Life and Death: Defending Land Rights in India is a Dangerous Job

JFIF;CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 80 C   %# , #&')*)-0-(0%()(C   ((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((((( " }!1AQa"q2#BR$3br %&'()*456789:CDEFGHIJSTUVWXYZcdefghijstuvwxyz w!1AQaq"2B #3Rbr $4%&'()*56789:CDEFGHIJSTUVWXYZcdefghijstuvwxyz ?)SwBN xbu QJ() P)R(@РS!8 @)⁊=E ))S!QR jz@8 pN)P8 CEH zCQMQR(TRUiUjUZCEXjJHv-j]©ҸA$U LVE@SqvQlNWFʳԮbҕl4JiJRR SJVS(Ie%0): gSU~µ]kƭG6%U}[p8'qUaQ%j6Z+0Vj&aLDL*2*b)S-F¬Q "aV l@E4S$SHHDE4if¤"EBG440 *b(B*SLjcThSM8MiiSi)a4iiM4M"E!)E!) 0LSS4S )S(H)E8S(( 8 8 @S(Sx1E=E 1T)*EpH< C z@)R@Q@(PSTT*X(Qi*e*EƅEiPTʔ5V)"KeyZc'4LW4Kyt:C*yt:҈c0@SJU'ޘ`TLyҠeMe-P[t1yCkƣycI9>$x㽱85agd:x^Eh[ ˸FxCNjǢ|"E޳Ɲ\[ 9dc܃{ڽ x qxRfQ=H  {Y5vvW aV+SȪ*V(")TSM1LaRM"$j&\U)Y0Y+Qҵ9Zc-BE0iB*R)""jR)(*SL"sL"""""jV(O4)aO4()SȤȤ4)P 4!ya4M"i)ؤ 7@( 8RNSHbzTSC4  !D 厥Dc):R H :QYӂP2GL1J@F:kGW|Ҁ(:T~D(BW]+-t8{Jj ҝ)U,VU /Yt~?3=Ͼk3k4/B $* ?s]=!'֮Y=K#iVu'wb0ѻGq@ye7ZZuXUVaQVTl*+SLaLSLDdSH5dDTl*b)S R0LȦ5HE1FE0DSMHE4b"ja 4dS 0dS HiȦRiRL4 0izM4i 44MC@ "E!Ju% :)S" p pN()€)P04S!O4LC 4yi 0ii4M4 ayayhCN4`4ihi1HS D )P)P0()P8 @8RN p`J@8S5i€MQOQHcMHxx49jE-H(R-1EHEJԩHd*UTPQ2 THhu^1Vcc,Ƶj5Uȩ 51TQը cRSTSQ@(($;W ջ ufvfr{{VUj/3j4]Gb_o2oaާڼP`w1m}>F1><1k1pM%?^eI;ޡrBρ!YK˰9<+z+ZF[d8@F3Om̡0PQj^;u#x\vӏ {LĀI\c5|(i# &yԠ*r@Wz'_DG{tiα6k*^Sm~:sтvՎ(=p}*uB?ϩ}aWM ZH {4ۋ'ڴKLث.Zcl /l=f|1?s/>l]jle۹=N3;G^z,P>ivS>`]Jzt0,m[PmRqܩ/ogFV$#8z?kSW(1cz; !V\J-T5{ا[i1Z@>Vg┃G!n^(FQ>_׿XfH|n ]=ȩҠaSJP=Xz%vޥ~U@ 6 SLa@Z+ 4DSHb"""4) LEFEFiTi*CM4i!DE03@LaRa RFia)EFi"E0i!)SH@a)(VZ#Y]s>M ـ:ӮwH Jok2p <~'Xӫz6Iڐ)2rz{TċNNW%_ͬjek&m9%~]HvE鞃[q!V^S;R^鵽b8-e݇=}y;3[W:վl^F aTzҜeb{[1w>:)HH"51q՛߾.