SPECIAL COVERAGE
CHANDIGARH

LUDHIANA

DELHI



THE TRIBUNE SPECIALS
50 YEARS OF INDEPENDENCE

TERCENTENARY CELEBRATIONS
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N A T I O N

J&K police should take more responsibility: PC
New Delhi, July 1
Describing the situation in Jammu and Kashmir as fragile, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today favoured the state armed police taking over more responsibilities concerning law and order.

Prez Entourage Mishap
Probe blames IAF pilots, ATC
New Delhi, July 1
The three IAF choppers carrying President Pratibha Patil and her entourage had landed without clearance even as an Air India aircraft was readying for take off, a joint investigation team constituted to investigate the near-collision at the Mumbai airport has found.

Naxalite Menace – IX
Maoists’ ‘women power’ awesome
It is estimated that over 40 per cent of the Red rebel cadre members are women. Most of them are poor and illiterate tribals. But there are many law graduates, doctors, engineers and IT professionals, who have come from different parts of the country to participate in the ‘people’s war’ against the state and ‘eliminate’ corrupt government machinery.



EARLIER STORIES

Another Maoist bastion falls
Dharampur (WB), July 1
Security forces today recaptured this Maoist bastion, out of bounds for police for the past eight months, in a two-pronged drive as the tribals offered them no resistance in the fourth phase of operations to reclaim areas held by Left wing ultras.

West coast faces terror threat: PC
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajashekar Reddy hoists flag as Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Andhra Pradesh Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy look on at the inauguration of the NSG regional hub in Hyderabad on Wednesday. Hyderabad, July 1
Intelligence inputs indicated terror threat to country’s west coast, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said today. He, however, hastened to add that it did not mean there would be an imminent attack. “There is an intelligence input indicating a terror threat to the west coast and, as per the practice in recent past, we have shared all inputs with Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra,” he said.
Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister YS Rajashekara Reddy hoists flag as Union Home Minister P Chidambaram and Andhra Pradesh Home Minister Sabita Indra Reddy look on at the inauguration of the NSG regional hub in Hyderabad on Wednesday. — PTI

Not read Liberhan report yet: PC
New Delhi, July 1
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today said he would not make any comment on the report of the Liberhan Commission on the demolition of the Babri Masjid until he had read it.

Property rights for slum dwellers
New Delhi, July 1
The government is planning to empower slum dwellers and urban poor by according property rights to them.

Pawar woos Sonia ahead of Assembly poll
Mumbai, July 1
After refusing to accept the leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the Lok Sabha polls just six weeks ago, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar is now wooing the Congress ahead of the Maharashtra assembly polls.

Mamata may go for minimum fare cut
New Delhi, July 1
Mamata Banerjee has a tough job of living up to the expectations of the people as she presents the Railway Budget on Thursday in her second avatar as the Railway Minister of the country.

Slap by MP puts Cong in a spot
Hyderabad, July 1
The ruling Congress found itself in an embarrassing position after its MP M Jagannatham was caught on camera slapping a bank official for not sanctioning loans to Dalit beneficiaries.

Varun’s election challenged
Allahabad, July 1
A petition was today filed in the Allahabad High Court challenging the election of Varun Gandhi from the Pilibhit Lok Sabha seat for allegedly seeking votes by spreading hatred against members of a particular community.

Obituary
A crusader Punjab will remain indebted to
Ram Narayan Kumar, one of the finest human rights researchers, activists and campaigners in South Asia, passed away on June 28 at his house in Kathmandu. His death at a relatively young age of 54 has sent shock waves among all those struggling for justice and fairness in South Asia.

 





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J&K police should take more responsibility: PC
Ashok Tuteja
Tribune News service

New Delhi, July 1
Describing the situation in Jammu and Kashmir as fragile, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today favoured the state armed police taking over more responsibilities concerning law and order.

Addressing a press conference to unveil the second action plan for his ministry under the 100-day agenda, he said he had a talk with Chief Minister Omar Abdullah and was informed that the CRPF had been withdrawn from Baramulla. “We have a young chief minister in the state who must be supported to tackle the situation.”

Observing that different people were working on different agendas in Jammu and Kashmir, he said it was the Centre’s endeavour to help the state government in every possible manner to deal with the situation.

