Saturday, March 12, 2011

Solidarity Alert: NREGA activist murdered--show your outrage!

On March 2,  National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA) activist Niyamat Ansari was murdered in Jharkhand. From what I am reading, it seems likely this murder involved a group comprised of Maoists and corrupt contractors. Whoever it was, the police need to take it seriously. For more information, there are details at the Action for Employment Guarantee website, which is worth visiting in any case. And here's a link to The Hindu's editorial on the subject.  

NREGA has enormous potential, but is deeply flawed, in part because of widespread corruption, in part  because it is underfunded. Barring a serious commitment on the part of the centre to enforce and expand NREGA, it falls to local activists to make this plan work at all. We cannot allow activists to be harassed and killed without, at the very least, a show of outrage. If you'd like to make your voice heard, here's one suggestion that came in a mail from a friend of a friend who is involved in this work:
Many of you know that a friend and NREGA activist, Niyamat Ansari was brutally murdered on 2 March, 2011. You can find details about Niyamat's work and his murder here. This includes videos of him, media coverage, statements of protest against his murder, etc. 
Several people have asked how they can help. Among other things that we are pursuing (e.g., compensation for his family, their safety, Bhukhan's safety), we feel that keeping up the pressure on the SP (Latehar) to arrest those named in the FIR is very important. Only one of the eight people named in this FIR has been arrested so far. It seems that the police is even aware of their whereabouts. The names of those in the FIR are: Shankar Dubey, Vijay Dubey, Purshottam Prashad, Vashisht Tiwari, Prem Chand Singh, Devas Singh, Arun Singh and Sudershan. Arun Singh has been arrested. Shankar Dubey is believed to be the ring-leader.

One of the ways in which one could keep the pressure up is to send an sms to the SP Latehar demanding the immediate arrest of these people. I am writing to request you to send him an sms and to ask others to send a message too. His number is 94317 06262.

You could word the message as you like. E.g.,

"We demand the immediate arrest of Shankar Dubey and others named in Niyamat's murder" or
"Arrest Shankar Dubey and others named in Niyamat's murder immediately",

or anything else you think is appropriate.
You could consider "signing" these messages, esp if you are sending it from outside of India, so that the SP knows that he is being closely and widely.
So why not send that SMS? It can't hurt.  If you live outside of India, you'll have to add a 91, I think. 

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