ѷ&t;tnjw\*kei볳9hc~;t&nkۇ'+n=OR$S! axJOoV[HDo90j*PyyZiMjs4y_սK+gNHr+.m",?z0E >`:?|tLdz#W$J"Qa^jQ2$T*6@T*6B#4R5Fa4iƘiiƘicS za9<6jJ,e5SW֬tkSq,IY'dʊrvFʵs ͖^<]\>~b#/kc)սOy]#(pjz}qNiztQmŷ%ՉibG =H_ ]*܏߸A\@qp>`djҽ};WlV5Mm՝J]GkHY5Imc}z^Ťb|3s,ajV>tOOj׳e$X][N?duU.UhmJ.i109?Ujkl"K?>91i +k43l?Χ#t_9q|JܙtұAϪ.em*znn TG>ßL;N7f\N;cG=?S9ݷXGoi*t pݳ:PB֪so1_>-E_͚=ۼw#eW>Y$i'yWlȖ`[/QGmk3Q.?%< 2;M^Hel 3wƹeg@)wB>2źz%Ng;c$@zUyYsֆ ֢):T.ys@. ^uC"PZ\tY*UaQ0L1jfZ H˜iM"i 4O4@Ȧl*2*SLaL4Ӎ%Fii#4)zRb4@M"4@L5!M< ii 4 &;ED|Lss:ƿuݼ,1?~F'?_YE6r#?ZwXU&)ުGl4.L:+39wbmƣ6#w=۠S]6ڎcHº9,OqeF8g5wtG3笙aX㛫%]X<{Y#W^!*0CJQڬ^m'ƭwuF{p~Q{X l.eUa $Fz1< roGo f<ƬnQTq,j2IHe </2qwq#<n`i(ʒ3RG(!JSKμ1Ż)UG:}"YYzO Jkh.%^77A~cVGiƱ`oLSϫA]4hƌoqb'egÚ MZ;QCA5m,D8s["U [~9)) %\{R4%齏g?.&fF!Pvi8ӽZ9nB "3 XMOXXQT1^T)ITYkBI9sSVɧ̜lM%VV.B8̀"^r}K-\zήm1|G]F2 նc+s]{YFuM5LT7=֡airOV?VsVZmׇ|9fF2K) ϩi1\+&5GP6# +$8Eu04I49ؤ'4M"P">iJ_5 S LD}@HZiTSS  Ơ"jaDL*6MFFiE0mL"4La 01ihM4MiI@ "EHiiE4 4Ӎ4M4Ӎ4HS4 4HSM-5f*nyzΑ;ܷdgX֤ q՝nz uו`1Z:Sծc??dvJr~f?v6 ps3cdI.,R0k(s.=N%s[Tb+gm9[c߂t]aqo 7^̐}:4f4?4i IIBhc_7]6>/͗^V֏}!BiM&wM&v晜RHNiDN)CP!a?uѺM&5Fi Lj"6ڥjf#TmLDmL4iyciiiiJSM4ii ii E44O4@ 4O4@ 4O4@n)ƛ@S @ )š)€)š)R pbӅ @8S4S8S4S )›Np h ( h viš)Ԇ8RhPi $+ky'"5,@I~'@ėFO- ;4qά|[nK?P׸ce)_CH, {V֝kF.}U].5VqÀ=59tBl\\k܍$>cH}q5ed;$ۄݎRƎml|G4 o$I*!zU;u V89T12 .vN7$ýs0Z-|,QBh֬?!a3#JVݾz󑎜HXEHaUFVfãhZmX%8I'' k+ 243sQc5h0%FhLњ4fM4BiM|~\9ƾ&h[VGlTOJBh4Ѐ&^[sy(¾>]gu?zjk˩nnigbNI5*+95-^dUXVATgNȦ[0q?QY?>Q#q ltb$pN7/#z+'j_ipQb 9^'-KAf%I3N>!7>Hj"j\"jr=Ȏ8TvI\;ץк ɘ4ڌG 3"Eq^ uam[~=O^,=[ DQYzRkG{ӁK¹2By'C3M.i3FhIHZMXG ԓGTYlxPoMNSMMMj9$Xѝ*$N5<^NtKI?oO)5m؄/:ncb"@?c~5g4 {ާDctD )eE0Ql` K)Ar,Kgy=Mm+*) 4rIv׍2Z8#E2Iϵ"{iXdPrz5-.