About the demand to repeal the Armed Forces Special Power Act (AFSPA) in the state, he said the Centre was looking into that. “The matter is being examined and we are yet to take a final call on it,” he added. There were also suggestions to restrict the scope of the Act in the state.

He said he visited the state on June 11-12 when a decision was taken to redraw the lines of responsibility among the Army, paramilitary forces and the state police.

Regarding the action against the Maoists in Lalgarh, he said the operations were still on. The central paramilitary forces, with the assistance of the West Bengal Police, had been able to reclaim most of the territory that was dominated by the Naxals for around 8 months.

“We reiterate the principle that the primary responsibility for maintaining law and order rests with the state government. If the state government makes a request for assistance, the Centre will provide adequate number of personnel from the central paramilitary forces,’’ he added.

He also spoke about the setting up of the NSG hubs at Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata to quickly respond to any terrorist attack.

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Prez Entourage Mishap
Probe blames IAF pilots, ATC
Vibha Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 1
The three IAF choppers carrying President Pratibha Patil and her entourage had landed without clearance even as an Air India aircraft was readying for take off, a joint investigation team constituted to investigate the near-collision at the Mumbai airport has found.

The team also blamed the ATC, saying that “late transfer of control of aircraft from approach to lower” was one of the factors behind the “serious incident”.

The committee said there was “unsatisfactory coordination among various agencies” and the three IAF choppers in the Pratap formation landed without clearance from the ATC.

“There is no common SOP between the IAF and the AAI for VVIP operations,” the committee said in a statement issued on Wednesday.

The team constituted on February 19 to investigate the near-miss on February 9 at the Mumbai airport submitted its report to the Ministry of Civil Aviation, giving several recommendation, including better coordination in future amongst government agencies involved in VVIP operations.

However, it clearly said three helicopters in the formation - Pratap 1, 2 and 3 - had landed without clearance.

“Landing of Pratap 2 directly at the place of landing on Runway 27 by making a very short circuit and landing of Pratap 2 without landing clearance from the ATC even before the Pratap formation reported the finals” were among factors attributed to the serious incident.

Incidentally, soon after the incident the then Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major had given his pilots a clean chit, saying they were among the best in the Air Force.

The committee said, “there was a difference of opinion and understanding about the VFR circuit (route procedure) to be followed especially for helicopters between IAF and AAI.”

The investigating team said the Mi-8 and Mi-17 helicopters were not equipped with FDR and other safety equipment which are installed in civil version of these helicopters.

It has now been recommended that helicopters and aircrafts used for VVIP flights must have DFDR, CVR with multi channels, GPWS, TCAS and other safety equipment used on similar civil helicopters and aircrafts.

The committee recommended that AAI and IAF designate senior-level officers for effective coordination for such movements.

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Naxalite Menace – IX
Maoists’ ‘women power’ awesome
Our Roving Editor Man Mohan writes from Bacheli (Chhattisgarh)

It is estimated that over 40 per cent of the Red rebel cadre members are women. Most of them are poor and illiterate tribals. But there are many law graduates, doctors, engineers and IT professionals, who have come from different parts of the country to participate in the ‘people’s war’ against the state and ‘eliminate’ corrupt government machinery.

“I am totally illiterate and belong to a very poor family but after working with my Comrade brothers and sisters, I now fully know my civil rights," a 24-year-old tribal woman told this correspondent.

A short meeting with her was arranged in a house near a ‘haat’ (weekly market), some kms from here by a local contact. She had travelled a long distance through dense forest to actually buy medicines from Bacheli, carrying a list of drugs given by her ‘Comrade leader.’

Asked whether she was scared of being caught in this town, “I am not afraid…no one knows here that I am a Naxalite...it won’t be easier to catch me,” she said with confidence, thumping at a pistol concealed under her dress.

A shopkeeper said, “When Naxal tribals come to buy things in this town, we immediately recognise them. They arrive separately with long lists to buy rations, medicines, electricity wires and batteries. We do not inform the police as they can’t protect us.”

The National Mineral Development Corporation’s huge Bailadila iron ore mines are located in this town and nearby Kirandul in South Bastar’s Dantewada district. The entire lush green jungle and hills around are under the Naxal control.

The police said they had received intelligence that more and more women have started joining the Maoist ranks. These women go about doing their routine household works while quietly taking part in Maoist plans. But there are women who live in Naxal camps, away from their families.

