Andher Nagari: West Bengal


     For those who have been following the tragedy that is ‘Nandigram’ and trying to whitewash the bloodied fields and those trying to analyse the reasons for failure of West Bengal government. 

Extracts from Ed piece of HT of 18th.

     ……… None of us is ever happy about the forcible acquisition of land. Equally, we have to accept that it is exactly through such methods that industrialisation and development have taken place all over the world. The best we can hope for is that anybody who is made to give up his or her land – for a factory, for a road, for a railway line etc is adequately compensated and offered alternative land somewhere else.

     …….Whatever our views on the CPM, it can never be right for a district to declare itself autonomous of the Indian state and under the control of revolutionary elements. At some stage, the rule of law has to be reimposed and the extremists have to be thrown out. So why do I think that both responses miss the point?

     Well, because they are based on a fundamental misunderstanding of the true nature of the CPM. 

     I wrote, some months ago, about the gulf between the way in which anybody who has ever lived in CPM-controlled Calcutta views the party and the glamourised notion that liberals with no real experience of CPM rule have of the hard Left. Sitting in Delhi or Bombay, we see the CPM as a bunch of democratic communists, of overgrown student leaders who may be committed to an outdated and obsolete ideology but whose hearts are in the right place and who are deeply committed to the plight of the less fortunate.

     If you live in the CPM’s Bengal, however, you recognise the party for what it truly is: a rigidly disciplined totalitarian outfit which depends on murder- ous cadres and which has no real patience with democracy or dissent. When we treat the CPM as just another political party, we make a serious mistake.

      The Congress may have been inspired by the Fabians and the British Labour Party. The BJP may seek inspiration from Margaret Thatcher’s Conservative Party But the CPM’s models all come from deeply undemocratic regimes.

     The CPM began as part of the CPI, a communist party which first venerated the murderous Josef Stalin who killed 20 million people and then went on to support succeeding Soviet regimes that sent dissidents to Gulags.

     When the CPM broke away from the CPI, it was largely because it supported China rather than Russia (even when China was fighting India). And Chinese communism was as undemocratic as the Russian version. I am not sure if Mao Tse Tung killed as many people as Josef Stalin did but my guess is he came close. Chinese communism led to massacres, tyranny, the complete suppression of human rights and to totalitarianism on a level that was previously unimaginable.

     These are the CPM’s models. These are the murderous dictators that its leaders worshipped when they were growing up. And it is this legacy that the CPM epitomises. Integral to the communist notion of governance is that there is no difference between the party and the state.

     In Russia and in China, party designations counted for much more than government posts. Even here, the CPM Politburo has more clout than elected chief ministers. When Jyoti Basu wanted to accept the prime ministership, it was the Politburo that had the power to stop him.

      And two months ago, Prakash Karat, a man who has never won any democratic election outside of his own party organisation, nearly forced India into a general election that two of his party chief ministers wanted desperately to avoid. You need to understand this background to recognise what really happened in Nandigram.

      Yes, it is true that land acquisition is a fact of life. And it is as true that the state had to reassert control over the troubled district. But that doesn’t explain the events of last week. If it was the state that had to impose the rule of law, then why didn’t the West Bengal government send in the police?

      Instead, it was armed CPM cadres who went into Nandigram and fought pitched battles with the extremists, killing and raping villagers in the process, while simultaneously assaulting the media to prevent their violent acts from being recorded.

      All this was because the CPM, in the manner of all communist parties, sees no distinction between the party and the state, between the cadres and the police and between the enemies of the party and the enemies of the nation.

      Even if Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee had been unable to regain control of Nandigram, he could have done what any other chief minister would have and asked Delhi for central forces or even, the army But that is not the CPM’s way It treats any threat to the order in West Bengal as a threat to the party.

     And like all totalitarian parties, it uses its cadres to re-impose its dominance on wayward elements.

