Anarcho-environmentalism allegorised

The name Anaarkali in the present context has many meanings - Anaar symbolises the anarchism of the Bhils and kali which means flower bud in Hindi stands for their traditional environmentalism. Anaar in Hindi can also mean the fruit pomegranate which is said to be a panacea for many ills as in the Hindi idiom - "Ek anar sou bimar - One pomegranate for a hundred ill people"! - which describes a situation in which there is only one remedy available for giving to a hundred ill people and so the problem is who to give it to. Thus this name indicates that anarcho-environmentalism is the only cure for the many diseases of modern development! Similarly kali can also imply a budding anarcho-environmentalist movement. Finally according to a legend that is considered to be apocryphal by historians Anarkali was the lover of Prince Salim who was later to become the Mughal emperor Jehangir. Emperor Akbar did not approve of this romance of his son and ordered Anarkali to be bricked in alive into a wall in Lahore in Pakistan but she escaped. Allegorically this means that anarcho-environmentalists can succeed in bringing about the escape of humankind from the self-destructive love of modern development that it is enamoured of at the moment and they will do this by simultaneously supporting women's struggles for their rights.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Whither Human Rights

Here is a post by Venkatesh Nayak of the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, Delhi to mark Human Rights day -
Today is Human Rights Day. Last year, on 8th December, noted RTI activist Mr. Ram Vilas Singh, aged 55 years, was murdered by a group of armed men in Lakhisarai district of Bihar. I had sent out an email alert about this tragic incident last year. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) took notice of this incident and issued notice to the Deputy Inspector General of Police (Human Rights), Bihar seeking a report on the incident. It is heartening to note that the NHRC is still seized of this matter. 
Last week I received a communication from the NHRC attaching a report from the Sub-divisional Police Officer (SDPO) of Lakhisarai containing details of action taken regarding this incident of murder. According to the SDPO’s report, a first information report (FIR) was filed on the basis of information given by the Late Ram Vilas Singh’s son who is an eye witness to the murder. Three accused were identified by name. Two others were mentioned in the FIR as accomplices of the accused but could not be identified in the melee. The SDPO’s investigation report identifies the remaining two accused by name. A chargesheet has been filed in the trial court in January this year. The police has arrested only two of the accused. The remaining three accused have been declared absconders and the trial is on against the two accused. The main accused Rakesh Kumar Singh alias Bambam Singh remains untraceable along with two of the accomplices. The main accused in this case is also wanted for trial in relation to other murders committed earlier. It may be recollected here that the Late Ram Vilas Singh had filed several RTI applications with the State Election Commission and various authorities in the Police Department asking why the main accused was not being arrested despite him moving around freely and committing offences during elections to local bodies (panchayats) last year. The SDPO’s report clearly speaks of a conspiracy to eliminate the Late Ram Vilas Singh due to his RTI activism. The conspiracy is said to have been hatched by one of the accused in this case who was spending time in jail on account of being an accused in another murder case.
The latest report of the SDPO attached to the communication received from the NHRC also recognizes that he was an RTI activist and that further investigation into the conspiracy angle is necessary to ascertain the involvement of other people who were adversely affected by the Late Ram Vilas Singh’s RTI activism. The SDPO has hinted to a larger conspiracy hatched to eliminate the RTI activist without mentioning names of any suspects.
In May this year while attending a seminar organized at the Indian Institute of Public Administration, New Delhi, the Secretary of the Bihar State Information Commission publicly disagreed that Late Ram Vilas Singh’s murder was linked to his RTI activism when I raised this issue. However the police reports clearly establish this link. Upon enquiring with the Late Ram Vilas Singh’s son and heir I found out that the Bihar State Information Commission has not sent any orders in the second appeals and complaints filed by the Late Ram Vilas Singh. Many of these matters related to seeking reasons for the inaction of the law enforcement authorities in apprehending the main accused. Civil society actors have always demanded that in all such cases of physical attacks and murders the relevant Information Commission ought to order disclosure of the information sought. This would frustrate the attempts of the vested interests who plan the attacks to prevent disclosure of the requested information. Is the Bihar State Information Commission listening?
 I am required to file comments on the SDPO’s report with the NHRC within eight weeks (by 25th January, 2013). I request readers to send suggestions for next steps in this case. Please send suggestions as to how to make the Bihar State Information Commission order disclosure of information in all the matters filed by the Late Ram Vilas Singh pending before them instead of denying the RTI link to the murder.
In a recent development the Supreme Court has refused to issue any directions for protecting RTI users and whistleblowers reasoning that law and order was a subject lying squarely in the domain of the States. The related news item is accessible at:
So who then will defend and protect human rights defenders such as RTI users, anti-corruption crusaders and whistleblowers of wrongdoing in Government? Should they be at the mercy of that very Government whose functionaries harass them or even cause their murder in collusion with criminal elements?
Venkatesh Nayak
Programme Coordinator
Access to Information Programme
Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative
B-117, First Floor, Sarvodaya Enclave
New Delhi- 110 017, INDIA
Tel: +91-11-43180215/ 43180201
Fax: +91-11-26864688
Alternate Email:

This is a telling commentary on the difficulty of ensuring human rights when the State itself is in collusion with those who violate it and a clear indication of the limitations of rights based activism within a larger set up of capitalist exploitation and disregard for the rule of law by the State behind a facade of liberal democracy.

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