All women Naxalites have been given military training at camps located deep inside the jungles. Most of them carry weapons like pistols and AK-47 assault rifles.

Besides ambushing security forces and laying landmines, women Maoists are helping their men colleagues in carrying out dare-devil operations such as looting police stations and breaking jails to get ‘comrades’ released.

In the recent years, the Naxals have recruited a large number of women in Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, West Bengal, Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra. In the Bastar region, some of the area committees and tough guerrilla squads are headed exclusively by women.

Most of the women fighters are above 16. At many places in the Dandakaranya zone, the Maoist leadership has replaced men commanders with women. A powerful tribal woman leader was heading a ‘battalion’ in Narayanpur before she was arrested. By profession, she is a doctor.

The Maoist keep the image of their powerful ‘heroes’ alive. If one of them gets killed or arrested, his or her name is given to someone else to continue the myth that they are still running the show. So, there are many Nirmalas, Gauris and Rukmanis - leaders of hit-squads.

The Maoist drive to recruit women is so intensive that in many tribal belts the parents have sent their daughters away to secret locations. In some cases, the parents were killed for refusing to let their girls join the left wing movement. The Maoists reported to have also used force to take away girls. However, red rebels are concerned about extra-marital affairs among members and try to discourage them.

A large number of Naxal women are ‘over ground’ workers who visit villages to enroll new members and purchase essential items from ‘haats’ and towns. As women are generally not suspected, they mingle with the crowd easily to carry out subversive activities.

Frequent encounters with the police are leaving a large number of Naxals injured. Therefore, many women are now working in para-medical units. They have been trained to give first aid and do basic treatment like stitching wounds.

Like their men colleagues, women naxalites are also ruthless in killing the ‘enemy’ with sharp-edged weapons or firearms. However, during a Naxalite attack on a jail last year to free their comrade prisoners, some women attackers refused to fire at injured policemen. But such behaviour is said to rare. At some places, women Maoists have surrendered.

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Another Maoist bastion falls

Dharampur (WB), July 1
Security forces today recaptured this Maoist bastion, out of bounds for police for the past eight months, in a two-pronged drive as the tribals offered them no resistance in the fourth phase of operations to reclaim areas held by Left wing ultras.

The security forces in their 10-km advance to Dharampur in West Midnapore district only found felled trees at a number of places which were cleared by the payloaders accompanying the 10 companies, comprising around 1,000 men, DIG (Midnapore Range) Praveen Kumar told reporters.

The Maoists backing the tribal platform People's Committee Against Police Atrocities had torched a CPI-M office and razed a police outpost at Dharampur on June 14.

The team from Dherua to Dharampur was led by SP Manoj Verma and the other from Lalgarh to Dharampur by Kumar. "This was a major target. Dharampur had been out of bounds for the police for the past eight months," Kumar said.

Verma said police camps would be set up at Gouni and at Dharampur.

Asked how long the operations, launched on June 19, would continue, the DIG said, "We have specific targets. Until the targets are achieved, the operations will continue."

The forces were accompanied by anti-landmine vehicles and bulldozers. Kumar interacted with villagers en route to Dharampur.

Most villagers complained that they were not getting the 6 kg of rice provided free by the administration as they did not have ration cards.

Assuring full cooperation, Kumar said "We are on a social policing mission. The job of police is not to instill fear but to make villagers realise that we are their friends. I assurance that no injustice will be done." The security forces reclaimed Lalgarh on June 20, Ramgarh on June 27 and Kantapahari on June 29.

Meanwhile, five IAS officers under the reconstituted Task Force, sent by Chief Minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee to Lalgarh to assess the ground situation, visited Lalgarh, Ramgarh and Pirakata and other areas reclaimed from the Maoists. — PTI 

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West coast faces terror threat: PC
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 1
Intelligence inputs indicated terror threat to country’s west coast, Union Home Minister P Chidambaram said today. He, however, hastened to add that it did not mean there would be an imminent attack. “There is an intelligence input indicating a terror threat to the west coast and, as per the practice in recent past, we have shared all inputs with Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra,” he said.

He was speaking to the media after inaugurating the regional hub of the National Security Guard (NSG) here.

“These inputs are meant to prepare us in case the threat materialises. But, let me hasten to assure you that it does not mean there will be an imminent terror attack,” he said. Following the input, the western coastline had been put on alert, he added.

