Sunday, September 13, 2009

Hankon Thermal Power Plant - 4 - Events 30th July 2009 onwards

Population Data for Hankon Village - Source

Total Population - 1,284

Male Population - 596

Female Population - 688

This village population consists of poor agriculturists and land-labourers, and most of

the village folk have migrated to Cities and towns seeking employment.

What happened in this small village on July 30th, 2009, in the backdrop of the Coal-based Thermal Power Plant, has left villagers and the local peace-loving citizens of Karwar shell-shocked....

Teargas shells lobbed to disperse agitating villagers in Karwar

Source - Sahil Online News Service, Thursday, 30 July 2009 - 18:06:38 IST

Police lobbed teargas shells to disperse Hanakona villagers who indulged in violence to protest the demolition of their huts near here today. The villagers had allegedly put up on land meant for Hanakona power plant. The trouble started when workers, on behalf of Ind Bharat Company, which had proposed to install the controversial Hanakona Power Plant, arrived in the morning and started demolishing the huts put up in the proposed plant premises. Additional forces were rushed to the spot and the demolition work was stopped. The situation was stated to be tense but under control.

Also Reported at and with Pictures....

Villagers Subdued... The Crowd was mostly made up of women....

Three police personnel sustained injuries when police resorted to lathicharge as a protest against thermal power plant turned violent in Hanakona village of the taluk on Thursday. Three buses have been damaged in the incident. More than 500 people took to streets demanding removal of the shed and materials stocked for construction of a thermal power plant by Ind Bharat Power Company. As the authorities concerned delayed to arrive at the spot, the protesters resorted to rasta roko. Efforts of the DySP Babu Kolekar to pacify the irate protesters went in vain.

The police have arrested 38 people in connection with the violence. Ind Bharat Power (Karwar) Company has allegedly constructed a shed and stocked materials for the work on the proposed Hanakona thermal power plant. The Gram Panchayat has issued three notices calling upon the company to clear the area and the company reportedly, did not comply with. Ultimately, the Gram Panchayat, with police assistance, attempted to demolish the shed constructed unauthorisedly and more than 50 labourers had also arrived for the job. However, the GP secretary Sayyad Sheikh was admitted to hospital on complaint of chest pain. The activists of anti-power plant committee who grew suspicious over the sudden hospitalisation, went to the hospital itself and asked the secretary on further course of action, who reportedly maintained silence. The activists then approached the Taluk Panchayat executive officer seeking action. He refused to act in the absence of any instruction. Enraged by the turn of events, the activists started a protest, accusing the officials of complicity. -

Hundreds of villagers had gathered to protest against the power plant in their village and to witness the shifting of the construction machinery, but were angered when the Panchayat Secretary Syed Sheikh, who was to oversee the process, did not turn up. Sheikh had reportedly got himself admitted to a hospital on grounds of ill health, police said. The villagers then asked the local MLA to join the demonstration but the MLA was not available as he was in Bangalore. This reportedly enraged the villagers who started pelting stones and set on fire a bus. The villagers said that they were protesting because government officials and people's representatives are hand-in-glove with the company. The thermal power project will also pollute the village and rob them of their livelihood too, they said. Source -

Villagers flee, FIR logded against protesters in Hankon

Karwar: Erie silence prevails at Hankon village, 15km from here, following Thursday's incident in which an agitation against the establishment of a thermal power project in the village turned violent leading to a clash between the villages tuned violent leading to a clash between the police and agitators. The villagers are afraid of coming out of their houses. Most of the villagers have fled fearing arrest. The police searched many houses on Thursday after the incident to apprehend the agitators. However, most of the agitators did not belong to the village, it is said. According to sources, an FIR has been filed against 200 people. The entire incident had been video graphed and the people who had participated in the agitation have been identified, it is stated. The police are looking out for them. The police have framed an FIR against some leaders, including advocates who allegedly provoked the innocent villagers. These leaders have moved the court for anticipatory bail, it is said.
According to Deputy Commissioner NS Chennappa Gowda, 47 people have been arrested in connection with the incident. They have been sent to Bellary jail. No more arrests have been made, he added. He admitted that the villagers were afraid to come out of their houses.
Police atrocity condemned
Committed on villagers agitating against the establishment of a thermal power project at Hankon on Thursday. False charges had been framed against the agitators. Forty-seven villagers arrested on Thursday had been shifted to Bellary jail. Women agitators were handled by male constables. This amounted to violation of human rights. They alleged that the government had been thrusting the project on the people without taking people into confidence. They regretted that District in charge Minster Vishweshwar Hegde Kageri and Fisheries Minister Anand Asnotikar did not come to Karwar to discuss the project had created. They said that the state government had failed to convince people about the necessity of the project. Source

Pictures of the Police Atrocities here :- Most of the pictures are from the local Daily - Karavali Munjavu, published from Karwar.