ӝu5Փ] AL4P 4O5 ffa4MmNja!L44hiM4L4M4M4M4M4M4iqiy4SMM-!bm-!4N4@447@@()@ u @ )E Pu4S( QNR@8S4S8S4S()š)zɽlk=>fY)?Nz׺|au5{ vhgH]J:tJJ/*|.v~K+$k{ж9Z6H1H`^5:@n~X_νGV7uyL5y/11>4:|m\UHu$:$s$ |.-#M#|*]B<rTj=%'n?j@B"}I{Ig>_VGkkϬ{G<,譙Hq+?`hv<H}FP-: ;Gl?bGw3^鶗7to9+<-]R+M-1,a#~;onF* u\iEj+)hM`ZUv#O=I<ր4p  -34h4Q:i4M34fq٤74撓4B_1͏g3kk<[?L!liۄyr#M|i R]k\nd5̅ 쿀𯱵X ݅ݸ83F񃞙W+O,'kv( {09I9`dFܵHM0M4 )aހw-Zlgn HG$ ̐* [lygDE,I gæ#YHAȌ݀'dqٜc4p~FH@?^4fA!hLњcših M003L5#Tf 4N4LiicM4Қi4N4@ qiq46iƚhiƚh !4M4M4JJSI@(HSN v)q@)€)R-8 @RJ pR)E QIK@sFhSHחGUog~K40>\>n٧ M'ӱm bO2Ґ7G^x;VpZZJ(Km--.h—4Pi}4҃L(I@i3@f3Fhњfh;4f !4uE,@$ |bӴ־pd9Sx8ݷMҠm63y|\G>87s}~s\f CZ濿CGa=AoB1Ӡ+э|Mþk;k墆2sz~ ΋R"NP<.=ڸ]KP}RKv<.OsY<ށLf+4?Ei4L#nqLzGχmڲhr=ON%qsrz fc}PHea=8^i"CGF*@8BVV9iM%P4u4m)44PiSM4M8M1 jc #jaifihiƚhN4@ 4N4@ qMi1ҚJm!4NIJhGF- P)ԂQNO ANS@ )R@-( QJ( Z(Z((QJp4 p`@ SKIK@-%Rf43M.his`4!3@gLgLsFiS٥74ҥ&B՜U^[8bRp@&I+OO=OڦRQ˞>y"ILm}\.i)+﹪V4kXZI;sU473BAkA6NE-갬wt=@' qSJ'$5,DdE8*rRfq0jƮn85;/ v*+dS$򎪃ܒ^П6BCq4#YW U('$'CḼKآC4à8s5:**FQFP4]7B6g =HycOR~[Fp|XQYQEҔ.iD~#4W8 8T^YyMژj_Ay1l0ʜv Y_["$UÑ_h8=E};?PK߇q+fKWxz|ŇߥiMDևRCAL4I@ HiiZm! 4Ӎ4MLi iy`1>)m4K8yЯ~ |j)@;3G<.NJ);!]!94Q\EPRMiq4SFۑQQ@H_Oh0eG@Tck}=5Rv4bXKHFOQ=rk tAY4O4V!SMv>_Q捧)p_ukmOǒGh兜Km!,8^rkmQIEIC% &ROK,;sNSPDZ`}:\6>#'lGz@-vC޴tɴNP8e_|;j&M5_MPӭo 9%>2?XJLI@4C@i -!CJi 0i )`!ҚC@ii &i M8M0G4_[77N?篸$ Ql,J039%t83*)M&+J)ih-Ǫ ڒHҦR}9WWHGuC^kSi4M5iiM8M!SHhN4ҊZ( u&)hE-%--(ppRh u- QNQ@S\Q@ ZJZ)i)hRJZ) (KIE}u:e'u4AWqq?TQ6sYR*3ڔQ[^ _^#ҹ s*eXM+\xQo hp6Pռ5KKN+kd>¬AA qDcE ; .'