“Our first objective is to raise the level of preparedness to tackle any terror threat and the second one is to respond decisively in case of any terror attack,” he said.

Pointing out that the security of the people was the most important concern of any government, he said, “Our government, with the aid of the state government, is totally committed to providing security to the people.”

“Establishing NSG hubs will increase its flexibility and reach. Setting up NSG hubs does not mean that the terrorist threat has gone up in the country,” he said.

The Hyderabad NSG unit, set up on a 22-acre site at Tirumalgiri at a cost of Rs 37 crore, would initially have 241 commandos. Later, as a long-term project, the Central Government would establish a regional centre at Ibrahimpatnam, near Hyderabad, on the lines of Manesar, Haryana, Chidambaram said. It would then have a strength of 5,150 commandos, he added.

“Once established, the regional centre at Ibrahimpatnam will become a major training centre for all South Indian states for raising their own commando forces, anti-terrorist squads and quick-reaction teams,” he said.

The minister said the regional hubs would significantly enhance the country’s capability to tackle terror. “We have promised four such hubs in the country by June 30 and we have kept our promise by launching these at Mumbai, Chennai, Hyderabad and Kolkata within 24 hours,” he said.

“Now, the NSG should be able to reach any place in India without losing any time to deal with any terrorist attack or hijacking incident,” he said.

Chidambaram presented a scroll to Sandeep Sen, commander of the Hyderabad centre, marking the launch of the NSG hub. State Chief Minister YS Rajasekhar Reddy, Home Minister P Sabita Indra Reddy, NSG Director-General NPS Aulakh and other officials were present on the occasion.

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Not read Liberhan report yet: PC
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 1
Union Home Minister P Chidambaram today said he would not make any comment on the report of the Liberhan Commission on the demolition of the Babri Masjid until he had read it.

“I haven’t read the report so far. When I reached Delhi this afternoon, I saw a big bag lying in my office which contained the report. I am yet to go through it,” he told reporters here.

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Property rights for slum dwellers
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 1
The government is planning to empower slum dwellers and urban poor by according property rights to them.

Announcing a 100-day plan of action for her ministry, Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation(HUPA) Minister Kumari Selja on Wednesday said the government would develop a model legal framework for consideration by states and union territories for according property rights to slum dwellers and urban poor in the country, adding that “Rajiv Awas Yojana” envisaged a slum-free India in five years.

Selja said property rights meant an access to housing, adding that the scheme would focus on according rights to those living in slums and states would provide basic amenities such as water supply, sewerage, drainage, internal and approach roads, street lighting and social infrastructure facilities.

“We are proposing that master plans have to include reservation of land to build houses for the poor and also for their economic activities like street vending,” she added.

As per the plan, the property rights model will draw best practices both within and outside the country, which will be circulated to states to enable them to establish their own legal regulatory frameworks suiting local conditions.

The model legal framework for property rights proposes to include reservation of land for housing and informal sector activities by urban poor in city and zonal plans. It will cover provision of security of tenure and also making land available for affordable housing, basic amenities and informal sector activities though the process of urban planning. Admitting the past policy as faulty as it could not cater to the needs of poor people in urban areas, Selja said it had resulted in mushrooming of slums in cities. Master plans have led to exclusion of the poor from the city development process and driven them to precarious and illegal settlements, she said.

There are about 81 million urban poor or slum dwellers in the country as per the 2004-05 Census. HUPA also announced launching of a skill development programme for 10 lakh urban poor.

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Pawar woos Sonia ahead of Assembly poll
Shiv Kumar
Tribune News Service

Mumbai, July 1
After refusing to accept the leadership of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh during the Lok Sabha polls just six weeks ago, Nationalist Congress Party chief Sharad Pawar is now wooing the Congress ahead of the Maharashtra assembly polls.

The canny Maratha strongman surprised everyone on Tuesday evening when he suddenly proposed that the Bandra Worli Sea Link (BWSL) newly inaugurated by Congress president Sonia Gandhi be named after Rajiv Gandhi. Pawar then virtually ordered fellow NCP minister Vimal Mundada in charge of the Maharashtra State Road Development Corporation to name the structure by midnight.

