fabric of the country. The same reasons now most urgently demand that a special law be put in place for the prevention and punishment of genocide.
The principle of prohibition of genocide has become an intrinsic aspect of modern civilised behaviour of international society. In 1946, the U.N. General Assembly unanimously affirmed that "genocide is a crime under international law which the civilised world condemns, and for the commission of which principals and accomplices — whether private individuals, public officials or statesmen, and whether the crime is committed on religious, racial, political or any other grounds — are punishable". (Resolution 96 (I), December 11, 1946). This resolution paved the way for the eventual adoption in 1948 of the Genocide Convention.
The International Court of Justice too has time and again emphasised the principle of prohibition of genocide as part of general international law. In one case, the Court said: "By their very nature, the outlawing of genocide, aggression, slavery and racial discrimination are the concerns of all states. In view of the importance of the rights involved, all states can be held to have a legal interest in their protection, they are obligations erga omnes (against whole world)" (Barcelona Traction case, 1970). As early as 1951, it had already ruled in the context of the Genocide Convention that "the principles underlying the Convention are principles which are recognised by civilised nations as binding on states, even without any conventional (i.e. treaty) obligation" (Reservations to the Genocide Convention case, 1951).
India, like every other country, is bound by the general international law obligations to prevent and punish acts of genocide. India's obligations are further strengthened by its participation in the 1948 Genocide Convention in the drafting of which it had made a worthwhile contribution. India became a party to the Convention on August 27, 1959.
The Convention defines genocide to mean "any of the following acts with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: (a) Killing members of the group; (b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; (d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; (and) (e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group" (Article II). The Convention renders punishable not only acts of genocide, but also other related acts, namely, conspiracy to commit genocide; direct and public incitement to commit genocide; attempt to commit genocide; and complicity in genocide (Article III).
The Convention also proclaims that "persons committing genocide or any of the other acts enumerated in Article III shall be punished, whether they are constitutionally responsible rulers, public officials or private individuals" (Article IV). Evidently, no immunity from prosecution applies to "constitutionally responsible rulers" or "public officials".
The Genocide Convention imposes three principal sets of obligations on India. First, India has recognised genocide as an international crime which it has "undertaken to prevent and punish" (Article I). Second, it has undertaken to enact "the necessary legislation to give effect to the provisions" of the Convention, "and, in particular, to provide effective penalties for persons guilty of genocide or any of the other acts" related to genocide (Article V). Third, it has a duty to try persons charged with genocide or any of the related acts, through "a competent tribunal" (Article VI). This duty clearly casts a further obligation to put in place or designate tribunals competent to try such persons.
Since it acceded to the Convention in 1959, India has taken no steps to comply with the Convention obligations by effecting necessary changes in its internal law. Article 51 (c) of the Indian Constitution requires the state to endeavour to "foster respect for international law and treaty obligations". Keeping this in view, Article 253 mandates Parliament to make any law "for implementing any treaty, agreement or convention". Prudence would demand that India should enact the necessary enabling legislation before it becomes party to a treaty, so that there is no time lag between undertaking of international treaty obligations and their domestic implementation where called for.
The Genocide Convention is one of the glaring cases where this rule of prudence has been totally ignored. Indeed, this is not a rare instance of India failing to implement international treaty obligations by introducing the necessary changes in the domestic law — an issue that calls for a separate debate, involving the Law Commission, the Ministry of External Affairs and the various `nodal' Ministries responsible for matters covered by various treaties to which India is a party. Although the principles embodied in the Convention are part of general international law and therefore, part of the "common law of India", they are not self-executory in the sense that they can be readily made operational within the criminal justice system of the country. The penalties for genocide and acts associated with it need to be prescribed and the "competent tribunal" to try these offences need to be designated or established.
Since a good number of countries (including Bangladesh in 1973) have enacted domestic legislation either specifically on genocide or on international crimes in general, there is no dearth of legislative models and techniques for the Government of India to choose from. Care should, however, be taken to avoid the pitfalls of our own Geneva Conventions Act, 1960, which were in fact judicially noted at least once. The legislation should be such that all perpetrators of genocide, be they individuals, groups or the constitutional rulers, can without exception be readily punished.The legislation should be such that all perpetrators of genocide, be they individuals, groups or the constitutional rulers, can without exception be readily punished. The prosecution should not rest exclusively at the discretion of the Government or a Government official, as is currently the case with the Geneva Conventions Act, 1960.
(The writer teaches International Law at the School of International Studies, JNU.)
By Our Special Correspondent
NEW DELHI APRIL 9. Taking a grim view of the prevalent situation in Gujarat, the National Commission for Minorities (NCM) has come down heavily on State administration for allowing a "holocaust'' in the State.
Such an observation was made by the NCM in its formal communication to the Chief Secretary of Gujarat, G. Subba Rao. The formal communication was despatched to Mr. Rao on Monday as a follow-up to Saturday's meeting when the Chief Secretary and other officials responded to the summons issued by the NCM.
Drawing parallels with the way other State Governments had handled such situations in the past, the NCM has noted that the flare-ups had been dealt with firmly, and a "holocaust was not allowed to occur as has happened in Gujarat''.
