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New guideline sought for labelling parties `extremist' PDF Print E-mail

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Confederation of Human Rights (CHRO), Kerala, has called upon the state governments to develop a conviction-based system for branding a political or social outfit as "terrorist" or "extremist". Calling the bureaucratic labelling of parties or outfits as "terrorist" ludicrous, CHRO secretary Mukundan Menon said instead of some so-called intelligence reports recommending one or the other outfit as extremist, the state governments should go by the court convictions of a decade or two before branding a political or social organisation terrorist.
The demand came in the wake of the Kerala government bracketing Shiv Sena and the RSS with the PDP. Menon said this business of panting terrorists had become so hilarious that the Congress-ruled Karnataka has docketed the Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), a major coalition constituent of the Kerala government, in the extremist list.
Similarly, the Antony government had included RSS and Shiv Sena in Kerala in the terrorist list. When the Sena spokesman pointed out that the Sena MP was the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Sena was a ruling party in India, Chief Minister A.K. Antony asked the Home ministry to recast the list remarking that the had no great faith in the methodology of branding outfits extremists.
The CHRO therefore asked the state government to bring out a white paper containing full details of court verdicts of the past 20 years to show which activists of the 13 organisations branded extremist were found guilty.

Wednesday, September 18, 2002, Times of India

Suspicious death of a French lady citizen at Matha Amrithanandamayi "Ashram" in Kerala PDF Print E-mail
August 27, 20002 Through : Fax : 011-6872305 and Speed Post

The Ambassador
Embassy of France
2/50-E, Shantipath
NEW DELHI-110 021

Your Excellency :

            Sub.  Suspicious death of a French lady citizen at Matha Amrithanandamayi "Ashram" in Kerala

We, the following concerned citizens - (Balachandran Chullikad, Br. Reny George, Dr. Sebastin Paul (Ex-M.P.), Dr. M. S. Jayaprakash, Prof.P. Koya, Dr. Febeena Seethi, Dr. P. Muraleedharan, Dr. Abdul Salam,Prof. Shaji Kadamala, Sr. Anniee Punnoose, and Mukundan C. Menon) --submit the available details pertaining to the mysterious death of a French lady citizen, Ms. Caroline Abitbole, o­n August 05, 2002, at "Amrithapuri Ashram" of Matha Amrithanandamayi at Vallikavu, Kollam District, Kerala State.

Apart from  newspaper reports, our attention was particularly drawn to the incident by a two-column advertisement inserted by her husband Dr.Rajen Ragavan (1, ALEEDUMONT AUX DROUX, 71140 BOURBON-LANCY, FRANCE) in a couple of Malayalam dailies o­n August 10, 2002.  Claiming Ms.Caroline's death as suicide, Dr. Ragavan's  advertisement  curiously warned that legal action would be initiated against anybody who "irresponsibly spread or publish wrong information" pertaining to his wife's death.

The suspicion over Ms. Caroline's death was aroused since earlier news reports said that her body, after falling from the 8th floor of a building within the "Ashram" premises, was found with the head separated from the body  --  which is a near impossibility in such suicidal deaths.   Apart from this,  at least a dozen  suspicious deaths of inmates/devotees, both of Indian and foreign origin, had taken place in the same "Ashram" in recent years.

Barring  Dr. Ragavan's warning,  his claims in the lengthy advertisement are self-contradictory to raise numerous questions begging answers.   Some of them are : -

First para of the advertisement said : "My wife was a psychic patient for the past more than 20 years.   Soon after the symptoms of her disease was identified o­n August 5th morning, the "Ashram"  authorities telephonically informed me about it.  I informed them to administer her "Haloperidole" injection, which is usually given under such circumstances.   o­ne of the "Ashram" doctors, Dr. Jaggu, gave the injection immediately.  From the same morning o­nwards, our mutual friends had taken turns in looking after her.."  If such a care and attention was given to Caroline, how come she could jump and commit suicide later o­n the same day?   Apart from this question,  a
sentence in the fourth para of the advertisement contradicted the earlier claim  : "Since the "Ashram" has become a major pilgrim center, separate attention cannot be given to anybody."