But what struck everyone was the flowery language employed by Pawar to praise the late Prime Minister. “There can be no greater son of the soil, who can inspire the younger generation of Indians than Rajiv Gandhi,” Pawar said alluding to his birth in this city. The NCP leader went onto say that naming the BWSL after Gandhi was a tribute to his initiative to take India ahead in the sphere of technology as an emotional Sonia Gandhi looked on.

Pawar’s overtures to Sonia comes at a time when senior Congress leaders from Maharashtra led by Union Heavy Industries Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh are opposing a tie-up between the Congress and the NCP for the Maharashtra assembly polls.

However, Pawar is said to be making the best out of a bad bargain with his charm offensive to woo Sonia. According to NCP sources here, Pawar’s confidante and Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel has already begun talks with Congress leaders to stitch up alliance for the assembly polls.

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Mamata may go for minimum fare cut
Girja Shankar Kaura
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, July 1
Mamata Banerjee has a tough job of living up to the expectations of the people as she presents the Railway Budget on Thursday in her second avatar as the Railway Minister of the country.

If Lalu Prasad’s railway budgets were grand affairs, marked by across-the-board fare cuts, Mamata would not have the freedom to be lavish in the affair.

Present economic conditions do not leave her with much scope for either large-scale fare concessions or an across-the-board increase in freight rates. Besides, Prasad has already announced a two per cent reduction in passenger fares in the interim Railway budget that he presented in February last.

So, despite the fact that Mamata would like to present a populist budget, she would have her hands tied and may concentrate on other areas like improving passenger amenities and pushing for more of Public-Private-Partnerships (PPPs) in railway projects.

Reports emerging from the Rail Bhawan say that except for some token reduction in passenger fares and freight concessions for a couple of sectors, the railway budget may not have any significant impact.

With Mamata's main focus being on passenger comfort, reports suggested that there may not be any major changes in passenger fares or freight rates. In line with her pro-poor stand, however, special fares for below-poverty-line (BPL) families is expected to be announced.

While Lalu worked well to generate more revenues for the Railways, Mamata has promised to modernise the rail network and announced special monthly passes at Rs 20 for those with monthly income below Rs 500, besides a new train for West Bengal.

She is expected to announce an insurance scheme for rail passengers also in an effort to reach out to the ‘aam-aadmi’.

There might be benefit for some sectors on the freight side with cement and steel leading the pack. But on the whole there would not be much change in the freight rates as the Railways has already revised the freight loading target for the financial year from 910 million tonnes to 880 million tones as a result of downturn.

Reports suggested that she may revoke the order by Prasad on issuance of lifetime complimentary passes to Railway Ministers. An order dated May 19 from the Railway Board had stated that a former Railway Minister would get a first class air-conditioned complimentary card pass for himself with three companions in the same class.

She feels this is a strain on the railway finances besides denying berths to common people and would like to bring about some change in it.

She is expected to announce a couple of new projects and some trains for West Bengal, but is not expected to take away Prasad’s pet projects from Bihar. He spoke to her about the same some days ago.

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Slap by MP puts Cong in a spot
Suresh Dharur
Tribune News Service

Hyderabad, July 1
The ruling Congress found itself in an embarrassing position after its MP M Jagannatham was caught on camera slapping a bank official for not sanctioning loans to Dalit beneficiaries.

Jagannatham, who represents Nagarkurnool Lok Sabha constituency in Mahaboobnagar district of Andhra Pradesh, had entered into a heated argument with Ravinder Reddy, a branch manager of A P Grameen Vikas Bank.

In a fit of rage, the Dailt MP thrashed the official. The local news channels repeatedly aired the footage showing the attack which occurred at Uppununtala in Mahaboobnagar district on Monday.

Taking a serious note of the incident, the Congress high command sought an explanation from the MP who, however, maintained that the bank official had misbehaved with him. The AICC General Secretary in-charge of AP Veerappa Moily described the incident as unfortunate and said an explanation had been sought from Jagannatham.

“I did not beat him intentionally. I had received several complaints that he was deliberately holding back the loan applications of the scheduled caste and scheduled tribe beneficiaries. When I myself went to the bank to enquire about the situation, this official was in an inebriated condition and was not giving proper replies,” the MP said.

The bank manager said the MP’s behaviour was “quite unbecoming”. “He could have complained to my bosses if I am negligent in discharging my duties. This is not the way to treat a public servant," Reddy said.