Reiterating its dissatisfaction with the manner in which the Gujarat Government had handled the situation, the commission has asked the Gujarat Government to give utmost importance to the restoration of confidence among the people in the administrative machinery, particularly the police force.
The commission has instructed the State to post officers -- transferred for protecting the interest of the minorities -- back to their original charge as this would go a long way in restoring the confidence of the minorities in the administration. Of the view that these officers ought to be honoured and rewarded, the commission has noted that "the policy of political transfers that was now being indulged in was contrary to the norms of good governance in a civil society and needs to be stopped immediately''.
Primarily reiterating the verbal instructions issued to the Gujarat officers on Saturday, the NCM has asked the State to enhance the compensation to the next of kin of those killed to Rs. 1 lakh; rebuild the dargahs and mosques destroyed in the riots; set up joint peace committees in localities; depute officers from minority communities in sensitive areas; allot land for those rendered homeless; and appoint a sitting judge of the Supreme Court to head the inquiry commission that has been set up.
The representatives of various N.R.I. community's organizations met at Chicago, U.S.A., April 6, 2002. After considering all the facts regarding recent violent events of Gujarat and serious exchange of ideas and views, the participants passed the following resolutions. The purpose of the meeting was to consolidate views of various groups of Indians living in America and convey our united message of our outrage and anguish against hatred and violence to the socio- political and religious leaders of India. The conference was organized under the auspices of New Republic India, Int., and convened by Dr. Rahul Deepankar, President of the organization. Participants agreed upon the following resolutions unanimously.
1.Recent violence in form of murders, burnings, vandalism and barbaric treatment of women and children has marked an ugly blot against our claim of having secular nonviolent and tolerant society in India. Protracted heinous violence has brought great shame to all Indians living abroad. We consider these trends of communal and caste violence a disgrace to India's rising image. We consider the perpetrators of these crimes as terrorists and enemies of India.
2.The participants, after deliberations over the news and other investigatory findings(like that of National Human Rights Commissions preliminary report), concluded that religious and communal extremists incited and organized various violent acts, as a result more than a thousand people, men women and children, have lost their lives and billions of rupees worth of properties and businesses have been destroyed. Further, more than one hundred thousand people have become homeless and millions have been traumatized in multiple ways.
3.The participants condemned violent acts in all forms and from all sources, including loss of 58 Hindu lives in Godhra's train burning and the holocaust that followed killing and burning more than a thousand men women and children of Muslim community. Even more shameful is the observation that burning, looting and murders continue to take place even today. The participants expressed their condolences and sympathy for all families that have incurred these losses.
4.The participants concluded that government of Gujarat state not only failed in protecting the innocent lives, but also encouraged and contributed towards loss of life and property of Muslims. They also considered central government guilty of inaction or delayed reaction to rising violence by refusing to deploy army in the affected areas. Further, records of negligence and discrimination in giving the relief and protection by the state, to those affected, has been utterly shameful and inexcusable.
5.The participants expressed their shame and outrage on the observation that protective agencies, like police and state bureaucracy, became participants in the conflict instead of discharging their duty without prejudice. The participants recalled in shame that similar patterns were seen in anti Sikh riots of 1984 and during demolition of Babri Masjid at Ayodhya in 1992.
6.The participants resolved to demand that central government must take all steps immediately to remove negligent and participating state officials from their posts, use army in all vulnerable areas of the state and hold state government responsible for its failures. Further, the participants demanded that state government in Gujarat be dissolved and President's rule be imposed immediately.
7.The participants analyzed all the available information from the affected area and concluded that organizations like V.H.P. and Bajrang Dal are responsible in spreading hatred and violence against minorities. They demanded that these organizations be considered as terrorists and they should be banned because they practice fascism in the name of Hindutva Nationalism.
8.Participants resolved to demand that state and central governments relief services and compensations be provided equitably to all without discrimination, in proportion to the losses of all affected.
9.Participants resolved to demand that all investigations should begin immediately and be concluded as soon as possible. All culprits responsible for death, destruction, negligence and discrimination be punished according to the law.
10.The participants urged the social and religious leaders of all religions and ethnic segments of the society to work together for removal of communal hatred, prejudices and violence. They also urged all Indians living abroad to work unitedly to advance the cause of secularism, tolerance, peace and democratic rule of law in our great nation of India.
Prominent speakers at the conference included:
Dr. Asad Hussain
The following organizations were represented at the meeting:
1. New Republic India, International
All participants expressed their appreciation of efforts by New Republic India. They unanimously expressed the desire to mobilize silent majority of Indians living abroad and also invite the world community for the cause of peace and harmony in India and world over. All expressed their desire to organize a peace march in Chicago in the near future.
Pune Citizens from all walks of life have come together to March for Peace and Harmony in Gujarat on this 14th April. The choice of Baba's birthday is to highlight loss of Freedom to life liberty and justice to people of Gujarat from 1st March 02 onwards.
The committee formed has decided to meet twice a month to discuss long, medium and short term plans to avoid such a 'state' of violence happening here.
The response of the general public has been so energetic that Rs10000 was collected on the first day of launch of the move itself.
YOU ARE INVITED.
March starts at 4PM from Phule statue and will end at Ambedkar Bhavan.