Friday, May 12, 2017

Chhattisgarh HC had praised suspended Dalit woman cop's battle on "irregularities, corruption, nepotism"

Varsha Dongre
By Our Representative
The Chhattisgarh government may have suspended Varsha Dongre, a Dalit police officer, for a Facebook post for seeking an end to custodial torture of adivasi women, but on August 26, 2016 the state High Court had praised her “persistence and tenacity” for “a long drawn out battle” which brought to surface “irregularities, acts of corruption, nepotism, favouritism etc.”
The observation was made in an 88-page judgment by chief justice Deepak Gupta on Chhattisgarh Public Service Commission (CPSC), in which the latter was asked to pay “costs of Rs.5,00,000 in the writ petition of Petitioner Ku. Varsha Dongre.”
Bringing this to light, several prominent citizens, including Medha Patkar of the Narmada Bachao Andolan, Aruna Roy of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, Prafulla Samantara of the Lok Shakti Abhiyan, Binayak Sen of the People’s Union for Civil Liberties and prominent Gandhian academic Sandeep Pandey, among others, have said, “Such officers must be valued and their concerns, which are in the interest of the people and rule of law must be addressed."
Seeking revocation of suspension orders of the “upright Dalit woman officer” Dongre, the letter by 35 prominent individuals to chief minister Raman Singh and governor Balram Das Tandon has demanded her reinstatement in the Raipur Central Jail, and inquiry by a retired High Court judge into the allegations levelled by her of torture of adivasis girls at police stations and jails.
Dongre, as assistant superintendent of Raipur Central Jail, published a post on her personal Facebook account last week (which she later deleted), wherein she expressed pain over the avoidable loss of lives (jawans, adivasis and Maoists) and stated that after all it is Indian citizens who are being killed in this mayhem.
The Facebook post
She wrote about the general displacement in the adivasis areas and alienation of adivasis from land, forests and rivers, in violation of constitutional safeguards, for corporate interests.
The most damaging part of the post was, her horrifying first-hand experience of witnessing the stripping, electric shock, sexual and other forms of torture of minor adivasis girls in police stations and jails, including how the breasts of some of them were squeezed to check if they are lactating (and, therefore, not Maoists!).
Even as expressing anguish over the recent killings of 25 CRPF jawans by Maoists, the letter insists, “The military counter-offensive to an essentially political problem is only jeopardizing the possibilities of peace in the region, for the ordinary adivasis.”
It says, “The state government cannot ignore or be a party to the gross violations of people’s rights in the name of ‘combing operations’ and combating Naxalism. Dongre’s post reinforces the worst face of this combat, i.e. inhuman torture of young adivasis girls, which by no stretch of argument can be justified.”
The letter adds, “We are of the considered opinion that akin to any other equal citizen of India, Varsha is entitled to her views, as long as they are within the framework of the Constitution of India. Having seen her posts, we are convinced that not only the views she put forth, but the manner in which she conveyed them were also well-within the constitutional limits.”

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