[!mlL~vG2Wg+w#,Hx'5FXRPOS87&4;`OZEh(z҈O8OD&6~3ҫ')QL[NԾ!vuoccs2[k6碴N>p?W[cj 4RHh4C@ JZii4LM))(!4 CM4! JiME(R>6:ibY%7xU#4Aa&?7{RrHj-HӥM^ BrO¹2y&ޮD--6CRQ@z_5[dϑUoBh5|2IًHcDHh4#zTg H2Zli1+IU+:֔yVc07u4`G1& ߚ?gMޙ \jǶmBO#)2IoUjgRZr0x**v2?Z;ʈG?kYcvy'F܌ ҲzSM.iԮ;GjI\Qp.iEE]&65nyg0)t4fl A'C#Fˉ'SpG; ;waIE%Q i(M)4iIL4JM44JiIA-4i(iƸ+LvύFlPfWtqohJ:IӤfwgbK1'2nX(Q@Q@lIֲd/ҽ`u9 >w9iON`59t3t&E8Ђa1'^mxA.-.#B(ԃwmgתiӱ ?'CMNEbV-1ݫ+6A5}ZH`]4$!qFJqS4SH Q@PRҁ@ J( QE(QH)iZZJ(–RCS)E6P.i҃@RQKIE-Q@Q@ )i)hK@ KYz޻pypeS9v(אx{}~۲`JZO7Z<0I8kj>"k$,[^PjZ/{u5ăr 2d1R+n &jkUsܚ7.tN']8I %c]xIh \=~PblnA18lC鹍4QLHdLd{(!wn׍hTуSԦw}rnd4(>c% iӍ!!PH) p(p@(PbQER-%8 -( Z\R udaoDU=IG4ML4N4i)M%tœ)((ZQH))R QHRKP)@`.()hh-Q-t%20μuu @ɮ8uI;RROFy5&^&]>99T?3 0e # kꟄܚ##83 {s׵icP(3E.(QE1QEy+CSL]7oO⽏5 6,ձf=*REURYhH6\S~ue 4b`j)qO|D)g'WC#;#ԏJ(f(ڮu׷rk`]YyA񯝜^˙ŸZ}Y? ֲ-ii!sHZJQ]JSҐjCҦ~Sړ`L JSIsE-YxF?BҾ>K2pkYV pG)9ozqЁ) )CJi 1iҚi4N4`!өPMpmwqH>pܚX&pY?GT0Ims,YbrTUlQEQEQEQEQEQE|8RxoP.ўGFy\}(89s`H*FA5]:R> f ptwF-XCM4)i(h,Zu 8R Q@ N(((Z1F(> ʳx]~^KJ>4MxdVE|pycA֞H2Z%zV0Vm K⫒N?>+OZ;Lzom՜??_8)֝M'!@HM%%Q46yQH.H6CR" 9IVOّTXXߐ{? iܒ@++?WcK,\өھ֑Yi1tM㜓jH44}4֦c !C@ 4O4@ 4i 1 4i 4M8M0i)ƐM4Ӎ4ϟ SڀqH8a^w_F|fӖ2ZH/*α5 (((((('ү^)#$t9af' ޓs/ݳ+TN|X%-p'ѫnqWxkgH񎵥XohY=9Sgд^g|R𺭞Y ?)ti:Qg{HzFk~GTIzPh#E )EP1ih )Q@ )QE--P(({V~O!FJ(GypuT?rۨ 6(YKBZtӴ2>UIdE5g? >Zx6'YEީ*y¢uG}QZ (Q@CES 5|=^߂?(h6!U8j(} #\(cDǥL0E!L*p[TE}1 ARC`*ފ+)Kf!(EHJZ(@Q@-RQE"QC럳ķO-w_ua׿(rh !i(iQ@ 4QL4EIEh^)-H[m"ӏ־L} QEaEPEPEPEPEPI9 ؁lCw*&Uʚ8QELd: P^5f4Rr?nNz^oXCyfŠeK.(#
Warning: fopen( failed to open stream: HTTP wrapper does not support writeable connections in /home/newsweekme/public_html/wp-includes/class-wp-image-editor.php on line 428