     Anybody who thinks that the true lesson of Nandigram is about the poor man’s right to hold on to his land or to the imposition of the rule of law on extremists misses the point. The debate about acquisition is an old one and there can be no dispute over the need to fight extremism. 

     The lesson from Nandigram is not about any of those things. It is about the true nature of the CPM, a totalitarian party that does not recognise the difference between the rule of law and the rule of the Politburo.  

counterpoint@hindustantimes.com

RTI: Sabotaging Citizens Right to Information Act


     These are the days  of Computers. All information of FIRs and complaints are expected to be on computers.Delhi Police flourishes its IT abilities far and wide. It is not understood how basic information which should be avilable literally at finger tips and a screen will take days for the Delhi Police to compile and submit.

      Either the Delhi Police is not using computers effeciently, or is simply unwilling to give information to a Citizen.

     Pl see the news item below for details.

   If you want an information about stolen mobiles in New Delhi, you may have to shell out about Rs 1.5 lakh to the city police.

      It was a rude shock for Delhi-based social activist Subodh Jain when he received a letter from deputy commissioner of police (West) Robin Hibu asking him to deposit Rs 13,949 as advance for providing the information on the number of cases of mobile thefts in the city under the RTI Act.

      “If I want information from each of the ten police districts and I pay the said amount for each police districts then I may have to shell out Rs 1.5 lakh,” Mr Jain said. Mr Jain filed an RTI application on October 16 with the Delhi police headquarters seeking information about details of number of cases of mobile phone thefts in New Delhi, the number of those recovered and recovery strategy of the police among others.

      DCP headquarters, Mr Keval Singh forwarded the application to all district DCPs and it was only Mr Hibu who had replied to Mr Jain. Mr Hibu, in his letter, said the pointwise information sought by Mr Jain was “lengthy and time consuming” to compile.

      “In addition, a considerable strength of manpower of (Mr Hibu’s) office as well as all police stations will be utilised to compile this information,” he said.

     According to Mr Hibu, a sub-Inspector from his office will have to be deputed for the job for two days, the cost of which was calculated at Rs 1,546.

Excerpts from The Asian Age :17 Nov 07

Andher Nagari:CHHATTISGARH


CHHATTISGARH400 being trafficked found inside containers
Raipur

     Over 400 villagers from Mahasamund district have been rescued by the Chhattisgarh government officials when they were being transported outside the state, a senior official said on Friday.

     “Over 400 villagers, including 92 women and about 135 children were rescued from the clutches of five contractors in Raipur city on Thursday night when they were being taken to Lucknow, Jammu and Kashmir, and Nagpur,” state labour secretary B.L. Agrawal said on Friday.

     On information that they are being transported to other states from Pithora area of Mahasamund district, a joint party of labour department, the police and civil administration raided three huge container vehicles, normally used to transport new vehicles, and rescued over 400 villagers, said additional labour commissioner Savita Mishra.

     Ms Mishra, who led the raid, said that they had inputs of “human trafficking” following which they detained four containers and one Bolero vehicle and over 400 villagers were rescued in Raipur city from those vehicles.

     “In three locked containers over 400 villagers, with their belongings, were being taken to Durg Railway Station by five contractors from the Mahasamund district, to send them to various destinations, including Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir,” she said.

     The drivers of all the three containers and the driver of a Bolero vehicle, which was guiding them from Mahasamund to Durg, were arrested, Ms Mishra said. “All the villagers were put inside the containers which did not have sufficient ventilation,” she said.

Asian Age 17 Nov 07

Citizens Must be Proactive


     A message recd from Mr Watwani, of Safdarjung Developement Area.
    May be there is a lesson in it for all warring RWAs in Delhi. Why not dessiminate the phone numbers of civic authorities and municipal councillors so that citizens can ring ring them up when there is a problem in the colony.
     That is the only way to make them understand that citizens are not willing to accept non performance any more.