More notably, the advertisement said : "We have two flats at  Amrithapuri.  Myself and Caroline used to go and stay there together and separately.  In order to see the Western sea and other natural beauty undisturbed, she insisted to remove the long iron bars o­n the widow in the flat.  For Caroline's happiness, we both together removed the widow bars.  Let me  take this opportunity to regretfully submit that this was done without the permission or information of the "Ashram" authorities."

Dr. Ragavan's advertisement continued : "Caroline had psychic  disorders in 1980 at Canada, in 1987 at Thailand, in 1989 at Rishikesh, and in 1998 at California.   Chavara police arrested her in 1994 for attempt to commit suicide by jumping into sea.  o­ne or two years before that, she was arrested at Ernakulam for walking naked o­n a road."

The following questions emerge :
1) Has the "Ashram" got recognition/registration from Kerala/Indian authorities as a place for mental cure?

2) Had the stipulations and conditions imposed by Indian authorities o­n private mental institutions, following the en-mass death of  mental patients in a private place of worship at Yarwadi in Tamil Nadu last year,  been followed in this "Ashram" in Kerala?
3) Why a patient, with a chronic psychic history of 22 years,  as well as involved in criminal cases, was allowed to stay in the "Ashram" that, too, without her husband?  

4) Despite her psychic history, why theiron bars in the window o­n the 8th floor flat was removed without the information/permission of the "Ashram" authorities?

5) Was the earlier news reports that Dr. Ragavan had first met Caroline at this very "Ashram" genuine and correct?  

6) How and where their marriage was solemnised?   

7) Since all unnatural deaths had to be subjected to thorough probe according to Indian and French law, what prompted Dr. Ragavan to take the extra-ordinary measure of releasing such an advertisement warning anybody raising doubts/questions o­n Caroline's death within five days of the incident?

We also wish to submit that a large number of dignitaries,  including  ruling politicians, Judges, and Police Officers  are the devotees of  Matha Amrithanandamayi and visitors to the "Amrithanandapuri Ashram".   We, therefore,  feel that an impartial probe to bring out the truth o­n the grounds and circumstances that led to Ms. Caroline's death is  almost impossible without the serious interference of Your Excellency representing the interests of both the French government and French citizens in India.

Since the question of following whichever belief and faith should not  be at the cost of Constitutional rule of law and governance, we seek  your apt attention and urgent interference in this issue.

Awaiting your early favorable action, we remain.

Yours faithfully,

(Name)                              (Address)                                       (Signature)

Balachandran Chullikad          31/350, Cochin-24                               Sd/-
Br. Reny George TC.               02-0918, Kazhakoottam, TVM-82          Sd/-
Dr. Sebastin Paul,                   Ex-M.P. Cochin                                   Sd/-
Dr. M. S. Jayaprakash             Kollam                                               Sd/-
Prof. P. Koya                          Kozhicode                                          Sd/-
Dr. Febeena Seethi                 Thiruvananthapuram                           Sd/-
Dr. P. Muraleedharan              Thiruvananthapuram                            Sd/-
Dr. Abdul Salam                     Thiruvananthapuram                            Sd/-
Prof. Shaji Kadamala              Pala, Kottayam                                    Sd/-
Sr. Anniee Punnoose              St. Roch's Convent, TVM-8                     Sd/-
Mukundan C. Menon              Thiruvananthapuram                             Sd/-

CHRO,  3, Rams' Cottage
Ambalathumukku, Pettah
Thiruvananthapuram-695 024
(Ph.: 0471-476262)

Protest against Vaiko's arrest under POTA PDF Print E-mail
We, the undersigned, voice our stern protest against the arrest of MDMK leader, V. Gopalaswami (Vaiko), under the draconian law, POTA, by the Jayalalitha-led AIADMK Government of Tamil Nadu, and demand his immediate release.