A cyclone barrelled into the southeast coast of India on Monday, killing at least two people and bringing down trees and power lines as authorities moved tens of thousands of people from low-lying areas.

By Rina Chandran

MUMBAI, Dec 5  – Bhupendra Vira, an activist who tried to expose political links to illegal land dealings in Mumbai, was watching television at his suburban home one evening in October when he was shot dead.

Vira, 61, had sought information under India’s Right to Information Act on encroachments of public land and illegal land dealings in a city that has among the world’s priciest real estate. The arrest of a former civic official and his son in connection with the killing shocked the city.

A couple of weeks later in another case, Nandini Sundar, a Delhi University professor, was charged in the killing of an indigenous villager in the restive Bastar region.

Sundar had just written a book on indigenous people losing land to mining firms in eastern Chhattisgarh state.

The ensuing outcry led the state to assure the Supreme Court that those charged would not be arrested before an investigation, and that it would give advance notice to them before proceeding.

The two cases highlight harassment and deadly violence against land rights activists in India, campaigners say. Land is increasingly sought in India for industrial use and development projects, as one of the world’s fastest growing major economies expands.

“More land is being acquired for industry by the government, sometimes forcefully, while per capita land available is declining,” said E.A.S. Sarma, an activist and former bureaucrat who has campaigned against several land-acquisition projects.

“Meanwhile, people are also more aware of their rights and civil society is more active, even as states introduce new laws to speed up acquisitions. So the conflict level has risen in recent years,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Home ministry spokesman K.S. Dhatwalia said the ministry is aware of the incidents, including those involving Vira and Sundar, and “is taking all necessary actions as per procedure”.


In the fight for land and the environment, which UK-based watchdog Global Witness calls “a new battleground for human rights”, communities worldwide are locked in deadly struggles against governments, companies and criminal gangs exploiting land for products including timber, minerals and palm oil.

In 2015, more than three people a week were killed defending land, forests and rivers against industries in the deadliest year on record, according to Global Witness.

Of the 185 murders documented in 16 countries, India was among the top 10, with six deaths last year.

The cases involving Vira and Sundar are just the better known ones, say campaigners.

“Crimes against city-based activists receive more attention, so we have heard more of the professor and the Mumbai activist,” said Colin Gonsalves, founder of the Human Rights Law Network.

“But every day, many more are risking their lives in villages, in forests. They are fighting against the state and powerful corporations, and it is only going to get worse as our demand for land grows,” he said.

India is home to more than 104 million indigenous people, the largest such population in the world. Its fast-growing economy has led to increased demand for land for infrastructure and development, as well as for resources to feed its industry.

Conflicts related to land and resources are the main reason behind stalled industrial and development projects in India, affecting millions of people and putting billions of dollars of investment at risk, a report by the Tata Institute of Social Sciences said last month.

“Unfortunately, the government believes that activists who speak for land rights or defend tribal communities are obstructing development,” said Meenakshi Ganguly, South Asia director at Human Rights Watch.

“Instead of addressing concerns and providing proper rehabilitation and sustainable livelihoods to affected people, the state treats human rights defenders as irritants … (and) deems any criticism as anti-national,” she said.


Sundar’s book, ‘The Burning Forest: India’s War in Bastar’, published earlier this year, details the decade-long conflict between the state and Maoist rebels who claim to fight for the rights of poor farmers and landless indigenous people.

Sundar was also a petitioner in an earlier suit that led the Supreme Court in 2011 to order the disbanding of state-backed vigilante group Salwa Judum, which had been accused of human rights violations against indigenous people in Chhattisgarh.

This year, lawyers with a local legal aid group and journalists were harassed into leaving Chhattisgarh, while chemicals were flung at activist Soni Sori’s face, campaigners said.

“An atmosphere of fear has prevailed for many years … now, there’s an impunity that has emboldened police and politicians,” said Supriya Sharma, who has reported on the region for more than a decade.

Last month, the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) criticised Chhattisgarh officials, including the inspector general of police of Bastar, for the “unprecedented acts of hostility and indiscipline” against lawyers, journalists and rights activists.

A spokesman for the state chief minister said officials have addressed the Supreme Court’s concerns on the Sundar case, and that they will move forward with their investigation. The state has not yet responded to NHRC’s order, he said.

Despite greater impunity, there is also greater scrutiny of the government’s actions, said environment lawyer Ritwick Dutta, who has campaigned against projects in forest lands.

“It’s always been difficult to challenge the state, but because there is greater scrutiny, there is some element of fear of a backlash against investors and the state,” he said.

“The scrutiny has emboldened activists to stay the course.”


Social Streams



Facebook Comments

Post a comment