Based on his complaint, the police booked a case against the MP under IPC Sections 353 (assault or use of criminal force to deter a public servant from discharge of his duty), 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) and 504 (insulting).

On behalf of the MP, a counter-complaint was filed against the bank manager under the Prevention of Atrocities against SC/STs by two local youth.

According to eye-witnesses, Jagannatham pulled the manager from his chair by holding his shirt and slapped him. The MP flew into a rage following complaints from applicants against the bank manager regarding non-release of loan amounts.

Meanwhile, the AP Regional Rural Banks Employees Association (APRRBEA) demanded apology from the MP and an assurance that such attacks would not recur.

As a mark of protest, the staff of rural banks wore black badges and staged demonstrations before offices of District Collectors across the state.

The Association said it would take up the matter with Prime Minister, Lok Sabha Speaker and the chief minister. 

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Varun’s election challenged

Allahabad, July 1
A petition was today filed in the Allahabad High Court challenging the election of Varun Gandhi from the Pilibhit Lok Sabha seat for allegedly seeking votes by spreading hatred against members of a particular community.

The election petition has been filed by V M Singh, Congress candidate from Pilibhit, who is also the maternal uncle of Varun.

According to Singh’s advocate and chairman of UPCC legal cell U N Sharma, it has been submitted in the petition that Varun “had tried to seek votes by spreading hatred against members of a particular community which amounted to corrupt practice as defined under Section 123 (3) of the Representation of People Act”.

Moreover, the petition alleged that the “date and time” of filing of nominations mentioned in Varun’s papers “coincided with a rally addressed by him in Bareilly, which amounted to providing false information in the affidavits”.

A plea has, hence, been made to declare the elections as null and void, Sharma added.

Varun, who made his electoral debut from the seat which was earlier represented by his mother Maneka, was in the eye of the storm for allegedly making hate speeches during an election rally in Pilibhit and was held under the National Security Act. — PTI

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Obituary
A crusader Punjab will remain indebted to
Pritam Singh

Ram Narayan Kumar, one of the finest human rights researchers, activists and campaigners in South Asia, passed away on June 28 at his house in Kathmandu. His death at a relatively young age of 54 has sent shock waves among all those struggling for justice and fairness in South Asia.

His first major confrontation with the state power was in 1975 when he opposed the authoritarian Emergency regime in India and was imprisoned for 19 months for his political act of defiance to defend democracy.

Although he worked in almost all regions of India where violation of human rights was taking place such as Kashmir, North East, Gujarat and eastern India, and even in the Middle-East against US interventions and Israeli aggression, his most remarkable contribution towards human right practices and documentation was in Punjab.

Coming from a South Indian Brahmin family, he had no personal link with Punjab. However, the anti-Sikh riots in Delhi in 1984 pushed him into the study of Punjab and its troubles. He never abandoned Punjab after that.

It is deep reflection of his humanity that he spent about 15 years of his life studying and documenting human right violations in Punjab, a state with which he had no other relation, except the bond of humanity. He travelled to remote villages of Punjab to hear the painful stories of victims of human right violations, expressing solidarity with them and bringing their plight to people’s notice.

He had phenomenal knowledge of Punjab’s history, politics, geography, culture, civil and police administration and its troubled relationship with the federal Centre in Delhi. He was meticulous in his research to the point of obsession, never compromising on the empirical evidence of his claims. His work on disappearances in Punjab “Reduced to Ashes” is destined to become a classic in literature on disappearances and the brutality of state power. He published a pioneering paper on the institutional flaws in human rights laws and practices with reference to Punjab in “International Journal of Punjab Studies”.

His last book on Punjab was “Terror in Punjab: Narratives, Knowledge and Truth” (2008) and it is some solace to me that my review of this book was published in the June, 2009, issue of “Himal South Asia” magazine (Kathmandu) and Ram was able to see that review.

Ram, as he was affectionately called, was an inspiration to human right activists not only in India but also in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal. Some of the key dons of Harvard Law School recognised from an international perspective Ram’s contribution to furthering the cause of defending the vulnerable and the weak in India and South Asia.

He is survived by his wife Gertie, daughter Cristina, sister Sita and brother Gopal, all living in Austria. He will be cremated in Kathmandu as per the wishes of his family.

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