This deplorable action by Jayalalitha reconfirms our earlier warnings that all obnoxious laws, once promulgated, will be used by the powers that be to settle scores against their political rivals. Although Vaiko, being part of BJP-led NDA at the Centre, had supported POTO in the Parliament, his becoming the first MP to be held under POTA is a repetition of history during the 1975-77 Emergency. When the equally draconian Maintenance of Internal Security Act (MISA) was promulgated by Mrs. Indira Gandhi in 1971 with the avowed intention of curbing Naxalite violence, all those who supported it - ranging from then Congress Working Committee Member, S. Chandrasekhar, then Congress Parliamentary Party Secretary, (late) Ram Dhan, to present rulers of BJP --- were arrested under MISA during the 1975-77 Emergency.

Vaiko’s arrest under POTA cannot be justified since he had only reiterated his political stand of long years on the Tamil nationality issue and liberation struggle in a foreign country, Sri Lanka. Like Vaiko, the present Defence Minister George Fernandez was on record to term the Tamil issue in Sri Lanka as a national liberation struggle. Mere sympathies and support to a national liberation struggle abroad can never be construed as an internal threat to India. During the British period, the Indian National Congress under Mahatma Gandhi had supported the liberation struggle in China. During Indira Gandhi’s regime, the whole of India supported the Bengali national liberation struggle of “Mukti Bahini” under late Mujibur Rehman in East Pakistan and created the present Bangladesh after the 1971 war with Pakistan. Since 1948, India has been supporting the cause of Palestinians for their homeland from Israeli occupation, which cannot be construed as an anti-national activity within India despite our establishing diplomatic ties with Israel in 1991. As such, there cannot be any stigma attached only against the Tamil nationality question in Sri Lanka which led to the arrest of Vaiko yesterday.

Vaiko’s arrest under POTA for his pro-LTTE speech is more deplorable since the present Sri Lanka Government is taking positive steps with Norwegian intermediaries for negotiated settlement of all issues with the LTTE. There is, therefore, no meaningful purpose to continue with the ban of LTTE only in India.

Vaiko’s arrest serves as a grim reminder to the ruling BJP, who initiated POTA with the avowed intention of curbing terrorism in Kashmir. Despite POTA, unabated violence continues in Kashmir and even a prominent Hurriyat leader, Abdul Ghani Lone, was killed by unknown gunmen.

We also condemn the narrow political approach adopted by Congress Party, who opposed POTO in Parliament, but supported Vaiko’s arrest under POTA. The CPI-M leader, Prakash Karat, said that Vaiko had to face POTA for supporting a “terrorist body” like LTTE, despite the fact that CPI-M was the ally of Vaiko’s MDMK in Tamil Nadu till four years ago. Like BJP, both these leading opposition parties forget the fact that any draconian law will only be used by fascists and dictators like Jayalaliatha against their political opponents, apart from suppressing the ordinary masses waging struggle for their basic rights of minimum survival.

Mukundan C. Menon
Secretary General (CHRO)

Dr. Abdul Salam
Secretary (CHRO)

Prof. K. M. Bahauddin Retd.
Pro-Vice-Chancellor & CHRO Patron

Pazhavila Ramesan
Patron, CHRO

Dr. P. Muraleedharan

K. S. Srijith Kumar

Brother Reni George

July 12, 2002    

CHRO demands justice for Fr. Pallath PDF Print E-mail

2002-06-11 ,

The Loyola college Trivandrum, a premier Jesuit institute at the state capital yesterday was turned in to a virtual police fortress to deal with the protest action organised in front of it by human rights activists demanding justice for Fr. Pallath.

Against little less than hundred odd human rights activists gathered in front of Loyola College, the college authorities requisitioned about 4 bus loads of police personnel sho were deployed at the gates and all over the Loyola campus. Despite the tight police security and bandobust, the leading human rights activists of the state capital reached the venue of the protest action.