Dear Friends,

    Most of us use the District Park for Morning/Evening Walk. Even thousands of Sr Citizens & other Residents/Children do visit the park. Lately it is observed that the Park’s Walk Ways are in Very Bad Condition & many a times I have seen Sr Citizens stumbling/falling on these walk ways. it can happen to any one of us & our family members.    I collected the Phone Numbers of DDA Horticulture Deptt’s Assistant Engineer & Jr Engineer & spoken to them. They say that these walk way could hv been repaired long time back but for the Contractors un-cooperative attitude. Now the Contract has been awarded to new Contractors. As per contract requirement, Road Rollers will be run on the walk ways to Press the Protruded Stones to ground level before repairing it.     Though I have been  told/promised that work will start within next fortnight. However I request all of you  that lets  please phone to the following Officers so that work on the  Contract  start in time & we have a better walk way for all of us. Kindly also make use of the these under mentioned phone numbers in suggesting other good practical suggestions to these officers for the improvement of Park. Regards. S L Watwani

   1.  Mr Tripal Singh Tomar, Assistant Director, DDA Horticulture Department – Mobile – 98108 99797   

    2. Mr  P K Jain,  Junior Engineer, DDA Horticulture Department – Mobile – 98182 51930 ( Also Daily Sits near Nursery Between 11-00 AM to 1-00 PM )PS:   1. I also suggest that for other pending issues of common interest, we pass on the information to other  residents in a similar way & by follow up by each one of us, results are bound to come at a faster rate. Please pass on this mail to your other known contacts of our area with similar request.

    2. I received a SMS from Mr Shailender Singh ( Monty), Our area Councilor informing that his New mobile number is 99586 93163. Please make a note of it if the information has not reached to you so far.

Ludicrous ‘Tamasha’ at Sanchar Haat


Mr JR Lal a proactive member of CAPRG has this experience to share.

There is a lesson for all citizens.

Citizens must insist up on their rights and take up issues with the government authorities and departments.

11.11.2007 

 Dear Sir, 

Email appended below would apprise you with another story on the working style of govt. agencies. This time it is MTNL. 

Within hours of sending email, I  received a telephone call at 10.30 AM (same day) from Gulabi Bagh Sanchar Haat asking me to collect the free Trump connection (with lifetime validity and having initial talk value Rs. 50/- only). Then I visited the place and got the free connection without even submitting the original copy of the paid telephone bill which was earlier demanded. 

 If you find merit in the episode worth posting on blog site, please edit the contents of the attachment and post I wonder why so often I face such problems! Sometime I feel fed up.  Thanks & regards, 

J. R. LAL

 From: J. R. Lal

To: R. P. S. SINHA (CMD) ; Prem Singh (AM Idgah Exch) ; M. P. Singhal (GM Mob. Ser.) ; A. P. Handa (GM Accounts) ; A. K. Srivastava (GM East) ; A. K. ARORA (Exec. Director)

Sent: Thursday, November 08, 2007 8:13 AM

 Subject: PROMOTIONAL OFFER FOR GIVING FREE TRUMP CONNECTION 

Date : 08.11.2007 

Dear Sirs, 

I came across to an advertisement issued by MTNL, Delhi which was published in The Hindustan Times of 05.11.2007. The advertisement reads – “Just visit your nearest Sanchar Haat, show your ID proof alongwith any one MTNL Landline paid bill of Rs. 500/- or above for the last 3 months and get Trump Jeevan Saathi Card absolutely free with life time validity.” 

2.    I am a landline phone customer and opted for TriB Phone Plan for tariff for using broad band internet service of MTNL. Under the plan, monthly bill, which I regularly pay, comes around Rs. 700/-. 

3.    Prompted by the above said advertisement I visited Sanchar Haat, DDA Market Gulabi Bagh, Delhi on 05.11.2007 at 01.45 PM. There I filled up the prescribed agreement form, completed requirements as told to me there and then presented to Mr. K. P. Singh, Section Supervisor. Ludicrous ‘Tamasha‘ at Sanchar Haat 

4.    After presenting the documents to Mr. K. P. Singh ‘tamasha‘ started which continued for about 1 hour and 15 minutes. 