Talking to reporters, Ganapati Tikkam said he was continuously tortured by three sub-inspectors on Friday night and was beaten with lathis and kicked by the police. He named the three sub-inspectors, an ASI and a constable for his condition.
He said he was produced before the DC and SP on Saturday night, but before that, the Chittakula police threatened him and asked him not to show his wounds or tell anything to the DC or SP, saying they would implicate his parents and family members in criminal cases and torture them. He said there was pressure by police on doctors to issue certificate saying that the injury was caused by falling on hard and rough surfaces and not due to torture. So, he went on a hunger strike to protest this manipulation. News Source - Times of India

Several organizations jointly staged protests to show their solidarity for victims of police atrocities who were protesting the construction at the proposed thermal project at Hanakon near here. The victims mostly women who had sustained injuries met the Deputy Commissioner Chennappa Gowda and narrated their horrifying experiences in the jail. They alleged that the policemen kicked them with boots and beat with canes. Advocate Dhanalakshmi Haladankar, one of the arrested women, said that the police kicked them and tore their clothes. Police had arrested 16 women and they were shifted to Bellary jail. They were later released on bail and arrived here on Sunday night. The DC has ordered medical checkup on them. News Source -

Nearly 1,000 people, a majority of them women, took out a procession in the town and held demonstration in front of the Deputy Commissioner's office here on Monday to protest against the alleged police atrocity on villagers of Hankon, including women on July 30. The committee also submitted a memorandum to the Deputy Commissioner urging him for an early action against the police officials responsible for the incident. The memorandum stated that the police were responsible for the violent incident at Hankon on July 30. It was alleged in the memorandum that the police themselves set many two-wheelers on fire on that day to implicate innocent people in the case. The police had videotaped the entire incident at Hankon except the one in which the vehicles were set ablaze. This clearly indicated that the police were involved in it, they alleged. The memorandum stated that the order for lathicharge and bursting of tear gas were issued in the absence of either the taluk or sub divisional magistrate. Further the police authorities deliberately recommended the court to lodge the arrested people inBellary jail citing security problems.

The police had arrested many innocent people, advocates and social workers although they were not present at Hankon on the day when the agitation was held.Source - Indian Express

Refuting superintendent of police Raman Gupta’s claim that there was no police atrocity on those agitating against the Hankon thermal power project on June 30, 16 women, who were arrested at Hankon following Thursday’s violent incidents in the village and released on bail on Sunday from Bellary jail, narrated their tales of woes before the deputy commissioner on Monday. All of them, mostly middleaged, said they were tortured mentally and physically by the police. Dhanalakshmi Haldankar, a lawyer, pointing to an injury on her thighs caused by the police assault, said police used vulgar language against her. She said the police kicked some women with their shoes, causing injuries on the knees, arms and the stomachs. The beating continued till they reached Chitakula police station from Hankon, she said. Sunita Suresh Naik, showing injuries on her shoulder and stomach, said police ignored her pleas to let her go to give medicines to her husband suffering from a heart ailment. Another woman Pragati Naik, who suffers from a kidney ailment said that though she had a tumour removed recently, police dragged out of her house at Hankon and took her into custody. Meghana Manoj Bandekar, who has a swelling on the legs and hands, said she was on her way home when the police picked her up. She said she was beaten with batons before being pushed to police van. Dhanalakshmi Haldankar warned that if the police officers responsible for the attack on women are not punished, a hunger strike would be launched in front of the deputy commissioner’s office. The deputy commissioner said a medical test of all the 16 women would be conducted in the district hospital and a report would be sent to the government. He said a report had been sent to the Human Rights’ Commission too. Source - Indian Express News

Another incident of alleged police atrocity, Ganapati Tikkam, a functionary of BJP Fishermen Morcha, who was allegedly beaten up by the police at Chitakula police station near here, is convalescing in the district hospital now. According to Tikkam, he had gone to Chitakula police station on July 30 to offer bail security to BS Pai, a lawyer who was arrested in connection with the violent incident at Hankon the same day. He said that he was taken aback when the police began to beat him with lathis without any provocation. Then he was arrested and jailed. On Saturday, he was admitted to the district hospital by the jail authorities after he complained of severe pain in the leg. Tikkam alleged that he was handcuffed and locked in a room in the hospital. He said the next day police wanted to send him back to the jail by getting a discharge certificate from the duty doctor that Tikkam had recovered.However, a few BJP leaders, including Jagdish Birkodikar, taluk BJP president and secretary Nagaraj Joshi, insisted that he be kept in the hospital for further treatment. They sought blood and urine tests and x-ray before the hospital authorities certifying that Tikkam had no health problems. The x-ray revealed that Tikkam has a fracture in his leg.However, the police denied that they had manhandled Tikkam at the station. They said Tikkam might have fallen on some hard surface from a height and got injured. News Source - Indian Express