Leading them was Octogenarian K.E. Mammen, renowned freedom fighter of Kerala. Shri B.R.P Bhaskar of the Vigil India Movement, Mr. Mukundan C. Menon of the Confederation of Human Rights Organisations of Kerala, Br.Reni George of the National Alliance of People's Movements, Shrikuamr Peyad - State coordinator of the Kerala Dalit Panthers, L. Pankajakshan of Swaraj Kerala, Sr.Annie of the ICM congregation, Sr. Thresiamma of FMM sisters, Sr. Patricia Kuruvinakkunnel of the MMS order, and Sr. Sicily Plathottam of the SCJM order gave leadership to the protest action staged through the day at the gates of the Loyola college. In a statement issued to the press, the protestors demanded that the Jesuit authorities should immediately commit themselves to the terms of the agreement they signed with Fr. Pallath and avert a human tragedy.



CHRO programme against Hindutva Fascism PDF Print E-mail

Counter Hindutva Fascism through Secular Action :
CHRO’s Ten Point Program of Secular Action in Kerala and among Malayalees worldwide

1) I will NOT judge a person by her or his religion, race or cultural background, but by the content of their character, behaviour, approach and orientation towards the larger secular-democratic society.

2) I will NOT support any business concern that supports hatred against Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, Tribals or any other minority in India. Of course, I will buy from ALL OTHERS, except those who support or spread the cult of hatred against Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Dalits, Tribals, and other ethnic/linguistic/national minorities.

3) I will NOT accept the Hindutva communal hatred as a political ideology, even if my family, friends, colleagues or acquaintances support it. I will voice opposition to every expression of hatred within my family, neighbourhood, community, and work-place with conviction. I WILL SPEAK AGAINST HINDUTVA FASCISM --- EVEN IF MY VOICE SHAKES AND REPRESENTS THE LONELY VOICE.

4) I will work hard to change the minds and approach of my family members, friends, neighbours and colleagues who mistakenly admire the ideas of Hindutva. Towards this goal, I will strive to learn everyday about the lives and concerns of the minorities, with empathy and respect. I will put myself in THEIR shoes to understand MYSELF better.

5) I will work hard to engage in LEARNING about the true and undistorted history of India --- as a history to which numerous peoples, cultures, religions, castes, races and nationalities contributed for thousands of years.

6) I will NOT participate in any programme which denigrates, de-humanises, or vilifies Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Dalits, Tribals or any other ethnic/national/linguistic minorities of India. I will challenge the Hindutva propaganda of falsehood, distortions and fallacies with facts and knowledge.

7) I will JOIN HANDS with all individuals and groups, who are genuinely secular and democratic, to strengthen and safeguard Indian Constitution which is under threat from Hindutva fascists. This will be done by spreading the message of true communal harmony, and the need for united struggle and action for equality, human rights and physical security.

8) I will build bridges EVERYDAY, even in most insignificant manner, by showing an attitude of respect towards all other FELLOW HUMANBEINGS. I will strive to make friendship ACROSS religious and cultural bounds. At the same time, I will expose all those self-styled intellectuals, socio-cultural-literary figures and party-politicians who, overtly or covertly, support Hindutva fascism. I will also strive hard to make such public figures realise the need to reject invitations to attend or participate at the functions of various Sangh Parivar fascist bodies functioning under various garbs so as to ensure total and absolute isolation of Hindutva fascists from the larger secular-democratic polity.

9) I will REMEMBER the supreme sacrifices of all those who laid down their lives in the peaceful or non-peaceful struggle for India’s freedom. I will do this remembering so that the struggle continues to protect, preserve, and enlarge freedom, equality and secular democracy as enshrined in independent India’s Constitution and which is precisely under threat from the Hindutva fascists of Sangh Parivar.

10) I will strive hard to protect the minorities whenever threatened or attacked by Sangh Parivar fascists within my neighbourhood, apart from expressing my sympathies and support to similarly suffering minorities in distant places as in Gujarat now.

Mukundan C. Menon
3, Rams’ Cottage, Ambalathumukku, Pettah, Thiruvananthapuram-695 024, S. India
(Ph.: 0471-476262)

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