            It started when I was asked to attach original paid copy of the telephone bill. In my view, it was a very peculiar demand as I believe, a receipt, issued in any form by a government department (including PSU) against a payment having been received cannot – as a principal – be demanded back from the payer. I also believe that no authority lower than government of India is competent to change that principal. However, having no option against the unlawful demand, original copy of a paid bill was attached. 

           Then another point was raised. Mr. K. P. Singh told me that I cannot be issued the connection as the charges in the monthly bill for usage of telephone alone fall short of Rs. 500/-. To this I told you that there is no such stipulation in the said advertisement and also that I believe, the advertisement as published can neither be ambiguous nor misleading. And, had there been any mention in the said advertisement that only telephone usage charges would be taken into account in case of bills for combined usage of telephone and internet services, I would not have visited the Sanchar Haat for the free Trump connection. 

            Mr. Singh then advised me to go to Idgah Exchange for the purpose to which I refused on the plea that advertisement has asked to visit Sanchar Haat and not the Telephone Exchange and I am complying with accordingly.  

            Then Mr. Singh asked me to talk to his superior officers over the telephone. I refused to do so believing that the customer is not supposed to be under such an obligation and it is for the service provider to depute or deploy such persons on such jobs who are well conversant with the latest schemes etc. and may convince the customers to their satisfaction.  

           Thereafter, Mr. Singh and another lone lady staffer there rang up many superior officers. To my surprise, none of them gave a firm direction whether to issue free Trump connection or not. Uncertainty continued to prevail keeping me at bay. After a while, some officer on the other side of the phone line told the lady staffer to issue the connection and she in turn passed on the message to Mr. Singh. Mr. Singh was still sceptic and continued with the telephone to contact the higher officers. At last, some one on the line advised Mr. Singh to get the matter clarified from MTNL’s helpline no. 1503. The lady who attended the call in between 03.05 and 03.15 PM told Mr. Singh to take into account telephone usage charges only for issue of free Trump connection. After that Mr. Singh rejected my case.

             On reaching my residence, I also rang up helpline 1503 around 03.45 PM and the male staffer who attended to my call at position no. 25, told me that for getting the clarification on the issue, I have to wait for 2 days. 

           It also came to my notice that upto 02.45 PM, Gulabi Bagh Sanchar Haat was not authorised to issue free Trump connection under the said scheme and at the same time 02.45 PM the concerned staff was also instructed to issue such free connections to the eligible customers of their area only. 

 Expectations of the customers 

 5.    In the interest of customers and save them from harassment at the hands of uninformed or little informed staff deputed for public dealing, suitable measurements like the ones stated below are utmost necessary for improvement in the service delivery system :- *  In future text of the MTNL’s advertisements should be drafted in unambiguous manner which may not mislead either the customer or the MTNL’s dealing staff as is evident in the present case. 

*   Terms and conditions must be clearly specified.

 *   There must be proper planning and preparation before announcement of a scheme. 

 *   There must not be any communication gap and the scheme on launch must be clear upto grassroots level well in time.

 *   Concerned officers and staff should also keep themselves updated on the schemes. 

 *   Public dealing staff must be properly trained.

 *   Service must be provided in accordance with specified standards of service delivery devoid of harassment and inconvenience to the customers.

 *   Demand should not be made for submission of original receipted copy of the bill as the same is believed to ultra vire the basic financial laws (the GM (Accounts) may kindly look into it and issue suitable instructions to all concerned).

 Request In view of the above I request you to please look into the matter and get me issued free Trump connection under the scheme. In case I am not considered eligible for the same kindly inform me suitably. Looking forward for a favorable reply.