Sources at Uttara Kannada district administration said that DC Chennappa Gowda has submitted a detailed report on Hanakon violence and its aftermath to the government on Monday. In a separate report to the Home ministry and the State Human Rights Commission, the district administration has also sent a detailed account of the violence and the reasons behind it.
The report recommended disciplinary action against three police sub-inspectors, Manjunath Gowda of DCB Karwar, Channesh of rural police station of Karwar, and John D'Souza of Chittakula police station in Karwar, in connection with the "alleged" torture of BJP worker Ganapati Tikkam in police custody. The report also recommended action against Bhaskar Rai, inspector of Ankola police station, and Babu Kolekar, DSP of Karwar, the sources added. The officials face charges of violation of human rights and women's rights.
It is said that though Tikkam was sent to Karwar jail after the "alleged" torture, the DC was informed that he was shifted to Hindalga jail in Belgaum. Various organizations have demanded action against the police officials for the atrocities committed "allegedly" by them, the sources said.
The police had also sent a 17-year-old boy to
Bellary jail, instead of a remand home. Realizing their mistake, they also withdrew the cases filed against him.
Sixteen women, who were sent to
Bellary jail and given bail later, arrived here on Sunday night. Advocate B S Pai was also granted bail. Headquarter assistant to Uttara Kannada DC said he had directed district surgeon to issue medical certificates to the injured. Advocate Pai said they are waiting for medical report of all women to file complaints in Chittakula and Karwar town police stations against the police for "allegedly" torturing women. Different sections of IPC, ranging from attempt-to-murder and molestation to threat to life, would be filed against the guilty, he added. News Source - Times of India

Accused says Minister responsible for violence

Source - Hindu Online edition of India's National Newspaper Sunday, Aug 02, 2009

Madhav Nayak refuses bail saying there was threat to life

Karwar: The president of the Shanashakthi Vedike, Madhav Nayak, whose name appeared in the second FIR filed by the police relating to the Hanakon violence on July 30, surrendered in the court of the First Class Judicial Magistrate on Saturday. The court granted him bail but Mr. Nayak preferred to remain in jail alleging that he had threat to life from the Fisheries Minister Anand Asnotikar. Talking to the presspersons after he appeared in the court, Mr. Nayak alleged that Mr. Anand Asnotikar was responsible for the Hanakon violence. He said Mr. Asnotikar wanted to take revenge against the leaders who were opposing the proposed thermal power plant. Mr. Nayak said that he was not present in Karwar and was in Mundgod when the riots broke out in Hanakon. He had enough evidence to prove it. But he was implicated in ‘trumped up’ charges because he had opposed the private check-post set up by the followers of Mr. Asnotikar at Baleguli and export of sand to Maldives.

Meanwhile, police sources said they were watching the videos to identify the culprits who had indulged in violence on Thursday. Till Saturday, 129 people were named in the FIR. Of them 59 persons were arrested. The police said over 500 people would be taken into custody in connection with the violence. Eighteen people, including 16 women and a minor and advocate B.S. Pai were granted bail on Saturday. The women were granted the bail on humanitarian grounds because most of them had left their children behind in Karwar.

Excessive force - “Police brutality in Karwar is inexcusable.”
The protesters were reportedly kicked, beaten with canes. There were several elderly women, even toddlers among the injured. Opposition to the power plant at Hanakon has been building up for some time. Many locals are opposed to it as the project is likely to displace thousands of fisherfolk and their families. Environmentalists too are up in arms against the project as it is expected to destroy the biodiversity in the region. It is said that many of the local villagers are angry that neither project authorities nor elected representatives have been responsive to their grievances. The brutal response of the police to their protest demonstrations last week will have fuelled their anger further. The police have alleged that they used force because the protest was not peaceful. The demonstrators had pelted stones apparently. Still, beating up protesters, especially elderly women and children, as savagely as they did is not the way to deal with demonstrations. It is the duty of the police to control public disorder and violence. But in discharging this duty they need to be more circumspect. For one they need to bear in mind that peaceful demonstrations are a legitimate form of protest in a democracy. Besides, they cannot wield their batons, burst teargas shells or shoot into crowds at the first sight of a large, noisy crowd. The use of force has to be the last resort always. And even this cannot be excessive.
There is no doubt that the police action in Karwar was excessive. A full probe into why it happened is essential. Local villagers have alleged that the heavy-handed police response to the demonstration was prompted by vested interests. There have been several instances where mining companies and manufacturing units have used the local police to evict tribals and villagers from the land. In the process, largely peaceful protests quickly escalated into angry armed struggles. The protests in Karwar have their roots in genuine grievances which need to be addressed. Failure to do so will aggravate the situation. Source - Deccan Herald

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