States Round Up Issue-01 July to September 2010 Index Page
Full version of the report

Karnataka



I. Highlight: Action of the Lokayukta against illegal mining

Following resignation by Karnataka Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde on 23 June 2010 in protest against the failure of the state government to act against corruption and illegal mining [1], on 19 July 2010 Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa was forced to order an investigation by the Lokayukta to probe into illegal mining in the state. [2] On 9 July 2010, Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa admitted in the Legislative Assembly that illegal iron ore export had been going on for the last seven years and a whopping 30 million tonnes of ore had been illegally exported from the state. Giving details he said illegal export of iron ore was 20,49,961 tonnes in 2003-04; 52,39,528 tonnes in 2004-05; 21,71,492 tonnes in 2005-06; 47,44,645 tonnes in 2006-07; 57,61,048 tonnes in 2007-08; 33,96,126 tonnes in 2008-09 and 71,27,937 tonnes in 2009-10. The Chief Minister further stated that illegal mining led to destruction of ecology and roads, degradation of groundwater level and had adversely affected the health of many people. [3]

On 3 July 2010, Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests, Jairam Ramesh in a letter to Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa stated that three companies namely S B Minerals, Trident Minerals and Veeyam Private Limited were involved in illegal mining in the forest areas in Sandur near Bellary and asked the Chief Minister to stop mining activities of these companies with immediate effect. [4]

Karnakata government banned export of iron ore from Karnataka on 29 July 2010 as a measure to check illegal mining in the state. [5] However, on 30 August 2010, the opposition Congress alleged that illegal mining of iron ore and exports was continuing unabated in Karnataka despite the ban. [6]

II. Violations of civil and political rights

During July to September 2010, ACHR documented a number of cases of torture by the law enforcement officials in Karnataka.

On 28 July 2010, Prakyath (21 years), a resident of K.R. Puram and a student of BHS College, Jayanagar, was allegedly tortured in police custody at Mallandur police station in Chikmagalur district. The victim was picked up by a police team headed by Sub-Inspector Shiv Kumar on the suspicion of sheltering one Basavaraju who was wanted in connection with a case. According to the victim, he was tortured from the moment he was picked up at 6.30 pm on 28 July 2010 till he was released at around 4.30 am on 29 July 2010. As a result, the victim reportedly sustained injuries including a broken left rib, concussion in the head, scarred ears and a badly bruised body. [7]

 On 1 September 2010, Sarath Nayak (11 years) (son of Gopal Nayak of Salethur village under Vittal gram panchayat), was tortured by the police at Vittal police station in Dakshina Kannada district. He was picked up along with his brothers identified as Sandeep Nayak (15 years), Avinash Nayak (14 years) and Pradeep Nayak (16 years) on the suspicion of stealing a mobile phone from an entrepreneur, when they were playing volleyball at 11 am on 1 September 2010. The victim was kept in a separate lock-up where he was beaten and stripped and forced to kneel down for hours besides subjecting him to severe interrogation at a regular interval in order to make him confess the crime. Torture continued till they were released at 4.30 pm on the same day. Due to torture the victim was unable to stand straight or walk properly. He was admitted to the Government Hospital in Bantwal but the police allegedly forcibly discharged the victim from the hospital to suppress the matter. [8]

III. Violations of the rights of the Indigenous Peoples

Karnataka government failed to properly implement the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act of 2006. As of 30th September 2010, a total of 1,62,413 claims including 1,59,668 individual and 2745 community were filed at the Gram Sabha level for getting land titles under the Forest Rights Act but only 5,550 land titles were distributed including 5,549 individual and 1 community while the state government rejected a total of 1,37,431 claims. [9]

On 8 September 2010, Congress leader Kagodu Thimmappa alleged that Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, who was holding the portfolio of Forest and Environment, was deliberately delaying granting of land rights to tribals and other traditional forest dwellers under the Forest Rights Act, 2006. He further alleged that forest dwellers were being forcibly evicted from forest lands. [10]

On 24 September 2010, All India Krantikari Kisan Sabha State unit vice-president D.S. Nirvanappa stated that only 800 tribal families were given title deeds out of 50,000 in the Madikeri district under Forest Rights Act and that the beneficiaries were given less than 2 acres land. [11]

However, Chief Minister Yeddyurappa stated on 24 September 2010 that strict provisions in the Forest Rights Act were preventing the state government from providing land rights to the beneficiaries and recommended to the Centre to bring in necessary amendments to the Forest Rights Act to enable tribals and other traditional forest dwellers easily avail the benefits. In Shimoga district 84,000 applications received under the Forest Rights Act including 78,000 applications from traditional forest dwellers and 4,000 from tribals. Of these, 69,000 applications were rejected. [12]