 Wish you Happy Diwali 

Yours faithfully, 

JAG ROSHAN LAL

 

RTI: CIC Pulls up MCD Delhi


   The Central Information Commission has pulled up the Municipal Corporation of Delhi for not giving information to an applicant under the Right to Information Act.

   Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah in his decision observed that the public information officer (PIO) appears to have denied information with malafide intention and that he also did not comply with the orders of the first appellate authority despite the passage of a whole year. In the decision, the CIO said, “However, since it is the responsibility of the first appellate authority to ensure that the orders passed by it are duly complied with by the PIO, the commission, therefore, has decided to remand the case back to the first appellate authority Raj Mohan Singh, additional commissioner (HQ), to ensure that his orders under section 19(1) are duly com plied with by issue of certified copies as sought and holding of site inspection in terms of the order so passed, with the qualification that now, in accordance with Section 7(6) of the RTI Act, 2005, no fees will be charged for any further information provided.”

   In this case, one G.B. Singh had submitted a series of applications to the DC, MCD, Shahdara (south zone), concerning alleged violation of high court orders and lay out plans for Mausam Vihar and Sukh Vihar colonies in Delhi. In all these cases responses had been received.

   However, not satisfied with these responses appellant, Mr Singh moved appeals before additional commissioner (HQ), who is also the first appellate authority Mr Raj Mohan Singh. In his order, the first appellate authority, Mr Singh directed as follows: “The public information officer is directed to provide the desired information to the appellant and settle the issue after inspection of site in question and personal hearing to the appellant.”

   On a representation on non-compliance submitted to him, Mr Raj Mohan Singh issued further orders directing that a compliance report be submitted to him within five days from the date of issue of his notice.

Asian Age 11 Nov 07

Andher Nagari : West Bengal


Medha Patkar attacked by CPI-M men

 Kolkata: Narmada Bachao Andolan leader Medha Patkar was today punched and roughed up by supporters of the Communist Party of India-Marxist (CPI-M) when she was on her way to trouble-torn Nandigarm.

 According to Bolan Gangopadhyaya, who accompanied the social activist to Nandigram from here, the Left workers stopped their cars and attacked them at Kapashberia in East Midnapore district, about 125 km from Kolkata.

 “Medha Patkar herself was punched and roughed up by men who kept shouting ‘CPI-M will not allow Medha Patkar to enter Nandigram’,” Gangopadhyaya told IANS over phone from Kapashberia.

 Patkar’s supporters were in two cars, preceded by two escort cars provided by the police, when they were attacked.

 Bolan alleged the windowpanes of both cars were smashed and they were roughed up while the policemen in the escort cars watched passively.
 The activists later squatted on the road to protest the attack, blocking the busy highway between the state capital and the industrial-cum-port township of Haldia.
 The local Superintendent of Police S S Panda said he could not confirm the attack immediately, though he knew police escort cars were accompanying the group.
 Patkar decried the attack, describing it as “an assault on democracy”.
 She had arrived in Kolkata and had headed straight for strife-torn Nandigram saying she could not remain aloof in the face of “gross violation of civil and human rights” there.

 Patkar had anticipated trouble. “I am aware that police will stop me from entering Nandigram, but since there is gross violation of civil and human rights there I cannot remain aloof,” she had told newspersons at the airport.

 “We have to find peace in Nandigram and end the bloodbath there. We have to restore human rights,” Patkar said while complimenting the efforts of West Bengal Governor Gopal Krishna Gandhi to bring peace in Nandigram.

 Launching a massive offensive against the Trinamool Congress-backed Bhumi Uchched Pratirodh Committee (BUPC), the CPI-M regained its lost bases in Nandigram this week as fresh violence claimed four lives and left several injured in the area since Tuesday.

 As violence escalated in Nandigram, veteran CPI-M leader Jyoti Basu changed his stand in support of central forces on Wednesday. He said deployment of Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) in Nandigram should be postponed and talks initiated with opposition Trinamool Congress leader Mamata Banerjee to find a political solution.