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31 May, 2012

Right to Food Campaign calls for end to harassment of rights defenders

The following is a statement issued by the Right to Food Campaign, India, against the continuous harassment and attempts to criminalize the work of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan (JADS) and the targeting of Ms. Madhuri Krishnaswami by the Badwani District (MP ) administration and corrupt politicians, forwarded by the Asian Human Rights Commission:

The Right to Food Campaign condemns the continuous harassment, the filing of false cases and the issuing of show cause notice to extern (Zila Badar) Madhuri of (JADS) from the districts of Badwani and 6 nearby districts by the nexus of police, politicians and administrators. We were shocked to learn that the DM of Badwani had initiated proceedings of externment under section 8 (1) of the M.P Rajya suraksha Adhiniyamt, 1990, which have now been withdrawn after there was pressure from all over the country. We demand that the State Government of Madhya Pradesh take action against Mr Shriman Shukla, DM Badwani, who issued the show cause notices of externment to Madhuri.
Our stand is clear that such laws like the MP Rajya Suraksha Adhiniyam 1990 are un-democratic and un-constitutional and need to be repealed. Especially, when proceedings of externment in the last twenty years of the implementation of the Rajya Suraksha Adhiniyam in Madhya Pradesh, has been frequently used against activists, when it has not suited the local vested interests.

We believe that Madhuri, a renowned social activist, a member of Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan and also an esteemed member of the Steering Committee of the Right to Food Campaign at the national level, has been selectively targeted by the political opposition and the bureaucracy to benefit certain vested interests who are being challenged by the work of the Jagrit Adivasi Dalit Sangathan in Barwani. Instead of honouring them for the good work the administration is trying to bracket their work as a threat to public order and security and issuing notices of externment. Madhuri and other members of JADS.
The Right to Food Campaign also demands that the State Government set up a high powered committee to review all the cases pending investigation against Madhuri and other member of JADS and close them. As in the past courts have exonerated them in more than 5 cases due to lack of evidence. In many cases the investigation is pending by the local police for the last five to six years and these cases are just a tool in the hands of the police and administration. We are demanding this as most of the criminal cases filed by the administration and police were after peaceful protests for legitimate demands for the implementation of the Government scheme.

It is well known that JADS has worked consistently through democratic and completely transparent means, advocating and campaigning for the proper implementation of Government schemes in order to ensure the delivery of entitlements to work, food, health services, forest rights act to the locals of that area. Their work in the area of the implementation of the law and the other schemes has made a difference not just locally to the entitlements of the poor but also nationally at the level of policy and law making. Some of their work has included ensuring the implementation of:
1. The hundred days employment Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA);
2. The Supreme Court order for all the food schemes like the PDS, ICDS, Old Age Pension;
3. The law on the rights of the gram sabha, PESA and the Panchayati Raj Act following the 73rd and 74th Amendment. The Forest Rights Act;
4. Against the sale of illegal liquor;
5. Ensuring proper health care delivery and taking up those cases where the health system has denied health care;
6. The prevention of the exploitation of Adivasis and violence against them by officials, traders, including rampant corruption and non-performance in government schemes.
We demand that the State Government urgently intervene and take action against Mr Shriman Shukla, DM Barwani, who issued these externment notices to Madhuri, close all the cases against her and other members of JADS and ensure that all members of JADS including Madhuri are able to work freely as provided under the Indian Constitution and repeal the MP Rajya Suraksha Adhiniyam.

The Right to Food campaign and other progressive organizations would be holding a protest outside the MP Bhawan against this unconstitutional act of the local administration.

The following are the signatories to the statement:

Kavita Srivastava, Convenor), on behalf of the Steering Committee of the Right to Food Campaign.
Annie Raja (National Federation for Indian Women), Anuradha Talwar and Gautam Modi (New Trade Union Initiative), Arun Gupta and Radha Holla (Breast Feeding Promotion Network of India), Arundhati Dhuru and Ulka Mahajan (National Alliance of People’s Movements), Asha Mishra and Vinod Raina (Bharat Gyan Vigyan Samiti), Aruna Roy, Anjali Bharadwaj and Nikhil Dey (National Campaign for People's Right to Information), Ashok Bharti (National Conference of Dalit Organizations), Colin Gonsalves (Human Rights Law Network), G V Ramanjaneyulu (Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture), Kavita Srivastava and Binayak Sen (People’s Union for Civil Liberties), Lali Dhakar, Sarawasti Singh, Shilpa Dey and Radha Raghwal (National Forum for Single Women’s Rights), Mira Shiva and Vandana Prasad (Jan Swasthya Abhiyan), Paul Divakar and Asha Kowtal (National Campaign for Dalit Human Rights), Prahlad Ray and Anand Malakar (Rashtriya Viklang Manch), Subhash Bhatnagar (National Campaign Committee for Unorganized Sector workers), Jean Dreze and V.B Rawat (Former Support group to the Campaign), Ritu Priya (JNU)

Representatives of Right to Food (State campaigns):
Veena Shatrugna, M Kodandram and Rama Melkote(Andhra Pradesh), Saito Basumaatary and Sunil Kaul (Assam), Rupesh (Bihar), Gangabhai and Sameer Garg (Chhattisgarh), Pushpa, Dharmender, Ramendra, Yogesh, Vimla and Sarita (Delhi), Sejal Dand and Sumitra Thakkar (Gujarat), Abhay Kumar and Clifton (Karnataka), Balram, Gurjeet Singh and James Herenj (Jharkhand), Sachin Jain (Madhya Pradesh), Mukta Srivastava and Suresh Sawant (Maharashtra), Tarun Bharatiya (Meghalaya), Chingmak Chang (Nagaland) Bidyut Mohanty and Raj Kishore Mishra, Vidhya Das, Manas Ranjan (Orissa), Ashok Khandelwal, Bhanwar Singh and Vijay Lakshmi (Rajasthan), V Suresh (Tamil Nadu), Bindu Singh (Uttar Pradesh).

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