IV. Violations of the rights of the Dalits

There were reports of violations of the rights of the Dalits. On 27 September 2010, Chief Minnister B.S. Yeddyurappa addressing the SC, ST State level vigilance committee meeting in Bangalore stated that 5,182 cases of atrocities against SC/ST people were registered in the state in the last four years and of these, 1,949 cases were disposed of while trial is pending in 484 cases. 41 persons were convicted and compensation of Rs. 6.57 crore and Rs. 6.84 crore were provided to the victims in 2008-09 and 2009-10 respectively. [13]

However, Karnataka failed to properly implement the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989. Karnataka has 27 districts but only seven special courts under the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 were set up in Bijapur, Belgaum, Gulbarga, Tumkur, Mysore, Kolar and Raichur districts to try cases of atrocities on Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs). [14] Section 14 of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989 stipulates setting up of at least one special court in each district to try the offences under the Act.

The atrocities have been continuing because of the lack of vigilance and monitoring as required under Section 16 of the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995. The High Power Vigilance and Monitoring Committee headed by the Chief Minister could not hold a single meeting since the BJP came to power in 2008 till 27 September 2010. [15]

The Dalits continued to face discrimination, ostracisation and social boycott from the upper castes. On 18 August 2010, 25 dalit families belonging to Madiga community of Budihalli village in Chitradurga district were forced to flee due to alleged atrocities against them including rape, torture and socio-economic boycott by upper caste Golla and Nayak communities. The Dalit families who fled to Venkateshwaranagar in Chellakere Taluk in Chitradurga district alleged that the landlords visited their houses regularly in inebriated condition and sexually harassed and assaulted the women while the men were forced to work as bonded labourers to pay off debts accumulated over generations. Those Dalit families who were living independently by selling fire woods and cultivating on government land were socially boycotted by the upper castes. [16]

These displaced Dalit families were living in deplorable conditions in Venkateshwaranagar. One tent was being shared by two families and the children were forced to leave schools due to abject poverty. [17] Following report of exodus in the media, a fact-finding team comprising People’s Union for Civil Liberties, Samata Vedike of Mysore, Stree Jagruthi Samithi and All India Progressive Women’s Association (AIPWA) of Bangalore visited Venkateshwaranagar slum in Chitradurga district on 5 September 2010. The fact finding team stated that – “There was untouchability practized in the village. Rape, sexual harassment and social boycott are the primary reasons for the families that forced them to abandon their villages. These dominant communities have tried to reinforce sexual servitude of Madiga women with the practice of bonded labour. When women refused to cooperate, they were verbally abused, threatened with torching the huts or false implications in theft cases”.

Surprisingly, a fact finding committee of the state government which visited Budihalli village denied the allegations and even denied that there was an exodus of Dalits. [18]

The Dalit cooks faced discrimination in schools. At the quarter-yearly district-level meeting of SC/ST awareness held in Mysore on 15 July 2010, the Zila Panchayat warned the officials and teachers practicing untouchability in schools. The officials of the Zila Panchayat informed the meeting which was chaired by the Deputy Commissioner of Mysore that in response to a complaint the Zila Parishad had passed an order in May 2010 in which it was stated that every student and school staffer was bound to take the food prepared by the cook and if anyone prevented any cook from preparing mid-day meal in school he/she would face stern action. [19]

The Dalit students also faced discrimination in schools. On 27 September 2010, while addressing the SC, ST State level vigilance committee meeting in Bangalore, Chief Minister B.S.Yeddyurappa announced that his government will set up a residential school in each district to allow students from all castes and communities to study to remove the social stigma attached to Dalits. [20]

V. Violations of the rights of the child

There were various reports of violations of the rights of the child. In a shocking incident, one member of the Karnataka State Commission for Protection of Child Rights (KSCPCR) was found guilty of molesting children. On 8 September 2010, the state government issued an order restraining Balakrishna Masali, a member of the Child Welfare Committee II of the Bangalore Urban district, from holding sittings of the Child Welfare Committee, after he was found guilty of molesting girls by the KSCPCR. In its report the KSCPCR stated that the accused took the advantage of his position and used the opportunity to sexually molest the minor girls in the privacy of the cubicle and recommended his suspension and inquiry under the Juvenile Justice Act, 2000 and relevant sections of Indian Penal Code. The KSCPCR held an inquiry following a complaint by the Association for Promotion of Social Action (APSA), an NGO, alleging that the accused molested a 14 year-old girl during a 30-minute counseling session. The KSCPCR recorded the statements of four girls including the complainant lodged in the government-run girl’s home and the statement of the care-takers of the home. All the four girls alleged sexual harassment at the hand of the accused. [21]

The Karnataka police in association with the Bangalore chapter of Action Against Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation of Children (ATSEC), an NGO, rescued 36 children on 23 July 2010. Of them six children (aged between 12 to 15 years) - all residents of Nasarganj in Koderma district of Jharkhand - were handed over to the ATSEC office in Ranchi to be handed over to their respective families. The rest 30 rescued children were from Bihar. The rescue operation was conducted after some families of Koderma complained to the organization about the trafficking. Vikram Kumar (12), a resident of Sihas in Nasarganj said that he was taken to Bangalore for better education with a man who befriended him. But, he was sold to a company where he was forced to work as a bonded labourer. [22]

Child labour was rampant in Karnataka. According to the 2001 Census, there were 8,22,615 children below 14 years of age working in Karnataka. These children were engaged in silk reeling and twisting, beedi making, brick kilns, making agarbathi, stone quarrying, garages, small hotels, shops, livestock rearing, plantations, floriculture, agriculture, domestic work, construction, small and medium sized Industries and rag picking. One third of the working children were girls. Mostly children from SC/ST and backward communities were engaged in child labour. [23]

In the last week of July 2010, several teams of government officials conducted a series of raids on hotels, bakeries and other business establishments in Raichur district and rescued 15 children who were engaged as labourers in private establishments. Cases have been registered against 15 persons for employing children below the age of 14. [24]

Between 11 August and 13 August 2010, UNICEF’s Children Protection Project, in cooperation with the police conducted surprise raids in villages including Matamari, Bijjangera, L.K. Doddi, Yeragera, Mittimalkapur, Jambaldinni and Midagaladinni in Raichur district and rescued and rehabilitated 93 school dropouts engaged as agricultural labourers on cotton fields. The children, most of them girls, were from families practising agriculture in villages of Raichur taluk. [25]

Endnotes:
1. Santosh Hegde resigns as Karnataka Lokayukta, The Hindu, 24 June 2010
2. Lokayukta to probe illegal mining under BJP rule, The Indian Express, 20 July 2010
3. How 30 million tonnes of iron ore was looted from State, The Hindu, 10 July 2010 
4. State asked to stop activities of three companies for ‘flouting’ forest rules - Centre for action against ‘errant’ mining firms, The Deccan Herald, 4 July 2010
5. Karnataka bans iron ore exports to curb illegal mining, The Economic Times, 29 July 2010
6. Illegal mining, export unabated in Karnataka: Congress, Economic Times, 30 August 2010
7. Complaint of the ACHR to the NHRC on 4 August 2010
8. Complaint of the ACHR to the NHRC on 6 September 2010
9. Ministry of Tribal Affairs, “Status report on implementation of the Scheduled Tribes and Other Traditional Forest Dwellers (Recognition of Forest Rights) Act, 2006 [for the period ending 30th September, 2010]” available at http://www.fra.org.in/Sept_2010_India.pdf
10. ‘Chief Minister is delaying granting land rights to forest-dwellers’, The Hindu, 9 September 2010
11. Law does not benefit all tribal people: Nirvanappa - Only 800 tribal families given title deeds, The Hindu, 25 September 2010
12. State wants Act amended to benefit forest dwellers, The Deccan Herald, 25 September 2010
13.Residential schools planned to remove stigma attached to Dalits, The Hindu, 28 September 2010
14. Ibid
15. Ibid
16. Complaint of ACHR to the National Commission for Scheduled Caste on 30 August 2010
17. Complaint of ACHR to the National Commission for Scheduled Caste on 30 August 2010
18. Team confirms dalit exodus from Karnataka, The Times of India, 15 September 2010
19. Mid-day meal: `Don’t discriminate against SC/ST cooks’, The Times of India, 17 July 2010
20. Residential schools planned to remove stigma attached to Dalits, The Hindu, 28 September 2010
21. Person in charge of child protection turns violator, The Hindu, 9 September 2010
22. Trafficking victims rescued - NGO saves six children from Koderma with help of Karnataka police from Bangalore, The Telegraph, 27 July 2010
23. Source: State Resource Centre on Child Labour (working under the purview of Karnataka State Child Labour
Eradication Project Society (KSCLEPS), Government of Karnataka) available at http://karunadu.gov.in/karnatakachildlabour/Faqs.aspx#qus12
24. 15 child labourers rescued, The Hindu, 11 August 2010
25. UNICEF rescues 93 child labourers, The Hindu, 26 August 2010
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